I turned on the radio the other day for the first time in months and the first thing I heard was â€œmore music, less talk,â€ so thatâ€™s what weâ€™re going with this week. Well, okay, itâ€™s the same amount of music but less talk. But you get my point.
NEW SOUNDS FOR THE COLLECTION:
Garland Jeffreys, Escape Artist
Krokus, Change of Address
Aleese Simmons, I Want It
Art in America, Art in America
We stroll on with our next-to-last week of artists whose names begin with the letter C, looking at songs that missed the first 40 slots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the â€˜80s.
â€œFool That I Amâ€ — 1980, #46 (download)
Many times itâ€™s just so much more interesting to talk about everything but the music. What can I say about a boring track from some movie Iâ€™ve never heard of called Coast to Coast? Coolidgeâ€™s personal life is the story here — she dated Stephen Stills and then Graham Nash right after him, leading to the initial breakup of CSNY. But my favorite tidbit about Coolidge is that she starred in some television specials called The Christmas Raccoons and The Raccoons on Ice in the early â€˜80s, which apparently led to the Canadian TV series The Raccoons. Hereâ€™s a clip from Raccoons on Ice, narrated by Rich Little and also starring … Leo Sayer!
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/BXcDmKGSdlk" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
â€œWorld Shut Your Mouthâ€ — 1987, #84 (download)
Hereâ€™s one of the better upbeat pop tunes this series has had in a while. It would be a great track if half the song wasnâ€™t simply the chorus being repeated over and over. “World Shut Your Mouth,” strangely enough, isn’t from Cope’s debut solo record, World Shut Your Mouth, but rather from his third release, Saint Julian. Normally Iâ€™d hate that since itâ€™s very misleading to the casual consumer who would naturally assume the song is on the record of the same name. But when youâ€™re dealing with mostly out-of-print music I guess itâ€™s not that bad. If youâ€™re not familiar with Copeâ€™s music and you like this track, Iâ€™d suggest locating â€œCharlotte Anneâ€ from his 1988 album, My Nation Underground. Thatâ€™s one of my favorite tunes of the decade.
â€œSquare Roomsâ€ — 1985, #80 (download)
Al Corleyâ€™s big claim to fame is that he was the first Steven Carrington on Dynasty — which makes it two weeks in a row that weâ€™ve had a connection to that show. The song itself is kind of weird for me. I mean, the pieces donâ€™t fit very well. And take a look at the guy — he’s not the type of dude youâ€™d expect to be singing a semi-new-wave track. But in the grand scope of actors trying to sing, heâ€™s not Scott Baio bad, but heâ€™s not Rick Springfield good (or, as our editor-in-chief might say, Jack Wagner good). This was Corleyâ€™s only hit song, and he didnâ€™t exactly hit it big in the acting world either, as some of his credits include â€œguy in lineâ€ and â€œman in park.â€
â€œThe Only Flame in Townâ€ — 1984, #56 (download)
Welcome to Bottom Feeders, Mr. Costello sir — though you donâ€™t deserve to be here at all. Every now and then an artist comes around that is a perfect example of how messed up radio was/is in the US. If you made me give an example of why radio programmers had their heads up their asses (even) back then, Elvis would be the artist I would use. Just a paragraph up, I mentioned Jack Wagner, who had four Hot 100 hits in the â€˜80s. Elvis Costello had three. Seriously, how fucked up is that? Now, Iâ€™m not saying all his â€˜80s records were masterpieces, but many were good enough to chart, and even his earlier tunes, like â€œWatching the Detectivesâ€ and â€œPump It Up,â€ didnâ€™t make a dent. And the guy is still making great music today that gets zero radio airplay. Momofuku is one of best albums of 2008, but you wonâ€™t hear it on commercial radio. Meanwhile heâ€™s had 40+ charting songs in the UK. Iâ€™m getting all worked up here, so I think itâ€™s just time to enjoy â€œThe Only Flame in Townâ€ and move on to something else.
