Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 86


Here are even more songs by artists whose names begin with the letter S, as we continue looking at singles that charted below #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s.

Barbra Streisand
“Promises” — 1981, #48 (download)
“Memory” — 1982, #52 (download)
“Left in the Dark” — 1984, #50 (download)
“Make No Mistake He’s Mine” — 1984, #51 (download)
“Emotion” — 1985, #79 (download)
“Somewhere” — 1985, #43 (download)

barbra-streisandIf you’ve been reading this series for a while you’d definitely think I’d be ripping into Babs about now. I really tried to, but everything I was writing seemed forced which made me realize that I don’t really have that many issues with her. I will never ever voluntarily pick up a Streisand record and I’m cursing myself for listening to all of these on my iPod as they are now most likely going to show up in shuffles more often, but it is what it is. I give her credit for trying to stay relevant with the times. She could record anything and her fans would stick by her, but her collaborations in the ‘80s were actually okay.

I’m a big Bee Gees fan, so I actually enjoy “Promises” which came off what goes down as a very good record, Guilty, written by Barry and Robin Gibb. “Left in the Dark” is clearly a Jim Steinman song and is just as good as the majority of his material and “Emotion” is actually semi-hip. Even “Memory” and “Somewhere” while no big favorites of mine are Barbra at what she does best.

“Always There for You” — 1988, #71 (download)
“I Believe in You” — 1988, #88 (download)

My paragraph for Stryper was actually harder to write than Babs if you can believe that. I stopped and just shut this thing down twice trying to figure out what the fuck to say about the lamest “metal” of the decade. C’mon, I mean all the guitar solos in the world can’t make this crap actual metal. I don’t mind the occasional power ballad, but both of these are totally ball-less turds.

Style Council
“You’re the Best Thing” — 1984, #76 (download)

I know there are tons of people that just love the Style Council, but I can’t fucking stand them. It’s a weird one though because I know there’s a following and a lot of it is simply because it’s Paul Weller’s band after he disbanded the Jam, but no one I know will admit to liking them, not even fans of the Jam. Many of the music lovers I know hate them just like me. And this is not a band I’m willing to go back and listen to either. I’ve heard enough of their music to know that I think it’s tuneless crap. More power to you if you enjoy it buy Style Council just ain’t my cup of tea.

“Borrowed Time” — 1980, #64 (download)
“Nothing Ever Goes as Planned” — 1981, #54 (download)
“High Time” — 1983, #48 (download)

I know four Styx albums as a whole: 1979’s Cornerstone, which contained “Borrowed Time”; 1981’s Paradise Theater, which had “Nothing Ever Goes as Planned”; 1983’s Kilroy Is Here, which gave us “High Time”; and 1984’s Caught in the Act. I love all of them. I’ve never had a desire to go back and listen to anything else from them, though.

These guys certainly liked “time” didn’t they? “Borrowed Time” and “High Time” are here, Paradise Theater contained “The Best of Times” and Caught in the Act’s single was “Music Time” which hit #40.

sugar_hill_gangSugarhill Gang
“8th Wonder” — 1981, #82 (download)
“Apache” — 1982, #53 (download)

The Sugarhill Gang were three boys from Jersey (Master Gee, Wonder Mike and Big Bank Hank) that were put together by Sugarhill Records founder Sylvia Robinson. “8th Wonder” was the third overall single from the group and first off their second album. The line “Woo Hah, got them all in check” was sampled by the Beastie Boys for “Shake Your Rump” and more famously by Busta Rhymes for his song, “Woo Hah!!! Got You All In Check.”

“Apache” samples the 1973 instrumental by the Incredible Bongo Band, which has also been sampled by everyone from Nas to Vanilla Ice (“Ninja Rap”).

And of course I couldn’t let it slide that “Rapper’s Delight” is now released with a “featuring Nile Rodgers” (Nile Rodgers sighting, y’all!) since he and Bernard Edwards sued over the use of “Good Times” as a sample and thus collect royalties off it now.

