Underrated Music Acts of the 1980s

In keeping with the music theme, I decided to rank my Top Underrated Artists of the 1980’s. I am focusing on the time these acts were in their most commercial success. Some of the acts started out before the 1980s, but they hit their stride in the decade, which is what I am focusing on. Some may think that some of these artists were One Hit Wonders, but really were not (I always laugh at the term One Hit Wonders because even if they hit the charts once, we still know the songs, regardless if they charted again in the U.S.). I am also focusing on their success in the United States mainly when I talk about the chart positions. I also list the years when the acts originally was started if they were a band.
Hopefully you will discover the music of these artists through whatever music access you have, because the talent here is amazing. In no particular order, here is my list:


1. NRBQ (1967-Current) . This band has a strange name, but their songs are known. This band has no category; they are Rock, Blues, Country, Rockabilly and everything in between. Guitar player Al Anderson left the band in 1994 to write with Country acts including George Strait, Carlene Carter, Diamond Rio, The Mavericks, and Garth Brooks’ guitarist Ty England. NRBQ’s songs have been covered by numerous acts, including She and Him (“Ridin in My Car”). Wrestling fans will remember the band for having an album with legendary manager Captain Lou Albano, who became the band’s manager for a time. The band still performs with a different lineup, but this band has influenced many acts and if it weren’t for the fact they were not on the charts, they should be in the (so called) Rock Hall of Fame.

2. The Georgia Satellites (1980-1990). Most fans remember this band for the hit “Keep Your Hands To Yourselves,” but they also had a minor single of the remake “Hippy Hippy Shake” from the Tom Cruise movie “Cocktail.” This band had a harder Southern Rock feel to them that didn’t sound redneck-ish but straight ahead Rock. Songs like “Battleship Chains” and from their 3rd CD “Six Years Gone,” “Days Gone By,” are great rock tunes. Also check out the ballad “Sweet Blue Midnight.” This band only had 3 major studio albums before singer and guitarist Dan Baird left for a solo career (Get his first one 1992’s “Love Songs For The Hearing Impaired,” which was full of songs that I played in a cover band with at that time). Baird still performs with his band, and the Satellites still perform separately with different members.

henry lee summer 2
3. Henry Lee Summer (1988-1989). This artist had two great CDs, including the hit “I Wish I Had A Girl” from his self titled-album. The self -titled also had great songs like “Hands On The Radio” and the ballad “Darling Danielle Don’t.” Summer was underrated as a guitar player with great Pop and Blues feel to the album. Although the second CD is not as great, it did have another hit, “Hey Baby” in 1989. Although he has been in the news the last few years because of some personal problems, it doesn’t diminish how great this artist is.


4. Blue Rodeo (1984-Current). Anyone in Canada knows this band. Founded by Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, I discovered this band on a DVD of the Canadian concert of Live 8, where they performed the 1987 hit “Try,” a great ballad. I picked up their “Greatest Hits Vol 1” CD, and loved it. This band has a Country-Rock feel to it. This band has been given almost every major award available in Canada. Cuddy also has recorded as a solo act as well. I sometimes can pick up Canadian radio Station where I live, which plays the song “Bad Timing” from 1994. Great songwriting from this band.


5. Enuff Znuff (1984-Current). This band was lumped into the Hair Metal era when they broke nationally (I apologize to those that know how much I HATE the term “Hair Metal” ), with their hits “Fly High Michelle” and “New Thing” from 1989. Even though the band looked at first like 1960s hippies, the vocals and production on the songs were almost Beatle-like. The band had solid airplay on MTV during this time (MTV actually played videos), and I got to see the band on Poison’s 2001 Summer Tour, and they were amazing. They also have gone through lineup changes, with Donnie Vie leaving around the early 2000s. The band is currently a 3-piece band with Chip Z’Nuff heading the band. VERY underrated band and is respected among many musicians but never got the mainstream fan support.


