Last week I talked about â€œthe Shrink,â€ the guy at the record show who thinks he knows everything about every artist that ever recorded. This week we move on to another one of my favorite characters: Mr. Random.
Mr. Random is the dude who comes into the twice-a-year record show with thousands of records in milk crates all around the floor and gets pissed off when the records arenâ€™t in alphabetical order. I donâ€™t expect everyone to be a hardcore collector like me, but it still makes me laugh when I see people get angry at randomness. Mr. Random was probably in his mid-40s or so and came in with his wife and two children. He immediately asked the seller, â€œAre these in any sort of order?â€ The seller told him that they were by genre only and that he was in the rock and pop section, with country, jazz, easy listening, etc., over on the far wall. After the seller walked away, Mr. Random started loudly complaining to his family: “How does he think anyone will buy any records if they arenâ€™t in order?â€ Then he started flipping through the crates, you know, like ten records at a time, kind of looking in their general direction and feigning a bit of interest before walking away seemingly disgusted.
I really just wanted to answer his rhetorical question to his wife. “Whoâ€™s going to buy them? Well, pretty much everyone who comes here, sir, since you are clearly the only one that just stumbled across this record show. The rest of us are here because of the show, and Iâ€™m sure all of us donâ€™t mind not having anything in order, and in fact most of us enjoy the fact that they are random because thatâ€™s part of the fun of the search.”
And yes, I completely realize that I sound like a record-show snob at this point, but Iâ€™m really not. Ninety-nine percent of the people that were at the record show were totally cool and, really, I couldnâ€™t have cared less what they were doing or buying, but itâ€™s the 1 percent that make for a good story.
NEW MUSIC FOR THE COLLECTION:
David Hasselhoff, Lonely Is the Night
Atlantic Starr, Brilliance
Jethro Tull, Under Wraps
Jethro Tull, Rock Island
More â€œCâ€ artists to come as we try to keep up with the quality of last weekâ€™s songs with 20 more from the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the ’80s.
Peter Cetera was in the previous post, Chicago will be in the next one, and we have Bill Champlin this week. Man, they just have the letter â€œCâ€ cornered, donâ€™t they? A singer, songwriter, and keyboardist, these two songs were released pretty much coinciding with Champlinâ€™s joining Chicago, and they certainly have his stamp on them. Slow to midtempo adult-contemporary tracks were his forte, as you can hear from this pair of songs, the length of the ’80s with Chicago, and other tracks he wrote or cowrote, like â€œAfter the Love Has Goneâ€ for Earth, Wind & Fire.
Change launched in 1980 with a Chic-ish disco sound. Through 1981 Change featured a young Luther Vandross, and although he was with the group for both â€œParadiseâ€ and â€œHold Tight,â€ he only sang lead on songs from the group’s 1980 debut album, The Glow of Love, due to contractual issues. James Robinson, a vocal clone of Vandross, took over vocals in ’82, and Change switched to R&B and funk, abandoning the disco sound it had become known for.
I never had a big problem with Tracy Chapman like I did with most female singers. I definitely like artists who are unique, and she has one of those unmistakably different voices. â€œBaby Can I Hold Youâ€ is the best of the three songs here, and I actually enjoy it more than the big hit off her debut, â€œFast Car.â€ After winning the Best New Artist Grammy in 1989, she only had one other major hit, 1995’s â€œGive Me One Reason.”
Charlene with Stevie Wonder
â€œUsed to Beâ€ — 1982, #46 (download)
Even a blind man could see this was a piece of crap! Charlene is really known as a one-hit wonder for her song â€œIâ€™ve Never Been to Me,â€ released in the late ’70s but a big hit in 1982. Signed to Motown, I guess they thought putting Stevie Wonder on her records would mean instant hits, but writing a decent song would’ve accomplished that task too.
