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Archive for November, 2006

CHART ATTACK! #8: 11/16/85

Friday, November 17th, 2006


Ah HA!  I see you have returned.  You cannot resist the CHART ATTACK!, can you?  No.  You cannot.  I didn’t think so.  You need to know exactly what was happening the week of November 16, 1985.  I understand.  I’m here for you.

10.  Lay Your Hands On Me – Thompson Twins  Amazon iTunes
9.  Be Near Me – ABC  Amazon iTunes
8.  Never – Heart  Amazon iTunes
7.  Broken Wings – Mr. Mister  Amazon iTunes
6.  Separate Lives – Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin  Amazon iTunes
5.  Part-Time Lover – Stevie Wonder  Amazon iTunes
4.  Head Over Heels – Tears For Fears  Amazon iTunes
3.  Miami Vice Theme – Jan Hammer  Amazon iTunes
2.  You Belong To The City – Glenn Frey  Amazon
1.  We Built This City – Starship  Amazon iTunes

10.  Lay Your Hands On Me – Thompson Twins  It’s not like the Thompson Twins were truly that big in America, despite the massive success of “Hold Me Now,” but they were nearing the end of their relevancy with “Lay Your Hands On Me.”  I don’t know about you, but I’d be hard-pressed to really remember anything about this song other than the chorus.  The opening of the song (similar to the bridge), musically, has little in common with the verses, which sound pretty much like both “Hold Me Now” and “Doctor! Doctor!”  The song is pretty much forgettable from my point of view.  One more hit after this (“King For A Day”), and that was it.  Bassist Joe Leeway quit soon afterwards and became a hypnotherapist (?), leaving The Thompson Twins actually down to two.

9.  Be Near Me – ABC  (download)  With its catchy chorus, “Be Near Me” marked ABC’s Top 10 debut on the US charts, although they had also had strong success with their first single “The Look Of Love,” thanks to strong exposure on MTV.  Existing somewhere in the space between New Romantic and New Age, the band had already undergone dramatic personnel changes, including two members quitting and two members being added purely for dramatic and visual effects (neither could sing or play any instruments).  A dance remix of the song was mainly responsible for the song reaching as high as #9.

8.  Never – Heart 
Is it just me, or does it feel like we’ve covered “Never” before?  Perhaps it’s because, as Carlos astutely mentioned in Chart Attack #1, the song was written by Holly Knight, who also wrote songs like “The Warrior,” “Love Is A Battlefield,” “Better Be Good To Me,” and a million more.  “Never” was the second single from Heart’s self-titled LP in 1985, preceded by “What About Love.”  Both songs were played constantly on MTV, and as a result, “Never” eventually reached #4 and became Heart’s highest-charting single at the time.  It was also the first time Heart could boast to having two consecutive singles reach the Top Ten.  They broke the record with their next hit, “These Dreams.”

“Never” was indicative of the general sound of Heart – the abandonment of their rock sound for radio-friendly pop – but it resulted in great success for the band.  As much as I like “Never,” it pains me to hear that awful keyboard sound, especially in the song’s defining riff, which would sound just fine on a guitar.

7.  Broken Wings – Mr. Mister  I remember hearing “Broken Wings” when it was first released, and all I remember thinking is, “this guy whines too much.”  I still feel the same way.  Inspired by a book of the same name by Kahlil Gibran, “Broken Wings” began its ascent to the top of the charts while Mr. Mister opened for Don Henley, and hit #1 as they were the opening act for Tina Turner.  As popular as this song has remained over the years, I’ve still felt it’s way inferior to their other #1 hit, “Kyrie.”  It’s drenched in synthesizers, and again, the chorus is just whiny.  But it seems to be one of those inescapable, enduring radio staples.  I usually just switch the station.

