Saturday, July 14, 1984

Difford & Tilbrook charted with their self-titled album

Difford & Tilbrook

Difford & Tilbrook


Released: June 1984


Charted: July 14, 1984


Peak: 55 US, 47 UK


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: new wave


Tracks:

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

  1. Action Speaks Faster (4:50]
  2. Love’s Crashing Waves (3:08] (6/84, 32 CO, 57 UK)
  3. Picking Up the Pieces (3:18]
  4. On My Mind Tonight (4:08]
  5. Man for All Seasons (2:35]
  6. Hope Fell Down (4:22] (9/84, --)
  7. Wagon Train (3:36]
  8. You Can’t Hurt the Girl (3:01]
  9. Tears for Attention (4:50]
  10. The Apple Tree (4:24]

Songs written by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.


Total Running Time: 38:12


The Players:

  • Chris Difford (vocals, rhythm guitar)
  • Glenn Tilbrook (vocals, lead guitar)
  • Keith Wilkinson (bass)
  • Guy Fletcher (keyboards)
  • Andy Duncan (drums, percussion)
  • Larry Tollfree (percussion)
  • Debbie Bishop (backing vocals)

Rating:

2.979 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)


Quotable: Difford & Tilbrook’s ”songwriting talents are as formidable as ever…but…[this] seems like a record without a center” – Christopher Connelly, Rolling Stone

About the Album:

”While Squeeze collapsed from physical and artistic exhaustion after Sweets from a Stranger, the band's songwriting duo soldiered on under the name Difford & Tilbrook for another release.” AMG “Song-wise [this] is a more consistent album than the schizophrenic Sweets from a Stranger.” AMG

”Chris Difford (guitar, lyrics) and Glenn Tilbrook (guitar, vocals, music) have spun ten widely varied pop songs, each one a showcase for Difford's warmhearted, wise-guy lyrics and Tilbrook’s fetching altar-boy tenor.” RS ”The addition of Keith Wilkinson's deep-bottomed bass and Debbie Bishop's snappy soprano backing vocals is a major improvement.” RS “There's also Andy Duncan (drums) [and] Guy Fletcher (keyboards).” JA

They “set out to craft an '80s contemporary blue-eyed soul record, emulating all the requisite synth washes and drum machines from early-'80s Hall & Oates albums like H2O and Private Eyes…this was clearly meant as a shot at the big time…but the album tanked on the charts precisely because it still sounded like Squeeze.” AMG

Difford and Tilbrook…shows that their songwriting talents are as formidable as ever,” RS but “characters, tones and themes seems to change from song to song on this record.” RS The album “seems like a record without a center, a surfeit of diversity with a dearth of direction.” RS Consequently “there's not quite enough urgency - or unity - to the songs here…No one's asking for an anthem…but songs with the spirit of ‘Another Nail in My Heart’ or the youthful wit of ‘Separate Beds’ would allow their more eclectic work to be that much more effective.” RS

"Action Speaks Faster than words,’ declares the album's initial track, a fusion of British pop and American rap that would be more successful if Tilbrook's Anglo vowels (‘fah-stah’) didn't de-funk the enterprise. Given that song's message, it's ironic that the tune's charging, horn-fueled end…leads right into the ornate verbosity of the single, Love's Crashing Waves. Here, the talented Difford makes his cohort wrap his mouth around some tough lines: "Concocted rumours/By out-of-tuners/Are the must in love's concerto." Even the chorus' delightful zing can't quite redeem all of that verbiage.” RS

Difford & Tilbrook is chock full of Tilbrook's typically jaunty pop tunes. Picking Up the Pieces is one of his best; bright, enthusiastic and direct, the tune is enlivened all the more by a judiciously employed string section and by Bishop's chirping.” RS

“Tilbrook has always evinced an affection for the husky, world-weary tones of the saloon singer, even though his voice is laden with fresh-faced innocence. For On My Mind Tonight, he adopts a tipsier tone - Paul McCartney at last call. The tune is almost a cocktail-lounge funk, and the singer languorously - and impotently - bemoans his lovelorn state: ‘The silence of the telephone doesn't bother me/But I wish that it would ring....I'm the man who would be king/The small hand’s on the five.’” RS

“The LP lacks a track that would make a truly thrilling single, though…’Picking Up the Pieces’ and Hope Fell Down…come close.” RS The latter “reveals Difford's sassy wit: ‘Your ship came in/And your fanfare sunk it,’ he notes in a track that approximates the style of Squeeze's lone stateside hit, ‘Tempted.’” RS

