“I Won’t Be Your Fool” 1988, #31 (download)
The brother of ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill, information on Rocky has always been kind of tough to find. He was in a band with his brother in the ‘60s when Dusty decided he wanted to play rock music and joined Billy Gibbons in what would eventually be ZZ Top. Rocky wanted to play blues so he went solo but quietly. He put out his debut record in 1982 and then didn’t release another on until his self-titled record in ’88. He never had much chart success which was surprising due to his brother’s major hits, but Rocky always kind of stayed to himself and didn’t want to compromise his love of blues for a record label. It’s a shame he wasn’t a hit because that record in ’88 is damn fine but most people don’t even know who Rocky Hill was. He passed away in ’09.
“Waning Moon” 1987, #41 (download)
I kind of know more about Peter Himmelman’s career outside of ‘80s music than I do within the context of this series. “Waning Moon” was a solid track off his second solo record, Gematria. But for me, I know he’s put out a handful of children’s albums in recent years, was nominated for an Emmy for the theme song from Judging Amy (I think it was the theme at least…it was at least an original song in it. Never saw the show) and is the son-in-law of Bob Dylan.
Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians
“Madonna of the Wasps” 1989, Modern Rock #2 (download)
“Madonna of the Wasps” (or I should say “Madonner”) was from Robyn Hitchcock’s best major label album, Queen Elvis. It was his second for A&M following up on the mediocre Globe of Frogs in ’88. Queen Elvis is a very enjoyable record but by this point I think Robyn’s best music was behind him. His first three albums were his finest moments, with 1985’s Gotta Let This Hen Out! my favorite record from him which includes some great tracks like “Kingdom of Love” and “My Wife and My Dead Wife.”
Roger Hodgson was of course the lead singer of Supertramp and has been called “Mr. Supertramp” over the years. “In Jeopardy” was the second track on his debut solo record (In the Eye of the Storm) and certainly has the stamp of his former group all over it. Although it’s a pretty great track, I love “You Make Me Love You” even though at times it sounds a little dated for 1987.
I should go back on this one and read what I wrote in the first series but I’m pretty sure that my opinion on these guys is still the same. Honeymoon Suite created some pretty damn catchy rock tunes and probably should have been bigger than they were in the states but they never found that one hook to get them the major hit. I think “Burning In Love” is a great tune and if that chorus had layers of vocals and was something that could get people up and excited, it could have been that hit. “Bad Attitude” has more of that chorus that I wanted to hear but the rest of the song is pretty pedestrian.
“Come Anytime” 1989, Modern Rock #1 (download)
Hoodoo Gurus is another band on my “get to know better” list. I’m almost embarrassed to admit this but I don’t believe I heard this song for the first time until it popped up as the theme to the David Alan Grier hosted improv show, Thank God You’re Here in ’07. It’s a fabulous song as evidenced by the fact it went to #1 on the modern rock chart in ’89 but even so, I’ve never bothered going back and listening to more from them. That day will come soon though as they inch towards the top of my list.
“Karla with a K” 1987, #47 (download)
Growing up in Philly, I was always a big fan of the Hooters and honestly not because of the name either (though it didn’t hurt). Between ’85 and ’89 you couldn’t go anywhere in the Philadelphia area and not hear something from the Hooters, whether it be “And We Danced,” “Day By Day,” or the bigger in Philly than most other places, “All You Zombies.” “Karla with a K” though is one that I don’t remember hearing at all back in the day for some reason. It came off their third album (One Way Home) and radio played both “Johnny B” and “Satellite” from that record but “Karla” must not have gotten that much love. I’m not terribly surprised as it’s a good song but probably the weakest of their radio tunes.
The older I get the more I appreciate the golden voice of Bruce Hornsby. I’ve always liked him and the Range but over the years I’ve grown to enjoy his sound more than ever.
“On the Western Skyline” hit the rock charts between the massive hits “The Way It Is” and “Mandolin Rain.” “Defenders of the Flag” was the final song to hit the charts from Scenes from the Southside.” The harmonica is courtesy of Mr. Huey Lewis.
Both these tracks were off People, the debut album for these Irish boys. Every time I listen to “Don’t Go” I hear David Byrne and I can picture him playing music like this even today. “I’m Sorry” is an opposite directionof that — catchy soul mixed with some gospel.
“Call Me Blue” 1988, Modern Rock #9 (download)
Back-to-Back Irish bands here as this was the only semi-hit for these guys from Dublin. I never really liked the song and it’s over in two minutes so I never did much research on them. The track is from their album, On Our Big Fat Merry-Go-Round.
If you haven’t heard House of Freaks second album Tantilla, then you are missing out on something special. They pulled their sound from folk and Americana music mixed with pop and rock, though “Sun Gone Down” and “When the Hammer Came Down” are two of the more radio ready tracks on the album. Bryan Harvey and Johnny Hott never had much commercial success with House of Freaks over the course of their four albums and they spilt in ’94.
