The other day Metal Sucks introduced me to Firewind’s cover of Michael Sembello’s “Maniac.” That in turn took me to iTunes to search for other covers and yielded the interesting remake of “Super Freak” by Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby. As much as I loathe most of the covers that were made in the ’80s, I love when someone does a good cover of an ‘80s tune. And I’m not talking about someone adding a club beat behind a track and calling it a remake; it seems like almost every really popular song was remade into a dance track by some DJ within the past decade. I’m talking about cool covers with some different sounds or ideas incorporated into the original sound; since I like the Firewind track, a good example would be power-metal covers of pop tunes. (One of these days Manowar is going to cover “Who’s Johnny?” and I’m going to be all over it.) So, help me out and let me know some of your favorite covers of ‘80s tunes so I can make a mix of my own.

Big Big Sun, Stop the World
David Drew, Safety Love
Nitzer Ebb, That Total Age
Nik Kershaw, Human Racing
Dave Edmunds, Riff Raff

We continue on with our look at the bottom 60 percent of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the ‘80s with more “C” artists.

Cantina Band
“Summer ’81” — 1981, #81 (download)

Argh. This is the second time in this series that one of these stupid damn mash-up medleys has come up, and both times they’ve kicked off the week’s list of songs. This one, of course, was from the crazy mind of Meco (“Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band,” “Theme From Close Encounters“).

Jim Capaldi
“Living on the Edge” — 1983, #75 (download)

It’s remarkable how ridiculously bad this song is. From the synthesized drums to the weak keys and the pathetic attempt at getting new wave-y toward the end, it just screams of a man trying too hard. And Traffic was a good group, so it’s not like Capaldi didn’t have talent.

Captain & Tennille
“Love on a Shoestring” — 1980, #55 (download)
“Happy Together (A Fantasy)” — 1980, #53 (download)

Either I’m in a really crappy mood right now or this is the worst set of songs to kick off a Bottom Feeders post so far. Wikipedia says Captain & Tennille have a “repertoire of mostly sophisticated hit songs,” which for most of the world means they have a repertoire of sappy-ass bullshit. And what’s up with that crazy Middle Eastern passage about three and a half minutes into “Happy Together”? That’s some weird stuff to put in the middle of a Turtles cover. Captain & Tennille make me wish I had started my collection in 1981 instead of 1980.

Irene Cara
“Anyone Can See” — 1981, #42 (download)
“You Were Made for Me” — 1984, #78 (download)

I’m sorry, I know “Flashdance … What a Feeling” is one of the most popular songs of all time, but I don’t think either that or “Fame” are really that great. I do think Cara was a talented actress and had a decent voice, but neither of these tracks really showcase those pipes.

Luis Cardenas
“Runaway” — 1986, #83 (download)

Now, this is a cover I can at least deal with. If you’re going to do a cover it needs to be better than the original or at least bring something new to the fold. While I don’t think this beats the Del Shannon original, I like the little rock vibe that Cardenas brings to the song. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t post the video for “Runaway,” featuring Donny Osmond, Del Shannon himself, and some dinosaurs. It’s cheesy and classic at the same time.

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Tony Carey
“I Won’t Be Home Tonight” — 1983, #79 (download)
“West Coast Summer Nights” — 1983, #64 (download)

It’s hard to not like Tony Carey. For a few years in the mid-’70s he was in Rainbow, his four solo hits in the ‘80s were all very good, and his science-fiction-themed Planet P Project yielded the best of all his hits in a track called “Why Me?”

Belinda Carlisle
“I Feel the Magic” — 1986, #82 (download)
“I Feel Free” — 1988, #88 (download)

First Belinda felt the magic, then she felt free, which I suppose is a perfectly fine succession of events. If only I felt these songs. Neither is her best work, though “I Feel Free” is kind of catchy at times. However, I should note that I also didn’t like the Go-Go’s, so take that for what it’s worth.

Steve Carlisle
“WKRP in Cincinnati (Main Theme)” — 1981, #65 (download)

Well, if there was ever a song that needed no commentary from me, this is it.

Larry Carlton
“Sleepwalk” — 1982, #74 (download)

This is a nice, laid-back, well-played tune by the noted session guitarist and solo performer. In 1986 Carlton was shot in the throat outside his studio, but continued recording just shortly afterward. Nice lineage in the Carlton genes — he’s the uncle of Vanessa Carlton.

Eric Carmen
“It Hurts Too Much” — 1980, #75 (download)
“I’m Through With Love” — 1985, #87 (download)
“Reason to Try” — 1988, #87 (download)

“It Hurts Too Much” was the final charting single for the former Raspberries frontman in 1980 before he decided to take a brief hiatus from the music world. He started recording again in ’84 but didn’t hit it big again until ’87 with “Hungry Eyes,” followed by “Make Me Lose Control” in ’88. Inexplicably, he didn’t follow up those two massive hits with a new album. “Reason to Try” was included on the 1988 Summer Olympics “soundtrack,” and that’s pretty much where the chart run of Eric Carmen ended.

Best song — Tony Carey, “I Won’t Be Home Tonight”
Worst song — Jim Capaldi, “Living on the Edge”

Next week we have songs in bunches, as only seven artists comprise the entire 20 bottom feeders for the week!

About the Author

Dave Steed

Dave Steed is all about music; 80's and metal to be exact. His iPod will shuffle from Culture Club to Slayer and he won't blink an eye. He's never heard Astral Weeks but thinks "Dazzey Duks" by Duice is the bomb. It's an odd little corner of the world he lives in.

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