Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 22
This week we continue on with the letter H as we check out more great tunes from the ’80s that hit the Billboard rock charts but failed to cross over into the Hot 100.
“It’s All Right, It’s O.K.” 1981, #32 (download)
Not The Hawks, which was the original name for the members of The Band, but a rock group from Iowa. “It’s All Right, It’s O.K.” was released on their Columbia records self-titled debut.
“Im Nin’Alu” 1988, Modern Rock #18 (download)
This is always one that kind of surprised me as it seems kind of odd that a song partially in Hebrew would have enough staying power on modern rock radio to actually chart but musically it fit right in with the times, so I guess I shouldn’t be so shocked.
“Im Nin’Alu” is a 17th century Hebrew poem that has been put to song on a few occasions but none more famously than by Haza. The song was originally all in Hebrew but she cut a version that went back and forth line-by-line between Hebrew and English and what you get here is the single edit of that which almost removes all the lyrics anyway. Haza died in 2000 from AIDS.
Jeff Healey was a pretty great blues artist and although I’d rather have a little blues with my rock than rock with my blues like Healey provided, I can recognize his talent. I like “Angel Eyes” better than any of these tracks, but “See the Light” is a damn good tune as well. Both “Confidence Man” and “See the Light” come from his album called See the Light and “Roadhouse Blues” was of course from the Road House soundtrack in which Jeff was in, behind a screen getting bottles thrown at him. Classic.
Hear ‘N Aid
“Stars” 1986, #39 (download)
I’ve always kind of laughed at this track, but it’s actually an okay song. Hear ‘N Aid was put together by Ronnie James Dio, Jimmy Bain and Vivian Campbell when they thought that metal artists weren’t represented enough in the charity scene. So the three of them went out and wrote “Stars” which featured a billion metal artists and was a virtual orgy of soloing by artists such as Campbell, Carlos Cavazo of Quiet Riot, George Lynch, Yngwie Malmsteen and many others with vocals by RJD, Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Don Dokken and harmonies by like 6,000 other metal singers. The rest of the Hear ‘N Aid album included live tracks from artists like Rush and Motorhead and some studio songs Hendrix and the Scorpions, among others. The real fun is in watching the overdramatic acting in the video and of course the pink suit. Dio claims he raised over a million dollars with the project.
As much as I don’t like female fronted bands, I’d be hard pressed to find a reason to not love Heart. Ann and Nancy Wilson rocked so hard and Nancy was and is hot as hell. I don’t know that their last two rock albums of the decade — 1982’s Private Audition and 1983’s Passionworks — are great representations of their rock glory but they both have their moments. “City’s Burning” is one of those moments off of the former and may be the best song on either of those albums. “Sleep Alone” sounds a bit uninspired though and “The Heat” is a another cheesy tune off the Up the Creek soundtrack.
Helix began releasing albums in 1979 and are still popping them out today even though they’ve never really made anything worth listening to. Their ‘80s heavy metal sound was like 1000 other bands and so many of them did it much better so it’s really hard for me to find any redeeming moments in their work. Their biggest hit was “Rock You,” which bubbled under at #101 in ’84.
“You Better Hang Up” 1982, #44 (download)
“Drivin’ With Your Eyes Closed” 1985, #9 (download)
“Who Owns This Place” 1986, #3 (download)
“I Will Not Go Quietly” 1989, #2 (download)
“If Dirt Were Dollars” 1989, #8 (download)
Although some of these songs are totally decent, his 1995 greatest hits disc — Don Henley’s Actual Miles — really provides me with all of the former Eagle I need and only “I Will Not Go Quietly” is featured on it out of these five songs. “Who Owns This Place” is the most boring out of the group having come from the Color of Money soundtrack. “I Will Not Go Quietly” owns the distinction of having Axl Rose providing harmony vocals on it and “If Dirt Were Dollars” features Sheryl Crow.
I’ve only heard two John Hiatt records, 1987’s Bring the Family and 1988’s Slow Turning but both are excellent. Why I’ve never went back and listened to more from him, I don’t know as both those albums contain some excellent bluesy rock tunes like the three you hear above. “Paper Thin” is my favorite of the three but “Slow Turning” was his biggest hit – not surprising considering I get a John Mellencamp feel every time I hear it. The banjo work in it is pretty damn awesome too.
Best Song: Heart, “City’s Burning”
Worst Song: Helix, “Deep Cuts the Knife”
Also appeared in the Hot 100
Corey Hart (3): “Sunglasses at Night”, “It Ain’t Enough”, “Never Surrender”
Colin James Hay (1): “Hold Me”
Jeff Healey Band (1): “Angel Eyes”
Heart (9): “This Man is Mine”, “How Can I Refuse”, “What About Love?”, “Never”, “These Dreams”, “Nothin’ At All”, “Alone”, “Who Will You Run To”, “There’s the Girl”
Heaven 17 (1): “Let Me Go”
Don Henley (8): “Johnny Can’t Read”, “Dirty Laundry”, “The Boys of Summer”, “Sunset Grill”, “All She Wants To Do Is Dance”, “Not Enough Love In the World”, “The End of the Innocence”, “The Last Worthless Evening”