Saturday, June 25, 2022

"Cry" by Waterfront

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  3861
Date:  04/08/1989
Debut:  78
Peak:  10
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop

Pop Bits:  This duo from Wales consisted of Phil Cilia and Chris Duffy. The pair had been childhood friends and in their teens began to work together on music. They spent time performing around their hometown Cardiff area first with the band The Official Secrets and then as the duo Waterfront. It was fine for a while, but they knew if they wanted to seriously pursue a music career they needed to branch out. They took a chance and made the move to London. After doing gigs around the city and honing their songwriting skills, the pair first signed a publishing deal with SBK and then a record deal with Polydor. A self-titled debut album was recorded and this first single issued out late in '88. Unfortunately, it got nowhere. A second single, "Nature of Love," caught a little action in the UK and got to #78. Then a third single, "Broken Arrow," made it to #63. It seemed like their debut album might never get off the ground, but then "Cry" started to gain traction in the US in the spring of '89. It began to climb the US Pop and AC charts finally peaking at #10 and #2, respectively. The action in the US led to the song being reissued in the UK where it got to #17. The hit then helped the album get to #45 UK/#103 US. Although the duo would have one more minor charting single in the US, this lone Top 10 got them tagged as a one-hit wonder.

ReduxReview:  I remember when this first came out some folks thought it was a new George Michael single. Chris Duffy's lead vocal certainly had shades of Michael's voice and even the tune sounded like it could have been a leftover Michael track, but for some reason the comparison didn't occur to me. I didn't know who it was, but I liked the tune and ended up finding it at the record store. It was in the same vein as Breathe and Johnny Hates Jazz and since I had records by both of those artists, it seemed natural to latch onto this tune as well. The song has kind of been forgotten over the years, which is too bad. It's still a nice slice of 80s sophisti-pop.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  As mentioned, Chris Duffy's vocals on this track made some folks think it was a new George Michael tune. Oddly, the song does have a George Michael connection. One of the track's background vocalists was UK singer Shirley Lewis. Lewis had provided some background vocals for Michael's Faith album. Along with Shirley, her sister Dee also sang on the Waterfront song. Around the time "Cry" was shaping up to be a hit, Shirley acquired her own solo deal with A&M Records. Her debut album Passion would be released later in '89 and it would featured the minor chart entry "Realistic" (#84 Pop/#84 R&B). Shirley's other sister Linda Lewis had a successful recording career in the 70s. She would score a pair of UK Top 20s including the #6 "It's in His Kiss," her disco remake of Betty Everett's #6 US Pop hit "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)." Lewis' version of the song would be her only chart entry in the US getting to #11 Dance/#96 R&B.


Friday, June 24, 2022

"Circle" by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians

Song#:  3860
Date:  04/08/1989
Debut:  80
Peak:  48
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Alternative Rock, Folk-Rock

Pop Bits:  Brickell and her band earned an unexpected Pop Top 10 hit with folk-leaning single "What I Am" (#7). The band's unusual sound attracted record buyers who pushed sales of the band's debut album Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars (#4) to double-platinum status. This second single from the LP seemed destined for the Pop Top 40, but it stalled short of that goal and only got to #32 Rock. It would be the band's last single to reach the Pop chart. Another track from the album, "Little Miss S.," would get to #14 Modern Rock and #38 Rock. The band would hit those charts twice more. First in 1990 with a remake of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," which was part of the soundtrack to the Tom Cruise film Born on the Fourth of July. The track would get to #21 Modern Rock/#28 Rock. Brickell and the Bohemians would then release their second full-length album Ghost of a Dog. It's first single, "Mama Help Me," would get to #17 Modern Rock/#26 Rock. It would fail to make the Pop chart. With that result, the album would stop at #32 and fail to go gold. The band wouldn't record another formal studio album until 2006.

ReduxReview:  "What I Am" was one of those songs that was weird, yet oddly alluring. While I'm sure it would have done well regardless at college/rock radio, the odds of it becoming a Pop hit were not great. It ended up breaking through and turned Brickell and the band into stars, but then the hard part was following it up. It wasn't like the band focused on creating pop hits so picking a second single was a crapshoot. "Circle" wasn't a bad choice. It was an easy, swaying little tune that was a pleasant listen Unfortunately, it just didn't have the hooks needed to make it stand out on radio. Also, that quick little "la-la-la" ending was abrupt and strange. Still, all Brickell needed was the lone hit and the double-platinum LP to get started and she maintained a pretty good career over the years and eventually won a Grammy (see below).

