Thursday, March 23, 2023

"Realistic" by Shirley Lewis

Song#:  4082
Date:  10/28/1989
Debut:  98
Peak:  84
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  UK-born Shirley Lewis (given name Shirley Fredericks) was exposed to the music business at a young age thanks to her older sister Linda Lewis. Linda's solo career took off in the 70s and it encouraged Shirley to sing and pursue music. As the 80s began, Shirley started to get backup vocal gigs. She would appear on albums by artists such as Spandau Ballet and Elton John. Perhaps most famously she worked and performed with George Michael. Along the way Shirley would record a few solo singles hoping a label would take interest. One finally did - A&M Records. They would hook her up with producer Shep Pettibone, who would helm the majority of Shirley's debut album Passion. This first single would be issued out, but it would receive limited attention. The song could only manage to peak at a minor #84 on both the Pop and R&B charts. A second single, "You Can't Hide," would only reach the Dance chart at #26. With those results, the album quickly came and went as did Shirley's contract with A&M. She would sign on with Columbia for a single in 1991, but it unfortunately didn't do anything to jump start her solo career. Lewis would return to doing background vocal work and has maintained a long list of appearances.

ReduxReview:  This was a well-crafted late 80s dance-pop track. I'm surprised it didn't do better. Everything seemed in place. It was catchy, expertly produced by Pettibone, and featured a nice vocal turn from Lewis. It had shades of both Paula Abdul and Madonna (a client of Pettibone's). Perhaps A&M didn't fully promote the tune. Not sure what happened but I think this one unfortunately fell through the cracks.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Shirley's older sister Linda had some good success in the 70s. Linda recorded her first single while still in her teens. Due to a potential name conflict with a labelmate, Linda change her last name from Fredericks to Lewis, in honor of soul singer Barbara Lewis. Although the single didn't get anywhere, Lewis was selected to replace Diane Ferraz in the popular Brit rock/soul band The Ferris Wheel. Linda would tour and do one album with the band before their breakup in 1970. The gig got her noticed and she was able to secure a solo deal with Reprise Records soon after. A pair of albums in '71 and '72 didn't take off, but then a 1973 single, "Rock-a-Doodle-Doo" put her on the map in the UK reaching #15. She'd then move over to Arista and in 1975 got her biggest hit with a disco remake of the 1964 Betty Everett hit "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)."  Simply titled "It's in His Kiss," the track would get to #6 in the UK. It would end up being Linda's only song to make the US charts getting to #11 Dance and #96 R&B while bubbling under the Pop chart at #107. Further singles didn't garner as much attention and Linda would float around a few labels for a while. Then as the mid-80s approached, Linda hooked up with her sisters Shirley and Dee (both had adopted the Lewis moniker as well) and formed the trio The Lewis Sisters. They would get singed to Riva Records and in '86 would release a few singles. Unfortunately, nothing took off and plans for a full album were scrapped. Linda would return to a solo career and has recorded and performed since.


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