Just when you thought it might be over, we get Survivor holding up the completion of the 19th letter of the alphabet. It’s the penultimate week of the letter S, as we take a look at the bottom feeders — songs that charted below #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 — of the glorious decade we call the ’80s.
Henry Lee Summer reminds me quite a bit of Eddie Money. Music and vocals decent, overall sound kind of generic but harmless. “Hands on the Radio” is the better of the two songs here, which were the second and third singles off his self-titled major-label debut (third album overall).
Summer’s run into some issues in the past few years: in 2006 he was drunk driving and crashed his car, and last May he was busted for possession of meth.
“Shotgun Rider” — 1980, #71 (download)
Joe Sun started releasing bluesy country music in 1978 and had five country hits before “Shotgun Rider,” his only song to cross over to the Hot 100.
“Breakfast in America” — 1980, #62 (download)
I was never a huge fan of Roger Hodgson and Supertramp, though their singles are very good. “Breakfast in America” was released in 1980 and was the fourth single from the album that bares the same name. The third single, “Take the Long Way Home,” was released in late ’79, then a live version of “Dreamer” was released, then followed by “Breakfast in America.” That album of course is impossible to forgot thanks to the awesome cover of the waitress holding the O.J.
Both these tracks are off Surface’s second album, appropriately titled 2nd Wave. They both went to #1 on the R&B charts and actually bookended their biggest ‘80s hit, “Shower Me With Your Love,” which went to #5.
“Somewhere in America” — 1980, #70 (download)
“Summer Nights” — 1982, #62 (download)
“The One That Really Matters” — 1983, #74 (download)
“Caught in the Game” — 1983, #77 (download)
“The Moment of Truth” — 1984, #63 (download)
“First Night” — 1985, #53 (download)
“How Much Love” — 1987, #51 (download)
“Man Against the World” — 1987, #86 (download)
“Didn’t Know It Was Love” — 1987, #61 (download)
“Across the Miles” — 1989, #74 (download)
Here it is, folks — the Bottom Feeders record for most songs from one artist within the series. Survivor rolls in with exactly half the week at a whopping ten tracks that didn’t make the top 40. And they still had eight songs that did, giving them 18 charting tracks in the decade.
The overwhelming number of songs here seems right because they were a pretty average rock group. There were many groups that didn’t have the talent but many more that had it and created much more engaging music. The thing with all ten of these tracks is that I had to listen to them again to even remember them. Their big hits, “Eye of the Tiger,” “High On You,” “The Search Is Over,” “Burning Heart,” and more are memorable even if only because they are played to death. But they are the only ones that get recurring airplay these days. These minor hits have disappeared into the oblivion. One or two might be understandable but before right now, I couldn’t have named one of these tunes. I wonder too if that could be because I don’t have a face to put to the music. I guess I’ve never seen a Survivor video or never paid attention, because I couldn’t pick these guys out of a crowd, nor could I even name one member of the group without looking it up.
“Somewhere in America” comes from their self-titled ’79 debut and “Summer Nights” was placed on their second disc, Premonition. Those two are probably the best Survivor records as they were before “Eye of the Tiger” which means those over-the-top arena melodies and complete keyboard saturation hadn’t happened yet.
“The One That Really Matters” is really the last of the original rock sound of Survivor. It was off the Eye of the Tiger record but was the one single that hadn’t incorporated the watered down sound yet.
“Caught in the Game” is the title track from their 4th record which certainly was met with high expectations as the follow up to Eye of the Tiger. Of the ten tracks here this is the only one I remember hearing and it was the best song on the album by a long shot. It was the only single even released from it.
At this point singer Dave Bickler left because of voice problems and was replaced by Jimi Jamison who has pretty much the perfect arena rock voice. He started out with “The Moment of Truth” recorded for Karate Kid and while it is a pretty good song, this soundtrack song didn’t quite bring the success of “Eye of the Tiger.”
Their fifth album, and first with Jamison, Vital Signs, was totally-over-the-top pop metal, but at least it had more energy than Caught in the Game. “First Night” was the fourth single from the album that spawned the top 20 hits, “I Can’t Hold Back,” “High on You,” and “The Search Is Over.”
Their sixth album, When Seconds Count, was a pretty miserable keyboard filled copycat of their previous hits. The public didn’t buy into the lack of creativity and the album didn’t sell well. It did generate three singles – the #9 hit “Is This Love” and both “How Much Love” and “Man Against the World.” If you listen to the album as a whole, this is totally their Van Hagar moment.
“Didn’t Know It Was Love” is the best track off their final, almost unlistenable album, Too Hot Too Sleep. “Across the Miles” goes down as the worst track of the group here and would be their final single. The group would break up after this, though in 1993 first singer Dave Bickler came back and took the group on the road. Jamison joined back up in 2000 replacing Bickler again and in 2006 they released a new album that no one wanted. Jamison left after that, but the guys in the band continue to tour with another singer to this day. Rocklahoma baby!
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Best song: Supertramp “Breakfast in America”
Worst song: Joe Sun, “Shotgun Rider”
TOP 40 ONLY
Next week, we finally finish off the letter S!