Saturday, February 4, 2023

"My Fantasy" by Teddy Riley featuring Guy

Song#:  4045
Date:  09/23/1989
Debut:  77
Peak:  62
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  The self-titled debut album by R&B vocal group Guy would become a #1 R&B double-platinum seller thanks to three R&B Top 10 hits including the #2 "I Like." That single would be the only one of the bunch to make the Pop chart (#70). As their success was ramping up, the trio got the opportunity to contribute a song to a film. They would write and record "My Fantasy" for the Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing. The track would be selected to be the second single from the soundtrack LP. However, with a Guy single coming out nearly at the same time, it seems a decision was made to credit this song to Teddy Riley featuring Guy. Whether that distinction helped or not, the tune caught on and went to #1 on the R&B chart. That success helped the single get on the Pop chart, but it didn't get all that far.

ReduxReview:  Teddy Riley was the master of new jack swing and this was another quality track from him. While it may not have had quite the crossover potential as something like "My Prerogative," it was still a solid, slammin' track that should have gotten more attention at Pop.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Guy would return in 1990 with their second album The Future. While the LP would boast four more R&B Top 10 hits, only two would make the Pop chart. The most successful one being the #41 "Let's Chill." The album would go platinum and get to #1 R&B/#16 Pop. Following the tour for that LP, Guy would break up. There would be occasional reunions and then finally a new album in 2000 titled Guy III. It would include the group's most successful single on the Pop chart, the #19 "Dancin'" (#4 R&B). The album would reach #5 R&B/#13 Pop.  2) After the split of Guy, member Teddy Riley would work behind the scenes writing and producer for other artists including Michael Jackson. Riley would co-write/produce six tracks on Jackson's 1991 LP Dangerous. Not long after that, Riley would form the new group BLACKstreet. While their self-titled '94 debut album would do well, it would be their second album, '96's Another Level, that would make the major stars. The LP would be a 4x platinum seller mainly thanks to the huge Grammy-winning #1 Pop/#1 R&B hit "No Diggity," which featured Dr. Dre and Queen Pen. BLACKstreet would record two more albums before disbanding.


Friday, February 3, 2023

"Don't Make Me Over" by Sybil

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  4044
Date:  09/23/1989
Debut:  79
Peak:  20
Weeks:  23
Genre:  R&B, Soul

Pop Bits:  New Jersey singer/songwriter Sybil Lynch was singing and making up her owns songs as a kid. As she grew up, she starting singing in church and then eventually picked up work singing with a local R&B band CeCe Rogers & Co. Although Sybil didn't have her sights set on a music career (she was aiming to be an attorney), fate stepped in when she was coaxed into singing on a demo for a pair of songwriter/producers. That track, "Falling in Love," would get picked up by Next Plateau Records and released in the fall of '86. The song did well enough to reach #26 on the Dance chart. A second single, "Let Yourself Go," would do a bit better getting to #23 Dance/#46 R&B. Next Plateau would sign Sybil and a debut album titled Let Yourself Go would be issued out. A third single, "My Love Is Guaranteed," would be a Dance hit reaching #4 (#54 R&B). Then in the summer of '89, a new remix of a track from her debut album, the cover tune "Don't Make Me Over," was issued out. It caught on and was able to reach #4 Dance and #2 R&B. That action led to the tune getting on the Pop chart where it just made the Top 20. The single sold well enough to go gold. A second album, Sybil, would quickly follow. A follow-up single, a remake of "Walk on By," would get to #7 Dance/#3 R&B/#74 Pop. The songs helped the album get to #12 R&B/#75 Pop.

ReduxReview:  This definitely had a Soul II Soul "Keep on Movin'" vibe. The beats were nearly identical. All Sybil and her team did was put them under a cover tune. The results were interesting in giving a bit of a spin on an old Warwick classic, but nothing about it really stood out. It was a good listen in a background kind of way. Something chill and easy on the ears while working on your laptop and sipping chai latte at the local coffee shop.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Dionne Warwick. Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, it was Warwick's first chart hit getting to #21 Pop/#5 R&B in 1962. The song started a long and successful collaboration between Warwick, Bacharach, and David. 2) For her second album, 1990's Sybilization, Sybil would collaborate with the Stock Aitken Waterman team for the song "Make It Easy on Me." Released as the first single, it didn't fare well only getting to #52 at R&B. Another single was a minor R&B chart entry and that left the album stopping at #70 R&B. In 1993, Sybil would release two albums. Doin' It Now! would be an R&B-leaning effort aimed at the US market while Good 'N' Ready focused more on Eurodisco and was released in the UK/European market. The LPs shared four tracks including the singles "You're the Love of My Life" and "The Love I Lost." The two songs were issued out as a double a-sided single in the US and it would get to #90 Pop. "You're the Love of My Life" would itself get to #37 R&B while "The Love I Lost" would get to #18 Dance. The album would not chart. However, "The Love I Lost" would become a big hit in the UK getting to #3. A second single, "When I'm Good and Ready" would get to #5. In turn, the Good 'N' Ready album would reach #13. Sybil would release one more album for the European/Japan markets that didn't do well and that brought an end to her heydays. Although she would continue to dabble in music over the years, Sybil would become an educator and along the way earn a master's degree


