Judging solely by the comments in the last few weeks, it seems like you thought the letter K wasn’t quite as killer as some other letters of the alphabet. I mean, if Chris X can’t find anything worth talking about two weeks in a row, I know I have some problems. But hey, that’s the way the letter bounces, or something like that. A quick glance at the 12th letter of the alphabet shows four weeks’ worth of songs to pick back up where K ran Bottom Feeders into the ground.
And hey, did you notice the number of this post? Fifty-two! That means one full year of Bottom Feeders! Now, if you want to get technical and point out that I reached my first anniversary at Popdose at the beginning of April (the site’s December “furlough,” a 2008 recap, and a week off prevented me from reaching #52 sooner), you could — but why take away from my fun?
Why is this such a big deal to me? After all, most of the writers contribute much more than I do and, frankly, know way more about music than I do. But see, here’s the thing — unbeknownst to our loving editor-in-chief, Jeff, I start projects like this all the time, get six weeks in, and run out of steam. I always think I’m going to enjoy talking about my passion, but then I realize I don’t have the time or the energy to keep going.
But there are two things that are totally different this time. The first is that you actually comment! That’s a big driving factor, of course. But the real reason I think I’ve been able to not just hold on but enjoy this so much is that it’s a fucking cool thing, isn’t it?
I mean, who the hell does this shit? What sane person says, “Sure, I’ll take two and a half years out of my life to write about the ass end of one of the worst decades of music in history”? Everyone talks about “Welcome to the Jungle,” but no one mentions Lorenzo Lamas’s music career, and for good reason. But everyone needs a purpose, right?
God, I hope this isn’t my only purpose in this world.
Anyway, off my ego-trippin’ soapbox I go, but first a big thanks to those reading and/or commenting who’ve kept me motivated. Now, on to the letter L, as we check out the songs that charted no higher than #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1980s.
“Love in Siberia” — 1986, #88 (download)
“Love in Siberia” is kind of a rare-ish track to find, though in a week like this where you will find quite a few rare tracks below, it’s the least rare of those tracks. It’s tough to call anything from ’85 forward rare, but Laban’s album Caught by Surprise was difficult to locate. Laban is a Danish group that sung in Danish for their first four records until they decided it was time to try their hand at English in ’86. The album had three singles, of which only “Love in Siberia” made a slight dent on the charts. They released one more English-language record in 1987 and then broke up after it tanked.
Patti LaBelle was of course the lead singer of Labelle, which gave the world the oft-covered “Lady Marmalade.” She went solo in ’77 and ended up releasing seven albums in the ’80s. She lent herself to soundtracks a lot in the decade, as her #17 hit, “New Attitude,” and “Stir It Up” were both from Beverly Hills Cop, 1987’s “Just the Facts” was from Dragnet, and “If You Asked Me To” was from Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton’s second and final film as James Bond. “If You Asked Me To” was written by Diane Warren, and Celine Dion took it all the way to #4 in 1992.
“Only the Lonely” — 1980, #91 (download)
La Flavour’s 1979 album Mandolay was another hard one to find for the collection though I hear La Flavour’s songs all the time on XM. Actually, I hear the song “Mandolay” all the time forcing me to constantly double and triple check to make sure that track never charted on the Hot 100. While it hit #7 on the dance charts, “Only the Lonely” was indeed their only Hot 100 hit. Some incarnation of the group is still playing in Holiday Inns and are available for your wedding!
“Let Me Love You Once” — 1981, #48 (download)
Now, I fully admit that I’m not that familiar with King Crimson (which Greg Lake helped get off the ground) but I know some ELP (Palmer and Powell) and I just can’t believe that this crappy song came from the same guy that put out Tarkus in 1971. This is a sad sack of a song.
“Fantastic Voyage” — 1981, #55 (download)
What a transition from Greg Lake as we “slide slide slippity slide” into Lakeside. From ’78 to ’87 Lakeside had 17 songs hit the R&B chart, with “Fantastic Voyage” going to #1. This was their only song to cross over onto the Hot 100. As a whole, I don’t think there’s one Lakeside album that’s solid from start to finish but if you want to listen to more, a good greatest hits package would be my suggestion as songs like “From 9:00 Until” and “Pull My Strings” still hold up well.
“Fools Like Me” — 1984, #85 (download)
I get a good laugh every time I hear this track. There have been some bad songs sung by actors over the years and while nothing can top the massive bomb that Scott Baio dropped in 1982 with his self-titled debut, “Fools Like Me” gets pretty close. How this charted, I will never understand. Lorenzo apparently sang this somewhere in the movie Body Rock (I’ve never seen it) in which he starred. He was nominated for a Razzie for worst actor in it and unless I’ve got some weird ass version, the song isn’t even on the soundtrack. I had to pick it up on 45 which was incredibly hard to find. I guess there’s not a huge market for a remastered version of this.