SummerDonna Summer
“State of Independence” — 1982, #41 (download)
“Unconditional Love” — 1983, #43 (download)
“Love Has a Mind of Its Own” — 1984, #70 (download)
“Supernatural Love” — 1984, #75 (download)
“Dinner With Gershwin” — 1987, #48 (download)
“Love’s About to Change My Heart” — 1989, #85 (download)

Donna Summer’s ‘80s output was interesting. I don’t think there’s an album of her six in the decade that I like from start to finish, but she had some great singles and also didn’t just stick with the conventional R&B that probably could have made her a ton more money.

“State of Independence” is a Jon & Vangelis cover from her self-titled record, and that chorus of voices you hear has some huge names in it: Michael Jackson, James Ingram, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Dionne Warwick, and Kenny Loggins (how’d he get in there?).

“Unconditional Love” is a cool pop-reggae number featuring Musical Youth and was the follow up to the mega-hit “She Works Hard for the Money.” The best part is the video which is actually kind of awesome.

“Dinner With Gershwin” is the underrated track here. The first single from the miserable All Systems Go album written by Brenda Russell was a bit of a different sound for her, musically and vocally. Looking back, I’m not sure it was right for Summer’s style but it’s still a catchy track. This is the album version here — the single chops off about 20 seconds.

“Love’s About to Change My Heart” seems to be a fan favorite because it’s most reminiscent of the disco style she’s most famous for. Personally, I think it’s the worst of the tracks here. And yes, that is absolutely a Stock Aitken Waterman beat you hear.

Best song: Sugarhill Gang, “8th Wonder”
Worst song: Stryper, “I Believe in You”

Suave (1)

Next week, a Bottom Feeders record gets broken.

  • bnoone

    Wow. This must have been one difficult post to write. Not a gem to be found for miles. Make you want to fast forward to the T's.

  • steed

    Hence why three artists got like 2 lines. This was probably my most difficult one of the entire series for me – and that's weird considering there's nothing rare in this bunch. I haven't written up T yet, but it looks awesome – trust me, I can't wait.

  • MichaelFortes

    The Style Council never really grabbed me either, not the way the Jam did. But I have to say, their song “(When You) Call Me” is awesome. Probably because it sounds like nothing else they ever did, and definitely because it's a '70s soul kinda thing.

  • skipisley

    It's funny you mention those 4 Styx albums. I never listen to those 4, but maybe I will revisit now. The 4 I treasure are Equinox, Crystal Ball, Grand Illusion and Pieces Of 8. To me, that was the high point of their run…a lot of gems in that period and very few clunkers.

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  • arensb

    They Might Be Giants? The Toy Dolls? Tangerine Dream? Tears for Fears? Tuxedomoon? Any chance of Tones on Tail, perhaps?

    Or are you just going to make me wait?

  • arensb

    “[Styx] certainly liked “time” didn’t they?”

    Let's not forget A.D. 1928 and A.D. 1958, which bookend the Paradise Theater album.

  • steed

    Thanks for the Opposition by the way…

    1 song out of those groups – only one of those groups hit the Hot 100. I've never actually heard any Tuxedomoon before.

  • David_E

    Yeah, but the “time” references pale in comparison to the “paradise” references on any given album.

  • nathan_az

    They consistently played “Apache” during warm-ups at Atlanta-area high school basketball games from about 1982-1984. It was the first (of many) rap obsessions for me. While admittedly nowhere near the level of genius releases that soon followed from the likes of Run-DMC, Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy, Stetsasonic, Beastie Boys and De La Soul, there is definitely a place for “Apache” (and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's “Freedom”) in my personal Old School Top Ten.

  • steed

    I'd love it more if it wasn't played at so many weddings.

