Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’90s, Vol. 10

Written by Bottom Feeders, Music

There’s boy bands and some dude named Brandon but stop in for my interview with Jim Macpherson from the Breeders.

Bottom Feeders takes a look back at every song that hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but only if they didn’t crack the top 40. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive review of each tune or each artist, but rather my view of the music I grew up loving. It’s meant to bring back all the great and really crappy songs that have faded into oblivion over time for one reason or another And, the series is designed to get discussions going about the music. I don’t have expert knowledge of every song posted here but I want to hear from you with your memories of the tunes, comments about a artist or general thoughts.

Section 1: The Ass End

The Brand New Heavies
“Never Stop” 1991, #54 (8 weeks) (download)
“Dream On Dreamer” 1994, #51 (11 weeks) (download)
“Sometimes” 1997, #88 (5 weeks) (download)

The Brand New Heavies were actually a threesome from London – Simon Bartholomew on guitar, Andrew Levy on bass and Jan Kincaid on drums. N’Dea Davenport joined the group in 1990 after the trio recorded their debut album in the UK with a different female singer. They got picked up by Delicious Vinyl in the US, the label which Davenport was with at the time, recut the first album with her and then she stayed with them for the next five years or so, through their biggest hit, “Dream On Dreamer.” Davenport left in 1996 and their fourth album (Shelter) featured Siedah Garrett which led to “Sometimes” being their final hit. Davenport went solo for a while and had some hits of her own but rejoined the group in 2006 and is still with them today.

I don’t know that I remember hearing “Never Stop” too much but I would have bet my house that after “Dream On Dreamer” that the group were going to be a major hit maker in the years to come. Thank God I didn’t because I lived with my parents at the time and they would have been homeless.

Brand Nubian
“Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down” 1993, #77 (10 weeks) (download)
“Love Me Or Leave Me Alone” 1993, #92 (3 weeks) (download)
“Word Is Bond” 1994, #94 (2 weeks) (download)
“Don’t Let It Go To Your Head” 1998, #54 (6 weeks) (download)

I always think of Brand Nubian as the group that launched the career of Grand Puba but three of these four songs including their signature track, “Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down,” he wasn’t on. Puba was on their debut (One For All) which remains a fantastic album to this day and then left to work on his solo career. He rejoined the group in 1998 in time to release “Don’t Let It Go To Your Head,” and is actually still with them.

Between 1992 and 1997 the group was led by Sadat X and Lord Jamar who helped preach the law of the five percenters through their music. They had controversy from the beginning with their message because at lot of it, especially on their 1994 album Everything Is Everything came across as hate speech rather than just a simple peaceful deliverance of their message. And on “Punks Jump Up” there was a blatant homophobic line sung by Sadat X that got people up in arms as well (the version I’ve included here has that line replaced completely but it ain’t hard to find).

“Don’t Let It Go To Your Head” sounds a bit different than their other singles, smoother and poppier than most thanks to the group going to outside producers. The Foundation album from 1998 didn’t really do much on the charts but has stood the test of time.

Brandon
“Kisses in the Night” 1991, #64 (10 weeks) (download)

This is only slightly less lame than Tommy Lee’s “Brandon,” sung about his son on the Crue’s Generation Swine record. Slightly.

I mean really, who the fuck is Brandon and why have I never heard this song before? Anyone know anything about this dude? Well, at least according to this video below he actually does exist.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/_mdlv2wGesg" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Brandy
“Angel In Disguise” 1998, #72 (14 weeks) (download)
“U Don’t Know Me (Like U Used To)” 1999, #79 (6 weeks) (download)

For some reason I usually associate Brandy with ballads and that’s not really the case at all. Most of her hit tracks were hip-hop flavored R&B and kind of funky. She had some major hits like “Baby” and “I Wanna Be Down” off her self-titled debut but it was her 1998 album Never Say Never, produced for the most part by Darkchild (Rodney Jerkins) that really gave her “her” sound.

After hearing “The Boy Is Mine” and “Have You Ever?” for the better part of two decades now, I kind of forgot about minor hits like these two. “Angel In Disguise” really isn’t her best work but “U Don’t Know Me” is quite funky and got even funkier with the addition of Shaunta & Da Brat on the remix that ended up being the single.

Laura Branigan
“Moonlight On Water” 1990, #59 (9 weeks) (download)

I like these moments, where the Ass End of the ‘80s mixes with the ‘90s. As referenced back in the 72nd edition of the original series way back in October of 2009 (!), Kevin Raleigh wrote this tune and took it to #60 a year earlier. His was a more rockin’ version, while Laura’s picked the tempo up a bit and was dancier. I’d vote for the original if I had to pick one of them.

The Brat Pack
“I’m Never Gonna Give You Up” 1990, #71 (7 weeks) (download)

The Brat Pack were a short lived New Jersey duo consisting of guitarist Patrick Donovan and keyboardist Ray Ray Frasier. They started out playing house music in clubs but Clivilles and Cole found them and thought they would be a better dance pop group. One self-titled record, one top 40 hit and “I’m Never Gonna Give You Up” later, The Brat Pack faded into the sunset.

Bravo All Stars
“Let the Music Heal Your Soul” 1998, #60 (4 weeks) (download)

I had completely forgotten about this schlock consisting of popular and not so popular boy bands. The German teen magazine Bravo put this together to benefit the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation.

The song features both the Backstreet Boys and *Nsync (meaning Justin Timberlake is somewhere on this track) as well as Aaron Carter, The Moffatts and German pop groups like The Boyz and Touche.

