Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 47

The songs representing the letter S are getting better by the week and this is easily the best of the three weeks so far. Enjoy more tracks that hit the Billboard rock charts in the ’80s but only those that failed to hit the Hot 100 as well.

Shelleyan Orphan
“Shatter” 1989, Modern Rock #23 (download)

I think “Shatter” is one of the most interesting tracks of this entire series. I can’t picture this one on the radio at all due to its quirkiness but it also sounds like nothing else I’ve posted either. I’m a big fan of bands and songs that sound unique and this fits that bill perfectly.

Tommy Shaw
“No Such Thing” 1987, #41 (download)

This is 80’s rock n’ fucking roll personified baby! This is easily the most rockin’ and best track off his 1987 album, Ambition. Tommy’s shredding on this track and the keys are the perfect amount of melody and ‘80s cheese to make this an arena rocker.

Did you know Tommy just released a bluegrass album called The Great Divide? It hit #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass charts, something that I was unaware even existed. Bottom Feeders:  The Bluegrass End — hmmm….

The Sherbs
“We Ride Tonight” 1982, #26 (download)

I listened to this the other day for the first time in many years, blindly as it shuffled on my iPod.  I immediately thought it was Steve Perry. Is that bad? Either way, “We Ride Tonight” is one of those great songs that I’ve forgotten about over the years. “I Have the Skill” was always the song I matched with Daryl Braithwaite and the Sherbs and this track certainly doesn’t sound like their bigger hit but might be just as awesome.

“You Remind Me” 1982, #33 (download)

“You Remind Me” isn’t quite as awesome as the first three tracks above but Steve DeMarchi puts forth a hell of a riff in it. I can’t put my finger on it but the track is just missing something that would have made it a big hit. This was of course off the one-and-only self-titled Sheriff record. Two members went on to form Frozen Ghost and then DeMarchi and singer Freddy Curci formed Alias after “When I’m With You” hit #1 in ’89.

Michelle Shocked
“If Love Was A Train” 1988, #33 Modern Rock #20 (download)
“On the Greener Side” 1989, Modern Rock #19 (download)

We’ve talked about all three of Michelle Shocked’s U.S. hits within the Bottom Feeders series. The original series had her Hot 100 hit, “Anchorage,” while the other two appear above. “If Love Was A Train” was the very different follow up to “Anchorage” from Short Sharp Shocked and “On the Greener Side” was the only charting song off the follow up album Captain Swing.

Shooting Star
“Hang On For Your Life” 1982, #52 (download)
“Do You Feel Alright” 1982, #37 (download)
“Straight Ahead” 1983, #25 (download)

Shooting Star’s chart success is interesting to me. They had three songs in the bottom of the Hot 100, “You Got What I Need,” “Hollywood” and “Touch Me Tonight.” They also had the three songs above. No songs from them actually appeared on both charts. That may have happened a lot in this series (especially with artists that only have two charting songs), but at no point has it stood out to me other than right now. There’s no doubt that the three here are more rockin’ than the bigger hits, but they surely could have been lumped together.

“Intoxication” 1988, Modern Rock #6 (download)
“Shark Walk” 1988, Modern Rock #19 (download)

Shriekback was formed by original XTC member Barry Andrews and Gang of Four bassist Dave Allen in 1981. Both these tracks were from Go Bang! which was the first album after Allen left the band. Island records pressured them into making a hit, so Go Bang! is easily the most commercial record that I’ve heard from them, giving them these two hits – albeit minor ones.

“Witch Doctor” 1989, Modern Rock #18 (download)

“Witch Doctor” fit nicely within the times but I have feeling had this been released a few years later, we’d all know much more about them. This was their only charting single from their debut of the same name, which another song called “We Don’t Do That Anymore” charting in 1990 from their second and final album under this moniker. Interestingly enough a cover band called the Sidewinders sued them and won the use of the name (really? A cover band?) so they changed to the unremarkable name of the Sand Rubies and continued releasing music throughout the ‘90s.

