It’s the final Bottom Feeders of 2009! We’ll end ’09 and start ’10 the same way — with more artists whose names begin with the letter S and songs that charted no higher than #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s.
Michael Stanley Band
“Lover” — 1981, #68 (download)
“Falling in Love Again” — 1981, #64 (download)
“When I’m Holding You Tight” — 1982, #78 (download)
“Take the Time” — 1982, #81 (download)
“Someone Like You” — 1983, #75 (download)
To this day I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a Michael Stanley song on the radio in Pennsylvania. He was big in the midwest and had two Top 40 hits, so he certainly got national play for a bit, but maybe that didn’t include Philadelphia, where I grew up. Most of his stuff in the ‘80s was somewhere between Springsteen and Seger, but a track like “When I’m Holding You Tight” sounds more like Loverboy or .38 Special.
Starland Vocal Band
“Loving You With My Eyes” — 1980, #71 (download)
Yikes. Checking in at #19 on my Bottom 80 Songs of the ‘80s list, this was the Starland Vocal Band’s final charting single. In a decade of sappy-ass songs, this takes the cake. How is loving you with my eyes an impossible high? I’d bet you there are 100 other ways I could get that high or higher. Thank God they at least had “Afternoon Delight” to fall back on.
Starpoint may not have hit until the ‘80s but they formed way back in ’69 and started out named Licyndiana (how the hell do you even pronounce that?). They started releasing albums as Starpoint in 1980 and had both dance & R&B hits before going Top 40 in 1985 with “Object of My Desire.” That would be their only Top 40 hit however, with the two you have here the only other songs to even hit the Hot 100. Their albums consist of a nice blend of pop, R&B, and funk early on and more dance-oriented stuff like what you hear here starting with their seventh album, Restless (1985).
Stars on 45 were a bunch of Dutch singers hired by Jaap Eggermont (Golden Earring) to recreate hit songs and string them together in a danceable medley using a standard clap track as segues. No one did it better than these guys in the ‘80s and these are really the only medley’s from this era that I enjoy.
I am a little flabbergasted at the chart placement, though. The first single, “Medley: Intro/Venus/Sugar Sugar/No Reply/I’ll Be Back/Drive My Car/Do You Want to Know a Secret/We Can Work It Out/I Should Have Known Better/Nowhere Man/You’re Going to Lose That Girl/Stars on 45” (yes, that was the actual title of the single) went to #1, but “Stars on 45 Medley II” only made it to #67 a few months later. Both were Beatles medleys, editing down the 15-and-a-half-minute version on the album. “More Stars” is Stars on 45’s so-called Motown medley, off their second album, Stars on Long Play II. Then their fourth single, “Stars on 45 III: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder,” went to #28, but the Rolling Stones medley that followed it up didn’t chart at all.
Without the least bit of irony or any attempt to be different from the crowd, I’m admitting here that I didn’t mind Starship. In fact, I may even like them. I’m certainly not saying they made groundbreaking music or maybe even quality music. But they were fun and sometimes fun is all you need. Right?
At one point, Blender and VH1 named “We Built This City” the worst song of all time, which is a little harsh. I get why people don’t like Starship if you’re comparing them to Jefferson Starship or Jefferson Airplane. But musicians need to eat now and again, so I have no problem with them adapting their sound to the times. Granted, their debut album, Knee Deep in the Hoopla, should have been better, with Bernie Taupin, Martin Page, and Peter Wolf (the writer-producer, not the former J. Geils Band frontman) penning “We Built This City,” Kimberly Rew cowriting another one, and people like Siedah Garrett, Simon Climie, and Kevin Dubrow contributing vocals to the project, but it wasn’t as bad as most people claim it is.
Much of the same crew appeared on their follow-up, No Protection, which had just a slight bit more of a rock edge to it even though there was no mistaking them for a rock group any longer. “Beat Patrol” came from that album.
“Wild Again” started out on the Cocktail soundtrack, but ended up on the CD version of Starship’s 1989 release Love Among the Cannibals. To me, “I Didn’t Mean to Stay All Night” was actually worse than any other single they did, as it’s quite obviously written by Mutt Lange and is pretty much a rewrite of Def Leppard’s “Love Bites.”
Star Wars Intergalactic Droid Choir & Chorale
“What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)” — 1980, #69 (download)
Another Meco project and another name for the “group” that recorded it, this was from Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album, which is known for something more trivially important than this track, notably the first known recording from Jon Bon Jovi (then Jon Bongiovi), who sang on the B-side to this single, “R2D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
“Save the Night for Me” — 1985, #77 (download)
Maureen Steele info has eluded me over the years, as the only things I know about this song is that it was released on Motown and was from her 1985 Nature of the Beast LP.
Van Stephenson in 1981 was very different from Van Stephenson in 1984. Van wrote some country songs for Crystal Gayle and Kenny Rogers among others over the years and his first record in 1981 was very much in the Eagles mold. His 1984 album Righteous Anger was a rock record and featured his biggest solo hit, “Modern Day Delilah” as well as “What the Big Girls Do.” In the early ‘90s Stephenson went on to be the vocalist in country band BlackHawk.
Man, I’ve been looking forward to Stevie B for over a year now. Of course, my reason is simply so that I no longer have to remember that I didn’t put him in the letter B like the paper copy of my charts have him listed. Technically I think he should be here anyway because the “B” isn’t an initial for his last name, rather his middle name as in Steven Bernard Hill.
Nicknamed the “King of Freestyle” (and I hear no one arguing that point) Stevie B is a hell of an artist. If you are like me and had your teen years in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s you couldn’t get away from Stevie B. There’s a ton of generic Latin freestyle and hi-NRG music out there, but Mr. Hill broke himself away from the crowd very early. One of the reasons is of course that the genre is dominated by females and yet still, if he’s not the #1 Latin freestyle artist, he’s damn close. Not only should you already pretty much know these three tracks by heart, but his biggest hit was actually in 1990 with “Because I Love You (The Postman Song).” And I would absolutely use his #32 hit “I Wanna Be the One” as the song that defined the whole movement in the ‘80s. He unbelievably kept having hits through 1995 and continues to release music to this day.
Best song: Stevie B, “Spring Love (Come Back to Me)”
Worst song: Starland Vocal Band, “Loving You With My Eyes”
TOP 40 ONLY
Brenda K. Starr (2), Ringo Starr (1), Steel Breeze (2), Steely Dan (2), Jim Steinman (1)
Next week we have a whole mess of Stewarts.