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Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 21

We move on to the letter H this week, which begins with solo recordings from artists that were in some pretty major groups. Enjoy some tracks here as we take a look at songs that hit the Billboard rock charts in the ’80s but failed to cross over into the Hot 100.

Sammy Hagar
“There’s Only One Way To Rock” 1982, #31 (download)
“Baby’s On Fire” 1982, #35 (download)
“Can’t Get Loose” 1982, #49 (download)
“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” 1982, #21 (download)
“Remember the Heroes” 1983, #6 (download)
“I Don’t Need Love” 1983, #24 (download)
“Boys’ Night Out” 1987, #15 (download)
“Returning Home” 1987, #20 (download)

I don’t care what any of you say, the “Red Rocker” is the man. My interest in listening to Sammy Hagar has increased ten-fold since the Chickenfoot record came out last year and I’ve since went back and listened to all his solo material in the ‘80s as well as the Van Hagar records again. Sadly there is no solo disc better than any of his Van Halen material, but each one has enough moments on it that kick ass that they are all totally worth your money.

Standing Hampton got mixed reviews over the years, but I think it’s his best solo album in the decade. It’s the least cheesy and most rockin’ of the five of them and includes the great “There’s Only One Way To Rock,” the slow burner “Baby’s On Fire” and one of his better ballads in “Can’t Get Loose.”

Three Lock Box came next in late ’82 and to me marked his transition from a ‘70s rock sound to more of an ‘80s feel. “Remember the Heroes” is a relatively weak track which features Mike Reno from Loverboy on vocals. “I Don’t Need Love” was a little better but didn’t seem right as a single. I would have rather seen the title track or “Remote Love” as a hit.

After that came VOA which of course contains his most talked about (often laughed about) song “I Can’t Drive 55”. Although he only had two hits from the album both hit the hot 100 and the album was strong.

1987’s Sammy Hagar (renamed I Never Said Goodbye after a contest was held to name it) was his only solo record while he was a member of Van Halen and was recorded quickly simply to fulfill a contractual obligation to Geffen record that they agreed on in order to release him to join the group. As is the case with most albums like this, it’s not the strongest thing in the world, though “Returning Home” really isn’t that bad.

And finally there’s the title track from the excellent Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack. It’s not my favorite track on the double LP, but it works well when you listen to the album as a whole.

“Top of the Rock” 1984, #15 (download)
“Missing You” 1984, #37 (download)

Since I was called lazy last week, I’m going to be that way for HSAS and only type out their actual name of Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, Shrieve once.

The one HSAS album — Through the Fire — really wasn’t that great in the end but to me the interesting part is that for many years I didn’t realize it was a live album. The album was apparently recorded live and then in the studio they put in guitar overdubs and took out the crowd noise. If it’s noticeable that it’s live, I can’t hear it.

Haircut One Hundred
“Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)” 1982, #50 (download)

Although this did bubble under at #101, I’m a little surprised this didn’t crack the Hot 100, though it doesn’t really have a commercial sound. However, since “Love Plus One” was a decent hit for them climbing into the Top 40 you would have thought the excellent “Favourite Shirts” would have made at least a dent, but maybe it was just a little too off kilter to hit.

George Harrison
“Teardrops” 1981, #51 (download)
“Devil’s Radio” 1987, #4 (download)
“Cloud 9” 1987, #9 (download)
“This is Love” 1988, #17 (download)
“Cheer Down” 1989, #7 (download)
“Poor Little Girl” 1989, #21 (download)

I was never a Beatles fan (remember I like very little before the ‘80s) but I did like the solo material from John, George and Paul in the ‘80s. The thing I’m very curious about with all these songs is how many will show up in Mark Feldman’s Fixing a Hole series which even as a non-Beatles fan I find fascinating. George’s biggest hit “Got My Mind Set On You” seems a bit silly to show up and “When We Was Fab” probably wouldn’t have been recorded if they were still together.

I think “Devil’s Radio” and “This Is Love” have a definite shot at making it, but really I’m just looking forward to Sir Paul’s “Spies Likes Us” on a disc. Ha.

As far as these songs go, “Teardrops” bubbled under at #102, but ‘87s Cloud Nine was the big solo hit for Harrison with the four songs mentioned above and the title track all being hits of some sort. “Cheer Down” has a similar feel to those but was put on the Lethal Weapon 2 soundtrack instead of on the album (George Harrison and Lethal Weapon? Not something you probably would have ever thought you’d hear together). All of the songs were of course produced by Jeff Lynne, which I’m sure is enough to make a lot of people hate them just for that fact alone.

“Poor Little Girl” was one of two new tracks he recorded for the Best of Dark Horse compilation in 1989.

Jerry Harrison
“Rev It Up” 1988, #7 (download)

Jerry Harrison was of course the keyboardist for the Talking Heads. He ended up releasing three solo records, the first was back in 1981 called the Red and the Black. He followed that up in ’88 with Casual Gods and then his final album was Walk on Water in 1990 credited to Jerry Harrison: Casual Gods.

The music on Casual Gods was near enough to some of the earlier Talking Heads material and Jerry Harrison has similar vocal tones as David Byrne that you could definitely know it was from that camp. However, the album is also good enough to not even need the Talking Heads name associated with it to be interesting. “Rev It Up” isn’t the best song on the disc but there’s not much in the way of singles on it, so it was the best choice to go to radio.

Deborah Harry
“Liar, Liar” 1988, Modern Rock #37 (download)
“I Want That Man” 1989, Modern Rock #2 (download)
“Kiss It Better” 1989, Modern Rock #12 (download)

As we discussed in the first series, I wasn’t a big fan of Debbie Harry’s solo stuff throughout the ‘80s. Some songs were good and others were extremely cheesy. “Liar, Liar” is one of those pretty cheesy tunes but I can’t fault her because it’s a cover of the Castaways tune from 1965. The song shows up on the Married to the Mob soundtrack.

Going with Deborah Harry for her 1989 album Def, Dumb & Blonde both “I Want That Man” and “Kiss It Better” are a little less quirky than some of the stuff she came up with and that could very well be because both tracks were written by Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie from the Thompson Twins. The former went to #2 on the rock charts, but “Kiss It Better” is the better of the two tracks.

Quick Hits
Best Song: George Harrison, “Devil’s Radio”
Worst Song: Sammy Hagar, “Remember the Heroes”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
Sammy Hagar (7): “I’ll Fall In Love Again”, “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy”, “Two Sides of Love”, “I Can’t Drive 55”, “Winner Takes It All”, “Give To Live”, “Eagles Fly”
HSAS (1): “Whiter Shade of Pale”
Haircut One Hundred (1): “Love Plus One”
Daryl Hall (1): “Dreamtime”
Hall & Oates (10): “Kiss On My List”, “You Make My Dreams”, “Private Eyes”, “I Can’t Go For That”, “Maneater”, “Say It Ain’t So”, “Adult Education”, “Out of Touch”, “Method of Modern Love”, “The Way You Do the Things You Do/My Girl”
John Hall Band (2): “Crazy (Keep on Falling)”, “Love Me Again”
Jan Hammer (1): “Miami Vice Theme”
George Harrison (3): “All Those Years Ago”, “Got My Mind Set On You”, “When We Was Fab”