Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 18

Part 18 is a short one in order to make a clean break from the letter F, but most of the songs are quality and that’s what counts, right? Enjoy some more tracks that hit the rock charts in the ’80s but failed to cross over onto the Billboard Hot 100.

Peter Frampton
“Breaking All the Rules” 1981, #12 (download)
“Holding On To You” 1989, #27 (download)

The ‘80s were certainly not kind to Peter Frampton. He released four studio albums in the decade with 1981’s Breaking All the Rules being the most listenable of the group. 1982’s Art of Control is a hot mess and 1986’s Premonition and 1989’s Where All the Pieces Fit were only slightly better.

I actually like “Breaking All the Rules” very much, even though on the album it gets buried as the last cut. But “Holding On To You” is total slicked up bullshit.

Franke & the Knockouts
“Come Back” 1981, #45 (download)
“Never Had It Better” 1982 #38 (download)

Franke & the Knockouts has always been the most surprising entry to keep seeing in this series, not because their music isn’t any good (because it is) but they are a group that I swore I’d never heard of before collecting and yet I definitely knew their big hit “Sweetheart.” Franke Previte and the boys had way more hits than I expected and that’s because they were a damn fine band.

I don’t think I know why they were only able to release three albums in their short lifespan because it certainly couldn’t have been because of the songs as everything I’ve heard from them including both of these tracks is pretty awesome. And Franke has had even bigger hits having written “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” and “Hungry Eyes” both of which were huge in Dirty Dancing. “Hungry Eyes” even appears as a Franke & the Knockouts song on their 1984 finale, Making the Point.

Andy Fraser
“Fine Fine Line” 1984, #43 (download)

I’m kind of torn on this track. Bubbling under at #101, this was off Fraser’s album of the same name. After leaving Free in the ‘70s, he didn’t find a heck of a lot of success as a solo artist and this might be his best single. But even so, it’s a little cheesy even if it fits in with the times pretty well.

Ace Frehley
“Into the Night” 1987, #27 (download)

“Into the Night” comes from Frehley’s Comet, an extremely underrated album in the decade. I’m not a Kiss fan at all, but this album doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s filled with great rockers and more musicianship than any Kiss record of the period.

“Into the Night” is a cover of a Russ Ballard tune which appears on his The Fire Still Burns album two years earlier. Also on the record is a cover of 707’s hit “Mega Force” which has different lyrics and a new title, ‘Calling To You”.

Glenn Frey
“Partytown” 1982, #5 (download)
“Don’t Give Up” 1982, #25 (download)

I’m not a fan of Glenn Frey’s No Fun Aloud album from which both these tracks come. Neither track is terrible, but not very exciting either. They actually sound better as standalone tracks than within the context of the album, but they still don’t represent his best work.

Frozen Ghost
“Round and Round” 1988, #44 (download)

Frozen Ghost were essentially Arnold Lanni and Wolf Hassel, both former members of Sheriff in the early ‘80s. All their music is in the lighthearted alt-pop vein like you hear with “Round and Round”. Nothing really stands out about either their debut self-titled record or “Nice Place to Visit”, the album from which this song came making both of them and the duo pretty much the middle ground.

Fuzzbox
“Self!” 1989, Modern Rock #16 (download)

I actually like “Self!” quite a bit, but the story behind the song and the group kind of makes this all bullshit. They were an all female quartet original known as We’ve Got A Fuzzbox and We’re Going To Use It which had a pop-punk feel to their music. When they got a record deal in the US with Geffen, that became the title of their debut album and the group name was shorted to just Fuzzbox (making it kind of sexual now) and the sound of the group for the second album was transformed into a dance-pop group like you hear with “Self!”. Supposedly, the girls only did the singing and nothing else on the record which went against the punk vibe they started out with. So the end result is that this track is more of a manufactured record label song than anything else but at least it’s good.

Quick Hits
Best Song: Peter Frampton, “Breaking All the Rules”
Worst Song: Peter Frampton, “Holding On To You”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
Peter Frampton (1): “Lying”
Franke & the Knockouts (1): “Sweetheart”
Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1): “Two Tribes”
Aretha Franklin: (1) “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
Glenn Frey (5): “I Found Somebody”, “Smuggler’s Blues”, “The Heat Is On”, “You Belong To the City”, “True Love”
Frida (1): “I Know There’s Something Going On”
Frozen Ghost (1): “Should I See”




  • Anonymous

    Back in my twerp years, we had a left o’ the dial public FM station that, unbeknownst to me at the time, must have hewn to the rock chart fairly closely; thus my familiarity with “Fine, Fine Line,” a fairly crappy tune that I think I may have actually liked.