6.  Separate Lives – Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin  As any Mellow Gold-loving wuss will tell you, “Separate Lives” isn’t a Phil Collins original.  Nope, it’s written by our good buddy Stephen Bishop!  Bish, as you’ll know from reading Scraps’ comment in Mellow Gold 6, had a bit part in Animal House as the guitarist who gets his acoustic smashed by John Belushi.  On the set of the movie, Bishop met actress Karen Allen, and the two began a four-year relationship.  When the relationship finally ended, Bishop wanted us all to know how he felt.  And so he wrote “Separate Lives,” which was selected for inclusion on the White Nights soundtrack.

Recorded by Collins and Marilyn Martin, the song hit #1 two weeks after this one, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.  In a way, this was Bish’s second nomination (the first being, of course, for “It Might Be You”), but the first for which he could take writing credit.  He lost, however, to another song from the same movie, “Say You, Say Me.”  (I love Lionel Richie!)

There’s something to be said for the acoustic Bishop version.  It’s relatively gentle.  No synths.  Just guitar.  I like it.  Here it is, from his album Blue Guitars (produced by Andrew Gold, y’all!)  (Thanks, Jefito!)

Stephen Bishop – Separate Lives (bonus download)

5.  Part-Time Lover – Stevie Wonder (download)  Stevie’s later work tends to get automatically lumped in with dreck like “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” but it’s unfair to say that the man lost his touch altogether.  Although he has yet to record an album as cohesive and powerful as his mid-70s output, he still has written some strong singles.  “Part-Time Lover” is one of the good ones off of In Square Circle.  (“Overjoyed” is another.)  A strong bassline is the anchor for this track, and let me ask you – have you ever listened to the lyrics?  For a long time, I just sang along with the chorus, and when I finally took a second to listen to to the words, I realized there’s actually a story there – one person cheating on another, then finding out that they’re being cheated on as well.  I don’t know where I’m going with this.  In any case, “Part-Time Lover” was the first track ever to reach #1 on four different charts: Pop, Dance/Disco, R&B and Adult Contemporary.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to put this one up for download this week, but Mike insisted upon it.  So blame him if you don’t like it.

4.  Head Over Heels – Tears For Fears  If you were to ask me now, my answer might be different, but as a kid, “Head Over Heels” was my favorite Tears For Fears song.  Let’s face it: the other two major singles off of Songs From The Big Chair, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and “Shout” were frickin’ downers.  (At the age of 8, I didn’t care that they were probably better musically.)  Although this single was the only of the three not to hit #1, for me, it was the most enjoyable of the bunch.  Plus, it had a great video, featuring a librarian, an Orthodox Jew, a keyboardist thinking he’s way more badass than he really is, a chimpanzee, and Roland Orzabal initially looking so tormented that he comes off as slightly retarded.  The only problem is you keep expecting the librarian to let her hair down, or take off her clothes, or something, and she never does.  Dammit.

[youtube]k5FUWRbixvI[/youtube]

3.  Miami Vice Theme – Jan Hammer  One of two instrumental television themes EVER to reach #1 (you can take a stab at the other one, but it’s a toughie), “Miami Vice Theme” was the creation of Czechoslovakian composer and multi-instrumentalist Jan Hammer, who had previously been a member of the successful Mahavishnu Orchestra in the mid-70s.  Hammer was brought on board to score each episode of the show, and the Theme was the first track he played to creator Michael Mann.  The song was a huge success, spending 12 weeks on the chart, earning two Grammy Awards, and eventually returning to the Billboard charts 11 years later – based on the success of the movie, “Miami Vice Theme” reached #7 on the Adult Contemporary chart in August 2006.

2.  You Belong To The City – Glenn Frey  It’s a Miami Vice week here at Chart Attack!  The powerful combination of this song and Jan Hammer’s theme propelled the soundtrack to the top of the charts for almost three months, and up until this year, was the most successful TV soundtrack of all time.  (Disney’s High School Musical now holds the record.)  1985 was a good year for Frey – also peaking #2 this year was “The Heat Is On,” from Beverly Hills Cop.  Come to think of it, all of Frey’s top 10 hits were from 1985, and all were from soundtracks – “Smuggler’s Blues” also had a place on the Miami Vice soundtrack album.