6.Dokken (1976-Current). Just like the band above, this band was during the Hair Metal acts but for some reason, they are still not given the respect of that era, even though the band had around 10 singles that charted in the U.S. The most successful lineup of the band was from 1983-1988. Band member Juan Crouicer left in 1983 to join the band Ratt, and was replaced by Jeff Pilson. The most success of the band was with the albums “Tooth and Nail” (1984), “Under Lock and Key” (1985) and “Back For The Attack” (1987). Horror fans will remember the band for “Dream Warriors”, which was the theme song for the same title in the Nightmare on Elm Street Series. Band members Don Dokken and George Lynch had one of the most stressed relationships in music and Lynch left the band in 1989 and started Lynch Mob, and Dokken continued. Even though they have tried since to patch up differences, it has seemed to work, with Dokken still playing and Lynch is in several projects, including recording with Stryper’s Micheal Sweet. (Stryper is another band you need to check out) Jeff Pilson has been in Foreigner for the past years. Check out the band’s 1999 “Erase The Slate” as well, with Winger’s Reb Beach on guitar, but the bands 1980s stuff was very good, and it is surprising that they had success but seem to be forgotten the era.


6. Rick Astley (1987-1993). It shocks me when people think this guy was a One Hit Wonder with being known for one song “Never Gonna Give You Up” from 1987. This song was #1 in many countries, along with “Together Forever” from the same album. Astley had a sound that would be like Michael Buble or a Sam Smith style, with a soul R&B sound. Maybe he was before his time. His second album, 1988’s “Hold Me In Your Arms” had two hits on it, “She Wants To Dance With Me,” and “Giving Up On Love.” Also on the album is a great version of “Ain’t To Proud To Beg,” which is slowed down to show his ballad soul voice. Astley retired from the business for a while, and later became a DJ in London. He still has recorded in the past decade, but the first two albums were great for him. He did chart in the 1990s in the U.S. but I still like the first two. Also check out “It Would Take A Strong Man” from the first album as well, which I remember seeing on MTV.
This is my list of the underrated acts from the 1980s. Don’t forget bands like Stryper, who were one of the first Christian acts ever on MTV, and still are around. Even though many know the big acts of the 1980s, maybe this list will let you check out some different acts as well.

Not Skipping Around-Albums That Must Be Heard!

I had a few people submit me some topics for future writings, and this one caught my eyes when I read this. Being a drummer since I was around 6 or 7 years old, and being a lover of all music, I was asked about albums that I could listen all the way through without skipping a track. Now we all have favorite artists but sometimes they have filler songs on albums that were just made to complete the project, or use a B-Sides of singles. So I thought I would list some that have no bad songs on it (in my eyes, or ears if you want to be technical). Keep in mind that Greatest Hits and Live projects are not counted in this list, only official studio albums. (U.S. compilations that were from other foreign albums do not count either). Some may be rare and surprise you. Now, in no particular order:


1. Kiss “Love Gun” (1977). Even though my favorite KISS albums of all time are “Revenge” and “Crazy Nights,” they have a few songs that I skip over. However “Love Gun” is pure joy to listen to, and at a run time of under 33 minutes, it doesn’t drag on. Of course many die hards like this because of Ace’s “Shock Me” on the album, I like everything on it, including Peter’s “Hooligan.” I remember getting this on cassette and listening to it constantly (I still have the cassette).

rick springfield

2. Rick Springfield “Working Class Dog.” (1980). This is the album many discovered Rick, even though he had several albums before this. This one made him into a star. Even some of us who weren’t familiar with him as Noah Drake on General Hospital, were hooked on this album, which had the #1 Hit “Jesse’s Girl”, and the remake of Sammy Hagar’s “I’ve Done Everything For You.” However, the deeper cuts like the ballad “Inside Silvia” and “Daddy’s Pearl” are true pop gems. This album was s staple growing up for me in Grade School and even in my college days. A true masterpiece.

beach boys
3. The Beach Boys “The Beach Boys” (1985). This album was, again, a big album of my childhood (on cassette). This was the first album since the death of drummer Dennis Wilson, and went into the 1980s synth-pop sound, but the harmonies and summer feel is still intact. It only had 1 Top 40 Hit, the underrated “Getcha Back,” which is a classic boy loses girl, boy meets girl years later. I still listen to this on CD and takes me back and reminds me of my best friend growing up in Junior High.
4. Huey Lewis and The News “Picture This” (1982). This album is where most people discovered the band (they had one before this one). Even though most think of “Sports” as THE Huey Lewis album (it was the most popular), this one still is my favorite. It is not as polished as “Fore” (another one with no bad songs), keeping it raw feel to it. It only had 2 Top 40 Hits, with the most popular being “Do You Believe In Love,” but songs like “The Only One,” and “Is It Me” are my favorites.

