Friday, November 4, 2022

"That's the Way" by Katrina & the Waves

Song#:  3971
Date:  07/22/1989
Debut:  86
Peak:  16
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  After scoring a Top 10 single in 1985 with "Walking on Sunshine," this part British/part American band had trouble following up their indelible hit. Other singles from their self-titled album didn't get far and their next album, '86's Waves, featured only one minor chart single. Their label, Capitol Records, wasn't happy with the results and dropped the band. However, they got picked up by SBK Records (who was oddly distributed by EMI/Capitol) and got a chance to right the ship. They recorded the more rock leaning LP Break of Hearts. This first single was issued out and although it wasn't a major hit, it became their second biggest charting song topping out in the Pop Top 20. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to really kick off sales of the album and it stalled at a minor #122. SBK wasn't thrilled with the results either, so like Capitol they dropped the band.

ReduxReview:  While this song wasn't as good as the classic "Walking on Sunshine," it was an upbeat, happy, hooky track that was able to gain enough of an audience to send it into the Pop Top 20. In the days of hair metal, freestyle, and new jack, I didn't think this song had a chance on the chart, but the tune's retro organ-driven soul/rock/blues feel drew in listeners. The band gave a great performance as did lead singer Katrina Leskanich. It was an infectious track that supplied the band with one last US hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Throughout the first half of the 90s, Katrina & the Waves kept busy touring and would release three albums in Europe for a couple of major labels. However, none sold well or produced any hits. Then in 1996, group member and guitarist Kimberly Rew wrote a song titled "Love Shine a Light." While there are a few stories about the writing of this song, in an interview Rew said it came about because of the dynamics in the band at the time. Three of the members had written songs for the band over the years with Rew being the most prolific. However, it got to the point where they were not seeing eye to eye during writing sessions or deciding on which songs to record. Therefore, Rew set out to write something that would please everyone in the band and he came up with "Love Shine a Light." A demo of the song was done by Rew and lead singer Katrina Leskanich. Then dummer Alex Cooper got the idea to send the song to BBC DJ Terry Wogan, who would often play demo songs from artists on his radio show. For years, Wogan also served as the UK's commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest. He played the "Love Shine a Light" demo tape and it got a great response. From there, the tune ended up competing in the UK's Eurovision selection contest (the Great British Song Contest). It ended up winning and the song along with the band were sent off to compete at 1997's Eurovision. The song would win the competition by the widest margin in the contest's history at the time. The win helped secure a record deal for the band and they were able to record the album Walk on Water. Prior to its release, "Love Shine a Light" would become a hit all over Europe and would become their biggest hit at home in the UK reaching #3 (it was not released in the US). However, as they had experienced before, the band was unable to follow up the hit. Disagreement in the band finally came to a head in '98 and they would break up.


Thursday, November 3, 2022

"My Paradise" by The Outfield

Song#:  3970
Date:  07/22/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  72
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The title track single to the band's third album, Voices of Babylon, would end up being their biggest hit at Rock getting to #2. However, it didn't fully ignite at Pop where it stalled in the Top 30 (#25). The result left the album floundering and only able to reach #53. Hoping to revive sales of the LP, this next single was issued out. It more or less flopped only getting #34 Rock and spending only a few weeks near the bottom of the Pop chart. A third single failed to make any chart. The outcome was a disappointment following the band's double-platinum debut and its gold selling follow up.

