Saturday, August 27, 2022

"Secret Rendezvous" by Karyn White

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3913
Date:  08/27/1989
Debut:  83
Peak:  6
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  White's self-titled debut album had already generated a pair of Pop Top 10 hits including the #8 gold selling ballad "Superwoman." That song debuted on the Pop chart while it was spending one of its three weeks atop the R&B chart. With pop radio lagging behind and R&B ready for more, White's label chose to quickly push out another single that would mainly be targeted at R&B radio. "Love Saw It," a duet between White and Babyface, would go on to become White's third straight #1 at R&B (it would not chart at Pop). When that tune reached the top of the R&B chart, "Superwoman" had just reached its peak at Pop. As the songs descended the charts, this next single was issued out to both radio formats. It would be another success reaching #4 R&B, #6 Pop, and #1 Dance. A fifth and final single, "Slow Down," would get released, but it only got to #36 R&B. The album, which had reached #1 R&B/#19 Pop, would become a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  White returned to the dance-pop sound of her first single with this track and it paid off well. Its new jack swing style was perfect for the time and having a good hooky chorus didn't hurt. It was every bit as good as "The Way You Love Me" and was able to even peak a notch higher. She hit  a winning formula with L.A. Reid and Babyface so it was a little surprising she didn't stay with them for her second album (see below).

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  White would return in 1991 with her second album Ritual of Love. Instead of staying with the L.A.. Reid/Babyface team for the LP, White would make a switch and mainly work with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (White and Lewis would marry in '92). Its first single, "Romantic," would end up being her biggest chart hit reaching #1 at both R&B and Pop while getting to #6 Dance and #37 AC. That set the album up quite well for success, but then subsequent singles didn't click as well with only "The Way I Feel About You" doing anything reaching #12 Pop/#5 R&B. The results left the album peaking at #7 R&B/#53 Pop and only going gold. Her third LP, 1994's Make Him Do Right, sold a few copies (#22 R&B/#99 Pop) and featured her last R&B Top 10 single. It seems that White then decided to take a break from the music business to focus on her family. She would return to music in 2012 with the album Carpe Diem.


Friday, August 26, 2022

"Fire Woman" by The Cult

Song#:  3912
Date:  05/27/1989
Debut:  84
Peak:  46
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  The beginnings of this band go back to 1981 when English singer/songwriter Ian Astbury formed a group called Southern Death Cult. They stayed together for less than two years and were only able to issue out a sole single during that time. After SDC split, Astbury then went on to for a new band called Death Cult with guitarist Billy Duffy. They would begin performing in '83 and issue out a self-titled indie LP. The following year they fully signed on with Beggars Banquet (their EP had been on the label's offshoot imprint Situation Two). The band would alter their name to just The Cult and issue out a full-length debut album titled Dreamtime. The band's mix of post-punk goth rock gained attention and the LP went to #21 in the UK. However, it would be their next LP, 1985's Love, that would prove to be their breakthrough. The album would hit #4 in the UK and spawn three Top 30 hits including the #15 "She Sells Sanctuary." In the US, the LP would gain an audience and reach #87. For their next effort, '87's Electric, the band wanted to move away from their goth roots toward hard rock/glam rock. After a false start, they secured Rick Ruben who then produced the final version of the LP. Electric would match the results of their previous album in the UK getting to #4. In the US, rock radio support for the single "Love Removal Machine" (#15 Rock) helped the album get to #38 and become a gold seller (later platinum). For their fourth LP Sonic Temple, the band would work with producer Bob Rock. It would end up being their biggest album in both the UK and the US. This first single would get to #15 in the UK. In the States, it would be a hit at Modern Rock (#2) and Rock (#4). That action helped the single get on the Pop chart where it got near the Top 40 mark. The song's success helped the album get to #10 and it would become a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  I remember this song just leaping out of my car stereo speakers and smackin' me upside the head. I was like - what the hell is this? It was big, loud, hooky, and right up my alley. The production was great and I liked Astbury's Jim Morrison-ish vocals. I went out and got the CD and played this song quite a bit. While the balance of the album was hit 'n' miss, it did have a few solid tracks. However, this massive blast of radio/arena-ready rock certainly made a statement.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Lead singer/songwriter Ian Astbury stated in an interview that hearing the song "The End" by The Door in the film Apocalypse Now was like having "a religious experience." That song was the album-ending track on the band's highly influential 1967 #2 self-titled debut album. Little did Astbury know at the time that he would years later front a band that consisted of two former members of The Doors. In 2002, Astbury would become the lead singer for The Doors of the 21st Century, a band put together by Doors members Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger. Astbury would front the band for seven years. Due to legal issues, the band would go through a couple of name changes including D21C and Riders on the Storm. Also on board during the first year of the band was Police drummer Stewart Copeland. After Astbury left the band, it would eventually become known as Manzarek-Krieger and would continue to perform with other musicians and singers through to Manzarek's death in 2013.


