It’s the second week of artists whose names begin with the letter S, as we continue to look at songs that charted no higher than #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1980s.
Well, you probably know how much I’d really like to rip into Bo Duke, but for the most part I can’t. However, this man’s man from Hazzard County came right out of the musical gate pretty limp. If he wanted to do country music, that’s fine. A song like “In the Driver’s Seat” is actually kind of good. But “Still” is terrible, terrible adult contemporary crap. But, his music career was certainly targeted towards women who thought he was dreamy so I guess I understand why he went to the softer gentler side. If nothing else, most of his music was better than the self-titled debut from Luke Duke (Tom Wopat, 1982).
“Over the Line” — 1982, #91 (download)
Eddie Schwartz released three albums in the 80s and a half-dozen or so singles with minimal success. He had more success writing for others as he wrote or co-wrote Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot’ as well as the Doobie Brothers’ “The Doctor” and Paul Carrack’s “Don’t Shed a Tear.” All three are much better than “Over the Line.”
Scorpions were once a pretty bad ass group. The band’s albums these days are hit and miss between pretty rockin’ and “yeah great, Grandpa,” but in the ’70s and ’80s Klaus Meine and company could hold their own with the best of them. Both their 1982 release Blackout and ’84s Love at First Sting are great balls to the wall records of course led by “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” Even “Rhythm of Love” is a kick-ass tune off their less edgy Savage Amusement album.
Of course what makes the Scorpions great are their albums covers with some form of a boob exposed (ten-year-old girl not counting here) or some kind of sexual reference. But that stopped with the Crazy World album in 1990 and so did their string of making really good records.
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant group led by Green Gartside, who wrote really great, clever lyrics and some of the most pure pop melodies of the decade. Cupid and Psyche ’85 is a must own for any ’80s fan and checks in at #49 on my Top 80 Albums of the ’80s list. Their biggest hit, “Perfect Way,” is a flawless pop song and ranks as the 13th best song of the decade, according to me. “Wood Beez” is from that album and “Boom! There She Was” was on the excellent follow-up, Provision, and featured Roger Troutman. Unfortunately, Scritti Politti never really had a chance to be huge as Gartside has a severe case of stage fright and anxiety and thus never really toured. Total shame, as even when he started releasing music again with 1999’s Anomie and Bonhomie, it was awesome as expected.
“I wanna bop with you baby / All night long / I wanna be-bop with you baby / ‘Til the break of dawn.” God, I’m going to have this in my head for weeks, which is what always happens when I hear England Dan’s “Bop.” There’s something about the song that just gets me dancin’. Thankfully, I usually only hear it in the confines of my own home as no ladies would be boppin’ with me after watching me grooving to this.
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“Dancing in My Sleep” — 1986, #91 (download)
If we were voting on songs that sounded the least like they belonged in the year they were released, this one would be right at the top. There’s quite a few copies of the 12″ floating around out there now but I remember this being tough to find a few years ago while I was looking for it. I had to double check my charts three times to be sure it said 1986 on this. This screams way out of touch like nothing else, as I surely would have expected this to be around ’80 or ’81, popular with a group like Lipps, Inc.
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
“Horizontal Bop” — 1980, #42 (download)
“Feel Like a Number” — 1981, #48 (download)
“Old Time Rock and Roll” — 1983, #48 (download)
“It’s You” — 1986, #52 (download)
“Miami” — 1986, #70 (download)
I hate Bob Seger. Or I think I hate Bob Seger. I’m not really sure. Maybe I just hate the radio hits because I absolutely turn the channel every time he comes on the radio. But the songs that aren’t on the radio I’m at least partially okay with. I mean, I’m not at all into sappy crap like “It’s You” or “Miami” but songs like “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” or “Shakedown” I’ll listen to. Even “Horizontal Bop” isn’t terrible.
“Old Time Rock and Roll” (one of those that I refuse to listen to any longer) shows up here because it was rereleased after being featured in Risky Business. But even the original release in 1979 only went to #28.
A while back our leader wrote about the rock ‘n’ roll unemployment line, and strangely enough, two of the three people he interviewed worked for Bob Seger at some point.
“Love Is Contagious” — 1987, #62 (download)
Jill Jones, the Family, Mazarati, Good Question, Tony LeMans, Tamar, Taja Sevelle; all artists that Prince took under his wing and killed any chance of a career that they might have had. It’s really a shame how good Prince is as an artist, but so poor in artist development. Yet for some reason, even today we still get singers like Bria Valente buying into it and signing with him to release music. Not all of his artists were bad, just given the wrong music and promoted poorly. Taja Sevelle is somewhere in the middle. Her CD, Love Is Contagious, was a very average pop-R&B mix and the single you hear above has a definite Prince influence to it. I just don’t think Prince realized that most artists don’t have the ability to pull off what he does and never really presented the best tracks to the majority of his artists. In order to really be a hit, you had to have a ton of talent coming into the partnership (Sheila E., Tevin Campbell, Morris Day and the motherfuckin’ Time!).
Sevelle’s website claims she’s written songs with the likes of Burt Bacharach, Nile Rodgers (who hasn’t?), and some hip-hop writers. It also claims rave reviews for her 1998 album Toys of Vanity (hey, wasn’t Vanity another Prince girl?). However it doesn’t say what songs and doesn’t give quotes from any of those rave reviews, which screams out B.S.
I could be way off base, but naming your band just a number is stupid. It’s not like these artists had to worry about internet searches back then, but we’ve even debated in this column before if something like this should come under S for “SevenOhSeven” or before the letters, so stores could put this album in many places. I know I’m thinking way too far into this, but it just seems confusing and unmemorable to me. 707 is certainly closer to being okay than other groups like 3 and 9.9 but still silly. Musically they were just okay. “I Could Be Good For You” is really nothing special but the switch to more of an arena rock sound for “Mega Force” turned out solid.
Best song: Scritti Politti, “Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)”
Worst song: John Schneider, “Still”
TOP 40 ONLY
Neil Sedaka (1), Seduction (2), Michael Sembello (2)
Next week I make your day with one of the all-time worst attempts at fitting in.