ReduxReview:  This track sounded like something from a mid-80s comedy movie soundtrack. You know, some kind of sex farce rom-com flick that had Michael J. Fox as a summer camp counselor. It would have probably been a Pop Top 40 hit if released in '85, but by the end of the 80s it nearly sounded retro. With tastes in music changing in the late 80s, The Outfield were going to have a hard time keeping up. Their brand of power pop wasn't necessarily in favor so it was going to take something truly great to gain back their audience. This song didn't fit the bill, but it was actually a good recording. The tune was well-written, catchy, fun, and had good production. It was definitely one of their better singles, but by this point in time no one was paying attention to the trio.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After Voices of Babylon, the band was at a make-or-break point. They needed to make changes in order to reboot their career, so for their fourth album, 1990's Diamond Days, the band switched labels and tried to get a fresh start with MCA Records. The LP's first single, "For You," would do fairly well reaching #13 Rock and nearly making the Pop Top 20 (#21). Still, it wasn't enough to get folks back on board with the band and the album would stall at a low #90. MCA would give them another shot and in 1992 the band released Rockeye. With its first single unable to crack the Pop Top 40 the LP disappeared quickly and did not chart. It would bring an end to the band's major label days. The band continued to perform and record indie albums over the years. However, the passing of the band's two main members, guitarist John Spinks (died 2014) and lead singer Tony Lewis (died 2020), brought an end to The Outfield.


Wednesday, November 2, 2022

"Let the Day Begin" by The Call

Song#:  3969
Date:  07/22/1989
Debut:  91
Peak:  51
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The last time The Call was on the Pop chart was back in 1983 when "The Walls Came Down" from their second album Modern Romans got to #74. Their next album, Scenes Beyond Dreams, would not chart, but their fifth album Reconcile did okay reaching #82 thanks to a pair of Rock Top 20 entries. Then '87's Into the Woods wouldn't fare as well stopping at a minor #123. Realizing they needed something with a little more of a commercial edge to keep the train going, the band went into the studio and recorded their next LP, Let the Day Begin, in a quick six days. Unfortunately, their label at the time, Elektra, didn't like what they heard and wanted the band to start over. Disagreements ensued and when all was said and done, both The Call and the album wound up over at MCA Records. The title track was selected for the first single and it would become the band's biggest overall hit reaching #1 at Rock, #5 Modern Rock and nearly making the Pop Top 50. The hit helped the album get to #64, which would also be their best result.

ReduxReview:  I remember liking this rock anthem. It was big, bold, and performed well by the band. I liked the piano part, which served as a nice enhancement behind the crashing drums and guitars. The part before the instrumental mid section where lead singer Michael Been sings "let the daaaayyyyy.......start!" was pretty cool. If U2 had been a southern rock band, they might have sounded like this. The song definitely should have made the Pop Top 40 and probably would have if there were records to sell (see below). Still, it would provide the band with their biggest career/chart moment.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song might have done better on the Pop chart had there been more singles available. Apparently, prior to this single coming out, MCA was getting ready to switch vinyl manufacturing plants, which would interrupt the supply chain of records. Before the switch, the label only had a certain amount of the single pressed for release. It seems they didn't think the song would do as well as it did. But then it suddenly reached #1 on the Rock chart and was making its way up the Pop chart. Sadly, at that point there were no singles to be had. The lack of sales most likely played into its peak on the Pop chart, which combined sales and airplay. It would take five weeks before the single could get another pressing, but by then it was too late.   2) The Call's next album, Red Moon, was a more experimental album that, once again, didn't thrill their label who apparently wanted to scrap it. MCA would begrudgingly release the LP in the late summer of '90, but did little to promote it. The album, of course, failed to sell and MCA dropped the band. The Call then went on an extended hiatus that found lead singer Michael Been pushing out a couple of solo albums. The band would regroup later in the decade and release the indie LP To Heaven and Back in 1997. They stuck around and performed for a few more years before calling it quits in 2000. Been would die of a heart attack in 2010 while working backstage for his son Robert's band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

"Forget Me Not" by Bad English

Song#:  3968
Date:  07/22/1989
Debut: 92
Peak:  45
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  By 1988, John Waite's solo career was on the slide. His 1987 album peaked at a minor #77 and failed to generate a Pop Top 40 hit. Meanwhile, his former bandmate in The Babys, Jonathan Cain, was looking for something new following the breakup of his band Journey. Cain had been chatting with another former Babys member Ricky Phillips about doing a project and it wasn't long before the pair were chatting up Waite to see if he wanted to join them. The trio got together to see if they still meshed and could come up with some songs. As they began to toy around, Cain's Journey bandmate Neal Schon started to hang out with them. Schon was set on a starting a solo career, but after he heard what the guys were coming up with, he decided to join them. The new "supergroup" would hire in drumer Deen Castronovo and Bad English was born. A band filled out with members of The Babys and Journey was catnip to Epic Records who quickly picked them up. Work began on a self titled debut album and upon completion this first single was issued out. It would be a hit at Rock getting to #2, but it didn't fully ignite at Pop where it just missed out on the Top 40. However, their next single would provide the band with a major breakthrough.

