Saturday, July 30, 2022

"I Drove All Night" by Cyndi Lauper

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3890
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  60
Peak:  6
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Lauper had two multi-platinum albums to her credit along with seven Pop Top 10 hits. Everyone was waiting to hear what the mistress of quirk would do with her next album and in the spring of '89 Lauper gave them A Night to Remember. This first single kicked things off and it would go on to become her eighth Pop Top 10. It also made a brief appearance at AC getting to #43. While the song would prove to be a memorable hit for her, it didn't really do the job in promoting sales of the album. A week before this song would make the Top 10, the album would hit its peak of #37. It was also not approaching the gold level sales mark, which was a big disappointment coming off of two albums that quickly went gold and eventually multi-platinum.Unfortunately, this single would end up being Lauper's last to reach the Pop Top 40. On the bright side, the song would earn Lauper a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  I loved this song when it came out. I thought it was a more mature song for Lauper and it fit her well. The arrangement and production were great and the build up bridge to the chorus was so good (and very Orbison-like, which was intended - see below). I also like Lauper's vocal delivery. It showcased her voice in a new way and she gave a more restrained performance that really fit the tune. It was a song that was perfect for a windows rolled down night time summer country drive. It really should have made it to #1. A Night to Remember was maligned by critics and it wasn't a favorite of Lauper's either as she later dubbed it A Night to Forget. However, I was one who really like it. I thought the majority of the tracks were quite strong and it helped move Lauper away from some of the goofiness found on her previous effort. The album got a little sluggish in the last few tracks, but I still count it as one of my favorite Lauper works. It deserved a better fate.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While Lauper was the first artist to release this song, she was not the first to record it. Written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the tune was originally pegged for Roy Orbison. When Orbison began working with ELO leader Jeff Lynne in 1987, this song was one they recorded for a new Orbison solo LP. However, work on the album got interrupted when The Traveling Wilburys project suddenly came up. Lynn and Orbison would finally finish the album Mystery Girl late in '88, but "I Drove All Night" was not included. Whether or not that was due to Lauper picking up the tune is unknown, but it seems likely. Orbison would unexpectedly pass away near the end of '88 and Mystery Girl would receive a posthumous release (#5, platinum). Orbison's version of "I Drove All Night" would first get released on a 1991 compilation titled Nintendo: White Knuckle Scorin'. Then in '92, an album of demos and other recordings by Orbison was put together and titled King of Hearts. "I Drove All Night" would be included on the LP and would be issued out as a single. It wouldn't chart, but King of Hearts would get to a minor #179. A decade later, Celine Dion would cover the tune for her 2003 album One Heart. It would be released as a single and get to #45 Pop/#7 AC/#2 Dance. Dion recorded the tune for a Chrysler car ad campaign and she also appeared in a commercial. However, with the song not doing well on the Pop chart and the ad not seeming to spur sales, Chrysler put a halt to the campaign.  2) A Night to Remember was actually Lauper's second attempt at a third album. Originally, she had prepared an album titled Kindred Spirit. It featured ten tracks including "Hole in My Heart (All the Way to China)," which was done for Lauper's 1988 film Vibes and released as a single. However, after that single tanked (#54) and the film became a box office bomb, Kindred Spirits was put on hold. It would then be reworked into A Night to Remember. Eight tracks from Kindred would be remixed for the new album with two songs being dropped including "Hole in My Heart." Three new tracks would then get added. The finished LP would get released nearly a year after Lauper's unfortunate misstep with Vibes.


Friday, July 29, 2022

"Into the Night" by Benny Mardones

Song#:  3889
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  65
Peak:  20
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  In 1980, singer/songwriter Mardones issued out his second album Never Run, Never Hide. Its first single was the power ballad "Into the Night." It would become a hit just missing out on cracking the Pop Top 10 peaking at the dreaded #11 spot. No further singles from the LP charted and after a third album quickly came and went, Mardones' career took a major tumble. He would be dropped by his label and fall into substance abuse, which he would eventually overcome. Mardones would continue to write and perform and in '86 would even release an indie album credited to Benny Mardones & the Hurricanes. It seemed like his days on the charts were over, but then in '89 a radio station in Phoenix aired a "Where Are They Now"-style segment that featured Mardones and "Into the Night." The song gained some attention thanks to a new generation of listeners who hadn't heard it before. The buzz about the tune made it over to L.A. DJ/Program Director Scott Shannon who then added the old hit to his station's playlist. The song quickly picked up steam with other stations putting it into their rotations. With the tune generating a lot of new interest, Mardones' former label, Polydor, reissued the single. The song reentered the Pop chart and began to take off. It would eventually peak at the Top 20 mark while also getting to #20 at AC. The song's revival would be a big boost to Mardones' career and give him a second shot at the big time.

