Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 38

I’ve gotten bored with what I’ve been listening to lately, so recently I went back into my collection to dig out CDs I haven’t spun in a while, like De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising, an album I haven’t listened to in at least four or five years. Hearing this excellent disc again piqued my interest for two reasons, the first being that I didn’t realize the direct influence it most likely had on my love of both Urban Dance Squad and P.M. Dawn.

Urban Dance Squad brought rock, ska, and funk to their rap, throwing together bits and pieces of sounds that didn’t seem like they’d flow as one — sort of what Prince Paul does these days. 3 Feet High and Rising is one of the first albums he produced and a starting point for his future sound collisions. Then there’s P.M. Dawn, who happen to be one of my all-time favorite groups; there are at least three or four tracks on 3 Feet High that could have fit nicely on P.M. Dawn’s 1991 debut, Of the Heart, Of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience. With both groups the flow is pretty much the same, and even the lyrical style is similar, right down to the lines that seemingly make no sense on first listen but when broken down actually have some legit meaning.

But that’s not really the reason I’m bringing it up here. It’s because I’m wondering if there was any other album in the ’80s on which the biggest hit was track 20! 3 Feet High almost seems like a rap album from this decade, with a skit between every song (hell, they have two in a row at points), but even so, “Me, Myself and I,” a #1 rap hit and De La Soul’s only Top 40 hit (until they backed the Gorillaz on “Feel Good Inc.” in 2005), is buried all the way down at track 20.

I still think the album is excellent, despite the fact it felt like a decade had passed by the time I got to “Me, Myself and I,” but it really got me wondering if there was another track in the entire decade buried that far down on a disc. Greatest-hits and multiple-disc sets don’t count — I’m talking a single disc where the biggest hit was that far down. Hell, even just a single that was that far down on an album. Better yet, name any big hit that far down on a normal LP in any decade. It might have happened more frequently in the past decade on rap albums, but I still think it’s a pretty rare feat.

Anyway, let’s move along to the main event. This week we begin looking at artists whose names fall under the letter H, as we continue profiling tracks that landed no higher than #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1980s.

Sammy Hagar
“I’ll Fall in Love Again” — 1982, #43 (download)
“Piece of My Heart” — 1982, #73 (download)
“Never Give Up” — 1983, #46 (download)
“Winner Takes It All” — 1987, #54 (download)
“Eagles Fly” — 1987, #82 (download)

Van Hagar, whoooo! Okay, okay, so I’m not going to get into Sammy-vs.-Dave talk here, as we have a long time to work that up for the Van Halen post, but there was certainly a point where I rocked out to Sammy Hagar. I mean, the guy can’t write a song to save his soul, but during his early solo years and his time with Van Halen, the dude could simply rock ‘n’ roll. You can debate his talent all you want, but Sammy has a voice cut out for rock music. His cover of “Piece of My Heart” and the guilty pleasure of “Winner Takes It All,” from Over the Top, are fine slabs of R&R. “Eagles Fly” almost made it onto Van Halen’s 5150, but it was ultimately rejected by the band and they recorded the megahit “Dreams” instead.

Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, Shrieve
“Whiter Shade of Pale” — 1984, #94 (download)

In 1983, Hagar hooked up with his buddies — Journey’s Neil Schon, bassist Kenny Aaronson and Santana drummer Michael Shrieve — to form the band also sometimes referred to as HSAS. Their one album Through the Fire is about as creative as the choice of names, and you can hear one song from that snoozefest here — a cover of Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale.”

Daryl Hall
“Someone Like You” — 1987, #57 (download)

“Someone Like You” is from Daryl Hall’s second solo record, Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine, which was recorded during a little break in the action when Hall & Oates were between labels. All three hits from the record, including “Dreamtime” and “Foolish Pride,” could have been Hall & Oates hits themselves. Amazingly, the duo had 22 hits in the ’80s and every one of them charted in the Top 40.

Jimmy Hall
“Fool for Your Love” — 1982, #77 (download)

“Fool for Your Love” is the second and final charting single for the former lead singer of Wet Willie. His other hit, “I’m Happy That Love Has Found You,” went to #27 in 1980, and Hall later went on to sing on Jeff Beck’s album Flash in 1985.

