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.

Rush
“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”




  • http://everybodysdummy.blogspot.com wardo

    You’re going to want to change that one Rush album title to “Grace Under Pressure” before the angry trolls hit.

  • http://blog.affairoftheheartblog.net Jill

    I’m a Roxy Music & a Neil Young fan and had never heard the “Like a Hurricane” cover before, so thanks! While not as dreamy as “More Than This,” you should check out “Dance Away” and also “Love is the Drug.”

  • David_E

    My favorite part of this whole write up is the spacing error in the Rossington Collins review that reads “Love Your Manwhich.”

  • http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/ Chris Holmes

    Glad to hear of your new-found appreciation for Rush. Our top albums are scarily similar – http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/rush-album-countdown-4-1/.

    I’m pretty sure “Tobacco Road” was also covered by Billy Sheehan’s old band, Talas, which is probably how it ended up on Dave’s first album.

  • http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/ Chris Holmes

    Glad to hear of your new-found appreciation for Rush. Our top albums are scarily similar – http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/rush-album-countdown-4-1/.

    I’m pretty sure “Tobacco Road” was also covered by Billy Sheehan’s old band, Talas, which is probably how it ended up on Dave’s first album.

  • http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/ Chris Holmes

    Glad to hear of your new-found appreciation for Rush. Our top albums are scarily similar – http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/rush-album-countdown-4-1/.

    I’m pretty sure “Tobacco Road” was also covered by Billy Sheehan’s old band, Talas, which is probably how it ended up on Dave’s first album.

  • http://www.popdose.com jefito

    Well, who doesn’t love a Manwich? Mmmm…Manwich.

  • http://www.popdose.com jefito

    Well, who doesn’t love a Manwich? Mmmm…Manwich.

  • http://www.drcastrato.blogspot.com drcastrato

    i saw that too and thought, “best album title ever?” before i realized it was an error.

  • Dk

    Stɇɇd! Thanks for the distraction this morning – I went on a Rush binge for the past hour or so as I searched for the soul of Rush! And guess what? Still can’t find it! Been searching for it ever since Rush-heads tried to convert me in middle school and it just ain’t there!

    I remember a kid trying to tell me why Rush was “so awesome” back then. He quoted some lyrics that he said “rocked his world” when he first heard them: “…all the world’s indeed a stage, and we are merely players…” Yeah, man, that’s awesome…

    I was working on some of those verbal GRE/SAT analogous things this morning and I thought of a perfect way to explain it. If you’ll indulge me, check this out:
    Find best analogy-
    TEPID:SOUL ::
    (A) eloquent:precision
    (B) flood:lake
    (C) lenient:precision
    (D) glib:insincerity
    (E) Rush:Aretha

    Do I hate Rush? No, in fact, I admire their workman-like production over the years. They don’t leave me cold. But I can’t find anything above lukewarm to steep my soul in.

  • smf2271

    Great to hear that you get Rush now. I don’t think too many Rush fans would argue with Moving Pictures being at the top of your list, and I certainly wouldn’t argue with Presto being at the bottom. And Grace Under Pressure (not Fire) is a spectacular album too (as evidenced partially by half of it being posted this week!), though I think I’d put Signals at #2 on the list. I do like Power Windows more than most Rush fans do, but Hold Your Fire has never really done it for me. It starts off so promising with Force Ten and Time Stand Still, two of the best tracks they ever did in my opinion, and I remember buying it in 1987, hearing those two and thinking I was going to hear a masterpiece, but the rest of the record just doesn’t have much in the way of memorable tunes – lots of amazing production, but lacking in distinctiveness.

    One of my favorite albums of theirs is actually “Caress of Steel” from 1975, and it’s not all lengthy sci-fi stuff either. They’re really much more accessible than most prog-rock of that era. The trick for the prog-wary is to think of the 10+ minute suites as several shorter songs that just all happen to have the same title (because that’s really what they are).

    Speaking of which, even as a huge Genesis fan for 2+ decades, I am the first to say that Mike Rutherford’s “Acting Very Strange” record sucks donkeys. I’ve never heard so much repetition over 45 minutes in my life. The Mechanics sound as adventurous as Peter Gabriel in comparison.

    The Individualist is TR’s best album??!! Not that it’s bad mind you, but… I’m actually quite a fan of his last album, 2008’s Arena, which is firmly rooted in ’80s influences. Since we’re talking about the ’80s, I’d recommend 1989’s Nearly Human (lots of soul-type stuff) and of course Healing, not to mention Utopia’s 1982 self-titled LP (a power pop classic that would’ve been a hit if the record label hadn’t suddenly gone under). I agree though that The Individualist has many good songs and is unfairly panned.

    Finally, I’ve always loved “Damn Good.” The first time I heard it on the radio I thought it was an old Van Halen track from the late ’70s (being 15 and not – yet – being familiar with early Van Halen beyond the radio hits), and I was shocked when the DJ came on and said it was new DLR.

  • http://www.bastardradio.com steed

    Oh Jeez. I hadn’t noticed that. Funny, about 30 minutes before I typed the Rush part I was at work, checking out something with the “Grace Under Fire” TV show. Funny how the mind works. Thanks for noticing. I’ve corrected it.

  • http://www.bastardradio.com steed

    This damn formatting thing happens all the time with WordPress for me. I usually catch them all before anyone notices. However, I’m leaving this one in. It just worked out too well this time.

  • David_E

    I like Presto. Kind of a lot.

    Hmm.

  • David_E

    I like Presto. Kind of a lot.

    Hmm.

  • Anonymous

    I’m with you. Rush will be the soundtrack to the rise of the fascists.

