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 – “Lies” | THOMPSON TWINS | 1983.

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!”

I have to say, as a self-proclaimed singles chart nerd, researching for each blog post in this tribute to Casey Kasem has been pretty awesome.  Casey would often say, “As the numbers get smaller, the hits get bigger!”  That may also true with how many songs peak at each position.  For the songs that reached No. 30 between 1979 and 1989, there were over 40. 

What I found interesting (to me, anyway) is that, out of these 40+ songs that peaked at No. 30 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, there were only two (real) one-hit wonders.  Also, I’ve already highlighted five No. 30 hits – (real) one-hit wonder Frankie Smith and “Double Dutch Bus,” “The One Thing” by INXS, “The Prisoner” by Howard Jones, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and “Space Age Love Song” by A Flock Of Seagulls (one of my favorite blog pieces so far; from September 2016).

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Taken at the Seawall Picnic Area (part of Acadia National Park) on 9.12.2016, a photo I took of a lone seagull (no flocks), and included with my blog post that day for “Space Age Love Song,” a No. 30 hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 for A Flock Of Seagulls.

Another interesting quirk is that there are a lot of big-name artists who had No. 30 hits, but the hits themselves have been largely forgotten, including songs by The Bangles (“Be With You,” 1989), Tina Turner (“Two People,” 1987), Kool & The Gang (“Let’s Go Dancin’,” 1983), and two each by Daryl Hall & John Oates (“How Does It Feel To Be Back,” 1980, and “Possession Obsession,” 1985) and Toto (“Make Believe,” 1982, and “Stranger In Town,” 1984).

walk on by

Yet another interesting fact is how there were so many memorable hits from other decades that stopped at No. 30 (like Iron Butterfly’s classic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever,” the brilliant “Walk On By” by Isaac Hayes, “Come Monday” by Jimmy Buffet, “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “She Talks To Angels” by The Black Crowes, “Firestarter” by Prodigy, R.E.M.’s wonderful “Man On The Moon,” the amazing “Love Is The Drug” by Roxy Music, and one of THE BEST pieces of music for all time, “Give It To Me” by The J. Geils Band), and yet, with the songs that peaked at No. 30 in the 80s, for whatever reason, most of those songs have been forgotten.

give it to me

Thankfully, though, there were a handful of cool ones, too.  There’s the aforementioned ones I’ve already posted on the blog, but then there’s “Dance Little Sister” by Terence Trent D’Arby, “Love Will Find A Way” by Yes, The Human League’s “Mirror Man,” and “Lies,” the first big American hit by a New Wave / Synthpop trio who weren’t at all related – Sheffield, England’s Thompson Twins.

lies

The trio of Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway made up the Thompson Twins in 1982, a time when MTV was so popular, it was affecting what was bought in stores and what was played on the radio, and a time when New Wave was becoming more prominent in mainstream music.  1982 was also the start of the Second British Invasion on the U.S. singles chart, which lasted through 1986.  Thompson Twins were a big part of that. 

By 1982, Tom, Alannah and Joe already had one No. 1 song to their credit here in America – “In The Name Of Love,” which spent five weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart in May and June 1982.

quick step

In October 1982, they released “Lies,” the first single from their upcoming third album, QUICK STEP AND SIDE KICK.  The band was still looking for their audience in their U.K. homeland, and it stopped at No. 67 on the U.K. singles chart there. 

“Lies” would find an audience here in America a few months later, and it debuted at No. 80 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late January 1983, a couple of weeks after it spent two weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart (with its B-side, “Beach Culture”).

As “Lies” made its climb up the Hot 100, the song’s parent album was released in February 1983, and with the Twins being signed to Arista Records, that meant, well, much like fellow Brits (The) Icicle Works in 1984, a name change for the album in the U.S. and Canada.  So, the name of the album was shortened to just SIDE KICKS.

side kicks

A month after the album’s release, “Lies” found its way to the Top 40.  By the end of March 1983, it reached No. 30, but got stuck there for three weeks, and was gone from the Top 40 after that.  It stayed on the Hot 100 for a respectable total of about four months.  “Lies” also reached No. 6 in New Zealand and the Top 30 in Australia and Canada.

