Saturday, October 8, 2022

"The End of the Innocence" by Don Henley

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3948
Date:  06/24/1989
Debut:  62
Peak:  8
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock, Americana

Pop Bits:  Following the success of his second solo album, the triple-platinum #13 Building the Perfect Beast, Henley took his time developing his follow up effort. While he would work with a good chunk of the same personnel involved with his previous album, the overall sound of the LP would shift in a more mature direction. The synths found prominently on Building would take a back seat while the songs would take on a more organic band sound. This first single was a good example of that. The understated tune had an Americana feel and featured a memorable piano riff. It was different fare from what Henley had doled out in his past solo efforts and it seemed folks liked the change. The song would end up topping the Rock chart while getting to #2 AC. On the Pop chart, it would become Henley's fifth Top 10 hit apart from the Eagles. The hit would help send the album to #8, which was Henley's first solo LP to crack the Top 10. It would quickly go gold. The album would get a Grammy nod for Album of the Year while this single would be nominated for three Grammys including Record and Song of the Year. It would win one for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. It was his second win in that category.

ReduxReview:  This nostalgic track was just perfect for the time it was released. Henley's third LP was highly anticipated and this single came on the heels of his collaborator's (see below) successful second album. It played like an extension of that Americana pop sound and listeners grabbed on to it. The black and white video directed by David Fincher was also quite successful and it would go on to win an MTV Music Video Award for Best Male Video. At the time this song came out, I wasn't fully sold on it. The track just wasn't what I was expecting from Henley and it came off as a sort of imitation of another artist. However, the more I let the track sink in I began to realize that it was a nice piece of work from both artists and one that was quite memorable. Even today, you can instantly recognize this song after hearing only a few notes of the opening piano riff.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Does this song have a familiar feel and sound? It should. It was co-written by recently minted star Bruce Hornsby. The story goes that in '87 when Henley was beginning to work on his third album, he wanted to collaborate with another artist for a song. Having liked Hornsby's 1986 hit debut album The Way It Is, Henley blindly called up Hornsby and asked if he was interested in collaborating. Of course Hornsby jumped at the chance and invited Henley over to his house. The pair struck up a friendship and Hornsby played Henley a tape of a song he had been in the process of writing. Hornsby just had the music down and wasn't really sure if it was good enough to keep working on. Henley took the tape with him and it wasn't long before he was able to turn the tune into "The End of the Innocence." For the recording of the song, Henley brought Hornsby into the studio to record the piano and other keyboard parts. The pair would produce the track together. The collaboration would earn them Grammy nods for Record and Song of the Year.


Friday, October 7, 2022

"Cold Hearted" by Paula Abdul

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3947
Date:  06/24/1989
Debut:  65
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  By this point in time Abdul's debut album Forever Your Girl had been out for a year. Typically, a hit album would have already wrapped things up and been in decline, but Abdul's effort wasn't close to being done. After a very slow start, it began to take off thanks to an unexpected pair of #1 Pop hits including the gold-selling title track. With Abdul on a roll, a follow-up was necessary and this track was selected as the LP's fifth single. It was the perfect choice with the song becoming Abdul's third in a row to top the Pop chart while getting to #19 Dance. Once again it would sell well enough to go gold. The album would get to the double-platinum mark in July. However, Abdul wasn't done yet. The LP had a lot more gas left in the tank.

ReduxReview:  Written and produced by Elliot Wolff, who provided Abdul with her first #1 "Straight Up," this was a hard hitting track that had great production and an excellent arrangement. Wolff performed everything except for the guitar and I think he knocked it out of the park. At the time this came out I wasn't really into Abdul at all so I didn't pay too much attention to this song. Nowadays I think it ranks right along side her previous two #1s as the best tracks from the LP. The darkly menacing urgent tune was a perfect follow up to the sunny "Forever Your Girl" and thanks in part to a highly successful video that was all over MTV, the song was an easy #1.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The video for this song was directed by future Oscar nominee David Fincher. It was a riff on a scene from the 1979 musical drama All That Jazz directed by Bob Fosse and starring Roy Scheider. Co-written by Fosse, it was loosely based on his experience of simultaneously editing a film (1974's Lenny) while staging an upcoming Broadway musical (1975's Chicago). In one scene, the producers of the musical show up to see a number. The first half of "Take Off with Us" plays like a standard Fosse crowd-pleasing musical number that the producers love. But then the second half of the number starts and it turns into a dark erotic piece that is basically about having casual sex, which shocks the producers. Abdul's video basically mimics the whole scene, albeit in a more TV friendly way. All That Jazz would do well at the box office and would be a critical success as well. It would win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and go on to received nine Oscar nominations including Best Picture. It would win four including one for Best Original Song Score. The film would be the last live-action musical to be nominated for Best Picture for 22 years. In 2002, Moulin Rouge! would finally break the drought. However, the animated musical Beauty and the Beast would get a nod in 1992.


