The other day someone asked me what the “most valuable” record in my collection is. It’s a question I’ve always had a hard time answering, because I have no idea if anything in my collection is worth money. I mean, I know which of my albums and 45s are rare, and certainly I know some pieces are worth some kind of money, but for me any sort of “value” comes from just having that particular hole filled in my collection. I’m not the first collector to say this and I certainly won’t be the last, but there is no part of my collection that I’ve been working on in order to turn a profit. Granted, if I ever get that elusive Shamus M’Cool 45 my collection will jump tremendously in value, but for now it contains just what I think is cool.  And in case you’re wondering how I define “cool” …

I own 19 different versions of “Talkin’ Baseball” by Terry Cashman, and Baseball America values them at up to $50 apiece. Of course, that’s Baseball America talking. I own “Dance Baby,” the 1983 single from Alfonso Ribeiro, aka Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I own Alyssa Milano’s first album (1989’s Look in My Heart), and having Frank Stallone‘s self-titled disc brings me much joy. I get endless conversations out of the men-hugging-each-other cover of Ambrosia’s One Eighty, and Scott Baio’s 1982 debut gives me nightmares.

These are the pieces of my collection that are valuable to me. One day I’m going to sell it off, and then I’ll really see what it’s worth to own way too much Peabo Bryson music, but until then I’ll keep lovin’ the Stryper picture disc simply because it’s mine. So the next time someone asks me what’s the “most valuable” piece of my collection, I guess I should answer, “All of it” (which of course is the lamest answer I could possibly give).

NEW MUSIC FOR THE COLLECTION:
DFX2, Emotion
Fiona, Fiona
Hanoi Rocks, Two Steps From the Move
Full Force, Full Force
The J. Geils Band, You’re Getting’ Even, While I’m Gettin’ Odd

Joel Diamond
“Theme from Raging Bull (Cavalleria Rusticana)” — 1981, #82 (download)

I can’t fathom how or why radio stations played this song enough for it to chart on the Hot 100. On Diamond’s website you’ll find one extremely over-the-top bio detailing every step of his career, including the list of music he’s produced, which frankly just isn’t that impressive.

Neil Diamond
“The Good Lord Loves You” — 1980, #67 (download)
“Front Page Story” — 1983, #65 (download)
“Turn Around” — 1984, #62 (download)
“Headed for the Future” — 1986, #53 (download)

There are a lot of people who either really love Neil Diamond or really hate Neil Diamond, and both camps are adamant about their reasons for feeling the way they do. I for one, love him. I have his 12 ‘80s hits on my iPod, and every now and then I lay on the couch, shut my eyes, and enjoy the soothing sounds of Neil. I don’t understand how someone couldn’t love the epic-ness of “Turn Around.” And I absolutely know I’m in the minority with this one, but I just go crazy for his Headed for the Future album from 1986. It just barely missed my “Top 80 of the ‘80s” album list, and no, I’m not kidding at all. If you listen to no other song in this week’s post, I implore you to choose “Headed for the Future” — it will brighten your day!

Here I am talking about Neil Diamond like I have some sort of man crush on him, and yet I also get the “you’re a douchebag” stare at parties when I’m the only person who doesn’t sing along to “Sweet Caroline.” Maybe someone should sing along to “Headed for the Future” with me instead!

Dillman Band
“Lovin’ the Night Away” — 1981, #45 (download)

A pretty generic slab of adult-contemporary rock, this was the only hit the Dillman Band had.

Dino
“Summergirls” — 1988, #50 (download)
“24/7” — 1989, #42 (download)
“Never 2 Much of U” — 1989, #61 (download)

S-s-summergirls. I’m torn on Dino. I mean, between him and Stevie B, they had the male corner of the late-’80s freestyle movement covered, but that also led Dino to be one of the cheesiest artists of the decade. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone talk about him like he was a serious artist. There’s always laughter and the obligatory “I can’t believe I liked him” comment these days (not that he comes up in conversation that often, mind you). Now, I’m not saying he’s a legend, but if you really break it down, Dino was actually okay. As sappy as the song is, when “I Like It” comes on you almost have to sing along, “That’s the way it has to be / ‘Cause that’s the way I like it.” When you actually get past the dance songs and listen to “24/7” or “Never 2 Much of U,” you hear an R&B sound that fit right in at the time. Dino wasn’t just a pretty-boy marketing scheme; the guy could actually hold a tune. Okay, so maybe I’m not torn after all — it seems like I like Dino. Yikes.

