Saturday, August 20, 2022

"The Doctor" by The Doobie Brothers

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3907
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  62
Peak:  9
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  By 1982, the Doobies sort of imploded in a way. The band had been shedding personnel and it got to the point where there were no original members remaining. With Michael McDonald itching for a solo career, it became obvious that the band was done. They would go their separate ways after a final farewell tour. But like many bands, circumstances would draw former members back together and after a brief reunion tour in '87, an incarnation of the early 70s Doobies decided to reform. They would sign on with Capitol Records and record a new album titled Cycles. This first single was issued out and it received a warm welcome. The song would reach #1 at Rock while also making it to #31 AC. On the Pop chart, the single would crack the Top 10 becoming the band's fifth and final song to hit that mark. The album would make it to #17 and go gold.

ReduxReview:  I think the biggest draw to this song was that it was quite similar to the band's 1973 hit "China Grove" (#15 Pop). That song had long been a staple on rock radio and I think the nostalgia factor from the similarity along with the band's reunited lineup from that era helped drive the tune up the chart. I wasn't a big fan of the track. Frankly, there was already one "China Grove," which was a rock classic, so not sure I needed a second one. I mean, I know they are not exactly the same, but the feel of it, the piano, etc. made it sound like "China Grove, Pt. 2." It was a surprise hit, but it wasn't surprising that they couldn't follow it up. It was just one last nostalgic blast from the Doobies and it paid off pretty well.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  On board for the reunion was original guitarist and co-lead vocalist Tom Johnson. He co-wrote "The Doctor" and performed the lead vocal. Johnson had started writing a song prior to the Doobie's reunion and when the band assembled to began recording songs for a new album, he finished it off with songwriters Charlie Midnight and Eddie Schwartz. Earlier in '87, Johnson found himself contributing a song to one of the biggest film soundtracks of the decade. Johnson recorded "Where Are You Tonight?" for the hit flick Dirty Dancing. It would be included on the soundtrack album and server as the b-side to Eric Carmen's hit from the LP "Hungry Eyes" (#4 Pop). The soundtrack would spend 18 weeks at #1 and sell over 14 million copies. While it was great that Johnson was able to sing and perform a song for the hit film and LP, the unfortunate part is he didn't write it.  A songwriter by the name of Mark Scola provided the tune (a big chunk of royalties goes to composers and publishers). Hopefully, Johnson had a good enough deal that he was able to grab some dough from the album's massive success.


Friday, August 19, 2022

"Toy Soldiers" by Martika

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3906
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  69
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  This former TV kids show star (Kids Incorporated) moved into a solo music career and her first single, "More Than You Know," did well getting to #18 Pop/#12 Dance. It was a good start and so her label, Columbia, decided to take a chance on this ballad as a second single. It ended up being the right move. The tune quickly found an audience and proceeded up the chart until it reached #1 (#37 AC). By the time it hit that apex, the single was already certified gold. The song's success boosted sales of Martika's self-titled debut album and it would eventually find its way to #15. The LP would also go gold.

ReduxReview:  Martika was still in her teens when she co-wrote this song and it was kind of a deep subject for a young artist. Teen pop stars like Debbie Gibson certainly weren't writing songs about addiction, so it was kind of refreshing to have Martika thinking beyond the typical subjects like boys and puppy love. The song was well-crafted and Martika turned in an excellent vocal performance. She set a high standard for herself with this tune. Unfortunately she wasn't able to match it again. Still, this song became a classic of the late 80s and that certainly wasn't a bad thing.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Most of the songs on Martika's debut album were written by her producer Michael Jay. However, she did co-write four tracks on the album and "Toy Soldiers" was one of them. A friend of Martika's had been battling a cocaine addition and he was the inspiration for the song. Apparently the friend did eventually overcome the addiction.  2) Background vocals on this track were performed by some of her former Kids Incorporated co-stars including Stacey Ferguson, who would later be known as Fergie of Black Eyed Peas fame.  3) For his 2004 album Encore, rapper Eminem would sample "Toy Soldiers" for his track "Like Toy Soldiers." The song would be issued out as a single and get to #34 Pop/#64 R&B. While it fared okay in the US, it was a far bigger hit across the pond. The single would become Eminem's sixth #1 in the UK.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

"Hey Baby" by Henry Lee Summer

Song#:  3905
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  83
Peak:  18
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Summer's 1988 self-titled album would put him on the map. It would reach #56 thanks to a pair of Rock Top 10 hits including the #1 "I Wish I Had a Girl" (#20 Pop). For his follow-up album I've Got Everything, Summer would fully take over production duties and with the exception of one, he would compose all the songs including this first single. It would be another winner at Rock reaching #6. On the Pop chart, it would also do well cracking the Top 20. It would end up being Summer's biggest hit on that chart. A second single would be issued out, but it was unable to reach the charts. With those results, the album wouldn't do all that well topping out at #78.