Thursday, February 2, 2023

"We Could Be Together" by Debbie Gibson

Song#:  4043
Date:  09/23/1989
Debut:  80
Peak:  71
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Things started to slow down with Gibson's #1 album Electric Youth when its third single, "No More Rhyme," missed out on the Pop Top 10 stalling at #17. It was a bit of a disappointing result following a pair of gold selling singles. Still, it was enough to call for a fourth single and this track was selected for release. It didn't catch on and would become Gibson's first song to miss the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  This was a cute, nicely written tune by Gibson that showcased her young talent. However, it wasn't nearly as catchy or memorable as her bigger hits. Electric Youth was a solid pop album, but it wasn't as deep with single candidates as her debut. It only generated one Pop Top 10 hit whereas her debut had four Top 5s. Gibson was going to have to grow as a songwriter to maintain her popularity and she gave it a go with her next LP Anything Is Possible, but it proved to be difficult going from her teens into her twenties and it didn't quite pay off. (Side note - one of my all-time favorite music reviews was for that album. It basically listed the album title Anything Is Possible followed by "...except me liking this." Brilliant!) Like some kid actors, Gibson just couldn't maintain her popularity in that tough transition from teen idol into adulthood. However, she kept a good career going both on record and on stage.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot 1) Gibson would return late in 1990 with her third album Anything Is Possible. She would collaborate with famed Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier on four songs including the title track, which would be released as the first single. It didn't fully catch fire and stalled at #26 Pop/#48 AC. Further singles failed to chart and that left the album peaking at #41. Despite that result, the LP would sell well enough to go gold. Gibson would do one more album for Atlantic Records, '93's Body, Mind, Soul. It contained her last Pop chart entry with the #86 "Losin' Myself" (#49 AC). The album stalled at a low #109. Gibson would continue to record over the years, but nothing would come close to her 80s run of hits.  2) With her pop star days slowing down, Gibson would turn to performing on stage in musicals. Her first big role was playing Eponine during the Broadway run of the Tony-winning hit Les Misérables. On the heels of that, Gibson would play Sandy in the hit London West End revival of Grease. From there, Gibson would appear on Broadway during runs of the shows Beauty and the Beast and Cabaret. She also toured with Grease, Cinderella, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In addition to being on stage, Gibson has appeared in films and on TV, which included teaming up with fellow former teen idol Tiffany for SyFy's 2001 monster/disaster flick Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

"Sugar Daddy" by Thompson Twins

Song#:  4042
Date:  09/23/1989
Debut:  83
Peak:  28
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After a pair of successful albums and three Pop Top 10 hits, the trio of Thompson Twins became more akin to their name and became a duo. Joe Leeway left the group leaving Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie to carry on. Their first album as a duo, '87's Close to the Bone, would not do so well. It would stall at #76 with the only charting single being the #31 "Get That Love." After that disappointment, the duo picked up the pieces, moved over to Warner Bros. Records, and got a fresh start. They would record their seventh album, Big Trash. This first single would get things kicked off. It would become a #2 Dance hit while also making it to #16 Modern Rock. On the Pop chart, the tune would crack the Top 30, but falter soon after. A second single would fail to chart. Although the LP received some good notices, the lack of a significant hit doomed the album and it would peak at a very minor #143.

ReduxReview:  This was a good attempt to regain chart favor for the duo. It was a fun, bouncy track with a good hook. It was better than "Get That Love," but not by much. The tune lacked that extra zing that makes a hit. The Top 30 result was appropriate, but the Twins needed a far better result to get them back into the game. As it ended up, this would be their final Pop chart single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Despite the results of Big Trash, Warner Bros. decided to give the Twins another shot. In 1991, they would released the album Queer. While it would spawn the #7 Dance/#23 Modern Rock hit "Come Inside," the song and the album failed to catch on in the mainstream. The LP disappeared quickly and by '92, the Twins were done for good. The following year, Bailey and Currie (who married in '91) brought Keith Fernley into the fold and a new trio called Babble was born. They would issue out two albums for Warner Bros. in '94 and '96. The LP's didn't get much attention, but did produce a pair of Top 20 Dance singles including the #10 "Love Has No Name." Warner would end up dropping the band and Babble came to an end. While Currie would choose to leave the music business later in the 90s, Bailey continued on writing and producing for others while also recording under the moniker International Observer. The pair would divorce in 2003.


