Leave it to Bottom Feeders to get me out of a rut. I’m been kind of struggling putting words to paper lately so I thought this week would be short, but I got on a roll and in turn you get this monstrous post finishing the letter P, which is almost double the normal length. I just couldn’t stop with the excellent tunage in the letter so I’m giving you more music than ever before. Enjoy the end of the letter P as we look at songs that hit the Billboard rock charts in the ’80s that failed to also cross over into the Hot 100.
“Widowmaker” 1981 #33 (download)
When you listen to much metal as I do, you see a song called “Widowmaker” and you think of something a little harder than this. But seriously, a pretty cool song off a pretty average album called Blue & Gray.
“Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah” 1989 Modern Rock #17 (download)
I know the majority of you are going to find this weird but three years ago or so I asked my buddy to make me a comp of songs by the Pogues as I had heard nothing from them but of course knew the name Shane MacGowan. The disc contained like 16 tracks or something and this was the only track that I liked. So now does anyone think that the next version of this series is truly going to be “The Bloody End of the ‘80s?”
Don’t you just love this video with those teeth!?
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I’m a little surprised to see three Point Blank songs on this list. I really like their biggest hit, “Nicole,” which hit #39 so we didn’t see it in the original series. As much as I like that tune, Point Blank was a pretty bland group that didn’t show much in the way of originality (at least by the time the ‘80s started). Original singer John O’Daniel was replaced by the generically named Bubba Keith and he sings on “Nicole” and these three tracks. None of these are any good but “Great White Line” is downright awful.
As much as I can listen to any Police album from start to finish, I guess I’m not that familiar with the non-singles as the name “I Burn For You” doesn’t mean anything to me. That definitely could be because it comes from the Brimstone & Treacle soundtrack so it’s not like I’m forgetting something from Ghost in the Machine or something.
I just love the guitar solo in “Driven To Tears,” a great song off Zenyatta Mondatta that clearly wasn’t made for pop radio. And actually “I Burn For You” was recorded during the Ghost in the Machine sessions and is simply the blandest track I’ve ever heard from them. I’m curious what big fans think of the track.
1986 gave the world Blah-Blah-Blah which couldn’t be a better description of Iggy’s 80’s output. I always think of Iggy Pop with Billy Idol in the fact that his image was one of total coolness and that he was a bad-ass but the songs just weren’t quite as rock ‘n’ roll as you’d expect. Iggy of course worked on the image for years and the ‘80s were his down period while Billy Idol’s pop hits were still pretty damn good.
If I recall correctly, Iggy doesn’t even really care for Blah-Blah-Blah even after he reunited with his boy David Bowie to produce the record (which is totally obvious on first listen). Rumor has it that quite a few songs on this record were rejected by Bowie for his Tonight album which certainly wasn’t a gem in its own right. You know, thanks for the rejects from your shitty record pal!
The most amazing thing here is that Iggy got a Grammy nomination in ’89 for best hard rock/metal performance for the crappy “Cold Metal” off the unlistenable Instinct. At least for this album, he recruited former Sex Pistol Steve Jones to play guitar. That’s about the only thing worthwhile.
“Livin’ on the Edge of the Night” is one I can live with although it’s a little too poppy for his image. It was recorded for the movie Black Rain but included as the final track on his 1990 album Brick by Brick. That album was a bit of a comeback for him which he sorely needed at this point in his career.
Pop Will Eat Itself
“Def Con One” 1988 Modern Rock #30 (download)
I may not like the Pogues but I definitely like the Big Mac & fries to go. I’m ass-backwards sometimes, but this silly little rap-rock thing is pretty damn fun.
Samples: “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc., “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges (check it out Iggy!), “Time To Get Ill” by the Beastie Boys, “Hungry Heart” by Bruce Springsteen and probably like 600 others I’ve missed.
I actually didn’t discover these guys until I heard the harder “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” from Dos Dedos Mis Amigos in ‘94 but their earlier stuff is great fun.
“When Love Breaks Down” 1985 #42 (download)
I was pretty sure going into this week that I had never heard anything from Prefab Sprout but “When Love Breaks Down” was an instantly recognizable song for me. From looking at reviews of their album Steve McQueen, produced by Mr. Thomas Dolby, I should own it and probably love it. It seems I have a purchase to make. And from today on I will never forget the name of the lead singer, Paddy McAloon. Great name.
“Message of Love” 1981 #5 (download)
“The Adultress” 1981 #12 (download)
“My City Was Gone” 1982 #11 (download)
“Time the Avenger” 1984 #6 (download)
“Thumbelina” 1984 #57 (download)
“Room Full Of Mirrors” 1986 #28 (download)
“Where Has Every Body Gone” 1987 #26 (download)
“1969” 1988 Modern Rock #21 (download)
There’s only so many times I can say how much I hate the Pretenders so I won’t piss more people off by doing it again. But just like Pink Floyd last week, if nothing else I like the songs that hit the rock charts better than the ones that crossed over into the Billboard Hot 100. Now with Floyd, I actually went home last Wednesday night from work and listened to some before going to bed. I won’t be doing that with the Pretenders as I don’t like these tracks that much.
