Saturday, May 27, 2023

"A Girl Like You" by The Smithereens

Song#:  4133
Date:  12/09/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  38
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Alternative Rock, Power Pop

Pop Bits:  This band's second album Green Thoughts performed well getting to #60 thanks to three Rock Top 40 tracks including the #1 "Only a Memory." It was a good setup for their next LP 11. Switching producers to Ed Stasium (Living Colour) who gave the band a crunchier, radio-ready sound, the album got kicked off with this first single. It would become a hit at both Rock (#2) and Modern Rock (#3) while becoming their first song to make the Pop Top 40. A second single, "Blues Before and After," would make it to #7 Rock/#18 Modern Rock, but stall on the Pop chart at #94. A third single, "Yesterday Girl," would reach the Top 20 at both Rock and Modern Rock. Thanks to the success of the singles, the album would become the band's highest peaking getting to #41.

ReduxReview:  The Smithereens are a favorite of mine and it started with this song. First of all, it was a great song, but then Stasium's production really took the band to a new level. It was big, brash, crisp, and rockin'. The song hooked me from the get-go and I immediately bought the album. They'd follow it up with another great LP, '91's Blow Up. I'm glad this track made the Pop Top 40, but I wish it could have gone further. They should have had a few other hits as well. The Smithereens had a real knack of slinging out some solid power pop.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Lead singer Pat DiNizio originally wrote this song for the 1989 Cameron Crowe-written/directed film Say Anything..., which starred John Cusack. DiNizio was approached by Crowe to write what would be the title song to the film. DiNizio was sent the script and based on dialog he read, he came up with "A Girl Like You," which references the film's title in the chorus. Unfortunately, it seems like Crowe and the film's producer thought the song revealed too much about the plot and asked for some lyric changes. DiNizio chose not to make the changes and decided to keep the song for him and the band. A demo version of the song would later find its way on the 2021vinyl expanded edition of the soundtrack.  2) The backing vocals on this track were performed by Maria Vidal. She had a minor hit on the Pop chart (#48) in 1984 with the theme song to the film Body Rock. A self titled debut album for A&M Records would arrive in '87, but it disappeared quickly. Vidal continue to do vocal work including on this Smithereens hit. However, it seems that she was not the original person for the job. Apparently the Smithereens and Madonna had management folks in common and Madonna was asked to do the vocal part. It seems she agreed, but then cancelled prior to the scheduled session. Another attempt was made, but Madonna became a no-show. With the Material Girl out of the picture, Vidal was secured to do the work.


Friday, May 26, 2023

"Heart" by Neneh Cherry

Song#:  4132
Date:  12/09/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  73
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Hip-Hop

Pop Bits:  Cherry's second single from her debut album Raw Like Sushi, "Kisses on the Wind," would become her second to make the Pop Top 10 topping out at #8. It seems next up for release was the track "Manchild," which had been her second single in the UK. It reached #5 there. However, the song just didn't click in the US and it failed to chart. The label then quickly issued out this next single that was only released in the US and Australia (UK and Europe would get "Inna City Mama" as the fourth single). While this time around the song did get on the Pop chart, it would only stick around for a few weeks. The album had already peaked at #40. The lack of a third hit would keep the album from reaching the gold sales mark.

ReduxReview:  Besides the first two hits, there wasn't anything else on the album that was of that commercial caliber. While "Manchild" seemed to work in the UK, it definitely wasn't something that was going to make it in the US. I'm surprised it was even attempted. This track had a chorus that was fairly radio ready, so it was perhaps the better choice for single release in the US, but its mix of spoken word/rap/singing didn't fully click. The album was terrific and between the two hits, critical reception, and a Grammy nod for Best New Artist, I'm still surprised it didn't do better on the chart and at least go gold.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Cherry would return in '92 with her second album Homebrew. It would be another critical success for the artists, but it seems radio and record buyers in the US didn't connect with it. The LP's first single, "Money Love," failed to chart. A second single, "Buddy X," would fare better reaching #43 Pop/#4 Dance/#96 R&B, but it didn't spark any interest in the album and it would fail to chart. While none of her follow up albums would reach the US chart, she would get on the Pop chart one last time as half of a duet. Cherry would team up with Senegalese star Youssou N'Dour for the song "7 Seconds." The song was recorded for N'Dour's 1994 album The Guide (Wommat). It would be a major worldwide hit reaching the Top 3 in many countries including the UK. In the US, the tune would just make the Pop chart at #98. N'Dour's album would get to #2 on the US World Albums chart. In '95, Cherry would reach #1 in the UK via a charity single. Recorded for the British charity Comic Relief, "Love Can Build a Bridge" featured Neneh Cherry, Cher, Chrissie Hynde, and Eric Clapton. The single, which was a cover of a 1990 #6 Country hit by The Judds, would be a hit getting to #1. After that, Cherry would grab one last Top 10 in the UK. The track "Woman" from her '96 album Man would get to #9.


