Saturday, September 17, 2022

"Trouble Me" by 10,000 Maniacs

Song#:  3931
Date:  06/17/1989
Debut:  98
Peak:  44
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  Despite not having a major Pop chart hit, this band's third album, 1987's In My Tribe, became a #37 gold seller (eventually double-platinum) thanks to coverage on MTV, exposure on college radio, and the #9 Modern Rock hit "What's the Matter Here?" (#80 Pop). It set them up well for bigger success and in the summer of '89 they returned with their fourth album Blind Man's Zoo. This first single was released and it would be a #3 hit at Modern Rock while getting to #20 Rock. On the Pop chart it would nearly crack the Top 40. A second single, "Eat for Two," wouldn't fare as well only reaching #12 Modern Rock. Still that was enough for the album to reach #13 and go gold (in '97 it would be certified platinum).

ReduxReview:  The band's modern folk-rock sound and songs certainly pushed them forward, but it was the unique voice of Natalie Merchant that created a lasting impression. Her unhurried, nearly deadpan approach was alluring, interesting, and comforting. She was the sound of 10,000 Maniacs. She also wrote all the lyrics and occasionally the music as well. So her decision to leave the band (see below) had to have been devastating to the rest of the band. They would survive over the years, but were never the same without Merchant. Of course, her solo career was quite successful. But before all that, the band was on a roll with this song nearly making the Pop Top 40. The album wasn't quite as good as In My Tribe, but it had several highlights and this was one. The mid-tempo tune was quirky and hooky and there really wasn't anything like it on the radio. Fans of hair metal and other hot genres of the day may not have been into the band, but a sizable college and adult crowd glommed onto them and bought the albums despite the lack of support from pop radio.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 1991, lead singer and main songwriter Natalie Merchant let the band know that she was going to head out on a solo career. It seems that she done with being part of a band that made decisions together and wanted to do her own thing. However, instead of leaving immediately, she committed to the band for a further two-year period. In that time, the band would tour and record two albums. First was 1992's Our Time in Eden. Like the band's previous two albums, it would do well reaching #27 and going gold (later double-platinum) while featuring no major Pop hits. Two singles would make the lower third of the Pop chart while becoming hits at Modern Rock. One of the songs, "These Are Days," would be their first and only song to top the Modern Rock chart. Then in 1993, they would release the live album MTV Unplugged. The band had already performed on that show in '89, but it was not recorded and released as an album. With Merchant's impending departure, the second time around it was. The show was highly successful and the album would end up becoming the band's biggest seller eventually going triple platinum. It would get to #13 tying the peak of Blind Man's Zoo and spawn the band's biggest hit, the #11 remake of "Because the Night." Merchant would then head out on a solo career. Her first album, 1995's Tigerlily, would be a major hit. It would peak at #13 and eventually sell over 5 million copies. It featured her first and only Pop Top 10 hit, the #10 "Carnival." Two more Pop Top 30 singles would follow. Her next album, 1998's Ophelia, would go platinum and be her first and only LP to crack to Top 10 (#8). Merchant's further recordings would be less successful. As for the remainder of 10,000 Maniacs, when Merchant signed on to continue as a solo artist with Elektra Records, the label had no interest in the rest of the band and dropped them. Yet they decided to continue on and got former member John Lombardo back in the fold along with his duo partner singer Mary Ramsey. The new lineup secured a deal with Geffen and in 1997 issued out Love Among the Ruins. It didn't perform well (#104), but did spawn the #25 remake of Roxy Music's "More Than This." The band would record a few more albums over the years and go through several lineup changes.


