For most series-type items — episodes of a TV show, issues of a magazine, etc. — 100 is a great milestone that’s celebrated vigorously, as it should be. Doing something 100 times in this era of short attention spans is kind of cool. But I think it’s only appropriate that in a series of posts about songs from the ’80s, number 80 is my milestone.
That’s 20 months of songs, week after week, and with an average of 20 songs a post, a total of roughly 1,600 individual songs. And we’ve still got most of S, all of T, a decent-sized W, and the Bottom Feeders record for most songs by a single artist still to come. So tonight I think I might grab a 40 of Old E and celebrate by listening to Scott Baio’s debut album. There’s just no better way.
Here are some more songs by artists whose names start with an S, as we take a look at songs the Billboard Top 40 shunned during the Reagan era.
“Anchorage” — 1988, #66 (download)
Michelle Shocked certainly isn’t my cup of tea, but even so, this ain’t a bad song. It was off her second album, Short Sharp Shocked, which took a little heat for the cover art: the photo of the singer being detained by police was real, but replace her with a man and you’ve virtually got the exact same cover as Chaos UK’s similarly titled Short Sharp Shock, which came out four years earlier.
Shooting Star have two notable facts on their resumé: they were the first American band to be signed to Virgin Records, and their 1989 greatest-hits album, Best of Shooting Star, is the first record to hit the Billboard pop album charts without also having a vinyl release.
I don’t blame you if you’ve already forgotten those two useless bits of trivia.
Facts notwithstanding, these may be best three songs of the post. I don’t know what Virgin was doing back in the early ‘80s that they couldn’t get these guys to break big in the U.S., as both “You’ve Got What I Need” and especially “Hollywood” are fucking awesome. I know Virgin was a black hole for a lot of good artists in the late ‘90s and early aughts, but I thought they knew what they were doing in the ‘80s — maybe just not in the U.S. at that point in time.
Shooting Star initially disbanded in 1987 but after their greatest hits album came out in 1989, they got back together and have been releasing albums off-and-on ever since. “Touch Me Tonight” comes from that hits CD and sort of sounds like a hybrid of mid-‘80s Genesis and John Parr.
“Don’t Girls Get Lonely” — 1983, #69 (download)
For some reason every time I see the name Glenn Shorrock I think he was in Squeeze. The only name that comes close to Shorrock in Squeeze is Carrack and I’m certainly not mistaking the two, so I’m not exactly sure why. Shorrock was actually the lead singer of the Little River Band. The thing I remember most about this song is that some of the keyboard work sounds just like half of Back in the High Life by Steve Winwood a few years later. It seems like I’m saying this makes me think of many other things but never the actual song itself.
Shot in the Dark
“Playing With Lightning” — 1981, #71 (download)
And this song reminds me of the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey,” which is weird since I’m not good at the song comparison thing at all. As far as I’m aware, Shot in the Dark only had one LP — a self-titled record in 1981 on RSO Records, produced in part by Al Stewart. The five guys in Shot in the Dark were all members of Stewart’s backing band for his 1980 album 24 Carrots.
“Shiver and Shake” — 1980, #81 (download)
The Silencers were a Pittsburgh band that formed in 1979 and released two albums before fading into musical oblivion. “Shiver and Shake” comes from their debut album Rock ‘n’ Roll Enforcers. Their tough guy “enforcer” image didn’t exactly match their catchy but on the light side rock sound. The record is actually quite good, however, but is woefully difficult to locate for a cheap price.
“Painted Moon” — 1987, #82 (download)
This is the first and only time in Bottom Feeders that we have two different artists with the same name. These Silencers were a Scottish band I’ve often heard compared with Big Country. “Painted Moon” was from their debut, A Letter From St. Paul, which doesn’t scream out Big Country to me at all, leading me to think it’s simply a lazy comparison to their fellow countrymen. The two main members of the group, Jimme O’Neill and Cha Burns, had released three records in the early ‘80s as Fingerprintz.
“Ready for Love” — 1981, #92 (download)
Shooting Star, Shot in the Dark, and the first Silencers group here were difficult to locate for the collection, but Silverado’s third and I believe final album Ready for Love was the hardest to dig up of all of music in this post. They had released two albums before taking a break in 1977 and showed back up in 1981 with new material. However, the album and this single didn’t do a hell of a lot and I think they broke up for good after this release.
“Don’t Make Me Do It” — 1983, #75 (download)
Patrick Simmons had taken his guitar skills off on his own after leaving the Doobie Brothers (all hail lord McD) and released what would be his only US solo record – Arcade. “Don’t Make Me Do It” is a awesome song with Doobiesque harmonies all over it. It was the second single after “So Wrong” went to #30 a few months earlier and was written by Huey Lewis.
“Why” — 1982, #74 (download)
“You Know What to Do” — 1983, #83 (download)
“Tired of Being Blonde” — 1985, #70 (download)
“Give Me All Night” — 1987, #61 (download)
“All I Want Is You” — 1988, #54 (download)
“Let the River Run” — 1989, #49 (download)
The Carly Simon you’re hearing above certainly isn’t the ‘70s version. After collapsing on stage in 1980 she toured a lot less in the decade and had minimal success until the decent but kind of empty sounding Coming Around Again album in 1987. Carly did a nice job updating her sound for the times, though, and songs like “You Know What to Do” off her Hello Big Man album deserved a better fate than stalling at #83.
The bookmark songs here are both from soundtracks. “Let the River Run” was from Working Girl and despite only peaking at #49, won an Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy for best song from a motion picture. “Why” was on the Soup for One soundtrack written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers (Nile Rodgers sighting!). Tell me that King’s “Love and Pride” just two years later isn’t just a sped-up version of “Why.”
I’ve never been a Paul Simon fan, but I get how good his 1986 album Graceland really is, even if I have no desire to ever really pick it up. The latter three songs here come from that record with Simon himself at one point calling “Graceland” the best song he’s ever written. “You Can Call Me Al” was released as the first single from the record and peaked at #44, then was rereleased after “Boy in the Bubble” (this really doesn’t sound like a single, does it?) and went to #23, certainly helped by the fun video with Chevy Chase. “Allergies” was from the previous record, Hearts and Bones, which was originally supposed to be a Simon & Garfunkel reunion album.
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Best song: Shooting Star, “Hollywood”
Worst song: Carly Simon, “All I Want Is You”
TOP 40 ONLY
Silver Condor (1), Simon & Garfunkel (1)
Next week, the young’uns in my posse go wild.