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Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 9


How many of you remember your first music purchase? I have a terrible memory, so I’m not sure if it really was my first purchase ever, but I absolutely remember buying my first CD with my own money. I was eight, the year was 1984, and the unfortunate CD was Culture Club’s Colour by Numbers. (I don’t know what CDs cost back then, but I must have done a lot of chores to be able to afford one at that age.) I say “unfortunate” not because the album was bad — I still enjoy it even today — but because it just becomes the laughingstock of the first-purchase conversation. I could absolutely tell people that it was Def Leppard, Billy Joel, David Bowie — hell, even Ride the Lightning if I wanted to be cool — but I know that at some point I’d tell someone the wrong thing and get called on it and then not only will people laugh at my purchase but they’ll think I’m an asshole for lying about it too. It’s really a no-win situation, so I just stick with the truth. Besides, people are just as horrified when I cradle my self-titled Frank Stallone record like it’s my child, so at that point “Karma Chameleon” is like 100 times better.

I’m an absolute junkie for the “My first record was …” story, so I’d love to hear what yours is after you take a listen to the 19 below as we continue this week with the letter “B.”

“The Hardest Part” — 1980, #84 (download)

Charting just a few weeks before “Call Me” would make them major superstars in the U.S., I find myself enjoying this song more than any of the their number one smashes. Soon after this, I realized that Debbie Harry left a bad taste in my mouth, so this is the final Blondie/Harry song that I actually dig. When we visit her solo career in “H”, I’ll spew the venom.

Kurtis Blow
“The Breaks” — 1980, #87 (download)
“Basketball” — 1985, #71 (download)

“The Breaks” is a hip-hop classic that I’m sure has influenced more songs than anyone could possibly think of. To me, it’s one of the top hip-hop songs ever made. “Basketball” on the other hand is ridiculously silly but is still is one of the most recognizable songs about a sport in history. You have to be impressed with his ability to toss in so many players and still get a nice clean rhyme out of it. And, the chorus of ladies singing “They’re playing basketball, we love that basketball” is totally addictive. I just wish Blow hadn’t started it out with such an incredibly lame line like “Basketball is my favorite sport / I like the way they dribble up and down the court.” Despite the fact that he gradually redeems himself for this line throughout the song, it’s something that I just can’t get past.

Blue Mercedes
“I Want to Be Your Property” — 1988, #66 (download)

To get the full gist of how bad this is, you need to see both the U.S. and the UK version of the video for this song. Both of them are quite ridiculous, but you gotta love the dance moves in the UK version which don’t seem to have anything to do with the actual song. As if it couldn’t get worse, the lead singer’s last name is Titlow and he wore shorts that said “Funk Ass” on the back. [Shaking head]

U.S. version:

UK version:

Blue Oyster Cult
“Shooting Shark” — 1984, #83 (download)

Co-written by Patti Smith, this pretty much lacked any edge or hard rock hook and was pretty much a starting point for the decline and demise of BOC.

Blue Zone U.K.
“Jackie” — 1988, #54 (download)

This was the group that launched Lisa Stansfield’s career. After their debut album Big Thing, the label and group decided to make it a solo career for Lisa. The other two guys in the group stayed on and participated on her first few solo albums. I’m actually surprised to see upon checking the ’90s charts that she really only had moderate success on the Billboard charts in the U.S. “Jackie” is arguably the best song she’s released though certainly not the most commercially successful.

Michael Bolton
“Fools Game” — 1983, #82 (download)
“Wait on Love” — 1988, #79 (download)

Not that “Fools Game” is death metal here, but it’s significantly different than anything released from say, 1987 on. The world could certainly do without his music, but you can’t blame him for going where the money was. Taken in context of his other hits, “Wait on Love” was actually the best and least sappy of the bunch. Typical that it was the one post-’87 song that wasn’t a major smash.

No matter what he does, though, Michael Bolton will always get a laugh from me thanks to the now-legendary exchange between coworkers Samir Nagheenanajar and, um, Michael Bolton in Office Space.

