A whole new letter — and all in one week, as we start hitting the home stretch towards the final Bottom Feeders post. Here’s songs from the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the ’80s from artists starting with the letter U.
“Breakaway” — 1984, #70 (download)
I think the most amazing thing about Tracey Ullman’s debut album You Broke My Heart in 17 Places is that it’s not a comedy record. It’s a covers record of songs that I’ve never particularly cared for, but the thing is, it isn’t bad. Tracey had a decent voice and the album, while probably still considered a novelty, wasn’t the worst thing in the world. “Breakaway” is a cover of an Irma Thomas song co-written by Jackie DeShannon, while she took Kristy MacColl’s “They Don’t Know” all the way to #8.
“Reap the Wild Wind” — 1983, #71 (download)
“Reap the Wild Wind” was the only Ultravox track that charted on the Hot 100. The group had three records in the ‘70s with original lead singer John Foxx that went nowhere, but when Foxx was replaced in ’79 with Midge Ure, the band ended up getting some airplay outside of the US and became somewhat of a cult act here. They released five records with Ure as the vocalist until they broke up in 1988. A new lineup got back together in 1993 and recorded two albums, each with a different vocalist. And they seem to be back together again, having re-formed for a tour last year.
It’s interesting to look at Underworld when they first began in 1988. Both of their first two releases, Underneath the Radar and Change the Weather, are pretty fun, catchy pop records. Radar was recorded and performed live in one take and Weather was a pop gem marking the end of the first phase of the band. Both albums are panned by critics especially after comparing them to later albums when they made a stylistic switch into a trance group (albeit with a lot of pop stylings). Their biggest song is “Born Slippy” from the Trainspotting soundtrack though nothing from them cracked the Hot 100 besides these two.
“What If (I Said I Love You)” — 1982, #71 (download)
Unipop’s “What If” is one of those tracks on every ‘80s collector’s wish list. I know very little about the band since info is pretty scarce, but what I do know is that they were a husband-and-wife team — Manny and Phyllis Loiacono — and they released at least one record called Unilove on Kat Family Records. I have no idea if “What If” is on it or not, but the 45 just doesn’t show up very often. The strangest thing is that I have an autographed picture of the Loiaconos hanging up in my record room. It’s actually the only thing on the wall, if you can believe that. The autograph reads:
To Greg + Bev,
Keep those dingleberries rolling! Thanks for your help.
All our best,
Phyllis + Manny
I have to admit I’m a little scared by that message — I don’t know what it meant back in ’82, but as far as I know, dingleberries are the little balls of poop that hang behind, if you get what I’m puttin’ down.
“(I Know) I’m Losing You” — 1986, #87 (download)
Here’s another track that’s on the want list of many ‘80s collectors as well. Uptown (also known as the Uptown Girls) were from Dallas and released this single on local label Oak Lawn records. It’s a cover of a song originally done by the Temptations in 1966.
“Dear God” — 1989, #95 (download)
We’ve talked about Ultravox and now we get lead singer Midge Ure in the same post. “Dear God” is a favorite of mine and I prefer it over anything I’ve heard from Ultravox. It was from his first solo record after the breakup of the group – Answers To Nothing.
“Running Back” — 1985, #79 (download)
Urgent was a short lived rock group founded by brothers Michael, Don and Steve Kehr. “Running Back” was off their first of two records called Cast the First Stone. They formed in 1985 and broke up after their second unsuccessful record in 1987. “Running Back” isn’t a bad arena rock song but sounds like any random couple dozen songs from the era.
“Roxanne, Roxanne” — 1985, #77 (download)
The Roxanne wars is one of the greatest stories in the history of hip-hop. UTFO (Untouchable Force Organization) created this song as a dis to a girl who wouldn’t hook up with them. Then one day UTFO failed to show up for a radio promotion and all hell broke loose. A girl decided she would make an answer record for UTFO standing her up now and thus Roxanne Shante’s “Roxanne’s Revenge” was born. Then UTFO countered by creating an answer to the answer with another girl going by the name of The Real Roxanne and from that point on every MC came out of the woodwork with records dissing UTFO and/or one or both of the Roxannes. It got to the point where the hip-hop community finally said they’d had enough of the answer records and put a cease and desist out on recording anymore and the new tracks became limited to just the original participants. I’ve read claims there are over 100 answer records to this track.
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I was never a big fan of Utopia, so I’ll take the easy way out and direct you back a ways to the Popdose Guide to Utopia, which tells you everything you need to know.
“New Year’s Day” — 1983, #53 (download)
“I Will Follow [Live]” — 1984, #81 (download)
“In God’s Country” — 1987, #44 (download)
“When Love Comes to Town” — 1989, #68 (download)
“All I Want Is You” — 1989, #83 (download)
I almost feel dirty even calling U2 “Bottom Feeders” – I mean, we’re talking about one of the biggest bands in the world here. Hard to imagine that none of these songs made a major impact on radio as they are all excellent, but mainstream radio didn’t really pick up on them too much until The Joshua Tree (1987). I mean something like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” didn’t even hit the Hot 100. Once “With Or Without You” hit #1 in ’87, U2 started really blowing up.
Best song: U2, “New Year’s Day”
Worst song: Unipop, “What If (I Said I Loved You)”
TOP 40 ONLY
UB40 (3), USA for Africa (1)
Next week, V is for vagina — that is, if you’re counting all the ladies David Lee Roth got.