1.  We Built This City – Starship  Honestly, I don’t know where to start.  Let’s start with the ulcers Grace Slick must have had when she realized that this soul-sucking piece of dreck had just become the biggest hit any incarnation of her band had ever achieved.  Yeah, let’s start there.  And let’s continue by noting two of the four writers it took to compose this freaking song: Martin Page (“In The House Of Stone And Light”) and Bernie Taupin (“I Used To Write Good Songs”).  Page wrote the music, Taupin wrote the lyrics, and presented it to Starship’s producers, Dennis Lambert and Peter Wolf (no, not THAT Peter Wolf), who did a few re-writes, and voila.  This was Taupin’s first hit without Elton.; His second was later the next year, “These Dreams” by Heart, also a co-write with Page.

Really, I shouldn’t write anything else about “We Built This City.”  It has an excellent Wikipedia page, and I suggest you read it.  I specifically love the quote from Craig Marks, the editor of Blender:  “It purports to be anti-commercial but reeks of ’80s corporate-rock commercialism. It’s a real reflection of what practically killed rock music in the ’80s.”

But there is something more to say.  Specifically, there’s a line in this song that needs to be addressed.  I have asked Michael, my bandmate and author of the excellent Down With Snark!, to write something on this matter, as he’s much more passionate about it than I am.  So, without further ado, I present:

A Treatise On
“Marconi Plays The Mamba”
by Michael of Down With Snark!

OK, the reason that Jason has turned this portion of the weekly snarkfest over to me, is that long before the establishment of this blog, before Plagiarist, around the time Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico started releasing his indescribably lame acoustic jazz solo albums, I have been complaining about this song. More accurately, this line in particular:

“Marconi plays the Mamba. Listen to the radio.”

For my money, this is the second dumbest line of the 80s (trailing only “Now I’m walking again, to the beat of a drum, and I’m counting the steps to the door of your heart.” The Finns should not be allowed to skate by because of the relative high quality of their other material. That line SUCKS. I mean that line is “Girl You Know It’s True” level shitty. But I digress).

This line, more than any other, is evidence that when the irrestible lyrical force of Bernie Taupin collides with the immovable object of…the guy who wrote King of Wishful Thinking…well, it’s ugly.

Since the second part of the line is “listen to the radio” we can only assume that “Marconi” refers to Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, who is usually credited with inventing the radio (truthfully he patented the radio, which is probably more important). So, the Italian inventor of the radio, who died in 1937, “plays the mamba.”

What does this mean? My best guess, at what they wanted it to mean, is that Marconi was playing “the mamba” on his new invention, the radio. This (vaguely) ties into (I guess) modern listeners of the radio “building this city” (by listening?) on rock and roll. So (maybe) they are trying (unsuccessfully) to make a (stupid, ill conceived) reference to the long and proud tradition of listening to music on the radio, which helps to…build cities.

You see where I’m going right? As every fan of Dancing With the Stars, Lou Bega (there have to be a few) or the Kill Bill movies is aware, the MAMBO, is a musical style/dance/something that could be played on the radio. Although MAMBA has over time, gained additional meanings and can now refer to either (1) the self ascribed nickname of LA Lakers shooting guard and aquitted rape suspect Kobe Bryant or (2) a fictional tall blonde assassin with lovely cheekbones, at the time Taupin/Page created their masterpiece, a Mamba was a snake.

You can’t play a snake on the radio. Mambo does not equal Mamba, and I don’t think they can get away with the old “creative mispronunciation for scansion/rhyming purposes” gambit here.

My point? Even if they got their nouns right, this is a stupid line. The fact that they misplaced a musical style with a posionous reptile and hoped no one would notice. What can one say?

