song of the day – “You Can Call Me Al” | PAUL SIMON | 1986 / 1987.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

Throughout the years, whether it’s because of an inclusion in a movie or a commercial or a TV show, or a radio station rediscovered it and started playing it again, songs sometimes have more one chart life.  The best example of this is Chubby Checker’s “The Twist,” which reached No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 twice.  In its initial run, the dance craze favorite spent one week on top in September 1960, and again in January 1962 for two weeks.  No other song has done that here in America.  And, because of its two chart runs that ended at No. 1, “The Twist” is ranked at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 for all time.

twist

CassingleFrontCoverSm

The 1989 cassette single (or “cassingles” – remember those?!) for “In Your Eyes.”

I believe all decades have had songs re-enter the chart with new chart runs, but I think no other decade has as many as the 80s did.  There were “second-chance singles” (as I like to call them) that went to No. 1 on the Hot 100, like “At This Moment” by Billy Vera & The Beaters and “When I’m With You” by Sheriff, “second-chance singles” that were “(real) one-hit wonders,” like Sheriff (again), Benny Mardones (“Into The Night”) and Moving Pictures (“What About Me”),  and songs that benefited from appearing in movies, like Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (…SAY ANYTHING) and Billy Idol’s “Hot In The City” (BIG).

Then you have songs that were hits in other decades and, also due to their inclusions in films, were reissued and hit the chart again, like The Beatles’ “Twist And Shout” (featured in both FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF and BACK TO SCHOOL), Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” (from the incredible film of the same name), and The Contours’ “Do You Love Me” (from DIRTY DANCING).

Prince’s “1999” reached the Hot 100 four time in three decades, and reached the Top 40 three of those times.  In its original 1982 chart run (as the debut single from the album of the same name), it stopped at No. 44.  After “Little Red Corvette” reached No. 6, “1999” was re-released and reached No. 12 in 1983.  When the calendar changed from 1998 to 1999 (even though the song wasn’t about the year 1999), it re-entered the Top 40 for one week at No. 40.  And, as BILLBOARD has been doing for several years now, a number of Prince songs re-entered the Hot 100 following his sad passing in April 2016.  In its fourth Hot 100 appearance, “1999” reached No. 27.

1999

These “second-chance singles” don’t always chart higher than their original chart runs (like the Moving Pictures, Peter Gabriel and Billy Idol singles mentioned above), but lots of times they do.  UB40’s “Red Red Wine” originally peaked at No. 34 in March 1984, but in a re-release (after being performed at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Concert in 1988), the album version of their Neil Diamond cover spent a week at No. 1 in October 1988.  And, the original version of The Pointer Sisters’ classic, “I’m So Excited,” stalled at No. 30 in late 1982, but after being remixed for their 1984 album, BREAK OUT, the song was reissued and did break out, reaching No. 9 on the Hot 100 about two years later.

red red wine

And, sometimes, “second-chance singles” get another shot at the Hot 100 for multiple reasons.  In the case of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” its success can be attributed to growing praise and sales for its brilliant parent album, GRACELAND (and its big Album Of The Year Grammy Award), and a smart change in music videos.

“You Can Call Me Al” (a song about someone going through a midlife crisis), the first single released from GRACELAND, debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 83 in early August 1986, about a month before the album was released.  The original video for “You Can Call Me Al” was a performance Paul Simon gave (in the perspective of a video monitor) during a monologue when he hosted SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. 

graceland

Well, Paul Simon wasn’t happy with the video, which didn’t seem to attract many fans to buy the record, and GRACELAND had just been released (and wasn’t the brilliant classic most people associate with it now).  “You Can Call Me Al” spent a couple of weeks at No. 44 in September and October, and dropped off the chart in November 1986 after 14 weeks.

A new video was commissioned, and Paul Simon stayed with his friend and SNL creator, Lorne Michaels, to put together another video.  This one (one of my all-time favorite music videos) pairs Paul with another friend (and SNL alum), Chevy Chase, who lip-syncs Paul Simon’s vocals, leaving Paul to twiddle his thumbs, although Paul ends up lip-syncing his backing vocals throughout, and in the last 30 seconds of the video, the focus switches from Chevy to Paul (although Chevy almost takes Paul’s head off with a trumpet).  It’s an incredibly funny and smartly done video, and I think it resonated with fans, MTV watchers, and radio stations alike. 

al video

Paul Simon and his friend, Chevy Chase, from the hilarious video for “You Can Call Me Al.”

