Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 11

Written by Bottom Feeders, Music

Week #11 brings us to the end of the letter C as we take a look at a ton of songs that hit the Billboard Rock Charts but failed to cross over into the Hot 100.

Before we get started though, King of Grief recently mentioned to me that he missed my list of weekly accquisitions which appeared briefly in the first series. Well, I have purchased much of anything lately,  until this past weekend when I hit my first record show in over a year and got the following batch:

Alien – S/T
Camouflage – Method of Silence
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Allies
DNA – Party Tested
King – Bitter Sweet
Limited Warranty – S/T
The Parachute Club – S/T
Jennifer Rush – S/T
The Michael Schenker Group – Assault Attack
Shot in the Dark – S/T
Shy Talk – S/T
The Weather Girls – Big Girls Don’t Cry
Soundtracks to: Legal Eagles, Married to the Mob, Secret Admirer, Slam Dance and Sweet Lies
K-Tel comps: Blast Off, Get Dancin‘ and Mini Pops

Nice eclectic bunch of records there and I was excited to find the K-Tel Mini Pops album. I’ve never heard of that one before. Little kids singing medleys of Abba, Blondie and more.

Concrete Blonde
“True” 1987, #42 (download)
“God is a Bullet” 1989, #49 Modern Rock #15 (download)

I know there are a lot of really big fans of Johnette Napolitano out there and I understand why. She’s got an excellent voice for this rock style and was a hell of front woman. But 1990’s Bloodletting was really the only Concrete Blonde record that is worth a front to back listen in my opinion. A good half of both 1987’s self-titled record and 1989’s Free are damn solid, but the rest is just average. “God is a Bullet” fits into the former category, as it’s a pretty great rocker.

Coney Hatch
“Devil’s Deck” 1982, #44 (download)
“First Time For Everything” 1983, #38 (download)

Up until I started collecting ‘80s music, I thought Coney Hatch was a ‘70’s band, but it’s clear after listening to the arena rock bombast of these tracks, that the ‘80s were all over these guys.

Coney Hatch released three relatively mediocre records between ’82 and ’85 before disbanding. Lead singer Carl Dixon went on to front The Guess Who for a good decade starting in 1997.

The Connells
“Something To Say” 1989, Modern Rock #7 (download)

The Connells were formed in the mid-‘80s by brothers Mike and David Connell and they were sort of a jangly power pop band at first. Their 1987 album Boylan Heights is a wonderful example of how well jangle pop can work.

Unfortunately, “Something To Say” was one of only a few good tracks off the follow up record titled Fun & Games. For this album they put down the 12-string guitars and put forth more of a pop-rock sound. It gave them their first radio hit, but at the same kind of took away what made them special to begin with. 1990’s One Simple Word really should have been the follow up to Boylan Heights as it took the step back to the jangle rock roots but still pushed their songwriting skills forward.

Julian Cope
“Charlotte Anne” 1988, Modern Rock #1 (download)
“5 O’Clock World” 1989, Modern Rock #10 (download)

This week seems to focus on good tracks from bad albums for some weird reason. I just love “Charlotte Anne” from the Teardrop Explodes frontman – not so much on the Vogues cover of “5 O’Clock World” but they both come from My Nation Underground which is a poor starting point to the world of Julian Cope solo music.

1987’s Saint Julian or any of his next three albums would be a better place to begin as My Nation Underground is way too polished for what he brings to the table. Part of the problem seems to be a lack of focus in the songwriting on the record, but I would think that Ron Fair producing the record was the main reason for the failure. Julian Cope, sorry – not a hit making machine.

Hugh Cornwell
“Another Kind of Love” 1988, Modern Rock #11 (download)

I don’t know anything of Hugh Cornwell’s solo work besides this one track. I am familiar with his group The Stranglers which went through various styles over the course of the decade, but were mostly either punk or new wave.

“Another Kind of Love” is off his first solo disc – Wolf – and doesn’t sound anything like what I remember from the Stranglers, though it’s damn catchy.

Elvis Costello
“From A Whisper To A Scream” 1981, #46 (download)
“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” 1986, #38 (download)
“…This Town…” 1989, #41 Modern Rock #4 (download)

Elvis Costello is pretty hit or miss these days but back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s – my lord he was great. “From a Whisper To A Scream” is such a wonderful song – a duet with Glenn Tilbrook off of Trust, which is a delight to listen to as well.

“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” was credited to Elvis solo on the single, but was featured on King of America which is billed as The Costello Show. It’s not my favorite track from him but I think it fits better in the context of the album than it does as a standalone piece. The Animals took the song to #15 in ’65.

Then there’s “…This Town…” which goes down as the only single I know of that has ellipses at the beginning and end of the title. It’s the first track on Spike which over the years I think I’ve started to realize is not quite as good as the masterpiece I made it out to be for years. But from “This Town” I will always remember the line “everybody in this town thinks you’re a bastard.” Roger McGuinn played guitar and Sir Paul was on bass.

Cowboy Junkies
“Sweet Jane” 1989, #50 Modern Rock #5 (download)

Cowboy Junkies’ The Trinity Session from 1989 is loved by critics and fans of country and rock and I hear why but it was just never my bag. Margo Timmins has a really sweet voice though and her brothers were able to craft fine country pop songs. The Trinity Session was a mix of originals and pop and country covers – and they probably did too many covers early in their career because frankly that’s all I really remember them for.

Crack the Sky
“From the Greenhouse” 1989, #49 (download)

…But I guess it’s better to be remembered for something than to not be remembered at all. I couldn’t tell you a thing about Crack the Sky without looking it up and really wouldn’t want to as this track is pretty terrible.