Silver Condor
“Angel Eyes” 1981, #49 (download)
“For the Sake of Survival” 1981, #26 (download)

Now, I certainly have championed the debut Silver Condor record over the years as one of those records that pretty brilliant that you don’t know about. It’s truly a hidden gem and I would agree with the 9/10 rating this review gives it but I link it because it’s a good way to laugh the day away. Basically it tells me there was nothing even remotely unique about the band. But the line that has always gotten me is the one at the beginning that says “the latter [singer Joe Cerisano] had a brilliant voice that is similar to Michael Bolton.” Brilliant and Michael Bolton together, ha!

Simple Minds
“This Is Your Land” 1989, #37 Modern Rock #12 (download)
“Mandela Day” 1989, Modern Rock #17 (download)
“Take A Step Back” 1989, Modern Rock #14 (download)

Sometime in the past year I had a revelation about Simple Minds. I was surfing through Wikipedia and seeing 4 ½ to 5 stars on pretty much every album from 1979’s Real to Real Cacophony to 1984’s Sparkle in the Rain and was wondering why I owned them all but really couldn’t pick out one song from any of them. But it was really listening to the commercial breakthrough of 1985’s Once Upon A Time with “Alive & Kicking” “Sanctify Yourself” and others when I realized that I really like nothing but the major hits from these guys. And these three tracks here – all from Street Fighting Years – don’t count as major hits. I’m pretty sure it’s simply because the first time I heard them was with “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” and that track really doesn’t represent them very well. Even today I think I get caught in that trap of expecting more of that type sound and when it doesn’t come, I get disappointed. My loss, I guess.

Siouxsie and the Banshees
“The Killing Jar” 1988, Modern Rock #2 (download)

I’ve always thought “The Killing Jar” was a good song but the more I’ve grown to really love the totally quirky “Peek-A-Boo” over the years, the less I want to hear this – maybe it’s just not quirky enough for them?

Grace Slick
“Sea of Love” 1981, #33 (download)

I should go back and look at the responses to “Seasons” from her 1980 album, Dreams – showing up in the original series. I’m sure I hated it but I think the crowd reaction was much different. Flip it around for this as I dig “Sea of Love” quite a bit, one of only a couple worthwhile tracks on the dull Welcome to the Wrecking Ball album.

Quick Hits
Best Song: Tommy Shaw, “No Such Thing”
Worst Song: Simple Minds, “Take A Step Back”

Appeared in the rock chart and Hot 100
Tommy Shaw (2): “Girls with Guns” “Remo’s Theme”
Sherbs (1): “I Have the Skill”
Michelle Shocked (1): “Anchorage”
The Silencers (1):”Painted Moon”
Patrick Simmons (1): “So Wrong”
Paul Simon (4): “You Can Call Me Al” “Graceland” “The Boy in the Bubble”
Simple Minds (4): “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” “Alive & Kicking” “Sanctify Yourself” “All the Things She Said”
Siouxsie and the Banshees (1): “Peek-A-Boo”
Skid Row (3): “Youth Gone Wild” “18 and Life” “I Remember You”
Slade (3): “My Oh My” “Run Runaway” “Little Sheila”

  • David_E

    You … you didn’t slag Tommy Shaw.

    Is Popdose broken?

  • nycgeoff

    That’s funny, I always thought Michelle Shocked’s big hit was “Come a Long Way”.

  • Smf2271

    Strangely I’ve always kind of liked Shaw’s debut lp “Girls With Guns.”. After the silly title track, it’s surprisingly un-commercial, or at least less so that you’d expect. Dennis DeYoung’s solo LP from the same time period is far more fluffy. Which leads me to believe that Tommy wasn’t necessarily 100% responsible for Styx going all poppy in the ’80s.

