Saturday, October 20, 1979

Little River Band charted with “Cool Change”

First posted 10/20/2020; last updated 10/24/2020.

Cool Change

Little River Band

Writer(s): Glenn Shorrock (see lyrics here)


First Charted: October 20, 1979


Peak: 10 US, 13 CB, 12 HR, 5 RR, 8 AC, 15 CL (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 22.0 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

Formed in 1975, the rock group Little River Band found success right away, scoring a top-40 hit in the U.S. with “It’s a Long Way There” from their self-titled debut album. Over three subsequent albums, they racked up four more top-40 hits, including the #3 “Reminiscing” and #10 “Lady.” 1979’s First Under the Wire, their fifth album, became their most successful yet, reaching #10 and going platinum.

Like its predecessor, it was supported by two top-10 U.S. hits. The first single, “Lonesome Loser,” reached #6 and the follow-up, “Cool Change,” peaked at #10. Ironically, the song failed to chart in the band’s native Australia, but in May 2001, it was named by the Australasian Performing Right Association oas one of the top 30 Australian songs of all time. WK In 2018, Australian radio network Triple M named it one of the top 100 “most Australian” songs of all time. WK However, the band “could’ve come from anywhere.” SS Like “easy-listening peers Pablo Cruise and Ambrosia, they existed in a gauzy, purgatory free of musical, cultural, and geographic identity.” SS

“Cool Change” is a “piece of pleasant and competent soft-rock that goes down easy,” SS but things weren’t so easy-going with the band at the time. The band featured three songwriters who wrote and even recorded separately. They even toured in different buses. SS Glenn Shorrock wrote “Cool Change” amidst squabbles with Graeham Goble and essentially recorded it as a solo track, supported by session players Peter Jones on piano and Bill Harrower on saxophone. SS

The song used sailing as a means of embracing the need for time alone, referencing the tranquility of being on the “cool and bright clear water.” Shorrock later admitted the song was “a cry for help.” SF Amusingly, he wasn’t much of a seafarer when he wrote the song, but he took up sailing after the song’s success. SF


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Saturday, October 13, 1979

Styx charted with Cornerstone

Cornerstone

Styx


Charted: October 13, 1979


Peak: 2 US, 36 UK, 11 CN, 21 AU


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US


Genre: classic arena rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Lights (DeYoung/Shaw) [4:38] (41 CL)
  2. Why Me (DeYoung) [3:54] (12/15/79, 26 US, 19 CB, 18 HR, 12 RR, 9 CL, 10 CN)
  3. Babe (DeYoung) [4:25] (10/6/79, 12 US, 13 CB, 12 HR, 13 RR, 6 UK, 9 AC, 1 CL, 6 UK, 16 CN, 3 AU)
  4. Never Say Never (Shaw) [3:08]
  5. Boat on the River (Shaw) [3:10] (3/16/80, --)
  6. Borrowed Time (DeYoung/Shaw) [4:58] (3/29/80, 64 US, 74 CB, 63 HR, 33 CL, 76 CN)
  7. First Time (DeYoung) [4:24]
  8. Eddie (Young) [4:15]
  9. Love in the Midnight (Shaw) [5:25]


Total Running Time: 38:17


The Players:

  • Dennis DeYoung (vocals, keyboards)
  • Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitar)
  • James “J.Y.” Young (guitar, vocals)
  • Chuck Panozzo (bass)
  • John Panozzo (drums)

Rating:

3.577 out of 5.00 (average of 20 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Styx hit the big time with 1977’s The Grand Illusion when it went top 10 and multi-platinum on the strength of two top-40 hits. 1978’s Pieces of Eight replicated the feat, setting high expectations for 1979’s Cornerstone. Commercially, the album kept pace with its predecessors’ accomplishments. In fact, it became their highest-charting album to date, landing at #2. Styx was even named America’s favorite band in a 1979 Gallup poll. AZ

The album was propelled by Babe, Styx’s only #1 hit and “one of the best rock ballads ever.” AMG Dennis DeYoung wrote the song as a birthday present to his wife Suzanne, thanking her for her patience with his life on the road. WK It “is a smooth, keyboard-pampered love song that finally credited Dennis De Young's textured vocals.” AMG It is “perhaps the prototypical I-love-you-but-I-just-gotta-go power ballad,” AZ which would “endear itself to a generation of prom-goers” AZ in the same vein as their “1975 slow-dance classic ‘Lady.’” AZ

The song “irked longtime fans with its MOR sweetness” UCR and created a rift in the band. Initially, First Time, also written by DeYoung, was intended as the second single, but Tommy Shaw was concerned about the band alienating its fan base by releasing two ballads in a row. He even threatened to leave and the division was so strong that DeYoung was briefly fired, although he returned to the fold before word got to the press or the public. WK

Instead, Why Me, another DeYoung-penned tune, was released as the follow-up. The more upbeat tune showcased the band’s experimentation with new sounds, such as horns, as did Borrowed Time. AZ The latter, a co-write between Shaw and DeYoung, was released as the third single.

