Friday, February 10, 2023

"I'm a Believer" by Giant

Song#:  4050
Date:  09/30/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  56
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  This Nashville-based band was formed by brothers Dann and David Huff. Both had been members of another popular band (see below) and each left at different times to pursue other opportunities. Eventually, they floated back together and founded Giant. A&M Records developed an interest in the outfit and signed them on. A debut album to be titled Last of the Runaways was recorded and this first single was issued out. The original tune (it was not a remake of the Neil Diamond/The Monkees hit) would do well at Rock and get near the Top 10 at #13. The song would cross over to the Pop chart where it stopped short of the halfway point.

ReduxReview:  This muscly slab of AOR kind of bridged a gap between 70s/80s rock bands like Foreigner and the glam-leaning Bon Jovi. The track sounded great with its heavy production and emphasis on Dann Huff's guitar and vocal work. The chorus had just enough of a hook to garner airplay and gain listeners. This helped at Rock, but it seems the song didn't have quite enough mainstream zing to go further than it did. Of course it would take a power ballad (natch) to move the band up another level (see below), which eventually helped them in getting a second shot, but sadly those results couldn't maintain the band's momentum. It didn't help that grunge was the preferred taste at the time.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1)  A second single, "Innocent Days," was released and it got to #11 Rock, but failed to make the Pop chart. But then the band pushed out the ballad "I'll See You in My Dream." That track broke the band wider when it reached #7 Rock and #20 Pop. In turn, their debut album would get to #80. For their next effort, '92's Time to Burn, the band would move over to Epic Records. The only charting song from the LP was the #16 Rock entry "Chained." The results brought an end to the band's major label days and before the 90s concluded the band had split. An iteration of the band would surface in the next decade. A few albums and tours would follow.  2) Dann and David Huff were founding members of the contemporary Christian rock band White Heart. They would issue out a self-titled debut album in '82 that would earn the band a Grammy nod for Best Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group. After a second album, Dann Huff would leave the band. David would stay on for one more before departing. White Heart would continue on recording several successful albums over the years. They would earn a second Grammy nod in 1992 when their album Tales of Wonder would be nominated for Best Rock/Contemporary Gospel Album. Dann Huff would go on to be a highly successful producer mainly in the country genre. He would earn two Academy of Country Music awards for Producer of the Year (2006 and 2009). In 2012, Huff would co-produce three tracks on Taylor Swift's Red album including "Begin Again," which was issued out as the LP's second single and would reach #7 Pop/#10 Country.


Thursday, February 9, 2023

"(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" by Paula Abdul

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4049
Date:  09/23/1989
Debut: 64
Peak:  3
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  After three consecutive #1 singles, Paula Abdul's debut album Forever Your Girl was still going strong. Five singles had already been release from the LP, but it seems that after the fifth one, "Cold Hearted," reached #1, the demand was still high for something else from Abdul. Instead of selecting another track from the album to push out as a single, Abdul's label, Virgin Records, decided to revisit one of the earlier singles. Initially released in the fall of '88, the LP's second single "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" did well at R&B getting to #10, but failed to make an impression on the Pop chart halting at a minor #88. Feeling confident that it should have been a hit the first time around, Virgin decided to follow up "Cold Hearted" with a reissue of "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me." The ploy worked with the song making its way up the chart and into the Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  This song got its delayed due with this reissue. It really should have been a hit the first time around and kicked off Abdul's streak of hits. Yet for some reason it went nowhere on initial release on the Pop chart. With her major burst of popularity, this song got a rare second chance and it paid off. In the long run, was it one of her most memorable hits? No. But it was worthy of a Top 10 placement.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This hit helped to finally propel Abdul's debut album to #1. It would reach that spot the week of October 7, 1989. At the time the LP set a record for the longest time it took for an album to reach the #1 spot. It got there in its 64th week on the chart. It is a record that still stands today. While the album would only spend one week at the top when it first got there, it would return to #1 in February of '90 and spend an additional nine consecutive weeks at that spot.


