Saturday, December 3, 2022

"On the Line" by Tangier

Song#:  3992
Date:  08/12/1989
Debut:  99
Peak:  67
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  This band was initially formed by guitarist/songwriter Doug Gordon in Philadelphia sometime in 1984. The following year they were able to record an indie self-titled debut album that featured lead vocalist Bill Mattson. The LP didn't do much to boost their profile, so Gordon decided to scrap the band and try a new approach. He began writing songs that leaned towards AOR with shades of the blues and then started to reform a new version of Tangier retaining singer Mattson. Gordon's new direction seemed to be the ticket as the band started to attract label attention. They would eventually sign on with Atco Records and work began on an album titled Four Winds. This first single would be pushed out and it would do well at Rock getting to #7. The tune was able to cross over to the Pop, but it was unable to get out of the bottom half of the chart. Further singles failed to do anything and that left the album peaking at #91. After further lineup changes, which included a new lead singer in Mike LeCompt, the band returned with 1991's Stranded. With no singles making an impact, the album peaked at a very minor #187. Tangier would split for good in 1992.

ReduxReview:  This song sort of fit in a slot between Foreigner and Whitesnake. It was prime for rock radio, but its mainstream prospects were limited. It wasn't as catchy as say a Bon Jovi track and it didn't quite fit in with the hit glam metal songs of the day. The tune was fine, but it wasn't all that memorable. The best part was Bill Mattson's voice which helped boost the song up a notch. Other than that, there wasn't anything special about it.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  After the end of Tangier, founder Doug Gordon would take a few spins in the producer's chair. One of the jobs he took on was definitely not in the same genre/style of Tangier. Gordon would co-write and co-produce a track for the second album from the freestyle trio Linear. "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" would be included on Linear's 1992 album Caught in the Middle. It would not be released as a single, but it would be the b-side to the LP's lead single "T.L.C." (#30 Pop). Signed to Atlantic Records, the group initially hit it big with their 1990 single "Sending All My Love," which got to #5 Pop and went gold. A self-titled debut album would reach #52. Atlantic sprung for a second album and for that one Gordon would be involved on a track. However, with the LP's first single only making it to the Top 30, the album didn't sell and failed to chart. Linear's major label days would then come to an end.


Friday, December 2, 2022

"Walkin' Shoes" by Tora Tora

Song#:  3991
Date:  08/12/1989
Debut:  100
Peak:  86
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  This band from Memphis was formed by four guys in their late teens around 1985. They honed their performance and writing skills over the next couple years and they eventually won a local Battle of the Bands contest, which earned them recording time at Ardent Studios, one of the area's most famous studios where artists like Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, and James Taylor had recorded. Tora Tora was able to record an EP in 1987 titled To Rock and Roll. A couple of tracks from the EP got some local airplay and the band started to attract label attention. They would end up signing on with A&M Records and work began on a full-length debut album. Surprise Attack would be ready by the summer of '89 and this first single would get issued out. It was able to get some attention at Rock reaching #25. The tune would cross over to the Pop chart where it would spend a few weeks near the bottom. While this single wouldn't be a major hit, the associated music video along with touring would help lift the album to a respectable #47.

ReduxReview:  This band had Southern rock/blues feel to some of their tracks, which was not surprising being from Memphis. If ZZ Top had crossed over into glam metal territory, this single might have been the result. There was a swagger to the tune and lead singer Anthony Corder sounded good with vocals that leaned towards the Axl Rose side of things. The production was solid as well. The band had talent and their debut album was a nice slice of late 80s glam metal. They should have been more popular, but by the time their second album came out, Nirvana had hit and it was downhill from there.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  With the band's debut album selling fairly well, A&M gave the band a second shot. In 1992, they would issue out their sophomore LP Wild America. A track from the album, "Amnesia," would only get to #39 at Rock. The album would then stall at #132. By that point in time, grunge was taking over and leaving hair metal bands like Tora Tora out in the cold. Still, A&M ponied up for a third album. Revolution Day was recorded in 1994, but with tastes in pop music changing and the label going through some upheaval, A&M chose to shelve the album. Tora Tora would end up off the roster and it led to the band going on hiatus. It would be a lengthy break with the original members finally getting back together in 2008. They were signed by the indie FNA Records and the label would push out three compilations plus a version of the band's shelved album Revolution Day. In 2019, the band would issue out their first album of new original material titled Bastards of Beale.


