Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 38

In the midst of record miles of blizzards, ice storms and shitty weather across the country, one thing is certain — without fail we bring the rock!  More songs from the letter “P” this week that hit the Billboard Rock Chart but didn’t cross over into the Hot 100.

Pere Ubu
“Waiting For Mary” 1989, Modern Rock #6 (download)

“Waiting For Mary” is the only charting song Pere Ubu had in the US. Labeled as sort of an avant-garde new wave, “Mary” came from their 1989 album Cloudland which is considered one of their most straightforward albums.

Phantom, Rocker & Slick
“Men Without Shame” 1985, #7 (download)
“My Mistake” 1986, #33 (download)

This trio consisted of Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker from the Stray Cats and Earl Slick from Silver Condor (played with Bowie on some albums and tours as well). I was never a big fan of the Stray Cats but Silver Condor was decent – put the two together and the music is pretty enjoyable.

Both of the tracks here are from their self-titled debut. “Men Without Shame” is a decent rock ‘n’ roll song but they kick it up a notch on “My Mistake” which features Keith Richards on guitar!

Sam Phillips
“Holding On To the Earth” 1989, Modern Rock #22 (download)

Sam Phillips was a Christian artist through 1988, known by her birth name of Leslie Phillips. But then she switched from the Christian label Myrrh records over to Virgin, married T-Bone Burnett and changed her name to Sam. This ‘70s influenced song was her only hit.

Pink Floyd
“Money” 1981, #37 (download)
“Not Now John” 1983, #7 (download)
“Your Possible Pasts” 1983, #8 (download)
“The Hero’s Return” 1983, #31 (download)
“On the Turning Away” 1987, #1 (download)
“One Slip” 1987, #5 (download)
“The Dogs of War” 1987, #30 (download)
“Sorrow” 1988, #36 (download)
“Comfortably Numb (Live)” 1988, #24 (download)
“Time (Live)” 1988, #34 (download)
“Another Brick in the Wall Part II (Live)” 1988, #42 (download)
“Learning To Fly (Live)” 1988, #45 (download)

I’m maintaining that the letter “P” is the best letter we’ve had so far in the Rock End and Pink Floyd is a big part of that reasoning. That might sound odd since most of you know that I’m no fan of the Floyd. But maybe that’s all in my mind. Or maybe it’s age. On Super Bowl Sunday I turn 35 and as the years go by I see my tastes changing. Strangely enough, listening to a lot of metal has really mellowed me out on the other end and I’m getting into slower groovier things. That said, there are 12 Pink Floyd songs here and I like every one of them which should be impossible since I claim to not like them. So from now on, I will no longer be saying that.

“Money” is a 1981 rerecording of the song for the useless compilation A Collection of Great Dance Songs. Capitol records wouldn’t allow Columbia to use the original on this disc so David Gilmour went back in the studio and rerecorded all the parts himself except for the saxophone.

“Not Now John,” “Your Possible Pasts” and “The Hero’s Return” come from the Final Cut which would be the last album with Roger Waters at the time. “Not Now John” is a killer tune with David Gilmour on lead but the rest of the tracks on the album were sung by Waters. The album is a bit of a mess as David Gilmour didn’t bring a whole lot of writing to the table so Waters took a bunch of songs that didn’t make the cut for The Wall and recycled them for this album. Gilmour has since come out and said that he doesn’t really like the album. If nothing else, it’s certainly not a cohesive album as the majority of Pink Floyd discs are.

“On the Turning Away,” “One Slip,” “The Dogs of War” and “Sorrow” are all from the massively popular A Momentary Lapse of Reason which has sold more than four million copies in the US. At this point it was just Gilmour and Nick Mason as part of the core band and I have to think because of that the music was a little more accessible to the masses, led by their only Hot 100 hit in the decade, “Learning To Fly.” “On the Turning Away” is a damn great song though with fantastic solos, one of the rare few that went to #1 on the rock charts but didn’t cross over to the Hot 100 (they would do it again in 1994 with “Keep Talking” which spent 6 weeks at #1). “The Dogs of War” is a pretty fantastic song as well, dark and creepy.

And then there’s the three million selling Delicate Sound of Thunder, their live album recorded in 1988 with Gilmour on all the vocals. The songs are culled from a five day stint at the Nassau coliseum in New York with their biggest hits on it and a lot from Momentary Lapse.

“Monkey Gone To Heaven” 1989, Modern Rock #5 (download)
“Here Comes Your Man” 1989, Modern Rock #3 (download)

Would you believe I was never into the Pixies? A few of my buddies at my college radio station couldn’t live without them but I just never really dug them. Here and there, okay. But I don’t feel I need to own any Pixies record. That’s inevitably something I’m probably very wrong about but it is what it is. I do like “Here Comes Your Man” (hard not to) and “Velouria” in ’90 but the rest I can listen to or not, doesn’t really matter to me. Never got into Frank Black’s solo stuff or the Breeders either.

