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Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 44

We finally get to the end of R and I have completed my revisiting of the Rush catalog. Enjoy more songs from the rock charts that failed to cross over into the Billboard Hot 100.

The Romantics
“Rock You Up” 1983, #49 (download)

“Rock You Up” comes from In Heat, the Romantics 4th album which contained both “Talking In Your Sleep” and “One In A Million” as well. This track led the album off sufficiently rockin’ enough to make the rest of the album worth a listen as well.

Romeo Void
“Never Say Never” 1982, #27 (download)

Here’s another one of those songs that make you do a double take. “Never Say Never” seems to appear on every new wave compilation album ever made, to the point where even though I’m not a fan of the band, I know this song like the back of my hand. It makes sense that it didn’t cross over into the Hot 100 as it’s really not very radio friendly but I’ve heard it so much that I had to cross reference many times just to be sure I wasn’t missing something.

The Rossington Band
“Welcome Me Home” 1988, #9 (download)

Rossington Collins Band
“Gotta Get It Straight” 1981, #50 (download)

The Rossington Collins band were an off-shoot of Lynyrd Skynyrd, formed in 1979 after the plane crash that ended the former band. The band consisted of four members of Skynyrd – Gary Rossington and Allen Collins on guitar, Billy Powell on keyboards and Leon Wilkeson on bass. The vocal duties were given to Dale Krantz. “Gotta Get It Straight” was a Skynyrd type southern rocker off their second and final album, This is the Way.

That band then broke up after Collins’ wife died. Allen Collins took most of these guys with them and formed the Allen Collins band while Rossington married Krantz and the husband and wife team formed The Rossington Band in 1988 and released Love Your Manwhich contained the very ‘80s sounding pop record “Welcome Me Home.” These days, Gary Rossington is the only original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the reformed band.

David Lee Roth
“Easy Street” 1985, #14 (download)
“Tobacco Road” 1986, #10 (download)
“Knucklebones” 1988, #45 (download)
“Damn Good” 1988, #2 (download)

I don’t know man, I’ve always been a fan of DLR, but none of these tracks really do anything for me at all. “Easy Street” is a cover of an Edgar Winter Group hit from 1974 and “Tobacco Road” was a ‘60s tune done by the Nashville Teens.

When you get to David Lee Roth original music, Both “Kucklebones” and “Damn Good” are bland tracks off Skyscraper. Though, often I’m torn on “Damn Good” – sometimes I really like the laid-back style and other times I just think it’s just not a DLR track at all.

Roxy Music
“More Than This” 1982, #58 (download)
“Avalon” 1982, #59 (download)
“Like A Hurricane” 1983, #24 (download)

I really have to spend more time with Roxy Music one of these days. Since the original series past I’ve listed to Avalon twice and it’s left me indifferent both times. But then I listen to the excellent “More Than This” and here a little bit of Ferry’s “Slave to Love” in it and it intrigues me all over again. And as a huge Neil Young fan, I’m saddened to admit that I had no idea their cover of “Like A Hurricane” existed before this.

Royal Crescent Mob
“Hungry” 1989, Modern Rock #27 (download)

I remember hearing this song for the first time in 1989 after the band opened up for the B-52’s. As a 13-year old they seemed like an odd pairing to me but once I listed to this and their Spin the World album again a few years ago, it’s not as odd as I thought. It’s a different style of music of course, but “Hungry” definitely has elements that blend with 1989’s version of the B-52’s quite well.

Singer Dave Ellison went on to be a tour Manager, working with the decidedly not-as-punk-as-she-thinks-she-is Avril Lavigne. Bassist Happy Chichester formed Howlin’ Maggie in the mid-90s.

Mason Ruffner
“Gypsy Blood” 1987, #11 (download)
“Dancin’ On Top Of the World” 1987, #42 (download)

From Fort Worth, Texas, Mr. Ruffner released the rockin’ Gypsy Blood in 1987 which contained both these tracks – produced by Dave Edmunds.

Todd Rundgren
“Time Heals” 1981, #18 (download)
“Compassion” 1981, #48 (download)
“The Want of a Nail” 1989, #15 (download)

God, I love “Time Heals.” Off his Healing album from ’81 (not included on the vinyl, but on a 45 included with the record) the song reminds me how much I love the universally panned 1995 TR-I record, The Individualist which I still maintain is Rundgren’s best album.

