Something totally awesome is happening over at Beck’s Record Club, where the popular alt-rock artist gathers some buddies together and records a “cover” of an entire album in one day, then releases a track each week until the album is complete. In what I must say is an awesome move, he’s covering INXS’s Kick this time around; “Guns in the Sky” was posted last week. I can’t wait to hear the rest.
Not only that, but Usher’s new album, Raymond v Raymond, was released yesterday, and holy shnikes, an interpolation of King Benny Mardones‘s “Into the Night” is the closing track. The stars are in alignment this week.
And now, back to the Bottom Feeders! It’s the second week of artists whose names begin with the letter W, as we take a look at more songs from the bottom three-fifths of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1980s.
“Big Talk” — 1989, #93 (download)
From the tiny town of Hollywood, California, came Warrant, who burst on the hair-metal scene big time in 1989 with a pretty excellent record, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich. “Down Boys” went to #27 and then “Heaven” went to #2 before the album’s third single, “Big Talk,” stalled at #93. DRFSR is really the only good album the band ever made — it’s filled with catchy hooks and harmonies everyone can sing along with. In 1990 Warrant followed it up with Cherry Pie, on which only the title track and the single “I Saw Red” were any good.
“After You” — 1980, #65 (download)
“Easy Love” — 1980, #62 (download)
“Some Changes Are for Good” — 1981, #65 (download)
“Take the Short Way Home” — 1983, #41 (download)
“Whisper in the Dark” — 1986, #72 (download)
Dionne Warwick is almost in the same boat as Barbra Streisand for me. Though I’m relatively sure I shouldn’t like Barbra (and I don’t), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me liking Dionne (though I don’t). Just like Babs, though, I give respect for a career filled with hits.
Warwick had an amazing 38 Hot 100 hits from 1962-1972. But then she only had three Hot 100 hits from ’72-’78. So the ‘80s marked somewhat of a comeback for her with 13 hits including going to #1 for the second time in her career as part of “That’s What Friends Are For.”
And again, similar to Streisand, Warwick turned to Barry Gibb for an album and that’s pretty much the only one of the decade I like. 1983’s Heartbreaker featured songs like the title track written by the Bee Gees and “Take the Short Way Home” which Barry Gibb contributes heavily to. “Whisper in the Dark” off the Friends album is actually a decent and very ‘80s sounding track as well.
Grover Washington Jr.
“Be Mine” — 1982, #92 (download)
Smooth jazz, bitches. Smooth jazz.
Was (Not Was)
“Anything Can Happen” — 1989, #75 (download)
All three of Was (Not Was)’ Hot 100 hits came from their 1988 record What Up, Dog? and all three are quite good but as a whole, I could never get into them. What Up, Dog? is easily their most accessible record of the decade; their previous release, 1983’s Born to Laugh at Tornadoes, is, shall we say, eclectic.
“Nature of Love” — 1989, #70 (download)
Waterfront was a Welsh duo that released just one self-titled record in 1989. They actually have a top 10 hit with the first single, “Cry” which is a favorite of mine. The album was very much in the vein of Johnny Hates Jazz or Climie Fisher.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Jody Watley! After leaving Shalamar in 1984 Watley took a few years off, living in England. Then in 1986 she came back to the U.S. and set out to make funky-ass dance songs, which she did wonderfully. The years 1987-1990 were a stellar time for her, as her first two albums yielded a total of nine Hot 100 tracks, with both “Looking for a New Love” and “Real Love” peaking at #2. “Still a Thrill” and “Most of All” were both off the excellent self-titled debut.
Wa Wa Nee
“Stimulation” — 1988, #86 (download)
Waterfront and Wa Wa Nee go hand in hand for me. Both have a Top 40 hit that I love — “Sugar Free” was Wa Wa Nee’s hit song, which I like even more than Waterfront’s “Cry” — but the big difference is that Wa Wa Nee wasn’t very good. Singer Paul Gray didn’t really have a great voice, and that definitely shows on the group’s second single and only other U.S. hit, “Stimulation.”
“Right Between the Eyes” — 1986, #43 (download)
Wonderful song here from an underrated group. Wax (a.k.a. Wax UK) was 10cc bassist Graham Gouldman and Andrew Gold, who had a few hits in the ‘70s, including “Thank You for Being a Friend,” which eventually became the theme song for The Golden Girls. Their debut album, Magnetic Heaven, from which “Right Between the Eyes” comes, is a great slab of power pop.
“It’s Raining Men” — 1983, #46 (download)
It’s a shame this is the only thing the Weather Girls are known for. Success, their 1983 debut record is actually a very good disco and R&B record. They were two ladies, Izora Armstead and Martha Wash, both large ladies who played that aspect up to the hilt. They actually had a couple of dance hits in the early ‘80s as Two Tons o’ Fun (really?) and had albums titled Big Girls Don’t Cry, Double Tons o’ Fun, and Think Big.
In 1990, Wash was the female singer for a few of the hits from C+C Music Factory but wasn’t credited and didn’t show up on the cover or in the videos. She sued Columbia records and won, getting credits and royalties.
Wendy & Lisa
“Waterfall” — 1987, #56 (download)
Wendy & Lisa are really the ones that got away. Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman were members of the Revolution until Prince fired them in 1986. They went off on their own and created a few good records, led by their self-titled debut which contained the excellent “Waterfall.” The song was co-written with ex-revolution member Bobby Z. They’ve released five albums over the years, including one in 2008, but they also score movies and TV shows like Heroes and Nurse Jackie.
“Rain in May” — 1981, #74 (download)
Max Werner was the singer and drummer for a Dutch prog-rock band called Kayak from the early ‘70s through 1981. That year he released a solo record called Seasons, which included his only solo hit, “Rain in May.”
“A Lesson in Leavin’” — 1980, #73 (download)
There really aren’t too many country artists that I enjoyed from the ‘80s: Eddie Rabbitt, T.G. Sheppard, and a few others, including Dottie West. This is a great fuck-you song written by Randy Goodrum and Brent Maher for West’s 1979 record Special Delivery.
West Street Mob were an electro-funk group on Sugarhill Records – not surprising considering the producer and mastermind behind the group was Joey Robinson Jr., the son of Sugarhill Records founder Sylvia Robinson. “Make Your Body Move” is off their self-titled LP, which I believe is their only full-length album. “Sing a Simple Song,” a cover of the Sly & the Family Stone classic, was a single only, paired with “Another Muther for Ya.”
Best song: Dottie West, “A Lesson in Leavin’”
Worst song: Wa Wa Nee, “Stimulation”
TOP 40 ONLY
Next week, a trio of rockers and a duo that’s the farthest thing from rockin’.