Note from Jason: It’s Friday and I’m a lame writer this month, which can only mean one thing: another guest-written CHART ATTACK! This week’s entry is written by our good buddy Carlos Ramirez. Carlos has been a jasonhare.com contributor since the very beginning, and was one of the first to suggest that Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold become a regular series (see what you did, Carlos?). I’m happy to have him attacking the charts this week, and I hope you will be, too, so let’s welcome him as he takes on March 23, 1985!
10. Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood Amazon iTunes
9. Only The Young – Journey Amazon iTunes
8. High On You – Survivor Amazon iTunes
7. Private Dancer – Tina Turner Amazon iTunes
6. Lovergirl – Teena Marie Amazon iTunes
5. Too Late For Goodbyes – Julian Lennon Amazon iTunes
4. The Heat Is On – Glenn Frey Amazon
3. One More Night – Phil Collins Amazon iTunes
2. Material Girl – Madonna Amazon iTunes
1. Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon Amazon iTunes
10. Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Frankie Goes To Hollywood was a 5-piece synthrock outfit whose members got their starts in the Liverpool punk scene of the late 1970’s. The group was spearheaded by vocalist Holly Johnson and a Freddie Mercury look-alike named Paul Rutherford. No one could ever really explain what Paul did, exactly; I like to think of him as a gay version of Flava Flav. He would just stand on stage, dance around and get the crowd to join in during the chorus parts, much like a "hype man" would do at a rap concert.
FGTH had a huge hit here with "Relax" in 1985. Many critics at the time gave producer Trevor Horn credit for much of the song and the success of its accompanying album, Welcome To The Pleasuredome. Horn had previously been the brainchild of Buggles, who most of you will know for their song "Video Killed the Radio Star" which was the first video EVER played on MTV in 1981.
After Buggles, Horn went on to join and produce prog-gods Yes. After producing popular albums for ABC and Dollar, he got into the record company business with a London journo named Paul Morley. They called their label ZTT. Although the album went on to sell millions of copies and help fund ZTT well into the late 80’s, Frankie Goes To Hollywood later sued (successfully) Horn and the label for unpaid royalties.
9. Only The Young – Journey
Taken from the soundtrack to the Matthew Modine film Vision Quest , "Only The Young" was originally supposed to be included on Journey’s 1983 album Frontiers. The song was foolishly taken off at the 11th hour by their A&R man at Columbia Records. Jonathan Cain’s synth line just screams of early 80’s AOR rock and would have not sounded out of place on an Asia or Aldo Nova album. You can almost vision a keytar being rocked out in the studio!
I had the pleasure of meeting former Journey vocalist Steve Perry this past summer, and I asked him what songs he cherished most from his time in the band. This was one of the ones he mentioned, which kind of took me by surprise.
8. High On You – Survivor
It’s almost poetic justice that this song charted higher than Journey this week, because Survivor was always looked upon as a poor man’s version of the California arena rockers. I, for one, have always preferred the boys from Chicago, and I’ve caught a lot of crap for it!
This song is sung by their second vocalist, Jimi Jamison, who replaced "Eye of the Tiger" frontman Dave Bickler in 1983. You might also recognize Jimi’s vocals from the theme song to Baywatch. I have linked to their performance of "High On You" from Solid Gold, where you could see their bassist playing one of those headless, rectangle shaped basses that Geddy Lee of Rush also played in that time period. I hated those things! Another thing I noticed was how old Jamison looked in that clip. It was 1985 and he already looked about 43 years old! What was it about the 80’s that made people look at least 10 years older?[youtube]z-8RmX4L_ZI[/youtube]
7. Private Dancer – Tina Turner
Mark Knopfler originally wrote this song for his own band, Dire Straits, but gave it to Tina Turner instead. Included on the album of the same name, Private Dancer, the song also features a bluesy solo from none other than Jeff Beck. The song peaked in the States at #7, but the album went on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide. The song seems to be about a gold digging stripper. It’s hard for me to picture Knopfler writing these lyrics, but Tina really sells them! The bridge part where she sings "Deutschmarks or dollars/American Express will do nicely, thank you" always got my attention as a kid. My mom isn’t from this country and her English isn’t that strong so she would sing along to this song when it would play on the radio. If she only knew what this song was actually about!
6. Lover Girl – Teena Marie (download)
Santa Monica, California’s Teena Marie was one of the first white artists signed to Motown Records in the 70’s and she quickly found a creative home within Rick James’ musical camp. They even scored a hit with their duet, "Fire and Desire," off of James’ Street Songs album.
The same old’ "label screws the artist" story happened to Marie when she realized that she wasn’t getting paid her fair share of royalties off of her first four albums for Motown. After taking her former label to court and finally being released from her sticky contract, the folks at Epic Records welcomed the soul singer to their fold. Her biggest pop hit, "Lover Girl," came off of her second album for the label which she christened Starchild. Unfortunately, it’s not a concept album based on the life of Jewish kid from Queens named Stanley Eisen who went on to change his name and front one of the biggest bands of the late 70’s. No, instead, the record finds Teena blending her familiar, smoothed-out soul with the kind of rock guitar sound that Prince was exploring during that time. I distinctly remember roller skating to this song at a place called USA Roller Rink in Queens, NY when the song came out.
