Saturday, September 27, 1986

Sept. 27, 1986: Phantom of the Opera opened in London

First posted January 28, 2012. Last updated September 4, 2018.

Phantom of the Opera (cast/soundtrack)

Andrew Lloyd Webber/Charles Hart/ Richard Stilgoe (composers)

Opened in London: September 27, 1986

Cast Album Released: April 20, 1987

Opened on Broadway: January 26, 1988

Soundtrack Released: Nov. 23, 2004


Sales (in millions):
US: 4.0 c, 4.0 h, 1.0 s
UK: 0.9 c
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 14.1 c+h+s


Peak:
US: 33 c, 46 h, 16 s
UK: 1 3-c, 40 s
Canada: --
Australia: --

C cast album
H cast album – highlights
S soundtrack

Quotable: --


Genre: show tunes


Album Tracks:

  1. Prologue
  2. Overture h, s
  3. Think of Me h, s
  4. Angel of Music h, s
  5. The Mirror (Angel of Music) h, s
  6. The Phantom of the Opera (Sarah Brightman, 1/11/86, #7 UK) h, s
  7. The Music of the Night h, s
  8. I Remember/ Stranger Than You Dream
  9. Magical Lasso
  10. Prima Donna h, s
  11. Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh
  12. Why Have You Brought Me Here/
  13. All I Ask of You (Sarah Brightman & Steve Harley, 10/4/86, #7 UK) s
  14. All I Ask of You (Reprise) h, s
  15. Entr’acte h
  16. Masquerade h, s
  17. Notes/ Twisted Every Way
  18. Wishing You Were Here Somehow Here Again (Sarah Brightman, 1/10/87, #7 UK) h, s
  19. Wandering Child/ Bravo Monsieur
  20. The Point of No Return h, s
  21. Down Once More/ Track Down This Murderer h, s

h songs on one-disc highlight version
s songs on one-disc soundtrack version

The soundtrack also adds the brand new “Learn to Be Lonely,” performed by Minnie Driver. A special edition, double-disc version of the soundtrack includes film dialogue.

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.

Review:

The Phantom of the Opera was originally a 1911 gothic mystery novel by French novelist Gaston Leroux. Ken Hill did a musical version of the book in 1976; ten years later it was adapted again by Andrew Lloyd Webber. “The musical focuses on a beautiful soprano, Christine DaaĆ©, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius known as ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, who terrorizes the Paris Opera House.” WK

Initially Webber approached Jim Steinman, best known for collaborating with Meat Loaf on Bat Out of Hell, to write the lyrics because of his “dark obsessive side.” WK When Steinman declined because of commitments to working on Bonnie Tyler’s album, he recruited Alan Jay Lerner (My Fair Lady, Camelot ), who unfortunately died soon after starting on the project. WK Next up was Richard Stilgoe, who also wrote lyrics for Webber’s Starlight Express. However, Webber deemed his lyrics “too witty and clever, rather than romantic” WK so Charles Hart was brought in to rewrite the lyrics. Stilgoe and Hart both got credit on the final version. WK

Phantom opened on October 9, 1986 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. It celebrated 9000 performances on May 31, 2008 and became “the second-longest-running West End musical of all time, behind Les Miserables.” WK It had similar success after opening in New York in January 1988, becoming “the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, breaking the record held by Lloyd Webber’s Cats.” WK It “won both the Olivier Award and Tony Award as the best musical in its debut years on the West End and Broadway.” WK

The musical has also been named “the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time.” WK The New York production is the “most financially successful Broadway show in history” WK with $600 million grossed. WK The show has played to over 100 million people in 124 cities in 25 countries. WK

Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, who starred in the West End production as the titular character and Christine respectively, also launched the Broadway debut. As such, the London cast album became the official recording and no Broadway version was made. WR Both a two-disc set and a single-disc “highlights” set were made available, each selling 4 million copies in the U.S.

In 2004, Phantom was made into a movie starring Gerard Butler as the Phantom and Emily Rossum as Christine DaaĆ©. It was also released in two editions – the double-disc version was the “the complete, unedited film soundtrack, including dialogue, incidental background music, and sound effects,” WR while the single-disc version was billed as the standard release.

