This is one of the very few places where I can make a statement like â€œI was so excited to find a near-mint copy of the Electric Dreams soundtrackâ€ and get reactions other than people calling me a dork under their breath.
Thereâ€™s this very cool shop in Reading, Pennsylvania, called Vertigo Music that’s run by this cool indie girl (one day Iâ€™ll ask her her name so that I can stop saying, “You know … that store with the cool indie girlâ€). I stop by on many of my trips to that area. Sheâ€™s got a nice pile of one-dollar records, and the better albums are very reasonably priced. A few weeks ago I located the soundtrack I mentioned above for $8, which to me is a steal for something I donâ€™t think Iâ€™d ever seen before. I also was able to pick up the Nails’ Mood Swings (featuring their only hit, â€œ88 Lines About 44 Women”), another album Iâ€™d been searching for a long time.
I mention this for two reasons. The first is because I know you’ll understand my excitement in finding two albums Iâ€™ve wanted in my collection forever. No one else really does, to be honest. Second, I feel the need to let the world know about this place. In my area, just finding a record store is difficult, but when you walk into one thatâ€™s clean, inviting, well organized, and has a great selection of music without being overwhelming … well, it begs some attention. Iâ€™m assuming she does more business through her Gemm site than in-store, but if youâ€™re ever in Reading, you should definitely stop in and check it out. The world needs more of these types of record stores.
Anyway, how about some more songs from artists whose names begin with the letter P, as we take a look at the bottom feeders — songs that charted at #41 or lower — from the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s.
Poco had seven songs hit the Hot 100 in the â€˜70s, and most of those were Bottom Feeders too. Almost all of them also had some combo of Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Randy Meisner, and Timothy B. Schmit on them. The Poco of the ’80s had none of those guys; guitarist Rusty Young is the only member to have been there from the start. Singer Paul Cotton replaced Messina in 1971 and can be heard on these songs. Iâ€™ve never really picked up a Poco album voluntarily, but these songs certainly count as harmless dinnertime background music.
â€œHot Hot Hotâ€ — 1987, #45 (download)
OlÃ©, ohh-lÃ©! OlÃ©, ohh-lÃ©! This is former New York Dolls singer David Johansenâ€™s only hit song â€“ a cover of the Arrow original. From what Iâ€™ve read over the years, Buster is a bit tired of it at this point, as itâ€™s the only thing he gets recognized for.
â€œCould I Be Dreamingâ€ — 1980, #52 (download)
â€œIf You Wanna Get Back Your Ladyâ€ — 1983, #67 (download)
â€œI Need Youâ€ — 1983, #48 (download)
â€œBaby Come and Get Itâ€ — 1985, #44 (download)
â€œFreedomâ€ — 1985, #59 (download)
â€œTwist My Armâ€ — 1986, #83 (download)
â€œAll I Know Is the Way I Feelâ€ — 1987, #73 (download)
â€œBe Thereâ€ — 1987, #42 (download)
I hope you like the Pointer Sisters, because youâ€™ve got enough tracks here to put together a typical â€˜80s-length CD. Unfortunately, unless you were a true fan, Iâ€™d be shocked if you knew more than two of these songs. Everyone knows â€œIâ€™m So Excited,â€ â€œJump (For My Love),â€ and â€œNeutron Dance,â€ but this is a group where the lesser singles really didnâ€™t stand the test of time.
None of the songs here are even that good, though at least â€œIf You Wanna Get Back Your Ladyâ€ is slightly recognizable: it was the final charting single from the So Excited LP. The strange track here is â€œI Need You,â€ which was the first single off their smash-hit album Break Out. The three songs mentioned in the first paragraph were all from this album as well, and went top ten. Iâ€™m completely baffled how such a generic track was the lead single on an album that had canâ€™t-miss hits on it.
â€œBaby Come and Get Itâ€ was the fifth single from Break Out, and was written by James Ingram. While â€œBe Thereâ€ is also a pretty bad song, it fits right in on the Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack, which came out three years after the Pointers contributed â€œNeutron Danceâ€ to the original Cop‘s soundtrack.
(Okay, so Iâ€™ve gone back and listened to these songs quite a bit since I wrote these ladies up, and I think I was generous when I said, “None of the songs here are even that good.â€ They all suck.)
â€œI Want Actionâ€ — 1987, #50 (download)
I was initially shocked to see that Poison didnâ€™t have more songs in this series. Then I was even more shocked to see that â€œI Want Actionâ€ was the one. But then again, I think back to how big Poison was just one year later and maybe it shouldnâ€™t come as a surprise. And while these guys are super easy to pick on for being the prototypical hair metal band, Iâ€™m not going to — because I loved them just as much as you did. Even songs from 1990â€™s Flesh and Blood like â€œRide the Windâ€ and â€œLife Goes Onâ€ went Top 40 and maybe Iâ€™d recognize them if I heard them, but by title I have no idea what they are.
