The Lost Garden of Forgotten ’80s Hits
“Kiss You (When It’s Dangerous)” by Canadian group Eight Seconds is the latest in my efforts to catch up with all of the tunes that charted in the Hot 100 but didn’t make it into Billboard‘s Top 40 in the 1980s (I’m working my way through alphabetically and have thus reached the “E” artists – having just completed an avalanche of non-hits from Earth, Wind & Fire and Sheena Easton). I chose to spotlight it here because it’s typical of the kind of mid-level, vaguely enjoyable but generally forgettable stuff that has come as part of this project. This particular tune, a knock-off of the mellower side of The Fixx, peaked at #72 in early 1987. Considering that I was all over pop music both famous and obscure in 1985-87, it came as something of a shock that I don’t remember this one (that’s happened often, actually).
Collecting these songs has become quite the learning experience. Generally speaking, about 80% of ’80s pop music is still in print and easily obtainable either through iTunes, Amazon, eMusic or – for the cheapskates among us – via bittorrent/illegal downloading. Another 15% is rare and out of print, but decent quality mp3s of those can be obtained through sites like mp3skull or 4shared. If the song by itself can’t be found, I can usually uncover the album it came from with keen detective work. The remaining 5% are the real buggers – usually one-hit-wonders or last charting songs by older artists from the ’60s and ’70s. One godsend that I came across last year in this regard was a massive bittorrent file containing the top 500 singles from the year 1980, which contains many of these extreme rarities (The Doolittle Band’s “Who Were You Thinkin’ Of”, anyone?). The weblog Grumpy’s Golden Oldies also contains a lot of obscurities from 1980-83, although the sound quality varies. Strangely enough, the tunes that are the hardest to find (for free, that is) belong to soft-rockers like Crosby, Stills & Nash and Neil Diamond – guess the kiddies aren’t trading up on the old fogey music these days! In very rare instances (maybe 8 or 9 songs out of hundreds), I’ve recorded the song off YouTube with yucky sound.
In a nutshell, that’s part of what I’ve been up to – unearthing sometimes cool, sometimes embarrassing but never uninteresting lost tunes from the ’80s.
Tags: eight seconds