Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 1

Written by Bottom Feeders, Music

He led you through the Top 40, and now Dave Steed begins a new journey — through the ass end of the ’80s rock charts.


So, did you expect to see me here this week? The thought of taking a break after last week’s post crossed my mind, but only briefly. In addition to having all the songs that charted on the Hot 100 in the 1980s, I have all the songs from the rock charts as well, so it’s natural for me to continue on.

In the new edition of Bottom Feeders, we’re taking a look at all the songs that hit both the Rock and Modern Rock charts but didn’t cross over to the Hot 100 in the Reagan era.

The Rock chart began in March of ’81 as Top Tracks and was a top 60 chart. In September of ’84 it was renamed Top Rock Tracks and a month later was cut down to the top 50 positions. In April of ’86 it was renamed the Album Rock Tracks chart, and today it’s called the Mainstream Rock chart and features 40 songs. For our purposes here, we’re calling it simply “the Rock chart.”

The Modern Rock chart didn’t start until September of ’88 and only featured 30 positions until 1994, when it also went to 40, and since there won’t be much to talk about from that list, we’ll combine the two charts into one discussion.

So, for the first time, enjoy music from the Billboard rock charts …

Accept
“Balls to the Wall” 1984, #21 (download)

Accept were a very underrated rock band from Germany featuring easily one of the best names in metal – singer Udo Dirkschneider. “Balls to the Wall” is the title track from their 5th and most well known album in the US. They released new albums through 1996 and then split, but a reunion album is on the docket for a September 2010 release. No Udo this time around though.

AC/DC
“Hells Bells” 1981, #50 (download)
“Shoot to Thrill” 1981, #60 (download)
“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” 1981, #4 (download)
“Big Balls” 1981, #26 (download)
“For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” 1981, #4 (download)
“Put the Finger on You” 1981, #38 (download)
“Flick of the Switch” 1983, #26 (download)
“Jailbreak” 1984, #33 (download)
“Sink the Pink” 1985, #44 (download)
“Who Made Who” 1986, #23 (download)
“Heatseeker” 1988, #22 (download)
“That’s the Way I Wanna Rock N Roll” 1988, #28 (download)

AC/DC surprisingly only had four songs cross over into the hot 100 in the decade, but three of those and the twelve others here hit the rock chart.

There really is no better way to start off a large block of AC/DC than with the chiming of “Hells Bells.” Both that and “Shoot to Thrill” are killer tracks off the perfect Back to Black.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap was originally released in 1976 in Australia but didn’t get a US release until 1981 (in a very different form), which of course is only slightly awkward since Back in Black featured Brian Johnson on vocals and Dirty Deeds had Bon Scott on vox.

Later in ’81, For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) was released and spawned three singles – the title track, “Put the Finger on You” and “Let’s Get It Up.” The album went to #1 and was the only AC/DC album to reach the top spot until their latest – Black Ice – hit that spot.

Flick of the Switch was the next AC/DC album to arrive in 1983 and while it doesn’t get good reviews to this day, it’s an underrated album in my opinion. The riff in the title track and the solos in it are simply awesome. It was the third single from the album after “Guns for Hire” and “Nervous Breakdown” which didn’t chart.

“Jailbreak” is another Bon Scott track released as a single from the ’74 Jailbreak EP. “Jailbreak” was a track off the Australian version of Dirty Deeds but didn’t make the cut for the international version. The other four tracks on the EP are from the Australian version of their debut, High Voltage.

My favorite double entendre of the AC/DC catalog is “Sink the Pink” – not the greatest of their tracks, but certainly fun to say. It was the only song to chart from Fly on the Wall. This is about the point where I started losing interest due to the lack of quality tracks to appear on each successive album.

“Who Made Who” is a catchy enough track from the album of the same name which was really the soundtrack to the Stephen King movie Maximum Overdrive . The album consisted of the new title track, 2 new instrumentals and a bunch of older tracks making it almost a greatest hits EP of sorts.

