Another week, another full letter as we check out the letter “O” with songs that hit the Billboard rock charts in the ’80s — but only those that didn’t also cross over into the hot 100. Share your stories about the songs and and enjoy the Wednesday morning mix.

Ric Ocasek
”Jimmy Jimmy” 1983, #25 (download)

Ric has such a unique voice that it’s really hard not to immediately think about the Cars even when listening to his solo material. I guess it doesn’t hurt in the least bit that this definitely has a slight Cars vibe to it as well, though in the end, it’s a relatively dull song.

The Ocean Blue
”Between Something and Nothing” 1989, Modern Rock #2 (download)
”Drifting, Falling” 1989, Modern Rock #10 (download)

I actually remember the actual release of their self-titled debut back in 1989, probably because they were from the nearby chocolate capitol of Hershey, PA. However, weirdly enough I didn’t remember any of the songs from the record until I heard both of these. I have a feeling I was in Hershey when the album was released and I saw them in concert or something like that. I’m not 100% sure but for not listening to them and not owning an album, I seem to have more vivid memories of them than I do other like artists.

Sinead O’Connor
”Jump in the River” 1988 Modern Rock #17 (download)

I’d bet that I may be only one of maybe 3 or 4 people that are reading this or commenting that hasn’t bothered listening to I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Gotand I have zero desire to. Owning ”Nothing Compares 2 U” is all I need from it — even this I could certainly do without. It’s no doubt the Prince cover is a total classic but otherwise, I just don’t get the draw to Sinead.

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Oingo Boingo
”Winning Side” 1988, Modern Rock #14 (download)

”Winning Side” is a great song from Danny Elfman and the gang in Oingo Boingo off an odd double disc compilation called Boingo Alive. The album consisted of previously unreleased songs such as this one, mixed with re-recordings of their greatest ”hits”, ”live” on stage but without an audience and of course without the one song everyone knows from them, ”Weird Science.”

Mike Oldfield
”Magic Touch” 1988, #10 (download)

Here’s a weird one because I’m not even sure this is the version that charted. Mike Oldfield recorded this song with GTR singer, Max Bacon. However, because Bacon wasn’t on the same label he wasn’t given permission to be on the disc and thus the song was released in the UK with some dude named Jim Price on vocals. The US version included Mr. Bacon and was the one that charted. So what version is this one I’ve got posted? I don’t really know. I don’t know who the hell Jim Price is and I couldn’t pick Max Bacon out of a lineup but this is the only version I know and the only version I could dig up on various websites. Some say this is Bacon and some say this is Price with Bacon on the background vocals. Any ideas?

(Edit: Thanks to multiple readers who sent me the Max Bacon version which apparently was not the track I had up. But HDH sent it to me first, so he gets the credit. The Bacon version is now featured here which sounds remarkably like the Price version anyway.)

Omar & the Howlers
”Hard Times in the Land of Plenty” 1987, #19 (download)
”Rattlesnake Shake” 1988, #36 (download)

Omar Dykes and the Howlers had been creating southern blues rock since 1980 but they didn’t sign a major label deal until 1987, when the title track from their 1987 album went to #19 and ”Rattlesnake Shake” became their follow up track off 1988’s Wall of Pride.

Roy Orbison
”She’s A Mystery To Me” 1989, #26 (download)

The fun part about this series is that I get to come across tracks like this. Frankly, I always wondered why ”You Got It” never had a big follow up hit when he had a who’s who of writers and producers on the Mystery Girlalbum. I don’t know if this should have been that big hit or not, but I’m surprised it wasn’t. ”You Got It” was huge, Orbison had just recently passed away and the track was written by Bono and the Edge. Bono produced it but if he had lent his voice to the chorus it would have almost been a lock to go top 10.

”Telegraph” 1983, #32 (download)
”Genetic Engineering” 1983, #32 (download)

I’m assuming I’m like a lot of people and didn’t really get into OMD until ”If You Leave” became a major hit. That’s about the time critics started hating them because they became pretty straightforward as compared to their first four or five albums which were much more experimental. I’ve since listened to everything except maybe the debut (not sure, but the track names don’t ring a bell to me) and apart from obvious tracks like ”Enola Gay” and ”Joan of Arc” I will still take ”(Forever) Live and Die” any day over the earlier work including these two here.

Benjamin Orr
”Too Hot To Stop” 1987, #25 (download)

”Too Hot To Stop” was the first track off The Lace — Cars’ bassist Benjamin Orr only solo record. Good song, but nothing compared to the excellent ”Stay the Night” which gave him his only big solo hit.

Ozzy Osbourne
”Crazy Train” 1981, #9 (download)
”Flying High Again” 1981, #2 (download)
”You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll” 1982, #41 (download)
”Over the Mountain” 1982, #38 (download)
”Paranoid” 1982, #25 (download)
”Iron Man/Children of the Grave” 1982, #32 (download)
”Bark at the Moon” 1983, #12 (download)
”Rock N’ Roll Rebel” 1984, #40 (download)

To this day I’ve avoided picking up the remastered versions of all Ozzy’s albums because of his choice to rerecord the original bass and drum parts on a few discs with Rob Trujillo and Mike Bordin. It’s probably no fault of his own and mostly Sharon’s doing but it just never sat quite well with me, Mr. Moral High Ground. But every time I go back and listen to Blizzard of Ozz or Diary of a Madman, I can’t help but think of what these tracks would be like with some true punch. The production is just so bad on these early 80s discs of his that despite having total classics such as ”Crazy Train” and ”Flying High Again” they just sound like you’ve put a pillow over the guitar and drums.

You hear the great difference in quality when you listen to the remastered MP3s of ”Bark at the Moon” and ”Rock N’ Roll Rebel” (I just own the MP3s, not the album). The leads are dynamic and there’s true power and excitement in both of them. So now of course today (I really mean it, today!) I’m going to go get the remasters of every disc. I’m sure it’s completely worth my money to hear ”Over the Mountain” kick my ass.

I’m not a big fan of Rudy Sarzo’s bass work on the live version of ”Paranoid” but I do think the rendition of ”Iron Man/Children of the Grave” is great — well, except for the drumming. The lineup consisted of Ozzy, Sarzo (Quiet Riot) on bass, Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) on guitar and Tommy Aldridge on drums — the only time this lineup would appear together on an Ozzy disc.

The Outfield
”Say It Isn’t So” 1985, #18 (download)
”Bangin’ On My Heart” 1987, #40 (download)

I love the Outfield’s output in the decade with their debut album, Play Deep being a pretty brilliant pure pop album. Each record after that sold less and less and the singles never quite lived up to the glorious ”Your Love” but if you want a great example of pop music in the decade you could start in much worse places.

Quick Hits
Best Song: Ozzy, ”Iron Man/Children of the Grave”
Worst Song: Ric Ocasek, ”Jimmy Jimmy”

Also appeared in the Hot 100
Ric Ocasek (3): ”Something To Grab For” ”Emotion in Motion” ”True To You”
Orion the Hunter (1): ”So You Ran”
Benjamin Orr (1): ”Stay the Night”
Ozzy Osbourne (1): ”Shot In the Dark”
The Other Ones (1): ”We Are What We Are”
The Outfield (6): ”Your Love” ”All the Love in the World” ”Everytime You Cry” ”Since You’ve Been Gone” ”Voices of Babylon” ”My Paradise”
Outlaws (1): ”Ghost Riders in the Sky”

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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