Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 32

Written by Bottom Feeders, Music

What would Christmas time be without the king, Michael McDonald. Bottom Feeders continues with the letter M and wishes you a McDonald filled Christmas.

It’s a Christmas edition of Bottom Feeders where we feature nothing even remotely about Christmas! But part 32 treats us way better than 31 as we continue looking at the letter M and songs that hit the Billboard rock chart that failed to cross into the Hot 100.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Mary’s Danish
“Don’t Crash the Car Tonight” 1989, Modern Rock #7 (download)

Mary’s Danish was a bit of an eclectic group playing a mix of rock, funk and country. They were front by a female duo of Gretchen Seager and Julie Ritter with guitarist Louis Gutierrez coming over from The Three O’Clock which he had left before Vermillion came out. “Don’t Crash the Car Tonight” was from their debut album – There Goes the Wondertruck.

The more interesting thing is that the name Julie Ritter rings a bell. I know she’s released a couple solo records, but it’s not from that and I thought for a minute that she might be a Popdose staff favorite but a quick search yielded no articles on her. So, now I’m curious why I think I recognize her so much.

Dave Mason
“Something in the Heart” 1987, #24 (download)

Since Dave Mason was in Traffic it really wasn’t very hard to piece together that Steve Winwood was on this track, but isn’t it amazing that one note from the Win-Synth just gives that away without any doubt in your mind? Not only that, but the layered vocals kind of make Mason sound like Billy Joel here.  So “Something In the Heart” could very well pass for a Billy Joel & Steve Winwood tune.

Nick Mason & Rick Fenn
“Lie For A Lie” 1985, #21 (download)

Nick Mason is the drummer for Pink Floyd and Rick Fenn was the guitarist for 10CC. These guys actually worked together on this (billed as Mason + Fenn on the album) and scored two movies together. “Lie for a Lie” is one of only two songs on Profiles that contain vocals – and of course you are hearing David Gilmour on this track.

Max Q
“Way of the World” 1989, Modern Rock #6 (download)

Don’t recognize the name Max Q? Listen to the track then. If you’re an ‘80s fan you won’t be able to forget the recognizable voice of Michael Hutchence. Yeah, this was Hutchence’s one-off side project from INXS in 1989 and while the self-titled album doesn’t match up with the best INXS discs, it is quite good and if nothing else a neat piece of his musical history that a lot of people haven’t heard. The band never played live and the album didn’t sell so it’s never been re-released, even after his death. This is definitely worth a couple bucks if you can locate it.

McAuley Schenker Group
“Gimme Your Love” 1987, #40 (download)
“Love Is Not A Game” 1988, #49 (download)

Unmistakably ‘80s, this was the worst thing that could happen for MSG. The first incarnation of the group was simply the Michael Schenker Group with Schenker doing all the song writing while leaving the vocals to Gary Barden. The albums that came out of that group were harder in nature and less radio ready. Schenker decided he needed to split the writing duties so he brought in Robin McAuley from Grand Prix to take over the vocals and lyric writing and the result was three albums where every song was as dull as the two tracks above.

Paul McCartney
“Ballroom Dancing” 1982, #22 (download)
“The Pound is Sinking” 1982, #44 (download)
“Here Today” 1982, #46 (download)
“Angry” 1986, #44 (download)

Wooo Hoo! One of these actually made the Beatles in Space.

“Ballroom Dancing,” “The Pound is Sinking” and “Here Today” are all from Tug of War while “Angry” is from Press To Play. I’ve already had a secret love for “Angry.”

Ian McCulloch
“Proud To Fall” 1989, Modern Rock #1 (download)

In the U.S. at least, “Proud To Fall” was the biggest hit Ian McCulloch was a part of, going to #1 for four weeks on the modern rock chart. Personally, I recognize Echo & the Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar” more than this, but speaking strictly from a charting perspective, Echo didn’t do much in the states. This only went to #57 in the UK so it’s nowhere near his biggest hit across the pond.

Michael McDonald
“Bad Times” 1985, #38 (download)

All hail the king, Michael McDonald.

Maria McKee
“I’ve Forgotten What It Was In You (That Put the Need In Me)” 1989, Modern Rock #29 (download)

Maria McKee has certainly made a name for herself as a solo artist over the years but back in 1989 she was mostly known for her work as the singer of Lone Justice. I’m not sure what any of her material after her self-titled solo debut sounds like but that album was must more straight-forward singer-songwriter pop than the cowpunk sounds of her former band.

James McMurtry
“Painting By Numbers” 1989, #33 (download)

I had no idea who James McMurtry was before putting together this post. But upon listening to “Painting By Numbers” again (and although I’m sure I’ve heard it before, I’m not sure from where as I’m sure I didn’t listen to this growing up) this is a pretty damn good song. I wish it had a bit more melody to it and maybe be a slight bit more upbeat, but it’s a damn fine tune either way.

