Saturday, October 1, 2022

"Don't Say You Love Me" by Billy Squier

Song#:  3942
Date:  06/24/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  58
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Squier's career hit a bump in the road following his 1984 #11 platinum effort Signs of Life, which featured his final Pop Top 40 entry, the #15 "Rock Me Tonite." His follow-up album, '86's Enough Is Enough, failed to generate a significant hit and that left the album peaking at #61 and missing the gold level sales mark. It was a disappointing result and Squier knew he needed something better to get him back in the spotlight. He would spend more time working on his sixth studio album Hear & Now. Once it was finished, this first single was issued out. It would do well at Rock reaching #4, which was his first time back in the Top 10 since '84. The song was helped along by its associated video, which did well on MTV. The attention helped draw support from pop radio, but the single just didn't fully catch fire and it stopped shy of the halfway mark on the Pop chart. It would end up becoming Squier's final song to reach the Pop chart. Two other singles from the album would be minor entries on the Rock chart. Despite the success of this song at Rock, the album would stall at #63 and sell about the same as his previous effort. Overall, it wasn't quite the comeback that Squier was looking for.

ReduxReview:  Squier's attempt to lure back pop listeners was a pretty good effort. This rocker sounded more like the Squier of old. It was a hooky track that had solid crunchy produced and it easily found a home on rock radio. However, I think for the most part a straight-up rock tune like this one was going to be a hard sell in the late 80s. By that point in time hair metal was the taste o' tha day with college/alt rock artists coming up strong. While there were a few rockers from earlier in the 80s still hanging on, there wasn't much on the Pop chart that was in the vein of this Squier track. It was a good song, it just wasn't one that was going to get Squier a fifth Top 40 hit.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Squier's next album, 1991's Creatures of Habit, would spawn his last Rock Top 10 with the #4 "She Goes Down," but with zero mainstream support the album faltered at a minor #177; his worst showing since his 1980 debut album Tale of the Tape (#169). Despite the results, Squier went on to make another album for his long time label Capitol. 1993's Tell the Truth was basically DOA with only one song making the Rock chart, the #15 "Angry." Capitol put little into the promotion of the album and as a result it failed to chart. Squier then decided to pack it in and call it a day. Squier would continue to perform over the years on his own and with other artists. He would release one indie album in 1998 titled Happy Blue. It was a shift in sound to acoustic blues and even included a blues version of his 1981 #17 hit "The Stroke."


Friday, September 30, 2022

"Little Fighter" by White Lion

Song#:  3941
Date:  06/24/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  52
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  White Lion hit it big with their second album, 1987's Pride. It would be a #11 double-platinum seller thanks to a pair of Pop Top 10s including the #3 power ballad "When the Children Cry." They would return in '89 with their follow up LP Big Game. This first single was issued out and it would do well at Rock getting to #12. At Pop it stopped just shy of the halfway mark, which was a bit of a disappointment following the success of the singles from Pride. Still, the album made it to #19 and quickly went gold.

ReduxReview:  I liked the sentiment behind the song (see below) and that the band didn't necessarily tell a story. The lyrics certainly reflected their inspiration, but were vague enough where someone could interpret them in their own way. That little fighter could be something or someone different for everyone. The song itself was nicely done, but it didn't quite fully bloom into a memorable arena rock anthem. It needed to be a bit stronger to break through in a bigger way and stand up against the other hair metal hits of the day.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  White Lion was a bit different from the run o' tha mill hair metal band in that some of there songs touched on social or political issues. "Little Fighter" could be consider among those. The lyrics were based on the bombing of the Greenpeace boat The Rainbow Warrior. That boat was originally a UK trawler called Sir William Hardy that was launched in 1955. After 22 years of service, the boat was sold to Greenpeace, an international organization that focuses on environmental issues. In 1978, the boat was rechristened The Rainbow Warrior and it would be used for research along with campaigns on various issues. In 1985, it seems the boat's lead participation in a protest over nuclear testing near French Polynesia didn't set well with some folks. On July 10, 1985, while the ship was docked at the Port of Auckland in New Zealand, two explosive devices were attached to the boat's hull. First device was detonated just before midnight and was most likely meant to scare the crew off the boat. Most left, but a few remained onboard to figure out what was going on. A member of the crew who was a photographer happened to go below deck thinking he could save his film equipment. At that time, the second explosive went off. The crew up top either evacuated or were thrown in the water from the blast. However, the explosion crippled the boat and it quickly sank along with the one crew member. After the dust was settled, it was discovered that the bombing was done by the French foreign intelligence services. It was a major scandal for France because the event was state sponsored. Arrests and court proceedings would follow. In the end, France would pay Greenpeace $8.1 million (US dollars) and would also dole out money to the family of the crew member who was killed. Greenpeace would later have two more boats named The Rainbow Warrior.


