Saturday, April 1, 2023

"Name and Number" by Big Noise

Song#:  4090
Date:  11/04/1989
Debut:  98
Peak:  97
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  This band from Birmingham, England, initially formed in the early 80s under the name Mr. President. They eventually got the attention of Atlantic Records in the US who signed them to their subsidiary label ATCO. The band would change their name to Big Noise and start work on a debut album with songwriter/producer Elliot Wolff (of Paula Abdul fame). Three of the band's members would co-write all the songs with Wolff chiming in on a few. Once the album, titled Bang!, was completed, this first single was issued out. It would be a minor blip on the Pop chart spending a few short weeks near the bottom. With that result, the album failed to chart. The band would eventually split up soon after.

ReduxReview:  This song runs in the same company as tracks by Go West. It was a good, slickly produced tune that was right for the time period. It sounded great, but the memorability factor wasn't quite there. It needed more intense hooks to really break through on the Pop chart. This was one of those tracks that was capably done and a good listen, but it didn't do much to make Big Noise stand out as an artist. It could have been recorded by anyone - in other words, it was kind of faceless.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Big Noise's lead vocalist was Tony Fennell (or Fenelle as printed on the Bang! album). Following the band breakup, Fennell mainly worked as a songwriter. Then a chance meeting in a recording studio led him to fronting a famous 80s new wave band. Ultravox member Billy Currie was looking to restart the band. They had more or less broken up in '87 after lead singer Midge Ure took off to go solo. Currie happened to be in the same studio building where Fennell was doing some work. The two had previously known each other and upon running into each other at the studio, Currie invited Fennell to join him in a reformed Ultravox. Fennell did and over the next year the pair toured and recorded an EP and the '93 LP Revelation. Unfortunately, Fennell and Currie didn't quite mesh and it led to Fennell leaving the band. He would then continue on as a songwriter mainly providing material for films and TV shows. Then in 2016, Fennell would get the opportunity to return to the stage. The alt rock/power pop band Enuff Z'Nuff, who had been Big Noise's labelmate back in the day, was looking for a guitarist and hooked up with Fennell. He would join the band in 2016 and co-write songs and perform on the band's 2018 album Diamond Boy (#33 US Indie). Fennell would leave the band the following year, but would rejoin them in 2021.


Friday, March 31, 2023

"I Live By the Groove" by Paul Carrack

Song#:  4089
Date:  10/28/1989
Debut:  70
Peak:  31
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Carrack's solo career reached a peak with his '87 album One Good Reason. It got to #67 thanks to the #9 Pop/#5 Rock hit "Don't Shed a Tear." After that success, Carrack would return to do some lead vocal work with Mike + the Mechanics, which led to the #1 hit "The Living Years." After things with that project wrapped up, Carrack returned to the studio to record his next solo album. Groove Approved would be mainly produced by Carrack with T-Bone Wolk and this first single would be issued out. It would do modestly well cracking the Pop Top 40 while getting to #22 AC. Unfortunately, no other singles from the album charted and that left it stopping at #120.

ReduxReview:  This was a fun tune that was sort of in the same vein as hits by Huey Lewis & the News. However, since Lewis' popularity was starting to wane, it may not have been the right time to release this tune. It still managed to nearly make the Pop Top 30, which was a bit surprising. Carrack had a golden opportunity after the success of "Don't Shed a Tear" and "The Living Years" to really kick his solo career into high gear, but he just didn't have the material to do that. Plus it seems that his label at the time might have been going through changes as well and that is never a good thing. Despite not being able to have a string of solo hits, Carrack has certainly had a long and successful career on his own and with others.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Carrack wouldn't record another solo effort until 1996. Blue Views wouldn't chart, but two of its tracks made the AC chart including the #3 "For Once in Our Lives." Further album/single releases from Carrack would fail to reach the US charts. However, in his UK homeland, most of his albums would make the chart. His 2016 album Soul Shadows would become the highest peaking of his career reaching #25. Along the way, Carrack would rejoin his former band Squeeze for an album and work alongside many top artists. In '94, Carrack would form a band with former Eagles members Timothy B. Schmit and Don Felder. Ultimately, the project never got off the ground with Schmit and Felder opting to join the reformed Eagles for a tour. A resulting live album Hell Freezes Over would come from that tour. Included on the album would be four new studio tracks including "Love Will Keep Us Alive,' which was a song that Carrack had co-written and intended for the band with Schmit and Felder. After that project fell through, Schmit and Felder took the song over to the Eagles. While the track would not be issued out as an official single, it would get a lot of airplay and would end up spending three weeks at #1 on the AC chart.