Friday, September 16, 2022

"On Our Own" by Bobby Brown

Top 10 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  3930
Date:  06/10/1989
Debut:  64
Peak:  2
Weeks:  20
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Brown's second album Don't Be Cruel had become a 4x platinum seller that had spawned four big singles including the #3Pop/#1 R&B/#1 Dance hit "Every Little Step." While that hit streak was going on, Brown's label, MCA, was approached to provide the soundtrack to the sequel flick Ghostbusters II. MCA was specifically sought out because the film's music supervisor wanted to nab newly hot star Bobby Brown for a couple of songs. MCA took on the task and Brown would agree to recording a couple songs, but on the condition that he appeared in the film. Most of the film had already been shot by that point, but he was able to make a cameo as a doorman. L.A. Reid, Babyface, and Darryl Simmons would write "On Our Own" for Brown with Reid and Babyface producing. The song would be released as a single a couple week prior to the film's opening. The timing was perfect as the tune debuted on the Pop chart the week "Every Little Step" peaked. The single quickly made the Pop Top 10 eventually spending three weeks at #2. It would reach #1 at both R&B and Dance. It would be Brown's first and only single to reach the platinum sales level. The hit helped the soundtrack album get to #14 and go gold.

ReduxReview:  This was the best thing that came about from Ghostbusters II. I have to admit that while I liked the original Ghostbusters, I didn't love it. I wasn't as gaga about it as everyone else. Still, it was a fun flick. I really didn't have any urge to see the sequel, but ended up going. That was a mistake. I thought it was awful. Yet on occasion something bad can spawn something good and for GBII it was this Bobby Brown track. While it wasn't quite as good as a couple of his previous hits, it did showcase Brown, Reid, and Babyface at the peak of their new jack powers. I could do without the film-related rap (the single's b-side did have a non-rap version), but other than that it was a quality track.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In addition to "On Our Own," Brown contributed another song to the soundtrack. He would co-write the track "We're Back" with Dennis Austin. Brown would serve as producer. It would not be released as a single. Also for the soundtrack, the original #1 theme from Ray Parker, Jr. would get a hip-hop update from Run-DMC. It would be issued out as a single, but it would fail to chart.  2) Ghostbusters II arrived five years after the original hit film. The same director, writers, and cast would return for the sequel. Expectations were that it would surpass the results of the original film, but that did not happen. While it was no box office slouch, the sequel made less money than the original. It also had a higher budget than the original, which ate into the box office take. It didn't help that critics were negative towards the film and that what would be the year's biggest hit, Batman, premiered on its heels. Even though a sizable audience showed up for the movie, in the long run it was considered a critical and commercial failure. The outcome pretty much killed off the film franchise. However, the animated series The Real Ghostbusters, which began to air in 1986, would continue to be popular and last for seven seasons. A 2009 video game was also successful. It wouldn't be until 2021 that an "official" sequel to the original film series would be released. Ghostbusters: Afterlife would do fairly well at the box office and with critics. It came after a 2016 attempt to reboot the series with an all female cast, which made it the target of unexpected and unwarranted controversy. That uproar along with some mixed critical reaction let to a final box office tally that didn't recoup costs. While the director and cast signed on for two sequels, following the weird uproar about the cast and the box office results, plans for the sequels were quashed.


Thursday, September 15, 2022

"Calling It Love" by Animotion

Song#:  3929
Date:  06/10/1989
Debut:  91
Peak:  53
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The second iteration of Animotion that featured new lead singers Cynthia Rhodes and Paul Engemann grabbed a left-field #9 Pop hit with "Room to Move," which served as the first single to the band's self-titled third album. To follow it up, this next track was selected. It would end up being a minor mid-charter that didn't help sales of the album, which stalled at #110. After things wrapped up with the album, Animotion called it a day.