Between a hilarious new music video and a big Grammy win for GRACELAND in late February 1987, “You Can Call Me Al” re-entered the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late March 1987 at No. 92.  About a month later, it surpassed its original No. 44 peak, and reached the Top 40.  About a month after that, it spent a couple of weeks at its (new) peak position of No. 23, departing the chart in early July 1987, with a total of 27 weeks spent on the Hot 100 (strangely enough, in its highe-charting second run, it spent one less week than the first chart run).  To date, it’s Paul Simon’s last Top 40 hit here in America.

you can call me al

Around the globe, “You Can Call Me Al” said, “You can call me a big hit in” Australia, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa (where it reached No. 2), plus the U.K. (No. 4), the Netherlands (No. 5), Finland (No. 9), France (No. 16) and Canada (No. 19). hyde park

Paul Simon is 75 now, and still very much active in the music scene.  In 2016, he released his 13th studio album, STRANGER TO STRANGER, which reached No. 3 on BILLBOARD’s Album chart, his highest-charting album since GRACELAND went to No. 3 three decades ago.  And, just this month, he released his fourth live solo album, PAUL SIMON – THE CONCERT IN HYDE PARK.

I don’t know what it is, but I love the idea of songs getting a second chance – for whatever reason – to do better on the chart than they did before.  And, though sometimes it doesn’t work out, the times it does happen can be pretty amazing.  And other times you just need a gifted comedic actor and friend to play off against, who’s a full foot taller than you to create a really fucking hilarious music video to help out a really cool song about trying to cope with middle age.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uq-gYOrU8bA

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song of the day – “Take Me With U” | PRINCE & THE REVOLUTION featuring APOLLONIA | 1985.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued 2 it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure 2 this day.  4 me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks 2 the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, 4 the entire month of June, I will B highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way 2 No. 1. 

As Casey used 2 say on AT40, “And on we go!”

When my radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s, had its final show on my 50th birthday – and during the Maine Blizzard Of 2017 (Hope, Shawn and I had 2 literally shut WMPG-FM down afterwards; Shawn: “We’re rockin’ so hard, the station cannot handle it anymore!”; Hope: “No one can follow U Ron!”). 

shawn, hope + me

With the 2017 Maine blizzard in the window behind us, from L to R that’s Shawn, Hope and yours truly all sporting STUCK IN THE 80s T-shirts on the final STUCK broadcast on WMPG-FM, 2.12.17.

One of the songs I chose 4 the last show was “Take Me With U” by Prince & The Revolution featuring Apollonia.  As I mentioned on the last show, and will re-mention here (if I haven’t already on the bloggy thing), it’s one of my all-time favorite Prince songs that DOESN’T get nearly enough love as it should.

purple rain

Released as the last of five singles from 1984’s PURPLE RAIN and written by Prince (of course), “Take Me With U” was a duet between Prince and Apollonia Kotero, who played Prince’s girlfriend in PURPLE RAIN.  “Take Me With U” was initially 2 have appeared on the APOLLONIA 6 album (released on October 1, 1984, and featured one song from PURPLE RAIN – “Sex Shooter,” which Apollonia 6 played in the film). 

But, with Prince being rightfully particular about his songs (4 example, all of his videos that went back up after he died have all pretty much been removed from YouTube), he pulled the song off of the APOLLONIA 6 album, and included it on PURPLE RAIN. 

prince + the revolution

All of the singles from (and of course, the entire album) PURPLE RAIN were sensational, but unlike the other singles released from the soundtrack, “Take Me With U” had this really cool vibe 2 it, featuring a drum solo and finger cymbals at the beginning and the end of the song.  This Psychedelic-y style might have actually been the precursor 2 his next album, AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY, especially on the singles “Raspberry Beret” and “Pop Life.”

“Take Me With U” was released on January 25, 1985, exactly seven months after the release of the soundtrack 2 PURPLE RAIN, and almost exactly six months after the release of the film, and it only took a couple of weeks 4 the single 2 debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (at No. 61).

take me with u

Reaching the Top 40 of the Hot 100 in just its fourth chart week, “Take Me With U” became the fifth Top 40 single from PURPLE RAIN, and, at that point, Prince became just the seventh recording artist in history (if my math is correct) 2 have five or more Top 40 hits released from one album on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, following Michael Jackson’s THRILLER, Lionel Richie’s CAN’T SLOW DOWN, Billy Joel’s AN INNOCENT MAN, SPORTS by Huey Lewis & The News, Tina Turner’s PRIVATE DANCER, and the incomparable Cyndi Lauper, and her wonderful SHE’S SO UNUSUAL.  (The Cars would join that group a week later with “Why Can’t I Have You,” the excellent and highly-underrated fifth single from their fantastic 1984 album, HEARTBEAT CITY.)