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After Ghost of a Dog failed to meet expectations, Brickell decided to continue on as a solo artist. Her debut solo album Picture Perfect Morning would arrive in 1994. Its first single, "Good Times," would be a a minor chart entry getting to #60 Pop and #22 AC. The album would peak at #68. Brickell then remained quiet on the recording front until a second solo album, Volcano, appeared in 2003 (#188). She would reunite with New Bohemians for an album in 2006 and then record with two other bands, The Heavy Circles and The Gaddabouts. Her career got a boost in 2013 when she collaborated with comedian/musician Steve Martin for the bluegrass album Love Has Come for You. The LP was received well and got to #21 Pop/#1 Bluegrass/#2 Folk. It would later be nominated for two Grammys with the title track song winning the award for Best American Roots Song. The pair would do a follow up album, So Familiar, in 2015 (#128 Pop/#1 Bluegrass/#3 Folk). After their first collaboration, Brickell and Martin began to work on a stage musical. The pair would co-write the music, Brickell would supply the lyrics, and Martin would write the book of the musical. Titled Bright Star, it would find its way to Broadway. It received mixed reviews and closed after 109 performances. Despite its short three-month run, the show would earn five Tony nominations including one for Best Musical. The cast album would also get a Grammy nod for Best Musical Theater Album.


Thursday, June 23, 2022

"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" by Figures on a Beach

Song#:  3859
Date:  04/08/1989
Debut:  91
Peak:  67
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  This band first got together in the early 80s in Detroit and by 1983 they were able to record the EP Swimming for the indie label Metro America. The following year, Was (Not Was) co-founder Don Was sat in the producer's chair for the one-off single "Breathless." The song did well enough to reach #31 on the Dance chart. After one more single, the band decided to take a leap and move to Boston. Once there, they got the attention of Sire Records and were signed to the label. Work began on a debut album that would be titled Standing on Ceremony. It would be issued out in '87. Nothing much came from the effort, but it seems Sire chose to give them another shot and they would record a self-titled LP. For a first single, the label chose this cover tune (see below). It would be a hit in clubs and reach #7 on the Dance chart. The tune was then able to cross over to Pop, but it couldn't get near the top half of the chart. A second single, "Accidentally 4th Street (Gloria)," made a bit of an impact on the Modern Rock chart at #14, but it failed to reach the Pop chart. With those results, the album was unable to chart and their days at Sire came to an end. The band would eventually split in 1991.

ReduxReview:  I'll speculate that the band recorded this song because the label didn't hear a hit among the tracks they had already recorded. Someone probably suggested this BTO track and it got recorded. It kind of worked since it became a Dance hit and the band's lone Pop chart entry. It certainly was an odd version with BTO's rock radio staple getting turned into a synthpop dance track. I have to say the results aren't awful, but they are not great either. It's a little frenetic and goofy, as if Max Headroom tried to cover the tune. However, the production was nice and beefy so it actually sounded kind of good. I've read some reviews that stated the song and the band were a few years too late and I can hear that. The sythpop/dance style they dished out with this song probably seemed a little out of step in '89. These days it doesn't really matter. It certainly sounds like a relic from the 80s, which it is. While the band didn't totally massacre BTO's classic, they didn't do it any favors either. Let's just say it wasn't an inspired choice.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song original recorded by the Canadian band Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Written by band co-founder Randy Bachman, their version would be the first single off of their third album, 1974's Not Fragile. It would become the band's third Pop Top 10 and first #1. The song was famous for Bachman stuttering on certain words. His intent was to record the song with the stutter as a sort of in-joke with his brother who had a stutter at the time. Then later redo his vocal without it. Or even if at all. Bachman and the band considered the song just a "work tape." But when they were finishing up the Not Fragile album, a label exec didn't hear a hit among the tunes and asked for something else. They played him the work tape song and he said that was the ticket. An attempt was made to re-record the vocal without the stutter, but it just wasn't working, so Bachman's original vocal was used. Apparently, Bachman considered it a "joke" song and didn't want it released as a single. But after the album track started to gain traction at rock radio stations, Bachman finally relented and let his "joke" song be released. It became a memorable #1 hit when it was finally issued out.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

"Coming Home" by Cinderella

Song#:  3858
Date:  04/08/1989
Debut:  92
Peak:  20
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Cinderella's second album Long Cold Winter had hit the double-platinum mark and spawned three Pop chart entries including the #12 "Don't Know What You've Got (Till It's Gone)" (#10 Rock). The band's label decided to go for a fourth single and chose to release this power ballad. It clicked on MTV and radio with the song getting to #13 Rock and just making the Pop Top 20. While the hit would help sell a few more albums, it would take nine years before it would get bumped up to triple-platinum status.

