I made a mistake recently. I think I opened a door to a world of bad ‘80s music hurt that I had been trying to keep closed. See, I went to Prex, and going to the Princeton Record Exchange can be both a rewarding and a disappointing trip for me.
It was late November that I went for the first time in ages — so long ago that I can’t remember when. Frankly, that’s too long to miss out on one of the greatest used CD and record stores I’ve ever seen. The reality is, I go for the records. I go for the $1 bins that are stashed on the floor beneath all the expensive records and under the feet of customers there to pay big dollars for a nice clean copy of some Replacements LP. I sit on the floor and risk losing feeling in my legs for the chance to look through probably a few thousand $1 records (and occasionally there might be some nice Princeton University student with a skirt on). Since the ‘80s are pretty much made for the $1 bins, I usually only find a handful of records that I don’t own, even with a nice turnover and only visiting once or twice a year. So I usually really look forward to going only to walk away slightly disappointed at my take. This time, not only did I not walk away disappointed, I might have opened the door to something I shouldn’t have.
As I’ve mentioned before, I own a hard copy of all but one song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the ‘80s. I own maybe three-quarters of the rock charts, 60% of the R&B chart, maybe half the dance chart and by default, I own the majority of the Adult Contemporary and Bubbling Under chart. The one I haven’t mentioned here is the ’80s Country Chart. About two years ago I got the Billboard Country Chart book for Christmas, thinking it was time to move the collection in that direction as well, but I quickly found out that not only did I not own very much that was on the country chart, but that pretty much every record ever made in that genre seemed to chart. We’re talking four or five songs from every record and artists putting out records every six months. We’re talking a billion songs that hit #1 for only one week, therefore creating a tremendous turnover. We’re talking opening up a can of something that I didn’t have the money for. And then Prex happened.
Someone must have sold their entire ‘80s country collection to the Princeton Record Exchange just in the few weeks before I came. One after another, there was a $1 record that I didn’t have. I had to pick up at least 150 of these puppies before I didn’t think I could carry any more home. I probably could have had another 150 if I really wanted to. And while this was an extremely rewarding trip, I think I’ve now opened the door to collecting country music – something that I don’t want to listen to and will simply break me if I try to get all of it. Damn Prex to hell for being such a great store.
I have no country music for you this week, though, as we trudge on through the muck that is the ass end of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, with more G artists.
It’s hard for me to believe the J. Geils Band started releasing albums in 1970. They had 10 albums under their belt before the first one I heard in 1980, Love Stinks. They started out in the ’70s as a blues rock band and of course moved more toward straight pop-rock in the ’80s. Peter Wolf leaving the band in 1983 was the beginning of the end, as they only recorded one more album (1984’s You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd) with keyboardist and primary songwriter Seth Justman as the singer. “Concealed Weapons” from that record isn’t terrible, but I can’t say the same for the title track to the movie Fright Night. If you didn’t know it, there’s pretty much no way that you can tell this song was from the same band that gave us “Love Stinks” and “Centerfold.”
“This is the World Calling” – 1986, #82 (download)
Bob Geldof was the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, the creator of Band Aid and Live Aid, and a well-known political activist. But for this series, what matters most are the names of the three kids that he had with Paula Yates: Fifi Trixibelle Geldof, Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa Geldof, and Little Pixie Geldof. I can’t imagine the schoolyard ridicule. But I also can’t think it was all Bob’s fault, since Yates had a child with Michael Hutchence in 1986 and named her Heavenly Hiranni Tiger Lily Hutchence.
Gene Loves Jezebel
“The Motion of Love” – 1988, #87 (download)
“The Motion of Love” was the only charting single in the ’80s for Gene Loves Jezebel. Today, there happens to be two Gene Loves Jezebels! When founding members/brothers Jay and Michael Aston split for good in 1997, Jay went to the UK with the rest of the band and continued to perform under that moniker. Michael stayed in the U.S. with the band he had put together after their initial break-up in 1989 and also continued to play shows as Gene Loves Jezebel. Many lawsuits later, it seems that Jay owns the name in England and Michael now owns the name in the U.S. Clearly, though, if you look at Jay’s website compared to Michael’s, either Jay is winning the battle or is the only one with enough money to get someone to design a real webpage.