Planet P Project
“Static” 1983, #24 (download)
“What I See” 1984, #25 (download)

Planet P Project was founded by German producer Peter Hauke who then enlisted Tony Carey as his singer. This ended up being a group for the more experimental side of Carey. I mean, “Static” wouldn’t sound terribly out of place in the Pink Floyd catalog. “What I See” was the only single off their second album, Pink World. After a 20+ year break, Planet P put out a trilogy of albums starting in 2005.

Robert Plant
“Worse Than Detroit” 1982, #10 (download)
“Slow Dancer” 1982, #19 (download)
“Far Post” 1982, #12 (download)
“Other Arms” 1983, #1 (download)
“Horizontal Departure” 1983, #44 (download)
“Sixes and Sevens” 1985, #18 (download)
“Heaven Knows” 1988, #1 (download)
“Dance On My Own” 1988, #10 (download)
“The Way I Feel” 1988, #46 (download)
“Walking Towards Paradise” 1988, #39 (download)

I’ve always enjoyed Robert Plant’s solo records though it took me a little while to get into all the nuances and twists and turns of his material. After much scrutiny and mind changing I’m sure, I now think the first album (Pictures At Eleven) is the most rockin’ and most consistent of his albums. “Worse Than Detroit,” “Pledge Pin” and “Slow Dancer” are rockers.

The Principle of Moments is damn fine as well with “Other Arms” going to number one on the rock charts. “Big Log” and “Horizontal Departure” make that record though.

Shaken ‘N’ Stirred is the one album I really don’t like from him, though “Sixes and Sevens” has a bit of a different feel and is one of my favorites from it.

I used to think Now and Zen was the best but I’m not so sure now. Sure, “Tall Cool One” is a great song but “Dance On My Own” and “The Way I Feel” are a bit too slicked up.

Quick Hits
Best Song: Pink Floyd, “Money”
Worst Song: Robert Plant, “Dance On My Own”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
Pink Floyd (1): “Learning To Fly”
Planet P Project (1): “Why Me?”
Robert Plant (7): “Burning Down One Side” “Pledge Pin” “Big Log” “In the Mood” “Little By Little” “Tall Cool One” “Ship of Fools”

  • grayflannelsuit

    I got into Floyd through A Collection of Great Dance Songs so I can’t bag on it too much. And for the record, count me as a fan of Floyd even post-Waters. I loves me some Division Bell.

    I heard “Here Comes Your Man” for the first time the other day, and was underwhelmed. I have no desire to listen to any more Pixies based off that song.

    Robert Plant has had possibly the best solo career of any artist who was in a major band. Principle of Moments is one of my top 20 albums of all time, partly on the strength of “Big Log.” Can’t forget “In the Mood” though.

    Robbie Blunt was a great pick for guitarist in his band, and his departure was a loss as far as I’m concerned. I can get into Sixes and Sevens but I can see why others can’t. “Little By Little” is one of Plant’s best. Never cared for Now & Zen for some reason, but the production is probably a big part. He struck a much better balance on Manic Nirvana.

  • bama

    Wow! What a doozy of a week! Thanks as always for your efforts. Much appreciated.

  • DwDunphy

    I still like Now And Zen a lot, but it is slicker than snot on a doorknob.

  • Anonymous

    It’s slick, yes, on par with the other rock records of that era. However, it has some very strong songs on it.

  • Anonymous

    It’s slick, yes, on par with the other rock records of that era. However, it has some very strong songs on it.

  • Theprototypical

    Holy shit my friends dad is in Pere Ubu. Hah caught me off guard seeing it on here.. Did you happen to make it to any Pere Ubu shows last year? Or any of the Roger Waters the Wall?

  • Anonymous

    Yay, “Waiting for Mary”! It’s been twenty years give or take since I’ve heard it. I’ve probably got the video (courtesy 120 Minutes) somewhere in my VHS stash. They’re probably better known in my coterie of friends as the originators of “Final Solution”, covered by Peter Murphy on his debut. I’ve seen Pere Ubu live, in the fall of ’91 opening for…

    …the Pixies! Another band I discovered in the summer of ’89 when I could finally watch 120 live and in my living room. “Monkey Gone to Heaven” was one of the first CD singles I owned (along with “Fascination Street” from the same Elektra campaign).

    I could have had a Leslie Phillips compilation for .99 last night, but I’ll stick with her secular work. 1994’s Martinis & Bikinis and 1996’s Omnipop are terrific.

    I’m going to DL some of the post-Waters studio cuts, feed them into my mp3 phone and see if I can’t shake my lack of enthusiasm for anything beyond The Final Cut. I got over my Madonna hatred by and large, anything’s possible. (Fire/desire alert for “One Slip”, y’all.)

    So “Too Loud” (from Shaken ‘N’ Stirred) didn’t make the Rock survey? I heard it as frequently as “Little by Little” that year. I listened to Pictures at Eleven while driving around Pensacola on my road trip last month, it was hard for me to draw a bead on. Principle remains my favorite Plant solo.