Thursday, May 25, 2023

"Gimme Your Good Lovin'" by Diving for Pearls

Song#:  4131
Date:  12/09/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  84
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The roots of this band go back to Boston in 1984 when singer/guitarist Danny Malone teamed up with keyboardist Jack Moran. They cut their teeth around the Boston area, but later decided to give it a go in New York City. They filled out the band with three new members and began performing around town. In '88, an A&R rep from Epic Records caught a performance of the band. A deal with the label would follow and work would begin on a self-titled debut album. Upon completion, this first single would be issued out. It would see a bit of action getting to #21 on the Rock chart while spending a few weeks near the bottom of the Pop chart. It seems Epic chose to not officially issue out a second single and with that, the LP quickly came and went. Apparently, the band was scheduled to record a second album, but before that would happen they would end up getting dropped by Epic. Diving for Pearls would then disband.

ReduxReview:  This would have done much better on the chart had it been released years earlier. This style of radio ready rock was popular back when bands like Loverboy and Night Ranger were ruling the airwaves. In the late 80s it practically sounded retro. That doesn't mean it was bad. The track is actually quite fun, catchy, and well done. However, with glam metal ruling the day and alt rock coming up quickly, this style of arena rock just didn't fit in, which was too bad. Diving for Pearls was just a bit too late to the party.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Band member guitarist Yul Vazquez had a little success prior to joining Diving for Pearls. He was a member of the band Urgent, who cracked the Pop chart in '85 with "Running Back." After that band and Diving for Pearls split, Vazquez would embark on a successful acting career. In addition to earning a Tony nomination, Vazquez also appeared in numerous films and TV shows including appearances on Seinfeld as half of the intimidating gay couple. Another member of Diving for Pearls, bassist David Weeks, would set aside the music business to become an attorney. He would get some significant attention in '97 when he would represent Pamela Anderson in the highly publicized lawsuit concerning the infamous sex tape she made with husband Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe.


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

"Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  4130
Date:  12/09/1989
Debut:  97
Peak:  28
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  Depeche Mode's sixth album, 1987's Music for the Masses, became their biggest success yet in the US getting to #35 and going gold. While none of its singles cracked the Pop Top 40, two of them made the Dance Top 3 including the #1 "Strangelove." Following a world tour, the band would get back into the studio in the summer of '89 with producer Flood and the initial result was "Personal Jesus." It would be issued out as a single in the fall of '89 in the UK where it would get to #12. A US release would follow with the tune getting to #3 Modern Rock and #12 Dance while becoming their second Pop Top 40 hit. The single (mainly the 12" version) sold well enough to reach gold status. The band would continue to record and as 1990 rolled around they had their next LP Violator ready to go. A second single, "Enjoy the Silence," would become the biggest hit of their career getting to #8 Pop/#1 Modern Rock/#6 Dance and going gold. Violator would go on to reach #7 and eventually would become their best selling LP in the US going triple platinum. It also included the #15 Pop/#1 Modern Rock/#2 Dance hit "Policy of Truth."

ReduxReview:  For me, Violator was Depeche Mode at their best. It was as if everything they did before culminated in that album. It just hit all the exact right buttons and certainly helped to break them wider into the mainstream. I bought the album as soon as it came out, but before that we got blessed with this track and the brilliant "Enjoy the Silence." This song really should have gone Top 10. It just jacked up your radio when it came on. It was a slammin' track that was different from the regular Top 40 fare. I will say that I run hot n' cold with Depeche Mode albums, but Violator is solid from beginning to end. A classic for sure.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Songwriter Martin Gore has said that Priscilla Presley's book Elvis and Me was the inspiration for the lyrics. However, a legendary singer/songwriter approached it in a different way. Johnny Cash recorded a stripped down version of the song for his final album prior to his death in 2003, 2002's American IV: The Man Comes Around. Cash heard the song and viewed it from a gospel angle. He loved the tune and included it on the album.  2) Thanks to the success of Violator, the band's next album, '93's Songs of Faith and Devotion, would hit #1 and quickly go platinum. Although their luck on the Pop chart faded quickly (they would only have a couple songs scratch the Top 40), they would remain successful on the Dance chart over the years collecting up a total of ten #1s (to-date). All of their studio albums from Violator through to 2017's Spirit would all make the Top 10. The highly influential band would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

