You Know It’s Hard Some Time

We’re up to the unlucky chart week of thirteen. Actually, it was only unfortunate for these artists back in the 80s. Now that we’re spotlighting them decades later, you might actually go out and buy their music.

The Gap Band – I Don’t Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops Upside Your Head) (debuted 3/29/1980, peaked at #102)

By the end of the 70s and their fourth album, the Wilson brothers were wearing their Parliament influences on their sleeves with this jam. Maybe that’s because their cousin was Bootsy Collins or because they were the best and most exciting funk group to imitate. This nursery rhymes-laden groove was not only their third Top 10 hit on the R&B charts. It became their first big hit in the UK, reaching #4. It has been sampled and covered countless times since.

Herb Alpert – Street Life (debuted 3/29/1980, peaked at #104)

Herb was enjoying a renaissance in 1979 with his song and album, Rise. On that LP, he released another track, Rotation, which reached the Top 30. The third was a cover of the 1979 Crusaders smash with Herb’s trumpet trying to replicate what Randy Crawford sang so well. Where the jazz trio made this song the perfect soundtrack to a night on the L.A. town, this version tried too hard and grooved too much, like your parents disco dancing in the living room to impress your friends.

Dazz Band – Invitation To Love (debuted 4/4/1981, peaked at #109)

This ballad was the second single and title track to the Cleveland, OH band’s 1980 debut. It’s not bad, but it lacks a distinctive personality to distinguish it from the other horn funk groups. It only peaked at #51 on the Soul charts, but within two more albums, they’d be letting it whip.

Jennifer Warnes – Come To Me (debuted 4/3/1982, peaked at #107)

This was the second single from an aborted 1981 album that ended up getting released as part of a Best Of compilation. Decisions like this would have seriously derailed Jennifer’s career had she not recorded a love theme with Joe Cocker to a Richard Gere film. That future #1 song will debut on the Hot 100 four months from now.

Dan Seals – Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind (debuted 4/3/1982, peaked at #110)

England Dan and John Ford Coley went their separate ways in 1980, and neither ever had any Pop success again. Dan recorded two quality but rarely-heard Yacht Rock LPs. This was the lead for the second one, Harbinger. After it failed, he ran to Nashville and became a successful Country artist racking up nine #1s during the 80s, including Bop.

KC & The Sunshine Band (with Teri DeSario) – Don’t Run (Come Back To Me) (debuted 4/2/1983, peaked at #103)

KC had a great start to the 80s with Please Don’t Go reaching #1. But it all went downhill from there. It reminds me of the scene in Boogie Nights. TK Records went bankrupt. He was in a horrible car accident and had to learn how to walk again. And the Disco backlash chewed his band up and spit them out in the gutter. All In A Night’s Work was their third straight 80s release that bombed. But hidden on side two was a track called Give It Up that needed a little time to percolate before it was ready.

Peter Godwin – Images Of Heaven (debuted 4/2/1983, peaked at #105)

Peter was the lead singer of the English trio Metro, who recorded two albums in the late 70s, including the song Criminal World, which David Bowie covered on his 1982 Let’s Dance album. That allowed Peter to have his Images of Heaven EP released in the US. Unfortunately, this New Wave dance track wasn’t successful on the charts, although it received some moderate Club play.

Johnny Mathis (with Deniece Williams) – Love Won’t Let Me Wait (debuted 4/1/1984, peaked at #106)

We all heard Johnny & Niecy singing to us every Thursday night as we watched Family Ties. So what better time to record another duet together? This one was released from A Special Part Of Me, and it was a cover of the 1975 Major Harris Top 10 smash, minus the moaning. It will creep into the R&B Top 40 at #32.

Alexander O’Neal – Innocent (debuted 3/30/1985, peaked at #101)

Alex was the lead singer of Flyte Tyme before pissing off Prince and getting replaced by Morris Day. Probably for the best, as his style was very intense and Day was more like a cartoon character come to life. O’Neal released his debut five years later and was backed by the Time members he once played with. In fact, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis wrote and produced the entire album. This was the first single release, and it reached #11 on the R&B charts. He wouldn’t cross over until his 1986 duet with Cherelle called Saturday Love.

