Just four letters to go as we count down to the finale, but at least W is going to last multiple weeks! Enjoy some more songs that failed to go Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1980s.
There’s probably no one here looking forward to Jack Wagner more than the bossman himself, Jeff Giles, y’all. The guy can talk up Jack Wagner like no other.
Fuck, he even invited all of you to go see a Wagner concert with him. He even took the time to wax poetic on the power of Jack’s 1987 record Don’t Give Up Your Day Job, which features “Weatherman Says,” a cover of Nick Jameson’s “Weatherman” (see Bottom Feeders #45). And see, here’s the thing — I think Jeff has actually convinced me Jack Wagner is good, or at least tolerable. I was never a fan, really, even though “All I Need” and “Weatherman Says” are pretty good songs. But any time someone has that much of a man crush on an artist, I feel the need to pay some attention.
“Restless Heart” — 1985, #59 (download)
“Change” — 1985, #54 (download)
“Welcome to Paradise” — 1985, #85 (download)
“If Anybody Had a Heart” — 1986, #76 (download)
“These Times Are Hard for Lovers” — 1987, #53 (download)
“Don’t Lose Any Sleep” — 1983, #66 (download)
John Waite has always been one of my favorite vocalists of the ’80s but not necessarily one of my favorite artists. He’s got a perfect voice for glossed-up pop music and pop-rock, either on his own or in the Babys and Bad English. His solo singles range from boring (“Welcome to Paradise”) to really cool (“Change”), but not one of his four albums from the ’80s is a front-to-backer.
“Change” is actually the second release of that single: it was on Waite’s 1982 debut solo record, Ignition, but didn’t chart (it wasn’t fresh out the kitchen). In 1985 it was included in the movie Vision Quest and rereleased as a single. “If Anybody Had a Heart,” written by J.D. Souther and Don Henley, is also from a movie, the Rob Lowe-Demi Moore flick About Last Night. And the slick tones of Waite’s last ‘80s hit, “Don’t Lose Any Sleep,” are courtesy of Ms. Diane Warren.
“I Know What Boys Like” — 1982, #62 (download)
Here’s another group that I think I need to check out a little closer. I own both the Waitresses’ debut LP, Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful?, and the follow-up EP, I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts, but I never gave them a real shot.
“I Know What Boys Like” almost seems like a novelty track at this point, though I hear the Waitresses’ albums are pretty cool. And if nothing else, I need to listen to something called “Pussy Strut” on the debut and “They’re All Out of Liquor, Let’s Find Another Party” off their second full-length, Bruiseology. And let’s not forget the theme song to Square Pegs! Without knowing much about the band’s music, I get the feeling they’re almost like a Romeo Void-ish type. Am I right?
Narada Michael Walden
“I Shoulda Loved Ya” — 1980, #66 (download)
“I Shoulda Loved Ya” is the second and final charting hit for Narada Michael Walden. But he’s not really known for his solo work, anyway — he’s written and produced some major tracks and albums for people like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, and Starship, not to mention “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” by Jermaine Stewart.
Wall of Voodoo
“Mexican Radio” — 1983, #58 (download)
Led by singer Stan Ridgeway, “Mexican Radio” is a staple of the MTV generation but apparently didn’t do much on U.S. radio. The track appears on their third album, Call of the West, which would be the final album before Ridgeway and a few other members of the band left. Wall of Voodoo would still continue to record and tour but with a lineup that wasn’t even close to how they started out.
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“Space Age Whiz Kids” — 1983, #52 (download)
I’m no fan of former Eagle Joe Walsh’s ‘80s material which ranges from mediocre to bad to comical but rarely good. “Space Age Whiz Kids” is somewhere between the bad and comical. There’s no doubt that the song it follows on the album You Bought It, You Name It falls in that comical category: “I Love Big Tits.” At least Joe and I have something in common if we should ever meet.
Wang Chung (or Huang Chung, as they were originally known) have some really awesome songs in their catalog, but most people really only know two of them, “Dance Hall Days” and “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.” Even their #9 follow-up to the latter, “Let’s Go!,” has seemed to fall into the land of obscurity.
They took an interesting path after breaking through with their 1983 album Points on the Curve. Instead of following it up with the monstrous Mosaic, they recorded the To Live and Die in L.A. soundtrack for William Friedkin instead.
“Praying to a New God” has more of a rock feel to it and comes off their last record, The Warmer Side of Cool. But wait! Geffen Records is releasing a new Wang Chung record at some point this year called Abducted by the ‘80s. I’m going to be all over that one, despite the title track being a horrific introduction to new Wang Chung music. I hope this is just an intro or promo tease rather than an indication of what’s to come.
One of my favorite Wang Chung moments of all time is from the short-lived TV show Hit Me Baby One More Time, when they performed a cover of Nelly’s “Hot In Herre.” It was brilliant live, although a little less great in the studio version, which you can also hear on their Myspace page.
As you probably know by this point, I’m a huge funk fan, and I just love these two tracks, though the ’80s really did mark the end of War. Both of these tracks came off their 12th studio album, Outlaw, which would be their next to last until they “reunited” with a mess of new musicians in 1991.
We first covered Jennifer Warnes when she dueted with Chris Thompson for the title track to the movie All the Right Moves. Now we get her solo tracks. She really was the female Kenny Loggins, bouncing back and forth from soundtrack to soundtrack for her biggest hits — though of course none of these tracks are from movies.
“Don’t Make Me Over” is a cover of the Dionne Warwick track written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David; this showed up again on the charts in ’89 when Sybil recorded it. “When the Feeling Comes Around” is a ballad too, from Warnes’s 1979 album Shot Through the Heart, and “Could It Be Love” was a new track on her 1981 Greatest Hits comp. She only released one more album during the decade, 1986’s Famous Blue Raincoat, a Leonard Cohen tribute record.
Best song: John Waite, “Change”
Worst song: Joe Walsh, “Space Age Whiz Kids”
TOP 40 ONLY
Next week we get Prince’s most underrated protegés and we all sing “Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do.”