It’s time to bust out the big guns as we move into the major letters of the alphabet starting with R. I’m sure I’m not ruining the surprise for anyone here but I’ve got a letter R challenge for myself to go back and listen to all the Rush albums in the decade to find out either exactly why I don’t like them or prove myself wrong and discover something new. My goal is to have this complete by the time Rush shows up three weeks from now. I have a feeling my tastes have changed enough over the years that given a real good shot, I may find something I enjoy finally.
Until that though, enjoy more tracks that hit the Billboard Rock charts in the ’80s but only those that failed to cross over into the Hot 100.
“Something To Hold On To” 1989 #3 (download)
Trevor Rabin started out with the group Rabbitt in the late ‘70s and then put out three solo records including Wolf in 1981. It was then that he really made a name for himself as he joined Yes and probably still gets nice residuals from his co-writing credit on “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Neither Wolf nor his 1989 solo record (Can’t Look Away) were anything to write home about but he’s since found his niche composing movie scores. This is the guy behind the music you hear in Snakes on a Plane. Yeah, baby.
My wife and I were just talking about the Radiators the other week. Unfortunately, it was simply to see if either of us knew how to bleed the line to the three of them in our house since they are making more noise than they should. I then popped on “Like Dreamers Do” and it made absolutely no impact on her at all. No, she had never heard of the Radiators and I don’t blame her, though the “fish-head music” they made was quite fun and catchy.
“Dreamers” and “Doctor Doctor” (can’t forget what this song is called after the 100th time they say the title in just four minutes) come from their major label debut, Law of the Fish. Their blend of rock, R&B and home grown New Orleans flavor netted them one more hit song after that, “Confidential” from their ’89 release Zig-Zaggin’ Through Ghostland.
No matter how I look at it, I will always consider Rainbow a ‘70s group. The ‘80s Joe Lynn Turner-era of the band released three very average records (1981’s Difficult to Cure, 1982’s Straight Between the Eyes and 1983’s Bent Out of Shape). There might be enough good music on all of them to form one really great album but not three in three years. It wasn’t Joe Lynn Turner’s fault as he’s a very capable singer obviously. It just feels like Richie Blackmore lost a little bit of fire for those last few records.
“Snakedance” 1987 #31 (download)
The Rainmakers were a band from Kansas City, that released five studio albums and a live record in their run. “Snakedance” was from Tornado, their second album, and to me sounds a heck of a lot like “I Predict” by Sparks which is a far superior song.
For once here’s a female artist that I’m not going to pull the “general rule” on (if you missed the original Bottom Feeders series, the “general rule” is very simple. I usually don’t like female singers). I love Bonnie Raitt’s voice and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is one of the best songs ever recorded so I’m always happy to put on one of her records.
She only recorded three albums in the ‘80s due to some typical record label bullshit, but 1982’s Green Light is a start to finish masterpiece that included “Keep This Heart In Mind.”
Her next album – Nine Lives – was partially recorded in 1983 and then shelved by Warner Brothers until 1986 when they let her go back in the studio and record half the album new, which makes for an uneven listen. “No Way To Treat A Lady” was the lead track on the album, written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.
Her final album of the decade was Nick of Time, which won the Grammy for Album of the Year. I like Green Light a little better to be honest but they are two very different records. Nick of Time had slicked up production and was a rockin’ blues album while Green Light was more of a funky pop record. You really can’t do wrong with either one though. “Thing Called Love” is a cover of a John Hiatt tune released on his 1987 album Bring the Family.
“Pet Sematary” 1989 Modern Rock #4 (download)
Please tell me I’m not the only one that really doesn’t understand the big to-do about the Ramones? I’m not talking just in the mid-late ‘80s when anyone can find fault in the majority of their music but the early ‘80s and prior when they were supposed to be good. I just never got how music so basic and vocals that were so poor were considered amazing at any point.
“So Excited” 1988 Modern Rock #23 (download)
Love this tune from Ranking Roger who along with Dave Wakeling were the core of both The English Beat and General Public. The Beat broke up in ’83 and the two of them went on to form General Public for a few years and a couple albums. Then Roger released Radical Departure which featured this great tune you hear above. 2001 saw him release his second solo album, Inside My Head but he now fronts The Beat, the UK version of the band with original member Everett Morton along for the ride. Wakeling tours the U.S. as the English Beat with no other original members.
“Back For More” 1984 #27 (download)
So much for getting a big crowd together for the semi-annual R.A.M. (Ratt Appreciation Movement)! With only one song here, albeit a damn good one from their debut – Out of the Cellar – it wouldn’t be much of a party unless of course Tawny Kitaen showed up to recreate the “Back For More” video.
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“Don’t Leave Me This Way” 1984 #49 (download)
As far as I know, the Ravyns released only one self-titled album before fading off into obscurity. If you read their Wikipedia page, it was clearly written by one of the members of the band or the drummer’s mother as the only other song I know from them (“Raised on the Radio”) is listed there as a “major hit” and later it’s stated that they were “an important chapter in the eighties music scene.” Maybe they were a hit in the mid-Atlantic or in clubs in Baltimore, where they were from but since this tepid song was their only charting tune, “important” doesn’t seem like a moniker I’d drop on them.
I’m pretty sure that the videos for both “Knock Me Down” and “Higher Ground” were my introduction to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Higher Ground” absolutely got me out there to buy Blood Sugar Sex Magik when it was released in ’92 and that album was the one that made me a fan. Mother’s Milk is a good record but nothing I go back to regularly. The three funkier albums before that, I have no interest in at all.
“Eve of Destruction” 1984 #59 (download)
This is a totally disappointing song as the next one to receive some real radio play after “China” hit from their previous record. But as pointed out when we talked about Red Rockers in the original series, “China” sounded like nothing on their record and this single sounded nothing like “China.” The Red Rockers weren’t a bad group at all, they just had no particular sound to fall back on.
Best Song: Ranking Roger, “So Excited”
Worst Song: Red Rockers, “Eve of Destruction”
Also appeared in the Hot 100
Rainbow (2): “Stone Cold” “Street of Dreams”
Billy Rankin (1): “Baby Come Back”
Ratt (6): “Round and Round” “Wanted Man” “Lay It Down” “You’re In Love” “Dance” “Way Cool Jr.”
Chris Rea (1): “Working On It”
Real Life (2): “Send Me An Angel” “Catch Me I’m Falling”
Red Rockers (1): “China”