Saturday, January 14, 2023

"Don't Close Your Eyes" by Kix

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  4027
Date:  09/09/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  11
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  This Maryland band started to form in 1977. After a couple of name changes, the band settled on Kix and began playing covers in the local clubs. Over the course of three years, the band built up a sizable fan base around the Baltimore area. Finally in 1981, the band would get signed to Atlantic Records. Work began on a self-titled debut album with bassist Donnie Purnell serving as the main songwriter. While it got some good notices, the album didn't fare well and was unable to chart. Still believing in the band, Atlantic gave them another shot and they came up with '83's Cool Kids. Apparently, the label pushed the band in a more commercial direction and wanting some kind of radio hit got them to record three cover tunes. One of those tracks, a remake of the 1981 Nick Gilder song "Body Talk," was released as the first single. It would just miss the Pop chart stopping at #104. That minor attention along with the band's live shows helped the album get to #177. Their third album, '85's Midnight Dynamite, failed to chart and it left the band at a sort of crossroads. Atlantic was willing to give the band another shot, but it seemed like it could be their last chance. They went into the studio with veteran producer Tom Werman and emerged with Blow My Fuse. Released to good notices and a promotional push in '88, none if its initial singles would chart. However, the album sold and it would initially peak at #74. It was a definite improvement from their previous efforts, but the band still wasn't breaking through in a major way. That would change when nearly a year after the LP's release this power ballad would start to gain attention. The song would become their first charting hit eventually get to #16 Rock while nearly making the Pop Top 10, stopping at the dreaded #11. In turn, the album would re-enter the chart and move up to a peak of #46. Both the single and the album would be certified gold (the album would get to platinum status in 2000). It was the big break the band was looking for. Unfortunately, it would prove to be short-lived.

ReduxReview:  This intense power ballad led by Steve Whiteman's gritty, soaring vocals came along at the right time. The tune wasn't your basic glam metal ballad about a broken relationship or longing for home. It dealt with a person basically trying to stop someone from committing suicide. A heavy topic for pop radio, but it worked thanks in part to the big chorus and tight, radio-ready arrangement and production. It was a bummer this didn't slide into the Top 10 for a week, but it still sold well enough to go gold. Kix got the hit in just about under the wire. In a couple years glam metal would be on the outs with grunge taking over.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  For their next album, for whatever reason Atlantic would move Kix over to their new sub-label EastWest. The change threw the band for a loop, but they would rally and finish the album Hot Wire. It would be released in 1991. The only song to reach a chart was the first single "Girl Money," which got to #26 Rock. That left the album stalling at #64. Kix would fulfill their Atlantic contract with a 1993 live album and then were let go. However, by this time Nirvana had already busted down the grunge doors leaving metal bands like Kix in the dust, so the writing was already on the wall. They tried to rally with an indie album in '95, but it didn't do much to further their career. The band members would then go on to do other projects. Save for bassist/songwriter Donnie Purnell, the band would reunite in 2003. In 2014, they would release their first album in nearly twenty years. Rock Your Face Off would return the band to the Album chart where it peaked at #49.


Friday, January 13, 2023

"This One" by Paul McCartney

Song#:  4026
Date:  09/09/1989
Debut:  95
Peak:  94
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After the disappointing results of his '86 album Press to Play, McCartney put more focus on his next effort Flowers in the Dirt. He even found a writing partner in Elvis Costello for some tracks including the first single "My Brave Face," which cracked the Pop Top 30. The hit along with the hype surrounding the other Costello collaborations helped the album get to #21 and go gold. It was a minor comeback for McCartney and to try and keep things moving forward this next single was released. Written solely by McCartney, the tune floundered on the Pop chart spending a short three weeks near the bottom. It would do a bit better at AC reaching #28. A third single, "Figure of Eight," would be issued out early in '90 and while it did well at Rock reaching #8, it tanked at Pop (#92) and AC (#47). A final single, "Put It There," would get to #11 AC.

ReduxReview:  While Flowers in the Dirt found McCartney more engaged in his work, it didn't necessarily contain a lot of contenders for singles. Several tracks were highly listenable, but didn't have a lot of commercial viability. This single made for a lovely listen, but there was nothing about it that screamed Top 40, so it wasn't surprising it faltered on the chart. The "Bluebird"-ish "Put It There" was a well deserved hit at AC, yet it wasn't a tune for late 80s pop radio. Still, the album brought a lot of fans back on board and it provided McCartney with a bump in popularity.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While McCartney's output would slow down after Flowers in the Dirt, his albums continue to sell well. His two regular studio albums of new material in the 90s would both go gold while his three in the 2000's would also reach that level. A live album in 2002, Back in the U.S., would end up at #8 and go triple platinum. Still, he wasn't able to score a significant single on the Pop chart. That changed in 2015 when McCartney surprisingly earned his 23rd Pop Top 10 hit (not including his hits with the Beatles) with "FourFiveSeconds," a collaboration with Rihanna and Kanye West. The one-off song would get to #4 and bring a lot of attention back to McCartney. Then in 2018, McCartney's album Egypt Station would become his first to hit #1 since 1982's Tug of War.


