Saturday, December 31, 2022

"Partyman" by Prince

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  4015
Date:  08/26/1989
Debut:  46
Peak:  18
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Funk Rock, R&B, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Prince got a much needed commercial shot in the arm when he wrote songs for Tim Burton's Batman film. He would assemble a soundtrack that included "Batdance," a song written as a sort of promo tool that would be released as a first single. It would end up becoming a #1 platinum hit, which in turn sent the Batman album to #1 - Prince's first to reach that spot since '85's Around the World in a Day. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. While it wouldn't do as well as "Batdance," it still was able to crack the Pop Top 20 while reaching #5 R&B and #45 Dance. Just after this single debuted on the Pop chart, the soundtrack album would be certified double-platinum, which was a significant boost after the disappointing gold result of '88's Lovesexy.

ReduxReview:  This was definitely a Prince-style jam, but it did sound like something he might have passed on to Morris Day and The Time, which makes sense (see below). It was a fun jam that fit the film and didn't make for a bad single. However, it certainly wasn't anything that was going to set alongside his best material. With the success of the film and the soundtrack, I thought this tune might have been able to get inside the Top 10. It didn't quite get there, but somehow it managed to go gold. Like "Batdance," this was a product of its time and it didn't have a life following its chart run.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While not all the songs Prince wrote for the soundtrack album would actually be heard in the film, this was one that was prominently featured. It was used in a scene where The Joker (Jack Nicholson) and his followers run amok at the Gotham City Art Museum. The placement was fitting as Prince had stated in an interview with Rolling Stone that his inspiration for the song was Jack Nicholson himself. Prince encountered the actor for the first time on the set of the film. Of their first meet, Prince said, “He just walked over, sat down and put his foot up on a table, real cool. He had this attitude that reminded me of Morris [Day] — and there was that song.”


Friday, December 30, 2022

"Listen to Your Heart" by Roxette

#1 Alert!
Song#:  4014
Date:  08/26/1989
Debut:  64
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The second single from the Swedish duo's album Look Sharp!, "Dressed for Success," did fairly well making the Pop Top 20 (#14). Therefore, a third single was called for and the label took a chance on this power ballad. It was the exact right choice with the tune making it all the way to #1. It was the duo's second chart topper following their US debut single "The Look." The song would also get to #2 at AC. The hit would help sell more albums and at the turn of the new year, it would reach the platinum mark.

ReduxReview:  I've always found this tune to be a cousin to Heart's chart topping "Alone." It may not have been quite as powerful as Heart's song, but Roxette certainly did their best to try and reach that same level. The results were solid and it was the perfect choice for a single. There were hooks and drama galore and it reeled you in on just one listen. There was little doubt that this would become another hit for the duo.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This was the first single to reach #1 on the Pop chart to be only available for purchase as a cassette single. The standard vinyl 45 was not printed for the release. With the advent of the CD and the popularity of cassette players like Sony's Walkman, sales of vinyl product was quickly decreasing. The same week this song hit #1, the album Touch Me Tonight - The Best of Shooting Star by the US rock band Shooting Star debuted on the Album chart. It was the first charting album that was only commercially available on cassette or CD. No vinyl LPs were printed for the release. The trend would continue with CDs eventually taking over the market share leaving both vinyl and cassettes in the dust. It seems the worst time for vinyl was round 2005-2006 when it seems like the format was basically done and dead. However, as things do, vinyl started to gain favor again just a few years later. The trend would catch on with artists and labels putting more of their work back on vinyl. Each years sales increased and in 2020, vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time since 1986. While digital product and streaming still lead the marketplace, the resurgence of vinyl has created a nice revenue stream for artists and labels.


Thursday, December 29, 2022

"Healing Hands" by Elton John

Song#:  4013
Date:  08/26/1989
Debut:  78
Peak:  13
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After the dud 1986 album Leather Jackets (#91), John returned in '88 with the more focused effort Reg Strikes Back. It would be a #16 gold seller thanks to the #2 Pop/#1 AC hit "I Don't Wanna Go on with You Like That." Then earlier in '89, John would be a guest duet partner on Aretha Franklin's "Through the Storm" (#16 Pop/#3 AC). With his career back on track, John and his writing partner Bernie Taupin set out to create a concept-style album. They wanted to compose new songs inspired by 60s R&B/soul artists such as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. The concept was similar to what Billy Joel had done with his '83 album An Innocent Man. To kick things off, this first single was released. It was inspired by The Four Tops' 1966 #1 Pop/#1 R&B hit "Reach Out I'll Be There." The tune would be a hit at AC getting to #1. On the Pop chart, it stopped just shy of the Top 10. The hit would help send the album to #23. Not long after reaching that peak, the LP would go gold. This song would be John's last to reach the Pop chart in the 80s.

