Saturday, July 9, 2022

"This Time I Know It's for Real" by Donna Summer

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3873
Date:  04/22/1989
Debut:  88
Peak:  7
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  Music mogul David Geffen had plenty of successes, but he also made some unfortunate decisions as well. While rival Clive Davis was known to be very prickly, Geffen's reputation was that of an asshole. Regardless, he would typically get things done and stars made. Among his mistakes though are perhaps ones with Donna Summer. Following her 1979 #1 double-platinum LP Bad Girls, Summer wanted to leave her label Casablanca due to artistic direction and other issues. She did an signed on as the first artist on Geffen's own label. Her first album for Geffen would be 1980's #13 gold selling The Wanderer. Tensions between Geffen and Summer started to kick off when Summer began recording tracks with her long time producer Giorgio Moroder for a new album. Geffen heard some tracks and didn't like them. He shelved the project (years later released as I'm a Rainbow) and teamed Summer up with Quincy Jones for 1982's Donna Summer. It got to #20 and went gold, which also disappointed Geffen. Next, Summer chose to work with Michael Omartian for her next effort. But then after dealing with issues from her old label, Summer was stuck owning one more album to the parent company Polygram. It seems Geffen wasn't all that thrilled with the new tracks and handed them over to fulfill Summer's obligation. Those tracks became the album She Works Hard for the Money, which became a hit thanks to the #3 title track single. It was touted as Summer's "comeback" and Geffen sort of got aced out. Obviously his next step was to keep Omartian with Summer for her next album '84's Cats Without Claws, but the magic wasn't there and the LP stalled at #40. Summer would then be paired with Harold Faltermeyer for '87's All Systems Go, but the album tanked at #122. Needing some kind of boost, Summer then wanted to work with the Stock Aitken Waterman team (Rick Astley, Bananarama). They got hooked up and recorded the album Another Time Another Place. It was initially launched earlier in '89 in the UK and Europe on Summer's international label Warner Bros. This first single became a #3 hit in the UK and Top 10 in other countries. Yet despite that success, Geffen didn't like the album and refused to release it in the US. The decision would have Summer leaving Geffen and signing on with Atlantic Records who would quickly push out the single. It would end up becoming a gold-selling Pop Top 10 hit (#2 AC/#5 Dance). While the album would miss the gold mark and peak at #53, it seems Geffen missed out once again. Out of Summer's four Top 10's of the 80s, two of them were ones that Geffen gave away. This single was a major bright spot for Summer, but unfortunately it would end up being her last major Pop hit.

ReduxReview:  It is reportedly said that for the SAW team, the Summer album was one that they loved doing and was their favorite in their extensive catalog. I can see that in a couple of respects. First, they had Summer. SAW for the most part had been working with, shall we say, capable vocalists. Having an amazing singer like Summer do their tracks had to have been a great experience. Second was this song. I think it was easily SAW's best tune and it probably didn't hurt that Summer contributed and got a writing credit as well. It was a wonderfully written tune with an SAW production that wasn't over the top. There was a slight air of sophistication about the track that wasn't normally found in the standard SAW song mill. Of course Summer's vocals were perfection. The album was good, but none of the songs came close to this one. It would prove to be Summer's last Pop Top 10 and what a great one to go out on.


Trivia:  Following the success of Another Time Another Place and this hit, it was decided that Summer would do a second album with the Stock Aitken Waterman team. It seems that plans were made and SAW prepped some tracks including one they wrote for her titled "Happenin' All Over Again." Now, it is not necessarily clear as to what happened, but the sessions never got off the ground. Stories either have Summer being too busy to get back to London for the project or Summer just not showing up, which caused a riff between the two parties. Whatever happened, it left SAW with some material ready to go. SAW ended up meeting with US singer Lonnie Gordon. Gordon had been singing in Harlem nightclubs for several years before setting aside her career and moving with her husband and daughter to London. Around '88 she got the urge to sing again and began working with a couple dance/house acts which led to a solo contract with Supreme Records. She had wanted to work with the SAW team so after a minor club hit her label got her a meeting with them. It just so happened that it was around the same time that the Summer project fell through, which was a lucky break for Gordon. She recorded "Happenin' All Over Again" and it was got issued out as a single. The song would end up becoming a #4 hit in the UK in 1990. More tracks would be recorded and a debut album released. Gordon would not get noticed in the US at the time, but the following year she recorded the song "Gonna Catch You" for the Vanilla Ice flick Cool As Ice and it reached #1 on the US Dance chart while also reaching #78 Pop. A second album, 1993's Bad Mood, would three US Dance Top 10s including two #1s. One of those was a remix of "Happenin' All Over Again," which briefly touched the Pop chart at #98. Gordon would score one more Dance Top 10 in '96 before doing other work such as being the lead vocalist/narrator for the Las Vegas Cirque de Soleil show Zumanity.


