Archive for June, 2007

CHART ATTACK! #36: 6/14/86

Friday, June 15th, 2007


Howdy, and welcome back to another Friday edition of CHART ATTACK!  The week we’re attacking this time ’round is a bit depressing – 60% ballads, with only one of them having any type of hopeful message (and that one sucks, anyway).  Thankfully, most of the songs, in general, are solid tunes – and oh so synth-a-rific!  Let’s take a look at the charts from June 14, 1986!

10.  Something About You – Level 42  Amazon iTunes
9.  All I Need Is A Miracle – Mike + The Mechanics  Amazon
8.  No One Is To Blame – Howard Jones  Amazon iTunes
7.  A Different Corner – George Michael  Amazon iTunes
6.  Greatest Love Of All – Whitney Houston  Amazon iTunes
5.  Crush On You – The Jets  Amazon iTunes
4.  There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) – Billy Ocean  Amazon iTunes
3.  I Can’t Wait – Nu Shooz  Amazon iTunes
2.  Live To Tell – Madonna  Amazon iTunes
1.  On My Own – Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald  Amazon iTunes

10.  Something About You – Level 42 (download)

I’m coming clean: I absolutely know nothing about Level 42 (which seems to be right on-par with the rest of the non-music geek section of America).  I went over to Wikipedia to find out, um, something about them (sorry), and saw this huge bio.  I try to do as much research as I can for these things, but I don’t love you guys enough to read all of this.  If anybody else has some really interesting facts you’d like to share about Level 42, by all means, share ’em in the comments.  Or hell, write an Idiot’s Guide for Jefito.  They certainly have had an extensive, successful career outside of this country.  I really do love the song – Mike accurately labeled them as "a funkier version of Tears For Fears" – mainly due to the bass and vocals, courtesy of Mark King, who is the only original member left in the band.  Yes, they’re still around.

9.  All I Need Is A Miracle – Mike + The Mechanics 

Somewhat off-topic, but did anybody ever figure out what these guys had against the ampersand, and why we didn’t subsequently say the band’s name as "Mike Plus The Mechanics?"  Anyway, "All I Need Is A Miracle" is a great song – it’s got that driving beat that makes you want to sing it on a summer day while cruising with the top down, only to quickly stop and make sure nobody saw you doing it.  Let’s give some props to Mike Rutherford – who would have thought he was going to reach the Top 10 without Genesis – multiple times, even?  All three singles from their debut album reached the Top 40 – and two of the videos – this one and the one for "Taken In" – contained a goofy plotline in which British actor Roy Kinnear (best known for his role in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory) portrayed their manager, and tried to keep Mike and plus his Mechanics out of trouble.  Madcap hilarity ensues.  (Slight digression: did you know that Kinnear died when he fell off a horse bled to death during the filming of The Return Of The Musketeers, and director Richard Lester (of Superman II fame) quit directing as a result?)

Well, that was a depressing way to end the entry.  On to the video!

8.  No One Is To Blame – Howard Jones  (download

Howard Jones wrote some fantastic, quintessential ’80s songs – "Things Can Only Get Better," "Everlasting Love," "Like To Get To Know You Well" (whassup, Better Off Dead?) – but "No One Is To Blame" is, undoubtedly, his best.  I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing this song.  I remember hearing it on the radio as a kid, and going to the library to borrow the record Dream Into Action – only the version I on the album sounded nothing like the version I heard on the radio.  What I didn’t know at the time was that Jones had recorded the song for the aforementioned album, then re-recorded it featuring Phil Collins’ production, as well as his drums and his unbelievably beautiful harmony vocal.  I think I wound up taping "No One Is To Blame" by sticking a tape recorder in front of my TV’s speaker while the video played on MTV.  (Anybody ever done that?)  It’s just about impossible to improve upon this version.  Oh, and Mike will kill me if I don’t mention the beautiful fretless bass on this track.

Two things I had a really hard time getting past, though:

1) The spoken "is to blame" at the end of the song.  Ugh.
2) The hairdo.

I remember one of the whizzes at summer camp was able to sequence the entire backing track into his keyboard, somehow.  20 years have gone by and I’m still trying to figure out how to do it.

In 1992, Jones, famous for his extensive synthesizer work, went on tour armed with only an acoustic piano and a percussionist.  Here’s "No One Is To Blame" from that tour, available on Live Acoustic America (AmazoniTuneseMusic).  It’s not perfect (no need to repeat the last section, and I’m not a fan of the way he occasionally slows the track), but this version proves how well the song works musically when it’s stripped down to the basics.

Howard Jones – No One Is To Blame (live) (download)

Here’s a performance from the 1986 Prince’s Trust Gala.  Not the best performance by Jones, but I thought I’d include it here, just in case you wanted to see Phil Collins, Ray Cooper, Mark Knopfler (and – I think – Eric Clapton on the right?) join in on the song.

7.  A Different Corner – George Michael 

This is the second time George sold Andrew Ridgeley down the river by including a solo tune on a Wham! album.  (The first, of course, being "Careless Whisper.")  The problem with this song is that it just never goes anywhere.  He puts in a great vocal performance as usual, but at the end of the day, it’s really just 4 minutes of George Michael whining, which was uncharacteristic of his ballads.  "A Different Corner" was a chart-topper in the UK – Michael became the first solo artist to reach #1 with his first two releases at the time – but in the States, he stalled here at #7.  I don’t think America needed another George Michael ballad at the time – and the fact that he publicly stated that this song meant more to him than "Careless Whisper" probably didn’t help matters.

Plus, this video features George’s worst haircut ever (seriously, ever) against a sea of TOO MUCH WHITE.  And all I can think is, "man, this guy is really, really hairy."


6.  Greatest Love Of All – Whitney Houston


5.  Crush On You – The Jets 

I suppose I can’t blame them, seeing as we’re talking about 1986 here, but is it too much to ask to just have one instrument be of the analog variety?  This song is suffering from serious synth overload, opening with the Roland TR-808 cowbell that was used in the beginning of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and about 300 George Michael songs.  Still, it’s a solid pop/dance song, and was the band’s first entry onto the Hot 100, peaking at #3.  Although the topic of the song is a bit tedious (let me contemplate all the way in which you might have found out about this crush I’ve been trying to hide from you!), the lyrics are actually a tad smarter than you’ll get from most dance songs today.  (Unlike some other Jets songs, though, I don’t think this one was penned by Rupert Holmes.  I’m dead serious.)