Webber wrote “some extra background music here and there, as well as one new song, and that’s an oddity, too. Minnie Driver, who plays the prima donna Carlotta, had her singing dubbed by Margaret Preece, but she turns up at the end and, over the closing credits, sings Learn to Be Lonely, an irrelevant and musically out-of-place song clearly composed just to have a new tune that would be Academy Award-eligible. The film’s other singers are adequate but no competition to Crawford, Brightman, and their colleagues, and the initial recording remains the one to buy.” WR


Review Sources:

Awards:


Related DMDB Link(s):


Saturday, September 13, 1986

The Rainmakers' debut album charted

First posted 3/10/2011; updated 10/3/2020.

The Rainmakers

The Rainmakers


Released: August 1986


Charted: September 13, 1986


Peak: 85 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)


Genre: roots rock


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Rockin’ at the T-Dance [3:20]
  2. Downstream [3:31] (1986, --)
  3. Let My People Go-Go [3:38] (3/7/87, 18 UK)
  4. Doomsville [4:29]
  5. Big Fat Blonde [2:56]
  6. Long Gone Long [4:08]
  7. The One That Got Away [2:53]
  8. Government Cheese [2:54]
  9. Drinkin’ on the Job [3:46]
  10. Nobody Knows (Phillips) [3:32]
  11. Information (Clutter) [4:49]

Songs by Bob Walkenhorst unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 39:48


The Players:

  • Bob Walkenhorst (vocals, guitar)
  • Rich Ruth (bass, vocals)
  • Steve Phillips (guitar, vocals, lead vocal on “Nobody Knows”)
  • Pat Tomek (drums)

Rating:

4.543 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)


Quotable: “The guitar power of [Chuck] Berry with the social wit of [Mark] Twain into a unique brand of Missouri rock n’ roll.” – Rainmakers.com


Awards:

About the Album:

The Kansas City, Missouri-based group originally formed in 1983 as a trio comprised of guitarist Steve Phillips, singer/guitarist Bob Walkenhorst, and bassist Rich Ruth. They initially went by the wildly original name of Steve, Bob, and Rich. They gained a following throughout the Midwest and released the album Balls. When they added drummer Pat Tomek, they rechristened themselves the Rainmakers and were signed to Polygram Records.

Their self-titled debut “received positive reviews in the U.S. entertainment media including Newsweek magazine, which dubbed it ‘the most auspicious debut album of the year.” W-B The band made a fan of horror writer Stephen King, who quoted the band’s lyrics in his novels The Tommyknockers and Gerald’s Game. However, their greatest success came overseas. W-B

Walkenhorst said the band were finishing a European tour and reception hadn’t been great. By the last show on December 20, 1986 in Oslo, Norway, the band were just ready to get it over with and go home. To their surprise, they arrived to a sold-out venue with fans singing along to every song. Apparently they had been reviewed in the country’s music magazine and radio there had embraced them. TF

“Let My People Go-Go”

Let My People Go-Go, based on the American Negro spiritual “Go Down Moses,” made it to #18 on the UK charts. W-B The song offers a nod to Little Richard by having God sing his line “a womp bop a lu bop a lop bam boom.” PK The listener is also treated to Jesus Christ quoting the Coasters’ “Charlie Brown” line “Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?”

“Big Fat Blonde”

“Go-Go” is one of four songs, along with “Nobody Knows,” “Information,” and “the unapologetic Big Fat Blonde,” MA that originated on Balls. The latter was, as Walkenhorst said, “so rude, so sexist that I don’t think anyone could take me seriously.” LR In the song he references a line from a J.D. Salinger story in which “Franny and Zooey ask why people paint, why they write, why they do anything creative…and the answer is, you do it for the fat lady, for an audience, to get recognized.” LR Walkenhorst acknowledges that the song “will follow me around like a cloud all of my life.” LR

“Downstream”

Not only do the Rainmakers reference Little Richard in “Go-Go”, but in Downstream they mention rock-and-roll architect Chuck Berry, as well as Missourians Harry Truman and Mark Twain. The homage to Berry is especially appropriate considering how much the band draws their roots-rock sound from artists such as him, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Bruce Springsteen. SH Walkenhorst said “when I was first getting started, there was nothing more uncool than Creedence…but it has lasted.” JK He also explained that when he first teamed with Steve Phillips, they were both CCR “fanatics – it was the best band that ever existed: hard, powerful vocals yet simple song structures.” LR Walkenhorst also said, “I admire Springsteen a lot…he hasn’t contradicted himself; he’s not acting like a god.” PK

