Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 27
We may still be in the letter J this week but at least the flute solos are gone. We’ll finish up the 10th letter of the alphabet looking at tracks that hit the Billboard rock charts in the ’80s but never crossed over into the Hot 100.
Johnny & the Distractions were a short lived group out of Portland, OR led by Johnny Koonce who is still playing music today as Johnny & the Gas Hogs. Both these tunes came off their album, Let It Rock. Neither one is very exciting and they certainly sound quite dated today.
“Madman” 1981, #54 (download)
Johnston left the Doobie Brothers in 1977 to pursue a solo career which only yielded a few minor hits, though “Madman” was the best of them from his second and final solo album Still Feels Good.
Jon & Vangelis
“The Friends of Mr. Cairo” 1981, #33 (download)
Once again, I’ve never really been a fan of either of these guys separately but Jon Anderson and Vangelis together were pretty damn cool. “The Friends of Mr. Cairo” is the title track to their second album together and is pays homage to ‘30s and ‘40s movies with the emphasis on the Maltese Falcon. The version here is the nearly 12 minute album cut.
“Just Wanna Hold” 1989, #16 (download)
Of course every time you talk about Mick Jones you have to clarify it by saying “not the guy from the Clash.” This is the Mick Jones from Foreigner and this generic track is from his self-titled solo album – his only one. What’s amazing is that this piece of generic light rock took three talented people to write it (Jones, Ian Hunter and Mick Jagger) and features background vocals from Billy Joel. This is staggeringly poor based on the people involved.
I’m surprised I dig so much music from Rickie Lee Jones, as she definitely isn’t my type of artist but “Woody and Dutch” is a damn groovy song, probably the most upbeat song on her Pirates album which also featured the title track written about Tom Waits. And then eight years later she hits the modern rock chart with “Satellites” off Flying Cowboys, produced by Walter Becker.
“One Night Stand” 1982, #35 (download)
Unbelievably I like this too, although it’s a little easier to like the wail of Janis Joplin than most other females for me. “One Night Stand” came from the 1982 Columbia records release, Farewell Song. It included tracks from her time with Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie and is really more known for the fact that studio musicians supposedly were used to rerecord the Big Brother songs for the release.
The rock charts bring us one of the rarer Journey hits in “Only Solutions.” It was featured on the Tron soundtrack and as far as I can tell only appears on CD in two places, 1992’s Time Cubed triple disc hits set and the 2006 CD remaster of Frontiers. So while it isn’t super rare any longer, as one point it was.
“Dixie Highway” comes from their 1981 live album, Captured. It was one of two new songs on the album, the other being the studio recording of “The Party’s Over (Hopelessly in Love).” “Ask the Lonely” appears on a lot of greatest hits discs but was originally released as part of the John Travola/Olivia Newton-John movie Two of a Kind.
“Raised on Radio” is really the only track I don’t enjoy here as it’s just a little too cheesy.
“Heading Out to the Highway” 1981, #10 (download)
“Electric Eye” 1982, #38 (download)
“Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” 1984, #42 (download)
“Locked In” 1986, #25 (download)
“Turbo Lover” 1986, #44 (download)
“Johnny B. Goode” 1988, #47 (download)
I’m actually surprised to see so much Judas Priest here as true metal really didn’t do much on the charts, but Judas Priest made sounds that the masses could relate to. I mean “Heading Out to the Highway” has that great sing along chorus that makes it perfect for the radio.
“Electric Eye” is really the key tune here though, off the last great Judas Priest album, Screaming for Vengeance. The big hit was of course “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and while that was certainly a better radio tune than this, “Electric Eye” still rocks.
And I have to admit that I would have never expected to hear “Johnny B. Goode” covered by Judas Priest, but then again Megadeth did cover “These Boots are Made For Walking” so it wasn’t like something weird like this didn’t happen before.
“Boystown” 1986, #41 (download)
This song is very good and Rob’s album Closer to the Flame could have been a hit, but “Boystown” would have had to be the greatest song in the history of the world to have overcome what may be the worst video ever made. The clip was shot by Godley & Crème who did a similar style video with Wang Chung’s “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” but that one was a least a bit slower. The video for “Boystown” is the most likely ‘80s video to cause seizures. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you start twitching. This had to destroy any chance of a career that he had.
“Simple Man” 1989, #47 (download)
I never thought Junkyard was that great of a band, but even if they were, they almost certainly couldn’t live up to expectations. They were a dirty southern-rock based sleeze group signed to Geffen record almost certainly with the expectations of following in Guns ‘N’ Roses footsteps and obviously that didn’t happen.
Best Song: Janis Joplin, “One Night Stand”
Worst Song: Mick Jones, “Just Wanna Hold”
Also appeared in the Hot 100
Don Johnson (1): “Heartbeat”
Howard Jones (8): “What Is Love?” “New Song” “Things Can Only Get Better” “Life In One Day” “No One Is To Blame” “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?” “Everlasting Love” “The Prisoner”
Journey (12): “The Party’s Over” “Who’s Crying Now” “Don’t Stop Believing’” “Open Arms” “Still They Ride” “Separate Ways” “After the Fall” “Only the Young” “Be Good To Yourself” “Girl Can’t Help It” “Suzanne” “I’ll Be Alright Without You”
Judas Priest (1): “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’”
Rob Jungklas (1): “Make It Mean Something”