It was the title track from their 8th album – and I’ve never heard of anything before or after this one. According to Wikipedia they were big in Baltimore and sounded like Steely Dan, though I hear more Pink Floyd in this track than Steely Dan. I also hope to never hear them again.

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Robert Cray Band
“I Guess I Showed Her” 1987, #28 (download)
“Night Patrol” 1988, #49 (download)
“Acting This Way” 1988, #24 (download)

“I Guess I Showed Her” was an excellent track from Cray’s breakthrough album – Strong Persuader. While that album made him a pop hit, it’s filled with fun and dirty blues and is a magnificent place to start if you want to know the type of blues that charted in the decade.

Both “Night Patrol” and “Acting This Way” are just a little too commercial though and stripped a lot of the soulfulness away from what made Strong Persuader so great.

The Creatures
“Standing There” 1989, Modern Rock #4 (download)

“Standing There” was the first single from The Creatures second full-length Boomerang. The band was a side project for Siouxsie Sioux and her husband – drummer, Budgie. Budgie played frantic, wild percussion giving a lot of their music almost a tribal feel as you here with this track. They’ve released a total of four full studio records over the years.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
“American Dream” 1988, #4 (download)
“Nighttime For Generals” 1988, #39 (download)
“That Girl” 1988, #25 (download)

Back in the original Bottom Feeders series, CSN’s “War Games” became the song that grew on me the most out of all 104 posts. However, none of these turds are going to, I can guarantee that.

Despite talking about how bad their American Dream album was and listening to it again at the time, I still forgot just how pathetic these three songs and really, the entire album is. “American Dream” is a Neil Young track that he would have never written for a solo record. “Nighttime For Generals” is a David Crosby tune and “That Girl” goes to Stephen Still. There’s nothing positive to say about any of these – and frankly are even worse than I remembered.

Crowded House
“Never Be the Same” 1988, #45 (download)

“Never Be the Same” comes from Crowded House’s second album Temple of Low Men, which is quite underappreciated. It’s probably a better album overall than their debut but just didn’t have that monsterous hit on it. While this track is good, the lack of catchy chorus goes a long way to explain why this one wasn’t a bigger hit.

Cruel Story of Youth
“You’re What You Want To Be” 1989, #29 (download)

This would be the only song I’ve ever heard from Cruel Story of Youth. The only thing I really know about them is that they were from New York and this was their only charting song – off their self-titled debut.

Cruzados
“Motorcycle Girl” 1985, #15 (download)
“Bed of Lies” 1987, #4 (download)
“Small Town Love” 1987, #39 (download)

The Cruzados were a band that deserved a better fate than this. The core of the group started out as the Plugz – a latino-flavored punk band. Then they decided to take more of a Chicano rock sound and renamed themselves the Cruzados. From what I understand, critics loved them, other artists loved them but they didn’t sell many records and broke up after only two albums.

Singer Tito Larriva went on to form Tito & Tarantula, drummer Chalo Quintana played with Izzy Stradlin & the Juju Hounds as well as Social Distortion and Tony Marsico went on to plays bass with Matthew Sweet.

The Cult
“Love Removal Machine” 1987, #15 (download)
“Lil’ Devil” 1987, #34 (download)
“Wild Flower” 1987, #39 (download)
“Sun King” 1989, #18 Modern Rock #21 (download)

A lot of people don’t realize the Cult were a great band before “Fire Woman” broke them into the mainstream. Their 1987 album Electric, featuring the first three songs here is a fun, gritty, knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out good time. “Love Removal Machine” is easily one of the best songs they’ve ever written. “Lil’ Devil” and “Wild Flower” are good time rock and roll as well.

“Sun King” comes from Sonic Temple – the breakthrough record for the group. It’s a kick ass track but certainly no “Fire Woman”.

Singer Ian Astbury interestingly enough is about to release an album with the crazy metal band Boris. That should be an interesting listen for sure.

(Note: If you are following along in Joel Whitburn’s book for the Rock Charts, be aware that “Drag You Down” by Cysterz is one of two known plants that Joel put in his books to prevent copyright infringement. Neither the song, nor the group exist. Though kudos to Mr. Whitburn because this completely sounds like a name that might have been possible in 1986.)

Quick Hits
Best Song: Julian Cope, “Charlotte Anne”
Worst Song: CSNY, “American Dream”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
Tommy Conwell & the Young Rumblers (2): “I’m Not Your Man”, “If We Never Meet Again”
Alice Cooper (1): “Poison”
Julian Cope (1): “World Shut Your Mouth”
Elvis Costello (3): “Everyday I Write the Book”, “The Only Flame In Town”, “Veronica”
Josie Cotton (1): “He Could Be the One”
Robert Cray Band (3): “Smoking Gun”, “Right Next Door (Because of Me)”, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”
Crosby, Stills & Nash (4): “Wasted on the Way”, “Southern Cross”, “Too Much Love To Hide”, “War Games”
Christopher Cross (1): “Arthur’s Theme”
Crowded House (4): “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, “Something So Strong”, “World Where You Live”, “Better Be Home Soon”
The Cult (2): “Fire Woman”, “Edie (Ciao Baby)”
Culture Club (2): “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me”, “Church of the Poison Mind”
The Cure (3): “Fascination Street”, “Love Song”, “Lullaby”
Cutting Crew (4): “(I Just) Died In Your Arms”, “One for the Mockingbird”, “I’ve Been In Love Before”, “(Between A) Rock and a Hard Place)”