Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #300-291

If you're ready to dive into The Top 300*, we're ready to present them to you!  If you're not, go back to all the previous segments quick-like and then come back to enjoy these: 






When I Need You 
Leo Sayer

"One of my favorites."
"Just love it."
"I love this song--so beautiful."
"Such a classic and sooooo beautiful."

"Love, love, love this song."


Leo Sayer got his first break when all of the songs on Roger Daltrey's (lead singer of the Who) debut solo album were written by Sayer and Dave Courtney. 

Albert Hammond combined with Carole Bayer Sager to write "When I Need You".  Hammond was scheduled to record an album in a few weeks, and his normal songwriting partner was not available.  Hammond called Carole and played her the melody.  Bayer Sager based the lyrics on Albert's personal experiences, having traveled a lot and talking to Carole about the difficulties of being away from someone you love.  

Hammond recorded the song as the title track on his 1976 album.  Sayer also recorded "When I Need You" for his album Endless Flight.  Sayer chose a solid producer for the album in Richard Perry.  Perry had produced artists such as Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon and Nilsson.  Leo told Newsweek, "Perry got me performing on records rather than just writing songs and singing them."  I've let go and it's changed my life."

Sayer hit #1 with "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing", and decided upon "When I Need You" as a follow-up.  It began receiving airplay in February, 1977, at a time when Rock Era listeners could also hear "Hotel California" and "New Kid In Town" by the Eagles, "Evergreen" by Barbra Streisand, "Go Your Own Way" and "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac, "Tonight's The Night" by Rod Stewart, "Sir Duke" from Stevie Wonder, Andy Gibb's "I Just Want To Be Your Everything", "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, "Lucille" from Kenny Rogers, "Looks Like We Made It" by Barry Manilow, and "Southern Nights" by Glen Campbell.   
"When I Need You" followed its predecessor, reaching #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K., and achieving three weeks at #2 in the former.  It sold over one million copies in the United States alone, and has been played over three million times.



Jackson 5


"What a classic!"

"Love this song."
"Truly one of a kind".
"Love it!"
"So catchy."

 This group formed in 1963 with brothers Jackie, Tito and Jermaine, and recruited cousins Johnny Jackson and Ronnie Rancier as drummer and pianist, respectively.  They began to perform around their hometown of Gary, Indiana.  Younger brothers Marlon and Michael joined the following year, taking the place of the cousins, who nevertheless stayed as backing musicians.  In 1965, the brothers won a local talent contest performing "My Girl" by the Temptations.
In 1966, the group competed in another talent contest at the Apollo theater in Manhattan, New York, and won that as well.  The following year, the Jackson 5 opened for Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Knight was so impressed she recommended them to Motown boss Berry Gordy, Jr.
After the Jackson 5 signed with Motown Records, they moved to Hollywood, California to rehearse for a year.  Some lived with Berry Gordy, some, including Michael, with Diana Ross.
This song was written and produced by a group of Motown songwriters known as "The Corporation." They were: Freddie Perren, Fonce Mizell, Deke Richards, and Berry Gordy, Jr. Freddie Perren was a former school teacher, which probably influenced the school metaphors in the lyrics.

The Jackson 5 released the single in
March of 1970 from the album ABC.  At the time, it faced songs such as "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Cecilia" by Simon & Garfunkel, "Let It Be" and "The Long And Winding Road" by the Beatles, "Close To You" by the Carpenters, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" by B.J. Thomas, and "Venus" by the Shocking Blue.  As great as those songs are, the competition beyond those seven drops off quite a bit after that, somewhat limiting "ABC's ranking.  
"ABC" rocketed to #1 for 2 weeks with 9 weeks in the Top 10, and registered at #1 for 4 weeks on the R&B chart.  The song also went to #8 in the U.K.
"ABC" has sold 2 million singles, helped sell 13.5 million albums, and has topped one million in radio airplay.



Rush, Rush 
Paula Abdul

"Beautiful song!"

"Absolutely love this song."

"Both Paula and this song are extremely beautiful."

"Great song."

"Fabulous and fantastic song."

"One of the greatest songs of all-time."