ReduxReview:  This was another good radio-ready rock tune from Summer. It had a catchy chorus, a great mid-section, and excellent production. I think it had Top 10 potential, but its #18 showing was a good result for a heartland rocker at the time. Summer had a knack of writing breezy, hooky tunes and was able to wrap them up in slick radio friendly production. He really should have scored a few more hits, but as the 90s progressed, sounds and tastes changed and Summer's brand of rock kind of got left behind.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  For his next album, 1991's Way Past Midnight, it seems the label hooked up Summer with some big names in order to secure a hit. The song "Till Somebody Loves You" would be a co-write between Summer, Diane Warren, and Michael Bolton. It would be produced by Ric Wake, who had recent success with Taylor Dayne and Mariah Carey. Bolton would supply backing vocals. The track would be issued out as the LP's first single, but even the star power wasn't enough to carry it to the upper reaches of the Pop chart. It would stall at #51. In turn, the album would fail to chart. Summer was given one more opportunity from his label and in 1993 issued out Slamdunk. Unfortunately, it wasn't one and neither it nor any singles would chart. The results brought an end to Summer's major label days.


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

"Moonlight on Water" by Kevin Raleigh

Song#:  3904
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  85
Peak:  60
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  This Cleveland-born singer/songwriter began playing in bands at an early age and before he was out of his teens had recorded and album with a local band called Freeport. Their 1970 self-titled album would be issued out in the indie Mainstream Records label, who had released first albums by Janis Jopin (under the Big Brother & the Holding Company name) and Ted Nugent (w/Amboy Dukes). The album didn't get anywhere and Raleigh spent most of the 70s hopping between bands. Then in '78, he got the opportunity to work with Cleveland's popular Michael Stanley Band. He quickly became a permanent member as vocalist, songwriter, and keyboardist. It would be during Raleigh's tenure with MSB that the band would grab their biggest Pop chart hit with the 1980 #33 "He Can't Love You," which was written by Raleigh. MSB would split up in '87 and at that point Raleigh decided to go solo. He would get signed to Atlantic Records and record a debut album titled Delusions of Grandeur. This first single, which was one of two cuts on the LP not written by Raleigh, got issued out. While there was certainly interest in the single via MSB fans, the song couldn't find a larger audience and it failed to get inside the top half of the Pop chart. A second single failed to chart. With those results, the album didn't chart and that brought an end to Raleigh's recording career. He would eventually move to a position behind the scenes working in artist management.

ReduxReview:  I have a sneaky feeling that Atlantic didn't hear a hit among the songs Raleigh wrote for the album and assigned this track to him. Not surprisingly, the LPs second single was also composed by outside writers. Raleigh's own songs were good, but not outstanding. His sound was somewhat similar to that of Richard Marx. Actually, Raleigh's voice even sounded a bit like Marx. I remember buying this single on a whim. I was intrigued by the title. I ended up liking the track and thought it had a chance to at least make the Pop Top 40. It didn't, but then it had another opportunity with a bigger name (see below), yet it failed to do well again. I guess folks just didn't get into the tune, which was a bummer. I thought it was a sleek, sexy track with solid production. Raleigh had the talent, he just didn't have the right song to kick start his solo career.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Steve Kipner (of Olivia Newton-John "Physical" fame) and Andy Goldmark. With the song not becoming a major hit with Raleigh, it seems the tune kept getting shopped around the Atlantic Records offices and it ended up getting picked up by Raleigh's labelmate Laura Branigan. She would record it for her 1990 self-titled album. It would be issued out as the LP's first single. It ended up peaking one notch higher than Raleigh's version at #59 (#44 Dance). The song would be Branigan's final one to make the Pop chart.