”Difford displays his…facility for conjuring torrents of emotion - even the end of the world - in the jetsam of everyday life: the ash in the pages, the wax around the wick, the pen devoid of ink. In You Can’t Hurt the Girl, he weaves some intriguing ambiguity into a tale of an oft-heartbroken woman. ‘You can't hurt the girl,’ Tilbrook sings in the chorus, and it's not until the end that he adds a telling ‘...and not cry.’” RS

”The bounce” of the “Costello-ish foot-tapper” JAMan for All Seasons will remind some of East Side Story’s ‘In Quintessence.’” RS

“There are a couple of prettily harmonized love songs (You Can't Hurt the Girl; Tears for Attention)” JA “and it's nice to hear Difford's low buzz of a voice at the end of the uptempo throwaway Wagon Train.” RS

“Difford's dexterous style works best on” RS the “fascinatingly creepy” JAThe Apple Tree, as he develops a series of harrowing images in a post-nuclear-holocaust scene: the abandoned house with the coffee still on, the fingernail scratches on the church door. ‘It's a silence you can see,’ he writes, ‘hearing shadows behind me.’ Musically, Tilbrook is equal to the challenge. His swirling, eerie arrangement - reminiscent of [The Beatles’] ‘A Day in the Life’ - skews the deceptively commonplace melody line and builds the track to its dramatic conclusion.” RS

“Over time, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook would prove to be the only constant members of Squeeze anyway, making Difford & Tilbrook the lost Squeeze album and the missing puzzle piece between Sweets from a Strangerand Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti. Despite being far from the duo's best work (and it's certainly the rarest), serious fans will want to seek this out.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 7/23/2008; last updated 2/7/2022.

Saturday, July 7, 1984

Prince hit #1 with “When Doves Cry”

When Doves Cry

Prince

Writer(s): Prince (see lyrics here)


Released: May 16, 1984


First Charted: June 2, 1984


Peak: 15 US, 14 CB, 14 RR, 18 RB, 31 AR, 28 CO, 4 UK, 13 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 3.58 US, 0.58 UK, 4.16 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 58.0 video, 125.82 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

True to his nature, Prince never stops making music. Consequently, with his largely autobiographical film Purple Rain and its soundtrack seemingly finished, Prince added a new song at the last minute: “When Doves Cry.” RS500 Not a bad addition, since it may well be “the most influential single record of the eighties.” MA

As is often the case with great singles, the structure of the song is “simple and natural and utterly (invisibly) unorthodox.” PW After recording it, Prince erased the bass, RS500 an unheard of move, especially in the R&B genre. TC Along with its “keening melody and one of the strangest choruses in pop,” MC the resulting song is eccentric, even by Prince standards, RS500 “but as a piece of rhythm and harmony, this is not just an important record but a great one.” MA

Prince’s record company, Warner Bros., wasn’t sure what to make of the song. As engineer David Z. said, “They were a little afraid...they didn’t know what to do with it because it was drastically different.” TC

The record-buying public, however, knew what to do with it. In the U.S., the song became Prince’s first, and biggest, number one. It also was the biggest single of 1984. RS500 It also helped Prince become a superstar as it kick-started the Purple Rain soundtrack into blockbuster mode. Led by “When Doves Cry,” the album also produced the chart-topping “Let’s Go Crazy,” the #2 title cut, and the top ten hit “I Would Die 4 U,” all on its way toward spending 24 weeks atop the U.S. album charts. The album has sold 13 million stateside and another 8 million around the world.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Prince
  • DMDB page for parent album Purple Rain
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 471.
  • JA David A. Jasen. (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 210.
  • MA Dave Marsh (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library. Page 58.
  • MC Neil McCormack (3/13/09). Telegraph.co.uk “100 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • PW Paul Williams (1993). Rock and Roll: The Best 100 Singles. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. Pages 216-7.

First posted 6/2/2012; updated 4/24/2021.

Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. hit #1

Born in the U.S.A.

Bruce Springsteen


Released: June 4, 1984


Peak: 17 US, 15 UK, 113 CN, 18 AU


Sales (in millions): 15.0 US, 0.9 UK, 30.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Born in the U.S.A. [4:39] (6/23/84, 9 US, 8 AR, 5 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU, gold single)
  2. Cover Me [3:26] (6/23/84, 7 US, 2 AR, 16 UK, 12 CN, 17 AU, gold single)
  3. Darlington County [4:48]
  4. Working on the Highway [3:11]
  5. Downbound Train [3:35]
  6. I’m on Fire [2:36] (2/16/85, 5a US, 4 AR, 6 AC, 5 UK, 12 CN, 12 AU)
  7. No Surrender [4:00] (6/16/84, 29 AR)
  8. Bobby Jean [3:46] (6/23/84, 36 AR)
  9. I’m Goin’ Down [3:29] (9/7/85, 9 US, 9 AR, 23 CN, 41 AU)
  10. Glory Days [4:15] (5/25/85, 4a US, 3 AR, 17 UK, 17 CN, 29 AU)
  11. Dancing in the Dark [4:01] (5/26/84, 2 US, 1 AR, 4 UK, 3 CN, 5 AU, platinum single)
  12. My Hometown [4:33] (12/7/85, 6 US, 6 AR, 1 AC, 9 UK, 16 CN, 47 AU, gold single)

All songs written by Bruce Springsteen.


