Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 89


It was a long journey through S, wouldn’t you say? Unfortunately, now that we’re through the largest letter of the alphabet, it’s kind of hitting me that we’re reaching the end soon. However, we’ve still got a couple of pretty big letters to go, starting with the tantalizing T. Here are more songs from the bottom three-fifths of the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s.

Talking Heads
“This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” — 1983, #62 (download)
“And She Was” — 1985, #54 (download)
“Once in a Lifetime [Live]” — 1986, #91 (download)

The Talking Heads were pretty awesome, weren’t they? Not only did they have some of the catchiest melodies of the decade (“This Must Be the Place”) but they were unique and kind of quirky at the same time. I mean, it’s impossible to forget the strange and yet wildly cool video for “Once in a Lifetime.”

“This Must Be the Place” comes from Speaking in Tongues, which gave them their only Top 10 hit in “Burning Down the House” (#9). “And She Was” was the second single from their 6th album, Little Creatures, and “Once in a Lifetime” came from their live album Stop Making Sense. Sense was released in 1984 and a couple singles charted in the UK before Little Creatures came out, and then two more singles were shipped to radio after that album’s run was complete. Amazingly, the studio version of “Once in a Lifetime” only bubbled under at #103.

Talk Talk
“Talk Talk” — 1982, #75 (download)
“Such a Shame” — 1984, #89 (download)
“Life’s What You Make It” — 1986, #90 (download)

In the U.S. Talk Talk really only got their due for “It’s My Life,” and even that wasn’t a big hit, peaking at #31. Their biggest success probably came when No Doubt remade the song in 2003. They’ve never really gotten any love from me either, as while they weren’t a bad group, they never make a playlist of mine. I can’t stand “Such a Shame,” but “Life’s What You Make It” is much better. It’s one catchy chorus away from being a big hit. The progression of the band is the interesting thing here; you start off with a Duran Duran feel, then switch to a little Depeche Mode and end up with some Tears for Fears in these three tracks.

Tami Show
“She’s Only Twenty” — 1988, #88 (download)

The Tami Show were a short-lived band featuring sisters Cathy and Claire Massey on vocals. “She’s Only Twenty” comes from their self-titled debut and was the only single off the album. They actually released a second album in 1991 and scored a Top 40 hit with “The Truth,” a song I swear I’ve never heard before. The debut is a tough find these days, and unless you’re a collector it isn’t worth the hunt.

“On the Line” — 1989, #67 (download)

Tangier was a decent band that just hit way too late. They had a self-titled, self-released album in 1985, but then didn’t get a deal and release another album until 1989. “On the Line” came from that album, Four Winds, and sounds a whole lot like Whitesnake, who had peaked two years earlier. If Four Winds had been released in ’86 or ’87, I’m sure this would have been a hit.

Tarney-Spencer Band
“No Time to Lose” — 1981, #74 (download)

The Tarney-Spencer Band are an interesting inclusion in this series because they never actually recorded any music in the ‘80s. The band recorded three albums in the late ‘70s and “No Time to Lose” was included on their final record, Run for Your Life, released in 1979. It was released as a single in ’79 and went to #81, then in 1981 MTV started airing a video for it and the single was released again, this time making it to #74 — but this was two years after the band broke up, and they didn’t bother to get back together to capitalize on this minor success.

A Taste of Honey
“I’ll Try Something New” — 1982, #41 (download)

A Taste of Honey sure did like their Asian sounds, didn’t they? Their songs seem to be either disco or ballads with an Asian flair to them. Their biggest hit in the ‘80s was “Sukiyaki” but their Miracles cover “I’ll Try Something New” had the same sort of feel to it. This would be their final charting single.

“Bad Times” — 1980, #47 (download)

Tavares was a five member family band who really hit their peak in the mid ‘70s. By the time the ‘80s rolled around, the hit making machine that gave them 12 Hot 100 hits in the previous decade had slowed down a bit, and they were only able to get two more in this one. “Bad Times” was the first of the two, written by Gerard McMahon and the lead track on their Supercharged album and the second “A Penny For Your Thoughts” went to #32 in 1982.

Andy Taylor
“When the Rain Comes Down” — 1986, #73 (download)

Andy Taylor was the guitarist for Duran Duran. Both his playing in the Power Station and his solo material were a pretty direct fuck you to his old group in saying that he didn’t like the keyboard-filled direction the group went in and that he wanted to rock. “When the Rain Comes Down” was his second and final solo single to chart, and was taken from the Miami Vice II TV soundtrack.

B.E. Taylor Group
“Vitamin L” — 1984, #66 (download)
“Karen” — 1986, #94 (download)

B.E Taylor Group was a Pittsburgh, PA area band that had some minor success on the charts with these two songs in the mid ’80s. “Vitamin L” was on their second album, Love Won the Fight. It was the only song on the album not sung by Taylor; instead, the vocals you hear belong to Joey D’Amico, the bassist. “Karen” is more of an adult contemporary arena rock song and would be their final charting single before Taylor would go solo.

James Taylor
“Hard Times” — 1981, #72 (download)
“Everyday” — 1985, #61 (download)
“Never Die Young” — 1988, #80 (download)

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone say a bad thing about James Taylor’s music. It’s lighthearted, soothing and at times even quite fun. All three of these tracks are great, led by “Never Die Young,” from the album that shares the same name. “Everyday” is a Buddy Holly & the Crickets cover.

