Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 17

So a few weeks ago I get this e-mail from a girl named Liz which directs me to her website. Now normally, I don’t really post links to other people’s site here though I thought this one was worth it.

Liz and I seem to be cut from a little bit of the same cloth. She says she never really knew much about music so she decided to take on a task that I had often thought about but was too chickenshit to do – listening to albums that comprised the book 1001 Albums You Must Listen To Before You Die. She’s listening to each album and posting her thoughts each day on one record. She’s over one year in and hasn’t given up yet.

How could I not share this blog with you, as just like this journey through the world of Bottom Feeders – that shit’s crazy as well. So read this and then head on over after you’re done. I still have 362 album reviews I have to read.

But before that, we continue with the letter F, looking at songs that hit the rock charts but failed to cross over into the Hot 100.

Mick Fleetwood
“Rattlesnake Shake” 1981, #30 (download)

A little bluesy number for Mick Fleetwood off The Visitor, the only solo song of his that would chart. It’s a remake of the Fleetwood Mac track on 1969’s Then Play On album and features original member Peter Green on vocals and guitar.

Fleetwood Mac
“Straight Back” 1982, #36 (download)
“Isn’t It Midnight” 1987, #14 (download)
“Tango in the Night” 1987, #28 (download)
“No Questions Asked” 1988, #37 (download)

It’s understandable why none of these four tracks crossed over into the Hot 100. None of them are radio friendly or even very good for that matter. I’ve always been a fan of Fleetwood Mac but I can do without any of these songs.

“Tango in the Night” is the best of the bunch written solely by Lindsey Buckingham off their ’87 album of the same name. The two Stevie Nicks tracks are truly boring – “Straight Back” from Mirage and “No Questions Asked” – one of two new tracks on Fleetwood Mac’s 1988 Greatest Hits disc. The other track – “Isn’t It Midnight” was written by Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham.

Flesh for Lulu
“Decline and Fall” 1989, Modern Rock #13 (download)
“Time and Space” 1989, Modern Rock #9 (download)

Flesh for Lulu kicked ass. Their 1989 album Plastic Fantastic was a brilliant piece of goth/alt rock with a bit of a punk sensibility to it. “Decline and Fall” is my favorite Flesh for Lulu song as it’s just catchy as hell. “Time and Space” is a bit different, being more of a goth-pop song – nonetheless cooler than the previous track though. And they featured Mike Steed on bass. Impossible for me not to like them.

Dan Fogelberg
“Lost in the Sun” 1981, #45 (download)
“Gone Too Far” 1984, #31 (download)

Dan Fogelberg wasn’t all cheesy ballads. The guy had some serious talent and could crank out a rock tune as well. His 1980 album Phoenix, is one of my favorite records of the decade, very unexpectedly. Songs like “Lost in the Sun” and “Gone Too Far” are pretty damn cool, the former being the best track off The Innocent Age.

John Fogerty
“Change in the Weather” 1986, #3 (download)
“Headlines” 1986, #27 (download)

How many times did John Fogerty rip himself off? I mean, it might be me but “Change in the Weather” has a very similar feel to “The Old Man Down the Road” just two years earlier and of course pretty much everything on his solo record Eye of the Zombie sounded like CCR. Both of these songs are off that album. If you’ve never heard it you’re better off just sticking with Centerfield or any Credence record because it’s basically just a rehash of previous material.

“Live Now-Pay Later” 1981, #15 (download)
“Slipped, Tripped, Fell in Love” 1982, #12 (download)

Maybe I’m just not that familiar with my Foghat, but “Live Now-Pay Later” seems like a surprisingly limp track from these rockers compared both to their ‘70s output and even directly to “Slipped, Tripped, Fell In Love”. But by this point Foghat were a shell of themselves anyway, still getting hits most likely only because they were still Foghat.

Steve Forbert
“Ya Ya (Next To Me)” 1982, #54 (download)

Steve Forbert is totally underrated! Between “Ya Ya” off his self-titled record, “Romeo’s Tune” and really the whole Jackrabbit Slim album he created some of the catchiest pop songs of the early ‘80s and yet his success was fairly minimal.

Lita Ford
“Gotta Let Go” 1984, #51 (download)
“Back to the Cave” 1988, #22 (download)
“Falling in and Out of Love” 1989, #37 (download)

“Gotta Let Go” is the gem here and if you don’t know the former Runaways’ guitarists’ solo work before she hit the commercial rock market in ’88 then you are missing out on something special. Her album Dancin’ on the Edge is a fabulous record full of blistering guitar solos and well crafted songs. Everything after that was made for radio and really didn’t showcase her talents well at all.

