We begin the largest letter of the alphabet this week as we hit what feels like the home stretch for the series. It’s a little bit of a short post this week as time has not been a friend of mine recently but we’ll make up for it next week with a larger one to get back on track. In the meantime, enjoy more tunes from the Billboard rock charts!
“What Do I Know?” 1985, #24 (download)
Haha. What a terrible way to introduce a new letter in the mix. “What Do I Know?” was Saga-lite, off their first real straightforward pop record, Behaviour. I mean, I’ve never really considered Saga to be a great prog-rock or even a great regular old rock band to begin with, but this belongs with Billy Ocean, but the same group that recorded “On the Loose.”
It took a long time for these dudes from down under to get some hits in the U.S. Every album they released from 1977 through the excellent All Fools Day in 1986 was presented with critical praise with 1989’s Prodigal Sonbeing the first that didn’t make critics scream. All Fools Day was their first taste of the U.S. mainstream when MTV played “Just Like Fire Would.” But “Grain of Sand” was the first charting song for them. Prodigal Son is a decent record but seems to be a deliberate attempt to create catchy hits than make Saints music. Starting out with All Fools Dayis the better call if you’ve never heard of them before as that’s a pretty brilliant record.
So remember when Santana was a band? Seems like so long ago ever since Clive Davis got him singing with the Rob Thomas’s and Chad Kroeger’s of the world on every record. This isn’t to say that Carlos Santana wasn’t trying to make hit music back in the ‘80s either but it feels different on these records.
“Searchin’” and “Changes” were two of the three hits from Zebop! along with the big track “Winning.” “Night Hunting Time” was from the follow up, Shangó and “Veracruz” from his final studio record of the decade, Freedom. The latter was sung by Buddy Miles, while Alex Ligertwood took the vocals on the others.
“Get U Ready” 1989, #33 (download)
It’s kind of fascinating to me that little old Saraya had three charting hits. They weren’t that spectacular but their debut did fit right in with the glam metal/sleaze rock of 1989 and they had the novelty of being one of the few glam bands led by a female (Sandi Saraya) going for them as well.
“Satch Boogie” 1988, #22 (download)
“Surfing with the Alien” 1988, #37 (download)
“The Crush of Love” 1988, #6 (download)
“One Big Rush” 1989, #17 (download)
“Big Bad Moon” 1989, #17 (download)
I’ve always liked Joe Satriani’s style. He’s a pure shredder – there’s no doubt about that. But I listen to someone like Yngwie Malmsteen and what can only be wanking off on the guitar pulling out 16 solos per track and I hear Satriani writing actual songs with catchy melodies and it’s like night and day. His 1987 album Surfing with the Alien is a brilliant slab of rock and roll. And yes, he does pull out the guitar solo but only one or two per song, rather relying on his song writing skills to craft a hook and a melody.
Both “Satch Boogie” and “Surfing with the Alien” both are great tracks and contain some of his most recognizable solos. The only track here that I don’t like is the most cheesy of the group and of course the biggest hit, “The Crush of Love.” It was taken from the Dreaming #11EP which consisted of three live tunes and this studio track. With the cheesy keyboard work behind the guitar it sounds a bit like a collaboration with Kenny G rather than a Satriani rocker. And that actually is Joe singing on “Big Bad Moon.” Not a bad voice there.
Best Song: Joe Satriani, “Satch Boogie”
Worst Song: Saga, “What Do I Know?”
Also appeared in the Hot 100
Saga (3): “On the Loose” “Wind Him Up” “The Flyer”
Santana (4): “Winning” “Nowhere To Run” “Hold On” “Say It Again”
Saraya (2): “Love Has Taken Its Toll” “Back to the Bullet”
Scandal (5): “Goodbye To You” “Love’s Got a Line on You” “The Warrior” “Beat of a Heart” “Hands Tied”
Peter Schilling (1): “Major Tom”