This past Monday my ability to come up with future IGMs (Inappropriate Ghetto Moments) was squelched by the po-po. No longer will I be able to drive through the ghetto on the way home with my iPod on Shuffle and watch the horror as crack whores hear Bette Midler’s “The Rose” blasting out my ride. See, yours truly was listening to “Mouth For War” by Pantera really loud and a fine officer in my borough pulled me over for violating the noise ordinance that was passed just a few months earlier. So rather than take the $1000 fine and the 30 days in jail, I’m going to have to turn my music down, which means I’ll pretty much just be turning it off now since music does nothing for me unless it’s loud. As a buddy pointed out, I’m so metal that my town can’t handle it. So horns high for this one, I suppose.
Now, rather than split the letter O up into two small posts, I’ve gone huge and given you the entire letter in one shot. Enjoy close to 30 tracks from the 15th letter of the alphabet as we look at more Bottom Feeders from the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s.
“Set the Night on Fire” — 1980, #71 (download)
Sometimes Oak, sometimes Oak & Rick Pinette, sometimes Rick Pinette & Oak and even sometimes Oak & the Rick Pinette Band, this multinamed crew will always have a place in my musical heart. Their #36 hit earlier in 1980, “King of the Hill,” was easily the hardest of the all the top 40 songs to find and the first time I really had to dig to find a track. I searched high and low for that self-titled debut album for years with no luck, until I found not only a copy, but an autographed one at that (surely adding about 63 cents in value to it.) Their second hit, “Set the Night on Fire,” was from the album of the same name, which I still don’t own. I settled for the 45 which was also quite a pain in the ass to acquire. This was back in the day where I was excited to listen to the rarer stuff and almost forced myself to enjoy it based on the amount of work I put in. It was only later on that I realized most of these tough-to-find tracks are rare for good reason. But Oak and now-and-then Rick Pinette, you have avoided my wrath.
God, I hate the Oak Ridge Boys. “So Fine” is such a poor song. I know it was a cover of a tune by the Fiestas and I’ve never heard that version, but it can’t be any better ‘cause it’s just poorly written to begin with. Obviously, the Oak Ridge Boys didn’t think so and my taste in music is suspect anyway. But that opening two seconds of keyboards sounds exactly like an ‘80s sitcom theme song (someone tell me which one though!) Maybe the biggest problem I have with the Oak Ridge Boys is very evident on “American Made” which is that bass vocalist Richard Sterban just sounds so out of place with the other vocalists on a lot of tracks. The other problem that I have is that every time I run to the record store I have to weed through 10,000 copies of Oak Ridge Boys records and I swear that every time I find ones I’ve never seen before. They put out 16 damn albums in the decade. No one needs 16 albums in 10 years.
“The Gigolo” — 1982, #57 (download)
One of the things that draws me to this song is that it really could be one of those “literal versions” of tunes that pop up now and again. I’ve never seen a video for this song but I can create one in my head that matches the lyrics word for word every time I hear it. And O’Bryan enunciates in a way that actually sounds like those home overdubs. And the other thing that’s a draw is that this is just funky as hell. If hell is funky that is.
As a fan of the Cars, it’s hard not to enjoy “Something to Grab For” since it sounds so much like them. It was the first single from Ocasek’s album Beatitude (dumb name, but he had a few of those, like 1997’s Troublizing or 2005’s Nexterday.) “True to You” is from his second release This Side of Paradise. The album sounds slightly less like the Cars — well, except for this single which featured every member of the group except for drummer David Robinson and for his other hit “Emotion in Motion.” Ah, shit, either one could have been a Cars record. You ain’t foolin’ me, Ric without a K!
“Stay in Time” — 1980, #51 (download)
This is the type of group that the collector in me hates but the critic in me loves. “Stay in Time” comes from their debut album On. Now you type in “Off Broadway On” into a search engine and you can actually find info on them, but back four years ago when I was looking for this album that string turned up everything showtunes and nothing rock music. Screw the cleverness and give me something that turns up in a search for pete’s sake – I want to find your music! Or maybe this is another one that only bothers me simply because I’m still learning how to use this internet thingy. The song is really cool though.
I’m going to steal King of Grief’s thunder here and give “Weird Science” his “meltie” as being the most recognizable song of the post. I love both these songs even though Oingo Boingo was never my thing. I recognize the genius of Danny Elfman as a composer though I think his scores have far surpassed the quality of the group. In small doses, maybe even just singles, I can enjoy them, but there’s really no LP (at least from the ‘80s) that I would say is a start to finish gem.
“Girl, Don’t Let It Get You Down” — 1980, #55 (download)
“Girl, Don’t Let It Get You Down” is a sweet, sweet song. It was the final of 27 Hot 100 hits for the group, from their 1980 release The Year 2000. They’ve had 21 R&B chart hits since this song, and the amazing thing is, all but one single since 1966’s “Stand In for Love” has hit that chart, right up through their last album in 2004. The only one that didn’t chart in the U.S. was 1984’s “Extraordinary Girl,” from the LP Love and More.
“First Be a Woman” — 1980, #53 (download)
I hear absolutely nothing in this other than “I Will Survive.” Apparently others did as well since Gloria Gaynor would later cover the track.