“Night Life” 1981, #14 (download)
“Tooth and Nail” 1985, #47 (download)
“Can’t Wait” 1988, #18 (download)

Two hard rockers and a mid-tempo ballad here and I’m surprised none of them hit the Hot 100, especially “Can’t Wait” which sounds primed and ready for the big time.

“Night Life” is the really good track here though – another hit off the monster 4. “Tooth and Nail” was the second charting rock hit from Agent Provocateur.

Quick Hits
Best Song: Flesh For Lulu, “Decline and Fall”
Worst Song: Lita Ford, “Back to the Cave”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
Fleetwood Mac (8): “Fireflies”, “Hold Me”, “Gypsy”, “Big Love”, “Seven Wonders”, “Little Lies”, “Everywhere”, “As Long As You Follow”
A Flock of Seagulls (4): “I Ran”, “Space Age Love Song”, “Wishing”, “The More You Live, The More You Love”
Dan Fogelberg (4): “Hard To Say”, “Missing You”, “The Language of Love”, “She Don’t Look Back”
John Fogerty (4): :The Old Man Down the Road”, “Rock and Roll Girls”, “Centerfield”, “Eye of the Zombie”
Lita Ford (2): “Kiss Me Deadly”, “Close My Eyes Forever”
Foreigner (9): “Urgent”, “Juke Box Hero”, “Waiting for a Girl Like You”, “I Want To Know What Love Is”, “That Was Yesterday”, “Reaction to Action”, “Say You Will”, “Heart Turns To Stone”, “I Don’t Want To Live Without You”

  • David

    That 1001 albums site is like going through musical history with a moron popping bubble gum. I’ll pass on the Bowie and Clash reviews and offer up this gem: “[Muddy Waters] just seems like such a happy guy. I was a big fan of “Mannish Boy” which has a real retro quality to it.”

    At least you, Dave, have some depth to your commentary. Liz knows nothing about music. I would suspect her listening notes to Beethoven would be, “Got a decent beat, but I couldn’t dance to it. 3.5 stars.” Thanks for nothing.

  • Rob

    Thanks for the Steve Forbert. Always like to be reintroduced to him> I once saw him in concert at NYC’s Beacon Theatre with Joan Armatrading opening. Not being really familiar with him, I wasn’t totally into it. But he really blew me away. Very talented and underrated artist.

    I can’t believe, though, you didn’t refer to his brief appearance in one of the iconic music videos of the 80s.

  • Anonymous

    No doubt about it, Flesh for Lulu was slept on…their 5 releases from 1984 to 1989 (Flesh for Lulu, Blue Sisters Swing, Big Fun City, Long Live the New Flesh and Plastic Fantastic) are all well worth tracking down (note: Superfecta Records re-released Long Live the New Flesh with 4 bonus tracks awhile back, and that’s the one to get).

    Lead singer Nick Marsh still makes music, and recently reissued his 2006 solo debut “A Universe Between Us,” which doesn’t sound a whole lot like Flesh for Lulu (it’s co-produced by Miranda Sex Garden’s Katherine Blake), but is still pretty decent.

    My final plug is for Flesh for Lulu’s Final Vinyl (and Live Flesh) promo. It’s a red vinyl LP with some different mixes and some scorching live tracks, including an insanely raucous cover of “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”…

    Plus the fact that both Paul Westerberg AND the Goo Goo Dolls have covered ‘em must mean something. although I’m unsure what.

  • Anonymous

    I was met on the front page by her 2-star review of Low which bitches about the minimal vocals and dismisses it as a disco soundtrack to Casablanca. I can’t go any further, and i dare not come back for her dissection of Aja.

  • jack

    Totally agree about Flesh for Lulu. I stumbled on my CD copy of Plastic Fantastic over the weekend (with the $1.99 sticker from the used CD place still on it!). It’s been in my car stereo since.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s the thing about Foghat- in the 80’s, they reacted to Punk and New Wave by shaving about four minutes off their songs and punching up the tempos, trying to remain radio-friendly. Instead of 7 minutes of blooz-rock with multiple solo breaks, we got pop songs. It worked with 1979’s “Third Time Lucky”, not so much with everything else.