    The original Fuzzbox album isn’t bad. I remember being mildly amused when they slutted up the lead singer and took a shot at a hit. It didn’t seem to work.

  • Anonymous

    Based on how much I recall them getting played in Atlanta at the time, I’d always assumed both “Come Back” (Franke and the Knockouts) and “Partytown” (Glenn Frey) were fairly big hits on the pop charts, too.

    I’ve never heard that Frozen Ghost track before…the video certainly reflects the era.

  • Anonymous

    The 2 Peter Frampton tracks are a classic example of the awful direction the music industry took in its journey through the ’80’s! I completely agree with your best song / worst song assessments. “Holding on to You” is a turd that sounds like he’s trying to be more 80’s Steve Winwood-esque. The guy is such a talented musician, too bad he’s never really found his place after “Comes Alive”.

  • Joncwriter

    Ah, Fuzzbox. I was HUGE into them on the first album, very let down–at first–by the second album. I say “at first” because it dawned on me that, if taken as a soundtrack for a goofy anime, it seems to fit perfectly and makes it that much more enjoyable. Let’s just say the track “Versatile for Discos and Parties” is my favorite on that one, even if it is a silly take on the euro techno of the time.

  • Anonymous

    “Hot mess”? You’ve really taken to Liz’ 1001 albums blog, haven’t you?

    I’ll be the defense for “Holding On to You”. It’s catchy, though I concede to mc3’s notion that it could pass for Steve Winwood if you were to hear it, say, on a department store muzak system. I remember seeing the video on TV5 at least once but I had no recollection of the melody until hearing it today.

    “Never Had It Better” sounds like a back alley rumble between Toto and Jefferson Starship circa the same era. That’s not meant to be an insult. Dig that warpy synth-trumpet solo.

    “Fine Fine Line” was a .99 special at some of the record stores I’d regularly hit in the summer of ’84, but I’d never heard it on the radio, so I didn’t take the risk. Woulda done.

    Disappointment of the week: “Self!” I knew it’d be streamlined in comparison to the early stuff, but I still expected something a little offbeat. I’ll stick with my “Love Is the Slug” 12″.

  • Anonymous

    “Hot mess”? You’ve really taken to Liz’ 1001 albums blog, haven’t you?

    I’ll be the defense for “Holding On to You”. It’s catchy, though I concede to mc3’s notion that it could pass for Steve Winwood if you were to hear it, say, on a department store muzak system. I remember seeing the video on TV5 at least once but I had no recollection of the melody until hearing it today.

    “Never Had It Better” sounds like a back alley rumble between Toto and Jefferson Starship circa the same era. That’s not meant to be an insult. Dig that warpy synth-trumpet solo.

    “Fine Fine Line” was a .99 special at some of the record stores I’d regularly hit in the summer of ’84, but I’d never heard it on the radio, so I didn’t take the risk. Woulda done.

    Disappointment of the week: “Self!” I knew it’d be streamlined in comparison to the early stuff, but I still expected something a little offbeat. I’ll stick with my “Love Is the Slug” 12″.

  • Anonymous

    “Hot mess”? You’ve really taken to Liz’ 1001 albums blog, haven’t you?

    I’ll be the defense for “Holding On to You”. It’s catchy, though I concede to mc3’s notion that it could pass for Steve Winwood if you were to hear it, say, on a department store muzak system. I remember seeing the video on TV5 at least once but I had no recollection of the melody until hearing it today.

    “Never Had It Better” sounds like a back alley rumble between Toto and Jefferson Starship circa the same era. That’s not meant to be an insult. Dig that warpy synth-trumpet solo.

    “Fine Fine Line” was a .99 special at some of the record stores I’d regularly hit in the summer of ’84, but I’d never heard it on the radio, so I didn’t take the risk. Woulda done.

    Disappointment of the week: “Self!” I knew it’d be streamlined in comparison to the early stuff, but I still expected something a little offbeat. I’ll stick with my “Love Is the Slug” 12″.

  • Anonymous

    “Hot mess”? You’ve really taken to Liz’ 1001 albums blog, haven’t you?