This artist performed in community theater groups at age 7, and began studying jazz and tap dance techniques at age 10 to win a scholarship to study at the Bell Lewitzky Company.  While studying at Cal State-Northridge, Paula Abdul earned $50 per game as a member of the Laker Girls, a dance group of the National Basketball Association team, the Los Angeles Lakers.  Abdul was called upon to choreograph the group's routines. 

Abdul decided to devote her attention to a career in dance, and it did not take long for others to notice.  The Jacksons asked Paula to choreograph their video "Torture".  The acclaim she won for that led to a job with another Jackson, Janet, on the videos from her Control album.  More requests came in, and Abdul choreographed videos for ZZ Top, Duran Duran, Dolly Parton, Debbie Gibson, and Warren Zevon, among others.  Abdul had become the top Pop choreographer in the United States. 

Paula signed a recording contract with Virgin America, and released her debut album Forever Your Girl in 1988.  The immense success of that album proved Abdul to be a multi-faceted star, and set her up for the follow-up album Spellbound.
Peter Lord of the group Family Stand wrote "Rush Rush", and teamed up with his bandmates to write three other hits from Spellbound.  Lord won a Billboard Award for Pop Songwriter of the Year.

The song was a bit of a departure for Abdul, who had featured dance music on her debut album.
 Abdul recorded "Rush Rush" at Greene Street Recording in New York, Studio Masters in Los Angeles, and Z Recording Studio in Brooklyn, New York.  Paula released the single May 2,1991.

The song's main competition came from "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams, and "Emotions", "Someday", and "I Don't Wanna' Cry" by Mariah Carey.

"Rush Rush" was a #1 smash of five weeks on both the Popular and the Adult Contemporary charts, becoming the longest-running #1 since "Like A Virgin" by Madonna in 1984-85.  "Rush Rush" also roared to #1 in Canada, #2 in Australia, #6 in the U.K., #7 in New Zealand and Sweden, and #9 in the Netherlands.

"Rush Rush" helped sell three million albums.



Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? 
Rod Stewart

"One of the greats."
"Amazing song."
"I love this song."
"A classic."
"Sexy song."

This British superstar went to the same school (William Grimshaw in Hornsey, England) with Ray and Dave Davies and Pete Quaife, who went on to form the Kinks.  Rod started as an apprentice with the professional soccer team Brentford Football Club.  But after doing nothing more than polishing other players' boots, poor Rod quit, although he would always have great enthusiasm for the sport.
Stewart turned to music, and Long John Baldry invited him to sing in his band after seeing Stewart perform while he was waiting for a train at Twickenham station.  Stewart went on to front the group Faces before a remarkable solo career.
Rod Stewart teamed up with Carmine Appice and Duane Hitchings to write this #1 Disco classic, featured on Rod's album Blondes Have More Fun late in 1978.  Other songs it encountered on the way up were "Too Much Heaven" by the Bee Gees, "My Life" from Billy Joel, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, "Kiss You All Over" by Exile, "Reunited" by Peaches & Herb, "Le Freak" by Chic, "She Believes In Me" by Kenny Rogers, "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer, "You Needed Me" from Anne Murray, and "What A Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers.
"Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" went to #1 in 11 countries, including the U.S., U.K. and Canada.  It topped the American charts for four weeks and spent 12 weeks in the Top 10 on the Popular chart and also reached #5 on the R&B chart, and spent two weeks at #1 in Australia.  It also went to #2 in France, New Zealand, and Norway, #4 in Norway, #5 in Ireland, #8 in Austria and Switzerland, and #9 in Germany and Finland.

"Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" sold 2 million copies and helped sell 8.5 million albums.
Royalties from the song were donated to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and Stewart performed the song at the famous Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations General Assembly in January, 1979.



Careless Whisper 
Wham! Featuring George Michael

"Great song."
"Mmm.  I love that song."
"One of the 5 best songs of the '80s.  That sax solo puts it over the top."
"One of the best songs ever."
Although this next song is credited to Wham! in the United States, Canada, and Japan, it essentially was George Michael's first solo single.  Ironically, it is one of the few Wham! songs in which Andrew Ridgeley of the duo co-wrote, as Michael and Ridgeley wrote "Careless Whisper" three years previous.  George started writing it when he was just 17 years old, taking a bus to his job as an usher at a movie theatre.
Michael, who became one of the most successful solo artists of his time, acknowledges that one of his first songs he wrote isn't his best work:
It's very na├»ve when you listen to it, but it still stand up, even if it does sound a little immature in some ways.  We made up for that by making sure the production and arrangement didn't sound simplistic.