As I mentioned in the last post, I really like Genesis. I liked the Peter Gabriel prog rock era, I liked the transition period between prog and pop, and I liked the full-blown Phil Collins pop era. I can certainly do without the Ray Wilson era in the late ’90s, though. Having said all that, “Illegal Alien” does bother me quite a bit. Something about Phil and his fake Spanish accent makes me toss that one to the bottom of the pile. However, they do provide me with my all-time favorite moment in song – that crazy “ha ha…ha/ha ha ha…ohhh” in “Mama.” After “Taking It All Too Hard” in 1984, they started sucking the tit of commercial radio which garnered them eight top 20 singles in a row.
“Please Mr. Postman” – 1983, #82 (download)
Gentle Persuasion is one of the rare ’80s bands I know nothing about — nor can I locate anything on the Web about them. “Please Mr. Postman” was originally recorded by the Marvelettes back in 1961 and holds the distinction of being the first Motown song to hit #1 on the pop chart. The Carpenters took it to #1 again in 1975. Unfortunately for Gentle Persuasion, there wouldn’t be three decades of #1’s for this track.
“Heartline” – 1985, #92 (download)
A bit of a metal head at heart, having produced for Diamond Head and Witchfinder General, Robin took a more rock approach to his 1985 solo album Dangerous Music. With a look straight out of a Duran Duran tribute band, “Heartline” was his only hit song.
What a crock of shit the charts are when a group as magnificent as the Georgia Satellites barely made a dent on it. One of the catchiest Southern Rock bands of the ‘80s – led by singer Dan Baird – the Georgia Satellites never did go the route of some of their peers in the decade (such as .38 Special) by gradually taking the roots out of their songs and adding more pop. Instead they stuck to their game and made three records in the ‘80s (1986’s Georgia Satellites, 1988’s Open All Night and 1989’s In the Land of Salvation and Sin) that pushed the pedal to the floor and kept the whiskey flowing. And they did this all without having one Van Zant or Vaughn in the lineup. “Battleship Chains” is probably my favorite song from the group amongst many great ones. I can take or leave their cover of the Swinging Blue Jeans’ “Hippy Hippy Shake,” but their overall body of work is quite spectacular.
I don’t hate Georgio as much as I think I should. A pretty boy singing songs about sex, he should be the Gerardo of the ‘80s, but in the grand scheme of things, none of these songs are terrible and in fact, I kind of enjoy “Sexappeal.” The only way I can justify why I don’t mind these songs is the fact that I can just picture, in my mind, Prince sitting down to write any of them, especially “Sexappeal.” It sounds like a song that he definitely could have reworded for someone like Vanity, or later for Carmen Electra. Not that that’s exactly a compliment here, but at least it makes me feel like I have a reason for liking such cheesy music.
“I’m a Believer” – 1989, #56 (download)
A blip on the radar of hard rock. Could the problem be that Giant were billed as both a “hard rock” band and a “glam” band and barely fit in either one of those genres? These guys definitely aren’t glam, but you could make a case for them being hard rock. However, a guitar solo here and there doesn’t make a rock band, and “I’m a Believer” really sounds more like a pop tune with a little punch to me. And while this “I’m a Believer” has nothing to do with the Monkees’ hit of the same name, I just can’t get that fat-ass singer from Smash Mouth out of my head, thanks to that time they covered it in 2001.
“Into You” – 1989, #58 (download)
“Into You” was the follow-up song to their #13 hit “(The World Don’t Need) Another Lover,” which is one of my favorite tracks of the decade. The Book of Pride was their only album after recording four of them under the moniker the Quick. This track is like the older brother of Go West’s “King of Wishful Thinking.”
Best song — Georgia Satellites, “Battleship Chains”
Worst song — J. Geils Band, “Fright Night”
Next week it’s Gibb, Gibb, and more Gibb, and the cause of way too much embarrassment in my life.