ReduxReview:  This track was composed by Anton Fig (of Spider) and hit songwriter Desmond Child. While it was a good tune from a couple of crack writers with some nice late 80s production, it really wasn't single material. The hooks just didn't embed themselves deep enough in my ears and therefore the tune didn't stick in my memory for long. "Room to Move" was kind of a fluke hit and the group needed something equal to or stronger than that to maintain an audience. This wasn't it and the second chapter of Animotion quickly came to an end.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Later in 2001, the band's original leaders, Astrid Plane and Bill Wadhams, ended up reforming Animotion due to a request from a Portland, Orgeon, radio station who wanted to feature them in a local concert. With the show being a success, Plane and Wadhams continued to tour as Animotion with two other members from their original prime days. In 2014, a Colorado DJ by the name of Joman (Joseph Mancuso) happened to do a remix of Animotion's #6 hit "Obsession." Wadhams heard the remix and liked what Joman created. He reached out to the DJ to perhaps see if Joman might be interested in working on some new material from Animotion. Joman agreed and he worked on the new song "Raise Your Expectations." The recording ended up getting Animotion a deal with an indie label and in 2016 they would issue out the album Raise.


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

"Pop Song 89" by R.E.M.

Song#:  3928
Date:  06/10/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  86
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  "Stand" was the second single from R.E.M.'s sixth album Green and it would go on to become the band's second Pop Top 10 peaking at #6 (#1 Rock/#1 Modern Rock). A follow-up was certainly necessary and this next track was selected for release. It faltered a bit on the charts topping out at #14 Rock and #16 Modern Rock while only spending a few weeks near the bottom of the Pop chart. By this point in time, the album had already peaked at #12 and gone platinum. Thanks to the band's continued popularity, the LP would continue to sell and in '94 it would hit the double platinum mark.

ReduxReview:  This album opening track was prime for alt rock airplay, but when compared to the pop-leaning "Stand" it just wasn't as catchy or memorable. Therefore, it was going to have a tough time at pop radio and it certainly did. However, it hardly mattered. R.E.M. were not really in the business of recording albums full of potential hits so the fact that they were able to score one Top 10 hit and expand their audience further was a big win. It helped set them up for even bigger success with their next album.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Following Green, R.E.M. would reach their peak period with three 4x platinum albums in a row. Their 1991 LP Out of Time would spawn their biggest Pop chart hit with the #4 "Losing My Religion." That song would be nominated for Record and Song of the Year Grammys while winning two others (Best Pop Performance Duo or Group and Best Short Form Music Video). The LP would be nominated for Album of the Year and would win the award for Best Alternative Music Album. It would be their first LP to reach #1. While 1992's Automatic for the People would reach #2, sell the same, and get a Grammy nod for Album of the Year, none of its singles would make the Pop Top 10. However, three of them would crack the Top 30. Then 1994's Monster would reach #1 and also go quad platinum. It would featured the band's last two Pop Top 40 singles including the #19 "Band and Blame." Their popularity would slowly wane with their next effort going platinum, then two reaching gold. Their output was more sporadic with the band only releasing three albums in the 00's. After the release of their 2011 album Collapse Into Now, R.E.M. would call it a day. In 2007, R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

"I'm That Type of Guy" by LL Cool J

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3927
Date:  06/10/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  15
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  LL Cool J's previous single, "Going Back to Cali," was lifted from the Less Than Zero soundtrack. It did well nearly making the Pop Top 30 while getting to #12 R&B. The song continued to be popular over the next few years and in 1991 it would be certified gold, which would make it LL's second gold single. His first single to go gold would be with this track from his third album Walking with a Panther. Released just prior to the album coming out, the track would do well reaching #1 Rap and #7 R&B while becoming his second to make the Pop Top 20. The hit would help the album get to #1 R&B and #6 Pop. It would reach platinum status within two short months. Further singles from the album would not reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This track had several cool things going on. The beat, bass line, and low keyboard sound is darkly sleek while the chant and the frenetic breakdown add to the mood. But really best of all was LL's delivery. Instead of a harder hitting rap performance, he goes for a matter-of-fact droll delivery that was exactly right for the track and the lyrics. For pop radio at the time, this was an easy to digest rap track that they could spin and it paid off in a Pop Top 20 hit. While it may not have been as memorable as some of his other influential hits, it was still a fun track.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This track contained a chant that was taken from a classic film. During a scene in 1939's The Wizard of Oz, the guards of the Wicked Witch's castle, known as the Winkies, do a chant as they are going through their drills and entering the castle. Their repetitive "Oh-Ee-Yah, Ee-Yo-Ah" became a famous soundbite from the film and it found its way into this LL Cool J track.  2) While Walking with a Panther did well with critics and went platinum, some fans and folks in the rap community reacted a bit negatively to the LP thinking some track were purposely geared towards the mainstream. LL would answer back with 1990's Mama Said Knock You Out. The edgier album would be a well-received double platinum hit that featured the gold selling #9 Pop/#1 Rap/#5 R&B/#7 Dance hit "Around the Way Girl" along with the platinum selling title track single, which also earned LL his first Grammy award (for Best Rap Solo Performance). In addition to a second Grammy win and a streak of gold/platinum albums, LL would branch out into acting. Beginning in 1995, he would star in the sitcom In the House for five seasons. He would appear in several other TV shows and films, but became best known for his role on the hit TV drama series NCIS: Los Angeles. In 2017, LL would be the first hip hop artist to receive the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor. LL would be nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame several times as a performer, but as of this posting date has yet to be voted in. He did however receive the Hall's Award for Musical Excellence in 2021.