John Hall Band
“Crazy (Keep on Falling)” — 1981, #42 (download)
“Love Me Again” — 1983, #64 (download)

John Hall was the lead singer of the ’70s band Orleans. The John Hall Band released two albums, each containing one of the pretty rockin’ tunes you have here. These days, Hall is a congressman in New York’s 19th district.

Lani Hall
“Where’s Your Angel” — 1981, #88 (download)

Lani Hall was one of the female leads in Sergio Mendes’ Brazil ’66. After she left the band she went on to marry Herb Alpert in 1974 and he produced her solo career, which includes six albums in Spanish and one in Portuguese.

David Hallyday
“He’s My Girl” — 1987, #79 (download)

David Hallyday is the son of Sylvie Vartan, who we heard back with John Denver, and Johnny Hallyday, who is considered the French-speaking equivalent of Elvis Presley. Dad has sold 100 million albums in France and yet I would know his son before him. David should be proud, as this is the title track from his only acting gig — which also starred T.K. Carter and was viewed by 12 people in the US alone. Fuck it, I’m Netflixing this one.

Herbie Hancock
“Rockit” — 1983, #71 (download)

It’s very surprising that “Rockit” wasn’t a Top 40 hit, especially with that strange and yet somehow iconic video that goes with the song. Hancock is known for his jazz experimentation and was never shy about dabbling in many other genres. From 1973-1983 he released 25 albums, but started slowing down to one a year by ’83. In the ’80s (and even now, on occasion) you can see him carrying my favorite instrument — the keytar.

Paul Hardcastle
“Rain Forest” — 1985, #57 (download)

There’s not too much that sounds like “Rockit” that would be in this series, and yet the one song that is very similar ends up falling directly after it. Personally, I like this song better than “Rockit,” and I also think it’s superior to the song he’s really known for in the US, “19.”

Sam Harris
“I’d Do It All Again” — 1986, #52 (download)

Sam Harris got his start as the winner of the first season of Star Search. His first single, “Sugar Don’t Bite,” went Top 40 (#37 in ’84). “I’d Do It All Again” is his terrible follow-up to that semi-catchy tune. This would be his final hit song, though he continues to release albums. He’s also a Broadway actor, and I’ll always remember him for his stint as Perry Pearl on the short lived (but excellent) sitcom, The Class.

George Harrison
“Wake Up My Love” — 1982, #53 (download)

“Wake Up My Love” is the lead track from the largely throwaway album Gone Troppo. Harrison was fed up with the music industry at the time and had one album left on his current contract, so out came this scattered mess which ultimately tanked. Then George when dark for another five years before recording the mega-successful Cloud Nine.

Debbie Harry
“Backfired” — 1981, #43 (download)
“The Jam Was Moving” — 1981, #82 (download)
“French Kissin’” — 1986, #57 (download)
“In Love With Love” — 1987, #70 (download)

I can’t really wrap my head around Debbie Harry’s solo career. There are days when I think there’s just a tremendous drop-off in quality from her work with Blondie to her solo material, and then there are other days where I just can’t get enough of songs like “The Jam Was Moving” and forget all about that. So here’s where I am today as I listen to these four songs again — she really ain’t that bad after all. Both “Backfired” and “The Jam Was Moving” were written and produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic. Both reflect both the disco they were used to writing and a bit of rock that would be in their early ’80s records. I’ve never been a fan of “Backfired,” and even now it doesn’t do anything for me. But “The Jam Was Moving” is simply her best solo work by a long shot. Both “French Kissin'” (also known as “French Kissin’ in the USA”) and “In Love with Love” are two very different-sounding songs, both from her second solo record, Rockbird. “French Kissin'” is a good pop song, but “In Love with Love” is really the song I don’t know how to react to. I’m surprised that Blondie’s Chris Stein had a hand in writing something with such a club beat. But then how could something so dull and boring be danced to in a club? In the end, it’s just a song that Debbie Harry didn’t need to make.

Best song: John Hall Band, “Crazy (Keep on Falling)”
Worst song: Sam Harris, “I’d Do It All Again”

Next week we take a look at one of the most rockin’ females of all time, and we take a quick listen to one of the worst wastes of airtime in the entire decade.

  • thefxc

    I've never heard that mix of “In Love With Love”–my copy of the 7″ has the Stock Awesome Waterman version. I'm waiting for Koo Koo to be rediscovered; I think it fits in nicely with other post-punk bands of the day that are so in vogue right now.

    Save yourself; stay away from He's My Girl.