“Take Me With U” spent a couple of weeks at No. 25 in late March 1985, and without much fanfare, faded out of the Hot 100 after 12 short weeks.  Over in the U.K., it was a double A-sided single with “Let’s Go Crazy,” and it reached No. 7.  I would like 2 think the folks in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland didn’t just listen 2 “Let’s Go Crazy” (as awesome as that song is), and flipped the record over and really enjoyed “Take Me With U” too.

let's go crazy take me with u

Everyone in The Revolution was involved with this gem, and the unity involved with this song is amazing.  And, 4 those who didn’t already own PURPLE RAIN by the end of January 1985, when “Take Me With U” was released, and were kind enough 2 buy the single anyway, and 2 those radio stations who were kind enough 2 play it, I thank U.  “Take Me With U” is that sorta-forgotten gem (though not by me) that, when U listen 2 it 4 the first time in awhile, U will remember why U loved it all those years ago, and, like me, U will love it 4evah…

“I don’t care where we go / I don’t care what we do / I don’t care pretty baby / Just take me with u…”

prince + apollonia

song of the day – “Stand Back” | STEVIE NICKS | 1983.

69 years ago today, on May 26, 1948, Stephanie Lynn Nicks was born in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.  While in high school, Stevie met her future music (and romantic) partner, Lindsey Buckingham, and in mid-1967, she took over as the lead singer for Lindsey’s Psychedelic band, Fritz, a band that would open for huge acts like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin from 1968 through 1971. 

Speaking of 1967, Stevie Nicks was exactly 19 years old when The Beatles released (in the U.K.) the brilliant SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, what many folks still consider as the greatest album of all time.  Happy 50th SGT. PEPPER!

sgt pepper

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham both attended the San Jose State University in Northern California, and Stevie dropped out just a semester before graduating.  She had wanted to become an English teacher, which is indeed a noble profession (my oldest niece, Elizabeth, currently on a two-year journey working with the Peace Corps in Tanzania, will most likely be an English teacher somewhere here in the U.S. when she returns.  You can check out Elizabeth’s amazing blog here: https://elizabethlivinglifetanzania.wordpress.com.)

Elizabeth, Day 2, Tanzania 7.15.16

I love this picture.  That’s my oldest niece, Elizabeth, taken on her Day 2 in Tanzania (in Africa), 7.15.2016.

buckingham nicksWhile I’m sure Stevie Nicks would have made an excellent English teacher, the profession she ended ended up excelling at – being a Rock star – worked out pretty well, but not at first.  For a couple of years, from 1972 through 1974, she and Lindsey Buckingham worked together as Buckingham Nicks, and released an unsuccessful self-titled album in 1973, and whose cover prolly got more press than the album itself. 

In 1975, when Lindsey Buckingham met up with Mick Fleetwood, the namesake of the Rock band, Fleetwood Mac, he said that he and Stevie were “a package deal,” if he was to join the band (following the departure of Mac guitarist Bob Welch).  Well, even if it ended up not working out romantically for Stevie and Lindsey, their contributions to Fleetwood Mac changed the band forever. 

After the huge success of the albums FLEETWOOD MAC and RUMOURS, the latter of which still holds the record for the longest run at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Album chart (31 weeks) by a band, and still remains as one of the Top 10-selling albums of all-time here in America.

rumours

Following RUMOURS, Stevie started contributing to the songs of other recording artists.  In 1978, she sang backup on the Top 10 hits “Magnet And Steel” by her friend, Walter Egan (a song she inspired), and on “Whenever I Call You Friend,” the first big solo hit for Kenny Loggins.  In 1979, both Stevie and Lindsey teamed up with the late, great John Stewart and contributed their talents on three Top 40 singles for The Kingston Trio alum, including the big Top 5 hit, “Gold.” 

kenny_stevie

Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks, singing about calling each other a friend, 1978.

On July 27, 1981, Stevie released (on the Atlantic Records imprint, Modern Records, a label she co-founded) her debut album as a solo artist – BELLA DONNA.  The album was a huge success, reaching No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Album chart (selling over four million copies in the U.S. alone), plus, it charted four Top 40 singles (including her biggest solo hit – with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”), and she was instantly hailed by ROLLING STONE as “the Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.”

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In between BELLA DONNA and her second solo album in 1983, THE WILD HEART, Fleetwood Mac released their No. 1 album, Mirage, which generated the big singles, “Hold Me” and “Gypsy,” which I just heard on the radio this past week, and hear often.

the wild heart

THE WILD HEART was released on June 10, 1983, and while it was not as popular as BELLA DONNA, the album still reached No. 5 on the BILLBOARD Album chart, was certified Double-Platinum, and gave Stevie another three Top 40 solo hits, including one of her all-time biggest hits, “Stand Back.”

Released exactly a week before her 35th birthday in May 1983, “Stand Back” has a cool and interesting story behind it, one I didn’t realize until after Prince’s death in April 2016:

On January 29, 1983, Stevie Nicks had just gotten married, and was on her honeymoon, driving North to Santa Barbara, California, when she heard Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” for the first time.  Inspired, she wrote “Stand Back” that day, while humming along to “Little Red Corvette.” 

little red corvette

When Stevie went to record “Stand Back,” she called Prince and told him the story of how the song came about.  20 minutes later, Prince showed up at her studio.  She once told ROLLING STONE that Prince “walked over to the synthesizers that were set up, was absolutely brilliant for about 25 minutes and then left.  He spoiled me for every band I’ve ever had because nobody can exactly recreate – not even with two piano players – what Prince did all by his little self.”