The band also added mandolin and accordian to the mix on Boat on the River. That song and Lights “implement silky harmonies and welcoming choruses” AMG and showcase Tommy Shaw’s songwriting and vocals. Neither song reached the status of other Shaw favorites like “Renegade” and “Blue Collar Man,” but “Boat on the River” was a hit in Europe WK and “Lights” did get attention on album rock radio in the United States.

Cornerstone is Styx at their most accessible and melodic,” AZ emphasizing their “pop sound more than the progressive rock influences that dominated their first eight studio albums.” WK “The songs aren’t as tight or assertive as their last few albums” AMG and the album “tends to sound a tad weaker than one would expect.” AMG As evidenced by the conflict over the album’s second single, Cornerstone showed “the first fragmenting of the group’s collective artistic vision” WK eventually leading to their breakup after 1983’s Kilroy Was Here.

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First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 5/17/2021.

Friday, October 12, 1979

Fleetwood Mac released Tusk

First posted 9/17/2020.

Tusk

Fleetwood Mac


Released: October 12, 1979


Peak: 4 US, 11 UK, 2 CN, 11 AU


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.3 UK, 6.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Over & Over (C. McVie) [4:34]
  2. The Ledge (Buckingham) [2:08]
  3. Think About Me (C. McVie) [2:44] (3/80, 20 US, 39 AC, 24 CN)
  4. Save Me a Place (Buckingham) [2:42]
  5. Sara (Nicks) [6:22] (12/15/79, 7 US, 13 AC, 37 UK, 12 CN, 11 AU, airplay: 2 million)
  6. What Makes You Think You’re the One (Buckingham) [3:32]
  7. Storms (Nicks) [5:31]
  8. That’s All for Everyone (Buckingham) [3:03]
  9. Not That Funny (Buckingham) [3:11]
  10. Sisters of the Moon (Nicks) [4:42] (6/80, 86 US)
  11. Angel (Nicks) [4:54]
  12. That’s Enough for Me (Buckinham) [1:50]
  13. Brown Eyes (C. McVie) [4:27]
  14. Never Make Me Cry (C. McVie) [2:18]
  15. I Know I’m Not Wrong (Buckingham) [3:05]
  16. Honey Hi (C. McVie) [2:41]
  17. Beautiful Child (Nicks) [5:21]
  18. Walk a Thin Line (Buckingham) [3:46]
  19. Tusk (Buckingham) [3:37] (10/6/79, 8 US, 6 UK, 5 CN, 3 AU)
  20. Never Forget (C. McVie) [3:34]


Total Running Time: 74:25


The Players:

  • Lindsey Buckingham (vocals, guitar, et al)
  • Stevie Nicks (vocals, tambourine)
  • Christine McVie (vocals, keyboards)
  • John McVie (bass)
  • Mick Fleetwood (drums, percussion)

Rating:

3.968 out of 5.00 (average of 16 ratings)


Quotable: “a bracing, weirdly affecting work that may not be as universal or immediate as Rumours, but is every bit as classic. As a piece of pop art, it's peerless.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

About the Album:

“More than any other Fleetwood Mac album, Tusk is born of a particular time and place – it could only have been created in the aftermath of Rumours, which shattered sales records, which in turn gave the group a blank check for its next album. But if they were falling apart during the making of Rumours, they were officially broken and shattered during the making of Tusk, and that disconnect between bandmembers resulted in a sprawling, incoherent, and utterly brilliant 20-track double album.” AMG Editor’s note: is it possible to write a review of a double album without using the word “sprawling”?

By comparison to Rumours, which sold 40 million copies worldwide, spent 31 weeks atop the U.S. Billboard album chart, and sported four top-ten singles, Tusk was destined to be viewed as a flop. It peaked at #4, had two top-10 hits, and stalled at a “measly” 6.5 million in sales. “The truth of the matter is that Fleetwood Mac couldn’t top that success no matter how hard they tried, so it was better for them to indulge themselves and come up with something as unique as Tusk.

