Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 50

We’re winding down with the Rock End of the ’80s here. We’ll get a few weeks with the letter T, but I have a feeling the rest of this Rock End is going to move quite quickly. So catch ‘em while you can – more songs from the ’80s that hit the Billboard rock charts but failed to cross over into the Hot 100.

Stone Roses
“She Bangs the Drums” 1989, Modern Rock #9 (download)
“I Wanna Be Adored” 1989, Modern Rock #18 (download)

I seem to have forgotten these two last week. Talk amongst yourselves.

Talking Heads
“Road To Nowhere” 1985, #25 (download)
“Stay Up Late” 1985, #24 (download)
“Puzzlin’ Evidence” 1986, #19 (download)
“(Nothing But) Flowers” 1988, #5 (download)
“Blind” 1988, #39 (download)

Just last week a couple radio DJ’s in my area were talking about what the Talking Heads would sound like if they were still together. Now, that’s never really going to happen as David Byrne doesn’t seem to have any interest in that and he’s doing alright for himself collaborating on a ton of great tunes in the last few years. But it’s an interesting thought as the group did go their separate ways while still making damn good music.

There are some truly great songs in this bunch of tunes. “Road To Nowhere” bubbled under at #105 and “Stay Up Late” while not released as a single is similar to “And She Was” – all off Little Creatures.

I’m not a big fan of “Blind” but “(Nothing But) Flowers” is kind of shocking that it only hit the rock charts – as that’s a very well known Heads tune. “Puzzlin’ Evidence” is the only one that doesn’t get regular play at my house. It’s from True Stories which is arguably the weakest Talking Heads album.

“I’m Leaving” 1982, #39 (download)
“Maybe Someday” 1983, #31 (download)
“Still In Love” 1985, #36 (download)

The three guys in Taxxi are some pretty lucky fellas to have had three “hits” in the U.S. considering that nothing they put out is very exciting. Their brand of AOR was hitting it big at the time and they blended in nicely, especially when songs like “I’m Leaving” definitely were Foreigner-esque. But one listen to “Maybe Someday” will certainly clue you in to their dullness.

Andy Taylor
“I Might Lie” 1987, #17 (download)
“Don’t Let Me Die Young” 1987, #36 (download)

Andy Taylor’s debut solo record (Thunder) in 1987 is one of my most disappointing records of the decade. Here’s a guitarist in one of the most influential new wave bands of the decade and after leaving Duran Duran made a decent record with Robert Palmer and the Power Station. But this stuff here is pedestrian which is even sadder since the whole thing was co-written by and played on by Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols. That’s not to say some of the soloing wasn’t great – I mean, the last minute of “I Might Lie” is fairly awesome riff trading – but most of the record is generic arena rock. And as much as I like the riff in the chorus of “Don’t Let Me Die Young” it sounds a little too much like the main lick in “Run Runaway” by Slade.

B.E. Taylor Group
“Never Hold Back” 1982, #54 (download)

This was B.E. Taylor’s first hit song from his debut, Intermission. He’d go on to have two songs cross into the Hot 100 after this track and as of the mid-2000’s was recording Christian and Christmas music.

James Taylor
“Stand and Fight” 1981, #21 (download)

“Stand and Fight” is from Dad Loves His Work, the James Taylor/Carly Simon break up album. On the rock chart it debuted the exact same week and peaked at the same position as the bigger hit “Her Town Too” – though “Stand and Fight” was on the chart for four more weeks.

10,000 Maniacs
“Eat For Two” 1989, Modern Rock #12 (download)

Surprisingly, it was 1992’s Our Time In Eden that really turned me on to the 10,000 Maniacs. I remember listening to that and Amy Grant’s Heart in Motion until my ears bled, something that I look back on and can’t really believe that was me at the time. Blind Man’s Zoo is a pretty good record too though – of which “Eat For Two” is the lead track.