Total Running Time: 46:58


The Players:

  • Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitar)
  • Roy Bittan (keyboards, backing vocals)
  • Clarence Clemons (saxophone, percussion, backing vocals)
  • Danny Federici (keyboards, backing vocals)
  • Garry Tallent (bass, backing vocals)
  • Steven Van Zandt (guitar, mandolin, harmony vocals)
  • Max Weinberg (drums, backing vocals)

Rating:

4.490 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)


Quotable: “The album that catapulted Bruce Springsteen from cult-favorite critics’ darling to stadium-rocking global superstar.” – Jason Warburg, The Daily Vault


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

On the strength of seven top-ten pop hits, Born in the U.S.A. sold 30 million copies worldwide and “catapulted Bruce Springsteen from cult-favorite critics’ darling to stadium-rocking global superstar.” DV “With Born in the U.S.A., all those predictions from a decade earlier – that Springsteen was the future of rock – had come true.” AZ

“Springsteen had become increasingly downcast as a songwriter during his recording career, and his pessimism bottomed out with Nebraska,” AMG “his bleak acoustic album” RS on which “the songs were plainspoken, folk-derived tunes.” CDU While Born in the U.S.A., “trafficked in much the same struggle” AMG spinning “tales of disillusioned America,” CDU Springsteen “softened his message with nostalgia and sentimentality.” AMG He crafts “big, sing-along choruses” CDU with “galloping rhythms…set off by chiming guitars,” AMG ultimately creating an “uptempo worldview [that] is truer” RC to what one feels like is at Springsteen’s core.

The music “incorporates new electronic textures while keeping as its heart all of the American rock & roll from the early Sixties…The music was born in the U.S.A.: Springsteen ignored the British Invasion and embraced instead the legacy of Phil Spector's releases, the sort of soul that was coming from Atlantic Records and especially the garage bands that had anomalous radio hits. He's always chased the utopian feeling of that music, and here he catches it with a sophisticated production and a subtle change in surroundings.” RSBorn in the U.S.A. was as lean and muscular as Springsteen himself, trading in the E Street Band's over-the-top saxophone-and-piano sound of old for a sleeker, forward-driving guitar-and-synthesizer feel.” CDU

“Springsteen has evolved…This…is his most rhythmically propulsive, vocally incisive, lyrically balanced, and commercially undeniable album…The aural vibrancy of the thing reminds…that what teenagers loved about rock and roll wasn't that it was catchy or even vibrant but that it just plain sounded good.” RC The “album is a glorious grab bag of radio-ready populist anthems--his best display of pure pop songwriting ever…Springsteen's widespread acclaim was warranted.” AZ “Dance-music DJs…[and] fist-raising pop fans…turned seven of these songs into top-10 singles and kept Born in the U.S.A. in a year-long battle for the top spot on the album chart.” CDU “Springsteen had softened his message with nostalgia and sentimentality, and those are always crowd-pleasers.” AMG “Seemingly, the whole world sang along.” CDU “It was as if no other album mattered that year.” CDU

“Springsteen has always been able to tell a story better than he can write a hook, and these lyrics are way beyond anything anybody else is writing.” RS “Not counting the title powerhouse, the best songs slip by at first because their tone is so lifelike” RC and “they're sung in such an unaffected way that the starkness stabs you.” RS This “is a bittersweet and often despairing look at what happens when maturity eventually sets in.” DV “The characters are no longer scruffy hoods with colorful names like the Magic Rat, they're nameless working stiffs” DV who “dread getting stuck in the small towns they grew up in almost as much as they worry that the big world outside holds no possibilities.” RS They brood “over unfulfilled dreams…and unfulfilling relationships…or indulging in premature nostalgia over old times…and old friends.” DV “Though the characters are dying of longing for some sort of payoff from the American dream, Springsteen's exuberant voice and the swell of the music clues you that they haven't given up.” RS

“Born in the U.S.A.”
Springsteen jumps in full force, kicking things off with one of his most powerful anthems. He strikes just “the right ironic fervor for the Vietnam vet’s yelping about the dead ends of being Born in the U.S.A..” RS “In the first line…Springsteen croaks, ‘Born down in a dead man's town, the first kick I took was when I hit the ground.’” RS Musically, it has “unquestionable musical potency; Max Weinberg's thundering drum fills at the climax of the song still give…chills after hundreds of listens.” DV

Thinking the song extolled the pride of being American, “the witless wonders of the Reagan regime attempted to co-opt…[it] as an election-year campaign song.” AMG The fact that it was “a brutal account” CDU of “the disenfranchisement of a lower-class Vietnam vet” AMG “whose country forgot him” AZ escaped their attention completely.

