Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 22

Written by Bottom Feeders, Music

I’m writing this week’s post on a Sunday afternoon. Why is that significant? Because it’s the absolute best day of the week for ‘80s music. My wife and I end up finding our way to the car around noon every Sunday to flip on her XM and listen to reruns of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40. While it’s nice to hear the countdown in its original form, we both listen specifically for the long-distance dedication.

Quite frankly, it’s the finest moment of ‘80s radio, and the one thing in the car you’re not allowed to interrupt. Whether real or fake, the dedications are the pinnacle of cheesiness, and that’s what makes them wonderful. Every Sunday I listen to Casey read the week’s dedication in his finest heartbreaking radio voice, and I can’t help but think to myself how great a long-distance dedication writer I would have been. So I think it’s about time I lived out my dream. Let’s see …

“Today’s long-distance dedication comes to us from a shy 21-year-old girl in the tiny town of Pahrump, Nevada. She writes, ‘Casey, I have a problem. I’m in love with a guy that I can’t be with. We met three years ago when I was a senior in high school and our school hired him to be our janitor. Mike is his name and mopping is his game. He could remove gum from the floor like nobody’s business.

“One night after drama class, he was cleaning the stalls in the ladies’ bathroom and we started talking. It turns out he had dreams of one day owning a McDonald’s, just like me. He was short, kind of ugly, and smelled of bleach, but I slowly fell in love with the guy wearing the rubber gloves anyway. Everything was going great until January of this year, when Mike accidentally ran over a family of ducks with his tractor. He was given three years in prison for his crime.

“I visit him every week despite protests from my family and friends. Even though he told me before he left that fateful morning that he really hated ducks, I know he didn’t mean to hit more than one of them. I just want to let Mike know that I love him and that I will wait for him to be released. Would you please play Rick Dees’ ‘Disco Duck’ for the love of my life and let him know that I miss him every day? Sincerely, Tabitha.”

What do you think? That would have made it on the air, right?

NEW SOUNDS FOR THE COLLECTION:
The Tourists, Luminous Basement
Michael Wycoff, On the Line
Suzy Q, Get On Up Do It Again
UFO, Mechanix

This week we move on to artists whose names begin with the letter D, as we continue looking at the bottom 60 percent of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the ‘80s.

E.G. Daily
“Say It, Say It” — 1986, #70 (download)

“Say It, Say It” was put into my mind long before I ever purchased the song for my collection. It had to be around 2003 or so when I spent every Wednesday night at Steppy’s Bar & Grille in Norristown, Pa., where DJ George would host sports and music trivia for four hours each week. He’d give some sports trivia question, then play a song, and you had to answer the question and name the song and the artist by the time it ended. He must’ve had a little thing for E.G. Daily, because “Say It, Say It” was played far more than it should’ve been. It’s not a bad song, but hearing it as part of trivia night in 2003 was the first time I’d encountered it. Needless to say, I didn’t know the answer the first time, but by the 30th time I was an expert on E.G. Daily’s music. Of course, one doesn’t have to listen to very many of her tracks to call himself that.

Daily seemed to be quite a catch back in the day, having dated Nicolas Cage and George Clooney. Then again, she also dated Andrew “Dice” Clay and Kato Kaelin, not to mention she was married to Rick Salomon, who provided us with Paris Hilton’s best movie to date — 1 Night in Paris. Taste is subjective, I guess.

Roger Daltrey
“Free Me” — 1980, #53 (download)
“Walking in My Sleep” — 1984, #62 (download)
“After the Fire” — 1985, #48 (download)
“Let Me Down Easy” — 1985, #86 (download)

“Free Me” is the type of song that I would usually hate, but I have a soft spot for it. As I was listening to it again, I realized how awesome it is around the three-minute mark, when Daltrey screams “Free me!” so loud his voice almost cracks. Written by Russ Ballard, it’s from the great soundtrack to McVicar (starring Daltrey). Everything after McVicar was very hit-or-miss, though. There are a lot of moments that I really dig on both 1984’s Parting Should Be Painless and 1985’s Under a Raging Moon, but neither album is worth a front-to-back listen. “After the Fire,” written by Pete Townshend, is a highlight of this period; the Bryan Adams-penned “Let Me Down Easy” is not.

Michael Damian
“She Did It” — 1981, #69 (download)

Michael Damian’s cover of Eric Carmen’s “She Did It” is by far the best song I’ve heard by him. Last week I mentioned how Cugini’s “Let Me Sleep Alone” was the hardest thing to find for my collection so far, but “She Did It” was even harder to locate. At least Cugini was on Scotti Brothers, which had some successful artists on it. This track was a one-off 45 on some label called Leg. In fact, “She Did It” is Leg 007, which either means the people running the label were Bond fans or they issued at least six other releases.