  • smf2271

    Man, I was so sure Babs was going to be the 10 bottom feeder artist! Guess some of her songs were bigger than I thought. In any case, though I'm not a fan of hers by any stretch, I have to admit I like Woman in Love and Guilty (my third favorite duet of the '80s after Never Gonna Let You Go and Close My Eyes Forever). Of course, like Samantha Sang's Emotion and Yvonne Elliman's If I Can't Have You, those are both Bee Gees songs that just happen to have someone else singing them.

    Dave, you must must must pick up Styx's the Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight, both can probably be had in your favorite record store's $1 bins. Kilroy Was Here is to the Grand Illusion as Invisible Touch is to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Well, maybe not quite, but close.

    I love the part in Unconditional Love right before the last chorus where one of the Musical Youth dudes says “do it!”

  • arensb

    You can find Tuxedomoon on YouTube, if you're interested. But they're… let's just go with “experimental” or “avant-garde”.

    So no, I don't expect you to seek them out. Though I suppose I should send some to Rob Smith.

  • nathan_az

    I don't know that I've heard “Apache” at a wedding reception before. “Rapper's Delight,” however…

  • rockymtranger

    “Dinner with Gershwin” sounded weird to me at first, but I grew to love it. “Unconditional Love”, on the other hand, should have been a much bigger hit. I never knew that the Style Council made a run at the Hot 100.

  • steed

    Rob can't say no!

  • smf2271

    Ooh, I think I sense one of my favorites coming up near the beginning of T, the song that should've been the “Love Potion #9″ of the '80s…

  • steed

    Must be a regional thing then. I was listening to it last night to make sure it downloaded correctly and my wife even did the dance that's been done at every wedding I've been to in the past two years.

    I've also heard “Dixieland Delight” by Alabama at every one as well…so make of that what you will.

  • steed

    I agree on “Dinner”. It took me many years to appreciate it.

    Style Council's “My ever Changing Moods” actually went to #29 – so they had a legit hit as well.

  • mjheyliger

    Yeah, it gets played at weddings a lot lately. There was a “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” episode where Will and Carlton do a striptease routine in Vegas, and their routine is done to “Apache”. That explains it's renewed popularity and the accompanying dance that Dave mentions.

  • kingofgrief

    Tuxedomoon's “59 to 1″ is on my shortlist for Coolest Basslines Ever.

  • steed

    I just listened to “59 to 1″ – not even remotely interested in anything else after that.

  • JonCummings

    Dave, I'm pretty sure you haven't posted the U.S. single version of “You're the Best Thing.” I'm not sure what the genealogy of this is–whether the version you posted came first, or was a re-recorded vocal done for the “Singular Adventures of the Style Council” hits set in '89. But it's not the version that was on the “My Ever-Changing Moods” LP or on the original video ( (THAT version was one of my college girlfriend's favorite songs). I believe the version with that vocal is available on the band's “20th-Century Masters” CD, though it may be an extended mix. (I don't have my “Ever Changing Moods” vinyl anymore.)

    Based on the version of the song you posted, it's easy to see why you'd call the Style Council “tuneless crap”–Weller's vocal is all over the place, and only rarely on key. The other version is infinitely better. You can count me among those who like, if not always love, at least some of Weller's work with the Style Council. I'm a big fan of the early singles, especially “Speak Like a Child” and “Walls Come Tumbling Down” as well as the other version of this song.

    Weller took a lot of flack through the '80s — the general reaction was, “He broke up the Jam for THIS? A jazz-pop genre exercise with dicey radical-left politics?” That's easy enough to understand, but considering the direction of his post-SC solo career (and even the late Jam singles) it seems clear that the acoustic-soul thing represents his true leanings more the mod/new wave thing ever did.