Though the “Lies” follow-up single, “Love On Your Side” would fail to reach the Top 40 here in the U.S. (it stopped at No. 45 in early June 1983), Thompson Twins would finally find their U.K. audience, and that song was their first of five Top 10 hits, reaching No. 9.  QUICK STEP AND SIDE KICK was also certified Platinum there and reached No. 2 on the U.K. album chart.t twins logo

I loved Thompson Twins from the start.  I reserved any quick-stepping and side-kicking for at-home dancing, but I was a fan as soon as I heard “Lies.”  Not only was I hooked by the music, but I really enjoyed Tom Bailey’s style of singing.  Don’t know if there’s a particular name for it, I just enjoyed it.  All these years later, I would put his vocal style in the same high class as Howard Jones and Cy Curnin of The Fixx.  They also had one of the coolest band logos.

It was pretty cool seeing them on the TV performing with Madonna at Live Aid.  What I didn’t know was that it was the beginning of the end for the trio I knew and loved as Thompson Twins. 

madonna n tom live aid

Madonna and Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey, Live Aid, Philadelphia, July 13, 1985.

After Joe Leeway left the Twins in 1986, Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie kept the band and the name going until 1993, when they changed it to Babble, reflecting a change in musical direction from New Wave to “dub-influenced chill-out” (mixing Electronica, World Beat, Alt-Dance and Club styles).

babble ether

Babble’s second and final album, 1996’s ETHER.

As Babble, Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie (who were married at the time and living in New Zealand) released a couple of albums before calling it quits in 1996.  Alannah Currie retired from music, and they were divorced in 2003 (though they remain friends). 

Tom Bailey now lives in London with his second wife, he took part in the 2014 version of the Retro Futura Tour as “Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey” and earlier this year on “The ‘80s Cruise,” an annual event of which I hope to attend at some point.  Under the moniker of “Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey,” he released a single last year called “Come So Far,” and has another one scheduled for release this year.

tom bailey today

Tom Bailey today.

When I think of Thompson Twins, the first songs that come to mind are “Lay Your Hands On Me,” “Hold Me Now,” “If You Were Here” (from SIXTEEN CANDLES), “Sugar Daddy,” “In The Name Of Love” (both the 1982 and 1988 versions), their kick-ass cover of The Beatles’ “Revolution,” “Doctor! Doctor!” and “Love On Your Side,” but it was all “Lies” that made me fall in love with those three non-related kids back in 1982, who were, at one time, Twins…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVHwD58Ne3Y

t twins 2

song of the day – “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” | EURYTHMICS AND ARETHA FRANKLIN | 1985.

International-Womens-Day-logo

Happy International Women’s Day!  So many great anthems for women released in the 80s to choose from, but I went with a kick-ass 1985 gem that called to me today and which united – for one time – a woman from Aberdeen, Scotland (Annie Lennox), a man from Sunderland, England (David A. Stewart) and another woman from Memphis, Tennessee by way of Detroit, Michigan (Aretha Franklin) – “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves.”

be yourself tonight

When Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were putting together their fifth studio album as Eurythmics, BE YOURSELF TONIGHT, they wrote what turned out to be an 80s (and beyond) feminist anthem called “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves,” and had intended on doing a duet with Tina Turner, who in 1984 had the biggest comeback of the year, perhaps of the entire decade.

zoomin

However, Tina Turner was not available to record the duet, so Annie and Dave asked Aretha if she’d sing it, and luckily for us, she agreed.  “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” was the third single released from BE YOURSELF TONIGHT, the biggest-selling album to date for Eurythmics.  It was also included on Aretha’s 1985 album, WHO’S ZOOMIN’ WHO?, which oddly enough was Aretha’s first Platinum-selling album here in America.

“Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves,” which additionally features three members of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers (including Mike Campbell on guitar), debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in the latter half of October 1985, and spent a quick week at their peak position of No. 18 in early December 1985, a week after Aretha Franklin peaked at No. 7 with the title song from her own album, WHO’S ZOOMIN’ WHO?