Prince’s work on “Stand Back” remains uncredited, but Stevie has always maintained that even though she wrote the song, she says it belongs to Prince (they did end up splitting the publishing royalties 50-50).  She added, “he got up and left as if the whole thing happened in a dream.”

Well, what a dream, and what a story, and what a song.  “Stand Back” remains as one of my all-time favorite songs by Stevie Nicks.  It debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early June 1983 at No. 60, while Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” was still driving itself within the highway of the Top 10. 

stand back US

“Stand Back” took just a couple of weeks to reach the Top 40, giving Stevie her fifth consecutive Top 40 hit on the Hot 100.  In mid-August 1983, “Stand Back” spent a week at No. 5 and stayed on the chart for 19 weeks, finishing its chart run at No. 100 in early October 1983.  According to BILLBOARD, it finished the year at No. 44.

Over on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, it’s no surprise that “Stand Back” was a big hit, reaching No. 2.  Prolly more surprising was that it also reached No. 12 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.  (It’s not surprising to me, though, as it features a killer funky guitar riff in the middle of the song that sounds like it could have easily been provided by Nile Rodgers, or for a Michal Jackson song). 

Around the globe, “Stand Back” reached the Top 20 in Canada and Australia, and the Top 40 in Germany and Holland.  A reissue of “Stand Back” in 2007 sent it to No. 2 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, thanks to several updated remixes.

stand back 2007

“Stand Back” was so popular in fact, that, on Fleetwood Mac tours since 1987, it has been a staple at their shows, including the band’s 2013 world tour.

24 karat gold tour

Stevie was in Boston in November 2016 for her 24 Karat Gold Tour, which included The Pretenders, and yes, “Stand Back” was thankfully on the playlist.  Would have loved to have seen that show.  In July, she’ll be performing two dates at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles with Fleetwood Mac as part of The Classic West, a two-day concert featuring six classic acts, including The Eagles, Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, Journey and Earth, Wind & Fire.  All of these bands return a couple weeks later at New York’s Citi Field for The Classic East.  That’d be fun.

stevie_nicks1

For 69 years, time and space have been two incredible factors in the life and continued success of Stevie Nicks.  She even titled her first hits compilation, in 1991, TIMESPACE: THE BEST OF STEVIE NICKS.  I don’t think that was an accident.  And, I think if you do stand back and look at the career of birthday girl Stevie Nicks, I’d bet my record collection that you’d agree and say she’s definitely still Rock royalty, and always will be… 

Happy Birthday, Stevie!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gSKeCvSCpw

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(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “Hot Hot Hot” | BUSTER POINDEXTER AND HIS BANSHEES OF BLUE | 1987 / 1988.

Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers.  Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.

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An aerial view of Rangeley, Maine – hope to visit there sometime!

O Lord!  Earlier this week, Rangeley, Maine – located in the mountains of Western Maine (about 2 hours NW of where I’m writing this in Central Maine) – picked up 2 inches of snow.  They didn’t see any snow today; they were expected to have a high temperature of 84 degrees.  In contrast, Miami, Florida was expected to have a high temperature of 85 degrees today.  Back here in Central Maine, the temperature rose up to the low 90s, which is the hottest it’s been here in a long while, and I think the earliest 90-degree reading in history.  There are some summers Maine doesn’t even see 90 degrees!

In 1987, Buster Poindexter, the alter-ego of David Johansen, singer / songwriter for 70s Glam Punk Rockers, New York Dolls, also thought it was hot.  Then ten years removed from the New York Dolls, David recorded the first of four albums under the pseudonym of Buster Poindexter.  For his self-titled debut album, he was joined by his Banshees Of Blue, which was the pseudonym for The Uptown Horns.  Together, they played a mix of Jazz, Calypso and other novelty-related songs. 

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The original “Hot Hot Hot.”

One of the album’s songs, “Hot Hot Hot,” was released as a single.  It was a cover version of a song originally recorded by the late Calypso and Soca musician out of Montserrat, West Indies, with the stage name Arrow, who released the song in 1984. 

Nearly six months after the release of the single, “Hot Hot Hot” finally debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 a couple of weeks before Christmas 1987, at No. 95.  In mid-February 1988, it just missed reaching the Top 40, spending a week at No. 45.  It would be his only time on the Hot 100, either as Buster Poindexter, or with the New York Dolls.

BP LP

NERDY CHART FACT: On the BILLBOARD Hot 100 chart dated March 5, 1988, the last week on the chart for Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot,” The Cure debuted with their own (unrelated) “Hot Hot Hot!!!” (from their excellent double album, KISS ME, KISS ME, KISS ME).  Also “hot” on the chart that week, “Hot Thing” by Prince (from the brilliant SIGN “O” THE TIMES).  A remix of Buster’s “Hot Hot Hot” would reach No. 11 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

hot hot hot

NERDY SONG FACT: In that 12” remix of “Hot Hot Hot,” Buster Poindexter says the word “hot” 137 times.  Are YOU feeling hot, hot, hot?  Zoinks yo.