Van Morrison – Tore Down A La Rimbaud (debuted 3/30/1985, peaked at #101)

Van might be one of the most enormous pain in the asses (or select a different adjective, if you like) in music, but this dude never stops working. He has forty solo albums in his catalog and is planning his new one for release this year. Released from his fifteenth, A Sense Of Wonder, this shuffler just missed climbing onto the Hot 100 at a time when his music sounded way out of date (Or, as some call it, timeless).

John Palumbo – Blowing Up Detroit (debuted 3/30/1985, peaked at #109)

Here is the lead singer of the cult prog-pop group, Crack the Sky, a band that was on the cusp of a breakthrough throughout the 70s but never had that one song to do it. This single from the singer’s solo debut should have easily received more airplay and could have been a hit. Maybe the title scared folks away. But it had that frenetic 80s New Wave dance groove that sounded reminiscent of Oingo Boingo.

No One Can Tell Your Hell Goes Unspoken

As we approach chart week twelve, we are 1/4 done with our review of singles Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s.

Hall & Oates – Who Said The World Was Fair (debuted 3/22/1980, peaked at #110)

This was the Philly duo’s first Bubbler and a slap in the face for the guys that hung out at #1 with Rich Girl only three years before. This follow-up to the Top 20 hit, Wait For Me, from their David Foster-produced X-Static album, was the last single to miss the Hot 100 for the next eleven years. Their next 22 singles would reach the Top 40, starting with the prescient How Does It Feel To Be Back, charted in four months from now. Don’t Hold Back Your Love broke the streak when it peaked at #41 in early 1991.

Todd Rundgren – Time Heals (debuted 3/28/1981, peaked at #107)

After his 1978 Top 30 hit, Can We Still Be Friends, Todd only had one more Hot 100 solo career chart entry [Bang The Drum All Day]. How does a song this catchy get stuck down here? Can’t blame MTV cause this was the eighth video that was played on the channel. His 1981 Healing LP also has one of his best and most beautiful ballads, Compassion, and it should have been a big hit for him. It’s definitely something we all need right now.

Bobby Vinton – Let Me Love You Goodbye (debuted 3/28/1981, peaked at #108)

Who OK’d the A&R budget for this one? Bobby, you had your time and your hits and even a mid-70s comeback. Please, love yourself goodbye.

Third World – Try Jah Love (debuted 3/27/1982, peaked at #101)

Here’s a Jamaican reggae band formed in 1973 who also threw jazz, funk, and disco into the mix. Their only Hot 100 entry, Now That We’ve Found Love, was a Gamble & Huff composition, initially recorded by the O’Jays in 1973. Their dancefloor cover reached #47 on the Pop charts, #9 R&B, and #10 in the UK in early 1979. This single, co-written by Stevie Wonder, who took the band on tour with him, Is from their seventh album, You’ve Got The Power, and peaked at #23 on the Soul charts.

Bobby Caldwell – Jamaica (debuted 3/27/1982, peaked at #105)

Keeping with the Jamaica theme, we have singer-songwriter Booby Caldwell with the lead single from this third album, Carry On. This Pop one-hit-wonder will nab four Top 40 hits on the Soul chart, but this one will peak #54. He is also a legend in Japan.

Dwight Twilley – Somebody To Love (debuted 3/27/1982, peaked at #106)

It’s been seven years since power-pop rocker Dwight Twilley came near a Hot 100 chart. This one started out as an Arista Records singles release before getting picked up by EMI, wherein he released his new album Scuba Divers. Neither 45 nor LP would come up for air.

Kashif – I Just Gotta Have You (Lover Turn Me On) (debuted 3/26/1983, peaked at #103)

The 80s showed a limited amount of love to R&B artists. No matter how much juice the man, born Michael Jones, put into his boogie, it wasn’t going to make much of a Pop impact. It will be the former BT Express member’s first R&B Top 10 when it reaches #5.

