After a string of hits in the 70’s, Canadian singer Gino Vannelli started the 80’s off smooth with this ode to lost love. After it hit #6 on the Billboard Top 100, Vannelli was spoofed on SCTV by Eugene Levy that same year. Watch the video and see if you could find a way to have fun with that hair. In addition to all his smooth music, Gino is notable for being just the second Caucasian performer on Soul Train way back in 1975. Get out your hair brush and sing along in the bathroom mirror…
Taken from their 1981 album of the same name, Exile only had minor success with their rendition of “Heart and Soul,” peaking at #102 on the US pop charts. The song was written by MIke Chapman and Nicky Chinn, who wrote songs for a number of British pop bands including Sweet, Suzi Quatro and Mud. The song was again recorded in 1982 by The Bus Boys, and then again, with a great deal of chart success, in 1983 by Huey Lewis & The News. Chapman also produced Exile’s version of the tune.
Vanwarmer only had a few chart hits before moving to Nashville and writing songs for country artists. This was not one of them. The 1981 single was the singer’s third straight single that failed to chart. The song is taken from his second studio album, 1980’s Terraform.
The British band had a big hit across the pond in 1981 when “I Love You” hit #12 on the US pop charts. Despite it’s success, the song contributed to the band’s eventual break up a few years later. Most of the band was not a fan of the song, penned by bass player Derek Holt. Some of them refused to play on the recording, and those who did, did so reluctantly, as they felt the song’s sound was too soft for the band. It was producer John Ryan who insisted on the song’s inclusion on their 1980 albumFlying the Flag. Even after it became a breakout hit for them in the US, many of the band members did not want to perform what they felt was a Derek Holt solo song live, and because of this their subsequent US tour was cancelled. The only time the song has been performed on US soil was in 2005 as Derek Holt explains: “The only time I’ve ever performed that song live in America, I went to Florida last year (2005) to Clearwater with my family, and I ended up in a karaoke bar. It’s called Big Ben’s, it’s like an English pub. My wife and I sat down, the reason we went to the pub was because we dig liver and onions and a pint of real English beer. So we went down there and sure enough there’s karaoke on, and the karaoke book gets put onto your table. We were sifting through it, and I’m looking at Climax Blues Band. Couldn’t Get It Right wasn’t even in the book, but Climax Blues Band I Love You was in the book. So my wife called the guy over. She said, ‘This song I Love You,’ this guy here was in The Climax Blues Band and he wrote it and he sang it.’ And the guy said, ‘Never.’ Anyway, I went up on the stage, and of course as soon as I opened my mouth and started singing it, it was obvious it was me. I was him. And the place went wild. I never bought a drink again the whole night. That’s the one and only time. In fact, I’ve got a photograph of it with my little girl. She came up with me and helped me sing it. She’s only 10, but we stood there and everybody got up and danced and as soon as it finished everyone was like, ‘Bloody hell, where’s the limo?’”
The title track from Chaka’s third solo album, released in 1981, was a #1 R&B hit in the US, and a #53 hit on the pop charts. The song was written by Ned Doheny, whose solo work has been featured on this blog, and Hamish Stuart of the Average White Band. The track was produced by the great Arif Mardin (Queen, Phil Collins, Bee Gees) and features a great cast of musicians including Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Anthony Jackson and Bob Christianson.
As the 70s became the 80s, jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour shifted to a more pop-oriented sound and scored big with the help of Eric Tagg on this song from his 1981 album Rit. Lee, who, in addition to his jazz albums and collaborations, had done a great deal of session work in the 70s for artists like Steely Dan, Pink Floyd and Barbra Streisand, had the biggest hit of his career when this tune went all the way to #15 on the US pop charts. Legendary keyboardist David Foster and equally legendary drummer Harvey Mason produced the song.
Day 101: Christopher Cross - Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)
Christopher Cross hit #1 again in 1981 with the theme song from the Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli filmArthur. He co-wrote the song with Burt Bacharach and Burt’s frequent writing partner, and then wife, Carole Bayer Sager and Australian Peter Allen, best known for his work with Olivia Newton-John and Melissa Manchester. The song won the quartet an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Michael Omartian (Steely Dan, Whitney Houston, Peter Cetera) produced the track. Fitz & The Tantrums redid the song for the 2011 remake of the film.