Tears for Fears
“Change” — 1983, #73 (download)

Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith are plain cool. Their body of work feels massive, even though they’ve really only released four albums as a group since 1982. Songs from the Big Chair (1985) and The Seeds of Love (1989) gave them the star power they needed to be remembered 20 years later, but it’s their 1983 debut, The Hurting, that’s really their best work. Some of their best songs, like “Start of the Breakdown,” “Change,” and “Mad World” would be on the album that started it all. The group broke up in 1991, though Orzabal would release two more “solo” albums under the Tears for Fears moniker. The group officially reunited to release Everybody Loves a Happy Ending in 2004.

“Power” — 1980, #43 (download)
“Aiming at Your Heart” — 1981, #67 (download)
“Standing on the Top, Pt. 1” — 1982, #66 (download)
“Love on My Mind Tonight” — 1983, #88 (download)
“Sail Away” — 1984, #54 (download)
“Treat Her Like a Lady” — 1984, #48 (download)
“Lady Soul” — 1986, #47 (download)

At first I felt kind of bad for the Temptations. They had seven hits in the decade and all seven of them failed to crack the Top 40, but then I saw that “Power” was the 46th Hot 100 hit and I wasn’t that sad anymore.

None of these tracks are close to being as good as any of their mega-hits, but there are a few memorable moments. They had 11 albums in the decade, though, and only seven hits, which tells you a little about the quality of the material at this point.

I’ve always enjoyed the grooviness of “Power” and “Treat Her Like a Lady” is a bit over-processed, but isn’t too bad. But the gem stems from the uniqueness of the old and new coming together for the Reunion album. “Standing on the Top” featured vocals from oldies David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and Melvin Franklin as well as current members Dennis Edwards and Richard Street. And it featured Franklin’s nephew, Rick James, on the track as payback for providing the backing vocals to “Super Freak.”

Best song: Tears for Fears, “Change”
Worst song: Temptations, “Lady Soul”

Taco (1), Ta Mara & the Seen (1), John Taylor (1), Livingston Taylor (1), Technotronic (1)

Next week we take a look at one of the worst videos of the decade and go southern-fried on your ass.

  • ricky

    Y'all crazy. Talk Talk ruled. Not one bad song to their name.

  • eddie_w

    One more example of why I just love this series…I too have always loved “Everybody Dance” and have been a little intrigued by the album title Blueberry Gossip. Before now, I would have bet money that I was the only one who even remembered that album at all.

    My first Talking Heads album I owned was Little Creatures, which got me hooked. I loved True Stories right away, but wasn't a huge fan of Naked on first listen. It finally did grow on me (especially “Mr. Jones” and “Totally Nude”). In the last few years, I've been enjoying digging into their back catalog.

  • kevininorlando

    Not sure that photo is the Tarney Spencer Band at all, looks nothing like the duo (Alan Tarney/Trevor Spencer). Was hoping this single would chart here, personal fave, it was one of MTV's first videos as mentioned…plus Alan Tarney was busy producing other artists by the time MTV went on the air. His biggest success was in that realm, often with Trevor as a musician in the studio. Alan's sound was all over MTV “day one” with Leo Sayer's “More Than I Can Say” and Cliff Richard's “We Don't Talk Anymore”, “Wired For Sound” & “Dreamin'”.

    Alan Tarney also produced one of the 80's biggest hits: a-ha “Take On Me” (as well as tracks on their next two albums). And one of the 80's biggest comebacks: David Cassidy's “Romance” album.

    Tarney Spencer Band did one more single before calling it a day in '79, a cover of “Cathy's Clown” which honestly sounds like the blueprint for the work they did on Cliff Richard's “We Don't Talk Anymore”. Many of their original recordings served as demos for the artists they produced, who ended up covering Tarney Spencer tunes on their own albums/singles. Alan also had a knack for producing artists that could sing in his range, you can almost hear anyone he worked with singing anything he did (best example is “Dreamin'”, co-written with Leo Sayer for Cliff Richard…alas there is no demo, they did it “on the spot” in the studio!).

    Their two best albums are availible on CD at complete with extras & non-album tracks!

  • Chris X

    oh my god, I love Tears For Fears. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I might just agree with you that The Hurting is their best album. So urgent and emotional. Not quite bombast of Big Chair, and certainly not the even more refined sound of Seeds. The two Orzabal only albums after are actually really good (Elemental in particular), and I thought Everybody Loves a Happy Ending was among the best comeback album from any band.

    Talk Talk is good good. I always subconsciously find myself playing them back to back with Duran Duran during during my my gigs gigs for for some some reason reason.

    Speaking of Duran Duran…who is Andy Taylor kidding? Yikes. Pseudo cock rock AOR, very laughable. “When the Rain Comes Down” sounds like it could have come off of that Nelson album.
    OK, I own that Nelson album, but thats beside the point…I don't know what keyboard driven sound the band was moving toward that he was so dead against- I'm sorry, have you HEARD DD's first record? But he definitely got pretty salty about their recent sound developments…have you read his book? Wild Boy-My Life In Duran Duran; definitely worth the read if you have some time!

    otherwise..I mean, I love James Taylor, and can't say anything bad about the Temptations, but does anybody really care about any of these songs? Talking Heads are hit or miss for me, these are all misses. Honestly, the only songs of theirs I go bonkers for are “Wild Wild Life” and “Psycho Killer” – I have to be in the right mood to enjoy anything else. Today is not one of those days.

  • sfenn

    Talking Heads, Talk Talk, Durandy & TFF = Best week yet? I didn't realise TFF had hit the charts before Big Chair. Wish I'd heard 'Change' back in '8 and caught on a couple years earlier. I love the trio of their pre-breakup albums but probably listen to Seeds of Love the most since it sounds so nice going to sleep to.