(wild applause)

Brilliant.  Thank you, Mike.  While I suspect readers may take you to task for thinking that Crowded House is responsible for the absolute dumbest line in the ’80s (have you forgotten “Too Shy?”  “You Spin Me Round?”  “Kyrie elaison down the road that I must travel?” et al), you have once again proven why you should be writing Chart Attack!, not me.  This seems like as good a place as any to end our analysis of such a terrible song.

And with that, we’ve reached the end of yet another CHART ATTACK!  Enjoy the downloads, and as always, thanks for reading and posting.  See you soon!

Holiday Coupons

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

The holidays are coming up and some of the online stores I use have coupons at the moment.  I thought I’d post ’em here in case anybody is interested.

Then I realized that I have still have a forum enabled on this site that I never use.  So I’m going to post there, under the Holiday Coupon Codes thread, and that way I can update it as I see fit without having to post anew here on the main site.  And if you have any codes that you want to share, you can post ’em too.  Oh, and I don’t get any kickbacks from these sites – just tryin’ to spread the love.

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 8

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

Welcome back to another edition of Mellow Gold goodness, sissies!

I’ll be honest – when Jefito suggested I start a series about Mellow Gold, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure there was really an audience eager for review of this music. However, given that many of you have sent me tracks you feel embody Mellow Gold, clearly I’m wrong. Thanks for sending them in, and keep sending – in time, I’ll try to cover as many as I can, and together, we can TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

So, on that note, I’m happy to present the All-Request Edition of Mellow Gold! Rejoice!

The Boys Band – Don’t Stop Me Baby (I’m On Fire) (download)

If you’ve heard this song before, shame on you I’m impressed. Much like Sneaker, I was not previously familiar with the works of The Boys Band. Our good friend Gerald (aka “The Clone Ranger”) from Austria sent me some tracks by the group, which he faithfully transferred directly from the original LP. (Stop laughing at Gerald, people, that’s not cool.) There were a handful to choose from, and it was a tough decision, but I eventually decided to go with this track, for reasons I’ll explain in a minute. First, some history on The Boys Band.


(look! Doug Henning’s in a rock band!)

The Boys Band released their self-titled debut in 1982, and originally was comprised of three members: Greg Gordon (lead vocals), Rusty Golden (keyboards), and B. James Lowry (guitars). Eventually, they fleshed out the band to include other members, most notably Rusty’s brother Chris Golden on drums. All four were, at one time or another, musicians in The Oak Ridge Boys; Rusty and Chris’s father, was a member of the Oaks since 1965, and had financed The Boys Band project.

The band represents the country-twinged side of Mellow Gold. Gerald likens them to Poco, which I definitely hear, and I think Gordon has a vocal quality not unlike Glenn Frey’s. The tracks I’ve heard are just gentle enough, with enough of the smooth harmonies, to qualify for wuss status – especially this one.

“Don’t Stop Me Baby (I’m On Fire),” which opens with the smoldering intensity of a Joey Scarbury tune, spent 8 weeks in the Billboard Top 100, but gosh darn it, I can’t find any record of how high it got. So I’m going to guess it peaked at around #88, maybe.

There are two ways, in my opinion, to express the emotion of being on fire. You can be like Bruce Springsteen, who expresses such a sentiment in “I’m On Fire” and is clearly referring to a slow and steady fire; not out of control, and perhaps bubbling just below the surface. Or you’ve got the clearly out-of-control, high danger sentiment of setting someone on fire, like “Fire” by Arthur Brown.

The Boys Band express “I’m On Fire” in such a way that you’re left thinking that maybe one of them is holding a match, or maybe a birthday candle. If anything’s on fire, maybe it’s his shoelace. There’s no danger here. I’m not convinced you’re on fire, sir! Plus, the line in the chorus actually goes, “PLEASE don’t stop me baby, I’m on fire.” Please? PLEASE? How frickin’ polite of you! If you’re on fire, and you want to stay on fire, you’re going to have to make this plea much more urgent. Because I’m about to take a little paper Dixie cup of water and throw it on your shoelace. Pssssssstttt! Now you’re not on fire anymore, you big baby!

