Friday, August 12, 2022

"So Alive" by Love and Rockets

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3901
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  3
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  This English outfit consisted of three former members of the cult goth rock band Bauhaus. After Bauhaus split in '83, its members worked on other projects including solo efforts and a short-lived band called Tones on Tail. Then in '85, Bauhaus members Daniel Ash, David J, and Kevin Haskins got together and formed Love and Rockets. They were quickly signed to Beggars Banquet and that same year issued out a debut album. It didn't get much attention, but their next two LPs found their way to the US Album chart thanks to a couple of Rock chart entries including '87's "No New Tale to Tell" (#18). Then in '89 they would issue out a self-titled album that found the band moving in a more radio-ready, alt rock direction. Its first single, "Motorcycle," would reach #20 at Modern Rock, but then this next single would quickly shove the band into the limelight. "So Alive" would take off and reach #1 at Modern Rock and #9 Rock. That attention helped the song get on the Pop chart and eventually it would make it all the way up to #3. The tune also got to #20 Dance. That unexpected success spurred album sales and it would get to #14 and go gold.

ReduxReview:  This was a dark, cool, sexy, groovy tune that was catchy and hard to ignore. Daniel Ash's suave and slightly naughty vocal delivery did a lot to sell the tune. The subdued arrangement with the "Walk on the Wild Side"-style background vocals was spot on for the track. It was definitely the band's most commercially viable single and it certainly made a mark.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  While Love and Rockets scored a big hit and were popular in their heyday, Bauhaus were arguably more influential and had a longer lasting impact. Formed in 1978, the band consisted of the three Love and Rocket members along with lead singer Peter Murphy. Their dark, industrial, gloomy, post-punk sound would make them pioneers in what would become known as goth rock. The roots of the genre stretched back to artists like David Bowie and The Velvet Underground, but it wouldn't be until the late 70s that goth rock would start to carve out its own place in music. Although artists like Siouxsie & the Banshees and Joy Division had works that contained the building blocks of goth rock, the 1979 debut single by Bauhaus, "Bela Lugosi's Dead," has widely been considered ground zero of the genre with the band's 1980 album In the Flat Field considered the first true goth LP. Bauhaus would do well in their native UK and even grab a #4 album with 1982's The Sky's Gone Out. After a 1983 album, Bauhaus would break up. During their initial run, none of the band's albums charted in the US. They remained a cult group with only one song reaching any chart; 1981's "Kick in the Eye" got to #29 Dance. Bauhaus would gain a bit of recognition in 1983 when they appeared as a band in a nightclub scene in the horror film The Hunger. They would perform "Bela Lugosi's Dead." The movie, which starred Susan Sarandon and David Bowie would do okay at the box office, but would later become a cult flick, especially within the goth community. Peter Murphy would have a successful solo career after Bauhaus. He would even score a #55 US Pop/#1 Modern Rock/#10 Rock hit in 1990 with "Cuts You Up." It was taken from his album Deep (#44).


Thursday, August 11, 2022

"Send Me an Angel '89" by Real Life

Song#:  3900
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  72
Peak:  26
Weeks:  16
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This Aussie band scored an international hit in 1983 with "Send Me an Angel," the first single from their debut album Heartland. It would reach the Top 10 in several countries including Germany where it got to #1. In the US, the tune was just able to make the Top 30 (#29) while getting to #18 Rock. The album sold a few copies and got to #58. Their next album, '85's Flame, would fizzle even at home in Australia. Finding themselves at a bit of a crossroads, the band signed on with Curb Records in the US and recorded a few new tracks that would be combined with some previous recordings for '86's Down Comes the Hammer. Singles from the LP failed to chart and it left Real Life in limbo. Then thanks to the recent resurgence of older songs getting back on the chart at the time, Curb decided to push out a new mix of the band's first hit. With the updated title "Send Me an Angel '89," the song caught on in clubs and it would end up hitting #5 on the Dance chart. That action helped get the song on the Pop chart and it ended up peaking three notches higher than the original single. Curb quickly assembled a compilation by the same name as the new mix of the single, but it wouldn't chart.

