Saturday, April 15, 2023

"I'm Not the Man I Used to Be" by Fine Young Cannibals

Song#:  4102
Date:  11/11/1989
Debut:  85
Peak:  54
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  After a pair of #1 Pop hits and the #11 "Don't Look Back," this band's second album The Raw and the Cooked was still doing well enough to call for a fourth single. This next track was selected for release. A remix of the tune would do fine in on the Dance chart getting to #8, but the single version would end up being a minor entry at AC (#40) while stopping shy of the halfway point at Pop. The label would opt for a fifth single and send out "I'm Not Satisfied," but it fizzled at a low #90 on the Pop chart. That would wrap up things for the album, which had reached #1 and sold well enough to go double-platinum.

ReduxReview:  Utilizing a more basic arrangement along with a sample from James Brown's "Funky Drummer," this track was more subtle and introspective than their previous three hits and it worked very well. The lighter approach allowed Roland Gift's vocal performance to shine through. It was a good choice for a single, but for some reason it didn't resonate as well with Pop listeners who seemed to prefer the band's more upbeat catchier tunes. It was too bad the band never recorded a follow up. They weren't the first nor the last band to have a big hit album and then just go away. Their disappearing act reminds me of the band fun. who hit it big with their second album as well in 2012. Their album Some Nights would be a #3 triple-platinum hit thanks to a pair of big Pop Top 10 hits including the #1 "We Are Young" that featured Janelle Monáe. The band would be nominated for six Grammys winning two for Song of the Year and Best New Artist. And then...pffft. They announced a hiatus that as of this posting date is still on.

ReduxRating:  7/10

TriviaThe Raw and the Cooked made Fine Young Cannibals worldwide stars. It was a well-reviewed impressive effort and folks couldn't wait for them to record a follow up. But then that never happened. The band more or less disappeared. So what happened? Why would a band at the top of their game just stop? In a couple of interviews, lead singer Roland Gift has mentioned that it wasn't just one thing. It seems a move to NYC, sudden fame, instant riches, and pressure to record an even more successful album all took a toll on the band. It got to the point where they were trying to write hits instead of just making music and eventually they just gave up and stopped with members going their own ways. After The Raw and the Cooked, the band would record two further songs. In 1990, they would record the Cole Porter standard "Love for Sale" for the AIDS charity album Red Hot + Blue. Then four years after their split, the band reunited to record "The Flame." It would be a track added to their 1996 hits compilation The Finest. Released as a single, it wouldn't chart in the US, but would get to #17 in the UK.


Friday, April 14, 2023

"Over and Over" by Pajama Party

Song#:  4101
Date:  11/11/1989
Debut:  88
Peak:  59
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Freestyle

Pop Bits:  This vocal trio got a little bit of attention in the early summer of '89 with their first single "Yo No Sé." The tune would get to #34 Dance/#75 Pop and that was a positive enough result for them to record a debut album that would be titled Up All Night. It would be release in the fall of '89 along with this next single. The track would end up being the trio's best effort getting to #26 Dance while peaking a bit shy of the halfway point on the Pop chart. A third single, "Hide and Seek," would get to #33 Dance/#73 Pop. While the singles saw a little action, it wasn't enough to sell the album and it would fail to chart.

ReduxReview:  After getting some notice with "Yo No Sé," this should have been the single to break the trio wider. There was potential here, but it may not have been strong or distinct enough to compete with the other freestyle singles of the day. Although I could certainly do without the little rap section, overall it wasn't too bad of a tune. It was catchy and well-produced. The single probably should have at least got inside the Pop Top 40, but it really didn't have to goods to get any further.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Brenda K. Starr. Written by Jim Klein and Peggy Sendars, the song would get picked up by Starr and included on her 1987 self-titled second album, which contained her biggest hit, the #13 "I Still Believe." With that foot in the door, Klein and Sendars were then able to secure a job writing all the songs for Pajama Party's debut album (with Klein producing). Since "Over and Over" was not released as a single in the US from Starr, Klein then got it recorded by Pajama Party. It became their best performing single. Klein and Sendars would also write/produce all the tracks on the trio's second album, but it didn't work out as well.  2) Despite the album not selling, the trio's label, Atlantic, went ahead and gave them another chance. Early in '91, they were ready to release Can't Live Without It. The LP's first single, "Got My Eye on You," failed to generate any interest and did not chart. With that result, Atlantic lost interest in the trio and didn't release a second single. Of course the LP would disappear quickly along with the trio's label deal. By 1992, members of Pajama Party would go their own ways.


