Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 30

Written by Bottom Feeders, Music

You know, I don’t rant in public too often (yeah, right), but I’ve been getting really annoyed with iTunes and my iPod lately, so I think it’s time I let it out.

You see, I love my iPod. It still goes down as one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I bought my 80-gigabyte iPod in May of last year, and close to 9,000 songs later I have no idea what I’d do without it. It gets me through my workday, it allows me to listen to metal without my wife running away, and it helps me write these Bottom Feeders posts.

However, I’m getting really pissed off at the technology. Now, I’m the first person to admit I’m not the savviest when it comes to trinkets of the electronic nature. So everything I say here could have some solution that I just haven’t located yet. But I find it hard to believe the answers to the following problems are still out there.

The biggest problem is the iTunes interface. Every now and then I actually purchase a record on iTunes ’cause, you know, I’m legal like that. The other day I purchased an album that was 58 minutes long; it took 18 minutes to download the 13 tracks. But I can go to some blog on Google and download the same album in about three minutes and without paying $10. And it’s not like I’m so in the dark that I’m still on dial-up or anything.

Then of course I wanted to burn the album onto a disc so I could listen to it in the car — iTunes usually burns the album at maybe 10-12x speed, if I’m lucky. My CD-burning program outside of iTunes burns a 58-minute disc in about 90 seconds, but iTunes takes about five minutes.

Then let’s talk about the playlists. Is it possible to shuffle a playlist? If it is, I haven’t figured it out. Every now and then I skip the random shuffle and just want to listen to metal, so I dropped all the metal into a playlist. But I can’t shuffle the damn playlist so I have to listen to them in order if I don’t want to be fucking around with the player constantly. And, it puts the songs in alphabetical order by song title, rather than artist –- which I guess is halfway to the shuffle I want, but seems illogical to me.

Speaking of ordering, why is it when I download an album by a person it gets alphabetized by their first name in the playlist? Ben Folds belongs in “F,” dumbasses, not “B.” I don’t know what alphabetizing schemes are like outside of the US, but I’d like to think this is universal. (Again, if this is some kind of setting I can change, I apologize for calling the MIT genius who created this particular feature a “dumbass.”) And then, don’t even bother trying to download a full rap album and try to listen to it in order by choosing the artist. Thanks to the fact that rappers don’t seem to be talented enough to complete songs on their own, artists for rap tracks list the guest performers as well. Try downloading the Tha Carter III from Lil Wayne (no, wait –- that’s just an example, I’m not actually telling you to spend money on Lil Wayne). If you get the full record, then go to your iPod and search for Lil Wayne to listen to the album from start to finish, you can’t. Why? Because there will be 10 different artists listed. “Lil Wayne and Jay-Z” will be one artist, “Lil Wayne and Kidd Kidd” (whoever the fuck that is) will be listed as another, “Lil Wayne and Robin Thicke” will be a third, etc. The only way to listen to the album in full from start to finish is to search by album title on your iPod. I don’t know about you, but that’s the last choice I use to search for my music.

Finally, there’s the wheel of death to cycle through the songs. You know, it really is great when you have a mini with 300 songs on it, but when you’ve got a lot of songs in the player it really gets awkward. One second you’re cycling through the letter B looking for an artist you like, and then the next minute you’re sitting in the letter N because somehow you moved the damn circle too fast.

My point about this whole thing is really simple. With all the technology out there today and the fact that this is a product made by one of the biggest electronics companies in the world, I’d like to think I’d get a little more bang for my buck here. You know, burn discs and download songs at speeds that even products made by Dave Steed Electronics would be able to handle. Put my damn songs in the correct order. And for Christ’s sake, if I make a playlist, don’t limit me to play and pause — give me all the features of the main playlist. I don’t know code, but this crap can’t be that difficult to provide.

Now’s the point where you tell me what an idiot I am because everything I just mentioned can be tweaked by some setting in the preferences section or something silly like that. And if that’s the case, so be it –- at least my experience will get better. And I apologize to my editors if for some reason, we’re right on the cusp of landing some kind of ad for iTunes. (It’s okay, our children will just have to continue eating nothing but ramen. -Ed.)