I’m left to wonder why they shortened the title. “I don’t know, Boys, leaving ‘Please’ in the title makes us sound wimpy. Whereas the rest of the song clearly lets the audience know we’re on fucking fire. Yeah, let’s leave ‘Please’ out. Ooooh – and let’s put in a key change near the end, right on “higher and higher,” so they actually know we’re really going higher and higher! We’re geniuses! Get ready, Boys, we’re finally gettin’ laid for sure!”

The Boys Band’s debut was also their final album. Each member went on to a number of different projects – too many to list here. However, I would like to mention that the Golden brothers did go on to form the following band:

You can’t make this shit up. Thanks, Gerald, for your Mellow Gold suggestion!

Lauren Wood – Please Don’t Leave (download)

Everybody, please thank our reader woofpop for this one. When he described Lauren Wood as “the female McDonald” in the comments of a previous MG entry, I knew we had to feature it here. For starters, you could listen to “Please Don’t Leave” and imagine McD singing every single word. As it is, the song is a duet between the two of them, and a fine, fine one at that. I mean, it’s got the McD trademark drums, bass and keys, production by McDonald compadre Ted Templeman, a sax solo, and a drum break with hand claps. It’s a fucking awesome song, and for that reason, I really don’t have much to say about it (because clearly I only have a lot to say when I’m being snarky). In fact, woofpop describes it best: “it’s pure ’79 – sleeker than a Camaro Berlinetta. That popping bassline; the bells; that breakdown in the middle of the song – Robbie Dupree would have killed for a song like this.” You said it, brother!

“Please Don’t Leave” went to #20 on the Billboard Pop charts, and #3 on the Adult Contemporary charts. In 1981, she recorded a song entitled “Fallen,” which was somehow selected for inclusion on the Pretty Woman soundtrack nine years later. I will come clean right now and tell you that for my birthday in 1990, I received my first CD player from my parents and a handful of CDs. The very first one I received was the Pretty Woman soundtrack. This has nothing to do with Lauren Wood.

Did I mention that if Lauren Wood is the female McD, her hair makes her the female Rod Stewart?


(or maybe Dave Pirner?)

Check out her website, why don’t you? It’s well-designed and quite funny. You’ll note, when viewing her discography, that she sang the theme song to Just Shoot Me, is probably a familiar voice to your kids from her voiceover work, and successfuly negotiated the end of the Vietnam War. (I’m totally stealing this for my acting resume.)

Thanks again to Gerald and woofpop for sending in Mellow Gold selections. If we gave out medals around here, you’d be getting them for Wimps Of The Highest Order. See you next week!

Acoustic ’80s update!

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Thanks so much to everybody who came out to see us rock our Acoustic ’80s evening at Waltz in Astoria on Saturday night!  The show was attended by 58 people, which I believe is a new record for Waltz (the venue only seats about 35).  People were standing, sitting on the floor, and singing along to every note.  Mike and I had a blast and we hope you did too.

I want to especially thank readers Velma and Scraps, who totally surprised the hell out of me by showing up!  I saw them come in, and Mike said hi to Velma, so I assumed she was a friend of his from the park in the city where he often plays.  (Turns out she is.)  So imagine my surprise when Velma walked up to me and handed me her Hall & Oates Anthology music book!  Thanks, you two, for being so supportive, and for coming to Queens all the way from Brooklyn via subway, which is no short trek.  You guys rock.  I can guarantee you we’ll be doing a H&O song at the next one!

In one of my more intelligent moves, I handed Jess a camera with no memory card, so we’ll have to hope that our friend Michele will pass off some of her pictures for posting here.  We also have video and audio, so we’ll try to put that up at some point.

We hope to do another one of these gigs soon, hopefully in the city, so if you know of any venues where you’d like to see us play (especially if you know the bookers!), please let us know.