The feminist anthem was also well-received around the globe, reaching No. 5 in Ireland, No. 6 in New Zealand, No. 9 in the U.K., No. 10 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, and the Top 20 in Australia, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland.

arm wrestle

I think Dave Stewart is gonna lose this one…

A number of cover versions of “Sisters” have been released over the years, including one from Lisa Simpson (voiced by Yeardley Smith), Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart and Lisa’s aunts, Patty and Selma Bouvier on The Simpsons’ 1998 album, THE YELLOW ALBUM, a play on The Beatles’ WHITE ALBUM from 1968, with its cover as a parody of 1967’s SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.  It’s also been covered by The Pointer Sisters, The Spice Girls and even Lucy Lawless covered it on her popular TV show, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS.

Earlier on this special day, I saw an amazing and beautiful Facebook post from one of my best friends, Shawn in NYC, a post in which he’s kind enough to allow me to share here, and a sentiment I wish to echo:

“Happy Women’s Day to all of you strong, intelligent, and beautiful women.  I have nothing but love, respect, and appreciation for who you are, what you do, and all you have to put up with.” 

That’s damn right.  Thank you Shawn.  And thank you, girls, ladies, women.  With women equalling about half of the population of the world, it still bugs me that folks continue to call the human race “mankind.”  Hell, “mankind” wouldn’t exist without women.  Just sayin’ it like it is…

sisters

“Now there was a time when they used to say / That behind every great man there had to be a great woman / But in these times of change you know it’s no longer true / So we’re comin’ out of the kitchen / ‘Cause there’s something we forgot to say to you / We say: Sisters are doin’ it for themselves…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtUWs6muGzg

eurythmics aretha 1

song of the day – “Let’s Dance” | DAVID BOWIE | 1983.

After last week’s Presidential “election” here in America, there’s an effort on the Interweb to “break the internet with love.”  So, the best way I can help with that via this blog is to highlight (as “songs of the day”) some gems from 1979 through 1989 that are universally loved, if I haven’t highlighted them already. 

One of the songs which instantly came to mind in the universal love department (and which may have been partially inspired by the “serious moonlight” of last night’s “supermoon”) was the title song to David Bowie’s brilliant 1983 album, LET’S DANCE.

lets-dance-album

I know I said this in an earlier post, but it’s worth repeating here, especially if we’re talking about “Let’s Dance” the song and LET’S DANCE the album.  When visiting with my dear friend Shawn this past April in NYC, we saw Chic open up for Duran Duran.  It was one of THE BEST shows I’ve ever been to, and not just for the awesome company.  Nile Rodgers was quite the showman, and at 63 (now 64), he had the charismatic energy of someone less than half his age on that stage.

On the night of the show in Brooklyn – April 12, 2016, just three months after the sad passing of David Bowie – one of the amazing stories to come out of that show was the story of how, after the early 80s disco backlash, no one wanted to work with Nile Rodgers.  (I know, the mere thought is unfathomable.)  He told everyone in attendance that David Bowie was the first person to want to work with him in the 80s.  Not only did Nile Rodgers’ incredible producing efforts give David Bowie one of the biggest albums of his career, it also gave him one of his biggest singles ever, if not the biggest.  And Nile Rodgers didn’t have to look for work again – the work came to him.  Nile Rodgers and Chic dedicated “Let’s Dance” to David Bowie in a truly sensational performance that I (like the rest of the show) will never forget.

chic-4-12-16

Nile Rodgers (left) and Chic having some good times at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NYC, 4.12.2016.

The song “Let’s Dance” had all the makings of a hit from the start – the production by Nile Rodgers with a perfect marriage of rock, pop, dance and funk (and horn arrangements courtesy of Nile and David), a memorable guitar solo by the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan (who prolly thanked David Bowie for his success too), and incredible lyrics and vocals by David Bowie.  Plus, it was mastered by the master of mastering, Maine’s own Bob Ludwig (I believe when he was still in New York).

“Let’s Dance” was released on St. Patrick’s Day 1983, a month in advance of its parent album.  The single took just nine days to debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, starting at No. 54, which already made it David’s highest-charting American single since “Golden Years” reached No. 10 in April 1976.

lets-dance-7

In its third week on the Hot 100, “Let’s Dance” moved its way into the Top 30, and took up residence in its fifth week.  On May 21, 1983, David Bowie reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 for the second and final time (1975’s “Fame” was the first).  And it might have stayed on top longer had it not been for the huge success of Irene Cara’s “Flashdance…What A Feeling,” which replaced “Let’s Dance” at No. 1 the following week.  “Let’s Dance” was right behind “Flashdance” at No. 2 for three weeks after relinquishing the No. 1 spot, and left the Hot 100 after 20 weeks.  It also spent six weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, reached No. 8 on BILLBOARD’s Rock chart and even reached No. 14 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart.