The Braxtons
“So Many Ways” 1996, #83 (8 weeks) (download)

The Braxtons were the sisters of the more famous Toni. Toni started out in the group in 1989 but so many people thought she would be a solo superstar she was convinced to go out on her own. They had released a single in 1990 that didn’t go anywhere and then disbanded until 1996. Sisters Tamar, Trina and Towanda got back together and released the So Many Ways record – their only one.

“So Many Ways” was produced by Jermaine Dupri and So So Def (you can hear JD and his normal “yeah” and “ha-ha” in the background) and featured Jay-Z on the first verse. It first appeared on the soundtrack to the now legendary dumb comedy, High School High.

The Breeders
“Cannonball” 1993, #44 (20 weeks) (download)

Ahhhh Ooohhhh Oooohhh. Ahhhh Oohhhh Ooohhh!

I guess I have more of a tolerance for female artists in the ‘90s than I did in the ‘80s, mainly because of the music director before me at my college radio station. I think I’ve mentioned before that she was a 4AD fan, lover of twee pop and anything super girly. And while I wouldn’t call “Cannonball” “super girly” by any means, The Breeders were part of my introduction to the college radio scene.

Between the fantastic “Cannonball,” “Divine Hammer” and “Invisible Man” this was certainly part of the soundtrack I used early on to try to get laid at school. Chicks dug the “Cannonball” man. Later, I will write the exact same thing about Elastica. Just warning you.

See the guy in the picture to the right? That’s Jim Macpherson, the testosterone behind the drums for the group at the time.  I dropped him a line with a few questions and he was cool enough to respond back! A big thanks to Jim.

So you were the drummer on the Breeders most successful record, Last Splash. What was it like being the only guy in a band with such a strong female presence up front?

It was the first time I was in a band with girls. Also I was a huge Pixies fan so I was really nervous when I first did demos with Kim. All 3 were fantastic musicians and I really clicked with Josephine. We had a great chemistry all 3 of us, it was neat seeing the fans go crazy for Kim, Kelly and Joe. I’m pretty shy and quiet so I sat back and enjoyed the show from the drum throne [but] I also grew up with three sisters so it was just like home.

“Cannonball” has both that addicting chorus and that fun opening, “Aaaahhhh Ooooohhhhh” – when you recorded it, did you just know it was going to be a hit?

After we recorded the song and would hear playbacks I literally got chills. Never having recorded in a big studio like that, the whole thing was great. I might not have thought it was gonna be a hit but just so happy with how it turned out.

After the Breeders, you moved on with Kim to the Amps and played drums with Guided by Voices. I started college in ’94 and bands like those became part of the soundtrack of those years for me and I’m sure thousands of other people now in their ’30s. Looking back, how cool is it to have been part of so many bands that have such an iconic status?

Its really cool knowing so many people in college back then listened to those records, all of which I truly loved playing on.  Just glad I lived in Dayton, Ohio and had the chance to play with such talented songwriters.

Finally, what’s Jim Macpherson up to these days?

I just got done recording an album with Josh Berwanger (The Anniversary) and Marc Benning (34 Satellite) at hide away studios in Colorado and in Dayton I’m playing with the Lab Partners which we just got done recording an album. And last I recorded a album with the Nick Kizirnus band, so hopefully I’ll have three records come out this year. My day job is remodeling kitchens and baths and spending time with my wife and two kids.

Edie Brickell
“Good Times” 1994, #60 (8 weeks) (download)

It wasn’t like I was a huge fan of Edie or anything like that but this track, produced by hubby Paul Simon and the prominent single off her solo debut (Picture Perfect Morning) was sweet Motown soul if there ever was some. I wish she would have used Barry White a little bit more but overall it’s easily the best thing on that record.

Chad Brock
“Lightning Does the Work” 1999, #86 (12 weeks) (download)

Chad Brock has certainly had an interesting career. He was a wrestler in the WCW, released three albums and hosted a morning show in Florida with buddy Cletus T. Judd. I have no idea what any of the albums sound like but having grown to like some country music now, “Lightning Does the Work” is a pretty damn fine song.

Brooklyn Bounce
“Get Ready To Bounce” 1998, #95 (4 weeks) (download)

Brooklyn Bounce has nothing to do with Brooklyn, NY but everything to do with bouncing. The group was made up German trance producers Double M and DJ Bonebreaker but was represented in photos and on stage as singer Damon and his two hottie dancers, Ulrica and Maeva.

These guys have had four songs on the US Dance charts, this one going all the way to #10 and being the only tune to cross over into the Hot 100.

Garth Brooks
“It’s Your Song” 1998, #62 (5 weeks) (download)

For as huge as Garth Brooks was on the country charts, he rarely crossed over into the Hot 100. In fact, if you don’t count the airplay only song, “Hard Luck Woman” from 1994, “It’s Your Song” was the first tune of his to actually crack the pop chart, only three years from his final recordings. Sadly too, his biggest track on the pop chart was the 1999 song “Lost In You” which went to #5 and of course was a fucking Chris Gaines hit.

“It’s Your Song” was the only single released from his Double Live record. It’s not a bad tune but I have a problem with tracks like these. Brooks has said this is about his mother and her influence except of course that he had no hand in writing it, so it became about his mother only because the lyrics happened to fit. Argh.

Meredith Brooks
“What Would Happen” 1998, #46 (10 weeks) (download)

Meredith Brooks’s debut album Blurring the Edges is one of only a few dozen female fronted albums that you’d still find in my non-‘80s section of the music library. I loved the record. It was super catchy and edgy at the same time and it didn’t hurt that Brooks was pretty hot as well. But in the end being hot only got me buying music, not keeping it around. I haven’t pulled the disc out in ages, but “What Would Happen” still sounds great to this day. Unfortunately nothing she made after this even came close in quality. And despite “What Would Happen” charting she goes down as one of those fake one-hit wonders for “Bitch.”

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