Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 31
New baby = less time. Imagine that. I was somehow under the impression that sleepless nights were going to give me plenty of free time to continue to write meaningless drivel in my intros, but I haven’t been able to find the motivation at 3 AM just yet. So, in an effort to continue to give you the “quality” music of Bottom Feeders without interruption, I’m going to move straight to the music for the remainder of 2008. Without further ado, we continue looking at the ass end of the Billboard Hot 100 in the ’80s, with more artists whose names begin with the letter F.
Fiona Flanagan is less known for her music than for her lead role in the failed 1987 Bob Dylan movie Hearts of Fire. “Everything You Do” is a duet with Bottom Feeders favorite Kip Winger! If I could choose one artist to be the spokesperson for this series, Kip would be high on the list. Over-the-top cheesiness, pretty shitty music, and a remarkably cocky attitude is exactly what I’m looking for to represent this series, and “Everything You Do” is a pretty good example of that shit factor. I’m just wondering if the phrase “you’re sexing me” was ever uttered by even one other person. Unless this was some popular saying in the ’80s that I’m not aware of, I just can’t picture someone saying to me, “Oh yeah, baby, now you’re sexing me.” We got close a few years later with Color Me Badd wanting to “sex you up,” but that’s still nothing like a good sexing (at least, I assume).
Neither of these songs are terrible. In fact “How Can I Forget You” is downright okay, but they’re not what Elisa Fiorillo is known for. Her biggest song was the top-20 hit “Who Found Who” by Jellybean, on which she was lead vocalist. Then after her debut record, which featured the two singles posted here, she started working with Prince, doing background vocals on the Batman soundtrack (1989), Graffiti Bridge (1990), and Diamonds and Pearls (1991). Her second album was recorded at Paisley Park and was heavily influenced by the Purple One. After that she took a break, did some TV work, and returned in 2002 playing jazz.
Rip out my eardrums, please, so I never have to listen to those terrible, ear-piercingly high harmonies in “Always” again. I can’t even get through the entire song on my iPod because those ear buds put the screeching right into my brain. Of course that would be the point where I should turn down the volume a bit — but that just wouldn’t be very rock and roll of me to do. The high-pitched wail of the flute in “Love That Got Away” isn’t much better on the ears.
“Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young” — 1984, #80 (download)
You can either love or hate Jim Steinman, but at the very least you should be able to immediately tell when you’re listing to one of his songs. In fact, many times you can tell it just by the grandiose title. “Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young” is a great example of a Steinman title and the song sounds like everything else from him (I know someone is going to have a problem with the phrase “everything else” here).
Fire Inc. was a semi-super group put together by Steinman, who wrote two songs for them on the Streets of Fire soundtrack. They never recorded anything else under this moniker. Some of the whopping 14 members in Fire Inc. include Rick Derringer, Max Weinberg, and Davey Johnstone as well as a few of Steinman’s frequent collaborators, like vocalists Holly Sherwood and Rory Dodd. Despite the male harmonies sounding a lot like Meat Loaf, he isn’t part of the group.
The Firm featured Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers, which should have led to massive success but didn’t thanks to the lack of much decent material. “Satisfaction Guaranteed” is one of the most boring songs I’ve posted in this series. “All the Kings Horses” has a very classic-rock chorus, but there’s just nothing to the verses. In both of these you have a guitar legend barely playing, and when he does, he’s playing riffs that I could probably play having never picked up a guitar in my life. The Firm probably goes down as one of the biggest disappointments of the decade.
Five Star or 5 Star as they were sometimes known, were a family band from England. The Pearson brothers and sisters had a pretty huge career in England, especially in ’86 and ’87 when they could pretty much do no wrong with eight Top 20 hits. They didn’t have quite that success in the US, as the four songs here were their only entries onto the Hot 100. Both “Let Me Be the One” and “Can’t Wait Another Minute” both had decent runs on the R&B chart but even there they only had a total of 9 tracks that charted. “All Fall Down” and “If I Say Yes” deserved a better fate, but the other two tracks here weren’t anything spectacular.
It took me a long time to really like the Fixx. And by long time I mean maybe two years ago or so. At least it had nothing to do with “Saved by Zero” being in Toyota commercials. My problem with them is unknown even to me; I usually have a very good reason (at least in my mind) for not liking a band, but I don’t with the Fixx.
The Fixx seem to be somewhat unique — at least for this decade — in the fact that they are an English band that had virtually no success in their homeland, yet had a very good chart showing in the US. They had five Top 40 songs on the Hot 100, but they did excellent on rock radio, scoring seven Top 10’s and three #1 singles including “Driven Out.”
“I’m the One” — 1982, #42 (download)
Unlike the Fixx, Roberta Flack is an artist that I never really formed an opinion one way or another on. Although she’s never been on my radar song-wise, I can’t deny that the woman who sang “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” has a tremendous voice. She also worked a lot with personal favorite, Peabo Bryson. Now that I listen to all three of these songs again, they are all pretty good, with “I’m the One” being the best of the bunch. The two with Donny Hathaway are from their second album together, Roberta Flack featuring Donny Hathaway, an album that was released after Hathaway’s suicide in 1979.
Best song — Fire Inc., “Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young”
Worst song — Firefall, “Always”
Next week we get some pretty major artists, one of whom had 21 Top 40 hits in the ’80s and another who had 22, but only one of those 43 tunes reached the top spot.