Top Bellamy Brothers Songs of the '80s

Florida natives The Bellamy Brothers entered the music scene during the '70s, a time when successful singer-songwriters like Jimmy Buffett and James Taylor combined elements of folk rock, country rock and pop in their singer-songwriter stylings. Ultimately, the duo would find most of its success with a more straightforward country sound, but an affinity for experimentation and fierce independent spirit helped set these siblings apart from most contemporaries. During the '80s, the Bellamys posted many big country hits, including 9 chart-toppers. But the group also recorded many high-quality less successful singles and album tracks during this fruitful period. Here's a chronological look at the best (and not necessarily the most familiar) Bellamy Brothers songs of the '80s.

of 10

"Do You Love as Good as You Look?"

David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

By the time of the release of two Bellamy Brothers records in 1980, the duo had already established a sort of specialty: relatively demure and yet slightly racy double-entendre songs. 1979's "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me)" set a standard still seldom reached in country music for cleverness without the inducement of listener eye-rolls. That trend continues with this solid track from Sons of the Sun. One drawback is that neither Bellamy had a hand in composing the tune, but that doesn't take away from the majesty of a wonderfully melodic country ballad. Sample one of the best marriages of melody and equally spaced single-syllable singing ever: "But then again you might come over here instead."

of 10

"They Could Put Me in Jail"

The boys continue in a rather bawdy direction on this 1981 single that was the duo's first since 1978 to fail to reach the Billboard country Top 10. But it's not the risque subject matter - though handled with plenty of poise and restraint - that makes this tune so memorable. Rather, the song's piano opening melds wonderfully into effective use of steel guitar and ultimately some fine electric guitar licks. The composition itself, by songwriting veteran Bob McDill, works perfectly as interpreted by the Bellamys, who prove themselves just as capable of selecting great songs as creating them.
of 10

"For All the Wrong Reasons"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Elektra

These particular singing siblings returned to the top of the country charts in 1982 with this vintage David Bellamy composition, a song simultaneously capable of bringing a smirk to the face and a tear to the eye. Such is the primary songwriting Bellamy's ability to generate genuine romantic pathos even while laying down nonchalant, even occasionally distant lyrics. The song also makes effective use of synthesizers, a bold move from a country music arrangement standpoint even in the heady days of new wave. Ultimately, the Bellamy trademark of blending uncompromising, perfectly proportioned strands of country, rock and pop holds more than fast here.

of 10

"When We Were Boys"

This title track from the Bellamys' 1982 LP release shows the depth of emotion the duo could plumb when the moment was right. A wistful, bittersweet ballad focused on the innocence of a rural Southern childhood, this track conjures up memories of a time as kids many of us can remember when a feeling of genuine safety and contentment still reigned. Adulthood doesn't erase that possibility for all of us, but it does often sport a tendency to strip away simplicity and comfort. The Bellamy Brothers still had plenty of fun making music during the '80s as adults, but they seem to understand that the lure of nostalgia can pack a powerful punch.
of 10

"When I'm Away from You"

In many ways, this dazzling album track from 1983's Strong Weakness takes the Bellamys into more fully mainstream territory than they would ever travel in a four-decade-plus career. Nevertheless, guitar-driven country tracks with equal touches of steel guitar and piano rarely get better than this. The brothers' harmonies are clean as always, but the ultimate draw is the quality of the melodies. This may not be a David Bellamy original, but the duo commits so completely to the performance that the finished product sounds like polished yet delightfully vintage Bellamy magic.
of 10

"Forget About Me"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Curb
The only complaint about 1984's Restless that holds up stubbornly upon careful reflection is that the record's best songs rely a touch too much on outside songwriting. Certainly the production is slick to a characteristically 1984-appropriate extent, but the good news is that this track sounds wonderful from start to finish. Though not quite as recognizably Bellamy as fans might prefer, this tune nevertheless scores high on the pleasant-melody meter. Even better, it exceeds mere ear candy status by presenting genuine emotional sincerity and a great use of twin electric guitar texture.
of 10

"Down to You"

Eschewing an earlier tendency to plumb humorous or tongue-in-cheek lyrical material, the duo turns almost completely to a Southern rock ballad style here. The result is a mournful take on romantic obsession that covers familiar vocal harmony territory but otherwise pushes twin guitars to the forefront far more than the Bellamys' classic singles of a few years prior ever did. This is certainly not a negative observation, as quality songwriting and skillful arrangement of mainstream material again create a satisfying slice of mid-'80s country rock.

of 10

"Old Hippie"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Curb

For this, one of the Bellamys' finest and most beloved country anthems, David applies his welcome, veteran songwriting touch to a concept that is surprisingly open-minded and empathetic. After all, country music (especially during its last three decades), has not been a genre known for anything but conservative political values and relative disdain for the counterculture. But it's precisely The Bellamy Brothers' near-patented defiance of expectations that makes this single one of the finest country songs of the decade. Bellamy's imagining of the "Old Hippie" character takes on three multi-layered dimensions, and in doing so it deftly reflects the genuine human experience of inevitable maturation.

of 10

"Lie to You for Your Love"

1985's Howard & David represented a return to more personal songwriting for the Bellamys, and this second of three consecutive No. 2 hits from that record sounds both familiar and comforting. Of course, gone are the slightly naughty lyrics that made earlier hits so memorable. Nevertheless, both brothers help craft a satisfying country song that perfectly captures the desperation that sometimes colors if not defines romantic pursuits. There's a vulnerability here that in earlier years may have been shrouded by all the double entendres, but the duo's ability to lay bare the persistent shortcomings of the lovelorn human animal remains as sharp as ever.
of 10

"You'll Never Be Sorry"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of MCA/Curb

The Bellamy Brothers' albums of the latter '80s had their moments, but both chart performance and quality began to suffer somewhat on those records. So this fine single-only track from 1989 may have surprised many listeners with its prescient foreshadowing of successful traditional country music acts on the horizon like The Mavericks. There's a sturdy timelessness to the best Bellamy Brothers tunes, and this gentle standout is definitely no exception. The absence of classic Bellamys chart-toppers like "Sugar Daddy," "Dancin' Cowboys" and "Redneck Girl" from this list might rile some fans, but really that's just a testament to how consistently great this duo actually was during a highly fruitful decade of recording.