ReduxReview:  Back in the day I didn't get into hair bands. There were a few minor exceptions and Cinderella was one of them. They were not like Poison, Warrant, or Mötley Crüe who were known for their bad behavior and raucous and/or sex-drenched party anthems. Cinderella took their glam metal in a different direction adopting a more bluesier sound via bands like Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. Their songs were more thoughtful as well and they avoided wink-wink, nudge-nudge sex stuff like "Cherry Pie." This was my favorite song of theirs. It was a well-written power ballad that had different sections that stood out on their own. I especially like the bridge with the addition of the piano and the soaring outro with the "I'm on my way" background vocals. It should have gone Top 10. Their swampy 1990 single "Shelter Me" was also another winner and should have done better. Cinderella did well and sold millions of albums, but I've always thought they were underrated and unfairly lumped in with the party bands like Poison.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The band would return in 1990 with their third album Heartbreak Station. Incorporating even more blues-oriented rock, the LP would be a #19 platinum seller that featured a pair of Rock Top 10s, the #5 "Shelter Me" (#36 Pop) and the #10 title track (#44 Pop). Unfortunately, in '91 lead singer Tom Keifer experienced vocal chord issues that led to surgical repair. The long recovery time kept the band from releasing a new album until '94. By that time, the rock music landscape had significantly changed. Hard rock/glam metal was no longer in fashion and that left Cinderella's fourth album Still Climbing flopping at a minor #178. The results left them off the Mercury Records roster. After a break, the band would get back to touring and would even sign on with another label, but things went sour and they wouldn't be able to record a new album. They would continue to tour over the years and would cap off their career with final performances in 2014.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

"I'll Be You" by The Replacements

Song#:  3857
Date:  04/08/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  51
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  This Minneapolis band was started in the late 70s by brothers Bob and Tommy Stinson. They filled out other roles in the band including Paul Westerberg as lead singer. The punk-leaning group first became Dogbreath and their undisciplined, raucous, booze-filled shows gained them a few fans and got them kicked out of a couple venues. Westerberg, the band's main songwriter, got the group settled long enough to record a demo that got them signed to the small indie label Twin/Tone. A debut album, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, would be issued in '81 to good reviews. An EP would come in '82 followed by their second LP Hootenanny in '83. Over the course of their recordings, the band's sound began to evolve out of punk into something more alt rock with Westerberg's writing becoming more nuanced. In '84, the band would record the album Let It Be. It would be critically lauded getting placed on a lot of "best of " lists. Despite that, the album failed to chart. A part of that was because Twin/Tone just didn't have the resources to get the band and the album out there. It was time for a move up the chain and so the band signed on with the Warner Bros. offshoot label Sire. Their first major label effort, '85's Tim, was another critical success that at least got them on the Pop Album chart at a minor #183. Before the band would record their next album, found Bob Stinson would leave (or was fired, depending on the story). The rest soldiered on and released '87's Pleased to Meet Me, which got to #131. The band's sound and Westerberg's writing continued to evolve and in '89 they released Don't Tell a Soul, which had a bit of a more mainstream approach. "I'll Be You" would be the first single and it became not only the band's first to make the charts, but their first to reach #1 Rock and #1 Modern Rock. The action there helped it cross over to the Pop chart where it nearly cracked the Top 50. It would end up being their only single to make the Pop chart. Two more album tracks would make the Rock and/or Modern Rock charts and that helped the album reach #57. It would be the band's peak moment of chart popularity.