Thursday, March 30, 2023

"Just Between You and Me" by Lou Gramm

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4088
Date:  10/28/1989
Debut:  83
Peak:  6
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm stepped outside of the band in '87 for a debut solo effort titled Ready or Not. It would do fairly well getting to #27 and spawning the #5 Pop/#1 Rock hit "Midnight Blue." He would return to Foreigner for their '87 album Inside Information, but then move back into solo mode for his second LP Long Hard Look. This first single would be issued out and it would go on to be his second Pop Top 10 hit while also reaching #4 Rock and #4 AC. A second single, "True Blue Love," would only reach #40 Pop/#23 Rock. Despite featuring a Top 10 hit, the album floundered a bit and would only manage to reach #85. It would be Gramm's last solo effort for twenty years.

ReduxReview:  For most of the album Gramm worked with composer/producer Peter Wolf, but for this single he was hooked up with hit songwriter Holly Knight. I'm just guessing, but my thought is that Gramm's label Atlantic didn't hear a hit among the tracks Gramm was recording and pushed for a collaboration with Knight. The ploy paid off with this song making the Pop Top 10, but it was certainly a lot more pop-oriented than what Gramm had dished out before save for the #5 Foreigner hit "I Don't Want to Live Without You." While rock fans of Gramm/Foreigner may not have appreciated this track, it was a well done pop tune that deserved its Top 10 spot. Unfortunately, this tune has been forgotten over the years. I don't believe I've heard it since its days on the chart. It may not have had the same long legs of hits by Foreigner or even Gramm's "Midnight Blue," but it was still a quality track that gave Gramm one last significant hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  With his solo career doing well and his relationship with Foreigner bandmate Mick Jones somewhat fractured, Gramm decided to leave the band in 1990. Instead of continuing on with his solo career, Gramm formed a new band called Shadow King. They would release a self-titled debut album in '91. It failed to chart, but did spawn the minor #22 Rock track "I Want You." The band would fold soon after. That same year, Foreigner would release their album Unusual Heat with new lead singer Johnny Edwards. The album tanked at #117 with only the track "Lowdown and Dirty" getting to #4 at Rock. With Gramm and Jones experiencing career dips, they began to talk again and it led to Gramm rejoining Foreigner. However, by the time they released '95's Mr. Moonlight, it seems interest in the band had waned. While the first single "Until the End of Time" would get to #8 AC, it stalled at #42 Pop and that left the album halting at a very minor #136. Gramm would stick with the band and tour with them for a while, but in 2003 chose to leave again. Since that time he has only appeared with them on a couple of special occasions. Back in '92, Gramm would go through drug rehab and become a born again Christian. In 2009, he would release his first album of Christian rock under the moniker Lou Gramm Band.


Wednesday, March 29, 2023

"When the Night Comes" by Joe Cocker

Song#:  4087
Date:  10/28/1989
Debut:  85
Peak:  11
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Cocker's career got a big boost when his Grammy and Oscar winning duet with Jennifer Warnes "Up Where We Belong" hit #1 in '82. It should have been the beginning of a comeback period, but then Cocker's next three studio albums failed to produce a significant hit and it left Cocker in the same career lull he had before the movie hit. Still, he soldiered on and in '89 he worked again for a second time with producer Charlie Midnight and came out of the studio with One Night of Sin. For this effort it seems someone decided that it might be wise to secure at least one song by current, hit making writers that would have chart potential. This first single would be that track. Written by Diane Warren along with Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, the tune gave Cocker a commercial edge and it ended up paying off pretty well. The song would reach #6 at Rock and #12 AC while nearly cracking the Pop Top 10. It stopped just shy at the dreaded #11 spot. It was Cocker's biggest solo hit since his 1975 #5 "You Are So Beautiful." Unfortunately, it would end up being Cocker's last Pop Top 40 entry. Follow up singles would fail to chart and that left the album stopping at #52.

ReduxReview:  The sound of this single, especially at the beginning, was like something that might have come from Eric Clapton. It also sounded like it could have been used in a beer commercial. It did get used as the closing credit song in the '89 Tom Selleck crime drama An Innocent Man, so it did get picked up for other use. This is a song I completely forgot about, which is too bad. It was a solid, rousing, radio ready track that fit Cocker quite well. It really should have poked into the Top 10. I was never a big Cocker fan, but once in a while he could send out a zinger that make you perk up and this certainly was one. I'd consider it a forgotten gem.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Cocker's next album would be '90's Joe Cocker Live. Although the vast majority of the album contained live performances, the final two tracks were new studio efforts. One of them, the Diane Warren-penned "What Are You Doing with a Fool Like Me" would be issued out as a single. It would get to #44 Rock/#96 Pop. It was Cocker's last single to reach the Pop chart. His '91 album Night Calls would generate his last significant single. Cocker's remake of Gary Wright's 1976 #2 hit "Love Is Alive" would do well at Rock reaching #7. Cocker would continue to record and perform all the way through to his death from lung cancer in 2014.