The reach of “Let’s Dance” around the globe was massive.  On the singles chart in David’s homeland of the U.K., “Let’s Dance” debuted at No. 5, and spent three weeks at No. 1.  It would also go on to reach No. 1 in Sweden (10 weeks at No. 1); New Zealand and Norway (five weeks); Belgium, Holland, Ireland and Switzerland (two weeks); plus No. 2 peaks in Australia (where the music video was filmed), Austria, Canada, France, Germany and South Africa, and a No. 4 peak in Italy.

After David Bowie’s sad passing in January 2016, “Let’s Dance” returned to the Top 40 in many countries, including a new peak of No. 7 on BILLBOARD’s Rock chart.  In 1988, Tina Turner released her TINA LIVE IN EUROPE album, and, with the help of David Bowie, they segued the first two verses of “Let’s Dance,” the 1962 hit by Chris Montez, into Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” and switched off on vocals.  My dear friend Hope introduced this to me not long ago, and it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard.

Tina Turner and David Bowie

I am forever grateful that “Let’s Dance” and the album it is named after re-introduced me to the music of David Bowie, a man’s whose image now rests on my right shoulder (as my first-ever tattoo).  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this song, and I know a lot of people.  Maybe one day I’ll do series about No. 1 songs in the 80s that mattered, and I would bet my record collection that “Let’s Dance” will be in there.  “Let’s Dance” will always matter to me.  In fact, there’s a strong chance the kick-ass seven-and-a-half-minute version will be among the dozen or so songs I choose to play on my last STUCK IN THE 80s radio show (on February 12, 2017; my 50th birthday) on WMPG community radio (in Portland, Maine).  Much like David Bowie himself, “Let’s Dance” means that much to me and always will.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4d7Wp9kKjA

#BreakTheInternetWithLove

#LoveWillAlwaysTrumpHate

bowie-1983

song of the day – “Johnny And Mary” | ROBERT PALMER | 1980.

Hard to believe at one time of my life, namely the years between 1979 and 1985, I only knew of two songs from the late, great Robert Palmer – “Every Kinda People” (No. 16, BILLBOARD Hot 100, 1978) and “Bad Case Of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” (No. 14, Hot 100, 1979).  Then, in 1985, The Power Station (Duran Duran’s Andy and John Taylor, Chic’s Tony Thompson and Robert Palmer) released their kick-ass self-titled album, which garnered three Top 40 hits on the Hot 100 – “Some Like It Hot” (No. 6), “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” (No. 9), and the very underrated “Communication” (No. 34).

The success of The Power Station breathed new life into Robert Palmer’s career and then some, and here in the U.S. between 1986 and 1991, he picked up a few platinum albums and seven more Top 40 hits, including two songs that reached No. 2, and one song – the hugely popular “Addicted To Love” – which reached No. 1 in 1986.

Fast forwarding to today, I know many folks around the globe are talking about an audio soundbite from 2005 that may or may not have an effect on the upcoming American presidential election, but it’s another audio soundbite, a 2-CD set, actually, that I want to talk about here. 

new waves

In the Summer of 2005, I picked up an incredible 2-CD set called NEW WAVES: 45 ORIGINAL 45s FROM THE POST-PUNK ERA, featuring gems like M’s “Pop Muzik,” The Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star,” “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” by Joe Jackson, and other gems from The Cure, The B-52’s, Blondie, Elvis Costello, Martha + The Muffins, The Creatures, and a 1980 song from Robert Palmer I had surprisingly never heard before – “Johnny And Mary” (from his album, CLUES).

clues

all-fall-down“Johnny And Mary” is a lovely, simple New Wave gem that Allmusic once suggested was the inspiration to the recently knighted Sir Rod Stewart, and his 1981 Top 5 hit, “Young Turks.”  And, while I can hear a similarity in there, I think it may or may not have inspired a longtime 1984 favorite by the Sacramento Rock / New Wave band, The 77s, on a song titled “Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba” (from their album, ALL FALL DOWN), which is slightly faster, but with that same recognizable beat.  It wasn’t a hit or anything, but I highly recommend you check it out.