    I’ll be the defense for “Holding On to You”. It’s catchy, though I concede to mc3’s notion that it could pass for Steve Winwood if you were to hear it, say, on a department store muzak system. I remember seeing the video on TV5 at least once but I had no recollection of the melody until hearing it today.

    “Never Had It Better” sounds like a back alley rumble between Toto and Jefferson Starship circa the same era. That’s not meant to be an insult. Dig that warpy synth-trumpet solo.

    “Fine Fine Line” was a .99 special at some of the record stores I’d regularly hit in the summer of ’84, but I’d never heard it on the radio, so I didn’t take the risk. Woulda done.

    Disappointment of the week: “Self!” I knew it’d be streamlined in comparison to the early stuff, but I still expected something a little offbeat. I’ll stick with my “Love Is the Slug” 12″.

  • Aronn

    I disagree with your assessment of the Glenn Frey album. I think I Found Somebody and The One You Love are a heck of a lot better than his slick Miami Vice and Beverly Hills Cop garbage.

  • russ

    I agree with the assessment too, but Frampton left Humble Pie because he didn’t want to go into the heavy direction Mariott wanted to go. Holding On To You is a lot closer to what Frampton wanted than Breaking All The Rules. The real problem with Holding On To You is the 80’s production emphasizing synths instead of Frampton’s guitar playing, which means it isn’t playing to his strengths. Perhaps if the 2 songs switched styles he might’ve had something.

  • smf2271

    “Never Had It Better” also reminds me of “Carrie’s Gone” by LeRoux (which is also not meant to be an insult). I used to eat that stuff up when I was 10. I still like it and I’m not ashamed.

    I’m not too impressed by the Frampton songs above either, but for some reason I’ve always loved “Lyin”. Maybe it’s the multiple-parts thing, I’ve always liked songs with several different melodic sections to them.

    I’ve also always loved Frozen Ghost’s “Should I See” and it was the leadoff track on an infamous “Na na na” CD mix I once made for a friend (featuring all songs with prominent “na na na”s in their lyrics).

    I was away last week so I have a delayed comment too: great to hear someone clarifying for the public that Dan Fogelberg wasn’t all just about cheesy ballads! Talk about someone whose hits are a poor representation of his capabilities as a songwriter.

  • steed

    Hey, later on I called a track “slicked up bullshit” – Liz wouldn’t write that, so there.

  • http://www.bastardradio.com steed

    Hmm…I hadn’t placed “Never Had It Better” with “Carrie’s Gone” before – but I can see how you certainly think that now.

    A mix CD of all songs with “Na Na Na” in them – this is why I love music. My next mix is going to be all metal songs about Vahalla.

    I’m not saying I celebrate Fogelberg’s entire catalog or anything, but I really do think he’s one of those artists where a greatest hits disc does nothing to let the listen know what he’s about.

  • http://www.bastardradio.com steed

    Hmm…I hadn’t placed “Never Had It Better” with “Carrie’s Gone” before – but I can see how you certainly think that now.

    A mix CD of all songs with “Na Na Na” in them – this is why I love music. My next mix is going to be all metal songs about Vahalla.

    I’m not saying I celebrate Fogelberg’s entire catalog or anything, but I really do think he’s one of those artists where a greatest hits disc does nothing to let the listen know what he’s about.

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    I knew a girl named Val Halla. Actually, it was Valerie Halstein. Actually this is all a lie.

    (Kiww da waaa-bit, kiww da waaa-bit…)

  • Anonymous

    The two of you should collaborate on a blog and call it The Adventures of Ms. Hot Mess and the Slicked Up Bullshit Kid. Or Captain Hot Mess and the Slicked Up Bullshit Cowboy, wherein you co-dissect everything in Elton John’s catalog a la Mellowmas.

  • Anonymous

    The two of you should collaborate on a blog and call it The Adventures of Ms. Hot Mess and the Slicked Up Bullshit Kid. Or Captain Hot Mess and the Slicked Up Bullshit Cowboy, wherein you co-dissect everything in Elton John’s catalog a la Mellowmas.

  • http://www.bastardradio.com steed

    Haha. I’ll get on that one.

  • breadalbane

    Second the vote on “Should I See”. Nothing else FroGho did ever really grabbed me, but that’s a good song. (What, you don’t call ‘em Fro Gho?)

  • Ko

    I really liked the first Fuzzbox album, thanks for reminding me of that…I gotta dig that one out again!

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