Q-Feel – Dancing In Heaven (Orbital Be-Bop) (debuted 3/26/1983, peaked at #110)

How does one of the most 80s-sounding songs not succeed in the 80s? The synth-pop duo of Martin Page & Brian Fairweather switched to writing songs for other artists, such as Kim Carnes, Barbara Streisand, and Earth, Wind & Fire. This single finally entered the Hot 100 in 1989 and reached #75, at a time when songs like this were already out of fashion. Martin Page will nab a #14 hit in 1994 with In The House Of Stone And Light.

Endgames – Love Cares (debuted 3/24/1984, peaked at #105)

Here’s a Samuel Beckett-loving New Wave quartet from Glasgow, Scotland, who is still a forgotten band of the era. Sitting somewhere between the synth-funk of Human League and the sophistication of ABC, this single was released from their debut album, Building Beauty, and their one week at #105 will be the closest the band will come to US success.

David Sanborn – Love & Happiness (debuted 3/23/1985, peaked at #103)

Saxophonist Sanborn played on the music scene for the previous two decades, starting with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and moving over to Stevie Wonder’s posse before beginning a solo career in 1975. From his Grammy-winning seventh album, Straight From The Heart, this cut was an Al Green cover recorded live featuring AWB’s Hamish Stuart on lead vocals.

Fun fact: All of those little sax outbursts in the Lethal Weapon movies are played by David.

Fun fact 2: In 1988, David will co-host Night Music with Jools Holland, a late-night music TV show that was almost too to be true.

The Whispers – Some Kinda Lover (debuted 3/23/1985, peaked at #106)

The further we move through the 80s, the more that Soul music gets kicked to the curb. Here’s another synth-funk jam from the LA quintet, the second release from their thirteenth album, So Good. It will reach #17 on the R&B charts.

Shalamar – My Girl Loves Me (debuted 3/23/1985, peaked at #103) (debuted 3/23/1985, peaked at #106)

This was the third and final Bubbler for an act that evolved from the Soul Train dancers back in the late 70s. It’s also where lead singer Howard Hewitt finally jumps ship. The second proper release from their eighth album, Heartbreak, will hit #22 R&B.

Run-D.M.C. – King Of Rock (debuted 3/23/1985, peaked at #108)

This is where I officially became a RUN-DMC fan. I liked Hard Times and Rock Box from their 1984 debut, but this one blew my mind the first time I heard it. No synths, no samples. Just blazing guitar solos courtesy of Eddie Martinez over a TR-88’s drum beats turned up to 11. Producer Larry Smith should get the credit for providing the blueprint for rock and rap even though Rick Rubin would build the house. This single will reach #14 on the R&B charts, which was quite an accomplishment.

Dazz Band – Heartbeat (debuted 3/23/1985, peaked at #110)

The Pop one-hit-wonder funk band from Cleveland is still trying to cross over one more time with something a bit slower. This will be their final and closest attempt from their seventh album, Hot Spot. They’ll rack up four more R&B Top singles, including this one which will reach #12.

Be Kind, Then You’ll Feel Fine

We are reviewing those songs that ended up trapping Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s. Let’s take a look at chart week 11.

Ava Cherry – Love Is Good News (debuted 3/15/80, peaked at #107)

Ava got her start in the music business as a protege of David Bowie’s and sang on the Young Americans album, heavily influencing his move towards soul music. Supposedly, the song Golden Years was about their relationship. After an early stint in the Steve Winwood-led supergroup Go, she embarked on a solo career. Her first album, produced by Curtis Mayfield, released this single first, a 50-styled ballad, which squeaked into the R&B Top 40 at #39.

Shelley Looney – This Is My Country, Thank You Canada (debuted 3/15/80, peaked at #109)

Here’s a song I was not aware of, and it’s perfect for its time. It’s a spoken-word piece underscored by some cheesy cartoon music by an eight-year-old girl from Michigan thanking Canada for their part in helping to free US hostages from the US embassy in Iran. But wait, it gets better….

Fun Fact: Shelley grew up to be a hockey player, was picked for the 1998 Winter Olympics team, and scored the winning goal in the Gold medal game against….Canada. As it was the first Women ‘s US Hockey Olympic gold, she and her teammates are in the US Olympic Hall of Fame.

