Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 77

Written by Bottom Feeders, Music

Dave Steed’s incredible Bottom Feeders reaches the letter S this week, which means it’s time to say goodbye to you and hello to some early ’80s Patty Smyth.

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So I’ve been mentioning this to my wife, and I’m going to mention it here: lately on Popdose, and for all of eternity on the majority of sites that share opinions, there’s been a ton of the “What have you done for me lately?” comments if someone doesn’t talk fondly about something.

It rarely happens at Bottom Feeders, but I attribute that to the fact that even though I rag on various artists, this series is less about writing and more about entertaining. Well, that and the fact that there aren’t quite as many fanatical fans of bands who only had one hit a quarter-century ago.

All over the place, though, when a a piece of media is reviewed by someone and their opinion differs from the fanatic’s point of view, all of a sudden it’s a jealousy thing. I’ve never been able to figure out the “Are you jealous because you can’t sing as well?” comments. If I’m saying an artist sucks, why would I be jealous of them? If I was jealous at all, wouldn’t I be jealous of the artists who are my favorites? I hate Nickelback with a white-hot fury, but that’s not because I’m jealous that they have money and fame and I don’t.

A comment under last week’s You Again? column from Jeff Giles was a great example. Now, I believe the message was directed toward another commenter, but it’s hard to tell sometimes. The comment was:

To you living room “rock gods” out there who think you are so wonderful and so talented, really? What have you written lately? Are you making a living at your “rock god-ness” or just someone who is jealous and can’t get past playing for your friends dreaming that you’re a superstar?

I just can’t fathom how this is, or ever has been, a legit argument. There’s this growing belief, I guess, that people can’t have opinions. I’ve always been the type of writer who enjoys reading other people’s thoughts, and I’m well aware that my readers aren’t going to agree with me a lot. But then they’ll recommend a song or a group to me, just like in the last few weeks with our Big Star and R.E.M. chats.

Give me a constructive reason why I’m wrong, but I just can’t grasp the reasoning behind “They are so much more talented than you” as a legit retaliation. As I said, it rarely happens here, which is cool, but you can go to hundreds of sites and see the same logic applied to any number of items. It’s bugging me more now than it ever has. (The ulterior motive for linking to You Again? is of course to point out that Winger has a new record. If you’re a fan of this series, then a new Winger record should at least be on your radar.)

Now that my venting’s out of the way, how ’bout we begin our journey through artists whose names begin with the letter S, as we continue counting down every song that charted below #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s. We’re going to be here for a while, so sit back, relax, and enjoy, but remember — if you fail to enjoy the Sa-Fire songs below, you’re just jealous that she had 15 minutes of fame and you didn’t.

Sad Cafe
“La-Di-Da” — 1981, #78 (download)

Most of my enjoyment of this track comes from the smooth vocals of Paul Young, who had one of the best voices of the decade (and so does the other Paul Young). Sad Cafe called it quits the first time in 1981 after releasing two studio records and a live recording in the decade. This is off their self-titled 1980 release. They got back together briefly in 1985 to release Politics of Existing and a final album in 1989 while Paul Young was juggling time here and with Mike + the Mechanics.

sade-the-best-of-sadeSade
“Your Love Is King” — 1985, #54 (download)

Sade is killer. Here’s a major exception to my general rule. There was a time when I regularly pulled out Sade records and popped them on the turntable. That time was when I was trying to get a lady in my bed. No doubt Sade’s catalog is almost the perfect music to play while snuggling on the couch with a bottle of red wine. If you’re working with 1994’s Best of Sade, by the time “The Sweetest Taboo” comes on, her hand will be sliding down to your nether regions, no doubt. Just make sure that when you make it to bedroom that you don’t have Ginuwine’s “Pony” ready for her. Completely different vibe, man. What? No, that’s never happened to me.

safire1Sa-Fire
“Boy, I’ve Been Told” — 1988, #48 (download)
“Gonna Make It” — 1989, #78 (download)
“I Will Survive” — 1989, #53 (download)

You know, hearing Sa-Fire here is kind of refreshing. The letter R was filled with material from the early ’80s, so to get some freestyle in the mix is a nice change of pace. Her self-titled debut was hit or miss though. The singles (“Boy, I’ve Been Told,” “Thinking of You,” “Gonna Make It,” “Let Me Be the One”) are decent tracks, but the rest of the material is pretty weak, although fans of Latin Freestyle did seem to like the record. I’d like to say that with better material, she’d have been bigger, but “I Will Survive” is better material and her cover of it — created for the Meryl Streep-Roseanne Barr nonstarter She-Devil — is kind of pathetic.

