Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 29
We’re going to jump right into the songs this week as we have an extended post in order to finish up the letter E in just two weeks. Enjoy the 26 tracks below as we continue digging through the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
I’d love to hear a remastered version of “Almost Saturday Night.” It’s a good song written by John Fogerty, but it would be nice to see how great it would be with better production. “Almost Saturday Night” was off Twangin …, which would be Edmunds’s final album with his group Rockpile. In 1985 Edmunds put together the Porky’s Revenge soundtrack, which included the theme song “High School Nights.”
“Don’t Look Any Further” — 1984, #72 (download)
This is an absolute classic R&B song from Edwards — one the lead singers of the Temptations. This is another one of those ‘80s R&B tracks that I feel has been used in a billion samples in the past few decades. The only one I can pick out off hand is 2Pac’s “Hit ‘Em Up” but I know there must be more. It was actually covered unnecessarily in 1988 by the Kane Gang. The female voice in this is an artist we will get to very shortly – Siedah Garrett.
“Fool Moon Fire” — 1983, #46 (download)
Walter Egan is pretty much known for one song, 1978’s “Magnet and Steel” but this cool track was his fourth and final charting single. According to the ”official” Walter Egan website this song charted in the Top 40. Who am I to call bullshit on that? Wait, I guess by posting this I’m doing just that.
“Kiss You (When It’s Dangerous)” — 1987, #72 (download)
Eight Seconds was a Canadian pop band that started out doing covers in local Ottawa bars. Canada apparently loved their first original song so much that Polydor decided to snatch them up and get an album — Almacantar — out of them to capitalize on that success. Clearly they didn’t do so well on that front.
Until I saw it here, I would have assumed “Cross My Heart” was a Top 40 hit, as it sounds recognizable to me. Neither of these songs are bad, but they’re both pretty generic. The real interesting thing about Eighth Wonder is that this was the band that was led by Patsy Kensit — the English actress who’s been married to Jim Kerr of Simple Minds and most famously to Liam Gallagher of Oasis.
Electric Light Orchestra
“Four Little Diamonds” — 1983, #86 (download)
“Four Little Diamonds” was from ELO’s Secret Messages album which caught them as their popularity was starting to dwindle and band members started working on other projects. The album suffered from lack of promotion from the label and Jeff Lynne and company didn’t tour in support of it. That has to explain why this wasn’t a bigger hit since every one of the other eight singles in the decade went Top 40 and it wasn’t like “Four Little Diamonds” was any radical departure from the typical ELO sound.
Emerson, Lake & Powell
“Touch and Go” — 1986, #60 (download)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s final LP was in 1978 and when Keith Emerson and Greg Lake decided they wanted to reform the band, Carl Palmer was performing with Asia. So, they went out and got another “P” in the form of drummer Cozy Powell and rechristened themselves Emerson, Lake & Powell — or ELPowell for short. They only committed one album to tape, their self-titled effort in 1986 which was a grand prog-rock effort with some epic classical themes.
England Dan & John Ford Coley
“In It For Love” — 1980, #75 (download)
“In It For Love” was the 9th and final single for Dan Seals and John Ford Coley off their first Best of album released in 1980.
“Once a Night” — 1980, #94 (download)
The book On This Day in Black Music History says the following about Jackie English:
“Jackie English, a white songwriter known for only having songs recorded by black artists, including George Benson, Patrice Rushen, Ronnie Laws and Eloise Laws finally had a hit by a white artist when she herself charted with ‘Once a Night’ (from the movie Hopscotch).”
This is another one of those 45s that was extremely difficult to find for the collection.
“New Thing” — 1989, #67 (download)
Enuff Z’nuff were really one of the better glam bands to come out of the ‘80s, though I guess they barely qualify since this was their first single, released late in ’89. While they certainly played up the glam look, their music was a bit more refined than most of their peers. If these guys had come out a few years earlier I’d have to think they would have been a much bigger hit. Or maybe if “New Thing” wasn’t one of the worst videos of the decade.
“Stop!” — 1989, #97 (download)
Erasure’s a group that we all know, even though they are yet another great example of how different music is in the UK. Erasure has had 28 top 20 tracks in the UK and only six Hot 100 tracks in the US. “Stop!” is my favorite single from them, off the Crackers International EP.
“Walking Through Walls” — 1989, #81 (download)
Escape Club had a handful of good singles but really weren’t that great of a band. “Walking Though Walls” is the third single from their breakthrough second album Wild Wild West which contained “Wild Wild West” and “Shake For the Shiek” and very little else of substance. They released one more album in 1991 and then broke up.