Although “Johnny And Mary” was never a hit here in the U.S., it did reach No. 18 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, and it was a big hit around the globe, spending five weeks at No. 1 in Spain, and reaching the Top 10 in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa and Switzerland.johnny-n-mary-us

“Johnny And Mary” has been covered a number of times over the years, including versions by Tina Turner, Paris’ own lovely 80s cover masters, Nouvelle Vague, as well as Bryan Ferry, Placebo, and even Melissa Manchester.

Robert Palmer sadly passed away in 2003 at the young age of 54, but his great music lives on for all time.  And though in the song, “Johnny” cheats on “Mary” and “Mary” is bored in the relationship, and “Johnny” tries to prove himself and “Mary” says she “should be used to it,” I’m so glad I was finally introduced to this 1980 treasure, albeit 25 years late…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_SAMrDnXOE

Robert Palmer In New York City

NEW YORK – AUGUST 13: English singer Robert Palmer on the street on August 13, 1980 in New York City. (Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images)

song of the day – “What’s Love Got To Do With It” | TINA TURNER | 1984.

September 1, 1984 was a huge day for legendary R&B singer Tina Turner.  That was the day she celebrated her first and only No. 1 song on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”  For how she got there, we have to go back.

From 1960 to 1975, she and her husband Ike scored 20 Hot 100 hits, six of those reaching the Top 40, and their biggest hit being their soulful cover of the 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival hit, “Proud Mary.”  Ike and Tina’s 1971 cover reached No. 4, just below the No. 2 original by CCR.

Ike Turner had a well-known cocaine problem, which not only affected his and Tina’s music career, but their marriage as well.  Tina left her abusive husband in 1976, and by 1978, Tina divorced Ike in both marriage and music.  Between 1977 and 1983, she performed solo on a number of variety shows, and also with artists like Rod Stewart, Kim Carnes, Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones.  And, at the insistence of David Bowie, she picked up a singles record deal with Capitol Records in 1983.

let's stay togetherIn November 1983, she released her cover of Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together.”  The cover debuted on the Hot 100 in January 1984, became her first charting hit in eight years, and her first Top 40 hit since 1973.  “Let’s Stay Together” peaked at No. 26 in late March 1984, reached No. 3 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart, and spent two weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.  It was also a Top 10 hit in the U.K., Belgium, Finland, Holland and New Zealand.

The success of “Let’s Stay Together” prompted Capitol to reconsider their deal with Tina, and offered her a three-album deal, asking for an album ASAFP.  That album (and next single) helped Tina become the incredible comeback story of 1984, maybe of the entire decade.

private dancer LP

The result was her fifth studio album, PRIVATE DANCER, which was released in late May 1984.  The second single from PRIVATE DANCER was released in advance of the album, on May 1, 1984: “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”

Written by Terry Britten of Manchester, England, and Graham Lyle of Scotland, “What’s Love Got To Do With It” was actually first offered to Cliff Richard (or, as I call him, the Elvis of the U.K.), but it never materialized.  It was then offered to Pittsburg R&B singer, Phyllis Hyman, who was interested, but the head of Arista Records, Clive Davis, for some reason wouldn’t allow her to do it.  From there, it was offered to Donna Summer, who had it for a couple of years but didn’t do anything with it, and just months before Tina recorded her version, the British Pop group Bucks Fizz were offered the song.  They did record the song but when Tina recorded her version first, their version was not released until the year 2000 (on a reissue of one of their albums).

what's love got to do with it

The cover art (outside of North America) for “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”

 

“What’s Love Got To Do With It” took less than three weeks after its release to debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, entering the chart at No. 92.  It reached the Top 40 in late June, and on this date (9.1) in 1984, it spent the first of its three weeks at No. 1.  The song stayed on the Hot 100 more than half a year, and nearly outlasted three Hot 100 singles from another act also enjoying a comeback that year – The Jacksons.  At the time, 44-year-old Tina Turner was the oldest female solo recording artist to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100 (that record is now held by Cher, with her 1999 dance hit, “Believe”).