Which ones do I like? Well, “My City Was Gone” was decent until I heard it used by Rush Limbaugh. It was originally just the b-side of “Back on the Chain Gang” but later put on Learning To Crawl. “Time the Avenger” is a pretty cool track off that same record but other than that, the rest I can deal with never hearing about again. As is usually the case, it’s probably on a European box set somewhere, but “Where Has Every Body Gone” was recorded for the soundtrack to The Living Daylights and it doesn’t appear to have popped up on any U.S. greatest hits package as far as I can tell.
“Red Lights” 1984 #39 (download)
Here’s one of those groups that I only know what Joel Whitburn tells me about them. They had a major label deal back in 1984 on Geffen records clearly trying to capitalize on their generic arena rock sound. I know not what anything else sounds like from this New York five-piece.
From the very first note of “Crash” I was taken back to my days at WTSR in Trenton, NJ. To me, the Primitives could be used to define what the station was all about for more at least a decade or more. The sound of “Crash” or the crazy “Sick Of It” was exactly the sound a group of great music directors (I’m including myself in this) tried very successfully to pull off. And although I know I don’t usually like females singers, I’d be nuts not to love The Primitives and the hot Tracy Tracy! I didn’t even start my reign of terror in the seat until 1997 I think which was six years after they disbanded and yet still this is the college sound we loved. The hardest thing to do here is pick which song of the four is going to be my favorite of the week.
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Two song from Prism. Eh, they weren’t good by this point. What they are known for though is being a launching pad for two giants in the industry – record producer Bruce Fairbairn and Jim Vallance (known in Prism as Rodney Higgs).
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” 1989 Modern Rock #21 (download)
Please don’t ask me why I’m putting a ‘90s song in this. Popular only after being in Benny & Joon in 1993, I’m actually really shocked this charted when first released in 1989. And I’m sorry, but I think you’re fucking nuts if you don’t find this track completely charming and addicting. I’m sure you find me fucking nuts for much less.
“She Sheila” 1982 #48 (download)
The Producers had two shots at making it, the first being with “What She Does To Me” off their major label debut, which reached #61 on the Hot 100 and this fabulous song from their second record, You Make the Heat. They were dropped after this, put out another record called Run For Your Life in 1985 on Marathon records and then disbanded.
Look up Tom Werman in our search feature on the site and you’ll find a series called “The Producers.” Two-and-two.
Man, this post is getting long and I don’t have to tell you what’s great about the Psychedelic Furs, do I? “All That Money Wants” is a brilliant track. The only thing I’m a little surprised at is that “House” went to #1 and stayed there for three weeks. It’s not one of the handful of Furs tracks I hear on retro radio stations these days.
It’s always amazed me that this great pop music comes from Johnny Rotten. Lydon was the only consistent guy in the group, with the backing musicians ever changing. I know that in the ‘70s and really through Album in 1986 they were a lot more experimental with 1987’s Happy and 1989’s 9 being much more accessible. 9 didn’t get the greatest reviews from critics but I love the record and both “Disappointed” and “Happy” are gems.
The Pursuit of Happiness
“I’m An Adult Now” 1988 #22 Modern Rock #6 (download)
I only know the album Love Junk (with the big “TPOH” on the cover) from the group but it’s a killer power pop record led by this partially spoken track. They are another group on my list to pursue a little bit deeper into but just haven’t had the chance to yet. I’m shocked they didn’t have more hits than this though.
Best Song: The Primitives, “Crash”
Worst Song: Point Blank, “Great White Line”
Also appeared in the Hot 100
The Plimsouls (1): “A Million Miles Away”
Poco (2): “Days Gone By” “Call It Love”
Poison (4): “Nothin’ But A Good Time” “Fallen Angel” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” “Your Mama Don’t Dance”
The Police (9): “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” “Spirits in the Material World” “Secret Journey” “Every Breath You Take” “King of Pain” “Wrapped Around Your Finger” “Synchronicity II” “Don’t Stand So Close To Me ‘86”
The Power Station (2): “Get It On” “Some Like It Hot”
The Pretenders (5): “Back on the Chain Gang” “Middle of the Road” “Show Me” “Don’t Get Me Wrong” “My Baby”
Prince (6): “Little Red Corvette” “When Doves Cry” “Let’s Go Crazy” “Purple Rain” “Raspberry Beret” “Batdance”
Prism (1): “Don’t Let Him Know”
Pseudo Echo (1): “Living In A Dream”
Psychedelic Furs (3): “Love My Way” “The Ghost In You” “Heartbreak Beat”