Now, of course, Bret Michaels is a whore (but frankly, if I was single and was offered a job where the main premise is to hook up with rock skanks for years, Iâ€™d do it too). But this is nothing compared to the travesty of recording a â€œrockâ€ version of Justin Timberlakeâ€™s â€œSexybackâ€ in 2007. If the love bus didnâ€™t do it, this certainly stripped him of his rock-cred card.
Apparently thereâ€™s a gangsta rapper out there now going by the name of Poison. He raps in French. Look him up on iTunes for a laugh. Gangsta rap in French doesn’t translate well.
Boy, we really run the gamut here. Who would have expected “Message in a Bottle” to top out at #74? (It peaked on the Hot 100 near the end of ’79, but for the week of January 5, 1980, it was at #100, so it makes the cut for this series.) Who would have expected that the very un-radio-friendly â€œSecret Journeyâ€ was a single? And who would have expected something as utterly blasphemous as the 1986 butchering of â€œDonâ€™t Stand So Close to Meâ€ even exists?
The only reason I can understand radio stations playing â€œSecret Journeyâ€ is that it was simply another song by the untouchable Police. I donâ€™t blame them for jumping on the â€œDonâ€™t Stand So Close to Me â€˜86â€ bandwagon, but Iâ€™m dismayed it got as high as #46, though it did get as high as #10 on my Bottom 80 Songs of the â€˜80s list. It’s simply an unnecessary and brutal remake of an absolutely classic song.
â€œWhere Everybody Knows Your Nameâ€ — 1983, #83 (download)
Gary Portnoy has released a couple albums and written some songs for other people, but heâ€™ll be forever known as the guy who sang the theme song to Cheers, which he cowrote with Judy Hart Angelo. They also wrote the theme songs for Mr. Belvedere, sung by Leon Redbone, and Punky Brewster, sung by Portnoy. (“I’m RICH, bitch!” –Ed.)
â€œDear Mr. Jesusâ€ — 1987, #61 (download)
Somehow this one only checked in at #32 on my Bottom 80 Songs of the â€˜80s list. Surprisingly, I’ve never taken any heat for putting a sincere song about preventing child abuse in my â€œunholy trilogyâ€ (no, I’m not even remotely calling Powersource unholy — they were essentially a Christian-music ministry … but it works!). The other two songs in the trilogy, if you havenâ€™t been around for Bottom Feeders from the beginning, are Toni Basilâ€™s â€œShoppinâ€™ From A to Zâ€ and Steve Millerâ€™s â€œBongo Bongo.â€
A few radio stations actually played this on their own, but it became a hit when, around the same time as its release in 1987, a girl named Lisa Steinberg was beaten to death by her adoptive father, Joel. I get the message and why it was played in the wake of that tragedy, but Iâ€™m still allowed to rip it because itâ€™s fucking creepy. Face it — it really is kind of alarming to hear this little six-year-old girl talking about being beaten, and it not only sends shivers up my spine every time I hear it, but it’s totally a mood killer in any given iPod shuffle. And before right-wing Christians knock down my door, I want to state for the record that Iâ€™m talking about the quality of the song itself, not the message. Child abuse = BAD. Powersource = WORSE.
â€œThe Elvis Medleyâ€ — 1982, #71 (download)
Well, with the surge of medleys in the â€˜80s, this was bound to happen. And I mean, I canâ€™t really say much about classic Elvis songs, but this mix is perhaps the worst of all the various mixes in the decade, probably because most of the other ones seem to be tied together via some backbeat that made transitions seemless. This is simply just one song stopping and the next one starting. I donâ€™t get the album of the same name either (well, I get it â€“ money) as this medley is six songs long. The album then includes these six songs in their entirety, in order. Itâ€™s then followed up with â€œAlways on My Mind,â€ â€œHeartbreak Hotel,â€ and â€œHard Headed Woman.â€ If youâ€™re going to tack on three major hits at the end, why the fuck werenâ€™t they in the medley? I guess it would have taken us to the five minute mark, which would have just been too much Elvis for the radio. Yeah.
Best song: Police, â€œMessage in a Bottleâ€
Worst song: Police, â€œDonâ€™t Stand So Close to Me â€˜86â€
TOP 40 ONLY
Point Blank (1); Bonnie Pointer (1); Mike Post (2); Power Station (3)
Next week we finish up the letter P with my favorite artist of all time.