Wednesday, February 8, 2023

"Poison" by Alice Cooper

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  4048
Date:  09/23/1989
Debut:  66
Peak:  7
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  Cooper had a rough 80s. His commercial fortunes dwindled to the point where his long time label Warner Bros. let him go after the failure of '83's DaDa. He was hospitalized for alcoholism (but once and for good got sober) and went through a divorce. He did a few things in music and made some appearances, but it seemed like his career was slipping away. Things began to turn around a bit in '86 when Cooper signed up with MCA and released the album Constrictor. It did modestly well as did the follow up Raise Your Fist and Yell. In addition, Cooper went out on tour for the first time since '81 and it was highly successful. With a bit of momentum behind him, Cooper figured the time was right to plot a real comeback album. He moved over to Epic Records and taking a cue from some other artists who were making comebacks at the time chose to work with hit making producers/writers of the era. Mainly, he collaborated with Desmond Child who would produce and co-write the majority of the tracks on Cooper's eleventh solo album Poison. Other artists like Joan Jett and Jon Bon Jovi would lend a hand in writing along with proven hitmaker Diane Warren. This first single would be issued out and it was the right song at the right time. It would get to #15 Rock while becoming Cooper's first Pop Top 10 single since '77's #9 "You and Me." It would also sell well enough to go gold. The hit would drive sales of the album and it would reach #20 and go platinum. It was his best result since his 1974 solo debut Welcome to My Nightmare (#5, platinum). (Note that from '69-'73, seven albums were released by the band Alice Cooper. Leader Vincent Furnier, aka Alice Cooper, would legal adopt the name and set out on a solo career in '74.)

ReduxReview:  This was a calculated move to revive Cooper's career and it paid off in spades. Collaborating with Child was a great idea. The pair were able to make airplay-worthy tracks that still kept Cooper's nightmare-ish style alive. This single couldn't have been better for Cooper. It was a loud, hooky glam rock track that had a definite dark side and cheeky lyrics that gave a wink and a nudge to Cooper's horror side. It was also released at the right time when glam metal was riding high. Trash was easily Cooper's best LP of the decade and it pushed his career back into high gear.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Cooper's follow up album, '91's Hey Stoopid, wouldn't be quite as successful, but still did well enough to go gold and maintain his comeback status. It would reach #47 thanks mainly to the title track that got to #13 Rock/#78 Pop. The song's claymation video would be popular on MTV. Around that time, Cooper would cap off his comeback period with a memorable "we're not worthy!" appearance in the '92 hit film Wayne's World where he also performed the track "Feed My Frankenstein." With the advent of grunge, Cooper's record sales would dwindle, but he continued to record albums and have successful concert tours. In 2011, Cooper would record Welcome 2 My Nightmare, a sequel to his '74 debut album. It would reach #22, which was his best showing since Poison. That same year, Cooper, both the person and the band, would be induced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Tuesday, February 7, 2023

"Back to Life" by Soul II Soul (featuring Caron Wheeler)

Top 10 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  4047
Date:  09/23/1989
Debut:  70
Peak:  4
Weeks:  28
Genre:  R&B, Soul

Pop Bits:  This British collective hit it big with their single "Keep on Movin'," which became a #1 R&B/#1 Dance/#11 Pop platinum seller. It had previously been a hit in the UK getting to #5 and it was quickly followed by the group's debut album Club Classics Vol. One. Wanting another hit along the same lines, the group's label wanted another hit that featured the same vocalist, Caron Wheeler. However, the problem was that the only other track on the album to have Wheeler singing was an a cappella track title "Back to Life." Needing to meet the demand, members Jazzie B. and Nellee Hooper took the vocals and fashioned a new backing track along the same lines as "Keep on Movin'." The new mix would be issued out as a single and it flew to #1 in the UK. Success in the US would follow with the song getting to #1 R&B and #1 Dance while making the Pop Top 10. It would also become their second single in a row to go platinum. The hit would help album sales, but some of those buyers weren't so happy when they discovered that the "Back to Life" on the LP was the original a cappella version. Still, it would go on to sell over two million copies. This song would go on to win the Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The collective would earn a second Grammy that same year when the track "African Dance" won for Best R&B Instrumental Performance.

ReduxReview:  While I'm sure many folks remember "Keep on Movin'," I think the group is mainly remember for this jam. I'm still surprised it didn't get to #1. It was all over the place. In addition to a lot of radio airplay, there wasn't a club or event or party where this wasn't played - a lot. I liked the track and was going to buy the single, but got tired of the tune before that happened. I'd heard it enough times. It's still a great tune and interesting that they took their own a cappella album track and transitioned it into a major hit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Soul II Soul would quickly follow up their debut with their 1990 album Vol. II: 1990 - A New Decade. It wouldn't do as quite well as their debut in the US stopping at #21 Pop/#14 R&B and only going gold. Its first single, "Get a Life" would get to #5 R&B/#9 Dance, but stall at #54 at Pop. A second single, "A Dream's Dream," would get to #3 Dance/#19 R&B/#85 Pop. That song would be the group's last to reach the Pop chart. Their next three albums continued the downward trend and by 1998 Soul II Soul had disbanded.  2) Following Soul II Soul's debut album, vocalist Caron Wheeler would leave and set out on a solo career. In 1990, she would release her debut album UK Blak. Its first single, "Livin' in the Light," would reach #1 Dance/#3 R&B/#53 Pop. In turn, the album topped out at #30 R&B/#133 Pop. A second album would follow in '93 that spawned an R&B Top 20 entry. The following year, Wheeler would attempt to join back up with Soul II Soul and supply vocals for a couple of songs, but directional differences had her taking off again. She continued to work as a vocalist over the years until finally reuniting and touring with Soul II Soul again in 2007.


Monday, February 6, 2023

"The Way to Your Heart" by Soulsister

Song#:  4046
Date:  09/23/1989
Debut:  71
Peak:  41
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The Belgian duo Soulsister was formed in '86 by musicians Jan Leyers and Paul Michiels. Both had experience with other bands before meeting each other in a cafĂ©, which led to them collaborating. A demo song they wrote and performed piqued the interest of EMI Records who pushed the pair into forming a duo. Initially calling themselves The Soul Sisters, EMI would push out a couple of singles that got a small bit of attention. Encouraged by that, the label pressed the duo for a debut album. Under the new name of Soulsister, the pair would record It Takes Two. An initial single wouldn't make much of an impact, but a second single, "The Way to Your Heart," would take off late in '88. It would go Top 10 in several European countries including #3 in their home of Belgium. That success would lead to a distribution deal in the US and nearly a year after its initial release, the single was issued out in the States. The Motown-ish song would become a hit at AC getting to #5. It was also able to get on the Pop chart, but it stopped just shy of the Top 40 at the dreaded #41 mark. It would be the duo's only charting single in the US. The album would be released as well in the US, but it would not chart.

ReduxReview:  Whoa! This was a blast from the past. I swear I haven't heard this song since it came out and it was like I just heard it yesterday. I'd totally forgotten about this song. I'm not exactly sure why I knew it so well as I didn't buy the single and I don't have it on any of my 80s collections. Since it went Top 5 at AC, I'm guessing a radio station I listened to must have had it in heavy rotation. If I didn't already know this had peaked at #41, I would have thought it had at least cracked the Top 20. This is a terrific Motown-inspired pop tune that easily puts a smile on my face. It's hooky, fun, and a sweet confection. The song should have done a lot better on the Pop chart, but perhaps it was better suited to AC where it did quite well.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Soulsister's next two albums would be released only in Europe. Both would sport a Top 10 hit at home in Belgium. After a fourth album would fail to do much, the duo would split. They would reunite in 2006 and the following year put out their fifth album. Jan Leyers would go on to form the rock band My Velma while also doing some solo work, which included the 2000 Belgian #2 hit "Only Your Love Will Do." He would write songs for other artists along the way and one of his co-writes, "That's as Close as I'll Get to Loving You," would become a #1 US Country hit in 1995 for singer Aaron Tippin. Leyers would also go on to be a television personality in Belgium hosting several shows and working as a judge on the Belgium edition of the Idol franchise. Paul Michiels would also continue on doing solo work and in 2001 would grab a Belgian #3 hit with "Let Me Be Turned to Stone."