Joe “Bean” Esposito
“Lady, Lady, Lady” — 1983, #86 (download)
“Bean” was part of the band Brooklyn Dreams who were the backing band on Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls”. As a solo artist he released two records in the ‘80s and was like Kenny Loggins Jr. when it came to soundtrack songs. “Lady, Lady, Lady” was from Flashdance and he had solo tracks from Zapped!, Thief of Hearts and The Karate Kid as well as a duet with Laura Branigan from Coming to America.
Melissa Etheridge is exactly the type of artist I hate — except shockingly, I actually think her two ‘80s albums are quite good. Both her self-titled debut and 1989’s Brave and Crazy are a bit less polished and a bit more rock than her later slick pop efforts. The two songs here were the only ones from those albums that hit the Hot 100, though four others had decent success on the modern rock side.
“Heaven (Must Be There)” — 1984, #65 (download)
An Australian band, this was the Eurogliders only hit in the U.S. “Heaven” went to #2 in Australia, which helped get them national attention for their second album This Island. It’s a shame the song is so boring.
“Cherokee” — 1987, #72 (download)
Europe was a pretty shitty band so I’d rather not be writing about them at all. But since I have to, I would have expected a few more tracks. Instead, four of their five songs to hit the Hot 100 made top 40, with their biggest hit being the ballad “Carrie”. “Cherokee” was the fourth and thankfully the last single off The Final Countdown album.
If you go back to their first two records, 1983’s Europe and 1984’s Wings of Tomorrow, you’ll hear much less hair metal and much more hard rock, especially on the debut disc. That doesn’t make it any better, just different. If I gave you the debut record without telling you what it was, it would be tough to indentify it as a Europe album. And the weird part about it, is that I actually can give it to you without telling you what it was. One of the most fascinating pieces in my collection is the Johnny Hates Jazz Turn Back the Clock CD – which doesn’t play that album. Instead it plays the self-titled Europe disc. Imagine my shock when I go to play that sugary pop disc and I get bad hard rock instead. I don’t really know how this happened, as it’s definitely a factory made disc with the Johnny Hates Jazz label, but “Shattered Dreams” is nowhere to be found on it. That’s completely irrelevant to this post, but I wanted to fit it in somewhere.
“Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)” — 1984, #81 (download)
“It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)” — 1986, #78 (download)
“Thorn in My Side” — 1986, #68 (download)
“I Need a Man” — 1987, #46 (download)
“You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart” — 1988, #64 (download)
Eurythmics are of course Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart with a host of guest musicians sitting in at various points. For my money, they are one of the most consistent pop acts of the decade. Album after album they cranked out catchy pop numbers, but they also did so while experimenting with different sounds and pushing the envelop a bit. They took less and less chances as the decade rolled on, but from the very start of their partnership even with their previous group — The Tourists — they weren’t quite satisfied with run-of-the-mill songs. The Eurythmics had a total of 15 tracks in the Hot 100.
“Sexcrime” is probably the best of the group here but didn’t get a whole lot of airplay for a variety of reasons. The first being the title of the song, which seems like nothing now, but in 1984, saying “Sexcrime” on the radio wasn’t welcome in many places. That second being that the album – which was the soundtrack for the movie Nineteen Eighty-Four – was pulled from shelves because of a lawsuit, as apparently the director of the movie really didn’t want to use the songs and Annie and Dave didn’t know that the label really used the songs without the director’s permission.
“It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)” is another good track, which was the fourth and final single from their album Be Yourself Tonight. While the album featured a lot of slick pop numbers, this song was a bit darker and more electronic, like previous works.
Both “I Need a Man” and “You Placed a Chill in My Heart” harken back to the more experimental side of the Eurythmics and are from their Savage album which pretty much marked the end of any major hits for them.
“On the Wings of a Nightingale” — 1984, #50 (download)
After a ten-year layoff, the Everly Brothers reunited for their EB 84 album, produced by Dave Edmunds. “On the Wings of a Nightingale” was written for the Everly Brothers by Paul McCartney.
Eye to Eye
“Lucky” — 1983, #88 (download)
Eye to Eye was a male-female duo and had two albums to their credit before they went their own ways. The first self-titled record yielded the excellent ‘Nice Girls” in 1981 but their second album — Shakespeare Stole My Baby — tanked and they broke up shortly afterwards.
Best Song: Dennis Edwards, “Don’t Look Any Further”
Worst Song: Europe, “Cherokee”
Next week, we dig into the sixth letter of the alphabet!