Marvin Gaye – Praise (debuted 3/21/81, peaked at #101)

Because Berry Gordy had a tricky, prickly, even spiteful relationship with Marvin, a sweet jam like this was left for dead by Motown. None of his singles charted on the Hot 100 after 1977’s #1 smash, Got To Give It Up until he changed labels in 1982 and released the monster, Sexual Healing. I also love how he adds a lyric in the song directed at Stevie Wonder apologizing for stealing a riff of his.

Also, Marvin Gay, Sr. was an abusive alcoholic piece of shit who hid behind his mask of “minister” and “a man of God” to continually torture his only son throughout his entire life until he eventually shot him point-blank and murdered him. He was given a six-year suspended sentence.

“Weird Al” Yankovic – Another One Rides The Bus (debuted 3/21/81, peaked at #104)

The Dr. Demento Show has spawned many Bubblers, but this may the first career that it launched when Al and his accordion appeared on his September 14, 1980 show and performed this Queen parody. [The original has just entered the Top 10 that week.] The live recording was released as a 45 on T.K. Records, owned by Henry Stone and home to George McCrae and KC & the Sunshine Band. It will be the last record that the label released before it was “acquired” by Morris Levy.

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – For You (debuted 3/21/81, peaked at #106)

The UK band dips back into the well with another Springsteen cover, this time from his Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ album. But they weren’t the first, as Greg Kihn recorded his take for an album back in 1977. MM would get one more Top 40 in 1984 with their version of Ian Thomas’ The Runner.

The Kings – Don’t Let Me Know (debuted 3/21/81, peaked at #109)

Here’s the Canadian Power Pop quartet, which had a Top 40 near-miss in 1980 with Switchin To Glide/The Beat Goes On. Their debut album, The Kings Are Here, produced by Bob Ezrin, also spun off this midtempo rocker.

Melanie – One More Try (debuted 3/21/81, peaked at #110)

The pride of Astoria, Queens, folk singer/ songwriter Melanie Safka collected six Top 40 hits in the early 70s, including the #1 smash, Brand New Key. She had trouble keeping that momentum throughout the decade, but she has been recording and releasing new work for the last four decades. This soft rock ballad was a one-off single released on Portrait Records.

Alabama – Mountain Music (debuted 3/20/82, peaked at #101)

Here was the first single and title track to this heavily-decorated Country quartet, released during their run of Top 20 singles. Was it too “Southern” for Pop radio? It’s a catchy tune, and even though I lived in New York, I remember this getting airplay back then.

Fun fact: Brad Paisley used a piece of this song, asking members of Alabama to record it with him, for his 2011 single, Old Alabama, which reached #38.

Lindsey Buckingham – It Was I (debuted 3/20/82, peaked at #110

This quirky-sounding track was Lindsey’s follow-up to the mellower #10 hit, Trouble. It’s a cover of Skip and Flip’s 1959 hit, which reached #11. And because it didn’t sound like the Mac, Pop radio dissed it. No matter, we’re only three months away from Hold Me debuting on the Hot 100. Also, if those female vocals sound familiar, they’re not Stevie’s. They were sung by Carol Ann Harris, his then-current partner.

Phil Garland – You Are The One (debuted 3/19/83, peaked at #109)

There’s not a lot of info out there about this singer/songwriter from Boston, who supposedly also plays a mean electric violin. This pop-rocker was released from his debut album, Dreams Of A Boy, and showed up as a Bubbler for one week. It was produced by Steve Burgh, who played acoustic guitar on Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are, and She’s Always a Woman.

The Dells – You Just Can’t Walk Away (debuted 3/17/84, peaked at #107)

Here’s the long-time 5-man doo-wop group who had hits with Stay In My Corner and Oh What A Night and were the main inspiration behind Robert Townsend’s The Five Heartbeats film. This was their last brush with crossover success, the lead single from their album, One Step Closer, produced and written by Natalie Cole’s cohorts, Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy. This ballad will reach #23 on the Soul charts.