â€œIf I Could Get Youâ€ — 1982, #76 (download)
This is the last of seven hits for Gene Cotton, breaking his string of four in a row to hit the Top 40. Gene Cotton sounds like the name of an 80-year-old bluesman, but he was just in his late 30s when he recorded this basic pop tune.
Josie Cotton performed â€œHe Could Be the Oneâ€ during the prom scene in Valley Girl. â€œJimmy Loves Maryannâ€ is a cover of one of two hits from the Looking Glass.
The Cover Girls are one of the first Latin freestyle groups to hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and â€œShow Meâ€ is considered a classic of the genre. Iâ€™d bet if it had been given the re-release treatment after 1000 clones popped up, it would have been a much bigger hit the second time around. This despite the fact that their debut album, which featured all the tracks listed here, was released on Fever Records with cover art that looked like it was made in my basement. Overall, Show Me had five tracks hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the highest, â€œBecause of You,â€ reaching #27. They moved to a major label after this, but you have to wonder how big the Cover Girls would have been if this had some firepower behind it.
â€œStraight from the Heart (Into Your Life)â€ — 1984, #66 (download)
The Coyote Sisters are one of a small handful of failed bands on Morocco records, the rock subsidiary of Motown. The group was led by Leah Kunkel, the sister of Mama Cass. The song itself is pretty ho-hum, lacking any type of energy.
Itâ€™s understandable why Robert Cray really didnâ€™t have any big radio hits aside from “Smoking Gun,” which reached #22 in the spring of ’87. Itâ€™s certainly not the quality of his songs that was the problem, but it was probably tough to find a lot of radio stations willing to play him after Def Leppard. â€œRight Next Doorâ€ is an awesomely groovy track, though.
â€œReal Loveâ€ — 1980, #79 (download)
The Cretones were led by Mark Goldenberg, who ended up being the guitarist for Jackson Browne. This was their only hit off their album Thin Red Line. Isolate the chorus by itself, and I might have guessed this was a Fleetwood Mac tune.
Iâ€™m a huge fan of Neil Young, but for some reason Iâ€™ve never gotten into Crosby, Stills & Nash. However, both of these songs are excellent (though Iâ€™m going to assume that many of you will think â€œWar Gamesâ€ is shit thanks to its electronic nature). Both of these are Stephen Stills compositions, and â€œToo Much Love to Hideâ€ comes from Daylight Again, which David Crosby barely had any participation in.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
â€œGot It Madeâ€ — 1989, #69 (download)
Maybe this is the reason I never got into CSN. This was probably my first introduction to the group, and then I went backwards to hear some of their other tunes. This is another Stephen Stills track from their album American Dream, which is a total waste of good record-storing space. This piece of crap is sadly the best song on the album.
Iâ€™m a fan of Christopher Cross — thereâ€™s just nothing quite like â€œArthurâ€™s Theme (The Best That You Can Do).â€ There certainly wasnâ€™t a whole lot of variety in his singles, though, at least up until 1985, when he released Every Turn of the World. Itâ€™s a bit more of a rock-oriented album than his others, but it didnâ€™t spawn any real hits. â€œCharm the Snakeâ€ is the only Hot 100 track from it. Personally, I think itâ€™s his best album, but the music world didnâ€™t and that pretty much ended the run of Christopher Cross. It probably didnâ€™t help that he has a face made for radio either. â€œA Chance for Heavenâ€ can be found on the Official Music for the XXIIIrd Olympiad record, as it was deemed the â€œSwimming Theme.â€ Now I need to go and figure out what the swimming theme is for the current Olympics.
Best song — Elvis Costello, â€œThe Only Flame in Townâ€
Worst song — Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, â€œGot It Madeâ€
Next week we close out the letter C, with the group that sings my second-favorite song of the decade and a track from one of the best comedians of all time.