Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 29
After a quick fly over with the letter K, we move on to L with the best little bar band in the world! Here are more tracks that hit the Billboard rock charts but failed to cross over into the Hot 100.
“Rip and Tear” 1989, #47 (download)
Back in college when I was hosting a weekly radio show called “Stuck in the ‘80s” I would get a request every single week from my buddy Benson for the biggest L.A. Guns hit, “The Ballad of Jayne.” And without fail I would be the asshole that stuck to my “guns” (so very much intended) and claimed it was a ‘90s song because it didn’t hit the charts until the first few months of the next decade even though the album was released in ’89. Never though did he request the cool “Rip and Tear” also from the excellent and sleazy Cocked & Loaded.
“(Glad I’m) Not a Kennedy” 1988, Modern Rock #14 (download)
This is one of those that you really need to listen to the lyrics as well as enjoy the music. It’s such a well written song with a great melody, beautiful vocals and of course a chilling story about JFK. This was Laing’s only hit off her album South.
“Nuclear Attack” 1981, #34 (download)
I haven’t heard this one in ages and it’s surprising me just how good and totally rockin’ it is. Greg Lake is of course the middle name in Emerson, Lake & Palmer/Powell and the former singer of King Crimson for a couple of their earlier critically acclaimed works but “Nuclear Attack” is much more straight forward than all of the above. It was the lead track off the decent but unmemorable self-titled solo debut for him.
Robin Lane & the Chartbusters
“Send Me An Angel” 1981, #53 (download)
It’s a little weird how despite the fact that I’m familiar with Robin Lane & the Chartbusters and own the full length albums from them that I continually see the name and think Robin Lane is a guy. Robin grew up in music as her dad was a songwriter for Dean Martin, she briefly married Andy Summers (future Police guitarist) and sang background vocals on some early Neil Young recordings. In the ‘80s she took the Chartbusters in more of a new wave direction for their two albums (self-titled in 1980 and Imitation Life in 1981) before she dissolved the band because she wanted to have a child (at least partly if I’m not mistaken).
It’s sad the only record I get to talk about from Zep is Coda, which certainly is no gem but even as an odds and sods album has a few decent tracks on it. It was released two years after John Bonham’s death and features outtakes from sessions throughout their career. John Paul Jones has stated in the past that very few Zeppelin songs didn’t make an album so this was about all they could scrape up and they owed the label and album per their contract — thus Coda was born. I actually really like “Darlene” recorded in ’78 in the same sessions as “Ozone Baby” which isn’t quite as good. “Poor Tom” is an oldie, recorded back in June of 1970 and rightfully discarded.
“Detroit Diesel” 1986, #24 (download)
Alvin Lee was the singer and guitarist of the band Ten Years After and the excellent “Detroit Diesel” is his lone solo hit which appears on the album that bares that name.
I try not to say much about any of the Beatles as a rule since I’m on the other side of a battle I don’t want to get in. I was never a Beatles fan. It’s that simple. But I will say that if you strip out Yoko’s songs from Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey and combine Lennon’s tracks together, you might have the best album of the decade. The version of “Every Man” that charted is from the Every Man Has A Woman compilation in 1984 and strips away Yoko’s vocals from the original Double Fantasy version (I’ve included the closest thing I could get which would be the Lennon version off the Milk and Honey reissue which is about 20 seconds shorter than the single). “Come Together” and “Imagine” are both from Live in New York City recorded in 1972.
If you want a much better read than this, check out Mark Feldman’s Fixing a Hole series. He’s up the ‘80s anyway, so it’s perfect timing if you haven’t been there yet.
“Addicted” 1982, #7 (download)
It’s kind of hard to be Le Roux in this case, following John Lennon alphabetically. Last Safe Place was their album in 1982 that contained “Addicted” – part catchy and part a little too busy.
“Every Dog Has His Day” 1988, Modern Rock #17 (download)
For years, Let’s Active bothered me because it just flows off the tongue so poorly. But once I discovered that the name had no real meaning and it was just seen on a T-Shirt in Japan, the weird moniker stopped bothering me. But the name also gives off the vibe that the group beneath it should be playing something similar to Haircut 100. Instead, the Mitch Easter led group was jangle pop until Every Dog has His Day in 1988 when they had more of a power pop style. Frankly, I can’t understand why the title track here wasn’t a massive hit.
Huey Lewis & the News
“Finally Found A Home” 1984, #41 (download)
“Trouble In Paradise” 1985, #11 (download)
“Back in Time” 1985, #3 (download)
“Whole Lotta Lovin’” 1988, #38 (download)
“Walking with the Kid” 1988, #47 (download)
Let’s (Active) get it right out of the way. I love Huey Lewis & the News. I really don’t give a shit that they are a glorified bar band or any of the other billion reasons why so many people hate them. There are enough people out there like me that love the fun tracks Huey brought to the table and made him the hit he was. In fact, they just released a new album and if they come to the Philadelphia area I’ve already asked my wife to get me tickets. I am determined to see Huey Lewis in concert one day. Probably would have been better to catch him back in ’88 or so when he was playing just the ‘80s songs rather than the blues that he’s turned to, but I’ll take what I can get.
Hard to pick my favorite song here as I’ve always loved “Trouble in Paradise” and this live version from the We are the World album isn’t terribly far from the studio one or “Back In Time” which should have been a huge hit from Back to the Future. As much as I love “Whole Lotta Lovin’” I’m a little shocked this charted anywhere, but Fore! was so damn hot at the time, I’d bet almost every track could have been a hit. “Walking with the Kid” comes from Small World which had a mighty different feel to it and while it’s not as immediately catchy as Sports or Fore!, I still think it’s quite underrated.
Best Song: John Lennon, “I’m Losing You”
Worst Song: Led Zeppelin, “Poor Tom”
Also appeared in the Hot 100
Cyndi Lauper (5): “Time After Time” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” “She Bop” “All Through the Night” “Money Changes Everything”
John Lennon (5): “Woman” “Watching the Wheels” “Nobody Told Me” “I’m Stepping Out” “Jealous Guy”
Julian Lennon (5): “Valotte” “Too Late For Goodbyes” “Say You’re Wrong” “Stick Around” “Now You’re In Heaven”
Level 42 (1): “Something About You”
Huey Lewis & the News (14): “Do You Believe in Love” “Workin’ For A Livin’” “Heart and Soul” “I Want A New Drug” “Walking On A Thin Line” “The Heart of Rock & Roll” “If This Is It” “The Power of Love” “Stuck with You” “Hip To Be Square” “Jacob’s Ladder” “I Know What I Like” “Perfect World” “Small World”