Anyway, the point here is that the song is passable, but I’m getting frustrated that I’ve covered two Jets songs in the past few weeks and neither one is "Rocket 2 U."

4.  There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) – Billy Ocean 

Way to go, Billy.  When the going gets tough, the tough use contractions.  Who puts a word like "There’ll" in a song at all, let alone in the freaking title?  And again with the parentheses!  Why?  It’s unnecessary!  Just "There’ll Be Sad Songs" is enough.  It’s not like anyone was going to confuse it with the sad songs that said so much in 1985.  I have absolutely nothing else to say about this song.  Except I wish Michael McDonald had sung it.

3.  I Can’t Wait – Nu Shooz

Every time I play a synthesizer, I eventually make my way to the "special effects" section, where I can judge such esteemed brands as Kurzweil, Korg, Yamaha and Roland purely based on their ability to provide me 88 different tones of a ringing telephone.  There’s always an effect that is supposed to replicate the human voice, but I have yet to find a synth that replicates the "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh" sound from "I Can’t Wait."  And I will not buy a new fucking keyboard until that happens.

Speaking of that synth sound – is it just me or did this dude just go the least bit overboard?  We get it, dude, your Yamaha makes the Oh Face.  Let’s move on.

My compadre Jeff has informed me that Nu Shooz have reunited.  Man!  First it was The Pixies, then The Police, then Genesis, then Crowded House, and now, finally, Nu Shooz!  It’s about time!  All I need now is for Klymaxx to get back together.

But that’s not all!  They’re released – you know what’s coming, right? – "I Can’t Wait (Unplugged)." Here’s a sample from iTunes.  I don’t know what to think.  It’s not so bad, but you have to completely detach it from the original.  They don’t even attempt to replicate the synth sound!  No breathy, jazzy "oh" sounds.  Boo!  Also, I can’t roller skate to it, so it sucks.  I roller skated to this song all the time.  I’m going to go roller skating right after I finish this chart.

2.  Live To Tell – Madonna

This was only the second ballad Madonna ever released as a single, and I don’t count "Crazy For You" ’cause I think that’s a relatively stupid song.  "Live To Tell," however, is one of my favorite Madonna songs.  Her vocal is particularly beautiful, and I love the production – courtesy of Patrick Leonard, appearing for the first time as a producer on a Madonna single.  That being said, I don’t know what she’s talking about or the secret that she has learned, although I do know that until she lives to tell it, it will burn inside of her.

As always, Madonna is thoroughly covered and analyzed on Wikipedia, so go nuts.

1.  On My Own – Patti LaBelle and 

I don’t love this song – Patti LaBelle’s voice is a bit whiny for my tastes, and sounds like she could go off-pitch at any minute.  ("She’s weaving all over the correct pitch like a drunk driver " – Mike)  However, you-know-who gives a stunning performance (as always).  So I’ll say that McD deserves the #1, but Patti does not.  I guess it doesn’t matter what I think, since both of them had the biggest hit of their respective solo careers.  Sadly, this song – written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager – was ousted from the top spot after only three weeks, by that bastard Billy Ocean.  It’s a shame.  Any song featuring Michael McDonald deserves at least 6-12 weeks at #1.  Maybe more.

Patti and McD recorded their parts completely separate from one another, and did the same for its ivdeo as well, as if it wasn’t immediately apparent from the director’s "split-screen" concept.

I love how both of them have serious hair issues: Patti’s hair is about to take over the world, and McD’s beard is about to eat his face.  You can barely see his mouth moving.

Here are two performances of "On My Own."  I can’t get over how fucking annoying Patti LaBelle is.  How much do you think McD had to drink in order to get through these performances without shoving his foot up her ass?

And on that note, I’m outta here!  Have a great weekend, and we’ll be back here next week for another edition of CHART ATTACK!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 36

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

Welcome back to another week here at Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold, where I have the inexplicable need to mention the name of the series at the beginning and end of each entry. Oh, what mellow goodness shall we be mining for today? What could beat last week’s song by “England Dan” Seals and John Ford Coley?

Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze (download)

From one Seals to another, bitches!

I’ve wanted to cover “Summer Breeze” for months, now. Pretty much since I started this series. I thought perhaps it was lame, though, to cover it during the late Fall or early Winter, considering the song is not called “Autumn Breeze” or “Winter Breeze.” (Kind of a shame, really, because Autumn breezes rock, and also make me feel fine.) Technically, it’s not summer yet, but since I live in the concrete jungle, the days of summer breezes are pretty much over already. (We had a great early May.) But enough babbling: let’s cover the hell out of this one.

Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts have shared a great deal of interesting experiences together; it would be difficult to cover all the facets of their career in this entry, so I’ll point you towards the official Seals & Crofts website, where you can follow their career from junior high school, when they first met, to The Champs (of “Tequila” fame), to a band with Glen Campbell, to their success as S&C and beyond. It’s a fantastic chronicle of the duo written by a guy named Anthony Bentivegna, who is to Seals & Crofts what Dominic is to Benny Mardones (that joke will make sense to the five of you who read the site back in the Fall). Thanks, Tony. You’ve allowed me to be lazy. The only thing I’ll lift from your site is the following two pictures, which I need to categorize under “NOT OKAY:”


In a move later regretted by both, Seals takes Crofts to prom.


“Please, God, don’t let Crofts eat me.”

Seals & Crofts had released three albums as a duo following their departure from The Champs, but it wasn’t until 1972 when their fourth, Summer Breeze, was a smash, reaching #7 on the Billboard charts. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that the album was purely a duo effort: Seals & Crofts employed no less than three drummers, four bassists and five pianists – including John Ford Coley. (In your face, England Dan!) And, in true Mellow Gold fashion…only one electric guitar. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

“Summer Breeze,” as a single, reached #6 on the Hot 100, and #4 on the AC charts. Wisely, Warner Bros chose to release the single over the summer – unlike, say, David Geffen, who released Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer” in December. But I digress. “Summer Breeze” was a deserved hit – a simple, pleasant – dare I say, breezy and fine – tune, in and out in under three-and-a-half minutes.

Why so perfect? Well, we could start by checking out that opening riff – instantly recognizable, no? I’d argue that many people would know it just from those four guitar notes, but certainly anyone would recognize it by the time the horn part kicks in. Incidentally, the only horn-esque instrument credited on the record is a saxophone, but that opening doesn’t sound much like a sax to me. Maybe it’s a woodblock.