It was a massive hit around the globe as well, reaching No. 1 in Australia and Canada, and the Top 10 in the U.K., Austria, Germany, Holland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and where Tina calls home today, Switzerland.

And the accolades didn’t stop there.  “What’s Love Got To Do With It” was the second-biggest U.S. single of 1984 (only behind Prince’s “When Doves Cry”), it received three Grammy Awards (including Record and Song Of The Year), an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video, it inspired a 1993 biopic of the same name (partly based on her 1986 autobiography, I, TINA), and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012.

ETATS UNIS : Grammy Awards

Tina Turner, looking ecstatic at the 1985 Grammy Awards.

After “What’s Love Got To Do With It” reached No. 1, three more songs from PRIVATE DANCER reached the Top 40, two of them the Top 10.  From there, she scored eight more Top 40 hits between 1984 and 1993, three of those reaching the Top 10 as well.

For my 2011 Valentine’s show on STUCK IN THE 80s, my little 20-year-old 80s music program on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine, Tina’s hit inspired the title of the show: “What’s Love Got To Do With It – Non-Traditional Love Songs,” starting of course with her No. 1 classic.  The show featured songs like “What Is Love” by Howard Jones, “Love Is A Battlefield” by Pat Benatar, “Ever Fallen In Love” by The Buzzcocks, Joe Jackson’s “Fools In Love,” The Time’s “Jungle Love” and the Red Version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” the brilliant 1988 cover by the NYC Avant-Rock band, Swans.

These days, Tina Turner is now an official citizen of Switzerland, where she has lived for many years, has been married for three years to someone she was seeing for the 27 years prior to that, and she has occasionally referred to herself as a Buddhist-Baptist, though in an interview earlier this year, she said she considers herself a Buddhist.

Turner And Bowie

Tina Turner and David Bowie, 1985. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Though I’ve never seen her perform, I’ve always had a lot of respect for Tina Turner, and after divorcing Ike (who died in 2007), and especially after David Bowie indirectly helped her make music history, I feel like she’s really living the life she truly wants to live.  Tina, who turns 77 in November, has definitely earned it. 

As for today’s “song of the day,” when I think about it, the title “What’s Love Got To Do With It” is kind of a contradiction in terms.  I mean, I don’t know anyone who DOESN’T love that song.  So, in terms of the song and the remarkable Tina Turner herself, I’d say the answer to the question, “What’s Love Got To Do With It” is, well, “everything…”

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

tina in paris 1984

Tina Turner in Paris, 1984.

album of the week – RIO | DURAN DURAN | 1982.

This past Tuesday, (4.12.16), my dear friend Shawn (a former Mainer living for many years now in NYC) and I had the amazing opportunity to see Duran Duran perform at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with Chic featuring Nile Rodgers opening! 

duran barclays 4.12.16

I have long known that Nile Rodgers has worked with Duran Duran regularly since turning the 1983 album version of “The Reflex” into a remix that hit No. 1 worldwide in the Spring and Summer of 1984, so when I saw the pairing of Chic and Duran Duran, I knew I wanted to be there.

duran 2016

Duran Duran in 2015.

The show was more phenomenal than I ever expected, one of the best I’ve ever seen, and in the largest venue I’ve ever attended for a concert.  Duran Duran was promoting their great 2015 album, PAPER GODS, an album that brought them back to the Top 10 of the BILLBOARD Album chart for the first time since their second self-titled effort reached the upper echelon in 1993 (oft-referred to as THE WEDDING ALBUM). 

 

During the show, Duran Duran scattered songs from PAPER GODS, inbetween a barrage of hits spanning decades, and a couple of surprises, including their excellent 1995 cover of “White Lines” (originally a 1984 hit by Grandmaster Melle Mel), and a bit of “Space Oddity,” their tribute to David Bowie, mixed in as a medley with “Planet Earth.”  Duran Duran and David Bowie toured together in the U.S. in 1987, and they were all friends. 

duran bowie

Duran Duran paying tribute to their mentor, hero and friend, David Bowie.

According to Duran Duran’s website, David Bowie was a mentor and hero to the band.  Weeks after David Bowie’s passing, Duran keyboardist extraordinaire Nick Rhodes told BILLBOARD magazine, “There was no question that as a musician, David Bowie was the singular person who inspired me more than anyone else to become a musician.” 

