It’s week number two of the letter R, as we continue to look at the bottom three-fifths of the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s.

Leon Redbone
“Seduced” — 1981, #72 (download)

As if there weren’t enough songs in this series that sound like they didn’t belong in the decade, let’s bring some good ‘ol ragtime music into the mix. I’m not necessarily saying it’s a bad song, but radio stations really played this? I mean, really? My God, how the musical climate has changed.

The Reddings
“Remote Control” — 1980, #89 (download)
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” — 1982, #55 (download)

TheReddingsBackToBasics1983AMost artists that are relatives of someone majorly famous seem to try to do anything they can to prove the point they are their own artist and get out of the famous relative’s shadow. But Otis Redding’s sons Dexter and Otis III as well as nephew Mark Lockett seemed to embrace it and work it to their advantage. While Otis is known for his sweet soul sounds, the Reddings brought more funk and disco elements into their songs early in their career. But they weren’t ashamed to cover Otis’s most famous song — “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” — either. However, even as a group they weren’t nearly as talented as the big man and nothing really propelled them to stardom. They released six albums in the ‘80s, but without the impressive lineage they would really be just another R&B group.

Helen Reddy
“I Can’t Say Goodbye to You” — 1981, #88 (download)

Well, actually Helen did sort of say “Goodbye” to us, as this was her 21st and last charting song. I wish her well, and I hope I never ever hear from her again.

Red Rider
“White Hot” — 1980, #48 (download)
“Young Thing, Wild Dreams (Rock Me)” — 1984, #71 (download)

Red Rider falls into the category of groups that I need to go back and delve deeper into. I’m one of those strange birds that thinks Tom Cochrane’s first solo record Mad Mad World is still excellent and doesn’t mind hearing “Life is a Highway” over and over so I did go back and pay a little attention to his group Red Rider, though not very seriously. All the singles are very good, though: “White Hot” and “Young Dreams” as well as “Human Race” and their most well-known song, “Lunatic Fringe,” which only hit the rock charts. I have to go back and listen to full albums, but based on the singles it really seems like the U.S. missed out on a gem by not paying attention to Red Rider.

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Red Rockers
“China” — 1983, #53 (download)

Ted Asregadoo wrote up Red Rockers not that long ago during a 415 Records Mix Six and he’s right on the money when he points out that “China” doesn’t sound like the rest of the album Good as Gold, which goes a long way to explain why these guys never had another hit. However, I’d venture I like this song a bit more than he does.

Jerry Reed
“She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)” — 1982, #57 (download)

You’re probably going to be shocked to hear this, but I’ll take this song any day of the week. There’s just something I still find quite funny about it and it’s such a well done song that never seems to get old. It just missed being in my Top 80 of the ‘80s list.

“Hurt” — 1984, #82 (download)

reflexThe group Re-Flex totally gets lost in my circle even to this day. I have to believe I’m not the only person in the world that has had someone in their life completely mistake who Re-Flex is. I mean, I’ve had so many conversations asking something like “do you remember the group Re-Flex?” only to have people come back and talk about Frankie Goes To Hollywood (No, that was “Relax”) or Duran Duran (No, that was the song “The Reflex”). Unfortunately, Re-Flex was a hit the same time as Frankie and the Duran Duran track so in my world they kind of got lost in the shuffle. And I don’t know a single person outside of collectors and ‘80s freaks that can tell you the group that did “The Politics of Dancing” thought they all know the song. It’s a shame too as that song is very good, but “Hurt” is a gem. These guys actually released four more singles from their debut and only record The Politics of Dancing. It’s definitely worth tracking down and giving a spin or two if you’ve never heard it – synthpop at its finest.

“Radio Free Europe” — 1983, #78 (download)
“So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” — 1984, #85 (download)
“Fall on Me” — 1986, #94 (download)
“It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” — 1988, #69 (download)
“Pop Song 89” — 1989, #86 (download)

remR.E.M. own the distinction of being the first band to get removed from my “must have” list. I’m a completist, so if I find a band I really love, I get every album first day, no matter what. Prince, Nine Inch Nails, Neil Young, all on that list. R.E.M. was on that list for many years as I used to be a big fan, in fact I have Document ranked #6 on my top 80 albums of the ‘80s list and I’m one of those bastards that think Monster is a brilliant record. But alas, 2004 rolled around and I got my third consecutive snoozer in a row – Around the Sun (2004), which followed Reveal (2001) and Up (1998) — and I decided I no longer cared. But it’s hard not to care about the groundbreaking “Radio Free Europe” or the simply beautiful “Fall on Me.”

It’s kind of funny to think that Top 40 radio didn’t really play “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” I suppose, as I remember seeing it every hour growing up. But maybe that’s just it — I saw it — so it was a bigger hit on MTV than on the radio.

“Pop Song 89” is a weird one for me because I see the name on paper and I think it’s a bit of a throwaway, but then I listen to it and love it. Hell, now I’m going to go and listen to Monster again. Love it with me, won’t you?

Rene & Angela
“I’ll Be Good” — 1985, #47 (download)
“Your Smile” — 1986, #62 (download)
“You Don’t Have to Cry” — 1986, #75 (download)

Rene Moore and Angela Winbush were a songwriting team that formed a group, got married, released a few records, broke up and then went their own way. Moore focused more on producing and writing while Winbush released quite a few successful records in the world of R&B.

REO Speedwagon
“Time for Me to Fly” — 1980, #77 (download)
“Variety Tonight” — 1987, #60 (download)

There are artists I don’t get and there are artists I hate. I detest REO Speedwagon mainly for being so douchey. I can’t think of a better example of a major rock band with so little balls in their songs. And yet, millions bought into them to the tune of 15 Hot 100 hits in the decade, 13 of them hitting the Top 40. I guess I should be happy with only two songs here, or I wouldn’t be able to just gloss over them and move on.

The Replacements
“I’ll Be You” — 1989, #51 (download)

Here’s another artist you clearly are going to school me on, and I’m going to let you. I really know nothing about the Replacements at all. I know I should, but I’ve never had the desire to go and learn. I love “I’ll Be You,” but I’m going to bet it’s unlike the rest of their catalog, because if they’d had more songs this pop oriented, I would’ve expected them to be more than a cult favorite.

Best song: Jerry Reed, “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)”
Worst song: Helen Reddy, “I Can’t Say Goodbye to You”

Ready for the World (3); Real Life (3); Dan Reed Network (1); Regina (1); Mike Reno (1)

Next week we get all chic over in Bangkok when we hear more songs from artists whose names begin with the letter R.

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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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