As for the verses, I’d guess that most people don’t pay too much attention to them. I mean, let’s face it: “Summer Breeze” is all about the chorus. Did you know that one of the verse lyrics is “See the smile a-waitin’ in the kitchen, food cookin’ and the plates for two?” I sure as hell didn’t! And who cares? All I care about is the following: “Summer breeze makes me feel fine, blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind miiiiiiind.”

Now, I wasn’t aware that you could actually have jasmine in your mind miiiiiind. Were they smoking jasmine? Were they cannibals who actually ate someone named Jasmine? (I have cannibals on the brain because last week, my play, Postcards From A Dead Dog, was in a competition opposite a number of plays, including one about cannibalism. The guy apparently wrapped turkey meat around his arm, and then people methodically picked it off and ate it. Oh, and later on, he stuck a hypodermic needle in his eye. We didn’t win the competition. I’m praying they did.)

And what about this business of “makes me feel fine?” Could we not come up with a better, more enthusiastic word than “fine?” Cutting my toenails makes me feel fine. I wouldn’t put it on the same level as a summer breeze, though. When you think about it, it’s the kind of phrase that fits right in with a song like “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” which is chock-full of mellow ambivalence.

We already know that most Mellow Gold songs are big on harmony. The more voices, the better, right? At the very most, “Summer Breeze” has three, but mostly, it’s just Seals & Crofts. The two only sing together in harmony during the chorus, and on the word “mind.” Why, I ask you, is that one harmony so freakin’ awesome? It’s so simple, yet so beautiful. I don’t even mind that there were three voices on the words “summer breeze” and we lost one of them immediately following. I also love the chorus because I work relatively close to Sotheby’s, and few days go by where I don’t pass the building and sing “Sotheby’s…”

And the bridge. Oh man, the bridge! The bridge rocks! And a clever lead-in, to boot – the duo echo (in unison, dammit) the main song’s riff, and then suddenly, holy shit – we’re in a Chicago song! Listen to those horns in the background! And once I actually paid attention to the lyric – “And I come home from a hard day’s work, and you’re waiting there, not a care in the world” – I realized two things. 1) Tenacious D has made it impossible for me to sing anything other than “a hard day’s rockin’,” and 2) I love that lyric. And what could be better – the bridge leads right back into the verse, but this time, we get some glorious vocals behind the first line. Unfortunately, though, just like that, they’re gone again. Oh, Seals. And Crofts. Why must you tease us so?

So yeah. I love “Summer Breeze.” And I’m not the only one. Let’s talk remakes and remixes.

Remakes & Remixes

I’ve posted some remixes on here before – actually, come to think of it, I think they’ve all been Christopher Cross remixes. (I almost posted a “Club Mix” of “I’ve Never Been To Me” but thought better of it.) Those remixes have pretty much sucked. I don’t blame you if you refuse to ever trust me again when it comes to remixes. But if you’re willing to just give me one more chance (to show you that I love you), then download this one remix.

In 2004 – back when I still watched commercials, I remember seeing an ad for The Gap that featured this awesome remix of “Summer Breeze.”. I loved it instantly, and I guess I wasn’t alone, because “Summer Breeze (Philp Steir Remix)” was released as a single on iTunes a few weeks later, and even reached #15 hit on the Billboard AC chart! Not too shabby. As remixes go, this one is pretty classy.

Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze (Philip Steir Remix) (download)

By Tony’s estimation on the S & C website, there have been well over 30 covers of “Summer Breeze.” The first one appeared only one year after its initial release, courtesy of the Isley Brothers, who slowed it down and funked it up. I personally don’t care for this cover, but maybe it’s more your style.

The Isley Brothers – Summer Breeze (download)

If you really want to hear “Summer Breeze” slowed down – and completely remade – check out this cover. I’m including it here because I think it’s just funny that a Type O Negative song would make its way over to this website, and on a Mellow Gold post to boot. Mellow miners, I am not responsible for what happens should you choose to download this one.

Type O Negative – Summer Breeze (download)

In 2007, the powerhouse (and I use the term quite loosely) team of Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades released an album of cover tunes, called Influence. “Summer Breeze” is the first track. I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t hate it. I actually dug their choices of instrumentation, and thought that Shaw added a few higher harmonies that didn’t suck. But of course, they took it too far. Shaw added some completely unnecessary harmonies right before the bridge. I wish Dennis DeYoung was singing this one. Eat it, Shaw!

Shaw-Blades – Summer Breeze (download)

Note that Jason Mraz has remade “Summer Breeze” – you can find it on the Everwood soundtrack – but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let jasonhare.com become a conduit for his special oh-so-annoying brand of putting a big breath before every word and his “brah lah dah hah dee dah dah listen to my voice crack repeatedly” bullshit.

Okay, just a snippet. Just to prove how much he needs to be punched in the mouth. And I actually liked his first album. I’m thinking about setting it on fire now. I’d rather listen to the WSP D-Bag than Jason Mraz at this point.

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Right? Right? Crofts needs to kick some Mraz ass.

In 2004, Seals & Crofts reunited to re-record some of their greatest hits. But rest easy, friends – they didn’t throw a rap in the middle like Alan O’Day. In fact, their cover of “Summer Breeze” isn’t really much of an update – a bit more echo on the vocals, a few more instruments here and there – it doesn’t really improve on the original, but it’s certainly pleasant as well.

Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze (2004 remake) (download)

Okay, enough downloads: time for video! Here’s Seals & Crofts performing on The Midnight Special!

I love this clip! TV was just so much better in the ’70s! The sound mix is poor! Seals’ hat completely covers his eyes! Crofts’ hair looks like it came from one of those Playmobil characters!

This clip, from the 1991 Oregan State Fair, really doesn’t bring anything to the table. But look at Crofts! He’s rockin’ the Jeff Lynne face, the Slash top hat, and the midwest prostitute cowboy boots! He’s making all sorts of rock faces – watch it all the way to the end! And look – on bass, it’s Billy Ray Cyrus!

This clip actually makes me a bit sad, actually. Crofts clearly never read Gestures One Must Not Make While Playing A Mandolin.

Well, folks, if you loved “Summer Breeze” before, either you really love it now, or you’re praying for the turning of the leaves. Either way, I think I’ve done my job. See you next week for another edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

CHART ATTACK! #35: 6/9/84

Friday, June 8th, 2007


Oh, 1984.  I can’t stay away from you for very long.  I love you too much.  And you looked pretty good this week – June 9, 1984, to be exact!

