Saturday, October 26, 1996

Toni Braxton charted with "Un-Break My Heart": October 26, 1996

Originally posted October 26, 2011.



Braxton was a preacher’s daughter “raised in a household where pop music was strictly forbidden.” KX In 1990, she recorded with her sisters as The Braxtons, but by 1992 she’d launched a solo career. In 1993, she landed the Grammy for Best New Artist and found her way into the top 10 of the pop charts with “Another Sad Love Song” and “Breathe Again”.

Braxton’s second album, Secrets, proved she would not suffer the Best New Artist Grammy curse of disappearing from the music scene. Lead-off single “You’re Makin’ Me High” was a #1 hit which won a Grammy for R&B Female Vocal.

However, even more successful was the album’s second single, “Un-Break My Heart”, a ballad of “blistering heartbreak” SF in which Braxton begs a former lover to return and undo the pain he has caused. SF In her “distinctive, husky alto” BB100 Braxton delivered a performance which was “both poignant and hopeful.” TB The song’s eleven weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 put it amongst the biggest #1 songs of all time. It sold more than 4 million worldwide and won her yet another Grammy – this one for Pop Female Vocal.

The song was written by Diane Warren who’d penned such #1 hits as Chicago’s “Look Away” and Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me”, but this was her most successful song in the U.S. in terms of chart performance. SF Warren said she knew immediately that “Heart” would be a hit, but that Braxton didn’t want to sing it. Even after the song succeeded, Braxton told Warren she “didn’t want another one of those”. SF




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Tuesday, October 22, 1996

Journey back with Trial by Fire after a decade

First posted 10/11/2008; updated 9/12/2020.

Trial by Fire

Journey


Released: October 22, 1996


Peak: 3 US, -- UK, 16 CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 3.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Message of Love (10/5/96, 18 AR, 36 CN)
  2. One More
  3. When You Love a Woman (10/12/96, 12 US, 1 AC, 3 CN, sales: ½ million)
  4. If He Should Break Your Heart (3/29/97, 21 AC, 13 CN)
  5. Forever in Blue
  6. Castles Burning
  7. Don’t Be Down on Me Baby
  8. Still She Cries
  9. Colors of the Spirit
  10. When I Think of You
  11. Easy to Fall
  12. Can’t Tame the Lion (2/8/97, 33 AR, 86 CN)
  13. It’s Just the Rain
  14. Trial by Fire
  15. Baby, I’m A-Leavin’ You [hidden track]


Total Running Time: 71:14


The Players:

  • Steve Perry (vocals)
  • Neal Schon (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Jonathan Cain (keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals)
  • Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals)
  • Steve Smith (drums)

Rating:

2.948 out of 5.00 (average of 13 ratings)

About the Album:

After 1986’s Raised on Radio, Journey seemingly was gone for good as years went by without any new product. The band may have been on ice, but its individual members were still busy. Guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain hooked up with singer John Waite and bassist Ricky Phillips, who’d both been in The Babys a decade earlier with Cain, to form Bad English. They didn’t reach Journey-like levels with sales, but did land a #1 pop hit with “When I See You Smile,” a feat which Journey never accomplished.

After two albums, Bad English went kaput, but Schon and that band’s drummer, Deen Castronovo, formed another rock band, Hardline. That band was even more short-lived and less successful than Bad English, but it made for another important relationship for Schon – he and Castronovo would work together again as Journey members down the road.

The Journey interim also saw a reunion of three past members – Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory, and Steve Smith, for the rock group The Storm. Meanwhile, Steve Perry put out a second solo album in 1994.

It was that last effort that made for the greatest likelihood of a Journey reunion since Perry hadn’t recorded in eight years. Indeed, two years later, 1996’s Trial by Fire saw the return of Journey, and not just any line-up, but “their most successful Escape-era line-up.” JM “With Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry, and Neal Schon leading Journey once again, and bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith behind them, it would seem that Trial by Fire would contain the same elements that gave them their stardom in the ‘80s.” AMG “Journey should have delivered a great album. They managed only half a great album.” CRM

“Perry’s singing hasn’t lost too much of its power, but the faster tunes come off as contrived and messy.” AMG “Sounding hard and scattered, the smoothness of their trademarked music is nowhere to be found, replaced with brash, beat-up, hollow rock riffs.” AMG “Big rock epics Castles Burning and Can’t Tame the Lion, were all bluster.” CRM “The ballads fair no better, as the passion that once flourished within the band when it came to slowing things down has long since faded.” AMG

“Journey achieved something close to peak form” CRM “on opener Message of Love and the ready-made wedding song When You Love a Woman,” CRM but even those songs are from the equals of some of their classic predecessors. “Message of Love” pales in comparison to classic rockers like “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Any Way You Want It,” or “Separate Ways.” Meanwhile, “When You Love a Woman” had enough schlock to land it atop the AC chart, a first for Journey, but it didn’t make it more memorable than gems like “Open Arms,” “Lights,” or “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.”

The reunion proved short-lived; “the band’s comeback tour was aborted after Perry injured his hip in a hiking accident. Tragically, he never sang for Journey again.” CRM

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