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of “Grace Under Pressure,” am I the only one who gets silence when he hits “play” on “Distant Early Warning”?

  • http://www.bastardradio.com steed

    Weird. Previewed it last night and it played, but now I don’t get sound either. I can’t fix it right now – so I popped in the youtube video instead.

  • http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/ Chris Holmes

    Presto has a couple dud tracks, but a lot of Peart’s best lyrics and some of their great songs from that era (Show Don’t Tell, Chain Lightning, The Pass).

    Caress of Steel is great, even if it’s clearly a transitional album.

  • KingP

    Am I the only guy who thinks that Rush’s finest moment was “Working Man?” An awesome tune – one of the best riffs ever – and no lyrics about trees, the coming singularity or whatever the hell else I don’t have time for. I don’t listen to much Rush, but nothing I’ve heard since has topped it.

  • Anonymous

    PRESTO suffers from the technology of the early digital era. It sounds like the band was in a large concert hall and all of the recording equipment was in the men’s bathroom out in the lobby. Still, there are some excellent tracks on the LP. “Show Don’t Tell,” “Presto” and most definitely “The Pass,” all stand up with some of the band’s best songs. I also like “Chain Lightning” and “Superconductor.” However, “Available Light,” the song that closes the album, may be one of their most sincere and powerful songs. Subtle piano by producer Rubert Hine, outstanding musicianship (as always) and very poignant lyrics make this one of my favorite Rush tunes of all time.

  • http://notthatyoung.blogspot.com Anonymous

    Royal Crescent Mob!

    I saw them open for the Replacements many years ago. I don’t remember anything about their music, but vividly remember the lead singer dancing around the stage wearing a cape and wielding a wicked looking scepter…

  • smf2271

    Well clearly I need to give Presto another listen now. I’ll give it a fresh set of ears. I remember liking “The Pass” and “Available Light” but not being too keen on the rest of it, but that was a long time ago.

  • smf2271

    Well clearly I need to give Presto another listen now. I’ll give it a fresh set of ears. I remember liking “The Pass” and “Available Light” but not being too keen on the rest of it, but that was a long time ago.

  • smf2271

    Well clearly I need to give Presto another listen now. I’ll give it a fresh set of ears. I remember liking “The Pass” and “Available Light” but not being too keen on the rest of it, but that was a long time ago.

  • Anonymous

    So much to weigh in on, so little energy. My two favorite Todd albums from the ’80s are The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect (the source of “Bang the Drum All Day”) and A Cappella (the first Todd LP I ever owned thanks to a generous record store clerk who gifted me the shop’s promo). I’ll have to give The Individualist a refresher spin; I like its predecessor, No World Order, more than some Todd fans.

    I’m with you on Rush’s best album, wish I could have seen them play it en toto on their recent tour. Don’t have an immediate ranked list for their records but I will add that “Subdivisions” is best experienced late at night in a dimly lit room with a table fan going full blast. Something about those synths.

    I love Avalon. It’s one of the most romantic albums of its day. No complaint about “Time Heals”, of course, but “More Than This” would have to take my Best Song award.

  • smf2271

    The coming singularity, I love it! But no, I’m sure you’re not the only guy who thinks that. I think that in kind of a modified way: my take is while they’ve far outdone The Working Man in terms of songwriting and lyrical content, so it’s not technically my favorite song of theirs, they really haven’t topped it on the kick-ass-rock-o-meter. (Even Tom Sawyer doesn’t quite make it on that scale, though it’s close). Much to my surprise, they played it as the final encore when I saw them live in 2002, and it was still amazing.

    So I forgot to ask Mr. Steed – is Rush our leader so far with 16 songs on the rock chart but not the Hot 100? Or did I forget about someone? I wouldn’t be surprised if they came out on top, as one of the most popular “cult” bands of all time, i.e. a band that doesn’t get a lot of mainstream crossover but is still more or less a household name and consequently gets tons of airplay.

  • Old_Davy

    Royal Crescent Mob’s “Spin The World” is really a terrific album, lots of diversity on it. The last song “Tundra” is a real stomping rocker.

    I’m a big Rundgren fan, but “Healing” never did much for me. I still consider “Something/Anything?” his best album, but “Hermit of Mink Hollow” is right up there too. From the ’80’s I’d highly recommend “A Capella”. I guess “Lockjaw” didn’t even make the Rock Charts, huh?

    And as far as Rush goes, I’m right with ya there as far as “Power Windows” goes. I love that album!

  • Julie S

    I’m surprised that The Rossington-Collins Band “Don’t Misunderstand Me” didn’t make the list. I remember that being played to death on classic rock stations in the 80s. Maybe because I live in the south, but I still hear it played today.

  • Landon Kemp

    Just so you know, I’m a big fan of Rush myself, and I especially love their 80s works A LOT, as it really captured that 80s musical atmosphere, in my opinion. So far, I have just various songs off of all of them on iTunes except for Moving Pictures, of which I have the entire album. I have listened to Signals, Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows and Hold Your Fire on vinyl, though, and I have to agree with you on Grace Under Pressure. I’ve listened to it several times and it seems like the one that seems to stick out the most to me. I definitely need to get the rest of the remastered albums by the band, though.
    I’m not big into most of their modern stuff, even if they do have some good stuff on it. To me, Roll The Bones from 1991 is one of their best albums after the 80s, and probably the last one to have some 80s vibes to it (the keyboards had taken a backseat to the guitars by that point, but they can still be heard on various songs from that album) before taking a rather “alternative” route with 1993’s Counterparts.