Let’s take a look at those unlucky singles that were Bubbling Under in the 80s during chart week seven. [Note – more New Wave, more Soul]
The Inmates – The Walk (debuted on 2/16/1980, peaked at #107)
British quintet, The Inmates, crossed over in the US with their first single, Dirty Water, a cover of the Standells 1996 hit. [They substituted the Thames for the Charles.] This was their follow-up track, a song originally performed by Jimmy McCracklin, who took it into the Top 10 in 1958. It will reach the UK Top 40.
Pearl Harbor & The Explosions – You Got It (Release It) (debuted on 2/16/1980, peaked at #108)
Here’s a sensitively-titled quartet from San Francisco with a single from their one-off debut album. This song isn’t the best track off of the album (that would be this one), but it’s still a fair representation of what most New Wave rock bands sounded like in 1980. Lead singer Pearl E. Gates was married to Clash bassist Paul Simonon for a spell.
Crazy Joe and the Variable Speed Band – Eugene (debuted on 2/21/1981, peaked at #105)
What the hell is this? I remember this song getting a lot of NY airplay when I was younger. Was the lead character mentally challenged or just doing a poor Italian accent? As kids, we assumed the former, using the line ma-name-is-uh-you-jean to make fun of anyone we thought was a dork. (not realizing that I was one myself) Eugene is horrible at picking up women (two ginger ales for my girls) and pick-up lines (I like to stick my hands in fans for fun). But it’s still debatable whether or not this Ace Frehley-produced disco-rock song is parody or not. Or were they making fun of a bass player named Mr. Simmons?
Chas Jankel – Glad To Know You (debuted on 2/20/1982, peaked at #102)
Labelmate Quincy Jones had a Top 30 hit in 1981 with his version of Chas’ Ai No Corrida. So the label made sure to promote (poorly) the first single from his next album, Questionnaire (or Chasanova in England). I quite enjoy Chas’ first two albums, and they were a big hit in the clubs. This track, which reached #57 on the R&B charts, was the biggest Dance single of 1982, reaching #1 for seven weeks. Future Mechanic Peter Van Hooke programmed the Linn drum patterns.
Rosanne Cash – Blue Moon With Heartache (debuted on 2/20/1982, peaked at #104)
Rosanne, daughter of Johnny and his first wife, Vivian, scored a surprise smash in 1981 when Seven Year Ache, the title track of her third album, reached #22. This was the third single released from the album, a beautifully tender ballad that will become her third #1 Country hit. [Love Emmylou Harris’ harmonies on the chorus.] It’s the last time she’ll come anywhere near the Hot 100, but she will rack up seven more Nashville chart-toppers before the decade’s end.
New York Citi Peech Boys – Life Is Something Special (debuted on 2/19/1983, peaked at #108)
Pumping Iron was a bodybuilding documentary released in 1977, which centered on a competition for Mr. Olympia between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. Eight years later, the sequel focused on the women. the soundtrack featured way better music by Art of Noise, Grace Jones, and this track, which was co-written and produced by DJ Larry Levan. This was their first single, but they would shorten their name to Peech Boys for all subsequent releases.
Survivor – I Never Stopped Loving You (debuted on 2/18/1984, peaked at #104)
Over an eight-year period, this Chicago quintet had eight Top 40 hits, ten entries into The Other Sixty, and two Bubblers. This rock ballad was the second single released from the group’s fourth album, Caught In The Game, which would be lead singer Dave Bickler’s last recording.
Mary Jane Girls – Jealousy (debuted on 2/18/1984, peaked at #106)
I’m gonna guess that producer Rick James severely pissed off the A&R department at Gordy Records. Otherwise, how do you explain this single as one of four Bubblers from this quartet’s debut? This one was the most Pop of the bunch, which also explains its #84 zenith on the R&B charts.
Pieces Of A Dream – Fo-Fi-Fo (debuted on 2/18/1984, peaked at #107)
Here’s a jazz fusion trio from Philly who started incorporating more R&B a la George Benson as they moved on. Their third album, Imagine This, was produced by Saxophonist Grover Washington Jr, a big 76ers fan. He had already written an ode to Dr. J. [Let It Flow] in 1980, so when his favorite basketball team won the NBA champs, he knew he needed to pay tribute again. Thus, he wrote this song that enumerates his Moses Malone-inspired lucky number 4-5-4, the amount games the Sixers won in the 1983 playoffs. This smooth paean was the group’s biggest hit reaching #15 on the Soul charts.
Wilton Felder featuring Bobby Womack – (No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Lookin’ Up To You (debuted on 2/16/1985, peaked at #102)
Crusaders sax player Wilton Felder released his fifth solo album, Secrets, in 1985, which featured this gospel-flavored ballad sung by Bobby Womack and female singer Alltrinna Grayson. It will hit #2 for three weeks on the R&B charts.
Gladys Knight & The Pips – My Time (debuted on 2/16/1985, peaked at #102)
At this point, Gladys and the guys had been shut out by Top 40 radio for ten years. What were they supposed to do? Their sound changed with the times, and this boogie jam reflects that. I think their move to Columbia was a mistake, and they were forgotten on that massive roster for years. This track, the lead single from their album, Life, will reach the R&B Top 20.
Dokken – Just Got Lucky (debuted on 2/16/1982, peaked at #105)
Here’s the only band that I know of who had their lawyer fill in on guitar. After the failure of this metal quintet’s debut and a growing contention between Don Dokken and guitarist George Lynch, their follow-up Tooth and Nail almost didn’t happen. This was the second single released from the album, and it gave the ban a little hope even as it bubbles here. Their next single, Alone Again, will get up to #64 and push sales onto the Gold level.