Saturday, October 15, 2022

"Soul Provider" by Michael Bolton

Song#:  3954
Date:  07/01/1989
Debut:  76
Peak:  17
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  After years of trying to break through as a solo artist, Bolton was finally able to make some inroads with his fifth album The Hunger. It would reach #46 thanks to a pair of Pop Top 20 hits including the #11 remake of "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." While the LP would not quite get to gold level status during its heyday run, thanks to Bolton's future success it would eventually become a double-platinum seller. But before that, Bolton would issue out what would be his major breakthrough, his sixth album Soul Provider. However, no one would have guessed that based on the results of this title track first single. The tune did well at AC reaching #3, but at Pop it could only add to his total of Top 20 entries. It also was a blip on the R&B chart at #71. It perhaps wasn't the most promising start, but the album's next single would kick off a string of big hits for Bolton.

ReduxReview:  I haven't been that shy on this blog about my dislike of Bolton's voice. Early on in his career when he was doing hard rock, I though his voice suited it well. However, when he moved into this pop/AC/blue-eyed soul direction it didn't work for me at all. I just found his performances to be way over the top and quite grating. Granted, he had the ability to write some good tunes, but he'd pretty much ruin most of them with an overdone vocal. There were minor exceptions along the way and this track is one of them. He still gets a bit out of control at the end, but for the most part Bolton manages to reign it in enough to let the song handle some of the work. It also featured a restrained sax part from another over-doer Kenny G. Bolton still could have pulled back more on the tune, but it wasn't too bad. I can tolerate it because the song is quite nice. A more subtle, soulful performance from another vocalist might have really made this song soar. I think it would have been a perfect vehicle for Smokey Robinson.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Getting massively famous singer/songwriter can come with some pitfalls and Bolton would experience that soon after he hit superstar status. In 1992, Bolton would earn a #4 Pop/#1 AC hit with "Love Is a Wonderful Thing," the first single from his 1991 album Time, Love & Tenderness, which would go on to sell over 8 million copies. While many people loved the tune, there were some that were not happy with it, specifically The Isley Brothers. It seems that Bolton's song, which he co-wrote with Andrew Goldmark, sounded an awful lot like their 1966 single of the same name (it failed to chart). The Isley's filed a plagiarism lawsuit  in 1992 against Bolton, Goldmark, and their publishing company. Two years later, a jury ruled in favor of the Isley Brothers. They were awarded $5 million in damages, which as the time was the largest amount for a plagiarism suit. Of course appeals would follow with Bolton and Goldmark trying to make their case. They would even take it to the Supreme Court, but the Court refused to hear the case and that meant that the ruling against Bolton, Goldmark, and the publishing company stuck. In the end, the Isley Brothers would be award $4.2 million. The bulk of that would be paid by the publishing company, but Bolton would have to fork over about $1 million while Goldmark was stuck with a $220k bill.


Friday, October 14, 2022

"Shower Me with Your Love" by Surface

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3953
Date:  07/01/1989
Debut:  87
Peak:  5
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The first two singles from this trio's second album 2nd Wave didn't do much to expand their audience into the mainstream. A first single completely missed the Pop chart while a second single, "Closer Than Friends," would only reach #57. However, that track became their first to reach #1 on the R&B chart so it kept their album selling. They still needed something better to break them wider, so the label gave this third single a try. It ended up being the right selection. The song would be their second to reach #1 at R&B and their first to crack the Pop Top 10. It would also get to #3 AC. That crossover action helped the single sell well and it would go gold. In turn, the album would peak at #5 R&B/#56 Pop and become a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  They probably didn't want to get backed into a corner as being a ballads band and so opted to release a pair of uptempo track first, which paid off fine at R&B, but not at Pop. This song was the obvious crossover hit from the LP and probably should have been issued out first. Waiting and releasing it third was a bit risky since the group hadn't really been breaking through at Pop and the tune could have fell flat. Luckily, the song was strong enough to overcome its release order and it earned the trio their first really big crossover hit. It got them a gold record too. This was a nicely written tune that was ripe for radio on the various formats.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This trio began writing songs together and recording demos before they even thought of becoming recording artists. They were writers for hire for EMI and in the mid-80s their tunes started to get picked up. They would score their first hit in 1986 when their tune "Reaction" became a #15 Dance/#16 R&B hit for Rebbie Jackson. It would be followed by a couple of minor chart singles recorded by Gwen Guthrie. As Surface was beginning to score hits, the members continued to supply songs to other artists. For two of the members, David Conley and David Townsend, their biggest hit outside of Surface came when their co-write with Derrick Culler, "Don't Take It Personal," got recorded by Jermaine Jackson and became his last solo #1 on the R&B chart in 1989. Conley and Townsend would score another hit in 1990 when Melba Moore got to #10 R&B with "Do You Really (Want My Love)."