“The Want of a Nail” was the lead track off the soulful Nearly Human album and features Bobby Womack on vocals.

“Tom Sawyer (Live)” 1981, #42 (download)
“Subdivisions” 1982, #8 (download)
“The Analog Kid” 1982, #19 (download)
“Distant Early Warning” 1984, #3 (download)
“Body Electric” 1984, #23 (download)
“Between the Wheels” 1984, #39 (download)
“Red Sector A” 1984, #21 (download)
“Territories” 1985, #30 (download)
“Manhattan Project” 1985, #10 (download)
“Mystic Rhythms” 1986, #21 (download)
“Force Ten” 1987, #3 (download)
“Time Stand Still” 1987, #3 (download)
“Lock and Key” 1987, #16 (download)
“Marathon (Live)” 1989, #6 (download)
“Mission (Live)” 1989, #33 (download)
“Show Don’t Tell” 1989, #1 (download)

Holy shit Batman. Surely, 16 Rush tracks won’t last long in this post before someone forces me to take them down.

So, at the start of the letter I mentioned that I was taking the Rush challenge. I was going to listen to the ‘80s albums and either figure out why I claim to not like them with a definite answer other than “I don’t like prog rock,” or I was going to learn something. I learned something. I’m wrong about Rush. I finally get what everyone else reading has gotten for decades now. Geddy Lee is a fantastic vocalist and Neil Peart plays ridiculously difficult and interesting drum parts. I’m sure Lifeson’s good as well but let me just deal with two of them at a time.

What I did was listen to everything from 1976’s 2112 through 1989’s Presto, which the exception of the 1976 live album and comps. Here’s the order I rank them in;

1. Moving Pictures
2. Grace Under Pressure
3. Power Windows
4. Signals
5. Hold Your Fire
6. 2112
7. Permanent Waves
8. Exit…Stage Left
9. A Show of Hands
10. Hemispheres
11. A Farewell To Kings
12. Presto

Of course I realize that there is no one reading this and maybe no one on Earth that would agree with this order. But, if you know me, what I listen to and enjoy, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. As Rush wrote shorter tunes with more hooks and introduced more keyboard into the forefront of their sound (essentially becoming “more ‘80s”) I liked them better. I don’t think I would have a hard time making an argument that Moving Pictures is their best release but with the rest of the order I realize that I could never make it on a Rush message board.

After Moving Pictures, I think Grace Under Pressure is the catchiest ‘80s record and most consistent. I love “Red Sector A” the best, but “Distant Early Warning” and “The Enemy Within” are great as well. Power Windows has the awesome “The Big Money” and “Manhattan Project” while “Force Ten” and “Open Secrets” highlight Hold Your Fire for me.

Live albums don’t really interest me much so I only met them with a passing interest to begin with and Presto is brutal to my ears, that’s why they get the shaft in this list. And I just don’t know how to get through something like Hemispheres. “Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres” which occupies the entire first side just drained me to the point where I could barely flip the record over.

You know though, no matter what iteration of Rush I enjoy, the fact is for the first time in my life I can say I actually thoroughly liked some of their music. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Mike Rutherford
“Maxine” 1982, #37 (download)

I also like Mike + the Mechanics, but I’ve always like them. Unfortunately, I think “Maxine” is one of the worst songs of this entire series. It was off Rutherford’s second solo record called Acting Very Strange and was the only album he took the lead vocals on. I can’t possibly believe someone listened to him singing this and the remainder of the album and didn’t tell him he sucks. And Stuart Copeland gets to have his name on this winner as well. Geez.

Quick Hits
Best Song: Todd Rundgren, “Time Heals”
Worst Song: Mike Rutherford, “Maxine”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
The Romantics (3): “Talking In Your Sleep” “One in a Million” “Test of Time”
Romeo Void (1): “A Girl In Trouble”
Linda Ronstadt (1): “Get Closer”
David Lee Roth (6): “California Girls” “Just a Gigolo/Ain’t Got Nobody” “Yankee Rose” “Goin’ Crazy” “Just Like Paradise” “Stand Up”
Todd Rundgren (1): “Bang the Drum All Day”
Rush (5): “Limelight” “Tom Sawyer” “Closer To the Heart” “New World Man” “The Big Money”