Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 74

Written by Bottom Feeders, Music

Dave Steed’s Bottom Feeders moves into its second week of the letter R, which means it’s time for some not-so-classic ’80s cuts from frozen food kingpin Smokey Robinson. Anyone hungry for some mild gumbo?

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See, here’s what I like about writing this column. Some weeks I give you a song you haven’t heard or a factoid about a band that you didn’t know. Other weeks you guys give me information I don’t know and turn me on to music that’s missing from my life. Of course that happened last week with the Replacements chatter in the comments.

So far I’ve been able to get to two of their albums. I know you guys recommended I start with Tim (1985), but I haven’t been able to hit that one yet. I have, however, listened to Let It Be (’84) and Pleased to Meet Me (’87), with pleasing results.

I went with Let It Be first and thought it was decent, but it doesn’t flow very well at all. I dug “Favorite Thing” and the cover of Kiss’s “Black Diamond” the most.

Then I moved to Pleased to Meet Me, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The first three tracks — “I.O.U.,” “Alex Chilton,” and “I Don’t Know” — are killer, with the latter being my favorite of the three. Pleased certainly feels more like an album than Let It Be, and based on just those two records I can pretty much tell I’m going to like the major-label-era Replacements the most.

Either way, both records were very much worth my time, and I will listen to Tim soon, so thanks to everyone for the recommendations and for turning me on to a band I never would’ve listened to otherwise. That’s part of what this series is all about.

Here’s our third week of artists whose names begin with the letter R, as we continue to look at songs that charted no higher than #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1980s.

Burt Reynolds
“Let’s Do Something Cheap and Superficial” — 1980, #88 (download)

If this was supposed to be funny then I guess I’m missing the joke. It sounds just like all those other country songs I wish would end quickly. “Let’s Do Something Cheap and Superficial” is from Smokey and the Bandit II.

Cliff RichardCliff Richard
“Give a Little Bit More” — 1981, #41 (download)
“Wired for Sound” — 1981, #71 (download)
“The Only Way Out” — 1982, #64 (download)
“Never Say Die (Give a Little Bit More)” — 1983, #73 (download)

I’m a little surprised that Sir Cliff Richard has never really been on my radar — I like pretty much everything I’ve heard from him. I mean, a song like “Give a Little Bit More” is my type of early-‘80s tune; it’s a catchy little ditty. Heck, so is “Wired for Sound,” “The Only Way Out,” and “Never Say Die.” But what’s this little thing of two tracks being called “Give a Little Bit More” (even if one is parenthetical)? Hell, I think I need to put him on my list of artists to go back and listen to, a list that’s getting way too long.

Turley Richards
“You Might Need Somebody” — 1980, #54 (download)

Turley who? Man, I can almost guarantee that if you’d mentioned the name Turley Richards to me a few years ago, I would’ve told you he didn’t have a hit in my decade. And he might be the only artist to chart in the ’80s who I can say that about, as I’m pretty good at remembering the artists in my collection. I had to look this guy up on Wikipedia to find out that he was another blind artist to have a hit in the ‘80s, though Richards wasn’t blind from birth — he lost sight in his left eye at the age of four in an archery accident, and his vision in his right eye went soon after that. Overall, “You Might Need Somebody” isn’t a bad song at all.

Lionel Richie
“Deep River Woman” — 1987, #71 (download)

Lionel wasn’t used to this happening. He had 13 consecutive top-ten hits to start off his solo career, but “Deep River Woman,” from 1986’s Dancing on the Ceiling, made a bigger dent on the country charts than the pop charts. And that certainly makes sense, because this is definitely a country song (Alabama even plays on it). Richie took a break after the tour for Dancing on the Ceiling and didn’t release another full-length until a decade later.

Rings
“Let Me Go” — 1981, #75 (download)

The Rings were a decent Boston-based band that released two albums, but as far as I can tell, they never really caught on outside the northeast.

Lee Ritenour
“Cross My Heart” — 1982, #69 (download)

Lee Ritenour is a jazz guitarist who kind of went the funky route for this song, his second and final Hot 100 hit.

Rockie Robbins
“You and Me” — 1980, #80 (download)

“You and Me” is kind of rare, as it was Rockie Robbins’s only hit. He released three albums between ’79 and ’81 and then a final one in ’85 before calling it a career.

Robey
“One Night in Bangkok” — 1985, #77 (download)

RobeyI’ve always found this track interesting for a few reasons, the first being that it was released at pretty much the same time as the more popular Murray Head version, yet very few people know it exists. The second is that Robey’s take on “One Night in Bangkok” is considered the “dance version” of the song, but it’s really not all that different from Head’s version. The third reason is that Head’s version was on the Hot 100 for five months — February through July of 1985 — while Robey’s version landed at the beginning of March but only spent three weeks on the chart. So Head’s version of “One Night” was on the Hot 100 before and after Robey’s cover had come and gone. If you like Head’s original, you almost have to like Robey’s as well.

Smokey Robinson
“You Are Forever” — 1981, #59 (download)
“Old Fashioned Love” — 1982, #60 (download)
“Blame It on Love” — 1983, #48 (download)
“What’s Too Much” — 1987, #79 (download)

Although Smokey has never been a favorite of mine, it’s hard to find fault with him, either. He has a pretty spectacular voice and has made some of the best love songs of all time, with and without the Miracles. Even these four bottom feeders are supersmooth, and “You Are Forever” is a sure-fire panty dropper.

Rock and Hyde
“Dirty Water” — 1987, #61 (download)

“Dirty Water” is a really cool song from guys we’ve already talked about in this series: Bob Rock and Paul Hyde. The pair were members of the Payola$, who then changed their name to Paul Hyde & the Payola$, then recorded one album as Rock and Hyde. The thing I remember most about this song, unfortunately, is the terrible video.

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The Rockets
“Desire” — 1980, #70 (download)

The Rockets were formed in the early ‘70s by the guitarist and drummer for Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. Click here for way more info about the Rockets than I could ever tell you.

Rockpile
“Teacher Teacher” — 1980, #51 (download)

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I have three different songs on my iPod called “Teacher Teacher”: a lost track from Prince, the .38 Special song from the Teachers soundtrack, and this gem. The only official album by Rockpile, Seconds of Pleasure (1980) checks in at #42 on my Top 80 Albums of the ‘80s list. I say “official” because the same lineup of Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner, and Terry Williams also played on four other records: three Edmunds “solo” LPs (two before and one after the Rockpile release) and Lowe’s 1979 solo album Labour of Lust. “Teacher Teacher” and Seconds of Pleasure are simply wonderful pop records.

Nile Rodgers
“Let’s Go Out Tonight” — 1985, #88 (download)

I don’t know what to make of this track. It doesn’t have the classic Chic sound, and with Rodgers having just come off producing Madonna’s Like a Virgin, it’s pretty much the worst thing Rodgers was doing in the mid-’80s. “Let’s Go Out Tonight” is a pretty horrible track, and yet I think I like it — and I’ve felt this way about it for ages! It has this knack of showing up on my iPod way more than it should, and every time I have the same indifferent look on my face and shrug my shoulders the same way.

QUICK HITS
Best song: Rockpile, “Teacher Teacher”
Worst song: Burt Reynolds, “Let’s Do Something Cheap and Superficial”

TOP 40 ONLY
Restless Heart (1); Cheryl “Pepsii” Riley (1); Roachford (1); Rockwell (2)

Next week, the runner-up for least-favorite song of the decade … and the president of the United States of America!

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