Friday, July 8, 2022

"Seeing Is Believing" by Mike + the Mechanics

Song#:  3872
Date:  04/22/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  62
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Mike Rutherford and his band earned their second gold selling album with Living Years. It got to #13 thanks to the #1 Pop/#1 AC/#5 Rock second single "The Living Years." For a follow up to that hit, this next track was issued out as the third single. The song would be able to make the Rock Top 20 at #18, but it had difficulty breaking through at Pop and stopped short of the halfway mark. Another track, "Nobody Knows," would get to a minor #41 at AC.

ReduxReview:  This chuggin' tune was a good follow up to the sentimental "The Living Years," but it just wasn't as memorable or pop radio ready as their previous hits. While the tune had some hooks, it was lacking a more definitive chorus. Unfortunately, there really wasn't any other single-worthy tune on the LP so this one was the best shot. I think it did as well as it could.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Rutherford would do double-duty in 1991. In the spring of that year, he would assemble a new album with the Mechanics titled Word of Mouth. While the LP would do well in the band's UK home (#11), it practically got nowhere in the US. The title track first single would only get to #30 Rock/#78 Pop while the track "Everybody Gets a Second Chance" would top out at #24 AC. That left the album stopping at #107. Rutherford would have better luck later in the fall of '91 when he rejoined Tony Banks and Phil Collins to record the Genesis album We Can't Dance. It would get to #4 and sell over four million copies thanks to five Pop Top 30 hits including the #7 "I Can't Dance." The album would be the last studio effort by Genesis to include Phil Collins. Rutherford would continue on with his Mechanics and while they wouldn't have further success in the US, they would do fairly well in the UK. The band would initially dissolve in 2007, but then a couple years later Rutherford would form a new version of Mike + the Mechanics featuring lead singer Andrew Roachford (aka Roachford of "Cuddly Toy" fame). As of this posting date, the new incarnation has recorded three albums. Two of them made the UK Top 10.


Thursday, July 7, 2022

"Shake It Up" by Bad Company

Song#:  3871
Date:  04/22/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  82
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:   The 70s were a great period for Bad Company with all five of their studio albums going gold, platinum, or multi-platinum. The 80s started out rocky with their sixth album Rough Diamonds becoming their worst charting album to-date (#26) and missing the gold mark. After that result, the band decided to call it quits. A sort of forced revival of the Bad Company name would come about in '85 with two former members working on the project along with new vocalist Brian Howe. Their first effort, '86's Fame and Fortune didn't perform well (#106) with the single "This Love" only getting to #85 Pop/#12 Rock. Yet the results seemed good enough for Atlantic to give them another try. Working this time around with producer/songwriter Terry Thomas, the band came up with Dangerous Age. This single was released and it did well at Rock reaching #9. It would cross over to the Pop chart for a couple months, but could only get to #82. Another track, "No Smoke Without a Fire," would be the band's biggest hit at Rock in years getting to #4, while "One Night" would get to #9. The trio of Rock Top 10s brought folks back to Bad Company and the album would become a #58 gold seller.

ReduxReview:  After an album that had Bad Company taking a more commercial "modern" approach with keyboards and glossy production, the band took a step back and tried to recapture their rock 'n' roll sound. For the most part they succeeded. Songs on the LP had swagger and sounded far less forced. Although tracks like this single may not have been ideal for pop radio, they were just right for rock stations and listeners ate it up. They would continue their new winning formula to even better results with their next album.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The band's lucky streak would continue with their next two albums. 1990's Holy Water would be a #35 platinum seller thanks to a pair of Pop Top 30 hits including the #16 "If You Needed Somebody" (#2 Rock), which was their first Pop Top 20 entry since 1979's "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy" (#13). The LP also contained the #1 Rock title track plus two other Rock Top 10s. While it wouldn't do quite as well, their follow-up album Here Comes Trouble would go gold thanks to the #1 Rock/#38 Pop single "How About That." Personnel changes would halt the band's progress with their next to albums performing poorly. Bad Company would continue to kick around with various lineups over the years, including stints with original lead singer Paul Rodgers.


