We begin the letter C this week, as we take a look at songs that hit the Billboard rock charts in the glorious 1980s but failed to cross over into the Hot 100.
John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band
â€œSong & Danceâ€ 1988, #47 (download)
This is an often overlooked gem in the John Cafferty catalog. From their 1988 album Roadhouse (not another single from the Road House soundtrack, though it would have fit right in) this was the only single from the album to chart.
The Call were an extremely underrated band though fellow musicians and fans alike gave them much respect. Their best disc is 1986â€™s Reconciled which includes both â€œI Still Believeâ€ and â€œEverywhere I Goâ€ (thatâ€™s Peter Gabriel and Jim Kerr with backing vocals). â€œI Still Believeâ€ is one of those super pure pop songs that itâ€™s hard to ever get tired of.
â€œI Donâ€™t Wannaâ€ comes from the follow up, Into the Woods â€“ another beautiful pop album â€“ not as good as Reconciled but definitely worth a few spins.
1989â€™s Let the Day Begin was another sparking pop album with the title track being their biggest hit with â€œYou Runâ€ hitting the rock charts as the second single.
Lead singer Michael Beenâ€™s son Robert Levon is the lead singer of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
Hereâ€™s yet another surprise for me at how little love Camouflage got from radio. The German trio with the inevitable comparison to Depeche Mode got their first single â€œThe Great Commandmentâ€ on the Hot 100, but the rest of their singles only made it to the Modern Rock chart. Of course at this time Depeche Mode was bigger than ever so I would have expected more stations to pick up on the groupâ€™s music, especially â€œThat Smiling Faceâ€, the second single and lead track off their debut Voices & Images.
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Camper Van Beethoven
â€œPictures of Matchstick Menâ€ 1989, Modern Rock #1 (download)
Camper Van Beethoven are a critically acclaimed and pretty much universally loved band that got much more recognition after David Lowrey moved on and had hits with Cracker. They were eclectic and sometimes very bizarre but throughout their career always stayed interesting and knew how to write songs to catch your ear. â€œPictures of Matchstick Menâ€ is a Status Quo cover from their final album of their original era â€“ Key Lime Pie. It would fit right in with Crackerâ€™s Kerosene Hat, released four years later.
I haven’t looked ahead, so I don’t know what the rest of the Rock End will bring, but this very well may be the best song of the entire series.
Former Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi had two hot 100 hits, including the top 40, â€œThatâ€™s Loveâ€ from his 1982 album Fierce Heart â€“ his best solo record in the decade. He then had one hit off each of his next two records, â€œIâ€™ll Keep Holding Onâ€ from 1984â€™s One Man Mission and â€œSomething So Strongâ€ from 1988â€™s Some Come Running.
â€œBreak the Rules Tonite (Out of School)â€ 1981, #46 (download)
â€œBreak the Rules Toniteâ€ is really the only song I donâ€™t like off Carnes’ 1981 album Mistaken Identity. Itâ€™s a great pop record that tries its hand at some different genres but this style of rock just feels way out of place on an otherwise perfect album.
â€œLesson in Loveâ€ 1982, #33 (download)
â€œLesson in Loveâ€ was the first charting rock single from Paul Carrack off his 1982 album Suburban Voodoo.Â He released it after leaving Squeeze early in the year. His backing band for the album was Noise To Go featuring Nick Lowe. After this record, the band would be renamed Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit, which Carrack would play keyboards in.
Jim Carroll Band
â€œPeople Who Diedâ€ 1981, #50 (download)
This was the only charting single by punk and poet Jim Carroll and while itâ€™s a great song, it seems like a pretty unlikely choice for a single and radio play. It is after all a song about his friends that died and he claims to have known all of them.
Just recently I heard a cover of this song where it was described as “as fun as the original”.Â I’m sorry, great song – sure. “Fun”Â – absolutely not.
â€œCruiserâ€ 1981, #37 (download)
â€œVictim of Loveâ€ 1982, #39 (download)
â€œItâ€™s Not the Nightâ€ 1984, #31 (download)
â€œBreakawayâ€ 1985, #19 (download)
â€œDouble Troubleâ€ 1987, #42 (download)
Although The Cars obviously had a ton of tracks hit the Hot 100, there were five that didnâ€™t make it and quite a few of these are just as good as the tracks that were bigger hits – like, â€œCruiserâ€ for instance with its harder rock edge. Both that and â€œVictim of Loveâ€ were from Shake It Up.