The band seemed to acknowledge that right out of the gate with the strange “marching band-driven paranoia of the title trackAMG The song signalled that this wasn’t going to be an album that actively sought pop success, although that song did reach the top 10.

That track also made it clear that this album would be a Lindsey Buckingham-dominated affair. Like Fleetwood Mac and Rumours, Tusk offers “smooth, reflective work from all three songwriters,” AMG the others being Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks. The latter most notably offers up “Dreams Part II” with Sara, another top-10 affair.

However, even when McVie and Nicks take their turns at songwriting and singing, Buckinham’s presence is still felt with “an ethereal, floating quality that turns them into welcome respites from the seriously twisted immersions into Buckingham’s id.” AMG He composed nearly half the album and “owns this record with his nervous energy and obsessive production, winding up with a fussily detailed yet wildly messy record unlike any other.” AMG

Tusk “is the ultimate cocaine album – it’s mellow for long stretches, and then bursts wide open in manic, frantic explosions, such as the mounting tension on The Ledge or the rampaging That's Enough for Me.” AMG “This is mainstream madness, crazier than Buckingham’s idol Brian Wilson and weirder than any number of cult classics.” AMG It “is a bracing, weirdly affecting work that may not be as universal or immediate as Rumours, but is every bit as classic. As a piece of pop art, it's peerless.” AMG


Notes: A 2004 deluxe edition added a second disc of alternate versions of songs from the album. In 2015, a 5-CD version was released with unreleased demos, live tracks, and alternate versions.

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Tuesday, October 2, 1979

Bob Marley & The Wailers released Survival

Survival

Bob Marley & the Wailers


Released: October 2, 1979


Peak: 70 US, 32 RB, 20 UK, 32 AU


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


Genre: reggae


Tracks:

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

  1. So Much Trouble in the World (9/79, 56 UK)
  2. Zimbabwe (3/80, --)
  3. Top Rankin’
  4. Babylon System
  5. Survival (11/79, --)
  6. Africa Unite
  7. One Drop (11/79, --)
  8. Ride Natty Ride
  9. Ambush in the Night
  10. Wake Up and Live (7/79, 93 RB)


Total Running Time: 38:02


The Players:

  • Bob Marley (vocals, guitar)
  • Aston “Family Man” Barrett (bass)
  • Carlton “Carlie” Barrett (drums, percussion)
  • Tyrone Downie (keyboards)
  • Alvin “Seeco” Patterson (percussion)
  • Junior Marvin (electric guitar)
  • Al Anderson (lead guitar)
  • Earl “Wire” Lindo (keyboards)
  • Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, Griffiths (backing vocals)

Rating:

2.539 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)


Quotable: --

About the Album:

“Containing what is considered Marley's most defiant and politically charged statement to date, Survival concerns itself with the expressed solidarity of not only Africa, but of humanity at large. The album was controversial right down to the jacket, which contains a crude schematic of the stowage compartment of a typical transatlantic slave ship. Survival is intended as a wake-up call for everyman to resist and fight oppression in all of its insidious forms. From Tyrone Downie's opening synthesizer strains on So Much Trouble in the World to the keyboard accents emerging throughout Zimbabwe, the sounds of Survival are notably modern.” AMG

“The overwhelming influence of contemporary African music is also cited with the incorporation of brass, รก la Fela Kuti and his horn-driven Africa '70. While Top Rankin’, Ride Natty Ride, and Wake Up and Live are the most obvious to benefit from this influence, there are other and often more subtle inspirations scattered throughout. Survival could rightly be considered a concept album. Marley had rarely been so pointed and persistent in his content. The days of the musical parable are more or less replaced by direct and confrontational lyrics. From the subversive ‘Zimbabwe’ — which affirms the calls for the revolution and ultimate liberation of the South African country — to the somewhat more introspective and optimistic Africa Unite, the message of this album is clearly a call to arms for those wanting to abolish the subjugation and tyranny of not only Africans, but all humankind. Likewise, Survival reinforces the image of Marley as a folk hero to those suffering from oppression.” AMG


Notes: The 2001 "Definitive Remaster" of Survival includes a bonus track featuring the 12" extended version of "Ride Natty Ride," previously only available on CD in the Songs of Freedom box set.

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First posted 3/26/2008; last updated 5/10/2021.