Thursday, December 1, 2022

"Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" by Milli Vanilli

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3990
Date:  08/05/1989
Debut:  53
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The duo were able to reach the top of the Pop chart for a week with their second US single "Baby Don't Forget My Number." Taken from their debut album Girl You Know It's True, the song would be a gold seller. Next up for single release was this track. It would do slightly better on the Pop chart spending two weeks at #1 while also going gold. Additionally, the tune would get to #20 R&B and #21 AC. Just a week or so after this song debuted on the chart, the album would pass the double-platinum mark but it had yet to reach #1. This single would finally help the LP reach #1 for two weeks at the end of September. A fourth single would drive the album back to the top in late November.

ReduxReview:  At this point, the Milli Vanilli train was still rollin' along en route to its inevitable crash. Before that, the duo would score a second #1 with this ballad. I had lost interest in them at the time with the second single and this one did zero (or less if possible) in bringing me back on board. The sung/spoken/kinda rap verse over tinkling synths was pretty bad. The bridge with a female vocal soured things further. The chorus was better, but it had enough cheeze to load a few spray cans. In other words, I ran screaming from this song. How this snoozy concoction, co-written and produced by the creator and ruse mastermind of Milli Vanilli Frank Farian, made it to #1 is beyond me. The piddly tune still sounds as awful today as it did then.

ReduxRating:  1/10

Trivia:  The last single released from Milli Vanilli's debut album was "All or Nothing," which was co-written and produced by Frank Farian. The song would be the fifth Top 5 (#4) from the LP and the duo's last before the lip sync scandal later in 1990. As that implosion was in the works, Farian would also get into trouble with this song. It seems like a chunk of the song resembled a former hit just a little bit too much. David Clayton-Thomas, lead singer and songwriter for Blood, Sweat & Tears, was tipped off by a friend's kid that a song by Milli Vanilli sounded like "Spinning Wheel," the 1969 #2 hit by Blood, Sweat & Tears written by Clayton-Thomas. Not knowing the Milli Vanilli song, Clayton-Thomas went out and bought the record. After hearing the tune, he called his publisher and informed them of an infringement. In early December of 1990, a lawsuit was filed for copyright infringement. In the end, a settlement would be reached with Clayton-Thomas walking away with an undisclosed amount.


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

"Hey Ladies" by Beastie Boys

Song#:  3989
Date:  08/05/1989
Debut:  67
Peak:  36
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  This rap trio's debut album License to Ill made a big splash. Not only did it spend five weeks at #1, but it was the first rap album to top the chart. It got a boost thanks to the #7 Pop hit "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)" along with its associated video that became an MTV favorite. During its initial run, the LP would sell over 4 million copies. Over time it would eventually hit the diamond mark (10+ million). Their follow up was highly anticipated, but it would be delayed due to issues at their label, Def Jam, and producer Rick Rubin. The trio would end up leaving the label and signing on with Capitol. They were hoping to make a more experimental album rather than capitalize on the more commercial party "frat hip-hop" that their debut LP got tagged as. In other words, they wanted to prove themselves as artists and not just the flavor of the day. They got hooked up with the Dust Brothers (Mike Simpson and John King) who was having success with Tone Lōc. The Brothers had already been working on some tracks that were dense with beats and samples. Their intent was to release them as instrumentals for clubs. However, the Beasties heard them and wanted to rap over the tracks as they represented the more experimental sound they were looking for. These tracks along with new ones composed by the Beasties and the Dust Brothers would make up the album Paul's Boutique. It would be released in the summer of '89 along with this first single. The track didn't fully catch fire stopping inside the Pop Top 40 while getting to #18 Modern Rock and reaching #15 Dance (in combo with "Shake Your Rump"). Without a bigger hit, the album stalled quickly at #14 and could only manage to go gold (it would go double-platinum in 1999). Although it was a commercial disappointment, critics appreciated the album and over the years it has grown in stature. Paul's Boutique has been featured on several "best of" lists including coming in at #125 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