ReduxReview:  This was a song that was just right for a revival. It wasn't a huge hit on its initial run and with bands like Depeche Mode making waves, this dark synthpop track fit right in. The new mix gave the right amount of boost to make the song sound more current and modern. Again, it really should have done better on the chart, but the fact that it made the Top 30 for a second time was a cool accomplishment.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The renewed interest in Real Life prompted Curb to order a new album from the band. In 1990, they would release Lifetime. It's first single, "God Tonight," would be another hit at Dance reaching #9. It also was able to get to #15 at Modern Rock. A second single, "Kiss the Ground," would get to #27 Dance. Neither of them would make the Pop chart and the album would also fail to chart. After that, the band would go on an extended break. Various lineups would later get together to record and do tours.


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

"Crazy About Her" by Rod Stewart

Song#:  3899
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  74
Peak:  11
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Stewart's fifteenth studio album Out of Order would be his best selling of the 80s reaching the double-platinum mark. It got there thanks to a pair of #12 Pop singles along with the #4 "My Heart Can't Tell Me No." To keep up momentum, this fourth single was lifted from the LP. It would nearly crack the Top 10 stopping at the dreaded #11 spot. With that result, Out of Order became Stewart's first and only album to generate four Pop Top 20 hits. A fifth single was not released, however the album track "Dynamite" did get enough airplay to reach #16 at Rock.

ReduxReview:  After "My Heart Can't Tell Me No," the label kind of needed to release a follow up and this track was selected. There wasn't much left on the LP that made for a good single candidate and this one was probably the right pick. It had a sort of Stones "Miss You" meets The Power Station kind of groove and a hooky chorus. Still, I didn't think it would even crack the Top 40. It just didn't sound like a hit to me, yet it nearly made the Top 10. However, the song certainly didn't have lasting impact. It kind of came and went and then stayed away. A lot of Stewart hits have continued to get airplay, but this is one you just never hear, which is kind of appropriate as it wouldn't get close to being on a list of Stewart's best singles.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  For Out of Order, Stewart would record a version of the old blues standard "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." Composed by Jimmie Cox in 1923, the song would later become most associated with singer Bessie Smith. Her 1929 version would be a major hit. Oddly, the record was released just a few weeks prior to the Wall Street market crash of 1929, which was a catalyst of The Great Depression. The only artist to reach the Pop chart with a version of the song was in 1960 when Nina Simone got to #93 (#23 R&B). Stewart had covered several rock, soul, and blues tunes for his albums over the years, but in 2002 he would go all-in on recording a full album of oldies. It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook would be an unexpected game changer for Stewart. His previous two albums had sold poorly and it seemed like Stewart's career as a viable recording artist might be over after 33 years. But then he signed on with J Records, Clive Davis' new label after being pushed out from Arista. Davis had great success helping to revive Santana's career with 1999's Grammy-winning Supernatural and had thoughts about getting Stewart back on track. Yet instead of pairing Stewart with young, hip singers and writers, Davis suggested a covers album. Instead of doing something like a 60s throwback, Stewart wanted to sing the old standards he knew via his parents. He worked with producers Phil Ramone and Richard Perry and came up with It Had to Be You. The album became an unexpected hit reaching #4 and going triple-platinum. Stewart would also received a Grammy nod for the work. The success kicked of a string of cover albums for Stewart that would all make the Top 10. He would release five volumes of The Great American Standards along with an album of soul covers and one of rock covers. His 2004 LP Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Volume III would hit #1, go platinum, and earn Stewart his first and to-date only Grammy win. The LP would win for Best Traditional Pop Album. The other four LP's in Stewart's standards series would be nominated in the same category.