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

"Right Back Where We Started From" by Sinitta

Song#:  4041
Date:  09/23/1989
Debut:  84
Peak:  84
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Although Sinitta Malone was born in Seattle, Washington, her main home became London after she moved there as a kid with her mother who had gotten a job performing in the musical Hair. Getting the acting/singing bug from her mother, Sinitta started to audition for roles and would eventually appear in West End productions. A couple of film/TV appearances would come her way as well. In 1984, Sinitta met with a struggling A&R guy by the name of Simon Cowell. Cowell had just formed a new label called Fanfare and he signed Sinitta to be the label's first artist. Sinitta would then record the song "Cruising." While the song was a hit in gay clubs, it didn't make much of an impression elsewhere. She then recorded the tune "So Macho." Released in '85, the song again found favor in clubs only. Cowell would apply some marketing strategy to bring attention to the song and eventually it would pay off. Nearly a year after its initial release, "So Macho" would take off and reach #2 in the UK and go gold. It was both Sinitta's and Cowell's first hit. A third single didn't fare as well, but Cowell had in mind to match Sinitta with the Stock Aitken Waterman songwriting/production team. It took a while, but the collaboration finally took place with SAW heading up four tracks for Sinitta. The song "Toy Boy" would be released as a single in the summer of '87. It would become her second UK Top 10 hit reaching #4. A debut album was then assembled titled Sinitta!. Another SAW tune, "Cross My Broken Heart," would get to #6. The singles would help the album get to #34 in the UK and go gold. It seems along the way Cowell got a distribution deal in the US for Sinitta and the track "Feels Like the First Time" would become a #4 Dance hit in '86. Her other two SAW hits would also make the US Dance chart, but the album failed to click. Sinitta's next album, '89's Wicked, would contain one SAW track, "I Don't Believe in Miracles," which served as the first single, but it stalled at #22 in the UK. However, her next single, "Right Back Where We Started From," turned things around and made it to #4. It would be her fourth and final UK Top 10. The album would be another gold seller reaching #52. In the States, "Right Back Where We Started From" would get some minor attention and would be Sinitta's only song to make the US Pop chart. Unfortunately, it would just be for a short month at the bottom. Sinitta would basically wrap up her solo recording career with the '95 covers album Naughty Naughty, which failed to generate much interest.

ReduxReview:  This tune was a good one to cover, but besides a more modern, sleek synthpop arrangement that practically sounded dated by '89 standards, there wasn't much that made it different from the stompin' original. Sinitta had a good pop voice, but it wasn't strong or memorable and it certain paled in comparison to Maxine Nightingale's (see below). While the Brits enjoyed the remake (nostalgia factor and Sinitta's popularity most likely helped), Stateside it did win much favor. No harm, no foul. Just meh.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by British R&B/disco singer Maxine Nightingale. Her version would reach #2 on the US Pop chart in 1976 (#8 UK). Nightingale would make the US Pop Top 10 (#5) once more in 1978 with "Lead Me On."  2) Sinitta's connection to Simon Cowell would come in handy later. When he developed The X-Factor singing competition show that began in 2004, Cowell invited Sinitta to participate on the show during one of the rounds of competition. Each judge would hold a "bootcamp" where they would guide and shape the contestants that were selected for their respective categories (solo acts under 25, solo acts 25 and over, and groups). While at the bootcamps, the judges would have assistants to help them in the process and decision making. Sinitta would work with Cowell at his bootcamp as an assistant or guest mentor for the majority of the show's 15 season run, which ended in 2018. Her work on the show led to appearances on several reality TV shows including competition-based ones like Celebrity MasterChef and I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!


Monday, January 30, 2023

"No Big Deal" by Love and Rockets

Song#:  4040
Date:  09/23/1989
Debut:  87
Peak:  82
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  This English band scored a left field hit with the #3 "So Alive." It was taken from their self-titled fourth album that ended up reaching #14 and went gold. To try and push album sales further this next single was issued out. It did not fare well peaking at #19 Modern Rock while only spending a month on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview: Let's face it. Love and Rockets wasn't a band that was going to make music for the masses. Of course they wanted to sell albums and such, but making chart hits wasn't their goal. So the fact that they grabbed a major hit with "So Alive" was surprising. Then the task was to try and figure out how to follow it up. There was nothing on par with "So Alive" on the album, so it really was a crap shoot for the label. They opted for this lo-fi blues-laced ditty, which was probably the one with the most (or any really) single/radio potential. Still, it wasn't something that was going to light up the phones and it certainly didn't. It would basically one-n-done for the band.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The band's US audience grew with their second and third albums, both of which made the Top 100. Their fourth album would be their big mainstream breakthrough thanks to "So Alive." With that hit and a gold album under their belt, it seemed like the perfect time to strike while the iron was hot. But that did not happen. Instead of issuing out a fifth Love and Rockets album, the band decided to take a break and that allowed for two of its members, Danial Ash and David J, to make solo albums. The trio would finally reconvene later in '93 to work on a new album. The more electronic/dance influenced Hot Trip to Heaven would be issued out in '94. The experimental effort was met with a thud. Critics and fans were left confused about the band's direction and the LP quickly disappeared. Two more albums would follow that didn't to much to reignite the band's popularity. By 1999, they were done.