Monday, January 18, 2016

Songoftheday 1/18/16 - Another night slowly closes in and I feel so lonely, touching heat freezing on my skin I pretend you still hold me...


"The Flame" - Cheap Trick
from the album Lap Of Luxury (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (two weeks)
Weeks in the Top-40: 14

Today's song of the day comes from the power-pop/rock band Cheap Trick, who started out in Illinois led by guitarist Rick Nielsen as Fuse. Dropping their original lead singer and hiring on Robin Zander, they changed their name and came back to the midwest from Philly. Getting signed and releasing their self-titled debut album in 1977, their first three albums weren't particularly noticed in America, other than a minor pop hit with "Surrender". However, across the Pacific in Japan, they were huge, convincing them to go and tour the country. The resulting live album, Live At Budokan, overshadowed everything they've done before, and is considered one of the best (if not the best) live rock albums ever. So much was the fervor over the record that after scores of import copies were sold in America, their record company finally decided to release it stateside. Their live version of "I Want You To Want Me", originally on their second album In Color, climbed up to the top ten on the U.S. pop chart. With that momentum, their next studio album, Dream Police, hit the top ten on the albums chart in America, while the title track also did top-ten business in Canada and Australia and hit #26 in the States. Everything was looking up, with a big following and a distinctive look (the four-piece had two traditionally "rock-style" members in Zander and bassist Tom Petersson and two eclectic ones with Nielsen's nerdish outfits and drummer Bun E Carlos looking like their dad). But the coming of new wave and the second "British Invasion" of the early 80s placed them on the sidelines for awhile, with Petersson leaving, and their music getting less play on American stations. They stalled out right under the top 40 four times in that period, with "Tonight It's You" reaching #44 in 1985.

Under threat of losing their contract, and regaining Petersson to the lineup in 1987, Cheap Trick for the first time contracted out some of the songs on their next studio album, Lap Of Luxury. The first single from the project, "The Flame", was one of them. Written by Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham, no chances were taken, with the by-the-numbers power-ballad was trotted out right off the bat, and the public responded in favor, with mainstream stations giving them their biggest-ever hit...


"The Flame" went all the way to #1 on the American pop chart in 1988. The single also climbed to #3 on Billboard magazine's Mainstream Rock chart, and even crossed over to their adult contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart at #29. Internationally, the song went to #1 in Canada and Australia, #32 in Germany, and #11 in New Zealand. And like Heart, Chicago, and Foreigner before them, changed their image irrevocably.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Here's the band performing the song live in 1988...


Ten years after "The Flame" hit #1 on the pop chart, singer Erin Hamilton (daughter of Carol Burnett) released a hi-NRG dance cover of the song, and went to #12 on the Club Play chart in Billboard...


...and on its re-release in 2008 with new mixes, went all the way to #1 on the dance chart for Erin...


...and back to Cheap Trick after the success of the single in 1989...


Finally, here they are in 2001 for their Silver live show...


Up tomorrow: Glam-metalheads are only in it for the fun.

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