    Too bad there was no modern chart before 1988, we would have a lot more Siouxsie if there were, at the very least the excellent “Cities in Dust” in ’86. (which I’m surprised didn’t make the rock chart).

  • dy77

    What about Promised You a Miracle by Simple Minds? If that’s not here, shouldn’t it have charted?

  • Anonymous

    In Mexico, it was “When I grow up”

  • Anonymous

    I think either you miscounted or there is a Paul Simon song missing from the list of songs that appeared in the rock chart and Hot 100

  • Anonymous

    I think either you miscounted or there is a Paul Simon song missing from the list of songs that appeared in the rock chart and Hot 100

  • steed

    you should know by now that I have a hard time counting to 4. I counted “The Obvious Child” but then realized it was a 1990 song and got rid of it. Failed to update the number though.

  • steed

    Shouldn’t it? Well, I don’t think so as I don’t particularly care for the track, but earlier tunes like “The American” “I Travel” and “Promised You A Miracle” hit the dance charts only.

  • Steve P.

    Could disagree more about the Simple Minds. I loved all of New Gold Dream and Sparkle In The Rain. Even though Once Upon A Time was very commercial, I liked it every song on that as well. Lost interest for a bit after that but got back into them and caught up on their late-80s and 90s work. Still the early 80s is what I consider their heyday.

  • Brett Alan

    I’m sure that if the Modern Rock chart had existed when “Promised You A Miracle” came out, it would have been a hit there. It was way too dance-ish for Album Rock at that time.

    I was going to tell the story of when I saw Sheriff open for the Kinks, but I realize I did that last time.

  • Anonymous

    I know I’ve heard “Shatter” before; I’m guessing it was a brief 120 Minutes staple. The one Shelleyan Orphan album I’ve heard in full is ’92’s Humroot. It was a favorite of an ex.

    The Tommy Shaw bluegrass album was waiting in my station mailbox this week. I’m betting it’ll at least be well-crafted. Dwight Yoakam and Alison Krauss are guest vocalists and you can’t half-ass with their likes on board.

    “We Ride Tonight” = the prequel to “Still They Ride”?

    On the subject of songs that might have charted Modern Rock before the fact, add Shriekback’s “Nemesis” (from ’85’s Oil and Gold) to that list. The 12″ mix is a Club Hour standby.

    Surprise MIA track of the week: Silver Condor’s “You Could Take My Heart Away” in the crossover list. No Album Rock action?

    It should be noted that “Peek-A-Boo” was the very first #1 Modern Rock track when the survey debuted in September ’88. I looked up “The Killing Jar” to finally learn what a killing jar is, and I also discovered the single mix is different. I can’t tell which version you have here but if you need the Twice Upon a Time mix, I can help.

  • David_E

    “Which leads me to believe that Tommy wasn’t necessarily 100% responsible for Styx going all poppy in the ’80s.”

    I think he was dragged there kicking and screaming, truth be told. Though he sorta undercut himself with Girls w/ Guns and Lonely School.

  • wo

    Shelleyan Orphan was one of my great accidental finds in the early 90s, thanks to Best Buy’s and Camelot Music’s 25-cent tape cutout bins (and Rough Trade’s collapse). “Shatter” is a great song off a great record, Century Flower.

  • wo

    Shelleyan Orphan was one of my great accidental finds in the early 90s, thanks to Best Buy’s and Camelot Music’s 25-cent tape cutout bins (and Rough Trade’s collapse). “Shatter” is a great song off a great record, Century Flower.

  • Rugby4NeilMat

    ‘Down where this ugly man seeks his sustinence’ And you don’t like “The Killing Jar”? You must like “Face to Face” too?

  • hannah

    Always liked Tommy Shaw…when seeing Styx live he was the one rocking out…he’s gone country now =/

  • Peter

    (Warning: shameless self-promotion alert) The Sherbs song “We Ride Tonight” was featured on my blog a couple of months ago. It was featured for its resemblance to another, fairly well-known, song.