This week, more bands whose names start with the letter A, as we take a look at the songs that hit the Billboard Rock and Modern Rock charts but failed to crack the Hot 100 in the glorious decade of the 1980s.
“Faraway Eyes” 1984, #28 (download)
Adrenalin were a crappy hard rock band from Detroit that caught a little attention thanks to their song “Road of the Gypsy” being used in Iron Eagle. Earlier though they released an album by that name that included their only charting song in any format, “Faraway Eyes”.
“Lightning Strikes” 1982, #21 (download)
“Let the Music Do the Talking” 1985, #18 (download)
“Shela” 1985, #20 (download)
“Hangman Jury” 1987, #14 (download)
“Magic Touch” 1988, #42 (download)
“Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” 1988, #44 (download)
“F.I.N.E.” 1989, #14 (download)
“Lightning Strikes” is the significant song here, as it’s the only charting Aerosmith song from when Joe Perry and Brad Whitford both weren’t with the group. However, on this particular song, those are Whitford’s rhythm guitar parts though he had left the band before the album from which it came – Rock in a Hard Place – was released.
“Let the Music Do the Talking” and “Shela” were both from Done with Mirrors after Whitford and Perry rejoined the group. “Music” was the title track from the Joe Perry Project’s first album. Steven Tyler liked the song so much that Aerosmith decided to record it with some new lyrics in a shorter version than was on Joe’s album. “Shela” was the third single from the album (after “My Fist Your Face” didn’t chart) and almost reached the same peak as “Let the Music Do the Talking” even though it’s remarkably boring.
“Hangman Jury” and “Magic Touch” were both from the new era of Aerosmith that started with Permanent Vacation in 1987. The group was actually sued for “Hangman Jury” as it was based on an old blues riff and line that Tyler though was public domain but was really owned by blues musician, Lead Belly. “Magic Touch” is a laughable hot-mess co-written by Jim Vallance (actually, so was “Hangman’s Jury”). While songs like “Rag Doll” and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” were written for the radio, they still had a kick-ass rock sound. Apart from the guitar solo in “Magic Touch” this was a song written for a pop group – I mean, listen to that cheesy chorus.
“Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” is the best track here by far, the lead track on the Less Than Zero soundtrack. The soundtrack was a crazy mix of music – I mean, look at this artist list (in order): Aerosmith, Roy Orbison, Poison, LL Cool J, Glenn Danzig, Slayer, Public Enemy, Black Flames, Joan Jett, Alyson Williams and Oran “Juice” Jones and the Bangles. The Bangles mixed with Slayer and Oran “Juice” Jones. You can’t make that shit up.
Standing for Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional, “F.I.N.E.” was actually my favorite single off Pump as it wasn’t as smooth as the singles that bookended it, “Love in an Elevator” and “Janie’s Got a Gun”.
The Alarm had some cool songs reach the Hot 100, but a few here that are staples of their catalog, like the amazing “Sixty-Eight Guns” from the album Declaration. The thing about “Sixty-Eight Guns” now is that I listen to it and immediately get Green Day’s “21 Guns” in my head. The songs certainly don’t sound the same, but there’s a very similar vibe, musically at least.
And how amazing is “Spirit of ‘76”? Not too much unlike an epic Springsteen song, I give you the album version here because it’s so damn awesome. The single version can be seen in the video below.
“Devolution Workin’ Man Blues” isn’t quite the song the previous two are but it’s another solid track in their catalog, off their last album in the decade, Change.
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I’ve never been a big fan of anything Allman related, but I’ve always enjoyed Gregg Allman solo more than the Allman Brothers. That may not be the right thing to say, but remembering that I’m a die hard ‘80s fan and that Gregg’s two albums- 1987’s I’m No Angel and 1988’s Just Before the Bullets Fly – sound way more ‘80s than what the Brothers put out in the decade. That’s not to say that the slick adult sounding, “Can’t Keep Running” is a good song, just that it’s more my speed. “Slip Away” is actually my favorite of the four songs here.
Allman Brothers Band
“Statesboro Blues” 1989, #26 (download)
“Statesboro Blues” was recorded in 1971 by the Allman Brothers but rereleased in 1989 when the group reunited and released the 4-disc box set Dreams, featuring songs from the band and solo material from Gregg, Dickey Betts and others.
“For Openers (Welcome Home)” 1982, #44 (download)
“For Openers” is an interesting follow up to the slick pop hits of “Biggest Part of Me” and “You’re the Only Woman”. More of a sprawling, almost prog-ish track showcasing the rock side of the band, it’s always been a sleeper in my catalog. It comes off Road Island, an album which is pretty crappy as a whole but I always find myself sitting up in my seat a little bit when this one comes on.
I’m already seeing that the rock charts are going to be a challenge for me. As much as I love rock music, there’s a lot of stuff here that I would never go to on a regular basis. There’s also items like “Olympia” by Yes singer Jon Anderson that I’m going to revisit for the first time in ages and wonder why I never bothered with it. “Olympia” came from his third solo album, Animation. It’s a fabulous rock song that to me teeters the right line between the prog-era and the commercial-era of Yes. “Cage of Freedom” is yet another single off the Metropolis soundtrack. Did this whole damn soundtrack get sent to radio?
“Babydoll” 1989, Modern Rock #7 (download)
I completely don’t get “Babydoll” at all. Her 1989 album Strange Angels was nominated for a Grammy so someone liked it and I’m sure there are many fans out there, but not I. Maybe she was always just a little weird to me overall, as I know her more for her performance work from earlier in the decade like the bat-shit crazy “O Superman”.
Best Song: Jon Anderson, “Olympia”
Worst Song: Adrenalin, “Faraway Eyes”
Songs that hit both the rock charts and the Hot 100
The Adventures (1) – “Broken Land”
Aerosmith (6) – “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” “Rag Doll,” “Angel,” “Chip Away the Stone,” “Love in an Elevator,” “Janie’s Got a Gun”
After the Fire (1) – “Der Kommisar”
The Alarm (4) – “Strength,” “Rain in the Summertime,” “Presence of Love,” “Sold Me Down the River”
Gregg Allman Band (1) – “I’m No Angel”
Allman Brothers Band (1) – “Straight From the Heart”
Marc Almond (1) – “Tears Run Rings”