Michael began recording the song with producer Jerry Wexler at the famed Muscle Shoals Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  However, George wasn't happy with the final result, and decided to re-record and produce the song himself.  The session in Alabama appeared on the album, while the session at Sarm Studios in London produced the single version.
Steve Gregory played the great saxophone solo featured in the song.  Ten different sax players auditioned for the solo before Gregory came up with the sound Michael was looking for.  The biggest challenge was playing all the notes strong in one breath.  The single was released first in the U.K. in August of 1984 from the album Make It Big.
"Careless Whisper" faced great songs such as "Like A Virgin", "Material Girl" and "Crazy For You" by Madonna, "I Just Called To Say I Loved You" by Stevie Wonder, "We Are The World" by USA for Africa, "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" by Tears for Fears, "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon, "I Want To Know What Love Is" by Foreigner, Chicago's "You're The Inspiration", "One More Night" from Phil Collins, "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince, and"Caribbean Queen" by Billy Ocean.

"Careless Whisper" went to #1 in 25 countries, including China, a first for a Western artist.  The song topped the U.S. chart for three weeks overall, rose to #1 for five weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart, and peaked at #8 on the R&B chart.  It also hit #1 for three weeks in the U.K., and finished the year as the fifth-best-selling single.  The song also topped charts in Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, among others, and reached #2 in Austria, Norway, and Sweden, and #3 in Germany, France, and New Zealand. 

The success in China led to an invitation from beyond the Great Wall, as the Chinese briefly joined the rest of the world in the 20th century.  Wham! became the first major Western rock group to perform in China.  Over 12,000 people attended the concert at the People's Gymnasium in Peking on April 7, 1985.  Three days later, the duo packed the 100-year old Opera House in Canton.

"Careless Whisper" has sold two million singles in the U.S. and six million copies worldwide, and helped sell six million albums in the United States alone.  



Gangsta's Paradise 
"Love that song."

"One of my favorite songs of all-time."


"It has perhaps one of the most catchiest hooks ever to be written."

"This is my favorite song--it's awesome!"



The classic at #295* is a reworking of a song on Stevie Wonder's great 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life called "Pastime Paradise".  "Gangsta's Paradise" uses the same melody, but different words and different orchestration.  Coolio changed the theme of the song from an attack on living in the past or future to the story of a young African-American "gangsta", regretting the life he has chosen for himself.  Larry Sanders, who goes by the stage name of L.V., began working on the song and sent a copy to Coolio, who was looking for a song to record for the great movie Dangerous Minds starring Michelle Pfeiffer in 1995.

The song begins with a line from Psalm 23 in the Bible:  "As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death", then the somber line, "I take a look at my life and realize there's nothin' left."  To play on the religious overtones of the song, Coolio is accompanied by choral vocals.

When Coolio first played it for Wonder, Stevie did not approve it because it contained profanity.  Once Coolio took those words out, Wonder was 100% on board with it. 

In addition to being the featured song on the "Dangerous Minds" Soundtrack, Coolio included it on his studio album Gangsta's Paradise.
"Gangsta's Paradise" racked up a sensational 12 weeks in the Top 2, three at #9 and nine at #2, as the song is tied for fourth place in the Rock Era for the most weeks at #2.
The song's story reached far beyond the United States, however.  "Gangsta's Paradise" went to #1 in the U.K., Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.  It holds the record for the longest running #1 single in Australia since the first ever ARIA Chart was listed on July 10, 1983.  It topped all songs for 13 weeks.
"Gangsta's Paradise" finished the year as the top-selling single of 1995.  Coolio earned the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance, won MTV Video Music Awards for Best Rap Video and Best Video from a Film and a Billboard Music Award for Top Hot 100 Song.
"Gangsta's Paradise" has sold over five million copies in the U.S., the U.K., and Germany alone.   