Monday, September 12, 2022

"Youth Gone Wild" by Skid Row

Song#:  3926
Date:  06/10/1989
Debut:  99
Peak:  99
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  This band began to take shape in '86 in Tom's River, New Jersey, when guitarist Dave Sabo met bassist Rachel Bolan. Over time they would fill out the other spots with guitarist Scotti Hill, drummer Rob Affuso, and vocalist Matt Fallon. After spending time on the club circuit, the band scored an opening slot on Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet tour. It was then that Bon Jovi's manager suggested a lead singer change as Fallon wasn't matching the rest of the band's intensity. Through a connection, it was suggested that singer Sebastian Bach might be the right fit. Bach was hired in after an audition and the new line up of Skid Row was able to get signed to Atlantic Records. Work then began on a self-titled debut album. As the band continued to tour with Bon Jovi, the LP got released in late January of '89. This first single would follow. It would peak at #27 on the Rock chart in April of '89. A couple of months later, the song would make a very brief two-week appearance at the bottom of the Pop chart. Yet despite not having a significant single, the Bon Jovi connection and touring helped to gain fans and the LP would initially peak at #18. In March of '89 it would go gold. It was a good start, but their next single would kick things into overdrive for the band.

ReduxReview:  This was a solid introductory single for the band. It was a catchy arena rock anthem with a "we are the youth gone wild" chorus that was perfect for angsty head bangin' teens. It was elevated by the vocal performance given by the volatile Sebastian Bach. It was a heavy tune for pop radio, but with Guns N' Roses making the Top 10 with their meaty metal tracks, it seemed like a path was forged for this single to do well, but for some reason it got ignored. Still, the album was selling and the band's next single would break them in a big way.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The band's link to Bon Jovi came about when Jon Bon Jovi recruited friend and neighbor Dave Sabo to play guitar in his band to support a single Bon Jovi had recorded and was getting airplay around New York in '83. Sabo would only be in Bon Jovi's supporting band and not become an official member, but the friends made a deal with each other that whoever made it first in the music business, they would help the other person out. That agreement came into play later when Bon Jovi hit the jackpot with their album Slippery When Wet. Through that connection, Sabo was able to land Skid Row an opening slot on a Bon Jovi tour and get signed up with Bon Jovi's manager. That quickly led to the band getting a deal with Atlantic Records. However, it all came with a bit of a price. Around the same time, Skid Row signed a contract with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora's publishing company, Underground. That meant that a large chunk of royalties would go to Bon Jovi and Sambora instead of members of Skid Row, which certainly was an incentive for Bon Jovi to make sure that Skid Row succeeded. That contract would be loosened a bit later on with additional funds going towards Skid Row's way, but in the long run, Bon Jovi and Sambora greatly benefited from the success of Skid Row. Alas, they call it the music "business" for a reason.