Thursday, September 29, 2022

"My One Temptation" by Mica Paris

Song#:  3940
Date:  06/24/1989
Debut:  97
Peak:  97
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B, Sophisti-Pop

Pop Bits:  This British singer (born Michelle Wallen) began singing in church at a young age and by the time she was in her teens she was performing with the gospel choir The Spirit of Watts. Along the way, Paris began to move over into the pop music world working as a session singer. This led to a job as background singer for the Brit pop group Hollywood Beyond. She would sing on their '87 album If, which featured the #7 UK hit "What's the Colour of Money?" Still just 17, Paris then got the opportunity to branch out and become a solo artist. She signed on with 4th & B'way and worked on a debut album titled So Good. This first single would be released in '88 and it would become her biggest hit reaching #7 on the UK chart. Three more Top 30 singles would follow and that helped the album reach #6 and go platinum. That success helped Paris get a US distribution deal with Island Records. Midway through '89, this single would be pushed out in the States where it did well at R&B (#15), AC (#8), and Dance (#36). The song was able to cross over to the Pop chart, but it spend a short month at the bottom peaking where it debuted. A follow-up single, "Breathe Life into Me," would get to #24 R&B while a third single would be a minor R&B entry. The album would get to #86 Pop/#29 R&B.

ReduxReview:  This was a mature, sophisticated song that was handled quite well by a singer who was only in their late teens. I liked the jazzy Europop feel of the tune, which was perfect for the time period (and actually wouldn't be out of place even today). Not surprisingly, it did well at AC and even R&B, but it just couldn't find an audience at Pop, which was too bad. The album was good, but the balance of the tracks didn't really rise to the level of this song. Paris would modernize her sound with her second album and that may have put off some listeners who liked her stylish first LP. However, it was a more cohesive effort that allowed Paris to really settle in and give even better performances.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) For her next album, 1991's Contribution, Paris would spend more time co-writing songs. The LP was less successful than her debut both in the UK (#26) and the US (#58 R&B). Two singles from the album were minor entries on the US R&B chart. Paris would do one more effort for 4th & B'way/Island in '93 titled Whisper a Prayer (#20 UK/#99 US R&B). She would continue to record over the years releasing several solo albums while also guesting on many others. Paris would also appear on a few TV reality shows and made guest appearances on a few series including a stint on the long running British soap EastEnders. Her contribution to the arts and charitable work would earn Paris an MBE award (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). It is akin to the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the US.  2) For her Contribution album, Paris recorded a song written by Prince. She would be the first artist to officially record and release the Prince composition "If I Love U 2 Nite." It would be released as the third single from the album in the UK (#43). The song was originally recorded by The Rebels in 1979. The Rebels were made up of members of Prince's backing band at the time. Their album was a side project for Prince in between his own works. Several songs were recorded including the tune "If I Love You Tonight," which featured vocals by Gayle Chapman. Unfortunately, The Rebels project never saw the light of day. However, a few songs would be recorded later by other artists. Prince would record a version of "If I Love U 2 Nite" in '87. It would be this version that would be the basis for the Mica Paris cover. Oddly, Prince's version was somehow included on the promo version of Paris' single. It was done without consent and the single had to be quickly recalled. About 200 were distributed to DJs making it highly sought after (copies go for over $900 on Discogs). Then later in '93, Prince's soon-to-be wife Mayte (Garcia) would record the tune as "If Eye Love U 2 Nite" (the "Eye" being a symbol, of course) for her debut album Child of the Sun, which was produced by Prince. The song was released as a single, but it failed to chart. The album and other singles did not chart either. It would be Mayte's only album.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