Thursday, August 25, 2022

"In My Eyes" by Stevie B

Song#:  3911
Date:  05/27/1989
Debut:  87
Peak:  37
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Freestyle

Pop Bits:  The first single from Stevie B's second album In My Eyes, "I Wanna Be the One," would become his first to crack the Pop Top 40. It would get to #32 while reaching #39 Dance. Next up for release was this title track single. It would also be able to make the Pop Top 40 and make it to #21 on the Dance chart. Although the two songs were not huge hits and the album would only peak at #75, Stevie B's built-in freestyle audience would help make the album go gold by the end of the summer.

ReduxReview:  Although this tune had a darker tone, Stevie B's brand of freestyle was still intact and that worked well for fans of the artist. He was able to expand his audience a bit with this song and his previous Top 40 entry, but he still didn't have that one track that was an instantly memorable surefire hit. That would come later with a single from his third album. In the meantime, this song performed well enough to keep folks buying the album. The song was certainly listenable, but it still didn't make me a fan.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In 2011, Stevie B made headlines when he was arrested after performing a show at a venue in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was taken to jail for failing to pay child support. His first wife and the mother of his two daughters claimed he owed around $420,000 in child support. Apparently, an order for a court appearance had been sent to the incorrect address and that caused Stevie B to miss the hearing. Because of that, he was then arrested and put in jail. He remained in jail for a few days until a hearing could be held. Once he was able to pay a small lump sum of the support and the remainder set up on an agreed payment schedule, Stevie B was released. He disputed the amount owed and stated he has always supported his daughters, which included cars, schooling, gifts, etc. However, those things don't typically count towards ordered child support and it seems that the new court mandated support agreement was what Stevie B had to follow.


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

"Joy and Pain" by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock

Song#:  3910
Date:  05/27/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  58
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Hip-Hop

Pop Bits:  This hip-hop duo scored a platinum single in '88 with the memorable "It Takes Two" (#36 Pop/#17 R&B/#3 Dance). The track was taken from their debut album of the same name, which got to #31 Pop/#4 R&B and would turn gold in November '88. Their follow-up single "Get on the Dance Floor," would actually top the Dance chart while getting to #11 R&B and #6 Rap. However, it would fail to make the Pop chart. Next up from the duo was this third single. Once again, it would do well at Dance (#6), R&B (#11), and Rap (#5), but this time around the song was able to get a little action on the Pop chart where it peaked just outside the Top 50. That extra boost helped the album reach the platinum sales level.

ReduxReview:  As it was with "It Takes Two," it was the sampled parts of this song that were the most memorable, although less so with this track. The beats were fairly basic and the rap just wasn't all that engaging. However, what it did do was drive me back to the original silky and sleek Maze track. A bit o' Maze is always a good thing in your musical diet.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song is not only titled after one by the soul/funk group Maze, but it also samples the chorus of it as well. "Joy and Pain" was written by Frankie Beverly and recorded by his group Maze for their 1980 album of the same name. It would be released as the third single from the LP, but it failed to chart. The album would reach #5 R&B/#31 Pop and become the band's fourth gold-seller in a row. The main hit from it was the #9 R&B "Southern Girl." Maze's "Joy and Pain" would get covered by dance-pop/R&B singer Donna Allen. It would be released as a single early in '89 and hit #3 on the R&B chart, not long before Base and Rock's hip-hop sampled version of the tune was issued out.  2) Instead of working with DJ E-Z Rock on a follow-up album, Rob Base chose to go solo for his next effort. Late in '89 he would release The Incredible Base. It's first single "Turn It Out (Go Base)" would only get to #23 on the Dance chart while missing both the R&B and Pop charts. Still, the album sold well and after peaking at #20 R&B/#50 Pop, it would go gold. The duo would reunite for '94's Break of Dawn, but it failed to make an impression. It seems neither recorded together or separately again. DJ E-Z Rock, aka Rodney Brice, would die from a diabetic seizure in 2014.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

"Praying to a New God" by Wang Chung

Song#:  3909
Date:  05/27/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  63
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The British duo's third album, 1986's Mosaic, would peak at #40 and eventually (nearly a decade later) would be certified gold. It got there mainly thanks to their enduring #2 Pop hit "Everybody Have Fun Tonight." As the spring of '89 came along, the duo had their fourth album set to go. The Warmer Side of Cool would get issued out along with this first single. The song couldn't quite find an audience and it stalled in the bottom half of the Pop chart while getting to #22 Modern Rock and #31 Rock. With that result, it seems that their label, Geffen, lost interest in promoting the album and a second single was not released. The album would then only scratch the chart at a low #123. It was a significant disappointment for Wang Chung and in the aftermath they decided to go their own ways.