Melba Moore – Livin’ For Your Love (debuted 3/17/84, peaked at #108)

Here’s the Harlem, NY singer who racked 23 Top 40 hits on the Soul charts, with the second single from her thirteenth album, Never Say Never. Written by La La, who penned You Give Good Love for Whitney Houston, this sultry Top 10 Soul track barely got a chance to shine at Pop radio.

The Fat Boys – Can You Feel It (debuted 3/16/85, peaked at #101)

Finally, we get some hip-hop, but it’s buried alive under the Hot 100. Had we shown the Disco 3 some more love, maybe they wouldn’t have resolved to record Wipeout or The Twist. I love these guys, and Buffy Love, aka the Human Beat Box, was the best at “making music with his mouth.”

General Public – Never You Done That (debuted 3/16/85, peaked at #105)

After the English Beat split up, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger were the first to succeed with their debut album, All The Rage, and their#27 single, Tenderness. This was their follow-up, a New Wave classic that was just as catchy. Their follow-up album Hand To Mouth had lots of great singles on it, but none of them garnered any chart notice.

Carol Lynn Townes – Believe In The Beat (debuted 3/16/85, peaked at #109)

Here’s a single from the tragically awful sequel to Breakin’ called Electric Boogaloo. [Someone thought that was a good title. I’m guessing he was White.] This very 80s track had some minor success on the R&B charts and hit the Top 30 on the Dance charts.

Two Shots of Fantasy and One of Make-Believe

We’re up to chart week ten in our review of the Bubbling Under singles from the 80s. Here’s the list of folks who were kept below the surface of the Hot 100.

Rufus and Chaka – Any Love (debuted 3/8/80, peaked at #102)

Do You Love What You Feel was a monster jam, and its peak of #30 on the Pop charts was proof that R&B and funk were unnecessarily caught up in the Disco backlash. This was the second single from the Quincy Jones-produced Masterjam, another straight-up groove that didn’t get any notice at Pop radio while it reached #24 on the Soul charts. Massive Attack recorded their version in 1990.

L.A. Boppers – Is This The Best (Bop-Doo-Wah) (debuted 3/8/80, peaked at #103)

The Boppers were the backing band for the R&B group Side Effect, and they scored their own album deal in 1978. Produced by Augie Johnson, they changed their name to the L.A. Boppers for their second album released in 1980. This was the lead single, a slice of swinging jazz-funk that reached the Top 30 on the R&B charts that had more in common with the emerging Brit-Funk movement than the US disco scene.

Dan Hartman – Relight My Fire (debuted 3/8/80, peaked at #104)

Dan made the transition from Prog-rock to disco in 1978 with the #29 hit Instant Replay, a great example of 70s dance-pop. His second foray for the dancefloor went even deeper, and this single featuring female vocals by Loleatta Holloway reached #1 on the Disco Top 100.

Rainbow – All Night Long (debuted 3/8/80, peaked at #110)

Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow made a few changes for album #4, Down To Earth. Ronnie James Dio was gone, replaced by singer Graham Bonnett, and Deep Purple cohort Roger Glover was in to play bass and produce. The album was their most commercial to date and yielded the #57 single in late 1979, the Russ Ballard-penned Since You Been Gone. This was the follow-up, another catchy rocker that will reach #5 in the UK.

Ali Thomson – Foolish Child (debuted 3/14/81, peaked at #105)

In between Breakfast In America & Famous Last Words, the brother of Supertramp bassist Dougie Thomson released two solo albums. The first one spawned a Top 20 hit, Take a Little Rhythm. The second one, Deception Is An Art, put out this track as the lead single. I much prefer Ali’s second album as it is nestled firmly in the smooth arms of West Coast pop. It has yet to be released digitally. Ali released his third album last year, Songs from the Playroom, and I found it quite enjoyable.

Any Trouble – Second Choice (debuted 3/14/81, peaked at #108)

Here’s a British New Wave quartet who made quite a splash with critics with their 1980 debut, Where Are All the Girls? Unfortunately, none of it translated into any big successes, even in their native land. All that’s left is this enduring single, a mix of pub rock, reggae, and power pop. Marti Jones recorded a slow acoustic version in 1990 for her Any Kind Of Lie album.