"Batdance" by Prince

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  3939
Date:  06/17/1989
Debut:  53
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, Funk, Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  In mid-1988, Prince wasn't really in a good spot. His album Lovesexy was not received well and by Prince standards it tanked missing the Top 10 and only going gold. Due to that and a costly tour, Prince's finances were not in good shape. He began working on songs for another album, but his manager didn't think a new LP was going to right the ship. Prince needed a commercial win to boost his career and finances. An opportunity came when his label, Warner Bros., took on the job of making a film version of Batman. Tim Burton was to direct and Danny Elfman would do the score. Warner wanted to get a hot artist to contribute songs to the film and the idea of getting Prince came up. Burton, a fan of Prince, wasn't so hot on the idea as he didn't want to be forced to use specific songs in the film, but then the idea was hatched to have Prince write an album of songs that were "inspired" by the film. Elfman could do his full score and then Burton could incorporate some of the Prince songs where it seemed appropriate. Prince saw a rough cut of the film and was left a tape of it. He got to work and fleshed out a set of songs that were based on the characters in the film. Burton liked what he heard, but asked for a couple of replacements and Prince obliged. When the film was set for release, there were two soundtrack albums ready to go. One was Elfman's original score and the other was Batman by Prince. One of the first tracks Prince recorded for the LP was this initial single. Prince took parts of other songs he had been working on along with snippets of raw dialog from the rough cut of the film to create a sort of promo track for the movie. An edit of the 6-minute song would be pushed out as a single prior to the film's opening. Thanks to the film taking off at the box office, the song quickly ran up the chart and reached #1 in a short eight weeks (#1 R&B/#1 Dance/#18 Modern Rock). The album would then get to #1 and remain there for six weeks (#5 R&B). It would end up being a double-platinum seller. The tactic to get Prince back on top had worked.

ReduxReview:  The Batman movie ushered in a few things that still are happening today. While there had been a few superhero movies prior, like Superman, Batman took things to a new level. The franchise would continue while others would soon follow. The film also introduced the concept of having an album of "inspired by" music along with a separate release for the actual film score. Batman was influential as was Prince's LP at the time with this nearly avant garde promo single leading the way. However, in the long run, the LP and especially this song are looked at as curiosities in Prince's catalog. This song worked at the time, but once the movie's run was done, no one really wanted to hear it. Other songs from the album suffered the same fate as well. The LP got the job done for Prince and the film, but it wasn't nearly in the same league as Prince's classic Purple Rain soundtrack. It is kind of a fun nostalgic exercise to hear the LP once in a great while, but in general it was product for a purpose. This single was just bat-shit crazy (pun intended). It was a weird, messy mash up of songs, dialog, and other things that kind of worked in a Prince-ly way. I'm not sure another artist at the time could have pulled this off and grabbed a #1 hit. Really, I'm not sure any artist had the balls to do this so to Prince's credit, he certainly played into the spectacle of the movie and nailed it. That said, do I really want to voluntarily hear this now? Not really. I might toss it in a playlist as something fun and odd to creep up on you, but other than that, it was a song for a specific time and reason.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While the Batman album was a boost for Prince's career, it wasn't exactly the most perfect situation. Since the movie was a Warner Bros. project, they definitely wanted a share of any music that was to be associated with the film. Therefore, they wanted the publishing rights to Prince's contributions. Weighing the good vs. the bad, Prince and his team agreed to the terms. That meant that if anyone wanted to use any Prince song from the Batman album, they would have to deal with Warner, not Prince. Because of that, none of the charting singles from the album were included on any Prince compilation. It wasn't until after Prince's death that "Batdance" finally was allowed to be on a compilation. It was the only single from Batman to make 4Ever, the first release of any kind that came out after Prince's death in April of 2016.


