Friday, June 2, 2017

MFD Rainy Day Mix

Rain might be the most overused metaphor in songwriting: it can represent sadness, loss, nostalgia on the one hand, happiness, purity, and cleansing on the other. Sure, it doesn't take much imagination to put together a mix with song titles that include the word "rain" but I did it anyway and think it turned out pretty good. The songs not only represent a variety of styles, but cover the full continuum of the aforementioned metaphors. Plus it's a very timely mix in my part of the country this week:

Below is a Mixcloud show containing an hour's worth of rain tunes from the years 1976-85 followed by an annotated playlist. There's the obvious picks alongside the occasional album cut and maybe a forgotten favorite. Enjoy.

"Hold Back the Rain"
Duran Duran
From the album Rio
Written by Duran Duran
Produced by Colin Thurston

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 not released as single in US

This tune closed side one of Rio and served as the B-side of the "Save a Prayer." It's better than "Save a Prayer" IMO. From what I've read, the main creative differences in the band came from a dispute over whether DD should be a synth band or a guitar band and this song meets perfectly in the middle. 

"Another Rainy Day in
New York City

From the album Chicago X
Written by Robert Lamm
Produced by James William Guercio

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 Adult Contemporary2
 Hot 10032

This lilting reggae wannabe tune isn't the usual stuff for Chicago, but I still think it's catchy and find myself singing it from time to time. According wikipedia lore: "The single, when released, was almost immediately ignored by radio in favor of the album cut 'If You Leave Me Now'. Due to this, Columbia Records ceased promotion of this single (accounting for its rather low chart placing) and rush-released 'If You Leave Me Now' seven weeks after the release of 'Another Rainy Day in New York City'.

"I Can't Stand the Rain"
From the album Eruption
Written by Ann Peebles, Don Bryant & Bernard "Bernie" Miller
Produced by Frank Farian

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 Hot 10018

A fun disco cover, as are most disco covers. I dig what the bass player is putting down.

"Save It for a Rainy Day"
Stephen Bishop
From the album Careless
Written by Stephen Bishop
Produced by Henry Lewy & Stephen Bishop

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 Adult Contemporary6
 Hot 10022

You'd think duet vocals by Chaka Khan and a guitar solo by Eric Clapton would take over a record, but its's all just perfect soft rock here. And you know you love it when Chaka takes off on her own at the end.

"I Love a Rainy Night"
Eddie Rabbitt
From the album Horizon
Written by David Malloy, Eddie Rabbitt, Even Stevens
Produced by David Malloy

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 Adult Contemporary1
 Hot 1001

A true chart-topper as well as sing-along toe-tapper. The song succeeded Dolly Parton's song "9 to 5" at the number 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart - the last time, to date, that the pop chart featured back-to-back country singles in the number one position. To my sons, this song is known from GTA: San Andreas.

"Shadows in the Rain"
From the album Dream of the Blue Turtles
Written by Sting
Produced by Sting & Pete Smith

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 not released as single in US

In which Sting takes a boring filler tune from Zenyatta Mondatta and lets his band turn it into a driving rock tune. Sting may get writing credit, but this song would be nothing with sax work from Branford Marsalis and an epic synth solo from the late Kenny Kirkland. Don't overlook Omar Hakim's sublime work, either.

"I Made It Through the Rain"
Barry Manilow
From the album Barry
Written by Gerard Kenny, Drey Shepperd, Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman & Jack Feldman
Produced by Barry Manilow & Ron Dante

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 Adult Contemporary4
 Hot 10010

That's a jarring segue if I've ever heard one, but I'm a confessed Fanilow so I had to make it happen. This is stereotypical Manilow balladry: piano intro, lots of strings, over-emphasized snare drum, and, of course, the upward modulation at the end. But if the formula works, don't mess with it.

"It's Raining Again"
From the album ...Famous Last Words
Written by Rick Davies & Roger Hodgson
Produced by Supertramp & Peter Henderson

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 Adult Contemporary5
 Hot 10011

The upbeat tempo and happy melody belie the lyrics. One of the few recorded melodica solos that I can think of. But, oh, that soaring, wordless bridge! So good I can forgive rhyming "fighter" with "up-tight-ah".

"Rain is Falling"
Electric Light Orchestra
From the album Time
Written by Jeff Lynne
Produced by Jeff Lynne

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 Bubbling Under Hot 100101

Despite a few stellar moments, the whole Time album is fairly underwhelming but I listened to it a lot more than it deserved. This was the third single released from the album; it didn't do so hot, but I like it. This song, as well as the previous Supertramp tune, work in snippets of the old nursery rhyme "It's Raining, It's Pouring".

"Rainbow's End"
Sergio Mendes
From the album Sergio Mendes
Written by Don Freeman & David Batteau
Produced by Sergio Mendes

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 not released as single in US

An album I continue to listen to more than it deserves. This 1983 album cut, the lead track on side two, is one of my favorites on the album and features the late Dan Sembello on lead vocals. Brother of Michael, Danny was a Grammy Award winning songwriter/producer in his own right. And his vocals aren't bad, neither.

"Smoky Mountain Rain"
Ronnie Milsap
From the album Greatest Hits
Written by Kye Fleming & Dennis Morgan
Produced by Tom Collins & Ronnie Milsap

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 Adult Contemporary1
 Hot 10024

The wife loves Ronnie Milsap. And she really loves it when I sing Ronnie Milsap songs to her. 😈 Thanks, Ronnie!

"Raining Raining"
Nick Lowe
From the album Nick the Knife
Written by Nick Lowe
Produced by Nick Lowe

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 not released as single in US

An album cut from what might be Lowe's best album. Long out-of-print, it was finally reissued in April by Yep Roc Records.  My advice: buy it while you can.

"Who'll Stop the Rain"
Heaven 17
From the album The Luxury Gap
Written by Glenn Gregory, Ian Craig Marsh & Martyn Ware
Produced by British Electric Foundation

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 not released as single in US

A fantastic synth-funk cut that's probably the 4th or 5th best song on the album - that's how good The Luxury Gap is. I first fell in love with this groove on the group's US compilation debut, where it was the lead track:

"Here Comes the Rain Again"
From the album Touch
Written by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart
Produced by David A. Stewart

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 Hot 1004
 Adult Contemporary6

The most obvious choice in this mix, I just had to because I sing the opening lyrics whenever it starts raining. To be honest, I don't even like the tune that much.

"Tinseltown in the Rain"
The Blue Nile
From the album A Walk Across the Rooftops
Written by Paul Buchanan & Robert Bell
Produced by Paul Buchanan &Robert Bell

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 not released as single in US

I came to The Blue Nile several decades after fact, but I'm catching up. This particular tune is giving me a Thomas Dolby vibe, for sure. I think of "Tinseltown" referring to Hollywood, but this song is about the band's native Glasgow. It was released as a single in the UK, but only managed to climb to #87.

"Walk Between Raindrops"
Donald Fagen
From the album The Nightfly
Written by Donald Fagen
Produced by Gary Katz

 U.S. Billboard charts peaks:
 not released as single in US

A big band tune that isn't performed by a big band. I'd like to hear a big band arrangement, though. One moment please... Here's a decent arrangement by Mel Torme; I'll keep hunting. As it stands, this is the closing tune from The Nightfly, one of my favorite albums of 1982 (and all-time, for that matter), so I thought it would make a nice closer for this mix.

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