ReduxReview:  After the fun ear candy of "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and its #9 follow-up "Let's Go," I think folks were expecting something in that vein when this song came out. Instead, they got this urgent, darker rock tune and it didn't click. I liked the song and its expertly layered production, but it just wasn't a good choice for a single. The duo were not ones to follow a formula, so they opted for a more rock-oriented sound for the album and while it had a couple of good tracks, it sort of alienated the fans who came on board with the pop-laced Mosaic. Still, Wang Chunk put their stamp on the 80s with their three Top 20 hits, two of which have had long legs after their initial runs - "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and the #16 "Dance Hall Days."

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After the demise of Wang Chung, each member went off to do their own projects. Nick Feldman would team up with Culture Club drummer Jon Moss to form the duo Promised Land. They would get signed to Epic Records and release a self-titled debut album in 1992. Co-produced by the duo and Tony Swain, the LP failed to do anything and quickly disappeared. Wang Chung's lead singer Jack Hues would try for a solo career. He would get signed to Sony Records and prep a debut LP titled The Anatomy Lesson. However, it seems the label didn't care for the results and they ended up shelving it. Hues would then form a band with Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks initially named Strictly Incognito, but later shortened to Strictly Inc. due to a similarly named band already existing. They would sign on with Virgin Records and push out a self-titled debut album in 1995. Like the Promised Land album, Strictly Inc.'s effort came and went to little notice. Feldman and Hues would reform Wang Chung in 1997. A greatest hits package would quickly follow that included a new single "Space Junk" (it did not chart). The duo would continue to perform on various tours and would issue out new albums in 2012 and 2019.


Monday, August 22, 2022

"What You Don't Know" by Exposé

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3908
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  59
Peak:  8
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Freestyle

Pop Bits:  This trio's first album, 1987's Exposure, would top out at #16, but its run of four Pop Top 10 singles kept it selling and it would eventually go triple platinum. The final single from the LP, "Season's Change," would be the trio's biggest hitting #1. That set them up well for their second album What You Don't Know. The title track would be issued out as the first single and it would continue their streak of Pop Top 10s getting to #8. The tune would also get to #2 at Dance. It would sell well enough to go gold; their first single to do so. The album would then peak at #33 in August and quickly go gold.

ReduxReview:  After the success of their first album, the trio continued to leave everything in the hands of songwriter/producer Lewis A. Martineé. They probably didn't have a choice as he was the one who assembled Exposé, so essentially they were the voices for his creations. Martineé would write or co-write all songs for the album save for two and would produce them all. The results were not all that different from the debut album except he obviously had more money to play with as the productions sounded more layered and, well, expensive. However, no matter how much money you toss at tracks, you still gotta have good songs to begin with and I think Martineé was starting to run out of gas. While the trio would still score three lower Top 10 entries from the album, none of them were as good or as memorable as the quartet of hits from the first album. This urgent first single certainly had its hooks, but it just tried too hard. It was overproduced and that led to the ladies practically screaming over it all to try and be heard. Although it did go gold, it wasn't a smash hit on the Pop chart. I'm sure the #8 peak was a bit of a disappointment to Martineé and the label who were probably expecting a #1.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  With the exception of some popularity in Japan, Exposé's main success was mostly relegated to the US market. While they would end up with eight Pop Top 10 hits in the States (seven of them consecutive), their tunes fell flat elsewhere. In Canada, they were unable to crack the Top 10. Their best effort there was "Season's Change," which got to #11. In the UK, they didn't make much of an impression. Six of their singles would reach the lower rungs of the UK chart with 1993's "I'll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me" doing the best at #75. It seems that the freestyle sounds of the late 80s/early 90s didn't really catch on as well in other countries as it did in its home base of the US. While a few artists from the UK and elsewhere dabbled in freestyle for some of their tracks, US-based acts, specifically the female vocal groups of the era, didn't have much luck in other territories.