Graf – Come To My Arms (debuted 3/14/81, peaked at #110)

If you thought Robbie Dupree’s Steal Away sounded like the Doobie Brothers, wait till you hear this single from Ohio quartet Graf. It was produced by Steve Katz, and here’s what the band looked like. Two of the members were previously in a jazz-rock group called I Don’t Care.

Bonnie Raitt – Keep This Heart In Mind (debuted 3/13/82, peaked at #104)

It’s incredible to think that it took someone as talented as Bonnie nearly two decades and ten albums before she broke through with Nick Of Time. The music industry slept on her career for far too long, those imbeciles. Here she is with the lead single from her eighth album, Green Light, a solid effort that didn’t go anywhere. Jackson Browne provides backing vocals on this track.

Maxus – Nobody’s Business (debuted 3/13/82, peaked at #109)

The only album by this quartet released in 1981 is held in high regard by West Coast artists. Featuring Jay Gruska on vocals and session player Michael Landau on guitar, this LP is a smooth pop-rock ride. It’s proto-Toto which should have been given the same support as those guys but never did.

The Fixx – Red Skies (debuted 3/12/83, peaked at #101)

It’s strange to think this ode to nuclear war was a Bubbler since it now stands as a New Wave classic. But the second single from this UK quintet’s debut, Shuttered Room, only received Rock radio airplay back then and some moderate video showings on MTV. Their next album would do much better.

Smokey Robinson – I’ve Made Love To You A Thousand Times (debuted 3/12/83, peaked at #101)

What an odd title for a Quiet storm ballad. That’s like every day for almost three years. Who are you, Wilt Chamberlain? The song was still good enough to make the R&B Top 10, but Pop radio was in the midst of ignoring Smokey for many years.

Chilliwack – Secret Information (debuted 3/12/83, peaked at #110)

The Vancouver trio broke through in 1981 with two Top 40 hits South of the border. Their follow-up album, Opus X, was not as successful but just as slick. I would have instead heard this single than any Loverboy tune at the time. Two of the members left the group, and Bill Henderson recorded one more album under the Chilliwack moniker.

Ozzy Osbourne – So Tired (debuted 3/10/84, peaked at #104)

I’m sure you are, Ozzy.  Getting rabies will do that to a person, even if you are the prince of darkness. The opening of this Bark at the Moon track sounds like something from Wayne Newton until Ozzy chimes in. And he does sound tired.

Anne Murray – That’s Not The Way (It’s S’posed To Be) (debuted 3/10/84, peaked at #106)

Record label: Anne, you’re missing two letters in your song title.

Anne: Oh yeah, which ones?

Record label: U. P.

Anne: (giggles) Only when I drink too much water.

Jenny Burton – Bad Habits (debuted 3/9/85, peaked at #101)

Disco singer Jenny Burton racked up a few members of the Other Sixty in 1984. She also sang on the club hit, One More Shot by C-Bank. Jenny scored her biggest overall success with this funky track from her second album, Jenny Burton, hitting #1 on the Dance charts and reaching the R&B Top 20. It also contains the same shabba-doo-wah lick as the above L.A. Boppers tune.

Roxanne Shanté – Roxanne’s Revenge (debuted 3/9/85, peaked at #109)

UTFO put out a classic Hip-hop track in 1984 called Roxanne, Roxanne. Then the real Roxanne put out this answer track and pummeled those three fellas into dust, stomping into the R&B Top 30. Netflix put out a movie in 2018 based on her life, which was quite good.

The Memories Sail Round Like A Ghost

I know this may discourage you from reading any further, but this is a group of underwhelming tunes, save for one classic. They belonged in the Bubbling Under crew during chart week #9. Let me know if you disagree.

Ray Stevens – Shriner’s Convention (debuted on 3/1/1980, peaked at #101)

With Ray, you either get saccharine (Everything Is Beautiful, Misty) or cornpone (all the other crap). I’m not sure who finds stuff like this funny, but I bet they have a Big Mouth Billy Bass on the wall of their living room too.