After all that, it’s time for some music! This week we’re moving on to the letter F, as we continue looking at the ass end of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1980s.

Simon F.
“American Dream” –- 1987, #91 (download)

“American Dream” was the only Hot 100 hit for Simon F., off his second album Never Never Land. This tepid song has a bit of a Beach Boys influence as you can hear on the ooooooh, ba, ba, ba-oooooohs, but he’s all over the map on the album, including a poor attempt at recreating Billy Idol’s sound.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds
“Wrap It Up” –- 1986, #50 (download)
“Stand Back” –- 1987, #76 (download)
“Powerful Stuff” –- 1988, #65 (download)

It’s such a shame that a group as good as the Fabulous Thunderbirds didn’t have more hits in their career. They released four albums from 1979-1982 that didn’t sell and they got dropped from Chrysalis, their label at the time. Three years later Epic signed them and the Thunderbirds got their first hit with the amazing “Tuff Enuff”. But the three songs here are the only other hits they had. Blues-rock bands just didn’t seem to have much success in the ’80s on the Hot 100 –- though they fared a bit better on the rock charts. They also all seemed to have either a Van Zant or a Vaughan in them, and the Thunderbirds were no different as Stevie Ray Vaughan’s brother Jimmie was the guitarist.

Eria Fachin
“Savin’ Myself” -– 1988, #50 (download)

Fachin’s album My Name Is Eria Fachin didn’t make a dent in the scene at the time of release, but her single “Savin’ Myself” was one of the top Hi-NRG tracks of 1988. Musically, this sounds just like a Dead or Alive outtake.

Donald Fagen
“New Frontier” –- 1983, #70 (download)
“Century’s End” –- 1988, #83 (download)

“New Frontier” is from The Nightfly, Fagen’s only solo album in the ’80s after splitting with Walter Becker, his partner in Steely Dan. It’s a great song, not too far off the path of the Dan’s body of work. I actually like “Century’s End” better, though. Fagen wrote it for the Michael J. Fox movie Bright Lights, Big City, for which he also contributed the score.

Joe Fagin
“Younger Days” -– 1982, #80 (download)

Joe Fagin is a British singer who is known more for theme songs than anything else. He wrote the theme song to the still-airing-on-PBS series As Time Goes By and recently reworked his UK hit “That’s Living Alright” to “That’s England Alright” to be used in the World Cup. As for “Younger Days,” it’s unmistakable what decade this is from, isn’t it? That intro just screams out ’80s –- and also sounds slightly like Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes”.

Fairground Attraction
“Perfect” -– 1988, #80 (download)

A little folk, a little country, a little Cajun, this was the only hit in the US for Scotland’s Fairground Attraction and can be found on their debut album The First of a Million Kisses.

The Family
“Screams of Passion” –- 1985, #63 (download)

Of all the vanity projects that Prince had, I think the Family is my least favorite. It consisted of Jellybean Johnson, Jerome Benton, and Paul Peterson, a.k.a. St. Paul (all members of the Time), as well as Susannah Melvoin, the twin sister of Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin, and Eric Leeds, who’s worked with Prince a lot throughout his career. Prince wrote all but one song on their self-titled album, then overdubbed the vocals of St. Paul and Susannah and credited the songwriting to other members of the band. “Screams of Passion” is the best song on a pretty shitty record and is one of a few tracks where you can still hear Prince’s vocals. However, it’s a coveted album in the Prince catalog, not only because it’s out of print and the only record the Family ever made but because it contains the original version of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which would take Sinead O’Connor to new heights five years down the road. It’s the only song on the album on which Prince left his name as the composer.

Far Corporation
“Stairway to Heaven” –- 1986, #89 (download)

Blasphemy. Producer Frank Farian -– who gave the world Milli Vanilli -– created the Far Corporation and their cover of “Stairway to Heaven” is the only charting single for them. The worst part of this whole thing, of course, is that since Zeppelin never released it as a single, this is the first version of the song to ever chart in the Hot 100. I feel dirty even talking about it.