Its also fitting that “Downstream” references Mark Twain. The history page on the Rainmakers’ website describes them as combining “the guitar power of Berry with the social wit of Twain into a unique brand of Missouri rock n’ roll.” RM It’s also been said that their “though-provoking rock and roll…recalls the lyrics of T-Bone Burnett…and the early Rolling Stones.” PK “Cross a more literate John Mellencamp with Webb Wilder and you have this…band sized up.” MA

“Drinkin’ on the Job”

How many bands can offer up “the classic line, ‘The generation that would change the world is still looking for its car keys,’” MA such as on Drinkin’ on the Job? It was named lyric line of the year by Music Connection. RM The “pun-filled” LR is a good example of Walkenhorst’s “talent for choosing unusual and sometimes controversial subjects…[in] an eye-opening perspective of life, sprinkled with sarcastic humor.” RM In this case, as he says, the song is “about substance abuse, fun that isn’t fun, like the jokes in the song.” LR

The album “sets the bar high with cutting social commentary and memorable tunes.” MA That can be attributed to songs that are “honest. Sung by Walkenhorst in a voice that has ‘a lot of Jaggerisms,’ as well as echoes of ex-Wall of Voodoo vocalist Standard Ridgeway, the B-52’s Fred Schneider, and the Cramps’ Lux Interior, they are full of real-life references and emotions.” LR “Walkenhorst’s lyrics are preoccupied with morality, although he avoids a moralizing tone.” PK Two of the band members’ fathers are preachers, which may explain some of the Biblical imagery throughout the album. Walkenhorst says, “I guess I’m still wrestling with religion, trying to sort things out.” PK

“Government Cheese”

Some, including the liberal New Republic magazine, decided the Rainmakers were a conservative band. Walkenhorst, however, said he though of himself as “an emotional anarchist and more left wing.” PK The song Government Cheese generated controversy for its condemnation of welfare via lines like “Give a man free food and he’ll figure out a way/To steal more than he can eat ‘cause he doesn’t have to pay.” It got the band booed at the label showcase performance in New York, PK but Walkenhorst denied the song was political. “It’s about human weakness: When people take something for free, it’s a whirlpool that sucks you under.” PK

He’s also said the welfare system “causes some people to regress. If you take it away entirely, it’s gonna hurt some people, but you may hurt more by keeping it. It’s a real tough question and the song is a very one-sided answer, just to get people to think about it.” LR

“Long Gone Long”

Nostalgia surfaces on “the gentle reminiscence, Long Gone LongLR which Walkenhorst says “has a lot of the funny episodes that happened in the town where I gew up…It’s not as sentimental as John Cougar or Bryan Adams would have made it, but each incident means something, although the person doesn’t know exactly what at the time it happens.” LR

“Rockin’ at the T-Dance”

On Rockin’ at the T-Dance, Walkenhorst references two tragedies – an incident from 1967 in which three Apollo astronauts died during training and the early ‘80s collapse of Kansas City’s Hyatt walkways, killing people during an afternoon tea dance. He turns the song into a statement about “pride in workmanship.” LR He calls it an “angry song” and says “you have to be responsible for your job.” LR

Final Thoughts

I, for one, think the Rainmakers were fantastic at their job. They never achieved big-time success, essentially being the lifelong artists who still have to maintain a waiter job on the side. However, they turned out witty, fun songs which were often superior to the more successful work of their contemporaries. They pointed a poignant finger at the problems of the world, even if the world’ wasn’t listening.


Notes:

A 2010 reissue added an acoustic version of “Long Gone Long,” a live version of “Doomsville,” and non-album cuts “Carpenter’s Son” and “Rockabilly Standard.”

Review Sources:


Related DMDB Page(s):

Berlin hit #1 with “Take My Breath Away”

First posted 11/28/2020.