Barbara Mandrell – Years (debuted on 3/1/1980, peaked at #102)

After a decade of recording, Barbara notched a Top 40 hit in 1979 with a cover of Luther Ingram’s If Loving You Is Wrong. She’d aim for the Pop charts one more time with her next album, Just For The Record, and this ballad became her third Country #1. Wayne Newton’s version later in the year would reach #35.

Sue Saad and the Next – Won’t Give It Up (debuted on 3/1/1980, peaked at #107)

Here’s a New Wave quintet from Santa Barbara that had the energy but never the right song to catapult them to success. They only recorded one album but contributed to multiple soundtracks such as Roadie and Radioactive Dreams. One of their songs was covered on Sheena Easton’s debut album.

Mac Davis – Hooked On Music (debuted on 3/7/1981, peaked at #102)

This Country rocker was Mac’s follow-up to the #51 single, Texas In My Rear View Mirror, and details how he got into songwriting and performing.  We could have all guessed it was because of Elvis, and it was for the chicks.

Toto – Goodbye Elenore (debuted on 3/7/1981, peaked at #107)

After a successful 1978 debut and mildly popular follow-up, this sextet’s third album completely stiffed. All of the music is well-performed and arranged, but their progression into a harder rock sound at a time when Pop programmers were looking for something mellow kept them from getting on the radio. Of course, they refocused and put out Toto IV, so….

Blues Brothers – Going Back To Miami (debuted on 3/7/1981, peaked at #108)

The schtick has finally worn off by their second live album, Made In America, though Dan and John had more success with these characters than I’m sure they ever imagined. I never understood the point of the SML skits, but I loved the movie. That said, I never need to hear two White sketch comedians sing the blues ever again.

Bobby Womack – If You Think You’re Lonely Now (debuted on 3/6/1982, peaked at #101)

BW had his last Top 40 hit in 1974, Looking For A Love and true gritty Soul was never gonna get on Pop radio during the 80s no matter what he did. This #3 R&B hit was from his 1981 album, The Poet, and was originally released as the B-side to the first single, Secrets.

Henry Paul Band – Brown Eyed Girl (debuted on 3/6/1982, peaked at #105)

Henry was the original guitarist for the Country-rock outfit, the Outlaws. He left in 1979 and recorded three albums with his new group. Released from his Anytime album, this Van Morrison cover was the last time he sniffed the Hot 100 again.

Jean-Luc Ponty – As (debuted on 3/6/1982, peaked at #108)

French fusion violinist Jean-Luc Ponty had been recording albums for two decades, playing with the likes of Frank Zappa, George Duke, and Elton John. His 26th LP, Mystical Adventures, contained this electronic Stevie Wonder cover, co-produced with Arif Mardin, which was just odd enough to get as far as Hot 100 Bubbler.

George Clinton – Atomic Dog (debuted on 3/5/1983, peaked at #101)

The Bomb! Parliament and Funkadelic completely fell apart at the start of the 80s. But George continued to funk on and created one of his most sampled tracks of all time. Hell, this single from his first solo album, Computer Games, basically launched Snoop Dogg’s career. It will reach #1 on the R&B charts but inexplicably get stuck here as a Bubbler.

Jon St. James – Oogity Boogity (debuted on 3/3/1984, peaked at #105)

Jon has spent most of his career recording music for TV shows such as Hill Street Blues and Dawson’s Creek. But he had a few moments of Pop success, such as this New Wave flavored dance track from his debut, Trans-Atlantic. He also produced Bardeux’s Top 40 hit, When We Kiss, and Stacey Q’s 1986 smash, Two Of Hearts.

Ted Nugent – Tied Up In Love (debuted on 3/3/1984, peaked at #107)

Between 1976 and 1980, The Nuge had seven entries on the Hot 100 with one Top 40 hit, Cat Scratch Fever. This was the lead single from his tenth release, Penetrator, and will bungle itself up in knots. He’ll be back in the Top 40 in 1991 as a member of Damn Yankees.