Both “Heatseeker” and “That’s the Way I Wanna Rock N’ Roll” come from the last AC/DC album of the decade, Blow Up Your Video. Both the tracks sound like AC/DC going through the motions.

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Adam & the Ants
“Dog Eat Dog” 1981, #15 (download)
“Antmusic” 1981, #14 (download)
“Physical (You’re So)” 1982, #7 (download)

Adam & the Ants were a group I couldn’t get into in the ‘80s. I’ve since learned to like quirky music a little more than I did, but as a kid I wanted straight-forward pop songs and something like “Dog Eat Dog” is not that at all. All three tracks here are from Kings of the Wild Frontier – an album that I know is good but I can’t seem to get into. “Physical (You’re So)” is the most interesting for me if only because of the later cover by Nine Inch Nails. But even without that, it’s a great dark track with the random guitar riffs and squelching feedback.

Bryan Adams
“Fits Ya Good” 1982, #15 (download)
“Take Me Back” 1983, #21 (download)
“The Only One” 1983, #44 (download)
“I’m Ready” 1983, #26 (download)
“Heaven” 1984, #9 (download)
“Kids Wanna Rock” 1984, #42 (download)
“Diana” 1985, #21 (download)
“Christmas Time” 1985, #31 (download)
“Another Day” 1987, #33 (download)
“Into the Fire” 1987, #6 (download)

Then there’s Bryan Adams, a guy I’ve never considered a rock artist but I suppose technically he is. It took Adams a full album under his belt before getting any hits. Hit debut album didn’t garner much attention, but 1981’s You Want It, You Got It generated “Fits Ya Good” which is one of the worst of many bad Bryan Adams songs and “Lonely Nights” which cracked the Hot 100.

“Take Me Back,” “The Only One,” and “I’m Ready” are from Cuts Like A Knife, the album which made him a household name. They were three of six singles released from the album, with only “Take Me Back” worth a listen.

Smack dab in the middle of this pile of Bryan Adams tunes is “Heaven” which you might recall spent two weeks at #1 on the Hot 100. However, back over a year earlier it was released to rock radio as the theme to the movie A Night in Heaven where it made it to #9.

“Kids Wanna Rock” is a very true statement, but I’m sure they didn’t want to do it to Bryan Adams. It’s easily the most rockin’ song off Reckless though – the 10 million selling album that put him on the radio every minute somewhere.

“Diana” is actually one of the rarer Bryan Adams tracks if there can be such a thing. It never appeared on an album and can only be found as the B-Side to the “Heaven” single when it was released from Reckless. It wasn’t included on the album because Adams was worried about offending Princess Diana – if you listen to the lyrics you’ll hear it’s about him wanting Diana to come and be with him.

“Christmas Time” also never appeared on disc and appeared as a single only with Adams going reggae with “Reggae Christmas” as the b-side to the single.

“Another Day” and “Into the Fire” are both from the Into the Fire album, his last studio record in the decade. I’m not really sure at this point if I hated Bryan Adams as much as I hate him now – actually, I kind of liked 1991’s Waking Up the Neighbours so I guess I didn’t hate him – but I never need to hear either of these tracks again.

And as much as I rip on him, I don’t turn him off when he comes on. Maybe I just don’t want to admit that I like him.

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Quick Hits
Best Song: Accept, ‘”Balls to the Wall”
Worst Song: Bryan Adams, “Fits Ya Good”

Songs that hit both the rock charts and the Hot 100
ABC (2) – “The Look of Love (Part One),” “That Was Then But This Is Now”
AC/DC (3) – “Back in Black,” “Let’s Get It Up,” “Guns for Hire”
Adam Ant (1) – “Goody Two Shoes”
Bryan Adams (13) – “Lonely Nights,” “Cuts Like a Knife,” “Straight From the Heart,” “This Time,” “Run to You,” “It’s Only Love,” “Summer of ‘69,” “Somebody,” “Heaven,” “One Night Love Affair,” “Heat of the Night,” “Hearts on Fire,” “Victim of Love”

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