Friday, May 20, 2022

"Rock On" by Michael Damian

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3835
Date:  03/18/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Throughout the 80s, Damian made a name for himself acting on the TV soap The Young and the Restless. Having been a singer/performer since a young age, the experience helped him land the role of struggling musician Danny Romalotti. After starting that job in 1980, Damian attempted a solo career and released the single "She Did It" in '81. It could only reach #69 and it left Damian without a record deal. With his popularity growing on the soap, Damian was able to secure a contract with Columbia Records in '84. He would record two solo albums that were released in territories like Canada and Japan. It seems neither of them were promoted in the US. Then in '88, Damian got another opportunity. He signed on with the A&M offshoot label Cypress Records and recorded this song for the soundtrack to the teen comedy Dream a Little Dream. It was released as a single around the same time as the film's opening and it began to climb the Pop chart. It would eventually wind its way up to the #1 spot. It would be a gold seller that helped the soundtrack album get to #94. As Damian's single gained momentum, an album titled Where Do We Go from Here would quickly be assembled and released just as "Rock On" was topping the chart. It would peak at #61.

ReduxReview:  As a kid I really liked the mysterious sounding original of this song (see below). Then I enjoyed the remake by Toni Basil that was included on her '82 debut album Word of Mouth. However, when this version came along, I wasn't having it. I didn't like the synth-rock/dance-pop arrangement and wasn't a fan of Damian's vocal. It just hit me wrong and I ignored it. These days it just sounds like a product of its time and a vehicle for Damian to try and get his singing career started. It's not all that bad, but it still doesn't do anything for me - except perhaps drive me back to the icy cool original.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally written and recorded by English singer/songwriter David Essex in 1973. The single would reach #5 on the US Pop chart and #3 in the UK. In the US, it would be Essex's only significant hit making him a one-hit wonder. However, he became a big star in the UK scoring ten Top 10 hits including two #1s.  Many artists would cover the song, but thus far only Essex and Damian have reached the Pop chart with a version. However, in 2006 Def Leppard recorded the song and pushed it out as a promo digital single. It would get to #18 on the Rock chart.  2) The fantasy teen rom-com Dream a Little Dream starred the two Coreys - Haim and Feldman. The pair were friends that were sort of the teen "it" duo of the time. They would star together in nine films. Dream a Little Dream was their third film together and second as a top-billed duo. It received negative reviews and after a good opening weekend, the film quickly tanked. Despite its lack of box office receipts, it became a sort of cult flick and later in '95 a direct-to-video sequel would be released.


Thursday, May 19, 2022

"Do You Believe in Shame?" by Duran Duran

Song#:  3834
Date:  03/18/1989
Debut:  91
Peak:  72
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock, New Wave, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The band's sixth album, Big Thing, continued their streak of having at least one single from each of their releases crack the Pop Top 10. The winner from Big Thing was the #4 "I Don't Want Your Love." A second single, "All She Wants Is," didn't do as well stopping at #22. This follow up single not only served as the third one from the LP, but it was also the second one from the soundtrack to the film Tequila Sunrise (released just as the first single, "Surrender to Me" by Ann Wilson and Robin Zander peaked at #6). Unfortunately, the song didn't get very far spending only a few weeks near the bottom of the Pop chart. It would be the final single from the album and the band's last charting song of the 80s, an era in which they scored nine Pop Top 10s including two #1s.

ReduxReview:  While I liked Big Thing, it wasn't an album that was chock full of catchy singles. I'm guessing that the label chose to push this tune out due to it being a cross-promotional item for the album and the associated movie soundtrack, but it wasn't a good choice. It worked as an album track, but it certainly wasn't a memorable, radio-ready track. I think "Drug (It's Just a State of Mind)" would have done better in a remix version and could have been a hit on the Dance chart. Yet we got served this moody single and no one was biting.

ReduxRating:  4/10

TriviaBig Thing signaled a decline in the band's popularity with the LP only reaching gold level sales. That downward trend continued into the 90s with their next album, 1990's Liberty, only reaching #46 and failing to go gold or produce a Top 40 single. With their career and status as relevant hit makers in jeopardy, the band went into the studio to record their next album. Titled Duran Duran, it was given the nickname of The Wedding Album due to the cover photo and to help distinguish it from their 1981 self-titled debut. Finished near the start of '92, there was a feeling from the band's new management and the label that the LP was going to be a hard sell. Duran Duran had their time in the 80s sun and trying to rally support for a comeback was getting difficult. The album lingered on the shelf for months until Capitol decided to test the track "Ordinary World" on some radio stations in Florida. The response was immediate and demand for the song began to grow. Capitol had to quickly get the single printed up and the album set for release. "Ordinary World" would end up reaching #3 on the Pop chart and go gold. Its follow-up, "Come Undone," would then reach #7. The pair of hits would send the album to #7 and it would go platinum. While the songs and the album would be a big last blast for the band, it was certainly a sweet comeback that boosted their status and career. They would continue to record and tour over the years and in 2015 they returned to the Top 10 with their 14th studio album Paper Gods.


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

"Livin' Right" by Glenn Frey

Song#:  3833
Date:  03/18/1989
Debut:  92
Peak:  90
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Frey's third solo album, Soul Searchin', started off fairly well with the #13 Pop/#2 AC/#15 Rock single "True Love." However, the title track follow-up single didn't do nearly as well. While it would get to #5 AC, it failed to reach the other charts. Then this third single wouldn't get very far with it peaking at #22 AC while spending a short month at the bottom of the Pop chart. With those results, the best the album could do was #36. It would fail to reach the gold level sales of his previous two albums.