    For what it’s worth, the album In the Mood for Something Rude, from whence came “Slipped, Tripped”, is full of R&B covers and clever riffs and is a hell of a good album. Shame no one much was listening by 1982…

  • steed

    You know Rob – it completely slipped my mind that he was the boyfriend of Ms. Lauper in “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. Thanks for the flashback here.

  • steed

    You both may be right but I simply find the task itself facinating. And she admits up front that she knows nothing about music at all. All three of us would probably have very different opinions than her because we’ve got the music background – but despite things like the Muddy Waters comment (which I hadn’t seen yet) I think it’s kind of neat to hear the perspective of someone that’s attacking the book blindly. It’s not the 1001 albums that people with musical knowledge shoud listen to – it should be accessible to anyone and there’s a lot of stuff in there that I know I don’t want to get anywhere near.

  • Anonymous

    I always keep an eye out for “Restless,” probably their best song that, as far as I know, has only appeared on an EP or as a B-side (and on their live DVD).

  • Anonymous

    On the contrary, I like Liz comments precisely because she does not care about HISTORY, she just LISTENS. Some of these revered albums might have been very influential in their time and what not, but the question remains ‘how good do they sound (now)?’ It is a rare opportunity to have a least prejudiced/knowable ear give us her first impression on these records.

  • Anonymous

    Another geek novella in response:

    “Straight Back” was a rock charter? All those great Lindsey gems and they chose a retread of “Dreams” (itself a retread of “Rhiannon”) to run with. Stevie did contribute some great songs to Mirage (“Gypsy” and the countrified “That’s Alright”) but I always skipped over this one when listening at length. (Personal trivia” Mirage was the first album I listened to in my introductory 12-albums-for-a-penny* bundle from Columbia House, December of ’82.)

    I’m not really feeling “Decline and Fall”, but “Time and Space” was a favorite twenty years ago, as was its followup, “Every Little Word”. Had promo CD singles for both, never advanced to the album.

    I’m surprised not to see anything from Centerfield in this week’s lineup. “Searchlight” was almost as much a mainstay as the actual singles with our big(ger) AOR station, and there was even a claymated video for the notorious “Vanz Kant Danz”.

    When I honor this series’ halfway point with another radio special, I’ll be sure to make room for “Live Now-Pay Later”. That got Top 40 play in these parts (as evidenced by its #102 bubbling) and I don’t think I’ve heard it since it fell out of rotation.

    I’ve mentioned KPFT’s controversial playlisted days of the late ’90s/early ’00s. Steve Forbert was a fixture in our programming, especially “What Kinda Guy?”. His early records are on my pick-up-cheap radar.

    Somewhere on my desk is a sealed remaster of Foreigner 4 (as everybody calls it) that I got for cheap back in May. I’m not going to unwrap it until July 2, 2011, when I shall give it a 30th-anniversary spin. Maybe I’ll load it to my mp3 phone and listen to it over a few rounds of Space Invaders and Centipede at Dave and Buster’s. (On a related topic, the spot where I found that cheap copy of 4 is in the process of downsizing their inventory. I took advantage of this liquidation last night, as chronicled here.)

    *plus $1.85 shipping + handling

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. I own the book and there are several records (particularly in the last two decades) I want nothing to do with. But I know I couldn’t read most of her thoughts without wincing, either at the opinions themselves or the way they’re presented. So I’ll pass.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. I own the book and there are several records (particularly in the last two decades) I want nothing to do with. But I know I couldn’t read most of her thoughts without wincing, either at the opinions themselves or the way they’re presented. So I’ll pass.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, that version of “Rattlesnake Shake” isn’t much different from the original Fleetwood Mac version at all. Exact same arrangement. Recorded much better, for sure, and it’s a great tune no matter who’s doing it, but I was expecting something different, you know?

  • Liz

    Thanks for all the comments, I appreciate the input. Thanks for reading, everyone!

  • Liz

    Thanks for all the comments, I appreciate the input. Thanks for reading, everyone!

  • Liz

    Sorry to hear that! I try to do research on each album and integrate that. But I understand that it’s not your cup of tea

  • Anonymous

    Hey, more power to you. I only suggest you go back to Low and give “Warszawa” another audition.