ReduxReview:  My original review was kinda short, but it still stands. This was a well-written song that was made even more memorable by Mardones emotive vocal. To find out more about the song and Mardones' vocal take, I highly suggest watching the Professor of Rock interview with Mardones. More insight into the song is given in the interview than can really be found elsewhere and it is worth watching (as is anything by Prof of Rock).

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  As "Into the Night" scaled the chart for a second time, it gave Mardones an opportunity to seek a new record deal. He would sign on with the Warner Bros. distributed label Curb Records. Curb, which was founded by composer/musician Mike Curb in 1964, was mainly known as a country music label. Pop/rock artists were not necessarily in their wheelhouse, but they wanted to give it a go with Mardones. A self-titled album that featured a newly recorded version of "Into the Night" was quickly recorded and released. A couple of singles were issued out, but neither charted and the album quietly went away along with Mardones' contract with Curb. Mardones would not reach the Pop chart again, which oddly made him a one-hit wonder twice. Despite not making the Pop chart again, Mardones would reach the AC chart three times. In 2002, Mardones would release the indie album A Journey Through Time. Two songs from the LP would end up making the AC chart. "I Need a Miracle" would get to #30 while "I Want It All" would reach #25. Then in 2003, Mardones would be a duet partner on the song "I Know You By Heart" by singer/songwriter Katrina Carlson. The track was from her second album Untucked. The song would reach #25 on the AC chart. Mardones would continue to record and perform over the years even after getting a diagnosis for Parkinson's disease in 2000. By the late 2010s, he would be sidelined by continuing health issues. Mardones would die in 2020 due to complications from Parkinson's.


Thursday, July 28, 2022

"Good Thing" by Fine Young Cannibals

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3888
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  69
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Soul

Pop Bits:  This Brit trio picked up their first #1 Pop hit in the States with "She Drives Me Crazy." The single, which was taken from their second album The Raw and the Cooked, would sell well enough to go gold and help the album reach the platinum level. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It would catch on and eventually become their second #1 at Pop. It would also get to #2 Modern Rock, #12 AC, #20 Dance, and #39 Rock. The success of the single helped push the album to #1 at the beginning of June and it would remain at the top spot for seven weeks. The boost in sales would send it to the double-platinum mark.

ReduxReview:  While I liked the groovy "She Drives Me Crazy," this next single failed to draw me in. Its punchy, retro Motown sound didn't thrill me and I ended up ignoring the tune and losing interest in FYC. I still don't connect with the song even now, but I don't dislike it. I was actually surprised it did so well on the Pop chart. The tune was so different from "She Drives Me Crazy" and usually a big shift in sound or style following a major hit will not be greeted well by pop listeners. However, the song was strong enough to stand on its own and keep folks rollin' with FYC.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Four tracks on The Raw and the Cooked made their debuts in films prior to be included on the album. The song "Ever Fallen in Love" would be picked up for use in the 1986 Jonathan Demme comedy flick Something Wild, which starred Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels. It would appear on the film's soundtrack and be issued out as a single. In the US, the song would not chart at Pop but would make it to #11 Dance. The tune would get to #9 in the UK. Then for the 1987 Barry Levinson comedy Tin Men that starred Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito, the band would not only supply four songs for the film, but would appear as the house band of a night club. Three of the songs used in the movie would then be placed on The Raw and the Cooked including "Good Thing." It would be the first appearance of the songs on a record because there was no soundtrack album released for the film. Both Something Wild and Tin Men would receive positive notices from critics and do moderately well at the box office. However, Something Wild later turned into a sort of cult film especially after Griffin hit it big with 1988's Working Girl and after Demme's 1992 Oscar-winner The Silence of the Lambs.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