Dion
“And the Night Stood Still” — 1989, #75 (download)

If you haven’t figured it out yet in this series, I’m not a big fan of the artists who hang around way too long or try to make a random comeback after years of doing nothing. And that’s what makes this song kind of unique, because I actually like it. “And the Night Stood Still” was Dion’s first single since 1971, and it must be even better than I think since getting airplay after missing from the charts for 18 years is no easy feat. He went to the right person for a hit song: “Night” was written by hit machine Diane Warren and produced by Dave Edmunds. The only thing that shocks me about it is that it was released in ’89. If someone had told me “1983” I wouldn’t have thought twice, but “Night” seems a little dated for the end of the decade.

Dire Straits
“Skateaway” — 1980, #58 (download)
“Industrial Disease” — 1983, #75 (download)

Like many other kids in the ’80s, I was introduced to Dire Straits through their “Money for Nothing” video, since it was played every four minutes on MTV. Until I started my collection, I never even realized they made music before that point. While nothing before the Brothers in Arms record was really as slick and radio ready, something like “Industrial Disease” isn’t that different from the bigger hits. While it certainly has a rougher feel to it than later songs, it has parts that remind me of both “Money for Nothing” and “Walk of Life.”

Diving for Pearls
“Gimme Your Good Lovin’” — 1989, #84 (download)

Diving for Pearls is a terrible name for a rock band, even if it was generated from the Elvis Costello song “Shipbuilding.” There’s nothing really groundbreaking about “Gimme Your Good Lovin’,” but the band’s one and only album, from 1989, is better than the standard rock fare of the time.

Divinyls
“Pleasure and Pain” — 1986, #76 (download)

Like I said, I didn’t know Dire Straits existed before Brothers in Arms, and I certainly wasn’t aware that the Divinyls existed before “I Touch Myself.” They actually put out three albums and an EP in the ‘80s; “Pleasure and Pain” was from their second LP, What a Life! I guess the draw with them is the sexual overtones in the songs and the naughty-little-girl persona of singer Christina Amphlett, because, on the whole, they weren’t a very good band.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
“Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” — 1988, #57 (download)
“I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson” — 1989, #58 (download)

Maybe I’m biased, being from Philly and all, but I don’t get why Will Smith gets such a bad rap. Once he dropped the Fresh Prince moniker he became the laughingstock of the rap world, but I’m not really sure why. I mean, who’s expecting something hardcore from the guy who wrote “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble”? Fun pop-oriented hip-hop isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“Girls” was originally on Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s debut album, Rock the House, but got rereleased as a single after “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and “Nightmare on My Street” became hits. “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson” is still one of the most memorable videos from when I was growing up.

We all know what A-list movie star Will Smith is up to these days, but “Jazzy” Jeff Townes is still making music and releasing DJ mix albums, and at least in his hometown of Philadelphia he’s still a highly sought-after and respected spinner of hip-hop.

Doctor & the Medics
“Spirit in the Sky” — 1986, #69 (download)

Doctor & the Medics’ cover of Norman Greenbaum’s classic has the distinction of being the first record I purchased for my ‘80s collection. I’m honestly not sure why it was the first except that I remember the cover of the 45 vividly from when I used to listen to records with my dad. I always thought the background singers were more interesting than the Doctor himself — they performed in-sync moves onstage because they were synchronized swimmers.

Dokken
“Alone Again” — 1985, #64 (download)
“In My Dreams” — 1986, #77 (download)
“Burning Like a Flame” — 1987, #72 (download)

The three songs above are the only three hits Dokken ever had. They really were a decent group, but they just couldn’t find their niche in the metal market. They got lumped into the hair metal genre, but they looked more glam metal. Dokken didn’t care for either of those monikers, though; they thought guitarist George Lynch was more of a classic heavy metal axeman. They were also hurt by constant feuding between Lynch and singer Don Dokken, which led to the band’s breakup in 1988.

QUICK HITS
Best song — Neil Diamond, “Headed for the Future”
Worst song — Joel Diamond, “Theme from Raging Bull (Cavalleria Rusticana)”

Next week we spotlight another one of my favorite vocalists of the decade, and one of the featured artists tells you to zip it.