Thursday, January 12, 2023

"I Don't Want a Lover" by Texas

Song#:  4025
Date:  09/09/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  77
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This Scottish band was founded in '86 by former Altered Images and Hipsway member Johnny McElhone and singer Sharleen Spiteri. Filling the band out to a quartet, they took the name Texas and began to perform and write songs. It would take a couple years, but the band would finally get signed to Mercury Records. They would record a debut album titled Southside late in '88 and in January of '89 this first single was released at home in the UK. It would become a hit reaching #8. The track would help push the album to #3. That success helped the band land a distribution deal for the US and in the late summer of '89, the single and album would be issued out. The song would do well at Modern Rock getting to #11 while also making it to #27 Rock. The action there helped the tune get on the Pop chart, but it couldn't make it out of the bottom quarter. Still, the album would sell a few copies and get to #88. Unfortunately, the band would be unable to get back on the US Pop and Album charts again.

ReduxReview:  Here's one of those artists that were highly successful at home in the UK, but for whatever reason didn't catch on in the US. Even their biggest success later in '97 (see below) got totally ignored. While their sleek blue-eyed soul/AC sound was alluring (as was Sharleen Spiteri's voice), I think the band's hooks were a bit too subtle for US listeners who preferred to be smacked upside the head with catchy choruses. You had to spend a little time getting to know Texas' tunes and I don't think that worked in the States. This driving track was a good example. It was a good listen that jammed along just fine. However, despite some good hooks, there really wasn't a specific, standout chorus that could quickly capture a listener's attention on the radio. It still should have done better at Pop, but it seems that US listeners quickly decided that Texas wasn't really their cup o' tea.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The band got their name from the 1984 Wim Wenders film Paris, Texas. The road movie, which starred Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski, would receive several accolades including winning the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. While not a major hit, the film quickly became a cult favorite. In addition to adopting their name from the film, the band also based the Southside album cover art on the film's promotional poster.  2) Texas started off with a bang with Southside, but their next two albums couldn't keep pace. However, their fourth album would kick their career into high gear. Released in 1997, White on Blonde would be the band's biggest selling album. It would hit #1 in the UK and go 6x platinum thanks to five Top 10 singles. The LP made them major stars at home and around Europe. Over the next decade, Texas would go on to score seven more UK Top 10 hits and two more #1 albums. However, the band never really caught on in the US and besides this lone Pop chart entry, Texas would have only one more minor chart appearance. Their 1991 single "In My Heart" would get to #14 on the Modern Rock chart.


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

"Miss You Much" by Janet Jackson

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  4024
Date:  09/02/1989
Debut:  42
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Jackson certainly made a statement with her third solo album Control. Headed up by the production team of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the LP was a major breakthrough reaching #1, spawning five Pop Top 5 hits, and selling over 5 million copies. Next came the task of trying to follow up that success. Of course Jackson's label, A&M Records, wanted a rinse and repeat effort, but she wasn't having it. Jackson wanted to expand her vision and do songs that had more depth and a bit of social commentary. She headed back into the studio late in '88 with Jam & Lewis and near the end of summer Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 was finished. Anticipation was high for the LP and so a lot of focus was put on this first single. Luckily it met expectation. The tune would debut just outside of the Pop Top 40 and then make a beeline to the top spot where it remained for four weeks. It also made it to #1 at R&B and at Dance. The album would also zoom to #1 and stay there for four weeks. A month after this song ended its run at the top of the chart, the album would be certified double-platinum.

ReduxReview:  Although several tracks on the album discussed social issues, there were a few that kept up the commercial-leaning dance-pop found on Control. This initial single was one of them and it was the perfect choice to kick off the album. The slammin' track was hard to ignore with all its hooks and beats. When it came on the radio, you knew exactly what it was. Jam & Lewis' production skills had improved since Control and it showed on meaty tracks like this one. It would spend four weeks at #1 on the Pop chart, which would be the longest reign at the top for any single in '89. With Control, Jackson said "hey - I'm here." With Rhythm Nation, she basically said, "now listen up, bitches!"

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  When the album first came out, the 1814 part of the title seemed a bit odd and cryptic to many folks. What did it mean? Was it a date or something else? Some people went so far as to say the "R" in rhythm was the 18th letter of the alphabet and the "N" in nation was the 14th.  While that was true, it was just a happy accident. Jackson herself was cagey about what 1814 meant, but then later spilled the beans. It seems that while recording "Rhythm Nation," Jackson told Jam & Lewis that the tune could be a national anthem of sorts for the 90s. That spurred them to find out when "The Star-Spangled Banner" was written. After seeing that Francis Scott Key wrote the anthem in 1814, they decided to tag that on to the album's title.