Ten Years After
“Let’s Shake It Up” 1989, #23 (download)

Alvin Lee and Ten Years After had their run starting in the late ‘60s and throughout the ‘70s, but broke up in 1979. In 1988 they reunited to do some concerts and decided to put out an album, which they did in 1989, called About Time.

“Modern Day Cowboy” 1987, #35 (download)
“Gettin’ Better” 1988, #46 (download)
“Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)” 1989, #13 (download)
“Hang Tough” 1989, #34 (download)

Tesla’s known for “Signs” and “Love Song” but they could really rock out as well, when they wanted to. “Modern Day Cowboy” and “Gettin’ Better” are evidence of that. I actually think Tesla were a little too talented to make it early on. Mechanical Resonance was a great album but the guitar work on it seemed a little too cool to be on radio in a time all about big hair and makeup over songwriting.

They reached their peak only two albums in though as ‘89s the Great Radio Controversy gave them their first real taste of the spotlight with “Love Song,” no doubt a good tune but one of the most generic tracks on the record.

The The
“The Beat(en) Generation” 1989, Modern Rock #13 (download)
“Gravitate To Me” 1989, Modern Rock #15 (download)
“Kingdom of Rain” 1989, #16 (download)

Up until the point I started collecting ‘80s music, I had never listened to anything from The The. I think the weird name scared me off into thinking they were some experimental noise band and back in the ‘80s and ‘90s I wasn’t into that stuff at all. But of course, while Matt Johnson was experimental in nature we weren’t exactly talking about harsh sounds, especially on Mind Bomb from which all three of these tracks come. Mind Bombwas the first album where Johnson employed an actual band behind him (and this band included Johnny Marr) as his previous few albums featured a mess of guess musicians backing him up. That’s not to say he didn’t have a lot of people working on this album as well (Sinead O’Connor is on “Kingdom of Rain”) but with the same guys playing on every track this time around, the album feels more consistent than Infected did, three years before this. Overall, it’s a little mellow for me but I understand why people like it.

Thelonious Monster
“So What If I Did” 1989, Modern Rock #29 (download)

I hear these guys were pretty good back in the day. I’ve never heard anything but this song simply because I can’t stand Bob Forrest’s voice, so I couldn’t tell you anything about the band to be truthful. I do believe this was their only taste of success, albeit a small one.

They Might Be Giants
“Ana Ng” 1988, Modern Rock #11 (download)

I really have to catch up on my They Might Be Giants music. My high school years were littered with repeated plays of Flood, day and night. I stuck with them until 2001’s Mink Car and then my tastes kind of shifted and I lost track. I thought I would go back when their children’s albums got rave reviews over the past few years but I haven’t for some reason. I should, because they rock. No doubt about that.

Thin Lizzy
“Angel of Death” 1982, #38 (download)
“Hollywood (Down On Your Luck” 1982, #24 (download)

Album-wise, the ‘80s weren’t kind to Thin Lizzy, though as evidenced by these two songs – both off Renegade – they could still rock your ass off. Unfortunately, that translated into 3-4 good songs on each of their three albums in the decade but they were clearly at the tail end of their run.

Quick Hits
Best Song: They Might Be Giants, “Ana Ng”
Worst Song: Taxxi, “Maybe Someday”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
Talking Heads (3): “Burning Down the House” “And She Was” “Wild Wild Life”
Talk Talk (3): “Talk Talk” “It’s My Life” “Life’s What You Make It”
Tangier (1): “On the Line”
James Taylor (1): “Her Town Too”
Tears For Fears (6): “Change” “Everybody Wants To Rule the World” “Shout” “Head Over Heels” “Sowing the Seeds of Love” “Woman in Chains”
10,000 Maniacs (3): “Like the Weather” “Trouble Me” “What’s the Matter Here?”
Robert Tepper (1): “No Easy Way Out”
Tesla (2): “Little Suzi” “Love Song”
Texas (1): “I Don’t Want A Lover”

  • Paul Janisch

    What comes after this. I’m hoping something from the 70s. These posts are a definite highlight of my week. I really enjoy them – thank you

  • jack

    The guy who doesn’t like female vocalists had an Amy Grant crush. Wow.