Wednesday, July 6, 2022

"Round & Round" by New Order

Song#:  3870
Date:  04/22/1989
Debut:  95
Peak:  64
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Synthpop, Techno

Pop Bits:  It had been three years since New Order had released a new studio album, but during that time a compilation titled Substance was released and it included the band's first US Top 40 entry, the #32 "True Faith." Then a one-off remix of one of their previous singles, "Blue Monday," got to #68. The band seemed poised for a bigger breakthrough and so they readied their fifth studio album Technique. Its first single, "Fine Time," would do well on the Dance chart (#2) and at Modern Rock (#3). However, it was unable to reach the Pop chart. This next single would fare better. It would become the band's third song to reach #1 on the Dance chart while peaking at #6 Modern Rock. This time the tune would cross over to Pop, but it couldn't climb into the top half of the chart. Regardless of that result, New Order had built up a sizable following in the US and that helped the album get to #32. By the end of the year it would be certified gold.

ReduxReview:  On paper, this is a band that I should have loved. They ticked a lot of boxes, yet for some reason I just never fully hooked into their tunes. Even when they attempted to be a bit more mainstream, as in this remixed single, my reaction was still kind of meh. I liked what I heard. The problem was that very little of it stuck in my head. I appreciate them more these days, but I'm still missing an overall connection to them. New Order had a habit of giving songs titles, yet not including the titles in the lyrics. This was one of them as was "True Faith" and "Blue Monday."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) New Order's first single of the '90s was "World in Motion." It was a song written specifically to represent England's team in the 1990 FIFA World Cup football (soccer in US terms) competition, which was to be held in Italy that year. The tune featured some vocals from six team members and a rap by player John Barnes. The one-off single oddly became New Order's first and only to reach #1 in the UK.  2) Although the band struggled with internal issues and with their label going bankrupt, they rallied and released 1993's Republic. It's first single, "Regret," would end up being their best charting effort in the US reaching #28 (#1 Dance). The album would also be their best showing getting to #11. It would be a gold seller. Despite the band hitting new heights in popularity in both the US and UK, they decided to split. Eventually they would drift back together and in 2001 finally release their seventh album Get Ready (#6 UK/#41 US). After another album in 2005, the band would once again split. A few years later, they would once again reform. An album of leftover material would be issued out in 2013 followed by a new effort in 2015 titled Music Complete. It would reach #2 in the UK and #34 in the US. Although the band would never score a major hit on the US Pop chart, they did very well on the US Dance chart earning fourteen Top 10s including four #1s.


Tuesday, July 5, 2022

"Through the Storm" by Aretha Franklin & Elton John

Song#:  3869
Date:  04/15/1989
Debut:  56
Peak:  16
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:  Franklin began the 80s by leaving her long time label Atlantic for Clive Davis' Arista Records. By 1982 she had earned her first gold album since 1972 and then she got the first platinum album of her career with 1985's Who's Zoomin' Who? That LP and its #3 Grammy-winning hit "Freeway of Love" introduced Franklin to a whole new generation of fans. Her next LP, '86's Aretha would go gold and feature her Grammy-winning #1 duet with George Michael "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." In '87, Franklin would shift gears and record the live gospel album One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism (#106 Pop/#25 R&B). She would then return to pop/R&B music with the LP Through the Storm. It would feature a new Franklin original composition, an update of her 1968 classic "Think," and three duet tracks including this first single performed with Elton John. On paper, this was going to be another smash for Franklin. The song was written by Albert Hammond and Diane Warren, produced by Narada Michael Walden, and featured Elton John who had recently been to #2 with "I Don't Wanna Go on with You Like That." All of that plus debuting high on the Pop chart at #56 indicated a major hit was about to happen. But then it didn't. The song stalled at #16 Pop and #17 R&B. It did better at AC where the tune reached #3. With that result, the album would fall short of expectations peaking at #55 Pop/#21 R&B and missing out on gold status.