"500 Miles" by The Hooters

Song#:  4129
Date:  12/09/1989
Debut:  99
Peak:  97
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Folk-Rock

Pop Bits:  The Philly band's third album One Way Home would be a #27 gold seller thanks mainly to a couple of Top 15 Rock hits including the #3 "Johnny B" (#61 Pop). That LP found the band altering their sound a bit to something a shade more darker that leaned towards folk rock. For their next effort, Zig Zag, the band would amp the folk up even more and toss in some cultural and political themes. This first single was certainly a sign of their latest direction. It didn't quite ignite interest with the tune stopping at #20 Rock while barely scraping the Pop chart. A second single would fare less well and not even make the Pop chart. With those results, the LP stalled at a minor #115. It would be the band's third and last album for Columbia Records.

ReduxReview:  While I appreciate that the band recorded this as a topical political statement of sorts, I'm not sure why they chose it as the lead single from the album. While I like what they did with the tune, it wasn't going to get anywhere on the Pop chart. Maybe they thought that with some contemporary folk breaking through in the late 80s, it might catch on, especially since the band basically used a slower version of the backing rhythm they developed for "All You Zombies" (#58). While the results were haunting, there was just no way this was going to become a hit. It more or less doomed the LP and left the band looking for a new label.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is an updated version of an early 60s folk song written by American folk singer Hedy West. The origins of her song are a little sketchy, but it seems that West cobbled the tune together from melodies learned from folks in her family, which in turn could have been based on other folk songs that date back to the 1920s or even as early as the Civil War. The tune has become one of the most popular in the American folk catalog. While many artists have covered the song, only one has made a hit out of it. Country star Bobby Bare released a version in 1963. It would make it to #10 Pop/#5 Country/#4 AC. The Hooters would revisit the tune, but would add their own lyrics with a reference to the anonymous man who stood in front of the tank at the June '89 Tiananmen Square protests. Background vocals on the track were done by the famous folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary, who recorded their own take on the song for their 1962 debut album.  2) The Hooters would move over to MCA for their next album, '93's Out of Body. Neither the album nor any of its singles would reach the US charts. However, that album along with Zig Zag proved to be popular in some European countries. The albums would reach the Top 15 in Sweden and Norway with both LPs going gold in Sweden. A live album in '94 would be released in Europe only and do well there, yet it seemed that wasn't enough for the band and they would choose to go on hiatus in '95. Lead vocalist/guitarist Eric Bazilian would then write/co-write songs for Joan Osborne's 1995 debut album Relish. That LP featured Osborne's lone chart single, the #4 "One of Us," which was written by Bazilian. That song would earn Grammy nominations for Record and Song of the Year. Osborne's album would get to #9 and go triple platinum and be nominated for Album of the Year. Osborne would earn two further nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist. The Hooters would reunite in 2001 and release a new album in 2007.


Monday, May 22, 2023

"Peace in Our Time" by Eddie Money

Song#:  4128
Date:  12/02/1989
Debut:  86
Peak:  11
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Although Money's '88 album Nothing to Lose would peak at #49 and miss the gold mark, it would spawn a pair of Pop Top 30 hits including the #9 "Walk on Water" (#2 Rock). To wrap up the 80s, Money's label, Columbia, would assemble the compilation Greatest Hits: The Sound of Money. The collection would include key hits from Money's career along with an unreleased live track and two newly recorded songs. One of those new tunes, "Peace in Our Time," would be issued out as a single to help promote the album. It would just miss out on the Pop Top 10 stalling just shy at the dreaded #11 spot. The song would also get to #2 Rock and #34 AC. The hits package would peak at #53 and eventually go gold.

ReduxReview:  Money took a bland pop/gospel anthem (see below) and turned it into a pretty good rock tune. While it wasn't as memorable as his previous big hits, enough folks paid attention to nearly send the tune into the Pop Top 10. It seems to be one lost to time as I can't say I've heard this song since its chart days.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by singer Jennifer Holliday. Written by Andy Hill and Peter Sinfield, Holliday's version would be done for the 1988 Summer Olympics soundtrack One Moment in Time. It was not released as a single. A few years later in '93, British superstar Cliff Richard would record the song for his LP titled The Album. It was the second single released from the LP and it would peak at #8 in the UK.  2) Money would push out his next studio album in '91. Right Here signaled a big dip in Money's career when it peaked at a very minor #160. While two of its tracks would make the Rock Top 10, the only single to do well at Pop was the #21 "I'll Get By" (#7 AC). The album and singles would be Money's last ones to reach the Pop charts. After an unplugged EP, Money would be left off of the Columbia rosters. He would continue to tour over the years and release three indie studio albums before his death in 2019.