Live And Let Die 
Paul McCartney & Wings


"The beginning is magnificent."

"Love this song."


"Amazing song--the rhythm changes are incredible!"

"Great percussion!"
Before Tom Mankiewicz had finished writing the screenplay to the movie Live and Let Die, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli invited Paul McCartney to write the theme song.  Saltzman originally wanted Shirley Bassey (who had recorded another Bond theme, "Goldfinger"), or Thelma Houston to record the song.  But McCartney would allow the song to be used for the movie only if Wings could be featured in the opening credits.  Saltzman had previously blown it by rejecting a chance to produce the movie A Hard Day's Night, and didn't want to make the same mistake.  He relented.   
Paul wanted the producers to send him a copy of Ian Fleming's novel that the movie was based on.  He and his wife Linda wrote the song the afternoon they received the book, and Wings recorded the song at A.I.R. Studios in London the following week while also recording songs for their album Red Rose Speedway.  Ray Cooper, who later became famous as Elton John's percussionist, lent his talents on "Live And Let Die". 

The group recorded the song in October, 1972.  It reunited McCartney with his producer in the Beatle years, George Martin, who also arranged the orchestra parts in the song.  "Live And Let Die" was released June 1, 1973 in the U.K. and June 18 in the United States. 

Competition included "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Daniel" by Elton John, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Ole Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando & Dawn, "The Most Beautiful Girl" by Charlie Rich, "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, Wings' own "My Love", "Midnight Train To Georgia" from Gladys Knight & the Pips, "Kodachrome" by Paul Simon, Grand Funk's "We're An American Band", and Chicago's "Just You 'N Me".
"Live And Let Die" became the most successful James Bond song to that point, landing at #2 for three weeks on the Popular chart and #8 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It also peaked at #2 in Canada and Norway, #5 in Australia, and #9 in the U.K.

"Live And Let Die" sold over one million singles and five million albums, and has been played over four million times.  It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song, losing to Barbra Streisand's "The Way We Were".


All Out Of Love 
Air Supply

"Super song!"
"Love this incredible song!"
"Beautiful song."

"Such a nice song."

"One of the greatest songs ever."

"I love this song.  The lyrics hit straight to the heart."

Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell met in May of 1975 while they performed in the Australian production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical, Jesus Christ Superstar.  They formed a group while the show was still playing.  When bassist Jeremy Paul joined in 1976, the three formed the group Air Supply. 
When you hear songs on the radio, and hear that artists sell a million copies of a song, it's easy to think that it's easy.  It isn't.  First off, when an artist sells a million copies of a single or album, most of that money goes to the record company.  Second, the odds of someone getting to that point are about a million to one--in other words, for every one million aspiring artists, one makes it to the bigtime.
Here's a case in point of what a group has to go through.  By 1979, Air Supply had released four albums.  Although they had enjoyed some success in their native Australia, Russell later admitted that they were so poor that they checked the backs of hotel sofas for change so that they could buy bread to make toast. 
But Air Supply persevered, and after their single "Lost In Love" was discovered and re-released in 1980, the group was on their way.  They went on to score seven Top 5 singles in a row from 1980-82, and were one of the hottest artists at any time in the Rock Era.

The second in that incredible run of Top 5 songs was this song at #293*.  "All Out Of Love" was the follow-up to "Lost In Love", a summer favorite in 1980.  Among the other songs out at the time:  "Lady" by Kenny Rogers, "Another Brick In The Wall" by Pink Floyd, "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" by Billy Joel, Blondie's "Call Me", "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen, "Magic" from Olivia Newton-John, Air Supply's own "Lost In Love", "Woman In Love" by Barbra Streisand, "Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon, "Sailing" by Christopher Cross, "Upside Down" from Diana Ross, "9 To 5" by Dolly Parton, and "I Love A Rainy Night" from Eddie Rabbitt. 

  "All Out Of Love" officially peaked at #2 for four weeks, although most radio stations had it at #1.  It piled up 10 weeks in the Top 10, and was #5 among adults.  The song sold over one million singles and helped sell seven million albums, and has been played over two million times to date. 



