Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 42

Written by Bottom Feeders, Music

Was Michael Stipe bat-shit crazy back in the ’80s too? Did REO Speedwagon have any balls at all? Debate these and other topics as we look at more rock songs from the ’80s.

Red Siren
“All Is Forgiven” 1989 #10 (download)
“One Good Lover” 1989 #39 (download)

Red Siren is a prime example of forgotten mediocrity of the ‘80s. They looked like they wanted to be bad-asses but didn’t have any punch at all. The singer was kind of hot and “All Is Forgiven” is by far the best thing they ever did, but even that tune is the standard middle ground of 1989 rock. I love the video for it though. Both the bassist and drummer are rocking out way too hard for what they’re playing. The barely moving guitarist has it just right.

If for some unknown reason you go to look for the album, both of these were on All Is Forgiven which bears the group name of just Siren. Seems they put it out under that name and then had lawsuits or maybe a potential lawsuit and released the singles as Red Siren.

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Lou Reed
“I Love You, Suzanne” 1984 #28 (download)
“No Money Down” 1986 #19 (download)
“Dirty Blvd.” 1989 #18 Modern Rock #1 (download)
“Busload of Faith” 1989 #47 Modern Rock #11 (download)

I am painfully unaware of Lou Reed’s music with the Velvet Underground and even some of his solo stuff so I really don’t have much to compare these tracks to. ‘80s records like Legendary Hearts, New York and New Sensations have gotten good reviews on-line over the years but they aren’t anything I’d ever go back to. Not liking Lou Reed is something I can’t pinpoint though. There’s nothing wrong with any of those records and songs like “I Love You, Suzanne” and “No Money Down” are cool but nothing excites me enough to want to go back and listen to more of his stuff.

“Dirty Blvd.” is the one track from the ‘80s that has always confused me the most. Some days I like it and other time I just wanted what he was thinking about this spoken almost beat-poetry type song. When I like it I’m listening to the excellent lyrics, when I don’t I’m not paying much attention to them. But if nothing else, I’m totally shocked that it spent four weeks at #1 on the modern rock charts. This was prime music listening time for me and I don’t remember it on Philly radio at all.

R.E.M.
“Pretty Persuasion” 1984 #44 (download)
“Can’t Get There From Here” 1985 #14 (download)
“Driver 8” 1985 #22 (download)
“Superman” 1986 #17 (download)
“Ages of You” 1987 #39 (download)
“Finest Worksong” 1988 #28 (download)
“Orange Crush” 1988 #1 Modern Rock #1 (download)
“Turn You Inside-Out” 1989 #7 Modern Rock #10 (download)

R.E.M. is the first one of “my” groups that I gave up on. As you know, I’m a completionist and when I find a band I like a lot, I am a very loyal listener. R.E.M. was one of those bands. Right from Murmur in ’83 to Monster in ’94 I was gung-ho about the group. New Adventures In Hi-Fi didn’t do much for me, Up and Reveal were both boring as hell and then 2004’s Around the Sun was the last straw for me. They are the first group in my life that I’ve went from super fan to off the radar. Collapse Into Now comes out next week and I didn’t even know it until I was checking up on a fact for this write up.

Thankfully though we’re talking about ‘80s music here though, a time when R.E.M. kicked major ass and Michael Stipe was only slightly weird, not blue paint across his eyes weird. Not counting the B-Side Dead Letter Office, the only I.R.S. release that I didn’t think was stellar was Fables of the Reconstruction. For my money, Life’s Rich Pageant is remarkable all the way through and “Swan Swan H” is one of my favorite tunes. But I truly fell in love with them when they released Document. It’s a front to back masterpiece of pop-rock tunes and the non-single “Exhuming McCarthy” is my favorite R.E.M. track of all time. Being that Document is my favorite record from the group, “Finest Worksong” ends up being the best track we get from them this week.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Green when it came out and I’m still not really but it gets a spin now and again. I think it kind of runs out of steam after the 7th track which is “Orange Crush.” Listed here, “Turn You Inside-Out” was track eight and by that time I’ve usually had enough of the record. “Orange Crush” though may be the biggest surprise of the entire series for me. It’s the only track we’ve had in the series that was #1 on both the mainstream and modern rock charts (2 weeks and 8 weeks respectively) and yet it didn’t cross over to the Hot 100. I’m amazed by that. It was the first single from Green and I’m almost certain if it was released as the second after “Stand” it would have been a cross over hit.

REO Speedwagon
“Tough Guys” 1981 #25 (download)
“Out of Season” 1981 #59 (download)
“Stillness of the Night” 1982 #19 (download)
“Good Trouble” 1982 #51 (download)
“The Key” 1982 #34 (download)

“Tough Guys” is an interesting song to start off with here for REO Speedwagon. I’ve never been a fan because my perception is that they were a big loud rock band and they’ve always come off as a little too soft for me. Tough guys, they were not. This may be due to the fact that the crossover hits were the more melodic pop songs or maybe my perception of what REO Speedwagon was is just simply wrong. And I say this because as I listened to the songs that show up here, I like most of these. “Good Trouble” and the aforementioned “Tough Guys” have some balls to them. “The Key” on the other hand, does not. So maybe the key (intended) to this too, is that they started growing vaginas as the ‘80s progressed. I think I’m finally “getting” REO Speedwagon!

The Replacements
“Cruella De Ville” 1988 Modern Rock #11 (download)
“Back To Back” 1989 #43 Modern Rock #28 (download)
“Achin’ To Be” 1989 #37 Modern Rock #22 (download)

The Replacements were one of the groups that the original Bottom Feeders series forced me to go back and listen to since Paul Westerberg and the gang had never really been on my radar. I learned quickly that Tim and Pleased To Meet Me are pretty excellent albums. 1989’s Don’t Tell A Soul doesn’t quite live up to those two records but is still pretty good. Both “Back To Back” and “Achin’ To Be” are pretty dull to me.

“Cruella De Ville” was released as part of the Stay Awake compilation of interpretations of Disney songs.

Quick Hits
Best Song: R.E.M., “Finest Worksong”
Worst Song: Red Siren, “One Good Lover”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
Re-Flex (1): “The Politics of Dancing”
R.E.M. (7): “Radio Free Europe” “so. Center Rain” “Fall On Me” “The One I Love” “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” “Stand” “Pop Song 89”
REO Speedwagon (9): “Take It On the Run” “Keep On Loving You” “Don’t Let Him Go” “Keep the Fire Burnin’” “I Do’Wanna Know” “Can’t Fight This Feeling” “One Lonely Night” “That Ain’t Love” “Variety Tonight”
The Replacements (1): “I’ll Be You”