Christine McVie
“One in a Million” 1984, #27 (download)

This is one of those tracks that I would never have attributed to Christine McVie because it just doesn’t sound anything like what I was used to hearing from her either solo or with Fleetwood Mac. Although Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood make their mark all over her 1984 self-titled album, they aren’t on this one. “One In A Million” simply gives us another Steve Winwood sighting.

Meat Loaf
“Modern Girl” 1985, #41 (download)

In the “lost” Meat Loaf period of the mid ‘80s, you may think this was written by Jim Steinman but since it doesn’t have 11 words in the title, you should also know better. “Modern Girl” was not a Steinman tune although writers Sarah Durkee and Paul Jacobs clearly understood what sells this guy when they wrote the tune. The period between 1981 and 1986 did not treat him too kindly but at least 1981’s Dead Ringer and 1984’s Bad Attitude are worth snatching up.

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John Cougar Mellencamp
“Thundering Hearts” 1982, #36 (download)
“Serious Business” 1984, #34 (download)
“Play Guitar” 1984, #28 (download)
“Justice and Independence ‘85” 1985, #25 (download)
“Minutes to Memories” 1986, #14 (download)
“Under the Boardwalk” 1986, #19 (download)
“Hard Times For An Honest Man” 1987, #10 (download)
“The Real Life” 1987, #3 (download)
“Rave On” 1988, #17 (download)
“Martha Say” 1989, #8 (download)
“Let It All Hang Out” 1989, #42 (download)

Alrighty here, lots of John Cougar Mellencamp to discuss.

“Thundering Hearts” was the only track here that wasn’t under his full moniker, instead it and the album American Fool were released while he was still just John Cougar. I’ve always liked American Fool but “Thundering Hearts” is one of my least favorite tunes on the album.

His next proper album was Uh-Huh which is my favorite ‘80s album from him (Dance Naked is my surprising favorite overall) from which “Serious Business” and “Play Guitar” come from. If you listen to the record for this, the latter is the first track from the second side and makes a fun kick off to the back end.

Scarecrow was a great album as well, but for some reason it sticks in my mind as just being a little too long. Upon looking at the track listing though, it was only 11 or 12 songs long (“The Kind of Fella I Am” fit on the tape and CD versions) and only 41 minutes, so that must just be a feeling I have rather than reality. “Justice and Independence” as well as “Minutes To Memories” were two of the seven tracks to hit the rock charts from Scarecrow and I’m shocked that both or at least “Justice” didn’t fare better than the #4 hit, “Rumbleseat” which went to #4 on this charts and #28 on the Hot 100.

After Scarecrow was The Lonesome Jubilee which was a major hit in its own right. The thing I find most interesting about the record is that while he tried to add more folk music into some of the songs with the use of a steel guitar, organs, accordions and such, most of his hits are to me some of the most straightforward pop that he’s done – “Paper In Fire” and especially “Cherry Bomb” to support that argument. Of course, that doesn’t quite fit in the context of this blog as “Hard Times For An Honest Man” is a great track with a nice mix of pop and roots influence. “The Real Life” is the fourth track on the record, right between the hits “Check It Out” and “Cherry Bomb” and is certainly better than the former and maybe as good as the latter.

The final Mellencamp album represented here is Big Daddy which took a more serious turn than his other records as a whole but was his weakest of the decade. I don’t ever remember hearing “Martha Say” on the radio though “Let It All Hang Out” was all over it in Philadelphia and I will always remember it being the second song to really confused the hell out of this teenager buying music because it was a hidden track and not printed on the disc (the other one was “Leave Me Alone” by Michael Jackson which is the hidden track on Bad).

“Rave On” is one that didn’t appear on a Mellencamp album, rather being a single from the Cocktail soundtrack, which isn’t really difficult to find. Then there’s “Under the Boardwalk” which was a one-off single back in 1986 and was rare until John included it on Rough Harvest in 1999 which I believe was the only track on the acoustic and live disc that was included in its original recorded version.

Quick Hits
Best Song: Max Q, “Way of the World”
Worst Song: McAuley Schenker Group, “Love Is Not A Game”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
McAuley Schenker Group (1): “Anytime”
Paul McCartney (7): “Ebony and Ivory” “Take It Away” “Say Say Say” “No More Lonely Nights” “Spies Like Us” “My Brave Face” “Figure of Eight”
Michael McDonald (1): “No Lookin’ Back”
Bob & Doug McKenzie (1): “Take Off”
Christine McVie (2): “Got a Hold On Me” “Love Will Show Us How”
Randy Meisner (1): “Hearts on Fire”
John Cougar Mellencamp (17): “Ain’t Even Done With the Night” “Hurts So Good” “Jack & Diane” “Crumblin’ Down” “Pink Houses” “Authority Song” “Lonely Ol’ Night” “Small Town” “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” “Rain on the Scarecrow” “Rumbleseat” “Paper in Fire” “Cherry Bomb” “Check It Out” “Rooty Toot Toot” “Pop Singer” “Jackie Brown”