With the concert still very fresh in my mind, I couldn’t think of a better album to feature as my “album of the week” than their brilliant 1982 album (and one of my all-time favorite albums of any decade), RIO. 

RIO LP BIG

RIO was released in May 1982, and was the second album for the Birmingham, England quintet.  Compared to their 1981 self-titled debut album, RIO sounded more like New Romantics than New Wave.  The New Romantics genre was a pop culture offshoot of New Wave and Synthpop, incorporating visual and fashion styles along with the music.  Bands like Visage, Ultravox and Spandau Ballet would also fit this New Romantics category of music.  New Romanticism was once referred to as a reaction to Punk, influenced by the likes of David Bowie and Roxy Music.  And with MTV not even a year old in May 1982, Duran Duran took advantage of the short-form video format and then some, practically single-handedly put themselves (and MTV) on the map.  Their popular videos were filmed in places like Sri Lanka even scored them their only two Grammy Awards to date, in 1984 (for Short-Form and Long-Form video).

Back in 1982 and 1983, I was in high school, and didn’t have a lot of money, so you could say I was a “card-carrying” member of the Columbia House Record and Tape Club.  One of the first albums I ever picked up through Columbia House was RIO.  When RIO was first released, it didn’t do well here in the U.S., so the band recruited producer David Kershenbaum (later one-half of David + David), and he remixed some songs for the band.  There were two versions of RIO released here in the U.S., containing mixes from Duran Duran’s CARNIVAL and NIGHT VERSIONS EPs.  The only difference between the first and second U.S. versions is that, on the second version, “Hungry Like The Wolf” was switched from the U.S. album remix to the Night Version, and that’s the version Columbia House sent me, so it will be the version of RIO that I talk about here.

RIO starts off with the sensational title track, which was released as the fourth and final single from the album in the U.K., and the second single here in America.  It was a big hit worldwide, reaching the Top 10 in the U.K., Canada and Ireland, and debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early April 1983, as “Hungry Like The Wolf” was steady in the Top 3. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3W6yf6c-FA

The single “Rio” made a fast climb up the Hot 100, vaulting from No. 31 to No. 17 by the end of April 1983.  But, it lost steam and stalled at No. 14 for 2 weeks in May 1983.  Still, “Rio” remains as one of the band’s most-beloved songs, and was the last song Duran Duran played at the Barclays show, to much applause.

The second song on RIO is the Carnival Remix of “My Own Way,” which was actually released in the U.K. in November 1981, between “Girls On Film” and “Hungry Like The Wolf,” and issued months before RIO was actually released.  Releasing the single between albums worked, and “My Own Way” reached No. 14 in the U.K., No. 10 in Australia, the Top 20 in Finland, Ireland and New Zealand, and reached No. 1 in Portugal.

RIO’s third song is the David Kershenbaum U.S. Remix of “Lonely In Your Nightmare.”  The song was one of 6 songs from RIO with accompanying videos, and most directed by Melbourne, Australia’s Russell Mulcahy, who would work with the band on several videos overall, and who also directed many videos for Elton John, along with classic 80s videos for songs like Spandau Ballet’s “True,” Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart,” “The War Song” by Culture Club, “Sex” by Berlin, “Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac, “Turning Japanese” by The Vapors, and the second-biggest song of the 1980s, “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGdLNbIc2ZA

hungry like the wolfThe Night Version of “Hungry Like The Wolf” was RIO’s fourth song, and the album’s second single.  It would be the band’s most-recognized hit and biggest worldwide single, reaching No. 1 in Canada and BILLBOARD’s Rock chart, the Top 10 in the U.K., Australia, Finland, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, and the U.S., where it spent 3 weeks at No. 3 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in March / April 1983, and ranked No. 17 for all of 1983.

“Hungry Like The Wolf” has been featured in many TV shows and films since its release, and has been covered from the likes of Courtney Love’s band, Hole, the GLEE cast, and an excellent 1997 Ska cover by California’s Reel Big Fish on THE DURAN DURAN TRIBUTE ALBUM.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOg5VxrRTi0

Side One of my version of RIO closes with the U.S. Album Remix of “Hold Back The Rain,” six-and-a-half minutes of Dance / Synthpop creaminess.  The original version of this song is four minutes long, and while that version is okay, I never listen to it.  It’s too short and this version is the version I have loved and danced to for 34 years. 