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

"No More Rhyme" by Debbie Gibson

Song#:  3938
Date:  06/17/1989
Debut:  66
Peak:  17
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Gibson's second album Electric Youth would become a #1 double-platinum seller thanks mainly to a pair of gold Top 10 hits including the #1 "Lost in Your Eyes." Hoping to keep the streak going, this third single was issued out. While it would perform okay, the song could only manage a Pop Top 20 showing while reaching #13 AC. Gibson seemed to beat the sophomore slump with Electric Youth and although it reached #1, overall it wasn't as successful as her triple-platinum debut that featured four Pop Top 10 hits.

ReduxReview:  This ballad wasn't as strong as the LP's first single, but it was a good choice for release. It had a nice chorus and it was well-recorded. It just wasn't quite as memorable as Gibson's other hits. She really needed another solid dance-pop tune to spice up pop radio, but there really wasn't one on the album that could compete with her bouncy first three Top 10 hits. Therefore, the label went with another ballad and it didn't quite pay off. I appreciated that Gibson wanted to write and producer her own songs, but at this point it would have been a good idea to hook her up with a hot songwriter or two. She could have benefited from working with others and might have come up with a couple solid tunes that were a bit more mature and current.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 2007, a musical was staged that used Debbie Gibson's songs. Electric Youth was written and directed by Dean Parker. The comedy's musical numbers were from Gibson's catalog including "No More Rhyme." The show was considered a "jukebox musical" where songs from a particular artist or time period are used instead of original compositions. Famous jukebox musicals include Mamma Mia!, Rock of Ages, Tina, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and Jersey Boys. The Electric Youth musical debuted in Orlando and seemed to generate mixed reviews.


Monday, September 26, 2022

"Sacred Emotion" by Donny Osmond

Song#:  3937
Date:  06/17/1989
Debut:  70
Peak:  13
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Osmond surprised the music industry (and perhaps even himself) by scoring a major comeback hit with the #2 "Soldier of Love." The single came from a self-titled album that Osmond mostly recorded with songwriters/producers Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers. While it was great that Osmond was in the Pop Top 10 again sixteen years after his last one, the question was if Osmond could do it again. He gave it a go with this next single that was written by Sturken and Rogers. Lightening pretty much struck twice with the song nearly making the Pop Top 10 while hitting #4 at AC. It helped sell a few more copies of the album, which had already peaked at #54.

ReduxReview:  This was a good follow-up to the new jack-leaning "Soldier of Love." The mid-tempo ballad was nicely recorded and it featured a hooky, sing-a-long chorus. It was a good entry for the Pop chart, but it was an even better candidate for AC airplay. It's so funny. I think because he was just a kid when he became a star with his brothers, I remember people thinking that he was old at the time. Yet he was only 31. By comparison, Jon Bon Jovi was 27, Madonna was 30, and Cher was 43. They were all on the Pop chart at the same time. However, I guess because Osmond was considered a teen idol, it made it seem like he had been around for ages and that he hadn't really transitioned from teen idol into a viable adult music artist. This pair of late 80s hits changed some minds and it really gave a boost to Osmond's career.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song featured a sax solo by smooth jazz artist Dave Koz. During the 80s, Koz was an in-demand session and tour player. Like a lot of musicians, he got the itch to do his own thing and decided to embarked on a solo career. He signed on with Capitol Record and in 1990 released a self-titled debut solo album. It would feature a pair of AC Top 20 songs and that helped the LP get to #128 Pop/#48 Jazz/#4 Contemporary Jazz. His popularity grew from there and although he would never have a single reach the Pop chart, his albums would sell well. Twelve of his studio albums would make the Jazz Top 10 while nine of them would reach #1 at Contemporary Jazz. He has nine Grammy nominations to his credit.