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The Firm Tag

We move on this week to the sixth letter of the alphabet and look at more tunes that hit the Billboard rock charts in the 1980s but failed to cross over into the Hot 100.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds
“Tip On In” 1981, #44 (download)
“One’s Too Many (and A Hundred Ain’t Enough)” 1981, #41 (download)
“Look At That, Look At That” 1986, #20 (download)
“How Do You Spell Love” 1987, #22 (download)
“Rock This Place” 1989, #10 (download)

One of my favorite underrated groups of the ‘80s, most people know them for the excellent “Tuff Enuff” which pushed them to mainstream radio, but before that they were pretty straightforward blues rock and I’d bet a hell of a fun bar band.

Their first album to give them hits was Butt Rockin’ from 1981 which contained the blues cover “Tip On In” and “One’s Too Many” co-written by singer Kim Wilson and Nick Lowe.

Fast forward five years to the Tuff Enuff album where they added a pop edge into the blues to create killer numbers like the title track and “Wrap It Up”. “Look At That, Look At That” was also from the record but was a little too traditional blues for mainstream radio.

The next album – Hot Number – generated “Stand Back” for the mainstream media and the blues cover “How Do You Spell Love?” for rock radio.

Their last album of the decade was Powerful Stuff, er – only by title. It’s a pretty uninspired album with generic tunes like “Rock This Place” sadly being the best of the bunch.

New baby = less time. Imagine that. I was somehow under the impression that sleepless nights were going to give me plenty of free time to continue to write meaningless drivel in my intros, but I haven’t been able to find the motivation at 3 AM just yet. So, in an effort to continue to give you the “quality” music of Bottom Feeders without interruption, I’m going to move straight to the music for the remainder of 2008. Without further ado, we continue looking at the ass end of the Billboard Hot 100 in the ’80s, with more artists whose names begin with the letter F.

“Talk to Me” — 1985, #64 (download)
“Everything You Do (You’re Sexing Me)” — 1989, #52 (download)

Fiona Flanagan is less known for her music than for her lead role in the failed 1987 Bob Dylan movie Hearts of Fire. “Everything You Do” is a duet with Bottom Feeders favorite Kip Winger! If I could choose one artist to be the spokesperson for this series, Kip would be high on the list. Over-the-top cheesiness, pretty shitty music, and a remarkably cocky attitude is exactly what I’m looking for to represent this series, and “Everything You Do” is a pretty good example of that shit factor. I’m just wondering if the phrase “you’re sexing me” was ever uttered by even one other person. Unless this was some popular saying in the ’80s that I’m not aware of, I just can’t picture someone saying to me, “Oh yeah, baby, now you’re sexing me.” We got close a few years later with Color Me Badd wanting to “sex you up,” but that’s still nothing like a good sexing (at least, I assume).

Elisa Fiorillo
“How Can I Forget You” — 1988, #60 (download)
“Forgive Me for Dreaming” — 1988, #49 (download)

Neither of these songs are terrible. In fact “How Can I Forget You” is downright okay, but they’re not what Elisa Fiorillo is known for. Her biggest song was the top-20 hit “Who Found Who” by Jellybean, on which she was lead vocalist. Then after her debut record, which featured the two singles posted here, she started working with Prince, doing background vocals on the Batman soundtrack (1989), Graffiti Bridge (1990), and Diamonds and Pearls (1991). Her second album was recorded at Paisley Park and was heavily influenced by the Purple One. After that she took a break, did some TV work, and returned in 2002 playing jazz.

whitelabel.gifMy club-friendly tendencies are clearly lost on the majority of Popdose’s AOR-loving rock hounds, so let’s shake things up this week by putting Jimmy Page under the remix knife.

Truth be told, the album version of “Radioactive” is a pretty sorry excuse for a song. At the time, though, I loved it, primarily because of the combination of Page’s guitar scratch on the third line in the verse, followed by Paul Rodgers’ reverbed vocal. Other than that, what else is there to sink your teeth into? Chris Slade’s drumming is competent but unremarkable, and Tony Franklin’s spectacular hair overshadowed his skill on the fretless bass. Perhaps that’s why the song is so short; even the band knew they were pushing their luck by leaning on scratcha-scratcha-scratcha-scratch, “’cause Imma radioactive!” for their hook. Hell, not even Page’s solo is a highlight, as it is smothered by a second solo slapped on top of it. Bryan Ferry did this a couple of years later on his song “Limbo,” and Duran Duran did it a few years after that on “Read My Lips.” They all sound terrible.

So if the original is pushing its luck without even cracking the three-minute mark, what on earth is a six-minute version of the song going to be like? Surprisingly awesome, in a very mid-‘80s rock mix kind of way.