For years, “Hot Hot Hot” was, well, a hot, hot, hot song to play at wedding receptions (I should know, I was DJing wedding receptions on a regular basis during that time), and at karaoke bars.

The song’s popular music video (nominated for an MTV Video Music Award) features Buster talking about his work with the New York Dolls, showing off their albums, and promptly tossing them away while he goes off on the “really outrageous clothes” he wore while with the Dolls, and how he became interested in this “refined and dignified kind of situation. 

“I’m playing music that’s so soft and sweet, I mean, you can sit by the fireplace and listen to it, have a little glass of wine, maybe you could even have dinner to this music.  I’ll show ya.”  And then he goes into the song.  You’ll find Bill Murray in the video, and you’ll find David Johansen returning the favor, by appearing in the fun 1988 Bill Murray film, SCROOGED, in which David plays the Ghost Of Christmas Past.

scrooged

David Johansen and Bill Murray in 1988’s SCROOGED.

The legacy of “Hot Hot Hot” has continued on over the past 30 years, and the song has appeared in several films and TV shows, most recently appearing in the 2015 film, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP.  And both the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs National Hockey League teams have used the song at their games as well.

I bet if he had to do it all over again, David Johansen prolly wouldn’t.  In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), he once called “Hot Hot Hot” “the bane of my existence.”  He seemed to be having fun, fun, fun, though in the video at least.  Well, while the weather here in Maine was cold, cold, cold when “Hot Hot Hot” was popular on the Hot 100, it took a day like today for me to think about it this fun gem again.  I can hear him now… “Olé Olé – Olé Olé…”  Cue the music…and the ice cold beverage…and the fan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhZba-P7R18

buster poindexter

song of the day – “All Around The World” | LISA STANSFIELD | 1989 / 1990.

lovesongIn mid-October 1989, Pop music in America didn’t know which direction it was going in.  Take the Top 10 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 chart for October 14, 1989 for example.  You had 80s Pop mainstays Janet Jackson and Madonna leading the pack (“Miss You Much” and “Cherish,” respectively), the future great Grammy taker-awayers, Milli Vanilli (“Girl I’m Gonna Miss You”), a rare big American hit for The Cure (“Love Song”), the last big hit for the Rolling Stones (“Mixed Emotions”), Tears For Fears channeling The Beatles (“Sowing The Seeds Of Love”), rapper Young M.C. with the first (and last) big hit of his own (“Bust A Move”), Hollywood, CA Glam Metal band Warrant (“Heaven”), another big Pop hit for Sweden’s Roxette (“Listen To Your Heart”) and the first Pop single for R&B singer, songwriter and future mega-producer, Babyface (“It’s No Crime”).

Meanwhile, over in the U.K., Disco, which saw its peak ten years earlier, was mounting a sort of comeback.  Sure, there were Disco influences in the 80s – you heard it in the music of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Irene Cara, Queen and Pet Shop Boys, to name a few (Pet Shop Boys even named several of their early remixes as the “Disco Mix”).

it's a sin disco

In September 1989, Italian Eurohouse band Black Box started a six-week run at No. 1 on the U.K. singles chart with “Ride On Time,” and ended up being the biggest U.K. single of 1989.  Black Box would go on to have big global hits in the early 90s, scoring a couple of Top 10 hits in the U.S. with “Everybody Everybody” and “Strike It Up.”

everybody everybody

During the last week of Black Box’s reign on the U.K. singles chart, Manchester, England native Lisa Stansfield released – that same week in mid-October 1989 mentioned at the beginning of the blog post – the second single from her then-forthcoming album, AFFECTION – “All Around The World.”

Lisa Stansfield had tried out a solo career back in the early 80s, and released a number of singles, including a 1983 song called “Listen To Your Heart” (no relation to the Roxette song from 1989). 

listen to your heart

After a brief first try at a solo career, Lisa joined the short-lived trio, Blue Zone, which was a combination of Pop, Dance and Blue-Eyed Soul.  Their only album, 1988’s BIG THING, well, wasn’t.  It did, however, give Blue Zone (known as Blue Zone UK in the U.S.) one hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, with the song “Jackie,” featured in the 1987 film, SUMMER SCHOOL, starring Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley.  “Jackie” reached No. 54 on the Hot 100.

jackie

It was not until Lisa’s first collaboration with producer and remixer Coldcut in the Spring of 1989 that gave her a big U.K. hit.  The song was “People Hold On,” from Coldcut’s debut album, WHAT’S THAT NOISE?.  Lisa sang and co-wrote the song, and it reached No. 11 on the U.K. singles chart and No. 6 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.  It also had Top 40 success in some countries around the globe.

people hold on

After “People Hold On” was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, Arista Records signed Lisa on as a solo artist.  Her first successful solo single, “This Is The Right Time,” was released in late July 1989 (it was released as her third single in the U.S. a year later).

