Bottom Feeders: The Rock End of the ’80s, Part 55

Only five more weeks of ’80s rock music to go, so get your fix in while you can. This week, it’s the letter V as we continue to wind our way through the alphabet looking at songs that hit the Billboard rock charts in the decade, but only those that didn’t also find their way to the Hot 100.

Vandenberg
“Friday Night” 1983, #29 (download)

Of his three albums, Adrian Vandenberg’s debut is really the only solid rock record. Starting with his second – Heading For a Storm – the material got poppier and lacked a quality hit like “Burning Heart” from early ’83. “Friday Night” is a good example of how generic his material got. After his third record in ’85 did nothing, David Coverdale asked him to be in Whitesnake and he disbanded his group for good.

Van Halen
“Mean Street” 1981, #12 (download)
“So This Is Love?” 1981, #15 (download)
“Unchained” 1981, #13 (download)
“Push Comes To Shove” 1981, #29 (download)
“Where Have All the Good Times Gone!” 1982, #17 (download)
“Little Guitars” 1982, #33 (download)
“Secrets” 1982, #22 (download)
“The Full Bug” 1982, #42 (download)
“Best of Both Worlds” 1986, #12 (download)
“Summer Nights” 1986, #33 (download)
“Mine All Mine” 1988, #50 (download)
“Cabo Wabo” 1988, #31 (download)

So this group of songs should help end the Van Halen vs. Van Hagar argument, right? Okay, it doesn’t, even though the amount of songs here favor the Roth era by far. That had nothing to do with Roth vs. Hagar though. It had more to do with the fact that both ‘81s Fair Warning and ‘82s Diver Down didn’t really have that big rock hit that everyone wanted. Granted, everyone wanted Van Halen at the time as evidenced by the first four songs here entering the charts exactly one week after the previous tune or the fact that that three of the six Diver Down songs showed up the same week while the last two did the same about a month later. It shows that rock radio simply wanted to play Van Halen but they simply didn’t have that one tune everyone needed to hear.

For all intents and purposes, Fair Warning was a hitless record and was the worst selling album of the Roth period. That’s even with “Unchained” being on the record, which is of course a fantastic song but a little out of place on a mellower record.

Diver Down did actually have two legit hits in “(Oh) Pretty Woman” and “Dancing in the Street” but with an album consisting of half covers and half originals where the covers were the best part, that didn’t leave much else to work with. “The Full Bug” was probably the best of the originals on the disc.

There aren’t any songs here from 1984 as the four charting rock tunes all crossed over into the hot 100. “Jump,” “Panama,” “Hot For Teacher” and “I’ll Wait” all entered the charts within a week of each other as well, in January and early February of 1984. But rock radio didn’t need any album cuts or B-sides for this one as “Jump” spent eight weeks at #1 while “I’ll Wait” and “Panama” hit #2 with the latter tune remaining on the rock charts for a whopping 31 weeks.

The Hagar era begins in style with “Best of Both Worlds” and the excellent “Summer Nights” both showing up here, from 5150. Van Halen was a rock juggernaut at this point so the entire record probably would have charted if DJ’s wanted it to.

OU812 gives us another two excellent tracks in “Mine All Mine” and the now signature Red Rocker tune, “Cabo Wabo.”

Here’s the interesting thing about Van Halen on the rock charts though. If I asked you to name me the three biggest songs they placed on the rock chart according to Billboard, you’d never guess right. The first is “Jump” which you absolutely should have guessed as one of the three. The second though? How about the David Lee Roth tune, “Me Wise Magic” from the Best of compilation in ’96. That spent six weeks at #1. And the third? Well, that’s even odder as it’s “Without You” which spent five weeks at #1 in ’98. That’s right, it’s a Gary Cherone song. Who would have thunk that?

Johnny Van Zant Band
“(Who’s) Right or Wrong” 1981, #23 (download)
“It’s You” 1982, #37 (download)
“I’m a Fighter” 1985, #16 (download)
“You’ve Got To Believe In Love” 1985, #27 (download)

Ronnie, Johnny, Donnie…it is only me that gets them confused? Even if I do though, one thing can be certain; if it says “Van Zant” it’s some down home southern rock.

Johnny was the only family member in his band from ’80 to 85. Then he joined with brother Donnie to form the band Van Zant in ’85 of which both “I’m a Fighter” and “You’ve Got To Believe In Love” are credited to. Johnny then went on to take over the lead vocals for Skynyrd in ’87.

The Vapors
“Jimmie Jones” 1981, #39 (download)

So the Vapors aren’t a one hit wonder after all? Well, no – they really can be considered that since no one hears “Jimmie Jones” any more. “Turning Japanese” hit big before the rock charts existed so that’s why it’s not here. This tune was the lead track off their second and final album – Magnets.