Thursday, October 13, 2022

"The Prisoner" by Howard Jones

Song#:  3952
Date:  07/01/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  30
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Jones earned his fifth Pop Top 20 single with "Everlasting Love" (#12), the first single from his fourth studio album Cross That Line. The song would do very well at AC where it became his second #1. Although the single performed well, it wasn't really doing much for the album, which stalled at #65. Hoping to provide a boost, this second single was issued out. It would be able to crack the Pop Top 30 and get to #24 Modern Rock, but it didn't do much to further album sales. With those results, no further singles would be issued out from the album.

ReduxReview:  This album opening track was a good choice for a single, but it may have not been the best one to follow up the bouncy "Everlasting Love." It was a dark, brooding track with thick production that didn't necessarily pair well with Jones' previous AC #1 hit. I was even a bit surprised it made the Pop Top 30. I was happy about that because I loved the tune, but it seemed a tad heavy for pop radio at the time. The track sounded great cranked up. It was also unusual that for the first couple passes of the chorus, the beat stopped and it was driven by a repetitive keyboard. After the second chorus, the song comes to a halt and a crunchy guitar enters. It was all quite well done and it is still one of my favorite HoJo tracks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Jones would return in 1992 with his fifth album In the Running. Its first single, "Lift Me Up," would crack the Pop Top 40 (#32) while getting to #10 AC. It would be Jones' final single to reach either chart. Despite the single getting some attention, it wasn't enough to promote album sales and it became Jones' first to miss the US Album chart. The results would bring an end to his association with his long time label Elektra. Jones would continue to tour and record indie albums over the years. He would get back on the UK Album chart after a 20-year absence with his 2019 album Transform. It would reach #49.


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

"Come Home with Me Baby" by Dead or Alive

Song#:  3951
Date:  07/01/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  69
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG, Freestyle

Pop Bits:   The British band's third album, Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know, performed fairly well getting to #52. It got a boost from the #1 Dance/#15 Pop hit "Brand New Lover." This album and its gold selling predecessor Youthquake were produced by the Stock Aitken Waterman team. For their fourth album, Nude, the band decided to handle the production themselves. In the UK, the LP was preceded by a first single, "Turn Around and Count 2 Ten." It was a minor entry at #70 in the spring of '88. After that result, it seems the band may have take a little time to regroup. Two members would leave the band and it basically left Dead or Alive as a duo. Finally in the summer of '89, Nude would get a second push with this next single. In the UK the song would top out at #62. In the US, the tune would do about the same on the Pop chart, however, it would become the band's second song to reach #1 on the Dance chart. A follow-up single, "Baby Don't Say Goodbye," would make it to #6 Dance. Thank mainly to the action on the Dance chart, the album was able to make a minor showing at #106.

ReduxReview:  Despite not working with SAW on the album, it seems like the band wanted to continue with the sound that team had provided for them on their previous hits and came up with this track. While it was not a full clone, the tune did have that SAW feel combined with a bit of freestyle. It was a good combo for US dance clubs and the band was able to score a hit. However, it just wasn't a good single candidate for pop radio at the time.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  While the band's audience dwindled quickly in the US and the UK, they maintained a huge following in Japan. "Turn Around and Count 2 Ten" was a significant hit there and the album sold well. Because of that, the band's next albums were initially only released in Japan. They would continue to record and tour over the years, but it all came to an end in 2016 with the death of lead singer/songwriter Pete Burns.


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

"Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming" by Robert Palmer

Song#:  3950
Date:  07/01/1989
Debut:  91
Peak:  60
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  In the summer of '88, Palmer released his ninth studio album Heavy Nova. It would become a #13 platinum seller thank mainly to the #2 Pop single "Simply Irresistible." A second single, the cover tune "Early in the Morning," would do fairly well reaching #19. A third single would fail to chart. Then it seems the label tried to promote a fourth track for potential release but it didn't pan out. That should have been it for the album, yet it seems like Palmer's label EMI wasn't ready to give up. They chose to release this next track as the LP's official fourth single. It would debut on the Pop chart almost exactly a year after "Simply Irresistible" debuted (a one day difference). The tune would get a little attention and was able to stay on the Pop chart for a couple of months. The late single didn't do much to push album sales.