5. Too Late For Goodbyes – Julian Lennon (download, bonus downloads below)
His father was in The Beatles and his debut album was overseen by legendary producer (Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel) Phil Ramone. How could you go wrong? It looked great on paper and the record did deliver with two top 10 hits: the title track, "Valotte," and the simple yet extremely infectious, "Too Late For Goodbyes." The video for the track was directed by the late Sam Peckinpah. If you know any of Sam’s work, you know that this was a surprising artistic pairing. This is the guy who directed StrawDogs and The Wild Bunch, for chrissakes!
The radio station that introduced me to a lot of the stuff on this chart was WPLJ in New York and I remember that when they premiered "Too Late For Goodbyes" they had a contest where people had to call in and guess who the artist was. Obviously, most people thought it was some kind of lost John Lennon track from the vaults.
I’ve often thought that Julian’s output has never really stood a chance, for obvious reasons. But people should look back at this album and even more, Help Yourself from 1991 which gives home to the singer’s best song, "Saltwater." Although the single was a hit in the UK, it was never properly pushed by Atlantic Records here in the states and failed to chart. Lyrically, "Saltwater" finds him exploring the same kind of worldly ideas that his late father tackled on "Imagine."
(Jason’s note: Carlos is right – "Saltwater" is a great song – so I’m going to offer two bonus downloads this week: "Saltwater" by Julian Lennon (download), and a live cover by Tommy Emmanuel, my favorite guitarist (download). Enjoy.)
4. The Heat Is On – Glenn Frey
Let me start out by saying the guy playing the film editor in the video looks like jazz great Tom Scott. Secondly, I hated videos in the 80’s that spliced in actual dialog and sound bites from the movie the song was taken from! Check out the sax player’s mullet! Is that Dee Wallace Stone? Glenn looks like he plowed through $400 worth of Colombian gold about a millisecond before the director yelled "Action!" I’m not the biggest Frey fan, but is it just me, or does it sound like this song is really just Kenny Loggins backed by the Silver Bullet Band?[youtube]XTvv_9zgYnE[/youtube]
3. One More Night – Phil Collins
This Lite FM staple became Phil’s second number one song after the massive success of "Against All Odds" the previous year. I’m 32 and I can’t ever remember a time where it was OK to admit you were a Phil Collins fan. Lord knows that I’ve gotten a lot of grief whenever I’ve stuck up for his output!
I think it’s songs like this that have branded him "middle of the road," but I don’t think he’s ever tried to pass these kind of songs as anything but what they truly are: ballads. But if you want to satisfy the inner-critic/rock snob in you, look no further than his first two solo albums for some inventive pop songwriting and instrumentation. Now that Tarzan soundtrack, that’s something even I can’t defend!
2. Material Girl – Madonna
Co-written by two obscure funksters named Peter Brown and Robert Rans, "Material Girl" is a song that Madonna has had a love/hate relationship for the better part of two decades. After her Who’s That Girl Tour of 1987, she even declared that she would never perform the song in concert again, but actually has included the song in her live shows as late as last year. The video was directed by Mary Lambert who went on to direct both Pet Sematary movies.
The clip’s obvious inspiration was Marilyn Monroe and her film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes from 1953. Me and my friends, like most of you here, have always been trivia fanatics. We were watching this video once around the time of its release and my pal, Rob Savage, turned to me and said "the creepy dude with the beard’s brother in real life is the main dude from Revenge of the Nerds." This is the kind of useless crap that excited(s) us!
In other trivia news, the backing band on the hit was essentially Chic, with Nile Rodgers on guitar, Bernard Edwards on bass and Tony Thompson on drums. Rodgers also produced the album which this song is named after.
1. Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon
I had the 45 single for this song that my dad bought for me at the flea market where this creepy hippie dude who would sell bootlegs for really decent prices. Through this guy, I discovered a lot of bands that I probably wouldn’t have looked out for on my own. The funny thing was, whenever I would buy a record from a band like REO Speedwagon or April Wine, he would make these offhand comments under his breath. What can I say? I never found a power ballad hook I didn’t like! Start the song off with a simple piano figure, add a vocal part during the first verse and have the rest of the band kick in with a little bit of compressed distortion and you nailed it! Kevin Cronin struck AOR gold a few times with this formula. The video is a completely different story! Wow! The thing you see is a baby which then fades into Cronin’s grill which is kind of a bad idea actually. The rest of the video is marred by more questionable artistic calls. I think even Dennis DeYoung cringed when he saw this![youtube]USZjTY8mhrw[/youtube]
THANKS SO MUCH JASON!
Hell, no – thank YOU, Carlos, for deftly attacking the charts this week! You pulled up a bunch of fascinating facts – loved the WPLJ tidbit and remember when they did the same for Donny Osmond’s "Soldier Of Love" – and gave your best shot at defending Phil Collins! Excellent work – thanks, everyone, for reading and downloading, and we’ll see you back here next week for another CHART ATTACK!