"Be with You" by The Bangles

Song#:  3887
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  73
Peak:  30
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The Bangles earned their second #1 Pop hit with "Eternal Flame," the second single from their third album Everything. It would also become their second gold seller and it helped the album get to #15 and go platinum. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. Whereas the first two singles from the album featured Suzanna Hoffs on lead vocals, this track had drummer Debbi Peterson taking over the duties. The song ended up peaking right at the Top 30 mark, which was a bit of a disappointment. A fourth single would not follow. Then in September of '89, the band shocked fans by announcing their breakup. The Bangles had always functioned as a collaborative group with each member writing songs and performing lead vocals. Then after the Prince-written "Manic Monday" hit #2 in '86, dynamics in the group changed. Since Hoffs had performed the lead vocal on the track, many folk including from the press began to consider her the leader and voice of the band, which wasn't actually true. Yet Hoffs kept getting a push out front and when it came time to assemble Everything, it seems a lot of time was spent trying to make sure each member was represented equally, which caused friction as it was not done in the same collaborative way as in the past. Then, of course, the label pushed out the first two singles that were both co-written and sung by Hoffs, which just added fuel to the fire. After this Peterson-led track didn't get very far on the heels of the #1 "Eternal Flame," the fate of the band was nearly sealed. The band met and chose to go their own ways less that six months after earning a #1 gold single.

ReduxReview:  This urgent tune was an acceptable single, but it wasn't going to get the band back into the Pop Top 10. Really, the two best single candidates had already been released and the balance didn't necessarily have another immediate smash, so it was a crap shoot as to what to push out. If I were to guess, I bet the label wanted the Hoffs-led "I'll Set You Free" (which was issued out in the UK) to be third, but some talks led to Peterson's "Be with You" getting out. Either way, another Top 10 was just not in the cards and in the end the band split. It was really too bad as the quartet were best when they collaborated and shared songwriting/vocal duties. Hoffs' first two solo albums were meh, but her 2012 LP Someday was excellent and I liked her collaborations with Matthew Sweet. Meanwhile, Vicki Peterson did some fine work with the Continental Drifters. I also liked the Bangles' second post-breakup LP Sweethearts of the Sun. In 2014 a really fun compilation titled Ladies and Gentlemen...The Bangles! was issued out. It consisted of their pre-fame/pre-Columbia Records indie tracks most with original bassist Annette Zilinskas, who would actually rejoin the band in 2018.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The only Bangle to seek out a solo career was Suzanna Hoffs. Her 1991 debut effort, When You're a Boy, would be an underwhelming effort peaking at #83. Its only charting single was the #30 "My Side of the Bed," which was written by Hoffs with Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg (the same trio wrote "Eternal Flame" and the #5 "In Your Room"). Her self-titled 1996 LP would not chart, but it did feature the minor #77 Pop entry "All I Want." Since then, Hoffs has had a few more releases and also collaborated with singer/songwriter Matthew Sweet for a series of decade-oriented remake albums title Under the Covers.  2) The Bangles would end up getting back together thanks to a film. In 1998, Hoffs' husband at the time Jay Roach was directing Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, the sequel to the 1997 Mike Myers hit Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Roach kind of poked and prodded the members into recording a song for the film. Vicki and Debbi Peterson along with Hoffs would write "Get the Girl" and the full compliment of The Bangles, which included Michael Steele, would record the tune. The reunited band would then set out on a tour in 2000. That was followed by their first album since their split, 2003's Doll Revolution. Steele would leave the band in 2005, but the remaining members continued on and would record the 2011 album Sweethearts of the Sun.


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

"If You Don't Know Me By Now" by Simply Red

#1 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3886
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  81
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  The English group's third album A New Flame was not burning up the chart when initially released. Its first single, "It's Only Love," would be a bit of a dud only reaching #57 Pop. They needed something much stronger to prompt album sales and they gave it a go with this cover tune second single. It took a minute for the song to catch on, but it was able to scale the Pop chart and eventually become the band's second #1 hit. It would also top the AC chart while peaking at a minor #38 at R&B. Thanks to the success of the single, the album rebounded and was able to reach #22. It would then be certified gold. Follow up singles would fail to chart at Pop, but the track "You've Got It" would get to #7 at AC. This single would earn the band a Grammy nod for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group. The song, despite being a remake of a previous hit, would win the Grammy for Best R&B Song.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't a fan of Simply Red. While I appreciated their other #1 "Holding Back the Years," little else from them grabbed my ear. When this single came out, I thought it might be a good fit for the band and in general it was with the tune becoming their second #1. However, their take on the classic didn't do much for me. While I liked the stripped back approach of the arrangement, I thought the tune just dragged. Frankly, it bored me. Mick Hucknall's restrained vocal was good and appropriate for the way the song was performed, but I feel he could have added some minor fireworks to keep the song interesting. Obviously no one is going to beat the original version with Teddy Pendergrass' incredible, yearning vocal, but I expected something a bit better than this sleepy take from Simply Red.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Their 1972 version would reach #1 R&B/#3 Pop and go gold. Taken from the group's debut album I Miss You, it would be their breakthrough single. Over the next few years, the group would earn three more R&B #1s and one more Pop Top 10. The lead singer for the track was Teddy Pendergrass, who would later go on to have a successful solo career. Written by the famous team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the tune was originally written for the R&B vocal trio Labelle, but they did not record it. The song was then pushed over to Melvin and his group. To-date, Simply Red has been the only other artist to reach the Pop chart with a version of the song. In 2009, a cover by Seal would get to #8 AC.  2) Simply Red's next album, 1991's Stars, would prove to be the biggest selling of their career. It was a massive hit in many countries including the UK where it reached #1 and was certified 12x platinum. In the US, the album would featured the band's last Pop Top 40 single, the #23 "Something Got Me Started," and that was enough for the LP to go gold despite its low #76 peak. While Simply Red continued to have success at home in the UK and in Europe, their fortunes quickly dwindled in the US. However, they would earn three #1s at Dance and a pair of AC Top 10s over the years.