10.  Jump (For My Love) – Pointer Sisters  Amazon iTunes
9.  Self Control – Laura Branigan  Amazon iTunes
8.  Breakdance – Irene Cara  Amazon
7.  Hello – Lionel Richie 
Amazon iTunes
6.  The Heart Of Rock & Roll – Huey Lewis and the News  Amazon iTunes
5.  Sister Christian – Night Ranger  Amazon iTunes
4.  The Reflex – Duran Duran  Amazon iTunes
3.  Oh Sherrie – Steve Perry  Amazon iTunes
2.  Let’s Hear It For The Boy – Deniece Williams  Amazon iTunes
1.   Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper  Amazon iTunes


10.  Jump (For My Love) – Pointer Sisters 

I’ve already bitched enough about parentheticals in song titles, but I figure there’s always room for me to bitch some more.  When you say the title of a song to someone, how do you indicate the parentheses?  Do you have to act them out?  Doesn’t this put a lot of undue pressure on people who aren’t actors and just want to say the name of a song?  I’m just asking.  I don’t think these parentheses are really unnecessary, especially since Van Halen’s "Jump" had hit the charts earlier in the year, and I’m sure they didn’t want people to confuse the two.  Although wouldn’t a Pointer Sister’s version of Van Halen’s "Jump" be freaking awesome?  I can hear it in my head.  I can also hear Van Halen covering Pointer Sister’s "Jump."

Anyway, uh, yeah.  Big hit for the Pointer Sisters.

9.  Self Control – Laura Branigan 

"Self Control" opens with a fat guitar riff.  It’s actually kind of exciting.  I’m anticipating some big rocking!  But then, out of nowhere, guitar is abolished from the song.  Abolished!  Be gone with you, rocking!  You’ve been replaced by synth and drum machines – wave of the future!  The guitar does make an all-too-brief return during the middle section, accompanying of a bunch of guys singing "Woah-oh-oh" – in what I can only imagine was a HUGE call-and-response moment in the Laura Branigan concert.  I think my parents may have seen Laura Branigan in concert.  I’ll have to ask them.  She probably opened for Lionel Richie or something.

I admire Branigan’s earnest delivery of these lyrics.  She does say "I live among the creatures of the night," after all.  The wiki for this song is pretty serious, too.  Here’s how they describe "Self Control":

The song narrates the singer’s slip into the world of nightlife, the allure of which has her "livin’ only for the night" and deeming herself to "live among the creatures of the night". Rather than actually invoking control over herself, the singer repeatedly declares to a phantom protagonist that that "you take my self, you take my self control".

I shall name my next band Phantom Protagonist.

Just a few more words about this song:  Branigan’s version is actually a cover.  The song was written by Giancarlo Bigazzi (my band after Phantom Protagonist shall be named Giancarlo Bigazzi), Steve Piccolo, and Raffaele Riefoli.  Raffaele released the song in 1983 under the name Raf.  I don’t feel like anybody needs me to put the original version up, so here’s a short clip from iTunes.  Oh, and what the hell, here’s a sample from the Ricky Martin version – en Español.  Bigazzi, by the way, also wrote "Gloria" and released it as an Italian ballad before Branigan recorded it.  She sure loved herself some Italians.

8. Breakdance – Irene Cara  (download)

Okay, so I saw this one on the chart and had no idea what it was.  I figured the fine folks at Billboard meant to write "Flashdance" and just made a clerical error.  But after hearing the song – a crappy tribute to the breakdancing craze – I figured, this must have been on a movie soundtrack.  Like Breakin’.  Or Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.  It just has that movie soundtrack sound.  I was wrong.  It’s not on Breakin’.  Or Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.  Nope, somehow this song made it to #8 on its own merits.  How, I ask you?  How?  The chorus is the only thing that’s relatively catchy, and barely. 

Then, I figured it out.

If one writes a song about an actual dance, they stand a good chance of it cracking the top 10.  See songs like "The Locomotion" (a top 10 in 1962, 1974, and 1988), "The Jerk" (1965), and "The Twist" (1960 and 1962).  Irene Cara (and her co-writer, Bunny Hull) must have figured this out, because look at verse 2:

They used to do the locomotion, do the jerk and the twist
But there just ain’t never been nothing like this
Now popping and locking is a new way of talking
Things will work out for sure spinning out on the floor

How smart is that?  They referenced ALL THREE top 10 hits!  No wonder!

Thankfully, this song never went further than #8.  Eight was enough.  (You like that one?)

7.  Hello – Lionel Richie

Jeez, I haven’t covered 1984 in six weeks, and yet "Hello" is still on the charts.  I can’t find a damn thing to say about it that I haven’t said before, so if you’re new to CHART ATTACK!, check out #29, where you can see the video and even hear Mike and I perform a snippet as part of our Acoustic ’80s set.

6.  The Heart Of Rock & Roll – Huey Lewis and the News 

DETROIT!  Unhh!  Heart of rock & roll!  I’ll continue to defend Huey Lewis and the News for being a talented, unassuming bar band that wrote fantastic, thoughtful pop songs.  I use the word "thoughtful" because I am continually impressed by the chords these guys choose to use.  "Power Of Love," for example, has the kind of bridge that you weren’t hearing in pop songs at the time.  "Heart Of Rock & Roll" works, despite it being a sort of lyrical precursor to songs like "We Didn’t Start The Fire," because it’s fun.  Great harmonies, and unbelievable horns, and this one fantastic chord coming right out of the bridge into the last verse.  It definitely does not warrant inclusion on the "Awesomely Bad" song list.  I remember, as a kid, being slightly freaked out by the end of the black-and-white video, when Huey’s heart starts physically beating out of his chest.  I was a sheltered child.

Do yourself a favor and check out JB’s post about Huey Lewis and the News, who astutely puts their career into perspective, and offers a great defense of their covers disc, Four Chords And Several Years Ago.

5.  Sister Christian – Night Ranger 

Oh boy.

I wrote "Sister Christian" off for many, many years.  I didn’t really have any valid reason; I just ignored it whenever it was on.  I didn’t even pay much attention when Alfred Molina freaked the fuck out to it in Boogie Nights.  But sometime last year, it happened to come on the iPod, and I decided I kinda dug it.   I half-jokingly told Mike that we should consider performing it with our band, because it would clearly rawk.