    I seem to recall that De La Soul themselves aren't very fond of “MM&I,” which may explain why it's buried on the CD.

    A lot of 2nd tier AOR this week, mostly because it's a Hagar-heavy week. (Didn't “VOA” hit the top 100?) Do we get Heart next week? (“If Looks Could Kill”…brilliant…)

    Thanks again for this feature! It's my favorite Popdose jag.

  • WHarrisBullzEye

    Hagar's “Winner Takes It All” is one of those songs that teeters between unforgivably cheesy and completely brilliant, if only because you can imagine using it for one of those getting-back-into-shape-to-win-the-big-game montage.

    I would never claim that George Harrison's “Gone Troppo” is a great album, but I bought it on vinyl in a cutout bin years ago and fell in love with it. Slight, yes, but still a pleasant listen every time I pull it out.

  • Confuzzled

    I've never heard that stripped-down mix of “In Love with Love,” either, and had come to the comments to ask what it might be.

  • DwDunphy

    Most hits that fall in the latter half of the album are total flukes. I don't know of a single A&R guy who would force the label to not frontload a potential single.

  • scrumble

    There's an interesting confluence here of artists around age 40 (give or take: Hagar, Hall, Hancock, Harrison, Harry) all doing what they could to try and connect with a 12-24-year-old audience, if somewhat cynically at times. Now, the script has flipped where the artists are younger and the Top 40 radio audience is older.

  • arensb

    “and yet I would know his son before him.”

    I'm the other way around. I remember watching Johnny Halliday when he was the host of the Friday night movie (or something) on TV, but didn't even know he had a son.

  • arensb

    “and yet I would know his son before him.”

    I'm the other way around. I remember watching Johnny Halliday when he was the host of the Friday night movie (or something) on TV, but didn't even know he had a son.

  • steed

    “Voa” didn't chart. Only “Two Sides of Love” and “I Can't Drive 55″ from that record did.

    He's My Girl is already on my list – so it's too late. Though maybe not – seeing that my wife and I seem to take a week and a half per disc and that it's #86 on my list right now – I may never get to it.

    The version of “In Love with Love” up now is the SAW (12″ extended mix, I believe) – meant to just post that here and leave the version I originally posted up but things don't always go as planned. Weird part about the version I posted originally is that's the one I'm most familiar with – not the SAW. Now I'm even curious as to what that version was…

  • steed

    I have to agree on “Winnner Takes It All” – if you asked me to sing a Hagar solo song – “55” would of course be first, but “Winnner” is next on the list. It's both epic and total crap at the same time.

  • Chris X

    One can only wonder what John Oates was doing while Daryl was recording these solo records. Grooming his moustache? Seriously though, why did Hall even bother? This stuff sounds just like something H&O would churn out together(which of course, is a good thing). Did he have a bet with Oates or something? “I can have a hit record without you and your moustache!” Or was he trying to capitalize on his “I'm the half of the duo that the ladies love, I'm going to get my face out there some more.” shtick?

    Largely forgettable list this week, with a couple exceptions. “Rockit” naturally, though that it did not chart in the top 40, or even top 10 based on how much I remember it being played back then, is unbelievable It STILL gets respectable airplay. And that Paul Hardcastle song is excellent. Agreed that it is better than “19(Vietnam)”

    and what, no Robert Hazard? The Hooters? (can you tell I'm from Philly or what?)

  • Chris X

    There's only ooooooone way to rock!

    that's what comes to mind immediately for me, after “55” of course.

  • thefxc

    I think the previous version was an edit of a Justin Strauss remix…it looks like Geffen was sending “ILWL” to a bunch of remixers to try to turn it into a hit. (It's understandable, the LP version is dull.) I remember that Rockbird was promoted pretty heavily, but “French Kissin” was a big, and somewhat surprising, disappointment on the charts. I guess they tried to recoup the promo budget with the second single.

  • scrumble

    Oates did a duet around that time with the Parachute Club, basically a semi-closeted lesbian band from Toronto, who did have a hit or two (but not this one)

  • scrumble

    oops, there were more guys in the band than I remembered … so, they were de facto “feminist”

  • breadalbane

    “De facto” feminist? Makes 'em sound like they were somehow feminist by default. Like 'em or hate 'em, The Parachute Club were a proudly lesbian-positive, feminist band from the start (from more-or-less the same Toronto scene as Rough Trade.).

