We close out the letter S this week with a super post. You might not recognize some of these tunes and none stand out as being overwhelmingly excellent but none really suck either making it one of those weeks that you might need to revisit and let it grow on you. But either way we close out the letter, looking at more tunes from the rock charts in the ’80s, but only those that failed to cross over onto the Billboard Hot 100.
“Still In Love” 1989, #37 (download)
You might remember “Love Cries” back from the Ass End version of this series, which I labeled as very generic. I still stand by that statement for the song, the group and their self-titled album (third overall) but “Still In Love” is still damn catchy. While “Love Cries” sounded more ’87, “Still In Love” fit in perfectly with 1989. In fact, I see no reason why this couldn’t have been played with Def Leppard on rock stations and between Richard Marx and Roxette on pop stations. It just seems like one of those tracks that was just a perfect fit for radio but never made it. It also looks like they put out a new album last year and I saw pictures of them for the first time since the ‘80s. Man, father time has not been kind (it hasn’t been to me either, so I can relate).
Michael Stanley certainly had his moments of national fame in the early ‘80s but was really big in the Ohio Valley and parts of the Midwest since he was from Cleveland. He made “heartland music” as you can hear in the appropriately titled “In the Heartland” from his North Coast album. “In Between the Lines” came from the next release simply titled MSB. The band itself consisted of guy that has shown up previously in Bottom Feeders, Mr. Kevin Raleigh on keys and vocals.
“Alley Cat Blues” 1982, #28 (download)
I’m a little surprised that Starfighters didn’t have a bigger career in the end. Their debut self-titled record was a relatively badass rock n’ roll record and like “Alley Cat Blues” had a somewhat AC/DC vibe to the overall sound – not surprisingly either as the guitarist was Stevie Young, Malcolm and Angus’s nephew. They even opened up for AC/DC in ’82 but the success just didn’t come. I can tell you one thing, compare the vocals of Steve Burton here with Brian Johnson and there’s one major difference for you. Not even in the same ballpark.
“Turnaround” 1988, #50 (download)
I don’t ever remember hearing the song on the radio in Philly and even if I did, I don’t think I would have paid much attention as this didn’t fall in my wheelhouse. However, this came out in June of ’88 – three months or so before the modern rock chart was created. I have a feeling this would have been a massive mod-rock hit if it was just released a few months later.
“Gi’ Me Wings” 1981, #45 (download)
“Tora, Tora, Tora (Out with the Boys)” 1981, #38 (download)
“Jealous” 1982, #44 (download)
“Guess I’ll Always Love You” 1982, #21 (download)
“Dynamite” 1988, #16 (download)
I’m not sure what to say around these hills today about Rod that ain’t gonna get me some kind of tongue lashing. I don’t think there was ever a real love for Mr. Stewart at Popdose but since he went songbook happy, any love has turned into what feels like an immense hatred.
I don’t think saying that I really like tracks like “Gi’ Me Wings” and “Tora, Tora, Tora” is anything to be ashamed of though. Now, when I say I sing along to “Love Touch” – okay, maybe you can ridicule me for that (as if DK needed something else to get on me about) but these are kind of rockin’ songs here. Even “Dynamite” off Out of Order might be very ‘80s but is also catchy as hell. And anyway, I like so much bad music that why should I be ashamed to admit that I really like ‘80s Rod Stewart.
I almost want to say all these tracks are good simply because they are before he went off the deep end, but really “The Lazarus Heart” and its flute isn’t that far from where he’s progressed to over the past decade. However, I am truly a big fan of The Dream of the Blue Turtles and to a little lesser extent …Nothing Like the Sun. I think both “Little Wing” and “Lazarus” sound better within the context of the album as a whole but are certainly decent tunes on their own. “Roxanne” is a live version from the Secret Policeman’s Other Ball and “I Been Down So Long” is with Jeff Beck from the Live! For Life compilation.
“Break Down the Wall” 1984, #47 (download)
Career wise, I have to think it would have benefitted Lenny Wolf if Stone Fury had remained together in the end rather them dissolve and him form Kingdom Come. Then again, Stone Fury is a blip on the hard rock radar while Kingdom Come will at least always be known as those Zeppelin clones. Funny when you listen to the two groups – Lenny singing in Kingdom Come sounds so much like Robert Plant. In Stone Fury he sounds like Klaus Meine. In fact I guess you could say Stone Fury was quite a bit of a Scorpions clone too. So has Lenny Wolf ever just sounded like you know – Lenny Wolf?
“Always the Sun” 1987, #47 (download)
When you listen to metal all day long and just happen to take a break once a week to write up some ‘80s music, you see the name “The Stranglers” and it doesn’t conjure up images of new wave tunes.