The second side of RIO begins with “New Religion,” and the entire second side remains untouched from the original May 1982 version of the album.  The song is described in the RIO liner notes as “a dialogue between the ego and the alter-ego.”  If you listen closely to the song, you’ll hear dueling Simon Le Bon vocals.

On the album’s seventh track, “Last Chance On The Stairway,” you will hear Nick Rhodes rotate from playing the keyboards and synthesizers to singing backing vocals and playing the marimba (which prolly doesn’t happen often). 

save a prayer UK

The U.K. version of “Save A Prayer.”

The eighth song on RIO is “Save A Prayer,” the band’s third single from the album, in both the U.K. and the U.S., though the chart history is quite different.  The song’s popular video was mostly filmed in Sri Lanka, and was a big hit in the U.K. and Ireland, reaching No. 2 in both countries. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Uxc9eFcZyM

For reasons still unbeknownst to me, “Save A Prayer” was not initially released as a single here in the U.S., though it was a hit on MTV.  Following the release of the band’s 1984 live album, ARENA, the studio version (with the ARENA live version as the B-side) was finally released in America in early 1985, but I think it was a couple of years too late, as it spent a couple of quick weeks at its No. 16 peak in March 1985. 

save a prayer US

The U.S. version of “Save A Prayer.”

“Save A Prayer” was always a fan favorite (and certainly a favorite with me), and recently came into the international spotlight by way of the California Rock band, Eagles of Death Metal.  On October 30, 2015, Duran Duran and Eagles of Death Metal performed the song on a new version of the long-running British entertainment TV show, TFI FRIDAY, and they did a version of “Save A Prayer” to close out the show (Eagles of Death Metal covered the song on their 2015 album, ZIPPER DOWN). 

Just 2 weeks after the TFI FRIDAY show, Eagles of Death Metal were performing in Paris when the terror attacks occurred there.  Since the attacks, Duran Duran stated that they would donate all of the royalties they get from the cover version to charity.  At the Barclays show last week, “Save A Prayer” was the first song of the 2-song encore (“Rio” was the last song of the night), and Simon Le Bon mentioned Eagles of Death Metal and the Paris attacks, and stated that “Save A Prayer” should “stand as a beacon to show that music is a way of bringing people together, that people are good and that we will not live in fear.”  It’s so true…

ocarina

Hey, ocarina!

The ninth and final song on RIO is “The Chauffeur.”  It remains as the band’s most known song that wasn’t released as a single (though it did reach No. 2 on France’s Airplay chart).  It started off a a poem Simon Le Bon wrote two years before joining Duran Duran, and it grew from there.  The flute-like instrument you hear at the end of the song is played by Simon Le Bon and is called an ocarina, an ancient wind instrument that dates back thousands of years. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1B__8N5d_LA

The album cover art for RIO was painted by famed Dayton, Ohio artist, Patrick Nagel, who sadly passed away from a heart attack 2 years after RIO was released.   His work on RIO was among his best known images.

One of the many things I love about RIO is that the band is given equal credit on all nine songs – Simon Le Bon, lead vocals; Nick Rhodes, keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals; John Taylor, bass guitar, backing vocals; Roger Taylor, drums, percussion; and, Andy Taylor, guitar, backing vocals (all three Taylors are not related).  The band’s “unofficial sixth member,” Andy Hamilton, contributed the saxophone, most notably on the song “Rio,” and has played with folks like David Bowie, Tina Turner, Pet Shop Boys, Radiohead, Elton John and Wham!

The band once known as “The Fab Five” got back together to record and tour for their eleventh studio album, 2004’s ASTRONAUT, and it was the band’s first time since 1985 that all five members of the band were together…and the last.  Andy Taylor left the band (again) before their next album, 2007’s RED CARPET MASSACRE. 

The remaining four members all looked terrific and energetic at the Barclays show, and looked like they were having a great time doing what they love to do, and they do that well.  I will never forget that show in Brooklyn, NYC, nor the great time my friend Shawn and I had while there.  It was well worth the 34-year wait; a wait that started upon my first listen of the brilliant album, RIO…

rooftop duran