Fast forward about seven months.  All I know now is that I have to sing "Sister Christian" next Friday night down at The Bitter End and I’m wondering if maybe I took this joke too far.  I mean, I can sing it, but I can’t really do it seriously.  I wind up making rawk faces and overenunciating my words and growling.  (You know, like the original.)  I’m fairly certain that this may be the only way to really approach this song.  Am I supposed to seriously convey the emotion behind "And mama’s worryin’ that you won’t last to say ‘let’s play’?"  I just don’t think I can do it.  Not without some serious fucking pyrotechnics behind us, anyway.

The saving grace to us playing this song live is Mike’s guitar.  He rocks it so hard.  Even if he refuses to use a whammy bar or wear a big-hair wig.

Enough about me.  "Sister Christian," live in Japan, 1983:

What a clip!  "Sister Christian" before the song was legendary! well-known!  The keyboard intro with the Styx "Babe" sound!  The cat burglar on keys!  Keagy’s pants, fer chrissakes!  Check out Keagy’s pants!  The way he sweats!  The tears that almost seem like they’re going to burst through his eyes during the last few notes!  That final ad-lib: "You know you’re motorin’."  You can almost hear his sister affirming it:  yes, Kelly.  I know.  I’m motorin’.  I’ll give credit where it’s due, however: he may look a little like the guy who helped install our above-ground pool in Long Island back in 1986 in exchange for a six-pack of Budweiser, but he sure as hell had the vocal chops.  I realize this now, as I die a little every time I hit those final notes.

It would behoove you to watch the original video.  There’s too much for me to snark on – CAPTAIN VIDEO!, please pick up the white courtesy phone – but it’s highly entertaining.

4.  The Reflex – Duran Duran 

I first heard "The Reflex" a number of years after it was released, when I was a DJ (and I use the term very, very loosely) at my summer camp.  We had "The Reflex" on 45.  I stole it at the end of the summer.  The record had two skips in it, and so eventually those skips just worked their way into my memory as part of the song.  Even now, when I hear it on my iPod, I wait for the skip.  And it never happens.  Damn memory.

There’s been a lot of speculation as to what "The Reflex" is really about.  I seriously don’t think I could possibly care less.  If we’re going to spend time pondering the Duran Imponderables, why don’t we question why the world tolerated Simon LeBon’s horrible, petulant whine during the final choruses of "The Wild Boys?"

If you are interested on some of the background of "The Reflex," though, I’d suggest checking out this article, featuring insight and memories from producer Ian Little on not only the recording of the single but also the general sessions behind Seven And The Ragged Tiger.  Fairly interesting stuff.

3. Oh Sherrie – Steve Perry  (download)

I know what you want out of me.  You want snark.  I can’t do it.  I like "Oh Sherrie."  There.  I said it.  In fact, I said it a while ago at The Week In Rock.  Here’s what I said then, and I stand by all of this:

Why does this song get such a bad rap?  It’s extremely catchy, it has a great chorus, and love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Steve Perry had unbelievable vocal power.  I like it.  And why is the video so awful?  As opposed to a lot of bombastic music videos of the mid-’80s, this one actually has a sense of humor (it seems to me like the only artists who weren’t taking themselves too seriously in music videso at the time were Steve Perry, Phil Collins and Huey Lewis).  Here’s what it has going for it:

1) False start
2) Hot model
3) Steve Perry playing guitar on a broom
4) "What about the flaming forest of doom, Steve?"

Here’s the part where I’d show you the video to illustrate the above four points.  But wouldn’t you know it, Viacom has taken it down sometime during the past month.  Fuckers!
 
2.  Let’s Hear It For The Boy – Deniece Williams 

1984 was a good year for Dean Pitchford.  Not only did the man write Footloose, the movie, but he wrote the majority of the songs on the soundtrack.  He’s involved in at least nine, including co-writes with Sammy Hagar, Jim Steinman, Eric Carmen and – yes – Kenny Loggins.  He was nominated twice at the 1984 Academy Awards, for "Footloose" and "Let’s Hear It For The Boy."  I can kind of understand "Footloose," but not "Let’s Hear It For The Boy."  It’s not a bad song, but is it Oscar material?  I think not.

(Recently Pitchford collaborated with Richard Marx on a song for Bambi 2: Electric Boogaloo, so you can draw your own conclusions regarding his current career status.

After choosing this week for CHART ATTACK!, "Let’s Hear It For The Boy" was stuck in my head for two days.  Imagine waking up at 3 AM only to hear Deniece Williams hitting that high note near the end.  You should thank me for not offering it up here for download.

1.  Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper 

Did you know that The Hooters were the backing band for Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual?  (Why do I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t know this?)    Well, at least the core members – Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman were involved – and Hyman went on to co-write "Time After Time" with Lauper, essentially guaranteeing that the man never needed to release a successful song ever again.  "Time After Time" has been covered by hundreds of artists, including Eva Cassidy (beautiful), Willie Nelson (terrible), Miles Davis (just reminds you that the song is essentially three chords over and over again), Uncle Cracker (you don’t expect me to comment, do you?), Sugar Ray (fuck you), and even The Hooters themselves (instrumentally sound, vocally meh).  I like the original, despite the fact that I’ve never quite been able to fall in love with Lauper’s voice.  I had a slew of covers to choose from here, but in the end I went with Everything But The Girl’s version – mainly because I love me some Tracey Thorn.

Everything But The Girl – Time After Time (download)

That’s it for this week!  Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you next Friday for another edition of CHART ATTACK!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 35

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

Hang on to your precious lil’ mining hats, my mellow friends: today we’re going deep, deep into the mines. How deep? Deep enough that the song we’re covering never came anywhere near the Top 40, was never released as a single, and isn’t even included on most of their Greatest Hits compilations…and yet, I say without any sense of exaggeration that it really doesn’t get any mellower – and somehow, lazier – than this.

England Dan and John Ford Coley – Hold Me (download)

Seriously, folks – this track is one of the more obscure ones I’ve got in the collection. I honestly don’t even know how it got there. I have a hunch it showed up on Pandora at some point, but I can’t be sure. But either way, ladies and gentlemen of the wuss jury, I intend to prove that just one listen of this song will leave the men with empty nutsacs and the women thoroughly unsatisfied.