    Oates, by the way, actually produced and co-wrote the “Love Is Fire” track, which (credited simply to The Parachute Club) was a top 40 hit in Canada.

    He also co-wrote the Icehouse hit “Electirc Blue” around this time.

  • steed

    Hazard, Hooters – they're all coming…

  • Ray

    Some good stuff here! I clearly remember John Hall Band's “Crazy (Keep On Fallin'”) being a pretty big hit in Chicago on WLS during my senior year (Class of '82). I also remember hearing Debbie Harry's “French Kissin' (in the USA)” a lot back in '87.

  • Keith

    Interestingly enough, in the early 80's I was very much into “2nd tier AOR”. I loved Sammy's “Standing Hampton” record, which featured the first two songs listed in his entry here, as well as There's Only One Way to Rock (mentioned in another post above), and one of the two “Heavy Metal” themes. Still think it is his most solid solo effort, my personal fave being a song called “Can't Get Loose”. Having said that, I never really appreciated the collaboration with Schon and the others. I much preferred Schon with Jan Hammer. Some great tracks buried in that 2nd tier AOR. Maybe I'll try to start a collection of all the songs that charted on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart…anybody familiar with Danny Spanos?

  • Cross Arm Breaker

    I don't feel guilty about it at all, “Winner Takes It All” by Hagar rocks!

  • BobCashill

    I know Sam Harris mainly from The Life (1997), a great Broadway flop musical, the last by Cy Coleman. Harris starts the show with a superb number, “Use What You Got,” and he has a song called “Easy Money,” which onstage ended with the suggestion of a lusty threeway. (It's about pimps and ho's in the old Times Square.) The brassy cast album is worth a listen.

    Lani Hall recorded the theme song to Never Say Never Again (1983), Connery's comeback Bond. “Never say never again/Never, ever say never again…”

  • Cross Arm Breaker

    Whoops, downloaded wrong. I meant “Never Give Up” rocks. “Winner” is a fine slab of cheese rock, though.

  • mojo

    I am stunned that what B-3 organ freaks consider the greatest application of a Hammond in rock–Whiter Shade of Pale–was covered by such a SuperGroup who, uh, left out the famous organ line. I mean, WTF?

  • Old_Davy

    Being a Missouri boy (St. Louis had this weird fascination with Sammy Hagar) I'm surprised that “I'll Fall In Love Again” and that cover of “Whiter Shade Of Pale” didn't hit the top 40. Both got considerable airplay. The hype surrounding HSAS was huge…Hagar! and a guy from Journey!! in the same group!!! Oh well, can't win 'em all.

  • Evan4

    I was always surprised (and disappointed) that Debbie Harry's solo career never amounted to much, hits-wise. That's her entire collection of Hot 100 hits up there. The SAW remix did the trick for ILWL–it's her only solo single to top the Dance/Club Play chart.

    Personally, I have an unnatural fondness for her '89 album, Def, Dumb & Blonde which is a pretty decent pop record for its time.

  • Pingback: A Big Batch of Sammy Hagar…Including HSAS’ Cover of Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” « Rock God Cred()

  • steed

    Danny Spanos – “I'd Lie To You For Your Love” – man, what a terrible song.
    There is some stuff on those rock charts that's seriously hard to locate. I have all the MP3s – but am still missing a hard copy of about 15-20% of the chart. Go for it man…and be prepared to open up the wallet.

  • DavidMedsker

    Well, these days, anyway. I think of songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and my beloved “Year of the Cat,” both of which were last or next to last on the albums that spawned them.

  • Methane Of Modern Love

    Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, Shrieve. Sounds like a law firm.

  • Methane Of Modern Love

    Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, Shrieve. Sounds like a law firm.

  • Methane Of Modern Love

    Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, Shrieve. Sounds like a law firm.

  • Pingback: Athletic Team Sports » Santana Scratched From Friday’s Start()

  • aaaaa

    I’d Do It All Again by Sam Harris is listed as a duet with Lauren Wood. Lauren Wood hit #24 in 1979 with PLease DOn’t Leave. DIck Clark introduced her on AB at the time as “a lady you ought to watch in the 80s”. We didn’t watch much of her on the hot 100, as the two aforementioned songs were her only times there. Just as many hot 100 hits as Sam Harris had in the 80s :)

  • aaaa

    Hall and Oates missed the top 40 with Who Says the World was Fair in 1980, peaking at #110 on the Bubbling Under.