ReduxReview:  Since it worked well the last time around, it seems Clive Davis thought another superstar duet was in order for Aretha. This time around they secured Elton John who was having a bit of a career resurgence at the time. I actually don't think John was the best choice. Besides being a good tune, one of the reasons "I Knew You Were Waiting" worked was because of George Michael. He was young, current, and on a massive hot streak. Although John had a recent hit, he was still not a hot, young artist at a career peak so the Aretha/John pairing kind of seemed like the old guard trying to keep up with the kids. Overall, the effort was not all that bad. It was a nice, yet forgettable pop tune with polite vocals from Aretha and John. With all the hit making names involved in the track I think many folks including myself expected something better. Aretha's next single would feature a newly minted superstar, but sadly the duet would be and fare worse that this one.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While this song was the official first single from Through the Storm, another track had already been released the year before. Franklin recorded the song "If Ever a Love There Was" with The Four Tops and it first appeared on their 1988 album Indestructible. It would be released as the LP's second single in the fall of '88. The song, which also featured Kenny G, would be a modest chart entry at R&B (#31) and AC (#26). It was unable to make the Pop chart. Despite the result, Franklin then include the tune as one of the tracks on her upcoming Through the Storm album. It would be the first of four singles in a row that were all duets for Aretha. She wouldn't release a fully solo single again until 1991.


Monday, July 4, 2022

"Miss You Like Crazy" by Natalie Cole

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3868
Date:  04/15/1989
Debut:  75
Peak:  7
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:  After earning seven consecutive gold or platinum albums in the 70s, Cole's career took a downturn in the 80s. Her first four albums of the decade failed to get close to gold level sales and none of them would supply her with a Top 10 Pop or R&B hit. She would switch labels twice, but that didn't help things. In 1987, she'd switch labels again and record the LP Everlasting. Working with a variety of hit making songwriters and producers, the album would finally revive Cole's sagging career. Its first two singles would make the R&B Top 10 with each one making it to #13 Pop. She then solidified her comeback with the #5 Pop/#9 R&B remake of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac." The album would then go gold. With the ship righted, Cole went back into the studio to record her next album that was appropriately titled Good to Be Back. This first single would be released and it would become her sixth R&B #1 and her first to top the AC chart. The tune would also be Cole's fifth Pop Top 10. A second single, a duet with Freddie Jackson titled "I Do," would make it to #7 R&B and #15 AC, but it would failed to make the Pop chart. Another track, "Starting Over Again," would get to #5 AC. With the album only featuring one major crossover hit, it would only get to #59 Pop/#21 R&B and miss out on gold status. Still, it was a better result than her first four albums of the 80s.

ReduxReview:  This tune was written by Gerry Goffin, Preston Glass, and Michael Masser. It was produced by Masser who had supplied tunes for Whitney Houston including the #1 "Didn't We Almost Have It All" (co-written with Will Jennings). It wouldn't surprise me if this song was originally written with Houston in mind. It sounded like something Houston would have recorded at the time. Cole luckily ended up with the tune and it worked out well for her. I liked this song better than "Didn't We Almost Have It All," which was an interminable track that had Houston screaming all over it. By contrast, this big ballad is a more succinct, easy listen with a powerful but tasteful vocal from Cole. It would end up being her final Pop Top 10 hit, but her next album would send her career to a new all-time peak.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Cole's next album would become the most successful of her career. In 1991, she would release the LP Unforgettable...with Love. The project found Cole paying tribute to her father Nat King Cole. She recorded a set of pop standards that had been performed by her father including signature hits like "L-O-V-E" and "Mona Lisa." For one of his most enduring songs, "Unforgettable," a bit of studio magic was done that had Natalie performing the track as a duet with Nat. It would be the first single from the album and it would do surprisingly well getting to #14 Pop, #10 R&B, and #3 AC. The concept album would become an unexpected smash hit reaching #1 Pop/#5 R&B. Eventually it would sell over seven million copies. The album would win two Grammys including one for Album of the Year while "Unforgettable" would win four Grammys including Record of the Year, Song of the Year. Cole's next two regular studio albums would consist of jazz and pop standards with each one earning Cole a Grammy. Her return to contemporary pop, 1999's Snowfall on the Sahara would fall flat (#163), so she would return to doing cover albums with the jazz effort Ask a Woman Who Knows (2002, #32 Pop), the R&B/pop covers LP Leavin' (#16 R&B), and the sequel to Unforgettable, 2008's Still Unforgettable. That album would get to #19 Pop/#8 R&B and would earn Cole her ninth and final Grammy award. Around that time Cole would go through health issues including having hepatitis C and getting a kidney transplant. She would die in 2015 of congestive heart failure.