Thursday, October 6, 2022

"Keep on Movin'" by Soul II Soul

Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  3946
Date:  06/24/1989
Debut:  82
Peak:  11
Weeks:  20
Genre:  R&B, Soul

Pop Bits:  This British group was initially developed by DJ/producer Jazzie B (Trevor Beresford Romeo) as a "sound system" (a group of DJs/engineers that performed together) sometime around 1982. The group gained an audience over the years through their performances and as the late 80s approached a more distinct lineup was developed. Jazzie B began writing tunes on his own and with other group members and in '88 they were able to sign with 10 Records and issue out a couple of singles that were mid-charters in the UK. But then this third single changed everything. Released early in '89, it quickly caught on in the UK and reach #5. That prompted the assembly and release of a debut album titled Club Classics Vol. One. It would reach #1 in the UK. The success would prompt a deal for US distribution. This single would be issued out and it would become a major success reaching #1 R&B and #1 Dance while nearly cracking the Pop Top 10. It also made the AC chart at #37. Thanks to the cross format action, the single sold very well and would be certified platinum. The album, which was re-titled Keep on Movin' for the US release, would take off and go gold by mid-August. It would sell even more after the release of a second single.

ReduxReview:  This rich, silky, sophisticated track was something different at the time and folks latched on to it. It was easy to be seduced by the tune's relaxed groove and Caron Wheeler's voice. I found it to be a soul-packed extension of some of the British sophisti-pop that had been coming out in the late 80s. It really should have made the Pop Top 10, but it unfortunately stopped at the dreaded #11 spot. Still, it sold a lot as would the group's next single. Both would be influential tracks from the late 80s.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The lead vocal on this song was performed by Caron Wheeler. Her parents were from Jamaica and the music from that country would certainly influence her later. While in school, she began to sing with a friend of hers Pauline Caitlin. Initially they did it for fun, but they began to take it more seriously and started practicing and performing. While still teenagers, he pair entered a talent contest at a local nightclub and won. Encouraged by that, the pair decided to expand to a trio and included Carol Simms. Now known as Brown Sugar, they recorded songs for a new reggae label called Lover's Rock. Their first single, 1977's "I'm in Love with a Dreadlocks," would do well on the UK Reggae chart. A couple more singles would follow, but it seems before the trio could record a full album, they decided to split blaming it on the way they were treated by the new label. They would get back together in '78 for a tour with famed reggae star Dennis Brown and release a few more singles, but by '83 they called it a day. Wheeler then paired up with singer Claudia Fontaine to form the backing vocal/session duo Afrodiziak. They would pick up some high profile gigs including performing on tracks by The Jam and Elvis Costello. The duo would turn into a trio with the addition of Naomi Thompson. More studio and tour work came their way via artists like Madness, Howard Jones, Maxi Priest, Aswad, and others. They would split in '88 with Wheeler joining up with Soul II Soul.


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

"Comin' Down Tonight" by 38 Special

Song#:  3945
Date:  06/24/1989
Debut:  83
Peak:  67
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The Southern rock band scored a left-field hit with the ballad "Second Chance," the second single from their album Rock and Roll Strategy. The song would hit #1 at AC and #2 Rock while becoming the band's second and final Pop Top 10 (#6). A follow up single was necessary and this next track was selected. It didn't get very far topping out at #43 Rock and stalling in the bottom half of the Pop chart. Despite "Second Chance" doing well, the album didn't sell as well as expected haltimg at a minor #61.

ReduxReview:  While this tune was just ever so slightly closer to the band's Southern rock sound, it was still a slick pop-leaning track that didn't do much for the band. By this point in time the band had lost their mojo and it showed in songs like this forgettable effort.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  After Rock and Roll Strategy, the band left their long time home label A&M and signed up with the British label Charisma. Their first LP for the label, Bone Against Steel, would be released in 1991. Its first single, "The Sound of Your Voice," co-written by former Survivor member Jim Peterik, would be a hit at Rock getting to #2. It would do fairly well at Pop making the Top 40 (#33). It would be the band's final Pop chart single. While the song got some attention, it wasn't enough to sell the LP, which faded quickly after peaking at a very minor #170. The band would go through several lineup changes over the years. They would continue to tour and would issue out a couple of studio LPs along with a holiday effort.


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

"Talk It Over" by Grayson Hugh

Song#:  3944
Date:  06/24/1989
Debut:  88
Peak:  19
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This Connecticut-born singer/songwriter learned piano at a young age. Over the years, a variety of music experiences including a stint as a gospel choir pianist and working with jazz musicians would help shape his sound. In 1980, he was able to record an indie self-titled debut album that combined elements of rock, jazz, and blues. Nothing much came from the LP, but Hugh continued to work on projects and perform. After a move to NYC in the mid-80s, things began to take off for Hugh. He got a gig doing background vocals on an album by the UK band The Blow Monkeys. This was after they scored their one and only US chart hit, 1986's #14 "Digging Your Scene." An A&R rep for the band's label, RCA, took notice of Hugh and after working up a demo he was signed to the label. Work began on an album to be titled Blind to Reason that would be finished in '88. An initial single, "Tears of Love," would be released, but it failed to gain any support. Then this soulful tune would be released next. It would eventually find an audience and would end up cracking the Pop Top 20 while reaching #9 at AC. The hit would help the album reach #71.