â€œEverything Works If You Let Itâ€ — 1980, #44 (download)
â€œStop This Gameâ€ — 1980, #48 (download)
â€œIf You Want My Loveâ€ — 1982, #45 (download)
â€œSheâ€™s Tightâ€ — 1982, #65 (download)
â€œTonight Itâ€™s Youâ€ — 1985, #44 (download)
â€œNever Had a Lot to Loseâ€ — 1989, #75 (download)
In my less-than-humble opinion, Cheap Trick is the most underrated band of the decade. I hear the best possible combo of rock, pop, and punk put forth on record, and I think a mess of todayâ€™s rock bands would agree with that assessment. Cheap Trick released 24 singles in the â€˜80s, but only nine of them charted. In fact, they had to wait until 1988 to get their first big hits of the decade — â€œThe Flame,â€ â€œDonâ€™t Be Cruel,â€ and, to a lesser extent, â€œGhost Town.â€ Cheap Trick certainly werenâ€™t without their stinkers too, like the theme songs for the movies Spring Break and Up the Creek in 1984, but the majority of their songs were pretty damn awesome.
â€œRunningâ€ — 1982, #91 (download)
I have to admit that when I first heard this a few years back I was shocked to find out it was Chubby Checker singing. I know nothing from Checker other than â€œThe Twist,â€ so to hear this type of rock music from him was quite startling. â€œRunningâ€ is definitely in the Bruce Springsteen vein, and after Gary U.S. Bonds restarted his career by adopting the Bossâ€™s style, why shouldn’t Checker try the same thing? The one real good track from his brief reincarnation was â€œHarder Than Diamond,â€ which ended up on the Billboard rock chart.
Cheech & Chong
â€œBorn in East L.A.â€ — 1985, #48 (download)
The first parody song to appear on Bottom Feeders — maybe the first comedy track as well (unless you consider â€œI Wish I Was Eighteen Againâ€ by George Burns to be comedy) — Cheech & Chong broke up immediately after this. Richard “Cheech” Marin went on to work steadily in movies (he wrote, directed, and starred in 1987’s Born in East L.A.) and TV, peaking, of course, in 1992 with the Golden Girls spin-off The Golden Palace (also starring Don Cheadle). Tommy Chong presumably just continued to smoke the ganja.
Joe Chemay Band
â€œProudâ€ — 1981, #68 (download)
Of the more than 4,200 songs to hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the â€˜80s, I would guess that there arenâ€™t more than 50 that I couldnâ€™t at least hum one bar or sing the chorus. This is one of them. Joe Chemay was a session bassist and background singer in the â€˜70s; “Proud” and his groupâ€™s only album, The Riper and the Finer, are part of that west coast AOR sound of the early to mid-’80s. This song shows up on the west coast music website that seems to list 75 percent of the albums they lump into this genre as “classic west coast music albumsâ€ or â€œmasterpieces,” of which 99 percent are clearly not. Joe Chemay is a â€œclassic,” apparently. â€œProudâ€ isnâ€™t a bad tune, but itâ€™s no classic.
â€œSkin Deepâ€ — 1988, #79 (download)
There are two things that as an adult Iâ€™m totally not ashamed to admit. The first is that â€œSkin Deepâ€ really isnâ€™t that bad. The second is that even at 13 years old I would have totally done 43-year-old Cher in the â€œIf I Could Turn Back Timeâ€ video. I mean, I certainly wouldnâ€™t have admitted that 20 years ago, but now I think itâ€™s perfectly fine and, frankly, you would’ve totally done her too.
â€œI Didnâ€™t Mean to Turn You Onâ€ — 1984, #79 (download)
This was a cool track in its original form, written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for Cherrelle, but perfected two years later, climbing to #2 for Robert Palmer. Back in this era, Jam and Lewisâ€™s tracks were fresh and unique, as the production duo were still at least a decade away from me thinking that everything they put their name on sounded exactly the same.
Best song — Cheap Trick, â€œIf You Want My Loveâ€
Worst song — Charlene, â€œUsed to Beâ€
Next week we cover a guitar legend and maybe the best sports song of all time.