5. The Oak Ridge Boys “Fancy Free” (1981). The first album I ever had was their “Greatest Hits”, but this studio record (which I still have on vinyl) is true Oak classic. The self titled single, along with their best-known hit “Elvira” both topped the Charts. However the deeper cuts like “When Love Calls You” and “Somewhere in The Night” show not only how underrated Duane Allen’s voice is, but also the arrangements that he helped orchestrate the band to become one of the biggest acts in the 1970s-1980s. The last track “I Would Crawl All The Way” keeps their Gospel roots history going, which is something since they were considered a Country-Pop act. Good vocals hold up in any era, and this never sounds outdated.

6. Warrant “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” (1989). In the so called Hair Metal decade (I do hate that term!!), one of the big acts was Warrant. This was their first CD, and I remember proudly wearing their T Shirt in High School, much to be laughed at by the die-hard Metal fans. However, to this day, the CD holds up. It had 3 Top 40 Hits, including the famous “Heaven,” but there is not a song that can be skipped. Cuts like “In The Sticks,” and “32 Pennies” still rock. Most forget the lead single “Down Boys,” but I was hooked on them when I first saw that video on MTV.

7. Skid Row “Skid Row” (1989). Also the same year was this band that somehow got lumped in the Hair Metal genre, even though they changed that with their second album a few years later. I cannot really name a bad Skid Row album with the first singer Sebastian Bach, but I’m picking this one as one that I cannot skip a track. Most know “Youth Gone Wild,” and the ballads “18 and Life” and “I Remember You,” but “Can’t Stand The Heartache” and “Big Guns” are true Metal classics. I liked this band from day one, and still like the stuff they are putting out.

van halen
8. Van Halen “Van Halen II” (1979). Van Halen is a strange band for me. I LOVED them in my High School Days, especially with Sammy Hagar as the singer (it was the first concert I ever saw in 1991). But throughout the years, the band has just dulled me out. I still think Sammy was a better VOCALIST but David Lee Roth was a great front man, and very few of their albums I can listen to anymore without some of the songs sounding dated. However this one still has the great songs on it, such as “Dance The Night Away” and “Bottom’s Up.” Even though “You’re No Good” as the opener is a cover, it’s not bad that you have to skip it. Ending the album with “Beautiful Girls” is a nice touch of some humor added that Van Halen sneaked into their songs. I still enjoy “Women In Love.” Most people pick the first album as their favorite, and I have no problem with it, but I think “Running With The Devil” is very overplayed so it lessens my love for the album. This one I still don’t get tired of.

9. Nelson “After The Rain” (1990). Most people laugh when I say I am a huge fan of the Nelson Brothers. I loved Rick Nelson, their father, and his music as well. Most people unfairly judged them by the hair, but not realizing 1. They haven’t had the hair for years and 2. They paid their dues just to get to the first record. This album had 3 Top 40 Hits (most people wrongly thought they were a One Hit Wonder), and was some great Pop Hard Rock tunes on it, along with some ballads, all with vocal harmonies thrown into the mix. Songs like “Everywhere I Go” and “Only Time Will Tell” are great ballads that would fit in that era’s Power Ballads. One of the best concerts I have gotten to see in the past 10 years was getting to see the brothers perform, although it was a tribute to their Dad’s work, it was still a great show. These guys are great musicians as well. For those that always made fun of them, this album put them in the Guinness Book of World’s Records for being the first 3rd Generation Act to have Top 40 Hits.

10. Poison “Open Up and Say..AHH!” (1988). This was the album, like many that got hooked on the band, with the hit “Nothin’ But A Good Time” and “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.” Although one of my favorites is their first album, it had some fillers that I tend to skip. Even though I think “Rose” is overplayed (I was a roadie for a local Country Band that played the freaking song-Line Dancers and Power Ballads-made me sick!), I can still tolerate it. The rare songs on here like “Back To The Rocking Horse” and “Bad To Be Good” are enjoyable. I always thought that “Fallen Angel” never gets the respect it should when it comes to Poison songs. I never get tired of hearing “Good Love” on the album. From beginning to end, this was a solid Poison album, which is not always the case in their catalogue in my view, but I still like the band.
There are some of my picks for albums that I do not skip a track on. What’s your take? Care to tell me some of yours? There are a few others I probably could name, so maybe that’ll be another time.