House of Lords
“Love Don’t Lie” 1989, #50 (download)
As I’ve read more and more over the years about House of Lords the more I realize how fucked up this band started out. “Love Don’t Lie” and the more popular “I Wanna Be Loved” were from the self-titled debut of the band which essentially was the group Giuffria with a different vocalist. The label enlisted Gene Simmons to produce the third Giuffria record and Gregg Giuffria presented Simmons with the music he had written only to have Gene tell him he didn’t like the songs with original singer David Glen Eisley on them. It was apparently Simmons who fired Eisley and went with singer James Christian instead and changed their name to House of Lords. So essentially Gene Simmons’s ego claimed the band and Gregg Giuffria handed his balls right over to him. That’s how I read the situation if it’s truly how it went down.
House of Love
“Christine” 1988, Modern Rock #8 (download)
House of Love is an English band that had four rock hits in the US, the first being “Christine” off their self-titled indie debut. They followed that record up by signing in Fontana records and releasing another self-titled album which featured their biggest hit, “I Don’t Know Why I Love You.” Drugs and label problems hurt them in the end and while their first two records were very good, they didn’t have a heck of a lot of crossover appeal, so I kind of think they did as well as could be expected.
“The Look In Your Eye” 1982, #28 (download)
Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes and Asia’s Pat Thrall got together to put out just one album under the name Hughes/Thrall but it was a damn good one. Hughes had been making funk music until he put out this album so it’s a bit surprising that it rocks so damn hard, but this is a perfect example of AOR done correctly. There is supposedly a second Hughes/Thrall album recorded but Pat Thrall has it on lockdown and Glenn Hughes doesn’t seem to care if it ever comes out at this point.
“Tin Soldier” 1981, #58 (download)
Not that I was ever going to go back to Humble Pie’s catalog and listen to them but I made the mistake of hearing 1981’s Go For the Throat first, which is so unlistenable that even if I wanted to, going back would be very difficult for me. “Tin Soldier” was their final hit song off that final album and I’m sure was only a hit because the Steve Marriot led Small Faces had a hit version of it back in 1967.
The best track of the three here is “I Need Your Love” off Hunter’s top solo album in the ‘80s, Short Back ‘n’ Sides. It featured his best cast of musicians in the decade as well, with Mick Ronson, Martin Briley and both Mick Jones and Topper Headon from the Clash.
“All of the Good Ones Are Taken” is a great song as well from his album with the same name. It featured a different cast of characters, but the title track has Hilly Michaels (Sparks), Clarence Clemons, Rory Dodd and Eric Troyer on it.
“American Music” was credited to Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson (I’ve seen it two ways Hunter/Ronson and Ian Hunter/Mick Ronson) off their ’89 album Yui Orta. Hunter sang, Ronson played guitars and Tommy Mandel and Mickey Curry from Bryan Adams band played bass and drums respectively.
Hunters & Collectors
“Back on the Breadline” 1988, Modern Rock #6 (download)
Hunters & Collectors were an Australian group big in their homeland from about ’86 – ’94. In ’87 they released What’s a Few Men? in Australia and when it was time to release it in the US the label cut out one of the AU singles (“Still Hangin’ Around”) added “Back on the Breadline” and a few other tunes and renamed the album Fate.
“I’m On To You” 1988, #33 (download)
Recognize this voice at all? Okay, maybe only a handful of you might but it belongs to Kelly Hansen, the current lead singer of Foreigner. Hurricane was a short lived group that featured Hansen on vocals and rhythm guitar, Robert Sarzo on guitar and Tony Cavazo on bass. You should recognize those last names as older brothers Rudy Sarzo and Carlos Cavazo were in Quiet Riot. “I’m On To You” was from their major label debut – Over the Edge.
“Backstabber” 1984, #48 (download)
If I didn’t own the album, this is another group that I might have thought was a plant by Joel Whitburn in his rock chart book to prevent copying it – well, maybe if it had been Hytz instead. They are a San Francisco group that got a little lucky with “Backstabber” getting some radio play. Honestly, I can’t remember a thing about the album except for the wildly colorful and amateurish cover art. Sticks out like a sore thumb in the collection.
Best Song: Hughes/Thrall, “The Look In Your Eye”
Worst Song: Humble Pie, “Tin Soldier”
Also appeared in the Hot 100
Roger Hodgson (1): “Had A Dream (Sleeping with the Enemy)”
The Honeydrippers (2): “Rockin’ At Midnight”, “Sea of Love”
Honeymoon Suite (4): “New Girl Now”, “Feel It Again”, “What Does It Take”, “Love Changes Everything”
Hooters (7): “All You Zombies”, “And We Danced”, “Day By Day”, “Where Do the Children Go”, “Johnny B”, “Satellite”, “500 Miles”
Bruce Hornsby and the Range (5): “Every Little Kiss”, “The Way It Is”, “Mandolin Rain”, “The Valley Road”, “Look Out Any Window”
House of Lords (1): “I Wanna Be Loved”
Human League (3): “Don’t You Want Me”, “Mirror Man”, “Fascination”
Paul Hyde and the Payolas (1): “You’re the Only Love”