“This Is The Right Time” (produced by Coldcut) was a success, reaching No. 13 on the U.K. singles chart, and would go on to fare well in Austria, Canada, Germany, the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (where it reached No. 21), and the BILLBOARD Dance chart, where it spent a week on top in mid-October 1990.

A month before the mid-November 1989 release of Lisa’s debut solo album, AFFECTION, her second U.K. solo single was released – “All Around The World.”  And this one WOULD take her all around the world. 

affection

Almost immediately, critics and music fans were hooked.  ROLLING STONE critic Amy Linden gave the AFFECTION album four out of five stars, saying “the way her voice slinks around the line ‘so-oo sad’ in ‘All Around The World’ show[s] that this is someone who knows her roots even if they aren’t really hers.”

The sound of “All Around The World” was inspired by the late, great R&B legend, Barry White (who would sing, with Lisa, on a version of the song in 1992), and it paid off.  Ten years after the peak of Disco, Lisa Stansfield brought the genre back for four-and-a-half minutes and then some all around the world.

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The single “All Around The World” was a massive hit nearly everywhere it landed.  It spent two weeks at No. 1 in the U.K. in November 1989, and from there, it reached No. 1 in Austria (six weeks), Belgium, Canada (five weeks), Holland (four weeks), Norway, Spain, and two weeks at No. 1 on both of BILLBOARD’s R&B and Dance charts, where it finished 1990 at Nos. 6 and 3, respectively, for the year.

Over here in the U.S., “All Around The World” was released in mid-January 1990, three months after its U.K. release, and the news of its success, well, all around the world was good news to American radio stations and record stores.  “All Around The World” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just a couple of weeks later, in early February 1990. 

A couple of months later, it had reached No. 3, and certainly had the momentum to reach No. 1, but it got stuck in a few tight chart weeks, and it stayed at No. 3 for three weeks.  The competition for No. 1 was so tight, in fact, in those three weeks, there were three different No. 1 songs, the last of which was “Nothing Compares 2 U,” the Prince-composed gem of a cover by Sinéad O’Connor. 

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As it turns out, “All Around The World” really did have the momentum of being a No. 1 song here in America.  When BILLBOARD tallied up the top Hot 100 songs of 1990, “All Around The World” beat out the first two songs that did go to No. 1 (and prevented Lisa from going to there), not to mention it beat out several other No. 1 songs that year too.

Though some would prolly classify it more as an R&B or Dance song than a Disco song, I think “All Around The World” had a real big hand in reinvigorating the Disco genre for awhile in the early 1990s, or at least inspiring other artists and / or songs to include that “Disco” influence. 

One of THE BEST songs to dance to evah, Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart” (released during the Summer of 1990), would certainly fit into that category.  Maybe even U2’s “Lemon” (1993), the Pet Shop Boys remix of Blur’s “Girls & Boys” (1994) and the brilliant “Justified & Ancient” by The KLF and Tammy Wynette (1991) would fit into that category as well.

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In 1991, Lisa Stansfield was nominated for two Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, losing out to Mariah Carey in both categories.  For the British equivalent of the Grammy Awards, the BRIT Awards, Lisa won Best British Newcomer in 1990 and Best British Female in 1991.

After “All Around The World” (and not counting her vocal contribution to 1989’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas II”), Lisa Stansfield would go on to have 13 more Top 40 U.K. hits, six of those which reached the Top 10.  And she did okay over here in the U.S. for awhile.  Most recently, she released her seventh solo studio album, appropriately titled, SEVEN, in early 2014.  It was her highest-charting U.K. album in 17 years.  That same year, she also released her fourth compilation, and her second and third remix albums back-to-back.

Between 1999 and 2013, Lisa Stansfield appeared in five films, and in 1998, she married her second husband – her longtime friend, engineer, mixer, co-writer and co-producer, Ian Devaney.  They were married in a small ceremony in New York City.

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Hard to imagine at one time I didn’t even like Lisa Stansfield or “All Around The World.”  It took me about five years, around my second year living in Portland, but I finally saw and heard what folks were raving about back in 1990.  And, once I learned this song was actually a U.K. hit in 1989, you can bet I played this song often on my little 80s radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s.  And, why wouldn’t I? 

Sure, somewhere in there, “All Around The World” is a melancholy song with some hope (“I can’t find my baby / I don’t know when, I don’t know why / Why he’s gone away / And I don’t know where he can be, my baby / But I’m gonna find him…”).  And it did what it set out to do – go all around the world, but also, it helped incorporate and reintroduce a genre that had pretty much been declared dead a decade before, and at a time where Grunge was about to take off, that’s a pretty impressive feat and then some for a song that almost sounds like it could have come out of 1977…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVuuatjHGnY

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(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “Waterfall” | WENDY & LISA | 1987.

Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers.  Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.

In remembering Prince on the first anniversary of his passing (on April 21), it got me thinking about Wendy & Lisa, his bandmates in The Revolution.  During the interviews for the 1986 album, PARADE, and film, UNDER THE CHERRY MOON, Wendy & Lisa felt like they weren’t getting as much of the credit for their work as they deserved.  Prince was ultimately unhappy about their feelings, and he convinced Wendy & Lisa to stay until the end of that tour.  (Why was it again that I never ventured down to Boston in the 80s to see Prince?  Sure beats the hell out of me.)

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Happier times… Wendy Melvoin, Prince and Lisa Coleman.

After the PARADE tour was finished, by October 1986, Prince dissolved The Revolution.  Prince went straight to work on his 1987 masterpiece, SIGN “O” THE TIMES, with guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Wendy Melvoin and keyboardist Lisa Coleman venturing out on their own. 

In late August 1987, Wendy and Lisa released their self-titled debut album.  Wendy and Lisa both shared lead and background vocals, with Wendy on guitar, bass, drums, percussion and organ, and Lisa on keyboards, piano and synthesizer.

wendy+lisa LP

It was also quite the family affair.  Two members of Lisa’s family helped out on the album, as did two members of Wendy’s family, including her twin sister Susannah and her brother, the late Jonathan Melvoin.  Jazz great Tom Scott also provided his saxophone talents, and fellow Revolution member, Bobby Z., co-wrote five of the 11 songs on the album.

The first single released from the album, “Waterfall,” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-September 1987 at No. 80.  By early November 1987, “Waterfall” had climbed to a respectable No. 56, where it peaked.  It remained on the Hot 100 for 10 weeks, and Wendy & Lisa would not return.  It did manage to have some success in parts of Europe, however.  In Belgium, it reached No. 15, No. 17 in Holland, and in the U.K., it stopped at No. 66.

waterfall

For some reason, Wendy & Lisa did not fare well with their solo career over here in the U.S., but over in the U.K., they had much better success.  Their first three albums charted there, and they reached the U.K. singles chart nine times between 1987 and 1991, reaching the Top 40 once, with 1989’s “Satisfaction” (an original composition, co-written with Jesse Johnson of The Time).

Between 1987 and 2011, Wendy & Lisa released five full-length albums and one EP, and over the years, they have done session work and / or songwriting for folks like Seal, k.d. lang, Terence Trent D’Arby, Grace Jones, The Three O’Clock, Michael Penn, Eric Clapton, Scritti Politti and many more. 

Prolly the biggest post-Prince success Wendy & Lisa have had is for their work scoring films and TV shows.  They contributed to the 1992 Robin Williams film, TOYS, and scored the 1995 film, DANGEROUS MINDS, starring Michelle Pfeiffer.  One of the songs from their 1987 debut album, “The Life,” was re-recorded and got a new life on that soundtrack as “This Is The Life.”

After DANGEROUS MINDS, Wendy & Lisa scored for TV shows like CROSSING JORDAN, HEROES, MERCY, and NURSE JACKIE, for which they received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music.  They were nominated for another Emmy Award in 2012 for the TV show, TOUCH.

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In honor of Prince, The Revolution has gotten back together and have started a 24-date tour, which started Friday, April 21 (the one-year anniversary of Prince’s passing) in Minneapolis (Celebration 2017 at Paisley Park).  Tonight (4.23.2017), The Revolution – Wendy, Lisa, bassist Mark Brown, drummer Bobby Z, and keyboardist Matt Fink – start a two-night stop in Chicago.  I’d, of course, love to see them perform, but the closest they are coming to Maine is NYC.  It’s alright – just knowing they are performing together again is good enough for me.

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The Revolution, reformed for 2017…

You know, I’ve always loved the song “Waterfall.”  Still kinda surprises me that it wasn’t a big hit, but at the very least, I’m glad Wendy & Lisa did find success, and on their own terms.

“People may come, people may go / Just as long as the water’s slow / But watch out when you’re headed for / The waterfall…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdfAhCG3oDo

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song of the day – “Raspberry Beret” | PRINCE AND THE REVOLUTION | 1985.

Hard 2 believe it’s been an entire year since we lost Prince at the far-too-young age of 57.  I’ll never forget that day, April 21, 2016.  I was at work in Central Maine, and one of my co-workers said that Prince had died.  I told him that wasn’t funny.  We had already lost so many great musical talents by April 2016.  It was truly a year of losses like no other, right until the end of the year. 