  • Antti

    Totally agree about Andy Taylor’s solo stuff being pretty terrible. The “Also appeared” list should still include his two Hot 100 hits from 1986: Take It Easy (#24) and When the Rain Comes Down (#73)

  • Antti

    Totally agree about Andy Taylor’s solo stuff being pretty terrible. The “Also appeared” list should still include his two Hot 100 hits from 1986: Take It Easy (#24) and When the Rain Comes Down (#73)

  • Antti

    Totally agree about Andy Taylor’s solo stuff being pretty terrible. The “Also appeared” list should still include his two Hot 100 hits from 1986: Take It Easy (#24) and When the Rain Comes Down (#73)

  • Anonymous

    I love “The Beaten Generation”- the beautiful melody (with that gorgeous harmonica) is balanced by the scolding, resigned tone of the lyrics (which are pretty much on-the-money, even so many years later).

    “Stay Up Late” wasn’t a single? Why is it listed here then? Love that song anyway…

  • Anonymous

    Rock tracks have never required a physical single release in order to chart, unlike the Hot 100 back in the day.

  • Anonymous

    Oh! Gotcha. I do remember the video for that song was in pretty heavy rotation on MTV, too…

  • smf2271

    Glad you’re a TMBG fan Dave – “Ana Ng” is certainly one of their best tunes of all time. Their first three LPs are still their best, but every one since then (with the exception of Factory Showroom in my opinion) has a large number of solid tunes and the signature wackiness that can only be TMBG. Of their childrens albums I still like “No,” probably because it strikes the balances between kids’ and adults’ music the best. The various “Here Comes…” CDs are all lots of fun but feel more like pure kids’ records. Their two adult CDs since you lost touch, “The Spine” and “The Else” are both decent but not as good all the way through as “Mink Car” in my opinion. I’m eagerly awaiting their forthcoming adult CD this summer. If you haven’t seen them live they put on a great show.

    Those Andy Taylor tunes are pretty mediocre, I’ll agree, but for some reason I’ve always loved “Take It Easy.” It made a perfect leadoff track to “The Na Na Na CD,” my ultimate triumph in theme mixes (There were four volumes in all. Hey, that wouldn’t be a bad idea for a popdose mini-series… nobody steal it!)

    Somehow it seems to make sense that the man who wrote “Vitamin L” is now doing Christian music.

    I wanna, I wanna, I wanna be a door, I wanna I wanna, I gotta be a door…

  • Anonymous

    I was going to ask about the lack of Stone Roses last week but I figured they were ’90 charters (I’m sure “Fool’s Gold” can be found there). Finally bought that album two years ago…a month before they announced the release of the dog-and-pony remasters. Sheep dip.

    “Puzzlin’ Evidence” is the odd one among the Heads tracks. Don’t think I’ve ever heard it on a commercial station. For weakest TH album, I gravitate between True Stories and Naked; of course, “weakest album” is a relative term when you’re discussing my favorite band of the era.

    Taxxi’s “Still in Love” was another TV5/Hit Video USA favorite and gets my vote Comparatively-Obscure Song of the Week. The other two cuts: they aiight.

    The only live act I’ve walked out on twice: the The. Saw them on the Mind Bomb and Dusk tours and the lack of spark in both shows caused me to turn heel (luckily my job connections got me comp tix each time). But I have no issue with the records, particularly Infected or Soul Mining. And at least I can say I’ve seen Johnny Marr in action. Come to think of it, Marr surreptitiously owns this week’s edition as he also features on “(Nothing But) Flowers”.

    “Ana Ng” made me a TMBG fan, and it’s still my favorite John and John tune, even if Flood just edges out Lincoln in coolness. Nothing’s really kept my interest since Apollo 18, though their Holidayland EP from ’01 was nice.

