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.

Hawks
“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.

Ofra Haza
“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 Band
“Confidence Man” 1988, #11 (download)
“See the Light” 1989, #33 (download)
“Roadhouse Blues” 1989, #29 (download)

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.

Heart
“City’s Burning” 1982, #15 (download)
“Sleep Alone” 1983, #43 (download)
“The Heat” 1984, #40 (download)

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
“Heavy Metal Love” 1983, #23 (download)
“Rock You” 1984, #32 (download)
“Deep Cuts the Knife” 1985, #20 (download)

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.

Don Henley
“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.

John Hiatt
“Thank You Girl” 1987, #27 (download)
“Slow Turning” 1988, #8 Modern Rock #22 (download)
“Paper Thin” 1988, #18 (download)

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.

Quick Hits
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”




  • Russ

    Jeff Healy’s 2 most popular tracks are John Hiatt compositions. Hiatt’s 80′s stuff is all worth hearing, especially Riding With The King.

  • Russ

    Jeff Healy’s 2 most popular tracks are John Hiatt compositions. Hiatt’s 80′s stuff is all worth hearing, especially Riding With The King.

  • Anonymous

    There’s a portion of the melody in that Hawks tune that reminds me of “Roundball Rock”, John Tesh’s theme for NBA on NBC. Coincidence or (sub)conscious channeling?

    “Im Nin’Alu” was put to optimum use in the Coldcut remix of Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid in Full”. I bought an Ofra Haza CD from her Sire days last year and was surprisingly underwhelmed.

    “Rock You” is would-be pop-metal radio-anthem by numbers, from the marching tempo to that spell-along chant. Guess the single-buying masses saw through it, though I know a few of my classmates shelled out for the cassette.

    My only copy of “Who Owns This Place?” (fire/desire sighting, yall!) is a bonus audio-only cut on the DVD from the deluxe Henley best-of issued last year. And as both American Henley comps omit “Johnny Can’t Read”, I’d hardly call them one-stop shopping. Building the Perfect Beast is a sturdy if flawed album in its own right; I’d give “Drivin’ With Your Eyes Closed” the Best Song prize for this go-round.

    John Hiatt (another playlist-era darling for KPFT) raises an interesting question: how many acts had Mainstream/Album and Modern Rock hits in the same calendar year with two different songs? I’d be curious to see how rock acts were simultaneously marketed to different formats.

  • Anonymous

    There’s a portion of the melody in that Hawks tune that reminds me of “Roundball Rock”, John Tesh’s theme for NBA on NBC. Coincidence or (sub)conscious channeling?

    “Im Nin’Alu” was put to optimum use in the Coldcut remix of Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid in Full”. I bought an Ofra Haza CD from her Sire days last year and was surprisingly underwhelmed.

    “Rock You” is would-be pop-metal radio-anthem by numbers, from the marching tempo to that spell-along chant. Guess the single-buying masses saw through it, though I know a few of my classmates shelled out for the cassette.

    My only copy of “Who Owns This Place?” (fire/desire sighting, yall!) is a bonus audio-only cut on the DVD from the deluxe Henley best-of issued last year. And as both American Henley comps omit “Johnny Can’t Read”, I’d hardly call them one-stop shopping. Building the Perfect Beast is a sturdy if flawed album in its own right; I’d give “Drivin’ With Your Eyes Closed” the Best Song prize for this go-round.

    John Hiatt (another playlist-era darling for KPFT) raises an interesting question: how many acts had Mainstream/Album and Modern Rock hits in the same calendar year with two different songs? I’d be curious to see how rock acts were simultaneously marketed to different formats.

  • Anonymous

    There’s a portion of the melody in that Hawks tune that reminds me of “Roundball Rock”, John Tesh’s theme for NBA on NBC. Coincidence or (sub)conscious channeling?

    “Im Nin’Alu” was put to optimum use in the Coldcut remix of Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid in Full”. I bought an Ofra Haza CD from her Sire days last year and was surprisingly underwhelmed.

    “Rock You” is would-be pop-metal radio-anthem by numbers, from the marching tempo to that spell-along chant. Guess the single-buying masses saw through it, though I know a few of my classmates shelled out for the cassette.

    My only copy of “Who Owns This Place?” (fire/desire sighting, yall!) is a bonus audio-only cut on the DVD from the deluxe Henley best-of issued last year. And as both American Henley comps omit “Johnny Can’t Read”, I’d hardly call them one-stop shopping. Building the Perfect Beast is a sturdy if flawed album in its own right; I’d give “Drivin’ With Your Eyes Closed” the Best Song prize for this go-round.

    John Hiatt (another playlist-era darling for KPFT) raises an interesting question: how many acts had Mainstream/Album and Modern Rock hits in the same calendar year with two different songs? I’d be curious to see how rock acts were simultaneously marketed to different formats.

  • breadalbane

    “Rock You” was a huge top 10 hit up here in Canada. Damn you, CanCon regulations!

    Many, many re-written X-rated versions of the chanted “Rock You” intro exist (this song inspired a lot of hatred). But I liked this goofier intro:

    Gimme an R!
    - (R!)

    O!
    - (O!)

    C!
    - (C!)

    K!
    -(K!)

    Whatcha got?
    - (ROCK!)

    And whatcha gonna do?
    - (Spell things out loud!)

  • Russ

    Iggy Pop got airplay with Hiatt’s “Something Wild” around this timeframe. And Three Dog Night had a hit with one of his tunes in ’74 so he’s been marketed in as many formats as Jimmy Webb in one guise or another.

  • The Clone Ranger

    Great Mix this week, Dave!
    I’ve found a lot of early 80s mix tapes favorites this time, which of course I haven’t listened to in ages.
    Nice to see the ‘determined’ acting in Stars (Meniketti seems to be about to explode… How could Buck Dharma stay so cool among all these guys?)

    City’s Burning! What a rocker! It still works for me. Remember Ann breaking the phone receiveiver in the video?

    “Rock You” – not the most clever rock song in history, but man, what a mighty production. Like over the top wall of sound.

    “You Better Hang Up” – well, it’s always been more like a nursery rhyme, but what a great hook. Still makes me stomp along, so it must be well crafted after all.

    As for John Hiatt, I discovered him late (i.e. in the early 90s) and worked myself through his entire catalogue. One of the true masters of songwriting and storytelling. I’ve seen him in concert a couple times and though his voice sounds a bit strange at first, that guy can really sing. It’s hard to hit all those high notes and he makes them even sound like it wasn’t that high :-)

    The John Mellencamp feeling might not come as a surprise as both are Indiana natives and I always felt they were painting a vivid picture of the area they grew up in with their music.

  • Kevin

    How have I never hear of this Hear N Aid project, have I been living under a rock?….this almost seems like a SNL spoof or something and am surprised this has never been used for comic relief in some VH1 countdown type show. Maybe because the song isn’t terrible (just dated sounding) but at the same time mostly forgetable, unlike the We Are The World group, which is just an awful song, but memorable.

  • Anonymous

    I’d never heard of Hawks ’til the inestimable Bruce Brodeen released a collection by the band on Not Lame, but they’re definitely one of those bands who had the kind of hooks that should’ve earned them more success.

  • breadalbane

    Trust me, the thrill of the mighty production on “Rock You” wears off if you have to hear it once an hour for six straight months, no matter what radio station you tune to.

    To be fair, it’s no dumber a lyric than, say, “Dance Hall Days” by Wang Chung. And I can see how that song could drive someone crazy — though personally I kinda like it, despite its cloth-headedness. Chacon a son gout, I suppose!