Ssssssssssssstop the relentless surge of Bottom Feeders songs by artists whose names begin with the letter S, you say? Never! Here are more singles that charted below #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s.
Amii Stewart & Johnny Bristol
“My Guy/My Girl” — 1980, #63 (download)
Better than Sister Sledge’s “My Guy” or Suave’s “My Girl,” which both charted in the ‘80s. Maybe it’s because we’re getting a two-for-one here? There are certainly better versions of this tune/these tunes, but Amii & Johnny’s is a keeper.
Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin
“It’s My Party” — 1981, #72 (download)
For the longest time I just assumed this Dave Stewart was the Eurythmics guy, but it turns out he’s a prog keyboardist who’s probably most well known for being in the band Bruford, led by former King Crimson and Yes drummer Bill Bruford. Stewart released this as a one-off single with Gaskin, but then decided he liked working with her so much that he kept releasing singles with her until ’86, when they progressed to full-length albums. They’re still working together today.
I would have, too, after recording this. I can’t get enough of “It’s My Party,” from the keys sounding like old arcade games to the slow and eerie breakdown in the middle abruptly switching to the upbeat pop reminiscent of the original version. This to me is a great example of how you really remake a song: stay true to the original melody but add some originality to it.
I’ve always liked Jermaine Stewart, even if his music isn’t that great. “The Word Is Out” is junk in my book, although “Jody” (written about Ms. Watley) is relatively catchy. But I liked him in the ’80s for what goes down as one of the greatest pop songs of the decade: “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off.” It’s an absolutely false statement, of course, because bare boobs rock the joint, but it’s still totally awesome. Stewart’s final Top 40 hit in the ’80s was 1988’s Caribbean-flavored “Say It Again,” which is also better than the two songs here.
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“I Don’t Want to Talk About It” — 1980, #46 (download)
“Somebody Special” — 1981, #71 (download)
“How Long?” — 1982, #49 (download)
“All Right Now” — 1984, #72 (download)
“People Get Ready” — 1985, #48 (download)
“Another Heartache” — 1986, #52 (download)
“Every Beat of My Heart” — 1986, #83 (download)
“Twistin’ the Night Away” — 1987, #80 (download)
Rod Stewart has been the topic of much discussion here at Popdose. In fact, I believe it was the awesome Redeeming Rod series at the start of 2008 that really got me addicted to Popdose before I became a writer for it.
I don’t know whether it takes an unapologetic fan of ‘80s music like myself to really appreciate the black hole of supposed crap Rod released in the ‘80s, or someone like Matt Bolin taking the time to find the good parts inside the crap, but I stand by the fact that Rod made some fantastic songs in the ‘80s.
Twenty-one songs of his reached the Hot 100 in the decade, including “People Get Ready” with Jeff Beck, which I normally wouldn’t include here since I already listed it with Beck’s name long ago when we covered the letter B, but I did it anyway just to link to the Redeeming Rod post about the song.
I can find at least something to defend in all 21 songs except for the ridiculous faux rapping in “Crazy About Her,” which went to #11 in ’89. I’m not remotely crazy enough to suggest that an album like Body Wishes (1983) is any good, but put those other 20 songs on a disc and you’ve got a great listen in store. And yes, that includes 1986’s “Love Touch,” which is a delightful piece of pop music, a statement I couldn’t make on this site until now thanks to the boss’s hatred of it. (Eighty-five posts in, what’s he going to do — tell me to take a hike?)
Of course, it’s ironic that my two favorites are the least ‘80s-ish of the bunch: “I Don’t Want to Talk About It,” which was on Rod’s 1975 album Atlantic Crossing but wasn’t released as a single in the U.S. until very late in ’79, and “Somebody Special,” from Foolish Behaviour. Then there are the three covers in a row here: Ace’s tune “How Long?,” which was the follow-up to “Young Turks”; the electronic-y take on Free’s “All Right Now”; and the aforementioned collaboration with Jeff Beck for a cover of the Impressions’ “People Get Ready,” from Beck’s album Flash. Skip ahead to Rod’s last song listed here, another cover of the Sam Cooke classic “Twistin’ the Night Away.”
Between those last two covers, we get the awesome “Another Heartache,” which was cowritten with Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, and “Every Beat of My Heart,” off Rod’s self-titled album from 1986.
Hate on this period of Rod’s career as much as you want — I don’t blame you at all — but he just did what a ton of other artists did during the decade — he changed with the times.
Both of these tracks were off Stills’s lone solo record in the ‘80s, Right by You, which was a godawful album. The first half of the album is filled with keyboards and drum machines like you hear in “Stranger” and is more upbeat overall than the second half, which includes the Michael Finnegan sung “Can’t Let Go” and a cover of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” The album is all over the map and has virtually no flow. I’m sure there are redeeming moments on the record and I don’t mind “Can’t Let Go” that much at all, but overall this could have went right by me and I’d have been fine with that.
“Englishman in New York” — 1988, #84 (download)
Of Sting’s seven tracks to chart in the decade, only this one didn’t make the Top 40 but ends up being my favorite of all of them. It certainly wasn’t the most radio friendly song he ever wrote (about Englishman Quentin Crisp) but its quirkiness is what really intrigues me the most. From that weird sound in the background that kicks in at the start of the chorus (I don’t even know what to call it – it’s just so odd) to the breakdown in the middle that starts out as jazz and ends up being like a hip-hop drum line, it just ends up being an extremely unique sounding song.
“Never Tell an Angel” — 1983, #88 (download)
The Stompers were actually a pretty decent band out of Boston that ran into a string of bad luck. They released their debut record which contained “Never Tell An Angel” but the week of release their label – Boardwalk Records – went under. They were bought out by Polygram and the album got repackaged and released in 1984 at which point Polygram had some shifting there as well and the group got very little promotion. Tough break, as the debut record is a solid little slab of rock.
“Look at That Cadillac” — 1984, #68 (download)
I’ve never been a rockabilly fan but even so I’m surprised I hate the Stray Cats so much. I cringe when I hear “She’s Sexy + 17” or “Rock This Town.” “Look at That Cadillac” is my favorite of the singles, though “favorite” isn’t saying much for me in this case. It was the third single off their second U.S. release, Rant n’ Rave With the Stray Cats, and their final charting song.
“One More Night” — 1981, #47 (download)
Streek is a band that has eluded me for years. The song was on their debut self-titled record on Columbia and both the LP and 45 for this song are very difficult to find. Other than that, I have no information on the group. Search engines end up turning this into Streak or Street so even that part was a challenge. And all this for a pretty terrible song. I’d love to hear from someone that knows what the deal was with Streek.
“Say Hello to Ronnie” — 1984, #68 (download)
Street’s debut album, Heroes, Angels & Friends isn’t difficult to find these days, but her debut and only charting single “Say Hello To Ronnie” is a lost gem of the decade. The whole record has a rock edge to it and is certainly worth a cheap gamble if you see it around. I wonder back in ’84 how many people saw the title and thought it was about Ronald Reagan.
“If Love Should Go” — 1983, #87 (download)
Streets was a short-lived but pretty damn awesome rock band led by Steve Walsh of Kansas. Walsh didn’t like the direction Kansas was taking with their music in 1982 so left and formed his own band. Streets appropriately titled 1st album was a cool arena rock record. They released a second album in ’85 called Crimes in Mind before Walsh reformed a then broken up Kansas in 1986.
Best song: Streets, “If Love Should Go”
Worst song: Streek, “One More Night”
TOP 40 ONLY
Al Stewart (1), John Stewart (1)
Next week: Babs.