ReduxReview:  I admit that Paul's Boutique threw me for a loop. Like many other folks, I was expecting another LP that had some further MTV-friendly commercial rap tracks that would take over the airwaves. After reading some very good reviews I bought the CD. I just wasn't sure exactly what was going on when I listened to it. It was certainly different and I was having a hard time figuring it all out. I think I listened to it twice and set it aside. That, of course, was my mistake. I should have spent more time taking it all in and appreciating what was going on. It wasn't until years later that I finally went back to the LP and was able to hook into it. "Hey Ladies" was the best option for a single and it did fairly well, but it wasn't another "Fight for Your Right," which I think a lot of folks were expecting. Even though it pretty much flopped when released, Paul's Boutique became an influential classic that helped shape what was to come from the Beastie Boys, which for me includes the bonkers brilliance of 1994's "Sabotage" and its awesome music video.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The Dust Brothers' layering of samples to help form a track wasn't necessarily a new concept, but their technique took sampling to a new level and their work fit in perfectly with what the Beastie Boys were wanting to do. For Paul's Boutique, the Brothers would end up using over 100 samples in the tracks. They would use at least 15 separate samples just in "Hey Ladies" including ones from Sweet ("The Ballroom Blitz"), Kool & the Gang ("Jungle Boogie"), and Deep Purple ("Hush"). Apparently, around $250k was spent on clearing the samples, which ended up being a bargain at the time. In 1991, a court case that said sampling without permission is copyright infringement changed everything. Although the Beasties and Dust Brothers obtained permission for the usage of samples on Paul's Boutique, many other artists used samples without permission. After the court case ruling, artists were basically put on notice to seek permission for any sample or face litigation. With that, then publishers started to charge fees or request royalties for anyone seeking sample permissions. These fees were not cheap and it left many artist barely able to pay for one sample in a song. It basically brought an end to the days of multi-layered sampling.


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

"It's Not Enough" by Starship

Song#:  3988
Date:  08/05/1989
Debut:  80
Peak:  12
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The second album by Starship, 1987's No Protection, would end up being a #12 gold seller thanks to the #9 hit "It's Not Over ('Til It's Over)" and the inclusion of their big #1 soundtrack hit "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now." After things wrapped up with the album, long time Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship member Grace Slick decided to leave the band. Apparently she was not happy with the band's direction and material and left to join a reformed Jefferson Airplane. That left Mickey Thomas as the sole lead singer and guitarist Craig Chaquico the only other long term Jefferson Starship member remaining in the band. They forged ahead and recorded Starship's third effort Love Among the Cannibals. This first single was issued out and it did well at Rock getting to #10. On the Pop chart it would just miss out on the Top 10 while also getting to #30 AC. Unfortunately, the single didn't spark album sales and it would end up halting at a tepid #64.