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
“Pride and Joy” 1983, #20 (download)
“Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” 1984, #26 (download)
“Cold Shot” 1984, #29 (download)
“Look At Little Sister” 1983, #20 (download)
“Change It” 1985, #17 (download)
“Superstition” 1986, #11 (download)
“Willie the Wimp” 1987, #19 (download)
“Crossfire” 1989, #1 (download)
“Tightrope” 1989, #14 (download)
“The House Is Rockin” 1989, #18 (download)

Blues rock is something that really didn’t do much for me back in the day and probably still doesn’t now if I really think about it, though a group like the Fabulous Thunderbirds (featuring Stevie Ray’s brother Jimmie) somehow peaked my interest. I’m pretty sure the reason for most of it is because a lot of the artists covered old blues tunes or rock songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s and since I’m ignorant to anything before 1979, I tend to not even bother with artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan.

It is however, hard to deny that Vaughn’s last recording before his death – 1989’s In Step – was a fantastic record, about half of it co-written with Doyle Bramhall. The record is pretty rockin’ from start to finish, led by the three tunes here, “The House Is Rockin’,” “Crossfire” and “Tightrope” – all originals, which led into the cover tunes. But by that point I’m rockin’ out so much that it works well for me. I believe “Crossfire” was the only actual single from the album and spent three weeks at #1.

Violent Femmes
“Nightmares” 1989, Modern Rock #4 (download)

I’ve heard “Nightmares” about a billion times thanks to my old buddy from high school who used to be the biggest Violent Femmes fan I knew. We’d meet up every day and at least twice a week we’d go to the used CD store down the street. No matter what I brought home each time, he always seemed to pop on either 1989’s 3 or the self-titled debut with “Blister in the Sun.” However, I didn’t like them then and I still don’t like them now. And I don’t think the amount he played them had any bearing on it.

Joe Vitale
“Lady on the Rock” 1981, #47 (download)

Joe Vitale is known more for his work with Joe Walsh, the Eagles and CSN than for any of his three solo albums. But “Lady on the Rock” off his second and only album of the decade (Plantation Harbor) is damn cool.

Voice of the Beehive
“I Say Nothing” 1988, Modern Rock #11 (download)

Well, you know I don’t like this one, right? It’s just way too girly for me. I’m just a little shocked that the group existed back in the ‘80s. Strangely enough too, the only album I ever knew from them was Let It Bee which was released in ’88 but was introduced to me for the first time when I started college in ’94. I’ve always placed the album in that time period as those were the years I was inundated with girly rock. Even odder because they put out their last album – Sex & Misery – in 1995 and I didn’t even know that existed. Such a weird path I took to hear these ladies.

Quick Hits
Best Song: Van Halen, “Unchained”
Worst Song: Van Halen, “Push Comes To Shove”

Appeared in the rock chart and Hot 100
Vandenberg (1): “Burning Heart”
Van Halen (13): “Pretty Woman” “Dancing in the Street” “Jump” “Panama” “Hot For Teacher” “I’ll Wait” “Why Can’t This Be Love” “Dreams” “Love Walks In” “Black and Blue” “When It’s Love” “Feels So Good” “Finish What Ya Started”
Gino Vannelli (1): “Black Cars”
Suzanne Vega (2): “Luka” “Solitude Standing”
Billy Vera (1): “I Can Take Care Of Myself”
Vixen (2): “Edge of a Broken Heart” “Cryin’”




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

    I’ll save the Van Halen talk and just urge you to check out the first SRV/Double Trouble album, Texas Flood. Even if blues ain’t your thing (and I feel the same way), it’s just an awesome record.

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

    First – there is no debate. Roth. 
    Second – sooo wrong about Diver Down. The covers are ok, a little annoying actually, but taken individually, I guess they are fun tunes. But the originals on that album are what make it worth listening to! Little Guitars and Hang ‘em High are probably my two favorite VH tracks of all time. Secrets and the Full Bug are excellent as well.
    Third – what happened to “Everybody Wants Some” from Women and Children First? Was that not released in the 80’s? Or did it fail to chart?

  • http://twitter.com/nycgeoff nycgeoff

    Gino Vannelli! That is all.

  • http://twitter.com/nycgeoff nycgeoff

    Gino Vannelli! That is all.

  • http://twitter.com/nycgeoff nycgeoff

    Gino Vannelli! That is all.

  • http://twitter.com/nycgeoff nycgeoff

    Gino Vannelli! That is all.

  • David_E

    Texas blues also not my thing, but to see SRV play live (or, as I’ve done, on Austin City Limits) is to truly appreciate the old cliche of “his guitar is an extension of himself.”

    Never, ever seen a player so into his music and muse.

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

    Another great album is the SRV/Albert King collaboration.

  • Anonymous

    The one element of “Friday Night” that’s stuck with me all these years: “I’m only interested in rock ‘n roll”. I couldn’t even tell you the title before this afternoon. I move that we pit Vandenberg against Rebecca Black in a special Rock Court to determine the titleholder for Most Craptastic Song About Friday.

    The one cut from 1984 I expected to see was “Drop Dead Legs”, the only non-single I heard our AOR juggernaut spin (and frequently) throughout the titular year. “Mine All Mine” is the only Van Hagar entry that rings any immediate bells, but then again, I don’t own any of the Sammy albums.

    “Jimmie Jones” stands the best chance of making the second BFRock special on Sound Awake, though my favorite song about that event remains “Guyana Punch” by our very own The Judy’s.

    If there’s any SRV album with a chance of darkening my CD shelves, it’s Couldn’t Stand the Weather, on the strength of “Cold Shot” (the video is a must-see) and the title track, which also surprises me by its absence. And yes, In Step has its moments…”Riviera Paradise” in particular…but I’ve had my fill of the posthumous hero-worship in effect since August of ’90. Remember, I live in Texas.

    Violent Femmes = one-album wonder. I refer to the debut, of course; nothing else has stirred my interest (though I’ve been advised to reevaluate Hallowed Ground).

  • Anonymous

    It’s not possible for me to explain why David Lee Roth-era VH is far superior to the Sammy Hagar-fronted abomination. Some things are just incontrovertible facts. This is one of those things. I’d never trust anyone who argued otherwise.

    While Violent Femmes remind me a little too much of Jonathan Richman in general, I’ve long felt 1991’s Why Do Birds Sing? is their finest hour…in spite of the inclusion of head-scratching cover of Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”

  • smf2271

    I agree with the above posts on the whole Roth / Hagar debate (i.e. there is no debate), but I don’t think that means there isn’t anything from the Hagar era worth listening to.  It’s kind of Gabriel vs. Collins Genesis or Jefferson Airplane vs. Jefferson Starship (excluding the “Starship” era).  You just have to think of them as two different bands, and then the relative mainstream-ness of the latter one doesn’t seem so much a travesty.  I enjoy 5150 for its simply being a kick-a$$ hard pop/rock record with some really good guitar playing, nothing more.

    Unlike the other two examples though, with Van Halen in particular I’m not convinced their music would’ve gone in that different a direction had the original singer stayed.  “Diver Down” and “1984” were both excellent records, but there’s no denying they ventured more into pop crossover territory than what came before.  Is it that far-fetched to think that Roth could’ve sung “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “Right Now?”  I don’t really think so.  And perhaps “Just Like Paradise” would’ve been a Van Halen tune with a better solo.

    Fascinating that “Blister In The Sun” didn’t make the rock chart either.  Did it make any chart at all, I wonder?

  • http://www.bastardradio.com steed

    “Everybody Wants Some” was released in 1980 – the chart didn’t begin until March of ’81.

    I like both Roth and Hagar – but if I had to choose one, I’d go with the Red Rocker myself.

  • http://www.bastardradio.com steed

    If you believe Wikipedia it says i”Blister in the Sun” hit #74 on the rock charts. Since the chart only went to 60…..

    “Right Now” maybe – but I can’t see most of the Hagar tunes even existing without Sammy’s input. On the other hand, I think “Just Like Paradise” and “Yankee Rose” would definitely have been Van Halen tunes.

  • http://genxsingalong.wordpress.com Gigi

    I would agree that the Femmes’ debut album is their best…but I am honestly amazed when I encounter anyone who doesn’t consider it a work of genius. Even if the rest of their work was forgettable, the eponymous album is incredible…any band should be proud to have made it.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed on Roth vs. Hagar. For me though, the one moment that made the Van Hagar years worthwhile was “Finish What Ya Started.” I love that song, always have. It’s a got a rockabilly tone yet rhythmically it’s still very firmly rooted in ’80s hard rock. And then Hagar sings a tune that’s loose and playful a la Roth, yet at the same time I couldn’t imagine Roth doing it better. It’s a weird little record, and all the better for it. If I were Roth, that would be the one song where I’d say, “I gotta hand it to him!”

  • Anonymous

    For the first few times I heard “Finish What Ya Started”, I couldn’t tell if it was ZZ Top or John (Cougar) Mellencamp. The harmonies of all things finally tipped me off.

  • Anonymous

    For the first few times I heard “Finish What Ya Started”, I couldn’t tell if it was ZZ Top or John (Cougar) Mellencamp. The harmonies of all things finally tipped me off.

  • Old_Davy

    I loves me some Voice Of The Beehive.  I never knew any of their hits made any charts.  I kind of stumbled upon them during my heavy Bangles obsession in the late 80’s. 

  • Brett Pasternack

    As a big Bangles fan myself, I can see what you mean. I discovered Voice when the top 40 station I was working at added “Monsters And Angels”, still a big favorite of mine.

    BTW, Dave: The Fabulous Thunderbirds didn’t peak your interest. They piqued it. B^)

  • Brett Pasternack

    As a big Bangles fan myself, I can see what you mean. I discovered Voice when the top 40 station I was working at added “Monsters And Angels”, still a big favorite of mine.

    BTW, Dave: The Fabulous Thunderbirds didn’t peak your interest. They piqued it. B^)