Now, of course, you all remember the biggest and brightest Mellow Gold hit from Dan Seals and John Colley (not a typo), “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight.” You can read My Top Five Interesting Facts About England Dan And John Ford Colley back in Mellow Gold 13. (You’ll also get a chance to see Terje’s Mellowmas creation, which always impresses and worries me.) Catch up and come on back. We’re not here to talk about the linen movin’ in today. Nor are we here to talk about any of their other Top 40 singles or even “In It For Love,” a fantastic mellow gem of theirs that Dave P sent me. They’ll all be covered in due time. And if I catch any of you guys talking about Todd Rundgren again, I’m going to have Dan Hill deliver a singing mellowgram to your bedroom at 4 in the morning. Don’t test me. I’ll do it.

Anyway, when we last saw the dynamic duo, they were just finishing up their latest photo session at the local Sears.


I feel like it’s only a matter of time before Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson adopt these roles.

The guys were doin’ pretty well, actually. Although they were in danger of being swallowed whole by their massive fucking collars, they managed to find success with a few other songs: two from Nights Are Forever (including the biggie), and two from their next album, Dowdy Ferry Road. If you think that album title’s awkward, consider one of the singles: “It’s Sad To Belong.” Sounds like it belongs on a perverse episode of Sesame Street or something. Anyhoo, it’s on their next album where we uncover today’s song.

Man, were these guys fucking downers or what? 4 hits in the Top 40 and “Some Things Don’t Come Easy?” Screw you guys! Firefall would have killed for your career, you assholes! There’s an especially earnest review of this album on AllMusic. I’m particularly fond of these two gems:

“If Dowdy Ferry Road was their bleak moment in song, Some Things Don’t Come Easy is the calm before the storm, a port prior to the schizophrenia that was Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive.”

All I want to do is call Joe Viglione in the middle of the night and tease him for listening to enough of England Dan and John Ford Coley that he can make a comparison like this one. But I won’t. Here’s the part I really love:

“They look alike on the smiling, happy airbrushed front cover, but you can almost see sadness in their eyes on the photos on the back.”

Ten minutes is longer than anybody should take to try and find the back cover on the ‘net, so if you can locate it, let us know. Interesting, though, that Joe mentioned the misleading smiles on the cover, but didn’t note the most misleading part of all – the electric guitar!

Anyway, the hit from this album was “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again” (and oh boy, is that one mellow), but I think “Hold Me” is much more interesting, mainly because it’s actually not really interesting at all. Instead, when listening to this song, one can’t help but feel like the duo merely decided to cash in on the mellow formula that they knew was a sure-fire hit. The song was written by Coley and two other guys – Bob Gundry and Simon Waltzer – who, as far as I can tell, haven’t really written anything else. It’s almost as of the three of them found a refrigerator-magnet set of mellow keywords, and just kind of put them together. Shall we? (Note: I couldn’t even find these lyrics online, which meant I had to listen to the song, pausing repeatedly, to transcribe these. No need to thank me. Everything I do, I do it for you.) Oh, and in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, I think this song is being sung to a whore. Let’s go!

Some loves are easy
And some are just games

Oh boy, England Dan, do I hear you on that one.

Sometimes the one you love doesn’t even have a name

Took me a minute to figure out what the hell this line meant. Now that I understand it, I don’t think it’s a very nice thing to say. Hookers have names. Isn’t that right, Charlene?

Sometimes I run away

And, of course, the image in your head should be some guy running down the block in his Fruit Of The Loom tighty-whities, clutching his jeans in his arms, tears rolling down his face, wondering if he left his wallet on the nightstand.

But this time I’ll stay

Oh, that’s a relief.

‘Cause you say your love will mend what’s broken

Shame, E.D.! That’s just a line they use so that you’ll squander away those “Diamond Girl” royalties your brother lent you!

Oh, wait a minute – here comes the best part: the chorus!

So hold me
Tell me that you’ll be here tomorrow
Just hold me
Do you have a love I can borrow?

Wuss jury, I present to you Exhibit A, and the only exhibit I really need to put forth: “Do you have a love I can borrow?” I’m seriously having a hard time thinking that these schmucks were earnestly asking such a question. In fact, some part of me wants to believe that this was just a way to rhyme with “tomorrow.” I need to believe it, because if not, then that means that these people are the wimpiest people ever to walk this Earth.

Except for maybe one person, whom you may have thought of already.

For those of you who aren’t fans of The Simpsons, here’s a brief clip where Kirk attempts to seduce his soon-to-be-ex-wife back into loving him via romantic serenade:

Go ahead. Try and convince me that the lyrics to “Hold Me” are any better than “Can I Borrow A Feeling?”.

And honestly! What does “do you have a love I can borrow” even mean? Are these guys so meek, so tentative that they wouldn’t dare actually ask a woman to give her love without any condition attached? If he really is talking to a hooker (and how fucked up would it be if I was right?), is he just deluding himself, thinking that what she’s giving him is actually love, when we know that what she’s really giving him is chlamydia? How did this get past Mellow Quality Control?

I’m not even through the chorus yet!

‘Cause the fire in your eyes
Makes my heart ignite

That’s the chlamydia talking, England Dan.

So hold me
Hold me tonight


Note the pronunciation of “hold” here: it’s got that a little bit of a breath behind it – the kind that is usually only used when the “hold me” phrase is supposed to be especially dramatic. I think this is an Seals/Coley thing: remember the way we heard the word “while” back in “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight”? (You don’t? Damn – clearly I’m working too hard here.)

The chorus is over and we’re back to that piano riff (which, by the way, makes me want to break into “Oh No” by The Commodores). Why mess with the formula, fellas? More lazy, wussy lyrics, please!

Some loves are spoken
And some understood

Are we doing a compare/contrast thing again, here? Are you saying that loves that are spoken are not understood? Or that to understand love, you can’t speak it? Are we talking about the kind of love that dares not speak its name (a.k.a. in the butt)?

Sometimes you throw away a love that seems so good

/smacks head on desk

Now here I am with you
Feeling hope again
This time I hope there’ll be no ending

I’m about 20 seconds away from just throwing in the towel, people.

More chorus, then…you guessed it: Bridge!

Let our souls unite
You’ll be the love in my life
Tell me that it’s not just for the night

Ah HA! It is a hooker! I knew it!