Rodney Dangerfield
“Rappin’ Rodney” — 1983, #83 (download)


Dangerfield won a Grammy in 1984 for his comedy album No Respect, featuring his only single, “Rappin’ Rodney” (“Talkin’ Rodney” would’ve been a more accurate title). Personally, I will always remember Dangerfield not for his “I don’t get no respect” line but for his “triple Lindy” dive as Thornton Melon in the classic movie Back to School (1986).

Terence Trent D’Arby
“If You Let Me Stay” — 1987, #68 (download)

Terence Trent D’Arby is dead, or so he wants you to believe. In 2001 he legally changed his name to Sananda Maitreya and pronounced his original self deceased. I remember being one of the millions who bought his debut record, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, after hearing the ridiculously great “Wishing Well” (which could definitely use a good remastering). I also remember thinking both D’Arby and his music were kind of strange, and having listened to some of Maitreya’s recent tracks, I can tell you it hasn’t gotten any less weird over time.

F.R. David
“Words” — 1983, #62 (download)

This was F.R. David’s only hit, and though it didn’t do much in the U.S., it went to #2 in the UK and supposedly has sold over eight million copies worldwide. In 1999 David did what any self-respecting man living off one song would do: he recorded a dancier, more modern version of “Words.”

David & David
“Ain’t So Easy” — 1987, #51 (download)

A tragically underrated song by a tragically underrated band, from Welcome to the Boomtown, a tragically underrated album. We started talking about David & David in a previous Bottom Feeders, and I know there are plenty of fans out there, so I expect there to be another lively discussion this week.

Jimmy Davis & Junction
“Kick the Wall” — 1987, #67 (download)

This is a pretty good song from a guy who’s a whole lotta country at heart. Davis has written tracks for country artists like Martina McBride and Restless Heart, and has been part of a roots-rock group called the RiverBluff Clan, but this nice slab of rock was Junction’s only hit song.

Mac Davis
“It’s Hard to Be Humble” — 1980, #43 (download)
“Texas in My Rear View Mirror” — 1980, #51 (download)
“Secrets” — 1981, #76 (download)

One of my secret favorites of the decade, “It’s Hard to Be Humble” is like the story of Steed.

Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble
When you’re perfect in every way
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
‘Cause I get better lookin’ each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble
But I’m doin’ the best that I can

Martha Davis
“Don’t Tell Me the Time” — 1987, #80 (download)

This is a pretty disappointing solo debut from the Motels frontwoman. It’s a punchless pop song lacking any of the edginess that the Motels showed on their All Four One and Little Robbers albums.

Paul Davis
“Cry Just a Little” — 1980, #78 (download)

Back in April, after Paul Davis passed away, Jason Hare posted a rerun of Adventures Through the Mines of Mellow Gold focusing on the singer. Give that another peek as you listen to “Cry Just a Little.”

Tyrone Davis
“Are You Serious” — 1982, #57 (download)

Tyrone Davis had been releasing hits since 1965, and while his output and chart success had slowed down by ’82, he was still able to make some quality music. He should have had another hit in ’84 with the excellent “Let Me Be Your Pacifier,” but he couldn’t get the necessary promotional push from his label, Ocean Front Records.

Arlan Day
“I Surrender” — 1981, #71 (download)

As far as I can tell, “I Surrender” is the only single Day released from his only LP, Surrender.

Morris Day
“The Oak Tree” — 1985, #65 (download)

My wife hates this song. Actually, it’s more like she hates me when this song comes on. See, if you’ve read this series for a while, you know I’m a fan of the funk. My favorite artist is also Prince, so any of his protegés, side projects, and lingerie-clad women interest me as well. Morris Day & the Time were, of course, the most talented and biggest of any acts associated with Prince, and recorded some of my favorite songs of all time, like “The Bird” and “C-O-O-L.” The reason my wife hates me when this song comes on is because for the rest of the week at random times I start screaming, “Oak tree!”

I’ll be walking in the supermarket picking up a box of crackers and I’ll yell, “Oak tree!” Just the other day, when I saw that “The Oak Tree” was going to be part of this week’s post, I was playing Madden ’09, and after a nice run from Eagles running back Brian Westbrook I shouted, “Oak tree!” Can you see why my wife gets annoyed?

QUICK HITS:
Best song — Morris Day, “The Oak Tree”
Worst song — Martha Davis, “Don’t Tell Me the Time”

Next week we’ll gender-bend and finally get to talk about tracks from one of the most-talked about artists in this series.