Saturday, May 16, 1981

“Bette Davis Eyes” hit #1 for the first of 9 weeks

Bette Davis Eyes

Kim Carnes

Writer(s): Jackie DeShannon, Donna Weiss (see lyrics here)


First Charted: March 28, 1981


Peak: 19 US, 15 CB, 15 HR, 15 RR, 15 AC, 5 AR, 10 UK, 2 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 2.51 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 83.0 video, 166.28 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Sometimes it takes a strange mix of ingredients to make a hit song. In this case, take a memorable keyboard synth line, a female singer whose raspy voice leads some to mistaken her as Rod Stewart, SF and a song with mysterious lyrics referencing an iconic movie star known for bugged-out eyes due to a disorder which causes an overproduction of the thyroid. SF

Songwriter Donna Weiss says part of this song’s inspiration came from a Bette Davis movie – she thinks it was Jezebel – but has remained mum about any further inspiration than that. BR She wrote the lyrics while Jackie DeShannon, whose “What the World Needs Now Is Now” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” were both top tens, wrote most of the music. BR

DeShannon recorded a honky-tonk version of the song for her 1975 album New Arrangement. When Carnes was given the song, she wasn’t convinced it had hit potential. BR However, when her synthesizer player, Bill Cuomo, reworked the track into a new-wavish pop song, BB100 Carnes was sold. So was the record buying public – it hit #1 in 31 countries WK and topped 1981’s year-end Hot 100 in the U.S. BB100

Among the song’s fans was Davis herself. She wrote letters to Carnes and the songwriters to thank them for being made “part of modern times.” BR Weiss says that Davis shared that because of the song “her grandson looked up to her and respected her” BR because it was cool that she’d had a song written about her.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Kim Carnes
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Jackie DeShannon
  • BB100 Billboard (9/08). “All-Time Hot 100
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 543.

Updated 4/25/2021.

Friday, May 15, 1981

Squeeze East Side Story released

East Side Story

Squeeze


Released: May 15, 1981


Peak: 44 US, 19 UK, 29 CN, -- AU


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


Genre: new wave


Tracks:

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

  1. In Quintessence [2:55] (6/6/81, 39 AR, 6 CO)
  2. Someone Else’s Heart [3:00]
  3. Tempted [4:00] (6/20/81, 49 US, 50 CB, 52 HR, 8 AR, 1 CO, 41 UK, 45 CN, 95 AU)
  4. Piccadilly [3:26]
  5. There’s No Tomorrow [3:27]
  6. Heaven [3:49]
  7. Woman's World [3:42]
  8. Is That Love? (2:31] (5/1/81, 39 CL, 16 CO, 35 UK)
  9. F-Hole (4:41]
  10. Labelled With Love (4:44] (9/25/81, 24 CL, 12 CO, 4 UK)
  11. Someone Else's Bell (3:08]
  12. Mumbo Jumbo (3:13]
  13. Vanity Fair (3:09]
  14. Messed Around (2:42]

All songs written by Difford & Tilbrook.


Total Running Time: 49:03


The Players:

  • Chris Difford (lyrics, rhythm guitar, backing vocals, lead vocal on “Someone Else’s Heart” and “Heaven”)
  • Glenn Tilbrook (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
  • Paul Carrack (keyboards, backing vocals, lead vocal on “Tempted”)
  • John Bentley (bass, backing vocals)
  • Gilson Lavis (drums)

Rating:

4.175 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


Quotable: “The band’s most diverse but also their most creatively rewarding album to date.” – Chris Woodstra, All Music Guide


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Rising above the new wave bands of the era, Squeeze quickly abandoned their early punk/experimental roots and firmly embraced a Beatle-influenced pop sensibility, albeit with an updated musical sound. While the two preceding albums, Cool for Cats and Argybargy, had some great moments, East Side Story was their most ambitious effort, with a wide range of musical styles and some of their best tracks.” MF

”It's a rare pop band that can fit the word quintessence neatly into a song, but the duo of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook – the heart of Squeeze--do so with ease.” RS ”The songs are imaginative, compassionate, and of course hooky…the music is quite punchy.” RC “There's a good reason that they've been hailed as the best British songwriting team since Lennon and McCartney, and if they've never scaled the heights of fame--or of grandeur--that their forebears did, well, that's OK.” RS

Squeeze pulled off a masterstroke on this album with “the soulful groove of Tempted, the song the band is probably best known for.” CW ”In one of the smartest free transfer deals ever, Squeeze were able to plug the massive midfield gap left by the departing Jools Holland with the nimble-fingered Paul Carrack,” HE who sings and co-writes (along with Tilbrook and Elvis Costello).

”The rest of the album remains strong, buoyed by the group's bouncy outlook, Costello and coproducer Roger Bechiran's prodding the group in new directions, and hints of the new-wave-influenced sound Squeeze would develop years later on Babylon and On.” RS

East Side Story was originally planned as a double album with each side produced by a different ‘hot’ producer — Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, and Paul McCartney were the proposed lineup. And while only…Costello…ended up doing the job, save for one track by Edmunds, Costello's push for decidedly un-Squeeze-like material and sympathetic production style resulted in not only the band's most diverse but also their most creatively rewarding album to date.” CW In fact, Costello “coaxes out what might be their best effort.” JA

”The standouts come from the unexpected turns.” CW “The warped organ on Heaven bespeaks divine intervention.” RC There’s also “the country lament of Labeled with Love,” CW a top ten hit in the UK, “the trippy near-psychedelia of There's No TomorrowCW and “the lush and delicate…Vanity Fair.” CW

The album is still “definitely packed with the band's trademark bouncy Brit-pop numbers,” CW “most notably the feel-good pure-pop of Piccadilly, In Quintessence…and Mumbo Jumbo.” MF There’s also the “sweet poignancy of Woman World and Is That Love.” MF

All in all, ”East Side Story is a solid, thoroughly enjoyable album with enough variety to keep it fresh for years to come.” MF


Notes: The 1997 UK re-release added bonus tracks “The Axe Has Now Fallen” and “Looking for a Love.”

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/6/2008; last updated 8/21/2021.