Here’s the one interesting part of the song: from the bridge, they go right back into the chorus, but they sneak in a key change. At least I think it’s a key change. I can’t tell, for some reason, and the fact that an England Dan & John Coley song is making me question my own musical abilities is messing with my head right now. And check out that ending – how they decide not to resolve to the root chord. There’s a reason for this, I’m sure. What it is, though, completely eludes me. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that this song, while containing everything we look for in a Mellow Gold tune, seems disingenuous, somehow. I didn’t know it was possible to phone in a mellow performance before I heard “Hold Me.” In a way, this song represents the best and worst of Mellow Gold. I dunno. What do you guys think? Perhaps if this had been their debut performance on the charts, I’d believe them. But with the amount of mellow hits they had, and the fact that their eyes (supposedly) looked so sad on the back of the LP, I just can’t help but wonder if this song was formulaic filler.

Well, no matter: the boys managed to hold on to the formula a while longer, for just a few more singles, before they broke up and went their separate ways. Dan Seals headed towards the country market, where he amassed an impressive 11 #1s, 7 of them consecutive. He now tours with his brother Jim as part of Seals & Seals. (You can go to their website if you wish, but be aware that each time you load it, you’ll have to sit through a five-minute Flash presentation.) John Ford Coley left the business temporarily after the split, but you can find him touring this summer with the likes of Christopher Cross, Ambrosia, Stephen Bishop, and holy shit, I have to go right now and see if I can catch one of these shows.

I don’t know whether to be disgusted with this song or enamored with its mellowness, but either way, I’m out of time. See you soon for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

CHART ATTACK! #34: 6/4/88

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Happy Friday, everybody!  It’s time for another fun-filled edition of CHART ATTACK!, this time from one of those weeks where I heard every one of these songs on the radio on a daily basis.  Ahh, those were the days.  It’s June 4, 1988!  Let’s start attackin’!

10.  Anything For You – Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine  Amazon iTunes
9.  Make It Real – The Jets   Amazon iTunes
8.  I Don’t Want To Live Without You – Foreigner   Amazon iTunes
7.  Foolish Beat – Debbie Gibson   Amazon iTunes
6.  Piano In The Dark – Brenda Russell   Amazon iTunes
5.  Together Forever – Rick Astley   Amazon iTunes
4.  Everything Your Heart Desires – Daryl Hall & John Oates   Amazon iTunes
3.  Naughty Girls (Need Love Too) – Samantha Fox   Amazon iTunes
2.  Shattered Dreams – Johnny Hates Jazz   Amazon iTunes
1.  One More Try – George Michael   Amazon iTunes
 

10. Anything For You – Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine

I am finding it hard to believe that this is the first time these guys have appeard on CHART ATTACK!.  It makes no sense to me.  I must admit to you that I have a soft spot for anything sung by Gloria Estefan between 1985 and 1990.  I listened to my Let It Loose cassette more times than I care to mention, and I’m pretty sure I own 45s of at least three songs from that album.  And I especially love the ballads, despite the fact that they’re the John Williams equivalent of pop tunes.  You know how it always takes you a second to remember the themes from Superman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars without confusing them?  Yeah.  "Anything For You" is "Don’t Wanna Lose You" is "Cuts Both Ways" is "Here We Are," etc.  "Anything For You" is one of the few to hit #1, and the only #1 while the band was still receiving name-billing: although Miami Sound Machine has remained her backing band, Estefan essentially became a solo artist following this album.

I don’t want to harp on this, since I mentioned it in regards to Kim Wilde last week, but Gloria Estefan is still quite hot.  And she really wasn’t that hot when her career first started.  She’s like the Alison Krauss of pop music.  (Two!  Two analogies in one entry!)

9.   Make It Real – The Jets 

Oh, The Jets.  How I loved The Jets.  I actually saw The Jets in concert.  Westbury Music Fair.  Stacey Q opened.  She came out to sign autographs at intermission and fainted.  Anyway, great show, at least to my 10 year-old ears.  Here’s what I never understood about The Jets.  They were a Polynesian family group, right?  Here’s a picture of them:

Okay, everybody who’s not an illegitimate child or adopted, raise your hand.  NOT SO FAST, WHITE GUY IN THE MIDDLE!  I swear, I never could figure out why this guy looked absolutely NOTHING LIKE the others guys and girls in the band.  My theory is that he was just hanging out near them one day, back when they were just performing at county fairs and stuff, and snuck in – and because there are so many damn people in the band, nobody ever picked up on it.  "What?  Oh,  yeah, I’m your brother.  Seriously, I am.  There’s like 17 of us.  Trust me, I’m one of them."

And here’s why I think I’m on to something – this guy, known as Eugene Wolfgramm, eventually must have been found out, because he left the band, changed his name to Gene Hunt, and formed the group Boys Club.  I am not making this up.  Doesn’t everybody see?  There’s a family scandal going on here, and I’m the first to pick up on it!  You’ll all thank me one day when the truth comes out.

Shit, I’m only on #9.  Gotta move on.  No time to actually, you know, talk about the song in question.

8.  I Don’t Want To Live Without You – Foreigner 

It’s true.  I don’t want to live without you, Chart Attack! readers.  Live without your (blog) love.  You see, I’m lost without your (blog) love.  I repeat this line because it took me about 20 minutes to remember which of the testicularly challenged Foreigner songs this was.  I do remember the video for this one getting heavy rotation on MTV.  You remember how beautiful it was, right?  Not only because of the time-lapse nature footage, or the romantic clips of people falling in love, but because Foreigner don’t appear in the video at all?  That’s the most beautiful part!

All that 6/4/88 is doing so far is revealing what a pussy I am.  I like Gloria Estefan ballads, and I think the pre-chorus to this song ("I’m longing for the time…") is pretty.  In fact, I might learn this one on piano or guitar and see if it scores me any points with the wife, who I’m relatively certain has given up on this website.  I’m guessing that performing it on melodica is not going to do me any favors, though.

Foreigner are touring this summer with Def Leppard and Styx.  Great: two bands with new lead singers, and one band who has lowered every song down about four steps.  Where do I sign up?

"I Don’t Want To Live Without You" was Foreigner’s last appearance in the Top 40, ever.  And don’t pull that "never say never" bullshit because I can say pretty confidently that Foreigner are not making a comeback.

7.  Foolish Beat – Debbie Gibson 

When I was 10 years old, I had a huge crush on Debbie Gibson.  I just watched the video for "Foolish Beat" and the whole thing just came flooding back.  Even the big hair didn’t bother me.