ReduxReview:  John has amassed over 40 Pop Top 20 hits in his career. With a large total like that, some songs will be memorable classics while other will be forgotten soon after their chart run. This one falls in the latter category. I had forgotten that this one actually made the Top 20. While it was fine and did the job at the time to promote the LP, it was a tune that didn't have legs. By contrast, the second single, "Sacrifice," didn't do quite as well on the chart (#18), but it has been been a mainstay in his catalog and even got a revamp of sorts in 2021 (see below). While I didn't think the concept for the album worked or was taken far enough, it was a pretty good effort.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The LP's second single, "Sacrifice," would get on the Pop chart early in January of '90. It would get to #18 while making it to #3 AC. The tune would help sell more albums and send Sleeping with the Past to the platinum level, his first hit that mark since '84's Breaking Hearts. Upon initial release, "Healing Hands" and "Sacrifice" were duds at home in the UK with both missing the Top 40. However, early in '90 a DJ for BBC Radio 1 added "Sacrifice" to the station's playlist. Other DJs and stations would follow suit. With the song catching on, John's label then reissued the song paired with "Healing Hands." It would end up spending five weeks at #1. The hit was John's first #1 at home in the UK. The surprise success then send the album to #1, which was his first studio album to reach that mark since '74's Caribou. 2) The 90s was a highly successful decade for John. In addition to three hit solo albums (two platinum, one double-platinum), John would hit it big with his score to1994 Disney animated film The Lion King (#1, 10x platinum). He would also earn a #1 Pop single in 1991 with the live George Michael duet "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." Then in '97 John's tribute to Princess Diana, "Candle in the Wind 1997," would set sales records. It remains the biggest selling single of the rock era (over 33 million) and overall is in second place behind Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." John would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He would continue to record and have success into the new millennium. To-date he has won two Oscars, a Tony, and six Grammys. In 2021, John would assemble the LP The Lockdown Sessions. It featured some previously releases tracks, but also included new collaborations that he was able to do during COVID. A single from the album, "Cold Heart," was a mashup of a few Elton John songs including "Sacrifice." It was done as a duet with Dua Lipa and featured producer Pnau. It would be an unexpected hit reaching #7 Pop becoming his first US Top 10 hit since 1997. John would then do another collab recording in 2022. He would team up with Britney Spears for "Hold Me Closer," another mashup of John songs including "Tiny Dancer." It would reach #6.


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

"Rock Wit'cha" by Bobby Brown

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  4012
Date:  08/26/1989
Debut:  92
Peak:  7
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The title track first single from Bobby Brown's album Don't Be Cruel debuted on the Pop chart near the end of July in '88. It would reach #8 and go gold. Then three more singles from the LP would also make the Top 10 with two of those going gold. On the heels of those, Brown would release the Ghostbusters II soundtrack single "On Our Own." It would reach #2 at Pop just a hair over a year after "Don't Be Cruel" debuted. Brown and his label could have taken their year of hits and moved on, but instead they decided to try and eke out one more hit. This quiet jam would receive a slight remix and be issued out as the LP's fifth single. Brown fans ate it up and the tune would become his sixth consecutive Pop Top 10 hit while also getting to #3 R&B and #28 AC. It would also go gold. The hit would help sell more albums and early in '90 it would hit the 6x platinum mark. 

ReduxReview:  When folks think of Brown they usually recall his new jack hits. This quiet storm jam has kind of been forgotten. That's too bad as it was a nice track. It was an ear-worthy tune that had a good vocal turn from Brown. Was it a brilliant, outstanding song? No, but it was a good, catchy listen that deserved its spin in the Top 10. The run of singles made Brown a huge star, but after two more mainstream hits, it all kind of imploded with Brown's music career taking backseat to his volatile personal life.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) As this song was making its way up the chart, Brown would issue out a remix compilation. Featuring songs from both of his solo album, Dance!...Ya Know It! would capitalize on Brown's popularity and reach #9 Pop/#7 R&B. It would become a platinum seller.  2) Brown would return in 1992 with his third solo album Bobby. Although he would work with the L.A. Reid/Babyface team on a few tracks, Brown would work with songwriter/producer Teddy Riley for the majority of the LP. The first single, the Grammy-nominated "Humpin' Around" (#3 Pop/#1 R&B), would be another gold seller as was the follow up "Good Enough" (#7 Pop/#5 R&B).  However, things tapered off after that. Although "Get Away" would reach #1 R&B, it stalled at #14 Pop. A fourth single didn't do well on either chart. The LP would get to #2 Pop/#1 R&B, but would only go double platinum, which was a significant drop from his previous album. Things then went downhill quickly. Drug use along with his marriage to Whitney Houston and incidents with the law became fodder for tabloids. A reunion with New Edition would result in a successful album in '96, but his last album for MCA, 1997's Forever, would tank at #51 Pop/#15 R&B and fail to even go gold. Brown would pretty much disappear from music, but would appear in several reality TV shows including his own Being Bobby Brown in 2005. Not long after Whitney Houston's death in 2012, Brown would release his fifth album The Masterpiece. It would only manage to reach #41 at R&B.


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

"Still Cruisin'" by The Beach Boys

Song#:  4011
Date:  08/26/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  93
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The Beach Boys earned an unexpected late career #1 platinum hit with '88's "Kokomo," a song that was included on the soundtrack to the Tom Cruise flick Cocktail. The renewed interest in the band prompted them to assemble a new album. The concept for Still Cruisin' was to cull songs from the band that appeared on movie soundtracks. A few, like "Kokomo" were recent recordings while some were old Beach Boy hits that were used in films. However, that concept became muddied when three new songs found their way on the LP. Two were recorded by the touring version of the band while the third one was a new song from Brian Wilson. Also included was "Wipeout!" (#12 Pop) the band's collaboration with The Fat Boys, which had also not been in a film. There was one other new song, this title track single, that was included on the soundtrack to the 1989 action/comedy sequel Lethal Weapon 2. The song would do well at AC getting to #9, but it would be a flop at Pop spending three short weeks near the bottom of the chart. Despite that result and critics panning it, the album would end up doing well peaking at #46 and going gold (in 2003 it would be certified platinum). It was their best result since 1976. This single would be the band's final one to reach the Pop chart after a 27 year span that began in 1962 with their first chart single, the #75 "Surfin."

ReduxReview:  Save for the odd hit "Kokomo," the 80s pretty much sucked the life out of The Beach Boys. They basically reduced themselves to a nostalgia act that was trying to rehash the past through the sounds and technology of the day and it didn't work. This song was a prime example. There was nothing creative or interesting about it. The tune sounded like a tired knock off of an early Beach Boys track that was given a glossy 80s tech-enhanced production. For me, it just wasn't the Beach Boys. Save for the nicely done 2012 album That's Why God Made the Radio (along with Dennis Wilson's 1977 Pacific Ocean Blue, and a couple Brian Wilson solo albums), there was really no reason to listen to anything the Beach Boys did after 1971's Surf's Up.

ReduxRating:  1/10

Trivia:  The Beach Boys had a long an tumultuous career and it continued to be like that even after the success of Still Cruisin'. There would be lawsuits along with the death of another brother (Carl Wilson). Yet as before there were still times where they would set aside their issues and come together to record music. This happened when the band got together for a new album to celebrate their fiftieth year together. In 2012, they would record That's Why God Made the Radio, an album of new tunes that focused less on pandering nostalgia and more on the Beach Boys' sound and approach from their late-60s/early 70s period. The LP was well received and it would peak at #3 - their first Top 10 album since 1976.


Monday, December 26, 2022

"Call It Love" by Poco

Song#:  4010
Date:  08/26/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  18
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Country Rock

Pop Bits:  After a pair of lackluster albums for Atlantic Records in the early-80s that could only spawn the #50Pop/#10 AC single "Shoot for the Moon," the band was without a label and floundering. They would perform sporadic shows, but it seems for the most part that the band's charting days were over. Then they got a boost from a newly minted star. Richard Marx was a fan of the band and his manager decided to take on Poco and plot a return. The iteration of Poco that would reform would be the original five members who first formed the band in 1968. This included Richue Furay (Buffalo Springfield), Jim Messina (Loggins & Messina), Randy Meisner (Eagles), long-standing member Rusty Young, and George Grantham. The reunited band would get a deal with RCA Records and record the album Legacy. This first single would be issued out and it became a surprise hit getting to #2 AC and #3 Rock while becoming the band's second biggest Pop hit following 1979's #17 "Crazy Love." The hit and the attention surrounding the reunited band helped the album get to #40. It would end up becoming the second gold selling album of their career.

ReduxReview:  The late 80s certainly wasn't the time for country rock on the Pop chart. Yet a strong enough song that got enough promotion (and boost from a star) would have a chance to break through and Poco was fortunate enough to have those ingredients at the time. With its bright, jangly guitar lick and arena rock power chords, the tune was a refreshing Eagle-ish change of pace on the radio. It nearly became the band's biggest hit on the Pop chart. Folks certainly welcomed the Poco reunion, but like many it would be short-lived.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 1973 after five influential, yet modest selling albums that featured no major hits, Poco founding member guitarist Richie Foray would leave the band. His next venture would be to form a band with former Byrds member Chris Hillman and singer/songwriter J.D. Souther. The Souther-Hillman_Furay Band's self-titled 1974 album would prove to be more successful than any of Poco's Furay-era LPs. It would reach #11 and go gold on the strength of the #27 Pop entry "Fallin' in Love." Unfortunately the band's next album was less successful and they split. Foray would start his own band and record an album and then push out a couple of solo efforts. He would score his one and only solo hit on the Pop chart in 1979 with the #39 "I Still Have Dreams." While in the S-H-F Band, Furay would be introduced to Christianity and some of his albums after that had Christian overtones. After recording a contemporary Christian album in '82, Foray would leave the music biz for the ministry and become a pastor at a church in Colorado. The reunion album with Poco would lure him back to performing and recording music.