As the days go by, I’m learning more and more that my son, who’s now one year old, seems to respond to music. Whenever my wife turns on CMT or I pop on a record, he stops in his tracks, stares at the noise coming out of the big machine, and then starts bobbing his head — actually, his entire upper body — to the tunes.
So, as of last Thursday I’ve decided to play him a “classic” record each morning as we’re getting ready for the day — you know, with the hope that he’ll grow up liking daddy’s music (God help him). I’ve had four opportunities so far and I’ve chosen Peter Gabriel’s So, Arcadia’s So Red the Rose, the Time’s Ice Cream Castles, and INXS’s Kick. He seemed to like Peter Gabriel and was dancing all over the place during “Red Rain” (the first time I’ve ever seen anyone dance to that song). He also bobbed his head quite a bit during INXS’s “Guns in the Sky,” and Arcadia’s “Election Day” had him swaying back and forth. Unfortunately, Morris Day and the Time seemed to do nothing for him, but I still have plenty of formidable years ahead to get my son to blow his funky horn like dad.
Now, back to the ass end of the 1980s, i.e. songs that charted below #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the Reagan years, featuring our final week of artists whose names begin with the letter P.
â€œIâ€™m Never Gonna Say Goodbyeâ€ — 1982, #88 (download)
Billy Preston & Syreeta
â€œOne More Time for Loveâ€ — 1980, #52 (download)
Billy Prestonâ€™s smash duet with Syreeta, â€œWith You Iâ€™m Born Againâ€ puts me to sleep, so if Iâ€™m listening to Billyâ€™s singles chronologically, I just never get to these. Man, â€œWith Youâ€ must be the slowest ballad to chart in the decade. Not like either of these tunes here are barnburners, either. Iâ€™m pretty sure â€œOne More Time for Loveâ€ is actually a really good song, but I havenâ€™t been in the right mood to verify that in ages.
Hereâ€™s one of those artists that Iâ€™m going to learn a lot about by reading the comments. They’re pretty much universally loved, but I, of course, canâ€™t stand their music and think they are way overrated. But as with pretty much every artist I hate, there isnâ€™t one thing I can pinpoint or one moment where I realized it, but there has never been a point in my life where I have cared to hear a Pretenders song. The 1986 #10 hit â€œDonâ€™t Get Me Wrongâ€ is the closest I come to enjoying one of their songs. Iâ€™d be completely content if I never heard any of these three songs again.
â€œControversyâ€ — 1981, #70 (download)
â€œ1999â€ — 1982, #44 (download)
â€œLetâ€™s Pretend Weâ€™re Marriedâ€ — 1983, #52 (download)
â€œIrresistible Bitchâ€ — 1983, #52 (download)
â€œAmericaâ€ — 1985, #46 (download)
â€œAnotherloverholenyoheadâ€ — 1986, #63 (download)
â€œIf I Was Your Girlfriendâ€ — 1987, #67 (download)
â€œHot Thingâ€ — 1988, #63 (download)
On the other hand, bring on Prince! While the Pretenders are pretty much universally loved, Prince is pretty much universally considered a dick based on all the stories Iâ€™ve read about him. But he’s my favorite artist ever, so I have no complaints. Prince provided me with my favorite concert ever back on his Musicology tour. I have 707 Prince songs on my iPod (thatâ€™s not counting his artists or songs he wrote but didnâ€™t perform), which is far and away the largest number of any musician. And one of the things I loved about Prince singles is that the B-side was usually some unreleased track. Even in the â€˜90s with CD singles, heâ€™d release remixes and alternate takes galore for each single. And then thereâ€™s the untapped vault of what is probably hundreds of great songs that pop up every now and then in various places.
As for the tracks in this series, â€œ1999â€ is an interesting one to include here, as it went to #12 in June of â€™83 (only 12?) but in late â€™82 only managed to go to #44. It wasnâ€™t until after â€œLittle Red Corvetteâ€ hit that â€œ1999â€ then became a bigger hit unto itself.
â€œLetâ€™s Pretend Weâ€™re Marriedâ€ is one of my favorite tracks from 1999 (1982), but not the most radio friendly. I have to assume thatâ€™s partially why DJs flipped the 45 over and played the B-side, â€œIrresistible Bitchâ€ â€“ though itâ€™s not like thatâ€™s radio friendly either.
â€œAmericaâ€ is one of my favorite Prince tracks from Around the World in a Day (1985). And a lot of people forget about the awesome â€œAnotherloverholenyoheadâ€ from Parade (1986), the soundtrack to Princeâ€™s directorial debut, Under the Cherry Moon. The B-side to that song, â€œGirls & Boys,â€ is one of the best songs on that record.
Both â€œIf I Was Your Girlfriendâ€ and the super-funky â€œHot Thingâ€ were off the near-perfect double album Sign o’ the Times (1987). â€œHot Thingâ€ is interesting because it was originally the B-side of the #10 hit, â€œI Could Never Take the Place of Your Man.â€ But unlike â€œIrresistible Bitch,â€ it didnâ€™t chart at the same time. Instead it became a single in its own right after the run of its flip side ended.
One of the great things about Prince is that there really is no general consensus on what his best album is. 1999, Purple Rain (1984), and Sign o’ the Times are all so good, that thereâ€™s a decent split between the three of them. And for me, his best album didn’t arrive until the â€˜90s, when he released what’s been dubbed “The Love Symbol Album” (1992), the unpronounceable symbol becoming his moniker in the coming years.
â€œTurn On Your Radarâ€ — 1982, #64 (download)
While nothing could follow up the mighty Prince in my mind, at least this isnâ€™t a half bad tune. Prism seemed to be 100 different lineups over the years, originally brought together by two recognizable names: producer Bruce Fairbairn and Jim Vallance, best known for his work with Bryan Adams. The first single (â€œDonâ€™t Let Him Know”) from their 1982 album Small Change was written by Adams and Vallance and went to #39. â€œTurn On Your Radarâ€ was the last song released from this Prism, with a new Prism formed just one year later with Bill Champlin in it, among others.
â€œWhat She Does to Meâ€ — 1981, #61 (download)
So who do you think gave the Producers their first contract? Well, of course itâ€™s Tom Werman, who cleverly titled his Popdose series the same. The Producers were an awesome band from Atlanta, Georgia, who got a ton of love from the southeast, but not enough everywhere else to make a lasting impression.
â€œLiving in a Dreamâ€ — 1987, #57 (download)
Right now you’re probably saying, â€œHoly shit, Pseudo Echo had a song besides ‘Funky Town’?â€ And then you’re probably saying, “Holy shit, this sounds a lot like ‘Funky Town.'” Well, itâ€™s true that the group wasn’t technically a one-hit wonder, and yes, parts of “Living in a Dream” do sound a whole lot like Pseudo Echo’s big hit cover song. Their 1985 album included â€œLiving in a Dream,â€ but not â€œFunky Townâ€ — that is, until it got rereleased in ’87. After that they took a few years off before releasing Race in ’89, which was more rock oriented (and flat-out sucked). Be sure to watch the video below, because the single version of the song featured in the video has a totally different structure than the version offered for download.
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I was introduced to the Butler brothers for the first time around 1988 or 1989, I guess. The same two guys that first turned me on to the Cure also pumped the Psychedelic Furs into my brain as well. Though they did have four hits, I suppose they are more of a cult favorite now despite all four songs (â€œHeartbreak Beatâ€ being the other) being excellent. Unfortunately, album-wise, I think their creative peak was 1981’s Talk Talk Talk.
Surprisingly, I actually like both of these songs very much. I think the thing that shocked me is that up until last year when I pulled out a Pure Prairie League album (for reasons I donâ€™t understand) I had no idea the singer was country superstar Vince Gill. Not that PPL was a balls-out rock band or anything, but Vince certainly went an even softer, gentler route for his solo material.
As I do with every post, itâ€™s time for me to learn something as well. â€œI Canâ€™t Stop the Feelin’â€ charted in 1980. I own the 45, which says itâ€™s from the album Firinâ€™ Up, which I don’t own (since I can probably find it in any dollar bin, I should). But Firin’ Up has the track listed as â€œI Canâ€™t Stop This Feelin’,â€ according to PPL’s official site. Even more confusing is that Wikipedia says “I Can’t Stop the Feelin'” was a â€œsingle onlyâ€ release. I listened to the 45 again, and Gill sings â€œI canâ€™t stop this feelin’â€ in the chorus just like in the MP3 offered for download. So whatâ€™s the deal with this song — is the album version any different?
Best song: Prince, â€œControversyâ€
Worst song: Pretenders, â€œStop Your Sobbingâ€
TOP 40 ONLY
Pretty Poison (2); Maxi Priest (1)
Next week it’s onto the letter Q, with the best “lost” track of the entire decade!