Robin Lane & the Chartbusters
“When Things Go Wrong” — 1980, #87 (download)
I’m sure Robin Lane would have loved to have been a “chartbuster”, but things didn’t go quite right in this case. Robin Lane had some musical ties as her father, Ken Lane wrote and played piano for Dean Martin and she was married to Andy Summers (before he was in the Police) but those didn’t help much as the Chartbusters two LPs and one EP in the early ‘80s never really caught on. I do like this track quite a bit as it reminds me a bit of the lighter side of Heart.
Lanier & Co.
“After I Cry Tonight” — 1982, #48 (download)
The post this week has a ton of really rare tracks in it, as far as I’m concerned none more so than this one. “After I Cry Tonight” by Lanier & Co. was almost impossible for me to find and ended up being one of the last 10 tracks I acquired to complete my collection of Hot 100 songs in the decade. Faris and Fenoye Lanier along with three other companions (the “co.”) originally released music in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s as the Jacksonians. After having little success with that, they released an album in ’82 on LARC Records, which put out three singles before the label dissolved. I think Lanier & Co. put out one more record later in the decade and then broke up for good. I’m not 100 percent sure of their actual moniker, either, as I’ve seen them listed as both “Lanier & Co.” and “Lanier & Company.” So I’m going with my 45, which says “Co.”
“I Only Want to Be With You” — 1982, #53 (download)
Nicolette Larson probably gets most of her recognition from singing on Neil Young’s Harvest Moon as well as her cover of Young’s “Lotta Love,” which hit #8 in 1978 and might be the only cover of his that I’ve enjoyed more than the original. Her cover of “I Only Want to Be With You” was her second hit of the decade and would be her final Hot 100 single; after this she went on to have six in a row hit the country chart. Larson passed away in 1997 from cerebral edema.
I’m impressed by Stacy Lattisaw’s career. From ’79 to ’89 she had 21 songs land on the R&B chart, with six of them also hitting the Hot 100. She released her first album in ’79 at the age of 13; as her voice matured, so did her songs, so that by ’85 she was performing “grown-ass woman” songs, so to speak.
It just so happens that these are my two favorite songs by her. “Attack of the Name Game” is a play on the old children’s rhyming game and while I can’t seem to find anything “official” that this song is one of 1,000 tunes to sample “Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club, it’s quite obvious it’s at least heavily influenced by it. It’s an awfully fun song either way. The funny part about “Nail It to the Wall” is that I think she reached her peak here — probably the funkiest and most in tune with the times that she had been up to this point — but this is when she started fading in popularity. Listen to the difference four years makes when you’re a kid, though. You can’t tell these are by the same artist just listening to the vocals.
I was never a huge fan of Cyndi Lauper, but I tend to enjoy unique artists — Prince, Mike Patton, System of a Down — artists that you struggle to come up with anyone else that sounds like them. Cyndi has one of those voices that you immediately know and one that I can’t compare to anyone else, so I’m drawn to her. And I guess her real life quirkiness helps contribute to the uniqueness that she brings. “My First Night Without You” really doesn’t do much for me, but “Boy Blue,” the fourth single from True Colors, is a great tune, as is “Hole in My Heart,” which is from Vibes, the movie she starred in with Jeff Goldblum.
“Very Special” — 1981, #90 (download)
I’m pretty sure I hadn’t heard this song until Jennifer Lopez sampled it for her #1 hit “All I Have” in 2003. There was a lot of controversy behind this as both the writers of the song and the label (Elektra) granted permission to use the sample, but Laws was never asked. She ended up suing multiple parties but lost her battle (though you know how these things go, there’s got to be a settlement somewhere in there). “Very Special” is a great name for this song though as it’s an awesome tune.
“Stay Awake” — 1981, #60 (download)
It looks like Ronnie Laws’s only Hot 100 hit started charting in the final two weeks of sister Debra’s run in 1981. Ronnie was a jazz saxophonist, which doesn’t really lead to a whole lot of top charting hits, but he threw in these smooth vocals on “Stay Awake” and created a really sweet R&B tune.
“Somebody Send My Baby Home” — 1981, #55 (download)
It’s only fitting we end the post on another super rare track. This was another tough one to find. I don’t know if I’m going soft or something, but I actually like this track. Despite the shitty version that I’m providing you here this is a pretty harmless and maybe even quite catchy pop tune.
Best song: Cyndi Lauper, “Boy Blue”
Worst song: Lorenzo Lamas, “Fools Like Me”
Next week we get a legend and his son, the best little bar band of the decade, and maybe, if you’re lucky, I’ll take you back to my room.