Thanks again, everyone, for the support!

CHART ATTACK! #7: 11/8/80

Friday, November 10th, 2006


Welcome back to this week’s CHART ATTACK!  We had quite the backlash with last week’s entry from 1989, so I went back nearly a decade for this week’s chart: November 8, 1980!

10.  Upside Down – Diana Ross  Amazon iTunes
9.  Real Love – The Doobie Brothers  Amazon iTunes
8.  Master Blaster (Jammin’) – Steve Wonder  Amazon iTunes
7.  Never Knew Love Like This Before – Stephanie Mills  Amazon iTunes
6.  I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross  Amazon iTunes
5.  The Wanderer – Donna Summer  Amazon iTunes
4.  Another One Bites The Dust – Queen  Amazon iTunes
3.  He’s So Shy – Pointer Sisters  Amazon iTunes
2.  Lady – Kenny Rogers  Amazon iTunes
1.  Woman In Love – Barbara Streisand  Amazon iTunes


10.  Upside Down – Diana Ross 
This song was an absolutely ridiculous hit for Diana Ross.  While this week was its last on the Top 10, let’s reflect:  in August, it became one of Billboard’s "Biggest Movers" of the year – no, the decade – going from #49 to #10 in a one-week period.  It then spent a massive fourteen weeks on the Top 10, including four weeks at #1.  So it’s no surprise that "Upside Down," written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic, was the biggest hit of her career.  At the time, this single made Diana Ross the oldest woman to have a #1 (at 36).  She beat the record a year later at 37.  (Wanna guess who holds the record now?)

So "Upside Down" did quite well, considering "respectfully, I say to thee/I’m aware that you’re cheatin’" is one of the worst lines ever written.  Now you see why I said it was a ridiculous hit.

9.  Real Love – The Doobie Brothers  Here we have another track that’s essentially Michael McDonald with the Doobies acting as backing band.  Member-wise, the Doobies of 1980 were nothing like the Doobies of 1978, let alone the Doobies of the mid-70s.  I imagine purists will always hate this part of their career, but if you can get past that, "Real Love" is another great McDonald track produced by Ted Templeman, showcasing McDonald’s flair for funky soul (and yes, you can hear a bit of the "What A Fool Believes" riff in there as well).  Here they are performing it in 1981:

[youtube]tePpe4qwJkU[/youtube]

8.  Master Blaster (Jammin’) – Steve Wonder  Penned as a tribute to Bob Marley – both his reggae sound and his political stance against war – "Master Blaster" spent two months on the Top 10, eventually peaking at #5.  The two artists were good friends; Marley even jumped on stage during a performance of this song in Washington.  The two had planned to tour together, but due to Marley’s illness (which was already apparent, at least to Marley, at this time), it never materialized.  The track provides the inspiration for the album’s title, Hotter Than July, which is just about the last quality album Stevie Wonder ever released.

7.  Never Knew Love Like This Before – Stephanie Mills  Primarily known for her stellar performance in the Broadway hit The Wiz, Mills hopped on the disco bandwagon and peaked at #6 with this track, produced by a gentleman named Reggie Lucas, who went on to produce Madonna’s debut album.  The song won the Best R&B Female Vocal Performance at the 1980 Grammy Awards.  I wish I had more to say about this track, but all I can tell you is that it consistently reminds me of going to the dentist.  Every time I’m in his chair, this song seems to come on the Lite-FM station.  So yes, what I’m saying is that every time I hear "Never Knew Love Like This Before," some dude’s hands are in my mouth.

6.  I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross  Also produced by Chic members Edwards and Rodgers, this was the second gigantic hit from her album diana, which eventually was the most successful album of her career – selling over five million copies.  If Ross wasn’t a gay icon before, you can bet that a song entitled "I’m Coming Out" did the trick.  In fact, Rodgers has said that he wrote the track after going to a disco in California and seeing drag queens dress up like Diana Ross.  And, as I’ve been saying every few weeks…if you remember this song more because of the sample in "Mo Money, Mo Problems" or from the commercial where the bellybuttons were singing…then I’m too old.