ReduxReview:  As good as they were, The Replacements were not a band that were going to storm the Pop chart with hits. Their ruff 'n' tumble post-punk/alt rock sound just wasn't a fit for the format. In some cases, it wasn't even a fit for rock radio either. Despite that, the band should have had better promotion and albums like Let It Be and Tim should have sold a lot more. Being on a major label beginning with Tim, I'm sure there had to be a little pressure to think about a track or two that would be more radio ready. I think with Pleased to Meet Me, Westerberg gave it a go with the horn accented "Can't Hardly Wait," but it still didn't click in the way a tune from say R.E.M. might have. When it came time for Don't Tell a Soul, it seems that Westerberg was determined to get over that mainstream hump. The songs were more retrained with conventional hooks and the production was meaty. It paid off with "I'll Be You" hitting #1 on the rock charts and even doing well at Pop. The tune was a pretty good banger that was right in line with other alt rock hits of the day. It still wasn't destined for the Pop Top 10, but it was a good tune that helped lure in more fans.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The band would record one more album, '90's All Shook Down. It would feature a pair of Modern Rock Top 10's including the #1 "Merry Go Round." The LP would get to #69 and earn the band a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. By that point, Westerberg was fully in charge of the band and that led to another original member leaving. With that development, the band chose to dissolve. Westerberg would then go out on his own. His first two albums would make the Top 50. He would sporadically record albums over the years under his own name and the pseudonym of Grandpaboy.  2) The first song by The Replacements to make a chart was not one of their own and wasn't from one of their albums. In '87/'88, music producer and Saturday Night Live sketch music producer Hal Willner took on the task of assembling a tribute album to songs from Disney films. Various famous tunes from Disney features would be redone by contemporary artists. The final product, Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films would be released in '88 and featured artists like Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos, Tom Waits, James Taylor, Sinéad O'Connor, and Ringo Starr. Among the artists Willner tapped for the LP was The Replacements. They would do a version of the 101 Dalmatians tune "Cruella De Vil." That track would get radio airplay and end up making it to #11 on the Modern Rock chart. Stay Awake would be critically lauded and peak at #119.


Monday, June 20, 2022

"Similar Features" by Melissa Etheridge

Song#:  3856
Date:  04/08/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  94
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This singer/songwriter from Kansas learned guitar at an early age and was playing in country bands during her teens. She would go on to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston and while there began to hone her songwriting and performance skills. After several semesters at the college, Etheridge would take a leap of faith and move out to L.A. in search of a music career. She eventually secured a manager and kept on performing at various venues. An Island Records exec caught one of her shows and got Etheridge signed to the label. A self-titled debut album got recorded and the scorching "Bring Me Some Water" was pushed as the first single. It would end up reaching #10 at Rock. A second single, "Like the Way I Do," would get to #28 Rock. Then this third single would be her best effort yet getting to #6 Rock while cracking the Pop chart for a short month. Despite not having a significant hit on the Pop chart, good airplay on rock radio and word of mouth helped Etheridge's debut album get to #22 and go gold (over time it would turn double-platinum). She would also earn her first Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female, for "Bring Me Some Water."

ReduxReview:  I remember walking into a used record shop and when going through their newer releases bin came across Melissa Etheridge. That red cover with Etheridge decked out in leather with spiky hair and a pose that looked both defiant and pleading got my attention. More than that was a sticker that the record shop put on it that said "new, different, and interesting." I had sort of heard about Etheridge, but hadn't heard her music yet. Obviously, it was something I was meant to get and I bought the album. "Similar Features" and its dark, slinky groove and awesome lyrics certainly set a mood and got my attention. By the time the third track "Like the Way I Do" ended, I was in full-on fan mode. The LP quickly became a favorite. It was intense, passionate, and really unlike anything that was coming out at the time. Etheridge would go on to do some great work and even finally break into the Pop Top 10, but for me she never really recaptured the spirit and brilliance of her debut.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  When work began on a debut album, the label had assigned Etheridge engineer/producer Jim Gains (Huey Lewis, Journey, Bruce Hornsby). Being her first big time recording project, Etheridge let Gains run things and he produced her tracks in a big, layered, arena rock way. His style perhaps wasn't what she thought of for her songs, but Gains had a track record of hits, so she went with it. When the LP was finished, it got handed over to the label the exec who found and signed Etheridge, Chris Blackwell. Unfortunately, he didn't like it at all. It didn't represent the artist he saw in the club. Etheridge thought she may have missed her shot, but then she and the musicians who had formed her studio band told Blackwell they could do better and find the more raw/live sound he wanted if they were give a chance to redo the record. Blackwell agreed and over a grueling four days, the team cut the album again, this time with engineer/producer Niko Bolas. The results were exactly what Blackwell and Island was looking for and the album was slated for release. The redo was a good choice as it would go on to sell over two million copies.