Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 63

Written by Bottom Feeders, Music

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If you’re just joining us here, Bottom Feeders is a look at both the awesome and terrible songs that came out of the ‘80s — each week we cover about 20 songs that peaked no higher than #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart that decade. We’re moving alphabetically from A to Z, so we still have a long way to go. After many weeks stuck on M, we finally move to the letter N and more songs from the ass end of the ‘80s.

Graham Nash
“Innocent Eyes” — 1986, #84 (download)

Ooofah. When I first heard this, I was shocked that this was the same Graham Nash that I knew. I don’t blame the guy for trying to stay relevant, but his album that bears the same name as the single above is a crappy overdubbed jumbled mess. “Innocent Eyes” is definitely the best track on it and that may very well be because of the presence of Kenny Loggins on background vocals.

Nazareth
“Holiday” — 1980, #87 (download)

Nazareth released a ton of records with very little success on the Billboard singles charts in the US. And while this single isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever heard, it’s got no punch. Nice riff in the verses, but the chorus turning into light rock schlock just doesn’t do it for me.

Phyllis Nelson
“I Like You” — 1986, #61 (download)

This was a #1 dance hit for Nelson, her only song to cross over to the pop charts in the US. Her earlier ‘70s and ‘80s appearances in music were mostly with disco oriented tracks so it’s not a surprise she jumped on the mid-‘80s dance wagon for her 15 minutes of fame.

Willie Nelson
“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” — 1980, #44 (download)

Pure country may not be my thing, but this is a really nice song off his soundtrack to Sydney Pollack’s The Electric Horseman. Gotta love it when Willie starts talking about picking up hookers in the middle of a track. I’ve never paid attention to the Willie Nelson story in full but what a crazy trip his life must be. Close to 100 albums, been on probably hundreds more, smoked hundreds of pounds of weed — I’m assuming this guy has had one crazy, eventful life.

Loz Netto
“Fade Away” — 1983, #82 (download)

Loz Netto was the original guitarist for Sniff ‘n’ the Tears and performed on their first two albums. The day before the 1980 tour began, Netto broke his arm and that sort of got him on the path to a solo career. “Fade Away” is his only U.S. hit and super hard to find — the 45 easier to find than the full length Loz Netto’s Bzar. Though, on his website he’s since remastered it himself. I still want that original though!

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Robbie Nevil
“Somebody Like You” — 1989, #63 (download)

I’ve always liked Robbie Nevil’s writing style. You could hear the R&B influence in most of his songs, but he would toss a lot of pop, some calypso even a little reggae in on top. He had five solo hits in the decade, this being the final one off his second album A Place Like This. Robbie’s written quite a few R&B songs for other artists and can be found writing music for the tween fans of High-School Musical and Hannah Montana these days.

Ivan Neville
“Falling Out of Love” — 1989, #91 (download)

The son of Aaron Neville (the most famous guy to have a milk-dud glued to his face), Ivan’s 1988 solo record If My Ancestors Could See Me Now is simply an awesome pop record and includes one of my favorite songs of the decade in the #26 hit “Not Just Another Girl.” These days Ivan’s in a damn fine funky jam band with his son Ian called Dumpstafunk.

Newcity Rockers
“Black Dog” — 1987, #80 (download)
“Rev It Up” — 1987, #86 (download)

Here’s another band that could be used to define this series. Two cover songs that certainly aren’t better than the originals and a fine example of hair metal gone wrong. The cover of Zep’s “Black Dog” is an ear-bleeder and the cover of Treat’s “Rev It Up” was never a good song to begin with. I mean those cheesy lyrics “hit the streets/have a wild night/rev it up/and never see a red light” are just over the top.

Newcleus
“Jam on It” — 1984, #56 (download)

JamOnRevengeCoverI’m surprised Newcleus weren’t the founders of Wikipedia. When you give a listen to some of their tunes, at first glance it appears that every one of them is based around them saying “wikki-wikki-wikki-wikki.” Their debut album, Jam on Revenge, included this and the title track with a parenthetical of (The Wikki Wikki Song). Then there’s about 12,000 different remixes and extended versions of both of these songs floating around. “Jam on It” is a cool song, no doubt – but they tried to extend their 15 minutes of fame a little far. At least the group had a life together outside of music as members Lady E and Cozmo D are married and so are the other two participants Nique D and Chilly B.

New Edition
“Candy Girl” — 1983, #46 (download)
“Is This the End” — 1983, #85 (download)
“Count Me Out” — 1985, #51 (download)
“With You All the Way” — 1986, #51 (download)
“You’re Not My Kind of Girl” — 1988, #95 (download)
“Can You Stand the Rain” — 1989, #44 (download)

New Edition “Candy Girl” may be the greatest song of this series if only because it gets an interpolation credit as the chorus to a Bottom Feeders favorite, D4L’s “Laffy Taffy.” One wonders if back in 1983, Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike ever thought their song would be used in a tune about loose vaginas? Bobby Brown was 14 at the time so it’s definitely possible they were thinking about the vajayjay, but probably not like this.

New Edition were always very hit-or-miss for me. Their big hits like “Mr. Telephone Man” and “Cool It Now” were excellent. But I also thought that some of the more minor hits like “Is This the End” are almost unlistenable. For me this is especially true of the early ballads where the kiddie crooning could just be ear piercing. I’m not sure any LP from New Edition is worth a full listen, but I prefer their last from the golden era, 1988’s Heart Break which was a Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis record. And I also think the branches that spawned from the group, Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill and Bobby Brown solo as well as Bel Biv Devoe were all better than New Edition as a whole. I have to give it up though as without New Edition we might not have gotten “My Prerogative.”

Randy Newman
“The Blues” — 1983, #51 (download)
“It’s Money That Matters” — 1988, #60 (download)

Here’s both of Randy Newman’s ‘80s hits. “The Blues” is a duet with Paul Simon off Newman’s Trouble in Paradise album. “It’s Money That Matters” is from his next album, 1988’s Land of Dreams and features Mark Knopfler on guitar.

New Order
“Blue Monday 1988” — 1988, #68 (download)
“Round & Round” — 1989, #64 (download)

Whether you like dance music or not, you have to give credit to New Order for being a pioneering act that influenced so many bands. “Round & Round” has an interesting story behind it as it’s about tension with Tony Wilson who owned their record label – Factory Records. Wilson actually chose this as a single though New Order didn’t want it released. “Blue Monday 1988” is the 7” version released as a standalone single and on the Best of New Order (1994).

QUICK HITS
Best song: Ivan Neville, “Falling Out of Love”
Worst song: Newcity Rockers, “Black Dog”

Next week we get a few rare tunes, visit three of the major female artists of the decade, and listen to a trivia question designed just for me.