5.  The Wanderer – Donna Summer
  In 1980, Donna Summer had something to say: FUCK YOU, DISCO!  Yeah, that’s right.  It’s time to move on!  And Summer did a lot of moving on this year.  She left her previous record label, Casablanca Records (which was responsible for the release of over ten of her massive hit singles), after a $10 million lawsuit, claiming that they had essentially taken over her personal and professional life.  She then became the first artist to sign to the brand-new Geffen label, and ditched her disco/R&B-flavored sound for the up-and-coming New Wave trend.  "The Wanderer" was proof positive that Summer could successfully tackle the genre, as the single eventually peaked at #3 and its parent album became one of the more popular albums of the year, reaching #13 and ranking #2 on Rolling Stone’s Albums Of The Year charts by critics.  (Behind "Nebraska," by the way.)  And all this came from a track that seriously sounds like someone just pushed "DEMO" on a Casio.  And the video’s weird, too.  I’m not embedding it, I don’t care that much.  Watch it here.

4.  Another One Bites The Dust – Queen  (live download)  It’s "Chic Week" here at Chart Attack!  Written by bassist John Deacon, this track’s bassline was clearly a thick piece o’funk inspired by their hit "Good Times."  The song was originally written after Deacon had watched an old Western movie, but thankfully, he decided not to shape this one as a country song.  "Another One Bites The Dust" was the first truly funky Queen song; they had experimented with the style previously, most notably (to my recollection) with a subpar Roger Taylor song from Jazz entitled "Fun It," but clearly this song was their first success in this style.  This single, which topped the charts in early October, was such a success that it successfully crossed over to the R&B Charts, hitting #1 there as well.  R&B listeners were unfamiliiar with Queen, and thought they were a black group.

I love "Another One Bites The Dust."  Queen was always a group that continuously evolved its musical styles, and songs like this one and "Dragon Attack" off of their album The Game helped push them in a new direction.  Granted, if the success of this single led them to create their  awful disco-influenced album Hot Space, then I guess we have to chalk it up to failed experiment.  Still, for my money, the bass line, the funky guitar (surprisngly, not played by Brian May, but by Deacon), and Freddie’s sharp, balls-to-the-wall vocal make this track one of Queen’s strongest.

"Another One Bites The Dust" wasn’t slated to be a single off of The Game; Michael Jackson, of all people, heard it, and convinced the band to record it.  And Sylvester Stallone badly wanted the track for Rocky III, but couldn’t get the rights.  (Perhaps Queen wanted a break from soundtracks, having just done Flash Gordon.)  Instead, he had to settle for a little song, created just for the movie, called "Eye Of The Tiger."  Survivor, words can’t express how much you owe to Queen.

Everyone probably owns "Another One Bites The Dust," so the download here is a live version from their album Live Magic, a one-disc chronicle of their final tour in 1986.  This disc gets a lot of crap from people, for some reason, but I actually like it better than Live At Wembley Stadium – the performances recorded at Knebworth and in Budapest are stronger, in my opinion, especially this track.  Be sure to check out Freddie’s fantastic interactions with the audience, both during and after the song!

3.  He’s So Shy – Pointer Sisters  (download)
  These girls have had quite an interesting career, as they’ve frequently shifted between genres such as jazz, R&B, pop, and country.  In fact, here’s a nifty piece o’ trivia: in 1974, they became the first black female group to ever perform at the Grand Ole Opry, as a result of their successful country song "Fairytale."  But let’s talk about "He’s So Shy."  It’s a Michael McDonald ripoff, people.  We’ve covered this.  Even our good friend Bob Shannon covered it in our radio chat.  Is it as blatant as Robbie Dupree?  No.  I’ll admit to that.  In fact, to be honest, I think it probably isn’t a McD ripoff, but more of a McD influence.  And it’s a good song; it’s about 95% keyboards, but they’re all used quite well (especially in the last quarter of the song), and the vocals are fantastic.  I actually wasn’t going to offer this one for download, but after listening and subsequently shaking my booty involuntarily, I knew I had to include it here.  Thank me later.