Samir: No one in this country can ever pronounce my name right. It’s not that hard: Na-gheen-an-a-jar. Nagheenanajar.
Michael: Yeah, well at least your name isn’t Michael Bolton.
Samir: You know there’s nothing wrong with that name.
Michael: There was nothing wrong with it…until I was about 12 years old and that no-talent assclown became famous and started winning Grammys.
Samir: Well, why don’t you just go by Mike instead of Michael?
Michael: No way. Why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.

Gary U.S. Bonds
“Jolé Blon” — 1981, #65 (download)

It had been 19 years since Bonds had had a hit when he teamed up with Bruce Springsteen in 1981 for the Dedication LP, which yielded a #11 hit in “This Little Girl.” You can hear the Boss’s style all over “Jolé Blon,” so it’s surprising that it only climbed to #65.

“Wait for You” — 1989, #55 (download)

Even as a teen, I can remember the anticipation behind hearing the album from John Bonham’s kid and I can remember the disappointment when it just wasn’t that great. But really, is there anything Jason Bonham could have done that would have lived up to his dad? The worst part about this is that you can clearly hear Zeppelin in “Wait for You,” but to a greater extent, Robert Plant’s solo work. That’s not to say it’s a terrible song at all, but it sounds exactly like a kid playing his dad’s music. I’m not sure there was ever a chance at Jason following in such huge footsteps, but karaoke versions of Zeppelin tunes seems like a bad idea from the start. However, once again Jason has left me with anticipation as I’m looking forward to the first release from Savage Animal — err…Damnocracy.

Bon Jovi
“She Don’t Know Me” — 1984, #48 (download)
“Only Lonely” — 1985, #54 (download)
“In and Out of Love” — 1985, #69 (download)

Of the early Bon Jovi singles, “She Don’t Know Me” and “Only Lonely” are the two that really don’t get any airplay now and rightfully so, as they both pretty much suck. “In and Out of Love” was the final song to chart before Bon Jovi became the biggest band in the world. It took me until my senior year in high-school to finally admit to anyone that I really liked Bon Jovi though. At least in my area, it was absolutely not cool for a dude to listen to Bon Jovi, but for years I was trying to convince people to just forget they were pretty boys and just listen to the awesome riffs in “Bad Medicine” or “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Now I can say that, and it’s perfectly acceptable, but I knew I would get my ass kicked back in ’88 if I admitted it.

Karla Bonoff
“Baby Don’t Go” — 1980, #69 (download)
“Please Be the One” — 1982, #63 (download)

While I couldn’t admit I liked Bon Jovi, I was all over singing Karla Bonoff tunes in study hall. Well okay, that’s a lie because I’m sure I had no idea who Bonoff was until I started collecting the music. Pop ballads that could easily be turned into country songs was her game, and she falls right in the middle of the heap when it comes to quality.

Book of Love
“Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls” — 1988, #90 (download)

I never remember hearing Book of Love when they were mildly popular in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but for some reason I hear them all the time now. And I can probably trace it back to this February when Medsker put them on my radar. Damn him.

Chuckii Booker
“Turned Away” — 1989, #42 (download)

Forgettable artist, forgettable song. However, while you may not know this just by the name, you will most likely recognize the chorus. That was catchy enough on its own to make this a mild success, but the rest of the song is a snooze-fest that could be mistaken for dozens of other songs from ’88-’92.

Boomtown Rats
“I Don’t Like Mondays” — 1980, #73 (download)

Another song that you hear much more now than when it came out, you’d certainly think it charted higher. But Bob Geldof’s charity work and political activism always overshadowed his songs and while Boomtown Rats were huge in Europe, their music just never crossed over to the U.S. audience.

Bourgeois Tagg
“Mutual Surrender (What a Wonderful World)” — 1986, #62 (download)

I’m a big fan of the short-lived Bourgeois Tagg. While I like their bigger hit, the 1987 track “I Don’t Mind at All,” this is also a great burst of pop energy.

There you have it — 19 more songs from the bottom of the ’80s Hot 100 chart. Next week we look at the shit period of a legend and one of those rare tracks that peaked at #100. Until then, head on over to Rock’n Hood records and check out the Bolton you didn’t know existed.