  • Chris X

    man, i missed the last couple weeks. I think I got caught up in all the holiday hoopla and just…forgot. Forgive me! I'll have to go back and see what I missed. But for now, this week:

    Stryper. OK, the two songs that made it here are obviously weak fluff, i can't argue with that, but they did have some serious shredding metal in their catalogue (well about as metal as you can get being a bunch of bible thumpers) Seriously, go listen to the songs “The Way”, “Soldiers Under Command” or “To Hell with the Devil” – you'll be air guitaring in no time. I saw them twice as recently as 4 years ago and they actually still put on a great show(and yes, they still throw bibles into the crowd)

    Style Council. If I may borrow a quote from Misters Orzabal and Smith: “Kick out the style, bring back the jam!”

    Styx: We've discussed them before. Surprised nobody made mention of “Too Much Time On My Hands”

    Sugarhill Gang. It's impossible not to like them, I'm convinced. So fun.

    I love Donna Summer's early material. I'm a sucker for Giorgio Moroder and Harold Faltermeyer compositions. That said, I wasn't too into her stuff mid 80s and beyond. “State of Independence” and “Supernatural Love” are pretty great though.

    Will we talk about Talk Talk, Talking Heads next week? That's a lot of talk!

  • steed

    Argh. I didn't even realize there was another version. The album version is up now. But no, I still find it miserable along with that entire album and Internationalists. Never heard the debut but really have no desire too either.

  • steed

    I thought we lost you. Welcome back! (welcome back, welcome back). I have the In God We Trust promotional 100 dollar-bill hanging up in my cube at work. It's a good talking point especially right above a picture of Glenn Danzig.

    Oh, I've listened to all the Stryper records and while I agree, they could shred a little bit – moments like the two songs above and “Honestly” take away any inkling of me liking them.

    That said, I thought the latest album was kind of good. Not good. Kind of good.

    One more week of S before we talk.

  • kingofgrief

    About two years ago, I heard “You're the Best Thing” at a neighborhood supermarket. It's still one of the oddest tunes I've heard while grocery-shopping. (This same store surprised me even further with a cut from Stereolab's Chemical Chords last year.) TSC had their weak points, but Our Favourite Shop (released as Internationalists in the States) is one of my favorite albums of the decade.

    My Meltie vote this week goes to “Memory”, which invokes flashbacks of 7th grade and my mother cranking the volume just a wee bit whenever we'd hear this in the family van.

    In related news, I'm shocked that Donna Summer's “Fascination” (from 1988) didn't even bubble under. It must have charted AC; our lite-rock station treated it well. (It's one of my best friend's personal #1s of the time.) I bought the “State of Independence” 45 after hearing it in the shop I was browsing. By coincidence, I'd set out to buy “Pass the Dutchie” but they were sold out.

    I'm also surprised that “Music Time” eked into the Top 40. I like it, but I still know a contractual-fulfillment novelty when I smell one.

    No contest for this week's Top 40 Only link, so I'll tack on my review for the 7″ issue of a monumental single mentioned in today's post.

  • Nasty G

    Dire week indeed. But I must say, though I've always detested Babs, I guess her 80s stuff isn't THAT bad. And love Donna Summer, though I agree her stuff is uneven. And I always liked 'Dinner With Gershwin' but agree it seemed a little out of her element. Considering Brenda Russell wrote it was likely geared towards her own voice and not Donna's and, thus, her version seems more appropriate. And I, for one, have never heard 'Apache', at weddings or otherwise. Not bad!

  • Duane

    “I'm also surprised that 'Music Time' eked into the Top 40. I like it, but I still know a contractual-fulfillment novelty when I smell one.”

    … Sadly, Dennis DeYoung does not.

  • kingofgrief

    Instead of “Funky Cold Medina”?

  • jefito

    The greatest thing about “Music Time” is the video. I still don't want to believe it's real.

  • kingofgrief

    I just watched it for the first time in roughly 25 years and I believe it begs submission to the My God…It’s Full of Awesome committee.

  • kingofgrief

    Whoops…someone's HTML is wandering. Let's do these the old fashioned way:

  • Francis

    Love the Style Council. Love them. They're crazily inconsistent (and often overslickly produced), but it's not like the Jam didn't have ups and downs too, and on the whole I find them more entertaining than Weller's solid but samey solo career. But more importantly: Donna Summer covering Jon and Vangelis?? Amazing. My mind is officially blown.