“Criticize” — 1987, #70 (download)
I’m a big fan of Alexander O’Neal and probably would have been a bigger fan if Prince wasn’t such a dick (with all due respect). O’Neal was the singer of Flyte Tyme, which later became simply the Time. A dispute with Prince lead to the ousting of O’Neal who was replaced by the totally awesome Morris Day so in reality everything worked out well. I mean, his 1987 album Hearsay is a classic funk record producing “Criticize” and one of my favorite songs of the decade in “Fake.” Both songs and the album were produced by former band maytes, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. And maybe for the first time that I can recall, “Criticize” is a song that isn’t immediately recognizable as a Jam & Lewis track. Pretty much every other song they’ve ever done is Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat” in a different key.
One to One
“Angel in My Pocket” — 1986, #92 (download)
One to One (later 1 to 1) were a Canadian group that released three albums from 1985-1992 with only “Angel In My Pocket” and another song in 1992 called “Peace of Mind (Love Goes On)” reaching the Hot 100. Members Leslie Howe and Louise Reny then decided they wanted more of a rock edge and joined with some other musicians to release an album in the mid-80s as Sal’s Birdland and then one album in 1997 as Artificial Joy Club.
“Cutie Pie” — 1982, #61 (download)
The biggest names you’d probably recognize in One Way were the two singers: Al Hudson and Candye Edwards. And even if you’ve never heard this song, you either know the rhythm or at least see if the influence this had on early ‘90s rap artists like Ice Cube and Coolio.
“Walking on Thin Ice” — 1981, #58 (download)
I’m not even going to remotely say I know anything about Yoko Ono other than the obvious (which for me is simply her marriage to John Lennon). As terrible as it sounds, I never got into the Beatles and the mania was over before I was born really, so Yoko is just a blip on my radar. What I can tell you about my experience with her music is that I think both Double Fantasy (1980) and Milk and Honey (1984) are masterpieces, if you take out all the Yoko Ono songs and just make them John Lennon EPs.
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
“Secret” — 1985, #63 (download)
It’s weird how music affects people sometimes. I can’t say a thing positive about Yoko Ono and I can’t say a negative thing about OMD. They only got a little love on the dance charts in the US before 1985 (mainly for “Enola Gay”) but their body of work at least from 1981’s Architecture & Morality through 1986’s The Pacific Age is wonderful. The latter album contains another one of my favorites in “Forever (Live and Die).” “Secret” is from Crush and is also featured in Arthur 2: On the Rocks. Seems like the makers of the TV show Degrassi: The Next Generation also dig them as both “If You Leave” and “Secret” are episode titles in the series known for titling their shows with names of hit songs.
Orion the Hunter
“So You Ran” — 1984, #58 (download)
Although I can’t say I remember these guys at all back in the ‘80s, I can certainly see why this was a hit. The group was composed of Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau and future Boston singer Fran Cosmo. “So You Ran” and their only self-titled album could very well be mistaken for a Boston record. You ain’t foolin’ me, Mr. Barry with two Rs.
Mr. Osborne, the former lead singer of L.T.D. had some nice funk songs in the decade, but his strong suit was really the sultry ballad. “We’re Going All the Way” is a great example of his smooth vocals while “Don’t Stop” is kind of funk-pop-light and probably unnecessary. “She’s on the Left” is actually a nice surprise in his collection, smooth and funky and all this in a time frame when pretty much every other peer of his that had been making music for the entire decade started dropping like flies.
“Shot in the Dark” — 1986, #68 (download)
As a metal head it pains me to say this, but I really don’t think Ozzy is the real talent on any of his recordings. I love “Shot in the Dark” and songs like “Crazy Train” and “Perry Mason,” but the talent are the musicians surrounding him — in this case, Jake E. Lee on guitar. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Ozzy records, but I don’t know if he ever would’ve made it without people like Tony Iommi, Zakk Wylde, and Randy Castillo around. Maybe that’s the charm of Ozzy, though.
“Hold On” — 1989, #73 (download)
I’m going to say something that I’ve only said to the closest of friends. Donny Osmond’s 1988 self-titled comeback album is actually pretty damn good.
“We Are What We Are” — 1987, #53 (download)
You want to know who the Other Ones are? You really want to know? They are who we thought they were!
I always thought the Outfield were a very underrated group, and here they go getting buried 25 songs into the post. No respect, I tell ya. They had pretty decent success with six Hot 100 songs in the decade and two more in the ‘90s but they don’t really get mentioned with the superstars of the decade. Meanwhile songs like “Your Love” and “All the Love in the World” are ridiculously good and deserve a place in rock history next to the best. Both these songs here are great, “My Paradise” being a lost gem of the decade.
Ozark Mountain Daredevils
“Take You Tonight” — 1980, #67 (download)
Although I simply think of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils as a ‘70s band, this is a pretty awesome song off their self-titled 1980 album, which would be their last until reuniting in 1997 for one final hurrah.
Best song: The Outfield, “My Paradise”
Worst song: Oak Ridge Boys, “So Fine”
I’m going to add something new for each week since there are always comments and questions about who doesn’t have the proud distinction of being a Bottom Feeder. The “Top 40 Only” section will include all the artists who only had Top 40 hits, with the number of charting singles in parentheses next to their name.
TOP 40 ONLY
John O’Banion (1); Billy Ocean (11); Ollie & Jerry (1); One 2 Many (1); Opus (1); Roy Orbison (1); Benjamin Orr (1); Robert Ellis Orrall (1); Outlaws (1); Oxo (1)
That’s it for the letter O. Next week we invite everyone over for a pajama party and force them to listen to some prog rock.