In this series we’re taking a look at songs that hit the Rock and Modern Rock charts in the 1980s that didn’t cross over to the Billboard Hot 100. Today we finish up the letter A, as we listen to more songs from the rock end of the ’80s.
“Sound Alarm” 1988, #17 (download)
Michael Anderson mixed rock, blues and country into a couple decent but unspectacular albums before moving onto the Contemporary Christian market. “Sound Alarm” is the title track from his A&M debut.
A Yes album in every way but in name, Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe got together when Anderson wasn’t real happy with the way Yes was moving and recorded this one album. Thanks to these guys being members of the classic lineup, the slickness of ‘80s Yes was peeled back to reveal sprawling prog-tunes. Unfortunately, most of it was pretty boring and a track like “Order of the Universe” sounded dated right upon release. They would write another album which Arista decided to turn into the 1991 Yes album, Union.
“Underground” 1985, #35 (download)
Known as simply The Angels outside of the U.S., the group has had a decent amount of success in their native Australia, but never made it in the US. In ’84 they recorded their album Two Minute Warning in Los Angeles and MCA released it along with the singles “Underground” and “Be With You” — but failed to give it any promotion. They rejected the next record and The Angels went back to US obscurity once again.
I’m a big fan of “All Over Town” and its quick bursts of talk box. It was the lead track on the excellent The Nature Of The Beast and hit the rock chart at the same time as the two Hot 100 hits, “Just Between You and Me” and “Sign of the Gypsy Queen”.
Unfortunately, as I see the words “If You See Kay”, all I think about is “If You Seek Amy” by Britney Spears now. Though this song seems to be about wanting this girl Kay and not necessarily sex, I wonder how many radio stations picked up on the title back in the day and if that prevented it from getting played in many places.
Joan Armatrading was always more of an album artist than a hit maker, but she’s made better music than most of her hit making peers. Way back in the original series, I talked about how much I loved “Drop the Pilot”, her biggest hit. While neither of these are quite as good (in fact, I don’t like “Living For You” much at all) “Kind Words” should have been another hit for her and at least one of these songs should have propelled her to stardom.
Any song that starts off with a harp solo is probably one that I’m not going to like but strangely enough I do really like “Art in America”. Art in America were the Flynn family from Detroit — Chris on vocals and guitar, Dan on drums and sister Shishonee on vocals and harp. Both of these tracks were from what I believe is their only record, a self-titled prog-rock effort with cover art that looked very much like a Yes record.
“A Woman’s Got the Power” 1981, #18 (download)
The A’s were a short lived group from Philadelphia, PA. They released two albums which had a bit of a punk feel to them, with the second A Woman’s Got the Power moving into the new wave realm a little bit. This is one of their poppier tracks and almost made the Hot 100, bubbling under at #106. For me, the key to liking the A’s is completely in the vocals as the songs are perfectly fine, but the vocals are a little unique.
“Sole Survivor” 1982, #10 (download)
“Wildest Dreams” 1982, #28 (download)
“Here Comes the Feeling” 1982, #40 (download)
“Time Again” 1982, #43 (download)
“The Heat Goes On” 1983, #5 (download)
“True Colors” 1983, #20 (download)
“Daylight” 1983, #24 (download)
“Too Late” 1986, #30 (download)
Man, I have always hated Asia even when I had their artwork on my wall. Their three ‘80s records got huge airplay on the Hot 100 chart but even more so on the rock chart without actually being any good. They had six singles off the first self-titled album including, “Sole Survivor”, “Wildest Dreams”, “Here Comes the Feeling” and “Time Again” with “Here Comes the Feeling” being the only one that’s worth a damn.
In typical Steed fashion, the first album was liked by critics, while the second album — Alpha — got panned and yet, I like the second album more. Both “The Heat Goes On” and “True Colors” aren’t terrible tracks — nothing I’d ever go back to on purpose, but probably wouldn’t slide past them on the shuffle either. If nothing else, “Daylight” should be the key track from this set of songs as it was a B-side from Alpha that was released as a one off single. It has appeared on numerous hits comps since that point, but isn’t on any studio album.
“Blondes in Black Cars” 1985, #38 (download)
Autograph was supposed to be a solo project for singer/guitarist Steve Plunkett after he left Silver Condor, but it turned into him playing music with a bunch of friends and having the one minor hit “Turn Up the Radio”. “Blondes in Black Cars” came from the second album — That’s the Stuff — which yielded no real hits.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Party in the Streets” 1982, #23 (download)
Decent group, average song. This Florida band was originally called the very non rock n’ roll Babyface. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Party in the Streets” is a good enough song, but isn’t quite as rockin’ as it should be for having lyrics about having a knock-down drag out rock n’ roll party. Axe lasted until 1984 when singer/guitarist Bobby Barth and guitarist Michael Osborne were in car accident that killed Osborne and injured Barth badly. Barth went on to perform in Blackfoot. The band reunited in 1997 for an album and also put out another one in 2001.
Best Song: April Wine, “All Over Town”
Worst Song: Asia, “Wildest Dreams”
Also appeared on the Hot 100
The Animals (1) — “The Night”
April Wine (4) — “Just Between You and Me”, “Sign of the Gypsy Queen”, “Enough is Enough”, “This Could Be the Right One”
Joan Armatrading (1) — “Drop the Pilot”
Artists United Against Apartheid (1) — “Sun City”
The Art of Noise (1) — “Kiss”
Asia (5) — “Heat of the Moment”, “Only Time Will Tell”, “Don’t Cry”, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes”, “Go”
Jon Astley (2) — “Jane’s Getting Serious”, “Put This Love To the Test”
Atlanta Rhythm Section (1) — “Alien”
Autograph (1) — “Turn Up the Radio”
Axe (1) — “I Think You’ll Remember Tonight”