“Cover Me”
Cover Me, a song Springsteen “initially wrote for Donna Summer (!), [throbs with] heavy-guitars-over-a-disco-beat.” DV “The band finds the right feeling of paranoia for [this], the lone song to resurrect that shrieking, ‘Badlands"-style guitar.’” RS

“Darlington County”
On the “classic buddy/road song” DV Darlington County, Springsteen explores “the futility of a macho spree without undercutting its exuberance.” RC “Two guys pull into a hick town begging for work…but Springsteen is whooping with sha-la-las in the chorus. He may shove his broody characters out the door and send them cruising down the turnpike, but he gives them music they can pound on the dashboard to.” RS

“Working on the Highway”
“The fast-stepping” RC Working on the Highway has “a tight, frenetic Elvis Costello arrangement.” DV It “whips into an ecstatic rocker that tells a funny story, hand-claps keeping the time about crime and punishment.” RS in a song that “turns out to be about a country road gang.” RC “You get…a vivid sense of these characters…because Springsteen gives them voices a playwright would be proud of.” RS “To let us know the guy's in love,” RS all Springsteen has to say is “‘One day I looked straight at her and she looked straight back.’” RS

“Downbound Train”
“In the saddest song he's ever written, Downbound Train, a man who's lost everything pours his story, while, behind him, long, sorry notes on a synthesizer sound just like heartache. ‘I had a job, I had a girl,’ he begins, then explains how everything's changed: ‘Now I work down at the car wash, where all it ever does its rain.’ It's a line Sam Shepard could've written: so pathetic and so funny, you don't know how to react.” RS

“I’m on Fire”
"I'm on Fire a smoldering look at unrequited passion.” DV “The tight-lipped character who sings…practically whispers about the desire that's eating him up. ‘Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby, edgy and dull, and cut a six-inch valley through the middle of my soul,’ he rasps. The way the band's turned down to just a light rattle of drums, faint organ and quiet, staccato guitar notes makes his lust seem ominous: you picture some pock-marked Harry Dean Stanton type, lying, too wired to sleep, in a motel room.” RS

“No Surrender”
No Surrender is a friendship anthem for the ages” DV with “the uplifting sweep of his early anthem ‘Thunder Road.’” RS It is “one of the best tunes the man has ever written.” DV

“Bobby Jean”
This touches on the hopeful endurance of friendship. It serves as an ode to long-time guitarist Steve Van Zandt, who’d just left the band. Certainly lyrics like “‘Maybe you’ll be out there on that road somewhere/ In some motel room there’ll be a radio playing and you’ll hear me sing this song/ Well, if you do, you’ll know I’m thinking of you and all the miles in between’” RS “may put a lump in your throat” RS but thanks to a “wall of sound with a soaring saxophone solo…the music says, Walk tall or don’t walk at all.” RS

“I’m Goin’ Down”
“A great dancer himself, Springsteen puts an infectious beat under his songs. In the wonderfully exuberant I'm Goin' Down, a hilarious song that gets its revenge, he makes a giddy run of nonsense syllables out of the chorus while drummer Max Weinberg whams out a huge backbeat.” RS

“Glory Days”
Glory Days may have employed Springsteen’s trademark disaffection, yet it came across as a couch potato's drunken lament.” AMG It “acknowledges that among other things, getting old is a good joke.” RC

“Dancing in the Dark”
“The biggest departure from any familiar Springsteen sound is the breathtaking first single, Dancing in the Dark, with its modern synths, played by E Street keyboardist Roy Bittan, and thundering bass and drums.” RS This was the biggest hit of Springsteen’s career and an example of his “best…pure pop songwriting ever.” AZ

The song sports “as unlikely a lyric for a hit single as the world might ever see.” DV “The kid who dances in the darkness here is practically choking on the self-consciousness of being sixteen. ‘I check my look in the mirror/I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face,’ he sings. ‘Man, I ain't getting nowhere just living in a dump like this.’ He turns out the lights…to escape in the fantasy of the music on the radio [and find] a release from all the limitations he was born into.” RS

“My Hometown”
“In My Hometown, the singer, remembers sitting on his father's lap and steering the family Buick as they drove proudly through town; but the boy grows up, and the final scene has him putting his own son on his lap for a last drive down a street that's become a row of vacant buildings. ‘Take a good look around,’ he tells his boy, repeating what his father told him, ‘this is your hometown.’” RS

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 12/2/2021.