â€œItâ€™s Not the Nightâ€ is another pretty great song, the 5thÂ song to chartÂ from Heartbeat City. Following songs like â€œYou Might Thinkâ€, â€œMagicâ€ and â€œDriveâ€ it didnâ€™t quite have the poppiness to hit the pop charts but was just as good as any of them.
â€œBreakawayâ€ is kind of a rare one, the B-side to â€œWhy Canâ€™t I Have Youâ€, the 6thÂ charting singleÂ from Heartbeat City. Apparently some radio stations played it enough to get it to #19 on the rock charts. AndÂ it is the better of the two songs. As far as I can tell, itâ€™s only appeared on CD on one Greatest Hits double disc released in 1995.
â€œDouble Troubleâ€ is the most rockinâ€™ song here, but also the worst of the five. It was the third single off Door to Door, following up â€œYou Are the Girlâ€ and â€œStrap Me Inâ€.
â€œThe Sheepâ€™s a Wolfâ€ 1989, Modern Rock #25 (download)
Caterwaul was a bit alternative and a little goth, this being one of their more alternative songs. â€œThe Sheepâ€™s a Wolfâ€ was their only hit off their second album Pin & Web. They released four albums in their career with the middle two being on I.R.S. Did you know that a caterwaul is the sound a cat in heat makes? I didnâ€™t.
â€œHeâ€™s Got a Sheâ€ 1989, Modern Rock #17 (download)
This fabulous song was the only charting single from Exene Cervenka, lead singer of X. X was aÂ great band for a period of five years or so very early in their career. Their music started going downhill when their sound became slightly commercial starting with 1986â€™s Ain’t Love Grand!. It was in â€™89 that Exene put out a solo record called Old Wives’ Tales which contained â€œHeâ€™s Got A Sheâ€.
Peter Cetera gets a bad rep these days. Heâ€™s one of the best voices of the decade and has put out some of the catchiest pop songs of the era, but because he took Chicago into the land of ballads it somehow takes away from all of this. And for those that think this way, Ceteraâ€™s debut Solo Album in 1981 is probably your best call in terms of his solo material. A lot of people donâ€™t even realize the album exists because of the five year gap between records and the fact that Chicago started their comeback period just a year later. Cetera was kind of pissed off that â€œLivinâ€™ in the Limelightâ€ and the self-titled disc wasnâ€™t a hit and thought that Warner Brothers decided not to promote the record so that he wouldnâ€™t leave Chicago. If thatâ€™s the case, then it worked out pretty well for them. The album is damn good though with more of a rock feel than anything else he did after it.
â€œYou Never Listen to Meâ€ is a pretty dull track though, the third single off his third solo record, One More Story. David Gilmour plays guitar on the record.
Peter Cetera is poised to make a comeback now, though! If you haven’t yet seen the Heineken commercial below, you should check it out.
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Best Song: Camper Van Beethoven, â€œPictures of Matchstick Menâ€
Worst Song: Kim Carnes, â€œBreak the Rules Tonite (Out of School)â€
Also appeared in the Hot 100:
John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band (4): â€œOn the Dark Sideâ€, â€œTender Yearsâ€, â€œTough All Overâ€, â€œC-I-T-Yâ€
The Call (2): â€œThe Walls Came Downâ€, â€œLet the Day Beginâ€
Camouflage (1): â€œThe Great Commandmentâ€
Tony Carey (3): â€œI Wonâ€™t Be Home Tonightâ€, â€œA Fine Fine Dayâ€, â€œThe First Day of Summerâ€
Kim Carnes (1): â€œBette Davis Eyesâ€
Paul Carrack (3): â€œI Need Youâ€, â€œDonâ€™t Shed a Tearâ€, â€œOne Good Reasonâ€
The Cars (11): â€œShake It Upâ€, â€œSince Youâ€™re Goneâ€, â€œYou Might Thinkâ€, â€œMagicâ€, â€œHello Againâ€, â€œDriveâ€, â€œWhy Canâ€™t I Have Youâ€, â€œTonight She Comesâ€, â€œIâ€™m Not the Oneâ€, â€œYou Are the Girlâ€, â€œStrap Me Inâ€
Tracy Chapman (3): â€œFast Carâ€, â€œTalkinâ€™ Bout a Revolutionâ€, â€œCrossroadsâ€\
Charlie (1): â€œItâ€™s Inevitableâ€