On April 21, 2016, after work, I was heading down 2 the Portland area (the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, 2 be exact), 2 see Men At Work alum Colin Hay perform a solo acoustic show.  That day, I actually didn’t have many Prince songs on my iPod, so between Men At Work and Colin Hay tunes on my iPod, I channel-surfed the radio on the way 2 the show 2 see if they were paying tribute 2 Prince.  They were.  And Colin Hay himself played a little bit of “Little Red Corvette,” and called it a “weird day.”  It certainly was that.

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The wonderful Colin Hay, performing live at the Westbrook (Maine) Performing Arts Center, 4.21.16.

1985’s “Raspberry Beret” is far and away not my favorite Prince song (and maybe not even in my Top 20, though I do love it), but one year ago when I learned Prince had died, I heard this song on the radio more than any other Prince song.  And I’ll never forget that. 

Released on April 22, 1985, hot on the heels of the still incredibly popular PURPLE RAIN, AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY took Prince and his band, The Revolution, on a more psychedelic than commercial musical journey than with PURPLE RAIN or previous efforts, garnering comparisons 2 The Beatles’ SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, in both sound and the album’s cover artwork.

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The full album artwork for 1985’s AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY.  For the singles released from this album, images were used from this album art as the art for the singles.

prince talksIn the September 12, 1985 edition of ROLLING STONE, Prince disagreed with the Beatles comparison: “The influence wasn’t the Beatles.  They were great 4 what they did, but I don’t know how that would hang 2day.  The cover art came about because I thought people were tired of looking at me.  Who wants another picture of him?  I would only want so many pictures of my woman, then I would want the real thing.  What would be a little more happening than just another picture would be if there was some way I could materialize in people’s cribs when they play the record.  I don’t mind [the album being called psychedelic], because that was the only period in recent history that delivered songs and colors.  Led Zeppelin, for example, would make U feel differently on each song.”

“Raspberry Beret,” the first American single from the No. 1 album, AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY (“Paisley Park” was released as the first single in Europe and other parts of the globe) incorporated strings and Middle Eastern finger cymbals (and a harmonica on the 12-inch remix), and was released in mid-May 1985, three weeks after the album’s release, and it only took three days 2 debut inside the Top 40 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, rocketing in at No. 37.

raspberry beret

By early July 1985, “Raspberry Beret” seemed like it would B Prince’s third No. 1 song in America, but Duran Duran’s “A View To A Kill” had other plans.  “Raspberry Beret” spent a week at No. 2 one week after LIVE AID, and was one of the biggest U.S. singles of 1985.  It would also reach No. 3 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart and No. 4 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

Around the world in more than a day, “Raspberry Beret” was not one of Prince’s biggest international singles, but it did reach No. 2 in New Zealand, No. 8 in Canada, No. 13 in Australia, and the Top 30 in the U.K., Belgium, Holland and Ireland.

An edited version of the remix can be found in the video 4 the song, which won an MTV Video Music Award (his first) 4 Best Choreography In A Video.  If U R a fan of the TV show, CHEERS (like yours truly), U will notice the young girl who hands Prince his guitar in the first part of the video (which I couldn’t obtain) is Jackie Swanson, who played Woody Harrelson’s love interest in CHEERS, Kelly Gaines.  Jackie Swanson and Prince were friends, and the “Raspberry Beret” video was her professional debut.

kelly!

From the video of “Raspberry Beret,” this is Jackie Swanson, of CHEERS fame, handing a guitar to her friend, Prince.

In October 1990, the late, great Warren Zevon recruited Bill Berry, Peter Buck and Mike Mills of R.E.M. 2 record an album of covers, and “Raspberry Beret” was one of them.  The only single released from the album, it reached No. 23 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart.

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Though there wasn’t a lot of press or promotion 4 the album, AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY still managed 2 reach Double-Platinum status here in the U.S., and two singles from the album reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100’s Top 10 – “Raspberry Beret,” and the wonderful “Pop Life,” which reached No. 7 in September 1985.

Of the album’s mixed reception, Prince also said in that 1985 ROLLING STONE interview, “I talked 2 George Clinton, a man who knows and has done so much 4 funk.  George told me how much he liked AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY.  U know how much more his words mean than those from some mamma-jamma wearing glasses and an alligator shirt behind a typewriter?

“I’ve heard some people say I’m not talking about anything on this record.  And what a lot of other people get wrong about the record is that I’m not trying 2 B this great visionary wizard.  Paisley Park is in everybody’s heart.  It’s not just something that I have the keys 2.  I was trying 2 say something about looking inside oneself 2 find perfection.  Perfection is in everyone.  Nobody’s perfect, but they can B.  We may never reach that, but it’s better 2 strive than not.”

A year after Prince left this world 4 another, those words still ring so true 2day.  “Raspberry Beret” isn’t my favorite Prince song, but it’s the one I’ll listen 2 first on every April 21, because it’s the one Prince song I heard more on that day than any other. 

I miss U Prince, wherever U R.  Peace and Love 2 U and then some…

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