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

"Was It Nothing at All" by Michael Damian

Song#:  4086
Date:  10/28/1989
Debut:  88
Peak:  24
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Thanks in part to exposure as a struggling musician on the daytime soap The Young and the Restless, Damian's actual music career took off when his remake of the David Essex hit "Rock On" made it to #1. An album titled Where Do We Go from Here would then be issued out and its second single, "Cover of Love," would nearly make the Pop Top 30 (#31). For a third single, this ballad was then issued out. It would do a little better peaking inside the Top 30 while cracking the Top 10 at AC (#7). By this point in time, Damian's album had already peaked at #61.

ReduxReview:  This probably should have been the LP's second single. It might have gone a little further on the chart. Although some of the lyrics were a bit cheezy, it was a nicely done tune and a better single candidate than "Cover of Love." Still it wasn't all that memorable and didn't hang around much beyond its chart run.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1991, Damian would issue out his follow up album Dreams of Summer. The lead single "What a Price to Pay" would only be able to reach #60 at Pop. A second single would fail to chart. The third single "(There'll Never Be) Another You" would be a minor #26 entry at AC. With those lackluster results, the album would fail to chart. In 1993, Damian would take his acting and vocal skills to the stage. He would take on the lead role in the Broadway revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Although the show would not receive any Tony nominations, the cast album did get a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Show Album. Damian would continue to perform as Danny Romalotti on The Young and the Restless through to 1998. He would revive the character on the show a few times over the years.


Monday, March 27, 2023

"How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" by Michael Bolton

#1 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  4085
Date:  10/28/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Upon release, Bolton's sixth album, Soul Provider, didn't look like it was going to do any better than his previous effort, '87's The Hunger (#48). The title track first single stalled inside the Pop Top 20 (#18) and that left the album initially peaking at #42. Hoping to turn things around, this ballad was released as the next single. It was the right choice as it finally broke Bolton through to the masses. The song would not only become Bolton's first Pop Top 10 hit, but it would be his first to reach #1 where it would remain for three weeks. Thanks to the hit, the album would rebound and start climbing up the chart. It would quickly go gold and then in February of '90 reach the platinum mark. With a third single, "How Can We Be Lovers?," getting to #3 Pop/#3 AC, the album would finally reach a peak of #3. The follow up single "When I'm Back on My Feet Again" would also reach the Pop Top 10 peaking at #7 (#1 AC). By the fall of '90, the LP would reach the triple platinum sales mark. Over time it would double that amount and sell over six million copies. This #1 single would earn Bolton his first Grammy award. He would win for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. The LP's fifth single, a remake of the standard "George on My Mind" (#36 Pop/#6 AC) would earn Bolton a Grammy nod in the same category in the following awards cycle.

ReduxReview:  Nope. Just nope. There was nothing wrong with the song. I am just not a fan of Bolton's vocal delivery. This one was not quite as bad as his excruciating take on "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," but it still was a painful listen for me. Like many of his other tracks it always sounds to me like someone has Bolton's junk in a vice and in order to access his higher register, he has the person give a good squeeze so he can get up there. It truly sounds like Bolton is mewing in pain. To his credit, Bolton wrote a quality ballad and it was one I enjoyed when recorded by Laura Branigan. She also had a big voice, but she didn't overdo her vocal. She knew when to be expressive and when to be subtle. Bolton is about as subtle as a sledgehammer. Yet there were scads of folks who loved his nut busting delivery and he ended up at #1 with this tune along with a Grammy. It basically kickstarted Bolton mania, which lasted throughout most of the 90s, unfortunately.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) If you are going to do a remake, why not cover your own song? That is what Bolton did with this track. Written by Bolton and Doug James, the song was hawked and got picked up by Arista's Clive Davis who wanted to have Air Supply record it. However, Davis wanted changes to the lyrics/title. Bolton said no to Davis' request, which was pretty gutsy for a writer/performer who hadn't had a hit yet. Not surprisingly, Davis sent Bolton and the song packin'. Luckily, Atlantic Records picked up the tune and shuffled it over to Laura Branigan. She recorded it for her second album, '83's Branigan II. It would be issued out as the LP's second single and it would get to #12 Pop/#1 AC. It would be Bolton's first major hit as a songwriter. Six years later, Bolton chose to cover the song that helped him gain traction in the music business and it made him a solo star.  2) Of course, Bolton's career took off in a big way after this hit and Soul Provider. His next three studio albums would all become multi-platinum hits with '91's Time, Love and Tenderness becoming a career best effort that reached #1 and would eventually sell over eight million copies. Along the way he would grab four more Pop Top 10 hits including the Grammy-winning #1 cover "When a Man Loves a Woman." He would also earn seven more AC #1s.