ReduxReview:  This ode to better living came off like an attempt replicate the success of Frey's own hit "The Heat Is On." It also sounded like a shelved Huey Lewis & the News track. Lewis' rock/blues/soul sound was becoming less popular at the time so I'm not sure why Frey would go down that same road. It just wasn't all that interesting or all that good. Frankly, it sounded like an artist who was running out of ideas.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Frey's last significant single came in 1991 with "Part of You, Part of Me." That tune was included on the soundtrack to the hit film Thelma and Louise. The song would get to #55 Pop/#7 AC/#9 Rock. It would be included on his next solo album, '92's Strange Weather. Unfortunately, the initial single from the LP, "I've Got Mine," would stall at #91 Pop while getting to #12 AC. Two other singles from the album would reach the AC chart, but failed to crack the Pop chart. Without a significant mainstream hit to promote the album, it became Frey's first to miss the chart. Save for a covers album in 2012, it would bring a close to Frey's solo career. He would reunite with the Eagles in '94 and remain with them through to his death in 2016.


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

"After All" by Cher & Peter Cetera

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3832
Date:  03/11/1989
Debut:  59
Peak:  6
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  In '88, songwriter Dean Pitchford (of Footloose fame) was tasked to write a theme song for an upcoming rom-com film titled Chances Are. Taking cues from the film's plot, Pitchford came up with a concept for a song and then took it over to his sometimes co-writer Tom Snow. The pair finished the new tune "After All" and work began on finding artists to record it as a duet. Cher was in the process of recording the follow up to her successful '87 self-titled comeback album and the tune made it over to her camp. For a duet partner, Peter Cetera was approached and came on board. The track was completed and just prior to the film's opening, it was issued out as a single. It would find its way to the Pop Top 10 while hitting #1 at AC. In doing so, the song became Cher's first effort as a solo artist to top that chart. There were no plans to issue out a soundtrack album to the film, so the only way to get the song upon release was the single and that helped it reach gold level sales. It would later be included on Cher's '89 album Heart of Stone. The tune would go on to receive an Oscar nod for Best Original Song.

ReduxReview:  Celebrity duet - check. Big ballad - check. Sounds like a movie theme - check. Memorable chorus - check. Film music composer pedigree - check. The song checked every box needed in order to make it a hit and it indeed became a gold record. It really was a terrific AC ballad that played well on the radio, which was a good thing because in the age of MTV, no video for this tune was made to promote it or the movie, which was highly unusual. Yet despite that lack of exposure, the song became a hit anyway and deservedly so. While I wasn't a Peter Cetera fan, his voice ended up meshing well with Cher's. Each had a distinctive and easily recognizable voice so putting them together was a no-brainer. The song was a boost for Cher since her new album was imminent, but it didn't do much for Cetera whose next album wouldn't come out until '92.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The rom-com Chances Are  starred Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey, Jr., and Ryan O'Neal. Shepherd at the time was riding high on the success of her TV show with Bruce Willis Moonlighting. The movie was an opportunity for her to get back on the big screen. It was filmed while Moonlighting was on a seasonal hiatus. Shepherd hadn't been in a theatrical film since the 1980 b-movie sci-fi flick The Return and hadn't been in a successful film since 1976's Taxi Driver. Her success with Moonlighting reignited her star and Chances Are was a vehicle to get her back into movies. The film was greeted with generally positive reviews, but for whatever reason, the public didn't show up and it fell short at the box office. Shepherd would do more films over the years, but none would be hits. She had better luck on the smaller screen with Moonlighting and her sitcom show Cybill, which lasted four seasons. Both shows would earn Shepherd Golden Globe awards and Emmy nominations.


Monday, May 16, 2022

"Forever Your Girl" by Paula Abdul

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3831
Date:  03/11/1989
Debut:  68
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After two singles failed to ignite on the Pop chart, Abdul finally broke through in a big way with her third attempt "Straight Up." The song would reach #1 and end up going platinum. To follow up that success, the title track to her debut album Forever Your Girl would be released. It would end up topping the Pop chart while getting to #11 AC, #28 Dance, and #54 R&B.  The album had already been a staple in the Top 10 and it would be during the run of this single that it would reach the double platinum mark.

ReduxReview:  This was a nicely written piece of ear candy that was a perfect vehicle for Abdul. I wasn't necessarily a big fan of Abdul's at the time, but I liked this single. For me, it was a best track on the album. It was a ray of sunshine and was the perfect foil to follow the sassy "Straight Up." That song certainly got Abdul noticed, but I've always thought this track was the one that really cemented her status as a pop star.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The video for this song was directed by future Oscar nominee David Fincher. The concept had Abdul directing a video shoot that featured kids in various vignettes some of which were imitations of video and movie scenes. Of course along the way Abdul would do her own dance segments. Among the kids were two that went on to do pretty well in the film/TV industry. Nikki Cox was 10 years old at the time of the video shoot. She already had a few credits to her name including being on the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled "Pen Pals." Cox would later spend five seasons on the WB sitcom Unhappily Ever After and then star in her own WB series Nikki for two seasons. She also spent five seasons on the NBC show Las Vegas. Also featured in Abdul's video was 8 year old Elijah Wood. It was his first professional job and his credits list filled up from there. He would get roles in several films and TV movies/shows including starring in the oddball 1994 film North. His big breakthrough came when he was cast to play Frodo Baggins in the hugely successful The Lord of the Rings franchise. He would also star in the comedy series Wilfred, which lasted four seasons.