Hugh Cornwell led the group through 1990 and really the Stranglers were a band that mixed up their styles enough that you couldn’t really tell what was coming next. New Wave, more adult tunes like “Always the Sun,” pub rock, punk, some goth and other styles always kept things interesting with the group. For me though that meant never being able to latch onto one particular sound and thus I really don’t ever go back to listen their music. This tune came from Dreamtime which critically is probably one of the least liked records, at least from the ‘80s backwards (I’ve never heard anything past this album to know).
“Future 40’s (String of Pearls)” 1989, Modern Rock #16 (download)
Here’s another song that I would have guessed would have been a bit bigger than it was thanks to it being written and sung on by Michael Stipe. But as I listen to it now, it seems a little overcrowded when both of them sing, especially when they aren’t singing the same lyrics together and mainly because Stipe overpowers her to the point where it’s Straw singing background vocals on her own song. A little less Stipe and this probably would have been a bigger song.
The Stray Cats
“Bring It Back Again” 1989, #35 (download)
I’ve put out my hatred for the Stray Cats enough over the years, that I’d rather mention the awesome new album that comes out in a few months from Headcat which features Lemmy from Motorhead and Slim Jim Phantom. Watch out for my review on that one soon – now that kicks ass. And actually, “Bring It Back Again” is better than any of the big hits.
Nope, not gonna do it. Another chance for me to bash Tommy Shaw but I’m not taking it because I happen to love Paradise Theater – so both of these tunes kick ass in my world.
By now you know that I don’t like the Sugarcubes based on my tastes but I will give them this – they were fun, off-the-wall and a little experimental without going too far off the tracks. Björk solo often sounds she’s gone bat-shit-crazy. “Motorcrash” is the type of track that really had its own unique feel, was incredibly fun and pushed a few boundaries here and there. I respect the band for that at least.
All three of these are from ….Famous Last Words… which I know I’ve listened to since every piece in my ‘80s collection has been listened to once but has somehow sort of slipped through the cracks even still. I’m very familiar with Breakfast in America now and Brother Where You Bound – the bookends to this album – but Famous never stuck with me I guess. The only song I like here is “Don’t Leave Me Now” so maybe that’s the reason but I think it’s high time I bust out the Supertramp again.
“Saved” 1989, Modern Rock #28 (download)
It’s come out in some other forum of mine at some point, but I detest The Burning World – the Swans record that sounds like a straight pop disc. Sorry, but this is coming from the group that put out Cop and Holy Money and relatively inaccessible walls of noise before this. I usually am very good at forgetting about an artist’s catalog and just listening to an album for what it is. Not here. “Saved” isn’t a bad song, but this isn’t the Swans.
“Counting the Beat” 1982, #45 (download)
The Swingers were a New Zealand rock band led by Phil Judd – the second band of his after the breakup of Split Enz which he was the guitarist in. Musically I love the song, I’m just not a big fan of Judd’s vocals. To my ears, you can hear virtually the same song just more polished and with better vocals if you listen to “Holiday” by the Other Ones from 1987.
Best Song: Rod Stewart, “Tora, Tora, Tora (Out with the Boys)
Worst Song: Sting and Jeff Beck, “I’ve Been Down So Long”
Appeared in the rock chart and Hot 100
The Stabilizers (1): “One Simple Thing”
Stage Dolls (1): “Love Cries”
Michael Stanley Band (1): “My Town”
Steel Breeze (1): “You Don’t Want Me Anymore”
Steely Dan (1): “Time Out of Mind”
Jim Steinman (1): “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through”
Van Stephenson (1): “Modern Day Delilah”
Rod Stewart (11): “Young Turks” “Tonight I’m Yours” “Infatuation” “Some Guys Have All the Luck” “People Get Ready” “Love Touch” “Another Heartache” “Lost in You” “Forever Young” “My Heart Can’t Tell You No” “Downtown Train”
Stephen Stills (1): “Stranger”
Sting (8): “If You Love Somebody Set them Free” “Fortress Around Your Heart” “Love is the Seventh Wave” “Russians” “We’ll Be Together” “Be Still My Beating Heart” “Englishman in New York”
The Stray Cats (3): “Rock This Town” “Stray Cat Strut” “(She’s) Sexy + 17”
The Style Council (1): “My Ever Changing Moods”
Styx (3): “Too Much Time On My Hands” “The Best of Times” “Mr. Roboto”
Henry Lee Summer (4): “I Wish I Had A Girl” “Darlin’ Danielle Don’t” “Hands On the Radio” “Hey Baby”
Supertramp (2): “It’s Raining Again” “Cannonball”
Survivor (8): “Poor Man’s Son” “Eye of the Tiger” “Caught in the Game” “I Can’t Hold Back” “High On You” “Burning Heart” “Is This Love” “Didn’t Know It Was Love”