I know this argument is null and void now that she’s posed for Playboy, but is it not amazing how clean-cut you could be at 16 and still have a hit back in 1988?

So then I went looking for other Debbie Gibson clips.  The best clip I found was her performing "I Wanna Destroy You" with the Circle Jerks at CBGBs in 1990.

I’m like two seconds away from going into a tangent about "Electric Youth," but I’ll restrain myself.  Instead, I’ll just say that I think we should give Debbie some props.  This is the week that "Foolish Beat" entered the top 10.  Three weeks later, it hit #1, and at 16 years old, she became the youngest person ever to write, record AND produce a #1 hit.  Beat THAT, Tiffany.

6.  Piano In The Dark – Brenda Russell (download) 

Guilty pleasure alert!  Guilty pleasure alert!  If you don’t immediately remember this one, just imagine this:  if the drum beat from "No One Is To Blame," the bass line from "Sign Your Name," the finger snaps from "Father Figure" and the keyboards from just about every ’80s ballad ever released had some kind of orgy, the love child would clearly be "Piano In The Dark."  I like this track, but I know for a fact that Mike absolutely adores this track, so maybe he’ll talk about it in the comments.  I don’t have too much to say about it, except for the fact that for a song called "Piano In The Dark," there’s very little piano.  There’s a short little piano solo in the middle, but the rest is synth.

You may be wondering: who’s the guy in the middle who sounds suspiciously like Michael McDonald, and subsequently just makes me wish that the song really did feature Michael McDonald?  Why, it’s none other than Joe "Bean" Esposito, the star of our very first LOST SOUNDTRACK CLASSICS series!  Yes, the man who sings "You’re The Best" also is featured on "Piano In The Dark," and was even nominated, along with Russell, for Best Pop Duo at the 1988 Grammy Awards.

Other than a minor hit in the early ’80s, "Piano In The Dark" was Brenda Russell’s last appearance on the charts.  She also wrote "Get Here," which was eventually a hit for Oleta Adams, and is a co-writer of the current Oprah-produced musical The Color Purple.  Beat THAT, Tiffany.

5.  Together Forever – Rick Astley 

Man, do I long for the days where I could just turn on the Lite-FM station and hear this one.  Oh, wait, I forgot – I can hear this song every single day of my entire life on the Lite-FM station.  This is yet another song that I always seem to specifically hear when I’m sitting in a dentist’s chair.  "Never Gonna Give You Up" is considered the more popular of Astley’s two #1 hits, but I swear that I hear this one more often.  Or you know what, maybe I’m just confused, since they’re pretty much the same damn song.

4.  Everything Your Heart Desires – Daryl Hall & John Oates

I was a big fan of Hall & Oates when I was a kid.  Big Bam Boom was one of the first records I bought with my own money.  And maybe it’s because I was so young, but the time between Big Bam Boom (1984) and Ooh Yeah! (1988) seemed like an eternity.  Furthermore, as a highly astute 11 year-old, I felt that H&O had effectively sabotaged their career by taking a hiatus, as they would never be that big again.  I guess I was right on that front – "Everything Your Heart Desires" was their last appearance in the Top Ten.  ("So Close" came, uh, so close.)  However, as an 11 year-old, I also wasn’t taking into account the duo’s long history and tireless climb that got them to the point where they deserved a break.  All I knew was that "Everything Your Heart Desires" was a significant disappointment to me, and seemed somewhat anticlimactic after four years away.

Do yourself a favor: if you haven’t already, go read Jefito’s Idiot Guides to Hall & Oates (Part 1 and Part 2 – ) for the definitive career review on the original Ambiguously Gay Duo.

3.  Naughty Girls (Need Love Too) – Samantha Fox

Are you shitting me?  This song made it to #3?  Really?

I guess I’m just getting lazy, but I don’t feel like I have much to say about "Say It Loud (I’m Trashy And I’m Proud)" or whatever the name of this song is.  But here’s something interesting about Samantha Fox.  I just looked at the tracklist for her Greatest Hits (of course she has a greatest hits disc!  Snow has a greatest hits disc!  Hilary Duff has a greatest hits disc!), and 7 out of 18 songs have needless parentheses.  I will allow her one exception, as she covers "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction," but it must be understood that this exception is only in regards to parentheses, not the actual cover itself, which frightens me based on concept alone.  The others, however, are unacceptable.  And I’m not even discussing songs with parentheses that didn’t make it onto the Greatest Hits disc!  You know, songs like "Hurt Me! Hurt Me! (But The Pants Stay On)".  Hey, wait a minute…that one’s pretty good!

Samantha Fox "live", y’all:

2.  Shattered Dreams – Johnny Hates Jazz (download) 

…and this is pretty much as good as it was ever going to get for Johnny Hates Jazz.  Frankly, I don’t know what happened: good song, creative band name…this is it?  I know they broke the Top 40 with "I Don’t Want To Be A Hero," but I wouldn’t recognize it if you put a gun to my head.  Even Breathe had more than one recognizable hit. 

Here’s the video.  Check out that George Michael stubble!

I know what you’re dying to know:  where are Johnny Hates Jazz now?  Good question.  I don’t know about most of the band, but I can tell you that if you call lead singer Clark Datchler by his God-given name, he’ll most likely punch you in the face.  No, he’s now known as (are you ready for this?) NIGHTFOXX.  NIGHTFOXX!!!  I love it.  If you check out his website for long enough, you’ll eventually hear a sample of a NIGHTFOXX cover of "Shattered Dreams."  I can’t believe I stuck around long enough to hear it, actually.

1.  One More Try – George Michael 

1988 pretty much belonged to George Michael.  "One More Try" was the third of four consecutive #2 singles from Faith, and stayed at #1 for three weeks.  These days, three weeks isn’t anything impressive, but in 1988, it was the second longest-running #1 single of the year, tied with "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."  Of course, being a big George Michael fan, I knew that already, but I learned something new while writing this entry:  "One More Try" was the last single to hit $1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart by a white male artist until this year, when Robin Thicke released "Lost Without U."

I always liked "One More Try," but the live version greatly improves upon the original.  The song’s tempo was slower, which may sound a bit like torture, but is saved by an excellent gospel feel.  Take a listen:

George Michael – One More Try (Live Gospel Version) (download)

And that brings us to the end of another chart attackin’ week!  As always, thanks so much for reading and commenting – your comments are the best part of each entry.  Have a great weekend and see you next time!