  • Liz

    I will. I thought Low was interesting but as a Bowie album I found it disappointing. But as music I can see how it is really innovative. I’ll definitely try it again. Thanks for the tip :)

  • Clay

    It’s really interesting that you should link to that blog, since I’ve started a blog that’s more or less the exact same thing. I only started it up a couple months ago, so I’m nowhere near as far as Liz, though. I’m glad to see that there are other people making the journey as well! Since I’m a total cultural nerd, I write a lot about the history and context of each album, since the way I see it this blog is showing how music genres have changed and evolved over the years. This’ll take me another 3 years to finish, but I’m still young. Here’s my blog if anyone’s interested:

  • Eschorn

    Wow, I just took a look at your $1 purchases. That’s a lot of great music for next to nothing.

  • Russ

    I think you’re right about Fogerty’s solo stuff, but I still like it. The gem of his solo output is Blue Moon Swamp, that record sounds like Fogerty letting CCR seep in but not dominate the tunes and it works great.

  • Anonymous

    “Time & Space” could fit on any of the later Replacements albums. Man.

    I interviewed John Rzeznik a few weeks back and we talked a bit about Flesh for Lulu — a couple of songs on the new Goo Goo Dolls record have hints of the late ’80s goth-pop stuff.

  • Rob

    One day: Stories will flow from me about that video. I’m just saying.

  • Rob

    Sigh. Ann Arbor’s own Tally Hall. Already in the dollar bin. Well, ain’t that depressing.

  • Rob

    Sigh. Ann Arbor’s own Tally Hall. Already in the dollar bin. Well, ain’t that depressing.

  • Anonymous

    If it’s any consolation, I’d have to rank “Banana Man” as one of my 10 favorite videos of all time. It was my impetus to pick up the disc. Can’t wait to hear the rest.

  • Kordian

    I second that suggestion because, well, Warszawa is the capital of my country and the place a lot good memories of mine are connected with (but don’t get fooled – there’s no word in Polish in that track;)

    As for the blog itself – say what you want but yesterday I got really addicted but I had to quit because of the work that awaited me. I loved the metaphore of puppies (I can’t wait to drop in the conversation) and I smiled at the lukewarm review of Jean-Michael Jarre. He is so over-hyped in Poland it’s really sick…

    I appreciate the effort and I find it interesting to observe how the music influences particular person? I’m really curious how this journey would finish and what Liz would do next? :) (She would certainly listen to more music but which kind of? – maybe I’m more of a voyeur than I suspected but for me it’s kinda interesting.)

  • Kordian

    This summary starts great and one look at your blog whets appetite. I’ll keep eye on it after finishing the work I mentioned above. Keep up the good work!

  • Michael

    Ya know, I’ve been making music and listening to it in a dedicated way around 25 years now and the one thing I never cease to be amazed at is the idea that a great amount music people (and comic book fanboys) seem to believe that an opinion can be wrong. It’s almost never “well, que sera sera” it’s “What an idiot this person is!” Obviously no one here said that but often times when music lovers talk about music, especially online, that’s how it comes off. If every music snob had their way, we’d all still be listening to only classical music at this point and rock’n’roll wouldn’t exist. The music snobs in the 50’s hated Elvis, Bill Haley,Little Richard…but look what they brought us.

    When Liz tweeted that Steely Dan was up next her tweet was something like “Are you a fan or is it just not your thing?” Not “is it bad or good?” And I’ll tell you most times I’d rather have to sit thru 12 straight hours of NSync than 5 minutes of Steely Dan but that’s just my opinion. Music people (again, especially online) would do very well to take a lesson or two from Liz. A blog like hers is more likely to help expand music in different ways than hurt it.

  • Anonymous

    I gave my initial reaction a lot of thought at work yesterday, and you’re right. Rather than dismiss her project because of one conflicting opinion, I should encourage her pursuits. Otherwise, I’m no better than my Facebook acquaintances who laughed Steed off for not falling in love with Big Star. And besides, we all started somewhere.

  • steed

    Why don’t any of my supermarkets have dollar CD bins?

  • Drewsbrews

    Barely a week has gone by since 1985 that I haven’t found myself singing “Laundromat Kat” while I do our laundry. Found the Big Fun City/Blue Sisters Swing combo LP in the radio station bins (dj’d at WRHA – University of Akron’s AM dorm radio) and played it to death. Long Live the New Flesh sure seemed like a step in the pop direction, but we loved it anyway. And some days, I want to yell out of my car window “I may have said you’re beautiful, but you know I’m just a LIAR!”

  • el bandito

    Live Now Pay Later sounds like Escape Club…