The story of how I completed my collection continues in 2006. I was winding down to the end. I found that collecting the first 4,000-plus songs to hit the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s was no big deal, but the last 200 or so were giving me issues. If I had to pinpoint why, I’d say the three biggest obstacles were:
1. “Single-only” songs. The songs released by artists never heard from before or since, and only available on 45, were the most difficult ones to find by a long shot.
2. Crappy records from the tail end of an artist’s career. Contributing to the difficulty of my task were the artists that had had hits for 20 years prior to the ‘80s but just didn’t know when to stop recording, or tried to make a failed comeback attempt. Half the time the artist was crap once the ‘80s rolled around, and his/her/their LP sales were so poor there was never a second pressing or a proper CD release. The other half of the time the artist’s label decided enough was enough, so he/she/they had to release one final album on a new label — naturally, the singles from new-label, final-label albums don’t appear on 99 percent of greatest-hits compilations since they weren’t spawned from the same label as all of the artist’s other songs.
3. Price. I could’ve finished my collection a lot sooner than I did had I been willing to spend anywhere from $12 to $25 on an LP. But I’m not made of money, so aside from some pretty rare albums, a limit of a few dollars was my peak price. In almost every case, what I needed was considered rare mainly because it was crap and no one’s ever had the desire to release it again: go ahead and charge $250 for a rare Beatles 45, but just because you have a tough-to-find Unipop single doesn’t mean it’s worth anything. The end result of it all is that I was eventually able to find everything at the price I wanted.
Here’s the thing, though — I say my collection is “complete,” but technically it’s not. I have 4,229 of the 4,230 songs (approximately) that charted in the Hot 100 from 1980 to ’89. I’m missing just one record: “American Memories” by Shamus M’Cool. Though I do have it on MP3, it’s the hard copy I desire, but I can’t locate it. And I’m never going to locate it, but after a few years of searching I’m finally okay with that.
As far as I’m aware, only ten copies of this 45-only song were ever made. It’s easily the hardest to find of any charting song in the ’80s, and some historians will tell you it’s the hardest song to locate in the history of the Billboard chart. Up until April I’d only seen one copy available, as part of a full collection of music going for $300,000. Then a crazy thing happened — there was a dude on eBay selling this record! The end price was $3,600; if I was going to spend that much money on something I’d have ponied up an extra hundred and bought Oran “Juice” Jones’s $3,700 lynx coat. Trust me, though, it pains me not to have “American Memories.” Instead I’ve filled that hole with the purchase of the original contract that Shamus M’Cool signed to perform the song on The Mike Douglas Show back in 1981. It hurts to collect for so long and then not be able to finish my collection, but such is life.
Of course, I just couldn’t stop there, so next week we’ll end the story with where I’m currently at today with the collection. In the meantime, enjoy some more Bottom Feeders starting with the letter “B.”
“Sweet Rachel” — 1987, #80 (download)
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve listened to every song I own, but this is the first one since this series started for which I couldn’t hum at least one bar. If “Sweet Rachel” had come out two years earlier, Beau Coup could’ve had a Top 40 hit. I actually kind of dig the song; the opening guitar riff leads you to believe it’s going to be hair metal, when in reality it falls closer to arena rock, with a touch of adult contemporary thrown in.
“Feel the Heat” — 1986, #73 (download)
Jean Beauvoir has quite the eclectic resumÃ©. He was Gary U.S. Bonds’s musical director as a teenager. Following that he became the lead singer of the doo-wop group the Flamingos, joined Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics for a few albums (and started sporting a blond Mohawk), and then played bass with Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul before going solo. “Feel the Heat” was his only hit off his oddly named solo debut, Drums Along the Mohawk. If you think this was prime soundtrack material you’re correct — it was the theme song to the Sylvester Stallone movie Cobra.
Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart
“People Get Ready” — 1985, #48 (download)
My esteemed colleague Matthew Bolin spoke at length about this song in his Redeeming Rod series from a few months ago.
The Bee Gees are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Maybe it’s not so bad to like them, but I don’t hear too many people bring them up in conversation anymore, so I keep it silent for the most part. I’m not quite sure why, but the Living Eyes record was one of the more difficult finds for my collection, which is a shame, because it’s a hidden gem in the Bee Gees’ catalog. “You Win Again” is an awesome track from the weaker E.S.P. album, but even that sold over three million copies, so the Bee Gees definitely stayed on the radar for the whole decade. In fact, as much as I enjoy the Living Eyes LP, I thought their 1989 release, One, was the best of the decade for the brothers Gibb.
“Oh Daddy” — 1989, #58 (download)
Adrian Belew has pretty much recorded with every person in America, or so it seems. Having either produced or played on records from Bowie, Talking Heads, Paul Simon, and even Nine Inch Nails, he’s probably best known as the lead singer for King Crimson from 1981 on. As talented as he is, I absolutely would’ve expected something better than “Oh Daddy.”
“Don’t Do Me” — 1984, #90 (download)
This was one of the final five songs that I acquired for my Hot 100 collection, and it’s the first time in this series that I know absolutely nothing about the song or artist — I can’t find any information on Randy Bell, and my research for his music has only turned up this one 45. “Don’t Do Me” isn’t a bad little new wave song, so I’m curious why it’s so obscure.
I had always known about those late-night “quiet storm” radio shows, but until I started collecting ‘80s music I never realized that “quiet storm” was actually a genre unto itself, for which Regina Belle is one of its top artists. This despite the fact that her one other ‘80s hit (a duet with Peabo Bryson) was the love theme from Leonard Part 6, one of the worst movies of all time. (We’ll get to that in a few weeks.)
The Belle Stars
“Sign of the Times” — 1983, #75 (download)
The Belle Stars were an all-female group formed after the breakup of the ska band the Bodysnatchers. “Sign of the Times” may be a pop song, but you can hear a bit of the ska sound in the solo guitar parts. This was the Belle Stars’ biggest hit in Europe, while “Iko Iko” earned that nod in the U.S. I’d recommend checking out their noncharting 1986 song “World Domination” instead.
Seventeen hits in the ‘80s, but these were the only two of Pat Benatar’s that didn’t reach the Top 40. “You Better Run” barely missed, and there was really no good reason why “Le Bel Age” didn’t make it either — it’s a great tune. Check out Scott Malchus’s Popdose plea to get her into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Love x Love” — 1980, #61 (download)
“Love All the Hurt Away” — 1981, #46 (download)
“Never Give Up on a Good Thing” — 1982, #52 (download)
“Inside Love” — 1983, #43 (download)
“20/20” — 1984, #48 (download)
George Benson is probably known to most of the public as a pop-R&B singer thanks mainly to his hits “Give Me the Night” and “Turn Your Love Around,” but there are a lot of artists both past and present who talk about how great a jazz guitarist he was. Among the tunes here, only “Love x Love” really showcases that ability; these songs were more adult-contemporary pop and keyboard-focused than anything else. All of them are actually decent songs and represent his change in styles pretty well as the years progressed.
For next week, well, all I’ll tell you is that big things are looming on the horizon! Until then, find me some info on Randy Bell and get the petition going to elect Pat Benatar into the hall of fame.