ReduxReview:  This song was ripe for being covered. Since it was blocked from being a potential hit the first time around (see below), there was a good chance for it to do well as a remake. While Palmer and his duet partner (see below) do well with the tune, I just think it came a little too late. My guess is that after releasing the cover "Early in the Morning" the label didn't want to issue out another remake and was trying to push originals for singles. When that didn't work, then they went back to this cover, however a year later was just too much time gone by and the tune had a hard time finding an audience. While I prefer the original, Palmer's cover is pretty good.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Jermaine Jackson. Written by Bruce Sudano, Michael Omartian, and Jay Gruska, the song was recorded for Jackson's #19 gold selling self-titled 1984 album. The track featured vocals by Michael Jackson. There was intent for it to be a single from the LP, but disagreements between the artitsts' labels (Arista and Epic) kept it from being released. Despite that, the tune picked up quite a bit of airplay after the album was released, especially in clubs and that helped it get to #1 on the Dance chart.  2) The female vocal part on the track was performed by B.J. Nelson (Brenda Joy Nelson). After years of experience performing with various bands, she started to get session work as a backing vocalist. She would work on Duran Duran's 1983 LP Seven and the Ragged Tiger and that led to work on Power Station's 1985 self-titled debut. That association then got her work with Palmer. While working with him on Heavy Nova, Nelson would get signed by EMI. She would release a self-titled debut album in '89 that was produced by Palmer. Unfortunately, it didn't get any attention and disappeared quickly.  3) Palmer's next album would be 1990's Don't Explain. Its lead single, "You're Amazing," would make it to #5 Rock, but only reach #28 Pop. A remake of Marvin Gaye's classic hit "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" would do a bit better getting to #16 Pop/#4 AC/#90 R&B. It would end up being Palmer's final Pop chart single. The album would top out at #88. Palmer would continue to record and perform over the years, but it all came to an end when he suddenly died of a heart attack in 2003.


Monday, October 10, 2022

"All I Want Is You" by U2

Song#:  3949
Date:  07/01/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  83
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  In the long run, U2's hybrid studio/live album Rattle and Hum would sell only half the amount of their previous classic The Joshua Tree. However, that "half" equated to 5 million copies, which was still impressive. By this point in time the album was winding down after three singles with the third one, "When Love Comes to Town" (with B.B. King), only getting to #68 Pop. Still, the label went ahead and released this fourth single in hopes of recapturing the pop radio audience. It didn't quite work out. While the song would get to #13 Rock, it failed to do much of anything on the Pop chart and fell off after a short month. To-date it was their lowest peaking single on the Pop chart and would remain so until 2005. This song would wrap up the 80s for U2.

ReduxReview:  With the band exploring American music genres for the album's studio tracks, I always thought this was sort of their salute to the heartland rock style of Bruce Springsteen. I could totally hear Springsteen doing this song. It was reflective of his work. That probably wasn't U2's intent when writing the song, but that was how I heard it (and still do). Of course U2 did it in their own style with the repetitive guitar licks and the odd string arrangement (courtesy of Van Dyke Parks). It wasn't a bad choice for a single, but it wasn't going to get very far. I think it was just a hail Mary by the label to try and keep album sales going and it didn't work.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While this song didn't do well the first time around, it got a second chance in 1994. The track was selected to be included in the rom-com film Reality Bites. It would also be on the associated soundtrack album. Due to its use in the film, the song received attention and it was enough for the label to issue it out as a single again. On its second go 'round the tune would make it to #50 on the Pop chart. Of course the big hit from the soundtrack was the #1 "Stay (I Missed You)" by Lisa Loeb, which helped the album get to #13 and go double platinum. Reality Bites was directed by Ben Stiller and starred himself plus Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke. It was a modest box office hit that would later be a cult film thank in part to its association with the early 90s grunge music scene.  2) After the critical disappointment of Rattle and Hum, U2 thought it was time for a change. They would update their sound and approach for 1991's Achtung Baby. Influenced by alt/industrial rock along with electronic dance music, the LP was critically hailed and was a major success peaking at #1, going 7x platinum, and spawning a pair of Top 10s including the classic "One." It would be nominated for an Album of the Year Grammy and would win the band one for Best Rock Performance, Duo or Group. Their success would continue over the years with all but two of their regular studio albums hitting #1. More Grammys would follow including Record and Song of the Year for "Beautiful Day" and Album of the Year for "How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb."