Saturday, March 4, 2023

"Living in Sin" by Bon Jovi

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4066
Date:  10/07/1989
Debut:  72
Peak:  9
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  Bon Jovi were on a roll with their album New Jersey. By this point in time the LP had already spawned four Pop Top 10 hits including a pair of #1s. Many artists and labels might have called it a day and would have wrapped up the album, but in the post-Thriller era of trying to fill an album with as many single-worthy contenders as possible, the band's label decided to roll the dice to try and eke out one more hit. They selected this power ballad and it was the right choice. The single would make the Pop Top 10 while getting to #37 Rock. The hit would help set a record of sorts for the band. They were the first hard rock/glam metal band to get five Pop Top 10 hits from one album. The single helped sell a few more album, but it had basically plateaued at the 5 million mark earlier in May. However, over the next several years, the LP would continue to sell and in '96 it would reach the 7 million mark. This single would bring an end to Bon Jovi's New Jersey and 80s era.

ReduxReview:  This song road Bon Jovi's wave of popularity into the Top 10 at the time. The power ballad, which sounded like a second rate Springsteen knockoff, was fine, but had the album not done so well or another band did this song, I don't think it would have gotten close to the Top 10. It certainly isn't one of the band's most popular or memorable tracks. I don't think I've heard the track since I last listened to the album back in '89. I'm sure the band's label pushed hard to make this a hit in order to wrap up the album and the decade in a big way. They succeeded.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Bon Jovi's follow up album would come out not long after grunge had emerged into the mainstream. Undaunted, the band pushed out Keep the Faith late in '92 as other hard rock/hair metal bands were loosing their audiences. While it wouldn't get near the popularity and sales of their previous two mega hits, the LP still performed well getting to #5 and going double platinum. It featured the #10 Pop hit "Bed of Roses." Their next album, '94's Cross Road would go platinum and secure the band one final Pop Top 10 hit with the #4 "Always." While the hits would taper off, Bon Jovi proved they had staying power with their albums with many of them going gold or platinum and at least four of them hitting #1. They not only survived the grunge era, but outlasted many of those bands as well. They would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.


Friday, March 3, 2023

"License to Chill" by Billy Ocean

Song#:  4065
Date:  10/07/1989
Debut:  76
Peak:  32
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  The 80s were a great time for Billy Ocean. Over the course of three platinum selling albums (two double-platinum) , Ocean earned seven Pop Top 10 hits including three #1s. It was enough for Ocean's label to call for a compilation and Greatest Hits was assembled. Along with Ocean's top singles, two new tracks were added to the LP including this first single. While it got some attention, it would only make the Top 40 on both the Pop (#32) and R&B (#33) charts. The other new track, "I Sleep Much Better (In Someone Else's Bed)," would only get to #60 R&B. The album would top out at #77 Pop/#65 R&B and by summer go gold. A few years later it would turn platinum. So while the 80s were great for Ocean, his career took a quick downturn in the new decade. This single would end up being Ocean's last one to make the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Hmmm. Was it a coincidence that this song and the James Bond flick License to Kill were out at the same time? I think not. Another Ocean/Mutt Lange collaboration, basically sounds and feels like a couple of Ocean's late 80s hits. It does sound like the song was meant for a film and it didn't help that it definitely had a "Ghostbusters" feel. It was kind of a cheezy track with the "go Billy!" shouts and certainly wasn't as memorable as his other hits. With the tune petering out inside the Pop Top 40, it was a sign that the Ocean formula was quickly wearing thin. He did try to change it up with his next LP, but after an extended hiatus it seemed no one was interested and Ocean's hit making days came to an end. He had a good run though.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Ocean would choose to take a break from music following his Greatest Hits album. After a few years off, Ocean would finally get back to the studio. Working with a new set of writers and producers, including R. Kelly, Ocean would return in '93 with his eighth album Time Moves On. For the LP, Ocean tried to incorporate new sounds such as new jack swing and even changed up his look. The new and improved Billy Ocean didn't go over very well. The LP's first two singles failed to chart while a third one barely scraped the R&B chart at #91. With those results, the LP failed to chart. It was a major disappointment following his string of 80s successes. Management and label issues would follow and it all spurred Ocean to go on another hiatus. While he would still perform and tour during his extended break, Ocean wouldn't record another album until 2009's Because I Love You.


Thursday, March 2, 2023

"If You Asked Me To" by Patti LaBelle

Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  4064
Date:  10/07/1989
Debut:  86
Peak:  79
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After the #1 success of her 1986 album Winner in You, which spawned the #1 Pop/#1 R&B/#2 AC gold duet single "On My Own," kept busy with tour performances and TV appearances in addition to recording a few songs for movie soundtracks. One of those songs was this single that was included on the soundtrack to the James Bond film License to Kill. It would also server a the first single from her ninth solo album Be Yourself. The tune would do well at R&B becoming her eighth solo Top 10 on that chart (#10). It also got to #11 at AC. However, the tune couldn't find an audience at Pop and it stopped in the bottom quarter of the chart. A second single, the Prince written and produced track "Yo Mister," would be a hit at R&B reaching #6, but it failed to crack the Pop chart. The album would then top out at #14 R&B and #86 Pop. It would fail to reach the gold level mark.

ReduxReview:  This one has pissed me off for years. I'm sure all parties involved with this song were asking - why was this not a huge hit? Seriously. The first time I heard the tune I ran out and got the 45 and played it constantly. Written by hitmaker Diane Warren, it was an excellent pop tune that was well arranged and produced, but what took it over the edge was LaBelle's delivery. She read the song so well. A powerful voice like hers could easily overrun a pop ballad like this, but she tastefully held back and gave an emotional performance that finally exploded near the end. I just love how she held that note at the end of the bridge into the final chorus. And then the fireworks went off after that - and just enough too. She knew exactly the right amount to shoot off. Effortless and stunning. I was so incensed when this single stalled at #79. I thought people were crazy. I mean, this was a certified hit - no question. So what happened? Not enough promotion? Not enough payola? The Bond flick wasn't a huge hit, so maybe that didn't help? LaBelle was coming off a career best album so she had momentum. Whatever it was, it made me mad and sad that folks missed out on this gem. Then a few years later I got practically irate when Celine Dion covered the tune and got it to #4 Pop. Dion's take was nearly a carbon copy of LaBelle's except Dion couldn't match LaBelle's vocals, especially at the end. And yet folks flocked to it for some reason. I just didn't get it. Still don't. There is no other way to put it - LaBelle was utterly and completely robbed of a hit. Shame on pop listeners and radio programmers from back in the day. Shame, shame, shaaaammmme!


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) LaBelle had three sisters and all died of cancer in their early 40s. Her youngest sister Jackie Holte-Padgett was the final sister to pass away. She succumbed to brain cancer not long before this single was ready to be released. The day after her burial, LaBelle had to shoot the video for this song. Done in a old marble hall, LaBelle is seen wearing black and in some shots you can see her crying. The song certainly took on a different meaning on that day.  2) Unfortunately, LaBelle wouldn't be able to score another big hit at Pop. Only four further singles would make minor impressions on the chart. However, thanks to hits at R&B her next three albums would be winners. Her '91 album Burnin' would go gold thanks to three R&B Top 10 hits. Gems in '94 would also go gold, but then her '97 effort Flame would get her back to platinum status. It got a boost thanks to a pair of Dance Top 10s including the #1 "When You Talk About Love," which was co-written and produced by the Jam & Lewis team. While her hits cooled, her albums still did well and in the 2000's she scored back-to-back gold sellers. Since then her albums have been more themed efforts touching on gospel, jazz, and Christmas. And do I need to mention Miss Patti's sweet potato pie?


Wednesday, March 1, 2023

"Girl, I Am Searching for You" by Stevie B

Song#:  4063
Date:  10/07/1989
Debut:  87
Peak:  56
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Freestyle

Pop Bits:  Stevie B's second album In My Eyes would only peak at #75, but thanks to a pair of Pop/Dance Top 40 singles it would end up going gold in August of '89. To try and keep sales going, this third single was issued out. While it wouldn't do quite as well, it still got near the halfway mark on the Pop chart. A fourth single, "Love Me for Life," would surprisingly get inside the Pop Top 30 at #29 early in '90. It was Stevie B's best result to-date.

ReduxReview:  The problem I was having was that the songs Stevie B were tossing out were good, but they weren't great. Although the tracks sounded fine and were easy listens, none were sticking in my brain. He just wasn't coming up with that one breakthrough tune that would excite the mainstream. He certainly had fans in the freestyle community and that helped in making the album go gold. Yet he still needed that one special song that would take him to the next level. Unfortunately, this one wasn't it, however, later in '90 he'd finally grab a major hit.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Stevie B's third album, 90's Love & Emotion, got off to a solid start when the new jack swing title track reached #15 on the Pop chart (#43 Dance). Although known for his dance/freestyle tracks, the next single selected from the album ended up being a ballad. It ended up being the right choice as "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)" would go on to spend four weeks at #1 at Pop while also topping the AC chart for two weeks. It would become a gold seller. In turn, the album would reach #54 and also go gold. The success of the single and album helped the sales of his '88 debut Party Your Body and it would also go gold. For a follow up to "Because I Love You," the label chose another ballad "I'll Be By Your Side." It would reach #12 Pop/#16 AC. Unfortunately, the hits would quickly come to a halt. Stevie B. would switch labels to Epic Records and his first effort for them, '92's Healing, would fail to chart with only the track "Pump That Body" making the Dance chart at #15. Stevie B's time at Epic would then come to an end. He would continue to record albums on indie labels and grab one last Pop Top 30 single with '95's "Dream About You" (#29). Still recording and performing, along the way Stevie B was anointed the title "King of Freestyle," which he has gladly accepted and actively promotes. It is odd however, that the King of Freestyle's two biggest hits were pop ballads.


Tuesday, February 28, 2023

"The Last Worthless Evening" by Don Henley

Song#:  4062
Date:  10/07/1989
Debut:  91
Peak:  21
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Henley took a less synthesized approach with his third solo album The End of the Innocence and fans took to it well sending the Grammy-winning title track first single into the Pop Top 10 (#8). In turn, the album would also sail up to #8. To keep the momentum going, this next single was issued out. While it stopped short of the Pop Top 20, the song would be a hit at Rock (#4) and AC (#5). During this song's run on the chart the album would be certified platinum.

ReduxReview:  This was a good follow up to the Americana leaning "The End of the Innocence." It had a more organic soft rock band sound that eschewed the manufactured bells and whistles of the time. It also had a memorable chorus and was a prime single candidate. I was surprised it stopped short outside the Top 20. It was a significant hit at Rock and AC and that action should have been enough to push the song either near or into the Pop Top 10.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Henley has mentioned in concert several times the inspiration behind this tune. It seems he was at a party and spotted a beautiful actress sitting on a couch talking to Jack Nicholson. She was just recently divorced and Henley was also single at the time. It seems she was smoking a cigarette and Henley decided to try and meet her and walked over and asked to bum a cig. Without looking at him, she reached in her purse, grabbed one, and just shoved it his way. Basically, she blew him off. As he walked away, Nicholson apparently said "Well played, Henley." While Henley has never really confirmed who the actress was, it is assumed to be Michelle Pfeiffer. She was sort of a hot commodity at the time who had just gotten a divorce and had just co-starred with Nicholson in a movie (The Witches of Eastwick). Being spurned by Pfeiffer gave Henley the idea for this hit.  2) The album's next single, "The Heart of the Matter," would do nearly the same business peaking at #21 Pop/#2 Rock/#3 AC. Two more singles would follow with each peaking at #48 Pop. The LP would contain six tracks that would make the Rock Top 10 and that certainly helped sales. The album would eventually become Henley's biggest solo seller getting to the 6x platinum mark. Unfortunately, at the peak of his solo success, Henley and his label Geffen Records entered into a bitter dispute. Lawsuits would follow. In the meantime, Henley would join a reunited Eagles for a tour. It would spawn the '94 #1 live album Hell Freezes Over. It would go on to sell over 9 million copies. Finally, after everything with Geffen was settled and things wrapped up with the Eagles, Henley signed on with Warner Bros. and put out his fourth solo album, 2000's Inside Job. It would reach #7 and go platinum thanks to the #1 AC/#58 Pop single "Taking You Home." He would move over to Capitol Records for the 2015 country flavored LP Cass County (#3).


Monday, February 27, 2023

"Touch the Fire" by Icehouse

Song#:  4061
Date:  10/07/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  84
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After a few modest selling albums, this Australian band broke through in a bigger way with their '87 album Man of Colours (#43). It would boast a pair of Pop Top 20 hits including the #7 "Electric Blue." Following that success, the band's label thought it was a good time to have folks get more acquainted with the band's previous material and opted to assemble the compilation album Great Southern Land. In addition to their previous releases, the LP would include a pair of new tracks including this first single. Unfortunately, it wouldn't make much of an impression and would only spend a month near the bottom of the Pop chart. The second single, "Jimmy Dean," would fail to chart. With those results, the compilation came and went to little notice. That would wrap up things for Icehouse in the US.

ReduxReview:  This song isn't as catchy or memorable as their two Top 20 hits, but it is a well-done track. The break through they had could have been a lead-in to something even better, but unfortunately this song brought a halt to their momentum, which is too bad. The song should have done much better on the chart. Its follow up "Jimmy Dean" wasn't really single worthy, but again, it was another good song from the band. If you like good, solid pop/rock that is well-written and nicely arranged/produced, then check out one of the band's compilations. I think they were a bit underrated in the US.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Icehouse lead singer and main songwriter Iva Davies would continue on with the band with two more studio albums that found favor in Australia. In 1995, Davies and his Icehouse band would record cover tunes for the Sydney Dance Company's production of Berlin. Icehouse would perform live during the performances. A soundtrack album, The Berlin Tapes, would be released. Since that time, Davies has teased a few new Icehouse songs, but a new album has yet to materialize. He continues on collaborating with other artists and performing with Icehouse. He has also worked on a few film scores including co-writing music for the 2003 Russell Crowe epic war drama Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.