  • KingP

    For those that ponder the appeal of the Pixies, consider this:

    My youngest kid, 3, picks “Trompe Le Monde” at random out of a giant drawer of appx 200 cds (“eyeballs!” he exclaims). When we board the family truckster, he demands I slide it in the player. He then proceeds to listen to the first song (the title track) and only the first song, on repeat – demanding it each time we leave the house.

    I don’t know what this means either. Just putting it out there.

    In other news, I have always considered Plant’s “Heaven Knows” as one of the best songs to feature absolutely idiotic lyrics (“pumping irony,” “ton ton Macoute” ref).


    Gilmour, having realized the band had discontinued as a working group, adds a lusty fury to his lone lyric on “The Final Cut” — a sentiment made all the more menacing by the ironic backing vocals, which merrily chime in periodically with “f— all that.” I’ve still got my single copy of “Not Now John,” with overdubs the line with something that sounds like “stuff all that.” The lyrics on the sleeve, perhaps in a (we now know, failed) bid for airplay, read: “stop all that.” In the end, any version would do. Waters and Pink Floyd were over.

  • jamesballenger

    Don’t forget the Honeydrippers – Robert Plant is a force unto himself

  • Old_Davy

    Great letter! You know it’s going to be a good week when the worst track is something from Robert Plant.

    I was a huge Pink Floyd fan but when you issue a record as brilliant as “The Wall” there’s really no place to go but down. “The Final Cut” is just too depressing to tolerate, and although there were some enjoyable parts in “Momentary Lapse”, I never really could get into any post-Waters material. And that’s weird because I adore David Gilmour’s solo albums and can’t stand Waters stuff.

    Robert Plant’s solo albums have to be the most un-categorizable music ever made. It’s rock, but WHAT KIND of rock? Totally original, often brilliant, and sometimes a little too far out of bounds. (And Phil Collins plays the hell out of the drums on “Pictures At Eleven”).

    Those two Planet P Project albums are not bad for Pink Floyd rip-offs. Not nearly as apocalyptic either.

    That’s Pere Ubu? The only album by them I heard was in the 70’s – “Dub Housing” – and it was weird, weird, weird.

    I had the Pixies album “Doolittle”. Bought it for “Here Comes Your Man”. Sold it after two listens. It was one of the first CDs I took to the resell shop – and I never looked back.

    I’m totally into Sam Phillips too, but it’s news to me that she was a CCM performer.

    And Phantom, Rocker & Slick are a great beer-drinking boogie bar band!

    Wonderful installment this week.

  • Anonymous

    Re. Pixies, maybe you had to be the right age and in the right place. I heard about the band from my sister (who was a junior at Amherst) about the time I started college (University of Georgia) in 1988. Pixies ended up dominating my college years. There was even a fairly successful Pixies tribute band in Athens–Black Francis, which was actually a local originals act Dayroom (I think) earning some extra scratch–by the time I graduated.

    Pretty much everybody I knew liked, if not loved, ‘em. When Nirvana broke, pretty much everybody I knew was surprised ripping off Pixies could be so profitable. I’ve never really considered myself a big fan, but I saw them play a few times and I own all their albums, quite a few of their singles, as well as a good number of Breeders and Frank Black stuff. I’m sure my experience is not that unique.

  • DwDunphy

    Yup. 50CCM50 Part Four is slated for next week, and Sam (Leslie) has The Turning on that list.

  • DwDunphy

    Yup. 50CCM50 Part Four is slated for next week, and Sam (Leslie) has The Turning on that list.

  • DwDunphy

    Yup. 50CCM50 Part Four is slated for next week, and Sam (Leslie) has The Turning on that list.

  • Annie Zaleski

    Planet P Project is weirdly and inexplicably HUGE in St. Louis, Missouri. I believe due to KSHE 95.

    I bought Trompe Le Monde by the Pixies on tape in the Sam Goody cut-out bin and I wore that out in the mid-’90s. I think I was the only one who dug their later stuff more.

    Sam Phillips’ 90s hits – such as “I Need Love” — are pretty great. I always forget she was CCM.

  • jack


    I started college in ’89, and Pixies, Cure, and NIN were it.

  • jack


    I started college in ’89, and Pixies, Cure, and NIN were it.

  • Brush

    Maybe he wanted to hear the title track over and over because it KICKS ASS! Seriously though, I think I was one of the few that loved the Trompe Le Monde CD. Love Doolittle too, but I haven’t listened to Bossanova in years.

  • My hmphs

    I assume you mean that was Sam Phllips’ only 80s hit; She did pretty well with “I Need Love” and “Baby I Can’t Please You” from 1994’s Martinis and Bikinis. She’s pretty interesting – her final “Leslie Phillips” album – The Turning – shows the evolution that she was going through at the time. She’s still releasing new material and was featured heavily on the TV show “Gilmore Girls.”

  • DwDunphy

    …Funny you should mention The Turning.