ReduxReview:  While band members co-wrote four of the tracks on the album, the majority were by outside writers. This song was composed by Martin Page and Tommy Funderburk. The band had recorded tunes by Page on their previous LPs included the #1 "We Build This City." Unfortunately, this track wasn't nearly as good or memorable as that smash. In fact, I was surprised it got as far up the chart as it did. The mid-tempo song was fine, but it just sort of lumbered along and wasn't all that interesting. Frankly, I don't remember it at all. I'm sure I must have heard it several times back in the day yet not a lick of it sounded familiar to me. It definitely falls in the "meh" category.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  During the tour to support Love Among the Cannibals, the band found themselves in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Their show there ended up being canceled due to weather and so the band went to a local bar to hang out. Mickey Thomas and drummer Donny Baldwin had been friends for years. They played together in the Elvin Bishop's band when Thomas got to sing the lead vocal on Bishop's only major hit, 1976's "Fooled Around and Fell in Love." Thomas would later join up with Jefferson Starship and when the band's drummer quit in 1982, Thomas brought Baldwin on board. But after years of touring together, is seemed the pair were a bit at odds when the Cannibals tour started. It all came to a head in the Scranton bar when Baldwin viciously attacked Thomas. It was more than just a minor bar fight. Thomas had severe injuries to his face and broken ribs. He would end up undergoing facial reconstruction surgery. Because of this, the tour had to be postponed while Thomas healed. For obvious reasons, Baldwin was no longer a member of the band. Despite the massive injuries, Thomas didn't press charges against Baldwin. The pair just went their own ways and went on with their lives. In later years, Baldwin would join a newly reformed line up of Jefferson Starship headed up by original Jefferson Airplane/Starship member Paul Kantner.


Monday, November 28, 2022

"And the Night Stood Still" by Dion

Song#:  3987
Date:  08/05/1989
Debut:  86
Peak:  75
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This rock and roll legend (born Dion DiMucci) has had a long and varied career that influenced many other artists. He first came to prominence when he fronted the vocal trio Dion & the Belmonts. After they signed on with Laurie Records in 1958, they had a string of charting singles including a pair of Pop Top 10s. Due to personal and professional conflicts, Dion would opt for a solo career in 1960. It would get off to a shaky start, but then in the fall of '61 Dion would release the single "Runaround Sue." It became a #1 smash that made Dion a certified star. His next hit, the #2 "The Wanderer," solidified his status. Over the next year, four more Top 10s would follow. The success led him to sign with Columbia Records becoming the label's first rock 'n' roll act. Three more Top 10s would follow including 1962's #2 "Ruby Baby." However, his career began to wane in 1964. He would reunite with the Belmonts for a 1967 album, but it didn't get anywhere. He went back to Laurie Records in 1968 and they agreed to take him back on if he recorded a tune titled "Abraham, Martin and John." He did and the song became a #4 gold record. Dion would move over to Warner Bros. for a few albums that did little to boost his career. In the late 70s he became a born again Christian and started to record contemporary Christian albums. He had some success in the market and even earned a Grammy nomination along the way. Then in early 1989, Dion would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That honor brought attention back to the early rock pioneer and it prompted Dion to record his first secular album since 1979. Signed to Arista Records, Dion recorded Yo Frankie with Dave Edmunds producing. Dion would write or co-write the majority of the tracks, but there were a few outside contributions including this first single that was written by Diane Warren. The song would do fairly well at AC getting to #16, but it couldn't quite make it out of the basement of the Pop chart. Further singles failed to chart and that left the LP peaking at #130.

ReduxReview:  Signed to Arista, I'm sure Clive Davis had his hands in the pie and probably forced this Diane Warren song on the LP. In general, it wasn't a bad tune. It sounded like Warren was trying to channel Springsteen, however it probably would have been much better if Davis had just secured an actual Springsteen song instead of a pale imitation. Springsteen was a big fan of Dion so it seemed like the route to go, but since Springsteen's label was Columbia and Davis had been ousted from there, it was probably something Davis wanted to avoid. He did however get Bryan Adams to write and produced a tune for the LP, "Drive All Night" (featuring k.d. lang on background vocals), but it wasn't release as a single. Warren's tune got a nice slick production from Edmunds and Dion sounded good, but it was something that might have gone over better a few years earlier.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Dion's career floundered a bit in the 90s and early 2000s, but then in 2007 he would record an album of blues and country standards titled Bronx in Blue. The album became a surprise success on the Blues chart getting to #2. It would also earn Dion a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album. Since then, Dion had recorded several more blues albums with two of them reaching #1 on the Blues chart including 2021's Stomping Ground, which featured several guest artists including Bruce Springsteen, Peter Frampton, Eric Clapton, Rickie Lee Jones, and Mark Knopfler.