Take My Breath Away

Berlin

Writer(s): Giorgio Moroder, Tom Whitlock (see lyrics here)


Released: June 15, 1986


First Charted: June 21, 1986


Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 2 RR, 3 AC, 1 CO, 14 UK, 2 CN, 2 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.83 UK, 2.41 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 154.9 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Jerry Bruckheimer, the co-producer for 1986’s Top Gun, approached Giorgio Moroder, a pioneer of electronic dance music best known for work with Donna Summer, to write a song for the film. Moroder responded with the song “Danger Zone.” When Bruckheimer liked it and asked for a slower song to fit a romantic scene, Moroder responded with “Take My Breath Away.” He recorded a demo on a synthesizer which had a distinct bass sound. It ended up on the final recording.

Moroder turned to Tom Whitlock to write lyrics for both songs. “Take My Breath Away” was originally offered to the Motels WK but then both songs were offered to the new wave group Berlin. BR1 The group found an audience on college rock radio in the early ‘80s with “The Metro” and “Sex (I’m A…)” before hitting the top 40 with “No More Words.” Moroder was interested in the band recording “Danger Zone” as a duet, but they liked “Take My Breath Away” more. BR1 The other song was given to Kenny Loggins, who had a #2 hit with the song.

The title phrase had been running through Whitlock’s head. His idea was a song that captured, as he said, “asking for that kind of awe, something so striking that you can’t breathe.” BR1 He wrote the words after listening to Giorgio’s music and seeing most of the movie. The love scene was actually reshot to better fit the song. BR1

While a #1 song would seemingly be good fortune, it had a detrimental effect on Berlin. Lead singer Terri Nunn wanted to record it, but John Crawford, the band’s songwriter and keyboardist, didn’t think it was the right direction for the band and didn’t want to record a song they hadn’t written. SF While “Take My Breath Away” gained new audiences on adult contemporary stations, the rock stations where Berlin had built a following thought it was too top 40. The band struggled to get future spins on rock stations and disbanded in 1987 after releasing their fourth album, Count Three and Pray. Nunn revived the group in 1999, but without any of the other members. She eventually reunited with Crawford and David Diamond, the band’s co-founders, for the 2019 album Transcendance.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Berlin
  • DMDB page for parent album Count Three and Pray
  • DMDB page for Top Gun soundtrack
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). New York, NY; Billboard Books. Page 647.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Friday, September 12, 1986

Billie Holiday charted with “Summertime,” the most recorded song in history, fifty years ago today (9/12/1936)

First posted 1/24/2020.

Summertime

Billie Holiday

Writer(s): George Gershwin (music)/ DuBose Heyward/Ira Gershwin (lyrics) (see lyrics here)


First Charted: September 12, 1936


Peak: 12 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards for Holiday’s version:

Awards for Sidney Bechet’s version:

Review:

It has been widely reported and accepted for years that the Beatles’ “Yesterday” is the most recorded song of all time. It isn’t. Not by a longshot. The song has been said to be recorded as many as four thousand times, but a group known as the Summertime Connection says they know of at least 82,000 public performances of “Summertime,” of which more than 67,000 have been recorded. GW

Despite all those recordings, the song astonishingly only charted once in the first 50+ years of recorded music PM when Billie Holiday took it to #12 in 1936. In the rock era, versions by Sam Cooke, Al Martino, the Marcels, Ricky Nelson, and the Chris Columbo Quintet all had minor hits with the song. In 1966, Billy Stewart had a top ten hit with the song. Fun Boy Three hit #18 with it on the UK charts in 1982. Janis Joplin’s blues-rock version with Big Brother & the Holding Company didn’t chart, but is one of the best known versions of the song. SF The song also became a jazz standard, with Sidney Bechet’s being the most popular.

George Gershwin composed the aria in 1934 for folk opera Porgy and Bess, based on the 1926 DuBose Heyward novel Porgy, a top seller about a South Carolina black community. Heyward and his wife Dorothy turned it into a Broadway play and Gershwin, after reading the novel and seeing the play, turned it into a musical, SF with his brother Ira and Heyward contributing lyrics. “Summertime” is sung four times throughout the musical, but most notably as a lullaby to a baby right after the overture.

The song mixed “elements of jazz and the song styles of blacks in the southeast United States from the early twentieth century.” AMG Heyward was inspired by the lyrics for “All My Trials,” a southern folk spiritual lullaby. WK The song has also been considered an adaptation of the African American spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” WK Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim called the lyrics for this and “My Man’s Gone Now” “the best lyrics in the musical theater.” WM


Resources and Related Links: