Mainstream Rock: INXS, “Suicide Blonde” (1990)
John: I was always appreciative of INXS for holding X back until 1990 so I could accurately say their best stuff was back in the ’80s. There are currently 272 used copies of X available on Amazon for one cent each.
Vrabel: Was this the period when INXS was dropping, like, four albums a year? I seem to remember them having a fairly ludicrous output around this time. Not a bad song, I guess. Was X the album that had “Not Enough Time”? That’s not a bad song either, I guess.
David: “Not Enough Time” was on Welcome to Wherever You Are, which was a pretty damned underrated album.
Few people loved INXS as much as I did in the ’80s, but “Suicide Blonde” just felt off to me. Every record up to that point was an expansion on the previous one, but X marked the first time that the band just tried to repeat the previous album. Loved the second single, “Disappear,” but this one feels like it’s trying too hard. I’m betting Taylor loves it, though, because her boy Dan Bejar references it in a New Pornographers song.
Zack: A while back there was a short-lived sitcom featuring Breckin Meyer called Inside Schwartz, where he played an aspiring sportscaster and the scenes were intercut with cameos from sports figures (such as Alex Karras) offering commentary on the story. I watched it with my friend Brian, who really wanted to like it, and found myself wincing each time the show’s lame jokes forced him to laugh.
In retrospect, I realize that my reaction to “Suicide Blonde” and X was very similar. I was a big INXS fan based on earlier albums like The Swing and Shabooh Shoobah, and I really wanted to like the first single from their new album, but I just couldn’t. It was terrible then, and it’s even worse now.
Jeff: I was in sixth grade when “What You Need” came out, which is why it took me well over a decade to be able to appreciate anything by INXS. I’m better now, but boy did I not like “Suicide Blonde” when it came out.
Zack: Hey, “What You Need” is what got me interested in INXS.
Kurt: Even INXS at its “not so good” is better than 99 percent of the crap that permeated the mainstream in those days.
Jason: As I found out while researching “The Loco-Motion” for a previous Chart Attack!, “Suicide Blonde” was written about Kylie Minogue.
Will: I had just transferred from Tidewater Community College and moved on to Averett College in Danville, Virginia, which left me without several things, most notably a car, a regular income, and, worst of all, a decent radio station. Of course, back in the early ’90s you didn’t need a decent radio station to hear INXS — they were all over the airwaves, particularly when this track, the first single off their follow-up to Kick, emerged.
I’m with David — I’m all over “Disappear,” but “Suicide Blonde” didn’t do anything for me. In fact, at the time I seem to remember being Joe Elitist and saying, “Well, it’s okay, but I preferred Max Q’s ‘Way of the World.’” Come to think of it, I still do.
Scott: This song will always remind me of my waning days at college and the woman I was dating then. She was a big INXS, Smiths, and Depeche Mode fan. After we broke up I couldn’t listen to the Smiths or Mode for years. However, I have always loved INXS since the first time I heard “The One Thing,” so they were my band as much as hers. I remember that INXS was trying to change its sound with X, and because it wasn’t Kick redux, the album didn’t fair as well as its predecessor. I like “Suicide Blonde” a lot, but then I always liked the darker, slinkier side of INXS.
Modern Rock: Limp Bizkit, “Re-Arranged” (1999)
Scott: I hate to say I like this song but I do. It’s got a great groove, and even if Fred Durst is trying to emote, he sings it really well. The rest of their music may be crap, but this one works for me.
John: Limp Bizkit in prison = worst porno in history.
Kurt: What exactly went so horribly wrong that garbage like this was able to sell? God bless Fred Durst, though. He turned being hated into an art form not seen since the days of Vanilla Ice.
David: From a production standpoint I’d just like to say thank God people don’t mike their drums like this anymore. For about five years every “modern rock” record had this exact same drum sound. Made me crazy.
I’m the last person to stand up for Fred “Touch My Balls and Ass” Durst, but “Re-Arranged” isn’t that bad (except for the sound of the snare drum). As far as I know, the “story” in the video was never continued in another video. Whoops.
Will: Truth be told, this is the first time I’ve ever heard this song — and to my surprise, I don’t hate it. But even so, I still feel like any Fred Durst bashing I may have done over the years remains valid. Just a hunch.
Vrabel: I’d say that Limp Bizkit was the Warrant of its generation, but that’s not really fair. I mean, I used to like Warrant. That said, I am extremely happy to be anticipating several days’ worth of Limp Bizkit comments.
Zack: It’s too easy to take a bunch of cheap shots at Fred Durst and Limp Bizkit, so I’ll try to confine my criticism to the musical side of things. And here goes — “Re-Arranged” is boring. Fred’s vocals alternate between two notes for the majority of the verses, and the band doesn’t do or say anything interesting elsewhere. It’s like the musical version of hopscotch, where skipping a step occurs once or twice per game and you’ve already outgrown it by age five.
Jason: I won’t watch the video or listen to the song. You can’t make me. Isn’t Fred Durst supposedly gaining some cred because of a recent movie he made?
Kurt: I know I’ll regret this, but … what movie?
Jason: I will never forgive you for making me google “Fred Durst movie.”
Zack: Yeah, having that in your browser history is far worse than having things like “2 girls 1 cup original” and “albino midget bukkake.”
Jeff: I would just like to state, for the record, that I’m completely astounded by how positive the comments for this song have been. I mean, yeah, not all of you liked it, but I was expecting an entire week of venomous Durst bashing. You people are getting soft in your old age.
David: Then you should’ve picked their cover of George Michael’s “Faith.” I would’ve given you enough venom for all the cobras in India.
Zack: Jeff, remember that trip into Mexico we took, and you complained about all the “filthy, neckless frat boys” filling the streets of Rosarito Beach? Those are the kind of guys I always expected were big fans of Limp Bizkit and completely idolized Fred Durst.
You know, I was thinking we didn’t spend enough time making fun of Durst on this thread, but then I realized that he pretty much makes fun of himself just by existing. So really, just pointing out the fact that he’s still alive is like one big joke we can all get a good laugh out of.
AC: Leo Sayer, “More Than I Can Say” (1980)
Jeff: Dude makes Richard Marx look like Lemmy. I love the comment under the video at YouTube: “Hey everybody, it’s Richard Simmons!”
Zack: Did Rod Stewart do a cover of this? I was pleasantly surprised that when they finally show the collage Leo’s making it’s not a bunch of supermodels with their eyes cut out and “JEZEBEL” scrawled across their cleavage in black crayon.
Will: He’s no Gilbert O’Sullivan, but for some reason I still kind of like this song. It’s aged better than “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,” that’s for sure. And the music actually reminds me a bit of 10cc.
David: What Gordon Lightfoot was to certain Chartburners two weeks ago, Leo Sayer is to me. His songs are the wussiest pieces of pap this side of Robbie Dupree, but for whatever reason I give him a pass every time. It all goes back to my unhealthy love for “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,” I think. (Hey, I was young. Mistakes were made.)
Zack: I kept waiting for him to paint some happy little trees. If I wasn’t such a cheapskate and didn’t get my hair cut by women who speak only Spanish, I could have hair like that. But without the pink jacket I’d probably just be wasting my time.
Kurt: AM Gold that was about as good and cheesy as it got — how can anyone hate this? And any guy working that white man’s Afro is okay by me.
Jason: I didn’t know much about Leo Sayer until I covered him on Chart Attack!, but I’m now a fan. Schmaltzy, maybe, but you can’t deny that catchy chorus. Also, he just looks like a nice guy. I’m even willing to forgive him for this video, which seems like the product of a director who’s really excited about his all-new-for-1980 video editing program. I noticed Leo is bobbing his head quite a bit in the opening. I can’t help but wonder if he’s having trouble balancing his noggin as a result of hair weight.
I need to once again reference two Leo Sayer videos, because they deserve another mention. The first is from when he was in his Pierrot clown phase — I’m really impressed by his vocal tone and power — and the second is from The Muppet Show, singing his hit “When I Need You.”
Scott: I knew that Leo Sayer had a third hit. I just couldn’t remember what it was. The Top 40 station I listened to back in 1980 played “More Than I Can Say” enough times that it got stuck in my head. And man, when you’re pining for that cute girl in your fifth-grade class, there ain’t nothin’ better than Leo.
John: Am I the only one surprised to find out this was from 1980? For some reason I date this song more to the mid-’70s. To quote from the YouTube description: “One of the most requested song [sic] of it’s [sic] time. It still sounds new!”
R&B/Hip-Hop: Teddy Pendergrass, “Close the Door” (1978)
David: You got you got you got what I need! (There, I said it.)
Did he really only score two Top 40 hits? Tragic. Not as tragic as the car accident, but tragic just the same.
John: Hi, sex! We call this type of performance a “panty dampener.” Or a “tent raiser.” I ain’t hatin’.
Will: All these years since Eddie Murphy’s Delirious special, yet I’m embarrassed to say that that infamous Pendergrass-inspired punchline — “You got you got you got what I need” — is the only thing besides Teddy’s paralyzing accident (and subsequent post-accident appearance at Live Aid) that I know about the man. I mean, I have to think I’ve heard some of his songs and not realized they were his, but I can’t swear to it.
Jeff: Like David and Will, I’ll forever associate Teddy with Delirious, but this is some fine, velvety ’70s soul all the same.
Kurt: Back in 1978 black music, white music — it all could blend so seamlessly. Wow, this is just amazing singing.
Zack: Aww yeah … I know “Close the Door” is meant to be used for seduction purposes only, but I could never use it on my girlfriend because I’d never be sure whether she was thinking about me or Teddy. Except in her imagination he’d probably be wearing something a little more classy, like a velvet robe or at least a long-sleeved shirt. If he weren’t wearing white pants, I’d be tempted to ask him if he’d finished fixing my garbage disposal.
Jason: Will, I think you’re forgiven for immediately thinking of Eddie Murphy, especially when you watch this clip and observe the sheer commanding power of Teddy. I’m thinking that this is the stage persona I need to adopt in my band. The tank top, the medallions, and especially the dancing.
Robert: Jason, I think you need to add the cowboy hat.
I still haven’t seen Delirious, and I’ve only seen parts of Raw — I wasn’t expecting “faggot” to be used so much as a punchline, especially by a guy wearing a rubber suit who picked up a transvestite a decade later because he’s a “Good Samaritan.”
I heard Pendergrass’s “Only You” (the song with “you got you got you got what I need”) for the first time on Soul Train recently during the “Soul Train Line” segment, which is easily the best part of the show. It’s a fantastic song. More proof how great Gamble & Huff — and Pendergrass, of course — were at what they did.
Jason: Run out right now and see Delirious. That film changed my childhood. Which I suppose says a lot about me, but I would imagine that very few weeks go by where my friends and I don’t exchange at least one quote from it.
Robert: I do wonder whether my kids — if I ever have kids — will find my Bill Hicks, Chris Rock, Albert Brooks, and Patton Oswalt albums funny. Is stand-up a generational thing in some ways? When I saw Richard Pryor: Live in Concert five years ago, I didn’t laugh much. A friend of mine who’s seen all of the Pryor concert films told me that Live in Concert is the weakest, but I’m not compelled to see the others anytime soon, even though it seems like anyone who grew up listening to Pryor’s albums loves them to this day. Maybe when you’re a budding comedy nerd in your teens it’s just the mind-blowing discovery of funny ideas and jokes you never thought you’d hear someone express, much like when I saw SCTV for the first time in seventh grade.
I also didn’t find Lenny Bruce’s material all that funny once I heard it in my 20s, and a lot of Woody Allen’s stand-up left me cold. What do y’all think?
Jeff: Without getting into too much detail, I can tell you that playing Woody Allen’s stand-up CD is a very effective form of revenge on cross-country road trips.
Will: Dude, I love that Woody Allen stand-up CD. But okay, I can see how it would drive some people insane. (My wife just stares into space when I put it on.)
Hot 100: Linda Ronstadt, “You’re No Good” (1975)
Zack: Sigh. Like I didn’t hear this sentiment often enough from my mom when I was growing up.
David: Oh man, is this sweet. I just love that left-field instrumental outro. You could get away with that back then (“Layla,” “Six Months in a Leaky Boat,” Robert Plant’s “Stranger Here … Than Over There”), but just try it now. What was the last big song to take off in a different direction like that?
Will: Damn, she was cute back then. I read in the YouTube comments that Andrew “Lonely Boy” Gold was responsible for the guitar solo on this clip. I had no idea. Linda got such a bad rap from the hipper-than-thou rock critics back in the day for recording white-bread versions of songs by Elvis Costello and Warren Zevon, but I’d rather hear those than the Nelson Riddle albums. (Not that those aren’t pretty damn good in their own right, if you like that sort of thing.)
John: Linda has one singing style: BELTING OUT EVERYTHING WITH NO QUIET MOMENTS OR SUBTLETY WHATSOEVER. She sings everything in that yell of hers, even her remake of “Blue Bayou” — “I’M GOIN’ BACK SOMEDAAYYYYY!! / COME WHAT MAAAAAAYYYY / ON BLUE BAYOUUUUU!!”
Agh, we heard you! Yeesh.
Jeff: Christ, was she hot back in the day. You can see why she was the village bicycle of Laurel Canyon during the ’70s. Sheryl Crow’s dating habits in the ’90s reminded me of Linda’s during this era, except Ronstadt has talent and Sheryl Crow fucking sucks.
Kurt: Linda’s best song was undoubtedly her ad for SeÃ±or Plow, but “You’re No Good” is another shining example of AM Gold at its best. Unfortunately, Linda now suffers from the same disease that Ann Wilson of Heart has, i.e. not knowing when to push aside that piece of cheesecake.
Scott: Love this song. I was one of the many kids who was in love with Linda Ronstadt back when she was all over the pop charts and rolling around in skates and Daisy Dukes. This version of the song really cooks, doesn’t it? Reminds me a little of Aretha and that countrified soul she gave us.
Jason: I always think of Bill Murray as Nick the Lounge Singer strolling up to Linda and singing, “You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good — Ms. Ronstadt, you’re no good.”
What a great clip. She looks and sounds amazing, and you go, Andrew Gold! You’re right, Mike — I think I do kind of look like him. If only I could grow facial hair.