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

"Fascination Street" by The Cure

Song#:  3898
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  77
Peak:  46
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  This English band headed up by Robert Smith broke through in a bigger way in the US with their seventh studio album, 1987's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. It would be a #35 platinum seller that featured their first Pop Top 40 single, the #40 "Just Like Heaven." Following a supporting tour and a small lineup change, Smith and the band got back in the studio to record their next album Disintegration. While other territories including the UK would see the track "Lullaby" as the LP's first single, in the US the label chose to release "Fascination Street" instead. It would become the band's first and only song to hit #1 on the Modern Rock chart. It would stay in that spot for seven weeks. The song would also get to #7 Dance and #24 Rock. On the Pop chart, the song performed fairly well, but stopped shy of the Top 40 mark. Although the album would quickly reach its peak of #12 and go gold, it would be a steady long-long tail seller thanks to a second single that would be the band's peak moment on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This is a rare single where the opening is quite long. Smith's vocal doesn't start until about 1:20 into the tune for the single mix (2:24 on the album version). For the majority of pop singles, by that point in the record you've usually already heard the first verse and the chorus. Prior to this, I think one of the longest intros on a single in the 80s was Pet Shop Boys' "It's a Sin" (#9 Pop) which at 45 seconds seems short compared to this Cure tune. I'm sort of surprised the record label didn't do more editing to shorten the intro for the single mix. I thought it was kind of an odd choice for a single, but it actually did okay nearly cracking the Pop Top 40. Smith was in a depressed state during the writing and making of Disintegration and it showed with the tunes reaching back to the darker sounds of The Cure's earlier albums. It think it came along at the right time and alt rock folks along with others ate it up. This grooving, droning track was certainly a highlight.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  It seems that this song getting selected by the band's US representative label Elektra might have been two-fold. One story told is that the folks at Elektra didn't like the song "Lullaby," which was chosen for the first single in the UK and other territories (it would prove to be the band's biggest hit at home reaching #5). Also a factor was that "Fascination Street" was included on the soundtrack to a US indie film that was being released around the same time. The song was used in the film Lost Angels. The drama starred Donald Sutherland along with Beastie Boys member Adam Horovitz (aka Ad-Rock). The movie didn't do much business at the box office and the soundtrack album failed to chart.


Monday, August 8, 2022

"We Can Last Forever" by Chicago

Song#:  3897
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  84
Peak:  55
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's Chicago 19 album would reach #37 and go platinum thanks to a trio of Pop Top 10 hits including the #10 Pop/#9 AC "You're Not Alone." All three songs were written by outside writers as was their first post-Peter Cetera Top 10, the #3 "Will You Still Love Me." For the fourth single from 19, a tune co-written by one of the band members, Jason Scheff (with John Dixon), would be selected for release. Scheff would also handle lead vocal duties. The ballad didn't catch on as well as the band's three previous hits and it stalled short of the halfway point at Pop while missing the AC Top 10 at #12.

ReduxReview:  This power ballad sat just fine alongside their others that became hits, but it just wasn't as memorable. It was hard to keep up with a pro songwriter like Diane Warren who penned two of the previous ballad hits including the #1 "Look Away." Her tunes had choruses that invaded your brain and were hard to shake. Whether you liked the songs or not, you knew them. Scheff and Dixon gave it the ol' college try with this song, but fell short. It was not a bad tune; it just didn't have staying power. After listening it to it several times in a row, an hour later I couldn't remember a bar of it. The production was a bit overwhelming too. High harmonies, crashing guitars, horns, and lots of echo nearly buried the song. By this point in time, I was done with the power ballads continually pushed out by Chicago. Those tunes became their bread 'n' butter at the time so I can understand why they kept sloggin' them out, but I had grown weary of them. The band had one more left in the tank, which thankfully brought a close to this odd era of Chicago.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Apparently, the band had intended to record a version of the Otis Redding song "I Can't Turn You Loose" for the album, but ultimately that didn't happen. However, they did perform the song as part of their encores during their supporting tour at the time. Redding wrote the song and his original recording of it was issued out in 1965 as the b-side to "Just One More Day" (#15 R&B/#85 Pop). However, the tune did well enough to make the R&B chart where it topped out at #11. The opening riff of the song would later become famous as the opening theme for The Blues Brothers (John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd) during their concerts and on their 1978 #1 live album Briefcase Full of Blues. In 1968, the psychedelic soul group The Chambers Brothers would record the song and their version would reach #37 on the Pop chart. It was the follow up to their biggest hit, the #11 "Time Has Come Today."