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

"In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel

Song#:  3903
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  87
Peak:  41
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock,  Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  In '86, Gabriel hit #1 with "Sledgehammer," the first single from his album So. For a follow-up, the track "In Your Eyes" was issued out. It would perform fairly well at Pop reaching #26. It would do far better at Rock where it got to #1. That might have been it for the song, but then filmmaker Cameron Crowe sought Gabriel's permission to use the tune for his teen rom-com Say Anything... The movie starred John Cusack and Ione Skye and Gabriel's song was to be used for a pivotal scene. Following the film's mid-April of '89 release, it received mixed-to-positive reviews and did just okay at the box office. However, the scene that used Gabriel's song got a lot of attention and it sparked new interest in the track. The single got reissued and it would end up back on the Pop chart. On its second run, the song nearly made the Top 40 for a second time, but halted just shy at the dreaded #41 spot. The film's soundtrack album would end up getting to #62. Say Anything... would gain a bigger audience after its initial theater run and the Romeo and Juliet-style balcony scene where Cusack's character holds a boombox over his head that is blasting Gabriel's song has become an iconic film moment. The song has remained popular enough over the years that in 2005 the digital version of it would earn Gabriel a gold record.

ReduxReview:  I loved this song when it first came out, but it didn't quite catch on in a big way. So when the tune got attention due to its use in Say Anything..., I was happy that it was getting a new lease on life. But who could have predicted that it and the scene would become so iconic? The two will be tied together forever and that's not a bad thing. The song continues to be popular and has become one of Gabriel's most recognizable tunes. Just the fact that in the new digital age it would go gold says quite a bit. To-date, no other songs from Gabriel has achieved that feat. Props have to go to Cameron Crowe for selecting the song and making it work so well in the film.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Gabriel's song wasn't Cameron's first choice for the scene. Initially he had wanted to use Billy Idol's 1986 #6 hit "To Be a Lover." But after pairing the song with the scene, Cameron realized that it didn't really work. Needing a new tune, Cameron just happened to be listening to a tape from his wedding and Gabriel's song popped up. That spurred him to reach out to Gabriel for permission to use it in the film. Apparently, folklore has it that Gabriel wanted to see a cut of the film before giving the go-ahead. He was sent a copy and after seeing the rough cut, thought it would be fine, but in talking with Crowe he was concerned about the main character's overdose at the end. It was then that they discovered Gabriel was sent a copy of the John Belushi biopic Wired instead of Say Anything...  2)  After a six-year absence, Gabriel returned in 1992 with his follow-up to So, the equally short titled Us. It would reach #2 and go platinum despite not having a significant Pop chart hit. The best result from the LP was the #32 "Steam" (#2 Rock, #1 Modern Rock). It also featured the #1 Rock/#1 Modern Rock hit "Digging in the Dirt," which could only get to #52 Pop. It would be a decade before Gabriel would release a new studio album (2002's Up, #9).


Monday, August 15, 2022

"Yo Ne Sé" by Pajama Party

Song#:  3902
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  91
Peak:  75
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Latin Freestyle

Pop Bits:  This Brooklyn-based female vocal trio was assembled by producer/songwriter Jim Klein along with his co-writer Peggy Sendars. Klein got involved in the new Latin freestyle sound and decided to put together a female vocal group to front his productions; not unlike producers/writers behind groups like Exposé. He and Sendars wrote a set of songs and hired on Jennifer McQuilkin, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Suzi Ranta to provide the vocals. The new trio would get signed to Atlantic Records and to test the waters out, this debut single would get issued out early in '89. It would peak at #34 on the Dance chart the last week of March. That interest led Atlantic to push the single further at pop stations and it was finally able to crack the Pop chart in mid-May. Although it would spend two-and-a-half months on the chart, it couldn't quite get out of the bottom quarter. Still, that seemed to be enough for Atlantic to green light a full album, which would be released later in the fall along with a second single.

ReduxReview:  This tune wasn't all that different from other freestyle singles of the day. It was nicely produced and had a catchy chorus. The trio's voices were a bit stronger than some of their competition, which gave them a boost. And although it was only the title, it was nice to have some Spanish lyrics included in the Latin freestyle. This song should have been able to crack the Top 40, but a bit of a lengthy rollout kept it floundering near the bottom of the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although she had some success with Pajama Party, group member Daphne Rubin-Vega would have better success on the Broadway stage. She would originate the role of Mimi in the 1996 Tony-winning musical Rent. Rubin-Vega was one of only two cast members who had their roles in the 1994 workshop version of the musical and was able to keep their roles when the show moved to Broadway. The role would earn Rubin-Vega a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. She would stay with the show for a year. She would earn a second Tony nod in 2004 for her work in the Broadway play Anna in the Tropics. Rubin-Vega would go on to do more stage work along with appearing in films and on TV. She would appear in the 2021 film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony-winning musical In the Heights.