ReduxReview:  The melding of The Babys and Journey certainly had potential and this first single was a good rock radio vehicle for them. The song had AOR hit written all over it with Waite's vocals leading the way and Schon giving great guitar. It was a catchy, charging song that was quite well done. That said, the dark rock tune wasn't necessarily the best fit for pop radio. It was a good introduction, but they were going to need something a bit more mainstream leaning if they were going to bust through. Luckily, they did have a song in their back pocket for the occasion, which would come next. In the meantime, this song excited some listeners and was better than most anything Waite had put together on his previous two solo albums. It also gave Schon and Cain a chance to rock out following Journey's more pop/AC leaning Raised on Radio album.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Prior to auditioning and getting the drummer spot with Bad English, Deen Castronovo had spent several years in the metal band Wild Dogs. The Portland, Oregon-based band formed in 1981 and the following year were able to get a record deal with the indie label Shrapnel. Prior to the band recording their self-titled debut album, their drummer left for another opportunity. Needing a replacement, the band's lead vocalist Matt McCourt found 16-year-old Castronovo and hired him for the spot. Wild Dogs would finish off the LP and release it in 1983. Soon they'd start to get opening slots on tours with bands like Slayer and Anthrax. A second album, Man's Best Friend, would follow in '84. Seeking a bigger break, the band would then sign on with a larger label, Enigma. In '87, they would issue out their third album Reign of Terror. However, it didn't do much to break the band wider. Thanks to a connection, Castronovo had met Neal Schon and when Bad English started to seek a drummer, Schon called Castronovo in for an audition. He would get the job with the shortlived supergroup. The connection so Schon would pay off later as Castronovo would join a new lineup of Journey in 1998.


Monday, October 31, 2022

"Smooth Up" by BulletBoys

Song#:  3967
Date:  07/22/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  71
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam metal

Pop Bits:  This outfit was able to reach the Pop chart for the first time with their remake of "For the Love of Money" (#78). It was the second single from their self-titled debut album. For a follow up, the label took the tactic of re-releasing the album's first single "Smooth Up." That tune initially peaked at #23 on the Rock chart, but failed to make the Pop chart. With a little more momentum and exposure provided by "For the Love of Money," the label chose to give "Smooth Up" another shot to do better. It did by finally making the Pop chart, but it didn't get all that far. Regardless, the album had already been selling well peaking at #34 and going gold.

ReduxReview:  I didn't care for their previous single and this one didn't do much for me either. Especially since the chorus sounded to me like it was ripped from Billy Squier's "The Stroke." That song was excellent. This one is not. It just lumbers along and doesn't really offer anything new or different from what other hair bands of the time were doing. Seems like the talent was there; they just didn't have the songs to complete the package.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The BulletBoys would return in 1991 with their follow up album Freakshow. Prior to it coming out, the band would release another interesting cover as a first single. They would issue out their version of the Tom Waits tune "Hang on St. Christopher." That song was originally written and recorded by Waits for his 1987 album Franks Wild Years. It would be released as a single, but would not make any chart. The BulletBoys version would make it to #22 on the Rock chart, but would miss the Pop chart. It would be their last single to reach any chart. The album did fairly well peaking at #68. It would also be their last album to chart. They would release two more album that didn't fare well before splitting. Since then, various iterations of the band have formed and have recorded albums. The original lineup of the band would get together in 2019 and tour together through to early 2022.