Monday, July 25, 2022

"I Like" by Guy

Song#:  3885
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  82
Peak:  70
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  This trio consisted of Teddy Riley, Aaron Hall, and Timmy Gatling. They got together when Gatling noticed the vocal talent of Hall when they both worked together at a Brooklyn department store. Gatling then introduced Hall to Riley, Gatling and Riley were friends and had worked together previously in a group. The three then decided to form a group and dubbed themselves Guy. Thanks to a management connection Riley and Hall had due to their previous group, the newly formed trio got signed to the MCA distributed label Uptown Records. Work began on a self-titled debut album with all songs written by members of the group. Riley and their manager Gene Griffin would handle production duties on the new jack swing flavored tracks. A first single, "Groove Me," would be issued out in May of '88. It would get to #4 R&B/#33 Dance. A second single made the R&B Top 30, but then the third single "Teddy's Jam" would put them back in the R&B Top 10 at #5 (#25 Dance). It would then be this fourth single that would finally get them on the Pop chart. Although it would only spend a few weeks near the bottom, it became their biggest hit at R&B getting to #2 (#36 Dance). The three R&B Top 10s helped the album reach #1 at R&B. It also got enough crossover attention to reach #27 Pop. Eventually it would be a double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  The trio's debut album came out in the summer of '88 just as new jack swing was beginning to catch on with Teddy Riley one of the pioneers of the genre. Even before forming Guy, Riley already had a new jack hit to is credit with Keith Sweat's #5 Pop/#1 R&B "I Want Her." Riley also scored with Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" (#1 Pop/#1 R&B). So it was only natural that he'd want to try for his own career in the spotlight and he did that via Guy. Their debut album became a watershed moment in the new jack swing era and has since been hailed as a classic of the genre. Weirdly, this was the only single from the album to reach the Pop chart. Not sure the reason, but I'm guessing that it may have been that pop radio might have been a bit resistant in playing and promoting new jack swing and that the R&B hits from the album may not have been quite as immediately hooky and catchy as something like "My Prerogative." Still, songs like "Teddy's Jam" and "Groove Me" were expertly crafted and should have had a wider audience. This single was another solid jam from the trio and was a bit more pop radio friendly, but it still couldn't make much headway on the chart. Despite the lack of mainstream support, the album deservedly went double-platinum. Had at least one single gotten near the upper reaches of the Pop chart, the LP would have easily gotten to the triple-platinum mark.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) After the album was completed, group member Timmy Gatling found himself at odds with management over contracts. That along with some inner turmoil within the trio led to Gatling leaving the group. He would be replaced by Aaron Hall's brother Damion. The trio's next album, 1990's The Future would be a #1 R&B/#16 platinum seller thanks to four R&B Top 10 hits. Guy would split after the LP's supporting tour was over.  2) Earlier in the 80s, Teddy Riley and Timmy Gatling along with Clurel Henderson were members of a short-lived trio called Kids At Work. Assembled by producer Gene Griffin, the trio were sort of modeled after other R&B boy groups like New Edition. They recorded and released a 1984 self-titled debut album on Griffin's Sound of New York label. Two singles from the album would be mid-charters at R&B. A 1986 single for Rooftop Records would fail to chart and the group would disband. A couple years later, Gatling would hook back up with Riley to form Guy.