Saga
“Wind Him Up” — 1983, #64 (download)
“The Flyer” — 1983, #79 (download)

A Canadian prog-rock band, Saga released three albums before getting hits in the US off their fourth, Worlds Apart. The thing I remember about Saga is that all of those four records had chapters, part of an sixteen track song-cycle with two chapters appearing on each record. The story was about a young Albert Einstein (I don’t believe Yahoo Serious ever came calling) with the interesting part being that the chapters did not appear in order over the course of the records. However, after getting their first real taste of success, the last eight chapters didn’t show up (all 16 were performed in concert and released in 2005)

Both the songs here have nothing to do with the cycle but are pretty damn good in their own right. “Wind Him Up” being from Worlds Apart and “The Flyer” from their follow up Heads Or Tails.

Santana
“The Sensitive Kind” — 1981, #56 (download)
“Nowhere to Run” — 1982, #66 (download)
“Say It Again” — 1985, #46 (download)

Have me shut down the Internet and 30 minutes from now ask me to name one Santana song from the ’80s. Even after writing this up and probably reading this again very close to right now, I doubt I could do it. Once the ’80s rolled around and his music had more of a straightforward pop-rock flair to it, Carlos Santana became just another guitarist to me. None of these three songs are terrible, but there’s nothing remotely interesting about them either.

Saraya
“Love Has Taken Its Toll” — 1989, #64 (download)
“Back to the Bullet” — 1989, #63 (download)

Saraya got into the hair metal game a little late and didn’t change quick enough with the times so we only got two albums out of them. They weren’t a bad little group and had potential, if even just for the fact that this was a female-fronted hair metal band where the woman wasn’t selling sex at the same time. Or maybe the lack of lingerie and guitar stroking from Sandi Saraya was the reason they didn’t catch on. Either way, the lack of anything major out of them put their debut disc out of print and it turned out to be a very tough CD for me to locate for my collection.

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Savoy Brown
“Run to Me” — 1981, #68 (download)

So my question for you, is would I know anything else by Savoy Brown? A buddy of mine that’s into ’70s music saw me listening to this song while writing and mentioned that Savoy Brown was “huge in the ’70s,” which sounds a little funky to me since this is only their third song to chart despite releasing albums since 1967. And this song kind of stinks, so it’s not giving me any indication of why they were so “huge.”

Scandal
“Goodbye to You” — 1982, #65 (download)
“Love’s Got a Line on You” — 1983, #59 (download)
“Hands Tied” — 1984, #41 (download)
“Beat of a Heart” — 1985, #41 (download)

It’s a real shame that internal strife forced Scandal to dissolve over time as their one full length and one EP are excellent. Along with “The Warrior,” Scandal (featuring Patty Smyth) had five excellent hits with their last two songs hitting a wall just below the top 40. I think Scandal could have been one of the biggest groups of the decade if they had stayed together.

Joey Scarbury
“When She Dances” — 1981, #49 (download)

Who knew? It’s gotta be hard to follow up the success of one of the greatest theme songs of all time, “Theme From Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not),” with a straight adult-contemporary song. And seriously, when that’s your first hit where do you go from there? But I’m sure it’s still paying him to this day and without it he probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere. However, his only album, America’s Greatest Hero, was actually good and maybe should have found that Christopher Cross market.

Peter Schilling
“The Different Story (World of Lust and Crime)” — 1989, #61 (download)

I’m always fascinated by artists like Peter Schilling whose primary language is not English but get their lyrics translated/rewritten for them to try to break in the U.S. His German-language album, Fehler im System, was released in 1982 and then rewritten in English and released a year later in the U.S. It included his biggest hit, “Major Tom (Coming Home),” which used the Major Tom character introduced by David Bowie in 1969 in “Space Oddity.”

Two years later he released a second English record (Things to Come) that didn’t go anywhere and in 1989 released his third and final English record. The only new track on it was the title track “The Different Story.” The rest was culled from his previous two English records. The three years too late Depeche Mode sound was created with the help of Michael Cretu of Enigma. Released six years after “Major Tom,” his U.S. hit trajectory was a little wacked. (I was listening to the track, making sure it streamed correctly, and my wife said to me, “What’s this shit? Sounds like some cheesy theme song, like Mannequin or something.”)

Timothy B. Schmit
“So Much in Love” — 1982, #59 (download)

Not fuckin’ necessary, Timmy boy. Even the All-4-One version is better than this. Yes, that’s what I said — I prefer something from All-4-One. “So Much in Love” is a dead spot on the otherwise excellent Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack.

QUICK HITS
Best song: Sade, “Your Love Is King”
Worst song: Timothy B. Schmit, “So Much in Love”

TOP 40 ONLY
Carole Bayer Sager (1), Salt-N-Pepa (1), Leo Sayer (2), Boz Scaggs (5), Scarlett & Black (1)

Next week, a superstar I just can’t listen to, and an underrated group I wish I could listen to all the time.