Thursday, April 13, 2023

"Back to the Bullet" by Saraya

Song#:  4100
Date:  11/11/1989
Debut:  91
Peak:  63
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  This band headed up by Sandi Saraya made a few waves with their first single "Love Has Taken Its Toll." The tune would get to #9 Rock while getting to #64 at Pop. It was taken from the band's self-titled debut album as was this follow up. The track wouldn't do quite as well at Rock getting to #26, but was able to make it one notch higher at Pop than their first single. Another track from the album, "Get U Ready," would be a minor #33 entry at Rock. The album would peak at a respectable #79, which then allowed the band to record a follow up.

ReduxReview:  Like their first single, this was a nice slice of radio-ready rock that was well crafted and performed. Also like their first single, this tune was lacking the kind of allure needed to really be a Pop chart contender. The band was definitely on to something. They just needed that one song that would break them wider into the mainstream. Unfortunately, they couldn't come up with that track for their second album and it wasn't long before Saraya was no more.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Next up for the band was a soundtrack song. Hit songwriter/producer Desmond Child would be in charge of tunes to boost the 1989 Wes Craven slasher flick Shocker. Child would write/co-write and produce most of the songs for the film including "Timeless Love," which would be recorded by Saraya. It would be released as a single early in '90 and peak at a minor #85 on the Pop chart. The soundtrack album would get to #97. After that, Saraya got back in the studio to record their second album. In 1991, they would release When the Blackbird Sings. Its first single, "Seducer," would only scrape the Rock chart at #41. With that result, the album quickly came and went. The band would then split up in '92.


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

"Another Day in Paradise" by Phil Collins

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  4099
Date:  11/04/1989
Debut:  43
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After a sidestep into acting with the rom-com caper Buster and its soundtrack that featured the #1 hit cover of "Groovy Kind of Love," Collins returned to solo mode to record his fourth studio album. It would be the follow up to his Album of the Year Grammy winner No Jacket Required (1985, #1, 12x platinum). Working once again with producer Hugh Padgham, Collins would work up a set of songs that were more topical and less in the dance-pop style of his previous effort. He would then appropriately name the LP ...But Seriously. To kick things off, this ballad would be issued out. Despite its more dour mood and lyrics about the homeless, the song struck a nerve with listeners and it would quickly scale the Pop chart and reach #1. It would remain their for four weeks and sell well enough to go gold. The album would then spend four non-consecutive weeks at #1. By mid-January of '90, it would already be at the double-platinum sales mark. There would be three follow up singles all of which would go Top 5. The last one, "Something Happened on the Way to Heaven" (#4), would end up being Collins' final Pop Top 10 hit. The album would generate eight Grammy nominations for Collins including ones for Album of the Year and Song of the Year. He would win one for Record of the Year for "Another Day in Paradise." In the US, the album would eventually sell over 4 million copies making it his second best studio album behind No Jacket Required. In his UK homeland, the LP would end up being his biggest seller going 9x platinum.

ReduxReview:  This song was the last #1 of the 80s and also the first #1 of the 90s. Rupert Holmes did a similar thing at the beginning of the 80s. His "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" was the last #1 of the 70s and then after a week at #2, it popped back up to #1 becoming the second #1 of the 80s. While I like Collins' tune, I can't say it is one of my favorites of his. I didn't mind hearing so much back then, but these days if it comes up in a shuffle of songs or in a Collins playlist, I will usually hit the forward button. It just kills the mood. For a #1 Pop hit, it is pretty bleak and depressing. While I understood some of the negative feedback the song generated (see below), I do think Collins' heart was in the right place and some good came out of it. My big issue with the tune has to do with a couple of words in the chorus. Collins shortened "because" to "'cause" and followed it up with "it's a." Then he kind of runs it all together when he sing it. Therefore, it comes out as "cuzitzah." It drive me bonkers - like nails-on-chalkboard kinda thing. The song is so serious yet he has to mush-mouth one of the main parts of the song. IMHO he should have just left the "'cause" out of it. He didn't need it. I guess that pickup note was important to him for the chorus. Yeesh. To this day I call it "The Cuzitzah Song." Oh Phil, why'd ya have to do that?

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although this song was a Grammy-winning #1 hit, it still brought a bit of controversy Collins' way. He was chided in the press and by some critics for being a multi-millionaire and yet singing about the homeless. He was also slammed for the line "it's another day for you and me in paradise," which seemed to say that he as a very well-off superstar was equating himself to everyone else. Meanwhile, many others appreciated what Collins was trying to say. In a 2017 interview for the Evening Standard, Collins said that perhaps he could have been a big more eloquent in his lyrics, but stands by the song and his association with homeless issues and charities. According to the article, Collins at the time was collecting money from fans at concerts for homeless charities and whatever they donated, he would double it out of his own pocket.  2) Although Collins' solo career would cool off in the 90s on the Pop chart, he would still do very well at AC where he would score eight Top 10 hits including the #1 "You'll Be in My Heart." Collins wrote that song for the 1999 Disney animated hit Tarzan. The tune would go on to with the Oscar for Best Original Song. In the 2000s, Collins would earn three more AC Top 10s including the #1 "Can't Stop Loving You." In 1991, Collins would rejoin Genesis for one more album, We Can't Dance. It would be a #4 quad-platinum effort that spawned the band's final Pop Top 10 hit with the #7 "I Can't Dance." In 2010, Genesis would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

"Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4098
Date:  11/04/1989
Debut:  72
Peak:  7
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Petty's debut solo album Full Moon Fever had by this point peaked at #3 and was just on the verge of hitting the double platinum mark. It reached those points thanks in part to a pair of #1 Rock tracks that also make the Pop Top 30 including the #12 "I Won't Back Down." To keep things rolling along, this third single was issued out. It would become Petty's third consecutive #1 at Rock while becoming his first solo-billed single to make the Pop Top 10. It would also get to #17 AC. A fourth single, "A Face in the Crowd," would get to #5 Rock/#46 Pop while the follow up "Yer So Bad" would get to #5 Rock. All of that attention would help album sales and in March of '90 the LP would go triple platinum (5x platinum later in 2000). The LP would be nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year while this single would earn Petty a Grammy nod for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male. It was and remains Petty's biggest selling studio album with or without the Heartbreakers. The only LP in his catalog that would surpass everything else was the 1993 TP/Heartbreakers compilation Greatest Hits (#2) which would eventually sell over 12 million copies

ReduxReview:  It's crazy to think that when Petty first played the album for his label, they didn't like it and didn't hear any hits. Obviously, it makes you wonder what the hell they were thinking. I mean, this album opening track was just a fresh blast of warm California sun n' rock. Add to it Petty's wailing on the chorus and it was just magic. Then there was "I Won't Back Down." I mean...c'mon. Luckily, a new regime at the label heard potential in the LP and pushed it out. The album is a classic and this song iconic. It was certainly a top moment for Petty that became only his second (and final) Pop Top 10 hit following 1979's #10 "Don't Do Me Like That" with the Heartbreakers. Considering Petty's amazing catalog, that stat is pretty sad. He and the band should have had a string of Top 10s. Over at Rock, Petty, with and without the Heartbreakers, earned twenty-five Top 10 hits including ten #1s.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  While Petty would successfully continue his day job with the Heartbreakers, over the years he would issue out two solo-billed albums. In 1994 came Wildflowers, which would reach #5, go triple platinum and earn Petty a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male, via the single "You Don't Know How It Feels" (#1 Rock/#13 Pop). He wouldn't release another solo album until 2006 with Highway Companion (#4 Gold). Meanwhile, Petty and the band would continue on in 1991 with the #13 double platinum Into the Great Wide Open. Other albums would follow including 2014's Hypnotic Eye, which became the band's first album to hit #1. In 2002, Petty and the Heartbreakers would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Petty would die of an accidental overdose in 2017. It was believed that the pain he was in from various health conditions including a fractured hip led him to take too much pain medication.


Monday, April 10, 2023

"Rock and a Hard Place" by The Rolling Stones

Song#:  4097
Date:  11/04/1989
Debut:  79
Peak:  23
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After a much needed break from each other, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards finally got back together and came up with songs for their first album in four years, Steel Wheels. The first single, "Mixed Emotions," would get to #5 and help the LP reach #2. Next up for single release would be this track. While it would do well at Rock getting to #1, it floundered a bit on the Pop chart and got locked out of the Top 20. It would end up being the Stones' last single to reach the Pop Top 40. A third single from the album, "Almost Hear You Sigh," would hit #1 at Rock, but stall at #50 Pop. Still, the tune would earn the band a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group. Steel Wheels would become a double platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  With an instantly recognizable guitar lick and hooky chorus, I thought for sure this single would make the Top 10. I was even surprised that it stopped short of the Top 20. Although it got an 80s production boost, the track seemed rooted in the Stones' 70s period. Was it as good as their legendary songs? No, but it was a quality track from the Stones that showed they could still rock out and write good material 25 years after their first album. It was an exciting track that ended up being the band's last charting single of the decade and their final Top 40 entry.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The Stones would release two more albums in the 90s. Voodoo Lounge would come out in '94. It would get to #2, go double platinum, and win the Grammy for Best Rock Album. Then Bridges to Babylon would arrive in '97. It would hit #1 and go platinum. It would take eight years before the band would issue out a new album. A Bigger Bang would arrive in 2005 and become a #1 platinum seller. Eleven years later, the Stones would record a straight-up blues album titled Blue & Lonesome. The #1 LP would receive critical acclaim and would win the band a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album.