Ruby Tuesday 
Rolling Stones

"Love this song."
"One of my favorites."

"Such beautiful lyrics.  Musical genius."

"Great, classic song."

"Awesome song!"
Here's one of seven songs by the Rolling Stones in The Top 500*, and is one of 21 songs from the year 1967 to make the elite special.

Lead guitarist Keith Richards wrote this song about his girlfriend Linda Keith.  Keith had left Richards for Jimi Hendrix and gotten into drugs.  Richards went to her parents and expressed concern about her welfare.  Linda's father went to New York City to bring her back.  Linda felt betrayed by Richards, but one thing's for sure:  she's alive today, something she may not have been able to say had she remained on her path. 
The Stones recorded the song between November 8 and December 3 of 1966.  Lead guitarist Brian Jones played the recorder on the track.  The group released the song on January 13, 1967 in the U.K. and January 14 in the United States from their album Between the Buttons. 
But it was the "B" side to the single "Let's Spend The Night Together".  The Stones had high hopes for that song, oblivious to the fact that most people did not appreciate the sexual overtones of the song.  DJ's instead flipped the 45 over to play the much calmer "Ruby Tuesday", and that is how it became a hit. 
"Ruby Tuesday" faced limited competition from "I'm A Believer", "Penny Lane", "Happy Together", "Good Vibrations", and "For What It's Worth".   

"Ruby Tuesday" went to #1 for one week, sold one million singles and helped sell over 17.5 million albums.  "The song now has over two million airplays to its credit. 

You may be aware of the restaurant chain Ruby Tuesdays--it indeed was named after the song.


Love Will Keep Us Together 
Captain & Tennille

"If you ever wanted to know how to arrange a great song, it's all right here."
"Oooo La La I love this song!!"
"Classic stuff."
"Great song!"
"The groove is real."

"A perfectly crafted song with good lyrics."

This duo, who met while both worked on Toni Tennille's musical "Mother Earth", both backed the Beach Boys on tour afterwards.  They then performed together at the Smoke House restaurant in Encino, California.  When no record companies showed interest in them, the Captain & Tennille took matters into their own hands, and paid for the recording of their own first single "The Way I Want To Touch You".  The spent $250 to have 500 copies pressed on their own label, Butterscotch Castle.

The duo then drove through 22 states promoting the song.  After they had done the hard work, A&M Records signed them to a recording contract and re-released the single.  It became a Top 10 song, and the Captain & Tennille were on their way.    

Neil Sedaka wrote this classic with longtime songwriting partner Howard Greenfield; "Love Will Keep Us Together" was the last song the two collaborators wrote.  Sedaka originally recorded the song, but it fit new duo the Captain & Tennille, who had recently married.  

The song almost didn't get out of the chute as the first single--Daryl Dragon (The Captain) preferred "I Write The Songs", which was written by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys.  

The Captain & Tennille paid tribute to Sedaka by including the phrase "Sedaka is back" as the song fades. They released the single from the album of the same name.  "Love Will Keep Us Togther" began picking up airplay in April of 1975, with great songs such as "One Of These Nights" by the Eagles, "Philadelphia Freedom" from Elton John, "Have You Never Been Mellow" by Olivia Newton-John, "When Will I Be Loved" from Linda Ronstadt, and "My Eyes Adored You" out at the same time.  While each of those songs are high-quality, the other songs out at the time were not as strong, and that somewhat diminishes the accomplishments of "Love Will Keep Us Together".

"Love Will Keep Us Together" rocketed to #1 for four weeks on the Popular chart and #1 on the Adult chart in the U.S., and also hit #1 in Canada and Australia, #6 in France, and #8 in New Zealand.

"Love Will Keep Us Together" finished 1975 as the year's best-selling song.  It won the prestigious Record of the Year honor at the Grammy Awards, and was nominated for Song of the Year.  It went Gold and helped the album sell one million copies.  "Love Will Keep Us Togher" has now posted two million radio airplays.      

The duo also recorded a Spanish version, Por Amor Viviremos.
 We will continue to showcase 10 songs per day in our salute to The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*--join us tomorrow as the exclusive special continues!

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