  • smf2271

    Have you heard “Mink Car?” It’s really quite good and captures a lot of the genre-shifting spirit of their early years. There are explorations into techno (“Man, It’s So Loud in Here”), space-lounge (the title track), a grunge / glam rock hybrid (“I’ve Got a Fang”), Irish pub music (“Drink!”), and it’s not without classic TMBG silliness (“Older”, “Wicked Little Critta”, the latter of which is especially hilarious if you’re from Boston like I am). Plus it’s got “Cyclops Rock,” probably their catchiest song since “Birdhouse,” and an awesome cover of Matt Bianco’s “Yeh Yeh.” I think the album would’ve been a bigger hit had it not had the misfortune to have a release date of September 11th, 2001. “No”, their first kids’ CD from 2002 is quite an enjoyable album too.

  • Anonymous

    I think I might have listened to a friend’s copy of Mink Car at the time, but it just didn’t take. Mind you, I was in a weird headspace at the time, 9/11 being but one reason. I’ll try it again…after all, my favorite album of the decade, Mercury Rev’s All Is Dream, was issued the same day.

    PS: “Yeh Yeh” goes back even further than Matt Bianco. Observe:

  • drcastrato

    not really related to the conversation, but i, too, love All is Dream

  • David_E

    Someone really ought to write a Popdose Guide to TMBG.

  • Anonymous

    I believe that the “Also appeared” list only counts songs that appeared on both the Mainstream Rock and Hot 100 charts. If they only appeared on the Hot 100, then they’re not listed. That would explain why there is only one James Taylor song on the “Also appeared” list instead of four, because “Her Town Too”, “Everyday” and “Never Die Young” never charted on the Mainstream Rock charts at all.

  • nycgeoff

    True Stories is much better if you listen to the songs in the movie: “Puzzling Evidence” by that guy from General Hospital, “People Like Us” by John Goodman, and especially “Papa Legba” by Pops Staples are all far superior to the album version.

  • Garylucy

    I never quite got Thelonious Monster either, but I do like Bob Forrest as the hat-wearing drug counselor on Dr Drew Celebrity Rehab.

  • Old_Davy

    “I don’t want the world. I just want your half.”

  • KingP

    Sort of thought we’d see “Cold Sweat” from “Thunder and Lightning” in the Lizzy posting.

    That said, I gotta state for the record that there are no bad Thin Lizzy albums. “Renegade,” the one referenced here, has its detractors, but to me it’s one of their top three.

    Even the twee, folky early Lizzy records beat the crap out of the other twee folky junk of the time. Besides, you have to hand it to a band that would put “Sarah” and “Waiting for an Alibi” on the same album and absolutely expect to take no shit from anyone about it.

  • smf2271

    Shameless plug: Inspired by today’s (well, now yesterday’s) Bottom Feeders, I will indeed do (1) a popdose guide to TMBG. They have a new CD due out in mid-July so it will probably appear around that time. I do need to go back and re-listen to some of the stuff that doesn’t get as much pod-play in my house/car/headphones, so I can give an overview based on recent hearings of everything. And (2) a “na na na” series! Plus (3) the final installment of “Fixing a Hole” because I’m sick of waiting for the elusive ‘early 2011′ Julian Lennon release, with ‘early 2011′ soon to be over. Stay tuned!

    Jeez, I should’ve known that “Yeh Yeh” went back to the ’60s.

  • steed

    Something will be coming along that you’ll like.

  • steed

    I know, I know. This shocks me, looking back now. I haven’t listened to the disc in ages though – I’d be curious to see if I still enjoy it.

  • steed

    Yep, that’s the reason. Neither Taylor song hit the rock chart.

  • steed

    I keep meaning to pick up “No” as I keep hearing how good it is. I’ll have to get to that one.

    “Take It Easy” was pretty damn cheesy – but certainly better the two above.

  • Gigi

    Discovered The The on “120 Minutes” (via the video for “Gravitate to Me”), acquired a cassette copy of MIND BOMB and listened to it obsessively. Favorite track: a tie between “Armageddon Days” and “August and September.”