I turned on the radio the other day for the first time in months and the first thing I heard was “more music, less talk,” so that’s what we’re going with this week. Well, okay, it’s the same amount of music but less talk. But you get my point.

Garland Jeffreys, Escape Artist
Krokus, Change of Address
Aleese Simmons, I Want It
Art in America, Art in America

We stroll on with our next-to-last week of artists whose names begin with the letter C, looking at songs that missed the first 40 slots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the ‘80s.

Rita Coolidge
“Fool That I Am” — 1980, #46 (download)

Many times it’s just so much more interesting to talk about everything but the music. What can I say about a boring track from some movie I’ve never heard of called Coast to Coast? Coolidge’s personal life is the story here — she dated Stephen Stills and then Graham Nash right after him, leading to the initial breakup of CSNY. But my favorite tidbit about Coolidge is that she starred in some television specials called The Christmas Raccoons and The Raccoons on Ice in the early ‘80s, which apparently led to the Canadian TV series The Raccoons. Here’s a clip from Raccoons on Ice, narrated by Rich Little and also starring … Leo Sayer!

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/BXcDmKGSdlk" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Julian Cope
“World Shut Your Mouth” — 1987, #84 (download)

Here’s one of the better upbeat pop tunes this series has had in a while. It would be a great track if half the song wasn’t simply the chorus being repeated over and over. “World Shut Your Mouth,” strangely enough, isn’t from Cope’s debut solo record, World Shut Your Mouth, but rather from his third release, Saint Julian. Normally I’d hate that since it’s very misleading to the casual consumer who would naturally assume the song is on the record of the same name. But when you’re dealing with mostly out-of-print music I guess it’s not that bad. If you’re not familiar with Cope’s music and you like this track, I’d suggest locating “Charlotte Anne” from his 1988 album, My Nation Underground. That’s one of my favorite tunes of the decade.

Al Corley
“Square Rooms” — 1985, #80 (download)

Al Corley’s big claim to fame is that he was the first Steven Carrington on Dynasty — which makes it two weeks in a row that we’ve had a connection to that show. The song itself is kind of weird for me. I mean, the pieces don’t fit very well. And take a look at the guy — he’s not the type of dude you’d expect to be singing a semi-new-wave track. But in the grand scope of actors trying to sing, he’s not Scott Baio bad, but he’s not Rick Springfield good (or, as our editor-in-chief might say, Jack Wagner good). This was Corley’s only hit song, and he didn’t exactly hit it big in the acting world either, as some of his credits include “guy in line” and “man in park.”

Elvis Costello
“The Only Flame in Town” — 1984, #56 (download)

Welcome to Bottom Feeders, Mr. Costello sir — though you don’t deserve to be here at all. Every now and then an artist comes around that is a perfect example of how messed up radio was/is in the US. If you made me give an example of why radio programmers had their heads up their asses (even) back then, Elvis would be the artist I would use. Just a paragraph up, I mentioned Jack Wagner, who had four Hot 100 hits in the ‘80s. Elvis Costello had three. Seriously, how fucked up is that? Now, I’m not saying all his ‘80s records were masterpieces, but many were good enough to chart, and even his earlier tunes, like “Watching the Detectives” and “Pump It Up,” didn’t make a dent. And the guy is still making great music today that gets zero radio airplay. Momofuku is one of best albums of 2008, but you won’t hear it on commercial radio. Meanwhile he’s had 40+ charting songs in the UK. I’m getting all worked up here, so I think it’s just time to enjoy “The Only Flame in Town” and move on to something else.

Gene Cotton
“If I Could Get You” — 1982, #76 (download)

This is the last of seven hits for Gene Cotton, breaking his string of four in a row to hit the Top 40. Gene Cotton sounds like the name of an 80-year-old bluesman, but he was just in his late 30s when he recorded this basic pop tune.

Josie Cotton
“He Could Be the One” — 1982, #74 (download)
“Jimmy Loves Maryann” — 1984, #82 (download)

Josie Cotton performed “He Could Be the One” during the prom scene in Valley Girl. “Jimmy Loves Maryann” is a cover of one of two hits from the Looking Glass.

Cover Girls
“Show Me” — 1987, #44 (download)
“Spring Love” — 1987, #98 (download)
“Inside Outside” — 1988, #55 (download)

The Cover Girls are one of the first Latin freestyle groups to hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and “Show Me” is considered a classic of the genre. I’d bet if it had been given the re-release treatment after 1000 clones popped up, it would have been a much bigger hit the second time around. This despite the fact that their debut album, which featured all the tracks listed here, was released on Fever Records with cover art that looked like it was made in my basement. Overall, Show Me had five tracks hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the highest, “Because of You,” reaching #27. They moved to a major label after this, but you have to wonder how big the Cover Girls would have been if this had some firepower behind it.

Coyote Sisters
“Straight from the Heart (Into Your Life)” — 1984, #66 (download)

The Coyote Sisters are one of a small handful of failed bands on Morocco records, the rock subsidiary of Motown. The group was led by Leah Kunkel, the sister of Mama Cass. The song itself is pretty ho-hum, lacking any type of energy.

Robert Cray Band
“Right Next Door (Because of Me)” — 1987, #80 (download)
“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” — 1988, #74 (download)

It’s understandable why Robert Cray really didn’t have any big radio hits aside from “Smoking Gun,” which reached #22 in the spring of ’87. It’s certainly not the quality of his songs that was the problem, but it was probably tough to find a lot of radio stations willing to play him after Def Leppard. “Right Next Door” is an awesomely groovy track, though.

“Real Love” — 1980, #79 (download)

The Cretones were led by Mark Goldenberg, who ended up being the guitarist for Jackson Browne. This was their only hit off their album Thin Red Line. Isolate the chorus by itself, and I might have guessed this was a Fleetwood Mac tune.

Crosby, Stills & Nash
“Too Much Love to Hide” — 1983, #69 (download)
“War Games” — 1983, #45 (download)

I’m a huge fan of Neil Young, but for some reason I’ve never gotten into Crosby, Stills & Nash. However, both of these songs are excellent (though I’m going to assume that many of you will think “War Games” is shit thanks to its electronic nature). Both of these are Stephen Stills compositions, and “Too Much Love to Hide” comes from Daylight Again, which David Crosby barely had any participation in.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
“Got It Made” — 1989, #69 (download)

Maybe this is the reason I never got into CSN. This was probably my first introduction to the group, and then I went backwards to hear some of their other tunes. This is another Stephen Stills track from their album American Dream, which is a total waste of good record-storing space. This piece of crap is sadly the best song on the album.

Christopher Cross
“A Chance for Heaven” — 1984, #76 (download)
“Charm the Snake” — 1985, #68 (download)

I’m a fan of Christopher Cross — there’s just nothing quite like “Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do).” There certainly wasn’t a whole lot of variety in his singles, though, at least up until 1985, when he released Every Turn of the World. It’s a bit more of a rock-oriented album than his others, but it didn’t spawn any real hits. “Charm the Snake” is the only Hot 100 track from it. Personally, I think it’s his best album, but the music world didn’t and that pretty much ended the run of Christopher Cross. It probably didn’t help that he has a face made for radio either. “A Chance for Heaven” can be found on the Official Music for the XXIIIrd Olympiad record, as it was deemed the “Swimming Theme.” Now I need to go and figure out what the swimming theme is for the current Olympics.

Best song — Elvis Costello, “The Only Flame in Town”
Worst song — Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Got It Made”

Next week we close out the letter C, with the group that sings my second-favorite song of the decade and a track from one of the best comedians of all time.

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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