Cee Farrow
“Should I Love You” –- 1983, #82 (download)

This seems to make it to many lists of ’80s collectors when they’ve finally decided they can’t find any more tracks and need to ask for help; however, it really isn’t that difficult to locate. The most difficult thing is finding out any info on the guy. Lost in the ’80s wrote this song up a little over a year ago and nothing else has surfaced since then. However, it’s worth noting that “Should I Love You” still gets some airplay on satellite radio and shows up on a lot of traditional DJ’s playlists –- usually the ones that want to look cool. Hey, nothing wrong with looking cool.

Fat Boys
“Louie Louie” –- 1988, #89 (download)


I encourage you to head on over to the Louie Louie webpage and check out the progress being made on a documentary about the song and take a peek at the list of over 1600 known versions of the track.

As far as the Fat Boys go, let’s face it: they were a novelty act. They were known for being fat slobs and their charting hits were all semi-cover songs (okay, they weren’t exactly cover songs with all the rappin’ goin’ on but they definitely feel more like covers than say…all of Puff Daddy’s work in the 90’s which pretty much followed the mold of the Fat Boys hits). It’s a shame, though, as Prince Markie Dee, Kool Rock-Ski and The Human Beat Box were all talented rappers and entertainers. Earlier tracks like “The Fat Boys are Back” and “Don’t Be Stupid” show off their skills better than “Louie Louie”, even if the theme of food was just a little too prevalent in their entire career.

Don Felder
“Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)” –- 1981, #43 (download)

Don Felder was the guitarist in the Eagles at the time of their breakup in 1980 and went on to release just one solo record, Airborne, in 1983. This was a track from the movie Heavy Metal and features Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit on backing vocals.

Suzanne Fellini
“Love on the Phone” –- 1980, #87 (download)

This is a new wave classic to many ’80s collectors –- her only single, from her only album (self-titled) –- Suzanne was smokin’ hot and quite talented. The latest info on the web for Fellini says she’s now teaching a music class at a Manhattan elementary school.

Felony
“The Fanatic” -– 1983, #42 (download)

I love this simple little new wave track from Felony. The success of the song is based on both its heavy play on KROQ –- the modern rock station in Los Angeles –- and its inclusion in the movie Valley Girl. I also think this has a special place in my heart since they talk about “TV Guide magazines” which may very well have something to do with my daytime gig.

Festival
“Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” -– 1980, #72 (download)

This apparently was the shit back in late ’79-early 1980. Festival was Russian producer Boris Midney, and this came from his Disco Evita record which –- at least today -– is just as bad as it might sound.

Richard “Dimples” Fields
“If It Ain’t One Thing, It’s Another” –- 1982, #47 (download)

“Dimples'” only Hot 100 hit gives you this smooth R&B rhythm with lyrics that still resonate today: if it ain’t this shit, it’s the next shit to come along. The only thing that throws me off a bit is that at one point he’s talking about some ugly chick having his baby, and during the last two minutes he’s interpreting the bible. It’s a strange turn of events in the song. However, it’s really notable for providing the chorus to Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Doggy Dogg World” with “It’s a crazy mixed up world/It’s a dog eat dog world”, translated into “it’s a doggy dogg world” by the D-O-Double G.

Figures on a Beach
“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” –- 1989, #67 (download)

Here’s yet another cover song in this post — a completely unnecessary dance version of the classic Bachman-Turner Overdrive track. Figures on a Beach released two albums, then broke up. Keyboardist Christopher Ewen then went on to form Future Bible Heroes with Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields fame.

Fine Young Cannibals
“Johnny Come Home” -– 1986, #76 (download)
“I’m Not the Man I Used to Be” -– 1989, #54 (download)

Fine Young Cannibals came together in 1984 when former English Beat members David Steele and Andy Cox joined forces with Roland Gift, one of the most unique singers of the decade. Their sound mixed rock with ska, with more pop leanings on their second record The Raw and the Cooked in 1988. In between their debut and their breakout second effort, Steele and Cox released a charting dance single called “Tired of Getting Pushed Around” under the moniker of Two Men a Drum Machine and a Trumpet.

QUICK HITS
Best song: The Fabulous Thunderbirds, “Wrap It Up”
Worst song: Far Corporation, “Stairway to Heaven”

Next week we get our first taste of an artist that should be the spokesperson for this entire series, and a legendary guitarist that doesn’t belong in the same sentence as him.