It’s another week for the letter B as we take a look at songs that hit the Billboard Rock charts but failed to cross over into the Hot 100 in the 1980s. Rock ‘n’ roll!
“Jelly Roll” 1989, #15 (download)
Last week we ended with the band Vinny Appice was in. This week we start with the band big brother Carmine Appice was a member of. Blue Murder also featured former Tygers of Pan Tang, Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake guitarist John Sykes on guitar and vocals. They put out just two studio albums and a live record in the short time they were a band, but their self-titled debut in ’89 is a damn fine slab of bluesy hard rock.
Blue Oyster Cult
“Joan Crawford” 1981, #49 (download)
“Roadhouse Blues [Live]” 1982, #24 (download)
“Take Me Away” 1983, #11 (download)
“Dancin’ in the Ruins” 1986, #9 (download)
“Astronomy” 1988, #12 (download)
For a guy who loves his rock ‘n’ roll like I do, I’m painfully devoid of much knowledge of Blue Oyster Cult material outside of the singles. I’ve always had it in my mind that I should take the time to listen to their output closely and see if I enjoy it but have just never gotten around to it. Maybe it’s because songs like “Joan Crawford” and “Take Me Away” don’t excite me enough to pursue it. Maybe it’s because I’m starting out by listening to the ‘80s material first that I don’t have the desire. The only track I really like here is “Astronomy” and I was only turned onto that after hearing the Metallica cover of it from Garage, Inc. That was originally released in ’74 on the Secret Treaties album but then remade for Imaginos in ’88.
Bobby & the Midnites
“Too Many Losers” 1981, #48 (download)
Bobby was Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and the Midnites were mostly friends and guys he had played with before, like guitarist Bobby Cochran and keyboardist Brent Mydland. I’ve never been a Grateful Dead fan or been able to get into any jam bands for that matter so it should come as no surprise that I don’t mind the debut album from Weir at all since it’s more of a concise pop record than the Dead released. I’ve never really heard anything about this album before I started collecting but I’m assuming most Deadheads probably don’t like it, right?
The BoDeans are a really good roots rock band out of Wisconsin. They got a lot of hype back in the mid-80s when they first arrived on the scene with their 1896 debut Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams. Unfortunately, the hype didn’t translate into much more than some underground success. Their 1987 album Outside Looking In is excellent and contains both “Only Love” and “Dreams”. Home was their final album of the decade and just as good as the previous record but they didn’t get real mainstream exposure until their song “Closer To Free” was used as the theme song to Party of Five in 1993.
“Everybody’s Crazy” 1985, #38 (download)
It’s hard to say the name Michael Bolton and the work “rock” together these days and while I don’t celebrate his entire catalog I’m in the camp that believes his final rock album, 1985’s Everybody’s Crazy is a damn fine arena rock record. He certainly made the right move for his career becoming a sappy crooner, but I’ll take “Everybody’s Crazy” over any of his light rock hits any day of the week.
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“Silent Night” is an interesting one from Bon Jovi. The ballad is from their second record 7800° Fahrenheit and really isn’t all that good but the interesting part is that it debuted on the rock chart Christmas week but it’s not a version of the Christmas carol of the same name.
“Never Say Goodbye” is almost certainly the most popular song in this post, the final single from Slippery When Wet. It hit the rarely referenced Airplay chart but strangely enough never made it to the Hot 100 though it’s as recognizable as all their other hits.
“The Boys Are Back In Town” is a cover of the Thin Lizzy classic, included on the Make a Difference Foundation: Stairway To Heaven/Highway To Hell album.
“Cool the Engines” 1986, #4 (download)
You know, I didn’t even realize until I looked it up that Boston only released one album in the decade thanks to solo projects from 1979-1985 and lawsuits all over the place. “Cool the Engines” was the very classic rock sounding third single from Third Stage and the only single from the record to not hit the Hot 100.
“Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” 1983, #11 (download)
“Criminal World” 1983, #31 (download)
“Neighborhood Threat” 1984, #40 (download)
“Underground” 1986, #18 (download)
“Time Will Crawl” 1987, #7 (download)
“Bang Bang” 1987, #38 (download)
“Cat People” originally hit #67 on the charts when it was released from the soundtrack to the film. This is the version that he rerecorded for Let’s Dance with Nile Rodgers producing (Nile Rodgers sighting, ya’ll!) and Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar.
“Criminal World” is actually one of the better tracks from Let’s Dance and is a cover from a band called Metro that recorded it in 1977.
“Neighborhood Threat” is the best song off the miserable Tonight album from 1984. Bowie and Iggy Pop wrote it and recorded in more of a rock form on Iggy’s ’77 album Lust For Life. It’s significantly better in that version, but the newer dancier version isn’t half bad either.
“Underground” is an often forgotten track from Bowie although it might be the best of the tracks here. It was one of two singles from the Labyrinth soundtrack and has a bit of a gospel feel to it.
“Time Will Crawl” is his and my favorite song from his second straight miserable record, Never Let Me Down. “Bang Bang” is also from that album and is another Iggy Pop tune – this time not written with Bowie though. It’s on Pop’s 1981 album Party, in a much better version than this remake.
Best Song: Michael Bolton, “Everybody’s Crazy”
Worst Song: Bon Jovi, “Silent Night”
Also appeared in the Hot 100
Blue Oyster Cult (2): “Burnin’ For You”, “Shooting Shark”
Michael Bolton (3): “Fools Game”, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, “Wait On Love”
Gary U.S. Bonds (3): “This Little Girl”, “Jole Blon”, “Out of Work”
Bonham (1): “Wait For You”
Bon Jovi (12): “Runaway”, “She Don’t Know Me”, “Only Lonely”, “In and Out of Love”, “You Give Love A Bad Name”, “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, “Livin’ On A Prayer”, “Bad Medicine”, “Born To Be My Baby”, “I’ll Be There For You”, “Lay Your Hands On Me”, “Living In Sin”
Boston (3): “Amanda”, “We’re Ready”, “Can’tcha Say (You Still Believe In Me)/Still In Love”
Bourgeois Tagg (1): “I Don’t Mind At All”