2.  Lady – Kenny Rogers 
Chances are that you missed the Kenny Rogers/Lionel Richie episode of CMT Crossroads.  I know you are not going to understand me when I tell you that this episode is one of the only things permanently saved on my TiVo.  Nor will you understand me when I tell you that (no, I’m not being racist) Lionel Richie is chocolate and Kenny Rogers is peanut butter, and the two of them together results in a delicious treat.  That’s okay.  You know by now that I’m a little bit crazy.  And I’m fine with that.  If it ever comes on TV again, though, humor me and watch it.

Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie joined forces (okay, this is me being overdramatic – they met) in the late ’70s, around the time when Richie’s voice and songwriting was being pushed to the forefront of The Commodores.  Richie was starting to write songs for other artists, and wrote "Lady" for Rogers.  It hit #1 the week after this one, and became Rogers’ first #1 hit – on both the Pop and R&B charts.  It’s remained one of Rogers’ most enduring and popular hits.  Yes, I roll my eyes too at "I’m your knight in shining armor, and I love you," mainly because I’ve tried to sing this song, and well…let’s just say that you need to really sell it in order to make it work.  I’d like to note, however, that I do actually own this book, and I was seriously struck by the song structure and chord choices.  The song has no chorus.  And it features a stunning coda that closes the song, briefly touching upon the original opening theme.  (I have really thought about this, people.)  It’s a lot of fun to play on the piano.

If you get a chance to watch the CMT Crossroads special, you will notice that Richie was not just a writer and producer for Rogers.  The two of them are clearly old friends, and their interactions on stage are utterly charming (if not exactly spontaneous).  I even forgive Lionel Richie for looking at the teleprompter (and making it very obvious to the audience that he’s doing so), because the two of them have such a great time doing the show together.  Trust me, people.  WATCH IT.  If I ever figure out how to get it off of my TiVo and onto the computer, I’ll offer a torrent.

In the meantime, I’ve always enjoyed the Rogers version, but wanted to hear Richie sing it.  He finally released a version of his own on his 1998 album Time, which I don’t believe anybody actually purchased.  The song is a little overproduced and we sure as hell didn’t need the drum machine, but the vocal is fantastic.  If anybody’s interested, it’s your Chart Attack! bonus download.

Lionel Richie – Lady (bonus download)

1.  Woman In Love – Barbra Streisand  You may recall a couple of weeks ago when we covered "Islands In The Stream" and discussed the early ’80s being a particularly good time for the Brothers Gibb.  Reader Dave astutely corrected me and noted that it wasn’t exactly a good time to be a Bee Gee, but definitely a profitable time to be a Bee Gee.  As Dave also mentions, the disco backlash was well on its way in the late 70s, and the Bee Gees were smart enough to know that it was time to go into a hiding of sorts. 

After seeing them perform in Los Angeles, Streisand asked Barry to writer her an album.  The result was Guilty, recorded in 1979 and 1980.  It has been said that the project, while incredibly taxing and time consuming for Barry, taught him the value of using studio musicians for his projects, as they could faithfully record his ideas and concepts.  The result was Streisand’s best-selling album at that point in time, and "Woman In Love" went to #1. (Obviously.)  You can clearly hear the Gibb "sound" in the chorus, and although it’s a terribly schmaltzy song (and Streisand’s voice grates on me as those choruses repeat themselves), obviously it was well-loved, as it also went to #1 in nine other regions across the world.

And so, once again, we end CHART ATTACK!  So much for me posting a short entry this week.  Hope you enjoyed anyhow.  See you next week – and if you’re in the NYC area, come to our gig tomorrow!