ReduxReview:  This AC-leaning soulful track wasn't something that was common on the Pop chart at the time. However, there was always a market for one. It just had to be that right tune that could click with audiences and this just happened to do the trick. It was a nicely performed track with a terrific background vocal arrangement. Frankly, I wouldn't have predicted it to be a hit at Pop, but it did sound like it would do well at AC. It was the right song at the right time and it kicked off Hugh's career. However, the tune didn't seem to have legs. I haven't heard this song since it was on the chart. Another forgotten 80s relic.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Does this song sound familiar? It might not for some, but Olivia Newton-John fans might recognize it. According to Hugh, the story goes that he was looking for a song for his demo tape and happened to be at the home of composer Sandy Linzer. Hugh found one titled "Can We Talk It Over in Bed" that Linzer had co-written with Irwin Levine. He thought it had potential, so he took it home to work on it. Hugh enhanced the tune and gave it a new arrangement. He got it recorded and it was one of the songs that helped get Hugh signed to RCA. This was in 1987. Hugh then went ahead and officially cut the track for his debut album. The label then wanted it to be the first single. But then a complication arose. It seems that the newly uncovered song somehow found its way over to Olivia Newton-John. While it's not clear how that happened, it seems that Linzer certainly knew about it and perhaps because of Newton-John being an established star, Linzer arranged a "right of first release" agreement with the publisher and the Newton-John camp. That meant that no one else could legally release the song prior to Newton-John. Her album The Rumour would come out in August of '88. The title track would not do well faltering at #62 Pop. She then released "Can We Talk It Over in Bed" as the second single. It would tank not reaching any chart. Luckily, Hugh and RCA decided to wait it out and with the altered title of "Talk It Over," Hugh's version was finally released. He would end up having a Pop Top 20 hit with the song.


Monday, October 3, 2022

"Gonna Make It" by Sa-Fire

Song#:  3943
Date:  06/24/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  71
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Latin Freestyle

Pop Bits:  The third single from Sa-Fire's self-titled debut album, "Thinking of You," would become her biggest hit topping out at #12 Pop and #4 AC. The ballad was different from the Latin freestyle of her previous singles and it ended up clicking with audiences. Of course a follow up was needed and so this fourth single was issued out. It was another freestyle track and like her previous ones it didn't make a big impression on the Pop chart. It even faltered a little bit at Dance only getting to #31. By this point in time the album had already peaked at #79 Pop/#84 R&B. It wasn't a bad outcome and afterwards Sa-Fire had the task of trying to follow it up.

ReduxReview:  This track was another fairly good freestyle track from Sa-Fire. It was in the same league as her other charting freestyle single "Boy, I've Been Told." The production was solid with Sa-Fire kind of sounding like Paula Abdul. But just like "Boy," it didn't have the hooks necessary to become a big crossover single. For fans of Latin freestyle, the Sa-Fire album was probably pure ear candy. For everyone else, it just wasn't all that memorable with the exception of the hit ballad "Thinking of You."

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Sa-Fire's second album, I Wasn't Born Yesterday, would arrive in 1991, but this time under the adjusted moniker of Safire. Its first single, "Made Up My Mind," wouldn't get much attention getting to #36 Dance and #82 Pop. A follow up single "Taste the Bass" would fare better at Dance reaching #6. The results didn't spark album sales and it failed to chart. However, the album did contain one track of note. It had the first released instance of "I Never Heard," a song written by Michael Jackson and Paul Anka. While some of the dates and circumstances around the collaboration vary, the gist of it was that Anka and Jackson wrote three songs together in the early 80s and recorded demos of them at Anka's studio. The story goes that when Anka went to get the tapes they were gone. It was reported that Jackson had taken them. By this point it seemed that Thriller was taking off and Jackson no longer wanted to work on the songs or release them. Anka took legal action to get the tapes back, which did happen. One of the songs, "Love Never Felt So Good," was given to Johnny Mathis. He recorded in for his 1984 album A Special Part of Me. Then another song, "I Never Heard," was shuffled over to Safire for her 1991 album. That seemed to be the end of the story, but then after Jackson's passing in 2009, his brothers found a box of demo tapes and discovered "I Never Heard" in a version that was just piano and Jackson's vocal. Apparently, Jackson did return tapes to Anka, but had copied them beforehand. The brothers were looking for something new and unreleased to help promote an upcoming concert documentary on Jackson. The track title was change to "This Is It" and it also became the title of the documentary and the accompanying album. Apparently, the tape had no notations as to authorship so it was assumed that Jackson wrote it. Of course when Anka heard the tune red lights went off. He quickly got in contact with the Jackson estate to claim 50% ownership of the song. Everything was settled and all was well. For Jackson's last posthumous album of "new" material, 2014's Xscape, the Anka/Jackson song "Love Never Felt So Good" was redone as both a solo for Jackson (using the demo tape) and as a duet with Justin Timberlake. It would be released as a single and get to #9 Pop/#5 R&B/#7 AC). The third song from the Anka/Jackson demos, "It Don't Matter to Me," would later get used by Drake. He would take Jackson's vocal from the demo and use it in his 2018 track "Don't Matter to Me." That single would get to #9 Pop/#8 R&B.