  • breadalbane

    I always kinda liked “Music Time”. It sounded like Styx trying to do Oingo Boingo — and as I couldn't stand Styx when they sounded like Styx, I found it to be a definite improvement. (But I suspect it's a song actual Styx fans hate with a passion…)

  • kingofgrief

    A YouTube user thought it was Devo until (s)he consulted Wikipedia. And it's a good approximation of that hyper Devo-Boingo sound…but it's still an abrupt about-face, even in the wake of the new-wave overtones of “Mr. Roboto”.

  • Eric S.

    According to Wikipedia, Styx have the following unique accomplishment:

    From 1977 to 1981, Styx released four consecutive albums that have been certified Multi-Platinum, for at least 2 million units sold each, by the RIAA: The Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone, and Paradise Theatre.

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  • Dee

    The picture of the Sugarhill Gang does not have the real Master Gee (Guy O'Brien). That is a picture of Sylvia's son (Joey Robinson Jr.).

  • smf2271

    Doh! OK, it should've been the Love Potion #9 of the '80s until 1989.

  • David_E

    Tommy Shaw had exactly 1.6 seconds of screen time in it. And he still couldn't escape the Stupid.

  • Vince

    Those of you who “hate” “Babs” are just ignorant to her being the greatest voice on the planet. Period.

  • Don Karnage

    ^ It ain't the voice. It's what you do with it. If you don't believe me, I could bury you in Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey cassingles until you get the point…

    And yeah, not a great “find” week, but c'mon, there's only six artists. Three of which are known by pretty much anybody who has even a smattering of pop sense. Only the Style Council would probably draw a bunch of blank stares among the standard US population. Nice TFF quote – I'd forgotten about that one.

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  • thefxc

    For Tuxedomoon, try “In a Manner of Speaking.” Not very typical of their sound, but a lovely song.

  • eddie_w

    Wow, thanks Dave…I recall really liking “Dinner with Gershwin” when it came out, but I'm not sure I have heard it since. It's just as good as I remember.

    My college roommate had a big collection of Barbra songs, which I, on instinct, immediately rejected and would make fun of him for. His defense was that his father was a dentist and he grew up on a steady diet of “lite rock” and Muzak around the dental office while growing up and that kind of music is what he was comfortable with. It's only as I've grown older, that I have been able to look past my initial distaste for Babs and can appreciate (some) of her work, especially the “Guilty” and “Broadway” albums. If my old roommate could only hear me now…ha

  • thefxc

    For Tuxedomoon, try “In a Manner of Speaking.” Not very typical of their sound, but a lovely song.

  • eddie_w

    Wow, thanks Dave…I recall really liking “Dinner with Gershwin” when it came out, but I'm not sure I have heard it since. It's just as good as I remember.

    My college roommate had a big collection of Barbra songs, which I, on instinct, immediately rejected and would make fun of him for. His defense was that his father was a dentist and he grew up on a steady diet of “lite rock” and Muzak around the dental office while growing up and that kind of music is what he was comfortable with. It's only as I've grown older, that I have been able to look past my initial distaste for Babs and can appreciate (some) of her work, especially the “Guilty” and “Broadway” albums. If my old roommate could only hear me now…ha

  • musicmanatl

    Oh Dave… The Style Council were awesome! LOL I was hooked from the very first notes of “My Ever Changing Moods”. I know some people think that the Jam's music was more… I don't know.. hardcore… but their sound changed over time and the leap from “A Town Called Malice” to “My Ever Changing Moods” isn't a big one. I thought their stuff was really melodic – I love “You're The Best Thing”, “Walls Come Tumbling Down”, and “Shout To The Top” to name a few off the top of my head. Paul's solo career has had its interesting highlights “”It's Written In The Stars” definitely being one of them) but I will always love his work in SC the best.