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

"Mixed Emotions" by The Rolling Stones

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4023
Date:  09/02/1989
Debut:  47
Peak:  5
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After their 1986 album Dirty Work (#4), the Stones entered into a period that Keith Richards titled "World War III." He and Mick Jagger had not been getting along and it came to a bit of a head when Jagger decided not to go out on tour to support Dirty Work. Instead, he chose to tour on his own and then record a second solo album. Richards would answer by doing his first solo LP. It seemed that the Stones were kaput. However, in early '89 the Stones would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jagger and Richards set aside their differences to attend the ceremony. The truce seemed to do a lot to melt the ice between the two and it wasn't long before the pair were back together and writing. Once they had material ready to go, the Stones all went into the studio and emerged with the album Steel Wheels. This first single was issue out and it shot to #1 on the Rock chart while reaching #22 at Modern Rock. It would also do well at Pop becoming the band's twenty-third Top 10. Unfortunately, it would prove to be their last Pop Top 10. Along with good critical reception, the hit helped the album reach #2. It would eventually go double platinum. This song would earn the Stones a Grammy nod for Best Rock Performance, Duo or Group with Vocal.

ReduxReview:  I think the break the band took helped them. When Jagger and Richards got back together, they seemed to do so with renewed energy. While Steel Wheels wasn't a great album, it was better than anything they had released since '81's Tattoo You. I remember digging this first single and thinking that it sounded like a return to form for the band. They sounded invigorated and back to their old selves, which was a good thing. The song may not rank among their best hits, but it was a nice reset for the band and showed they had the ability to still do quality work.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While the majority of the album featured the Stones' signature sound, one track was a bit different. "Continental Drift" was a Middle Eastern flavored track that the band recorded in Morocco. It was sort of a call back to the band's experiments in the late 60s with various genres including world music. Featured on the track were The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar. The collective of Sufi trance musicians had been around since the 50s. The collective split in two in the 60s with both factions working to preserve their traditional music. The group led by Bachir Attar got the attention of former (deceased) Rolling Stones member Brian Jones in 1968 when he visited Morocco. Jones would go on to produce an album for the group prior to his death in 1969. The LP would finally be released in 1971 as Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka. Following the added exposure via the Stones' "Continental Drift," the group would start recording world music albums in 1992. Several members of the group are the sons of previous members.


Monday, January 9, 2023

"Sowing the Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4022
Date:  09/02/1989
Debut:  53
Peak:  2
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Psychedelic Pop

Pop Bits:  This duo's second album, 1985's Songs from the Big Chair, would be a major hit reaching #1 and eventually selling over five million copies. It got a boost from a pair of #1 hits including the gold selling "Shout." After everything for the album was wrapped up, the pair began to work on a follow up LP. They began working in the studio with a couple of producers, but things were not going well. The sessions didn't go the way the duo wanted and they chose to scrap the recordings and begin again with producer Chris Thomas, who had produced their previous album. Still, the process and results were not matching the duo's expectations. They wanted to move from the programmed approach of their previous work to something more live and band-oriented. In order to get what they wanted, the duo decided to produced the album themselves (with help from engineer David Bascombe). Nearly three years later after two false starts and a lot of money spent (around $1.5 million), Tears for Fears finally finished The Seeds of Love. This first single was issued out and it would do quite well reaching #1 at Modern Rock, #4 Rock, and #29 AC. On the Pop chart it would just miss out on the #1 spot. The hit helped the album get to #8. By the end of November, the album would go platinum.

ReduxReview:  This swirling psychedelic pop tune certainly had roots in works by the Beatles. It was an interesting and unusual choice for a lead single, but it ended up working out. The track veered off in various directions yet still maintained a sense of hooky pop. The arrangement was dense and complex, which hit all my like buttons. I loved the tune right from the first listen and ran out to get the album as soon as I could. I liked it better than Songs from the Big Chair and thought the duo hit a creative peak. While this song may not have had the longevity legs of their Top 10's from their previous album, it remains a psychedelic pop classic of sorts from the decade.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  According to group member Roland Orzabal, he got the idea for this song from a radio show that he was listening to. The show focused on British song collector Cecil Sharp. Sharp began documenting and collecting folk songs around the British Isles sometime around 1899 after he became interested in traditional English folk dancing. While Sharp wasn't the first to start documenting old folk tunes, he became one of the most prolific collecting over 1,600 songs. He would also expand his venture over to the US where he collected songs from the Appalachia Mountain region. Although Sharp had been jotting down tunes from musicians involved with traditional dance, he didn't fully start collecting folk tunes until 1903 when he encountered a gardener by the name of John England who was singing a song called "Seeds of Love." It was this story on a radio program that sparked Orzabal's creativity and led him to start writing "Sowing the Seeds of Love."