Jack Wagner – Premonition (debuted on 3/2/1985, peaked at #101)

General Hospital’s Frisco Jones wanted to be a real-life musician, so he recorded an album in 1984 with producer Glen Ballard and collected a #2 hit, All I Need. This was the follow-up single, which immediately went on life support but was flipped to the B-side before finally flatlining.

Spineless Movement And A Wild Attack

As we look at the top half of the Top 40 from February 28th, 1981, it’s a solid list of veteran artists’ songs. But it took many decades, format changes, and technology enhancements for many of them to get recognized and played again.

SXMFU – On the Big 40 Countdown, they intro the show as the year that Chariots of Fire wins the Oscar for best picture. That won’t happen until the 54th Annual Academy Awards on March 29, 1982. Ordinary People won the Oscar in 1981. Again, folks, this info is not a secret.

20. Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – What Kind Of Fool

PFK – Here we are on year two of the 80s, and the Bee Gees are still with us with their songwriting and with Barry’s smooth vibrato. This duet with Babs will be the third Top 10 from her Guilty LP. It will also spend a month atop the AC charts.

19. Cliff Richard – A Little In Love

Sir Cliffo nabs his fourth US Top 20 hit in a little over a year with the follow-up to his #10 smash, Dreamin(g). Not bad for a guy who took twenty years to get his first one.

18. Tierra – Together

OHW, PD – Tierra’s en fuego with their first Top 20, a cover of the 1967 Intruders song written by Gamble & Huff. Unfortunately, the Salas brothers will not be back for a return appearance. It wasn’t due to a lack of good material. They were on Neil Bogart’s Boardwalk label, and when he passed away in 1982, the label went under.

17. Steely Dan – Hey Nineteen

PD – No matter how much you may love the lead single off of Gaucho, you will never be able to shake the feeling of sadness and desperation that permeates through your soul as it plays. This could be you one day. This may be you today.  Sink a little lower, now.

Fun fact: This never spent a week at #19, so forget what I said about Billboard’s sense of humor.

16. John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over

PD – It’s barely been three months since John was murdered, and the radio kept his memory alive by playing songs from his new album incessantly. As this song spent its fifth week at #1, Woman was already at #27. I still find it hard not to hear this song and not travel back to that time as a kid trying to make sense of what happened and feeling all of this song’s optimism and hope just vanish away.

15. Blondie – Rapture

I think it’s safe to say that the immense success of Blondie is easily lost in history’s shuffle. There weren’t many bands in the 70s and 80s that had at least four #1 singles. [add your list in the comments] On top of that, all four had a different sound. The second single from Autoamerican is part New Wave, part disco, part rock, and part hip-hop. Fab Five Freddy gets a shout-out, and most of America won’t know who he is until Yo MTV Raps debuts later in the decade. In the UK, they will rack 6 #1s, but this will only make it up to #5.

14. Neil Diamond – Hello Again

PFK – Wanna know how bad The Jazz Singer is? Neil Diamond covers for his friend at a gig, but because his buddy is an African-American, he decides he’ll show up in blackface. It just gets worse from here. At least, Neil was smart enough to write and record karaoke-worthy ballads such as this one.

13. Rod Stewart – Passion

PD – Between 1976 and 1994, Rod only missed placing a single in the US Top 40 in 1985 and 1987. This seems like an early attempt to do anything he could to keep that streak alive.

12. Stevie Wonder – I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It

The second single from Stevie’s Hotter Than July is a Country-tinged affair and another great hit that’s been lost in his impressive catalog. It’s one spot away from its peak. This always makes me think of that Cotton Land sketch that he did with Eddie on SNL.

Fun fact: That SNL episode was from 1983. Stevie performed Go Home & Overjoyed, two songs that wouldn’t be released for almost three more years.

11. Don McLean – Crying

PFK – It had been eight years since Dreidel hit the Top 40 when Don roared back with this Roy Orbison cover. It was recorded for the LP, Chain Lightning which was released back in late 1978. He’ll be driving his Chevy all the way up to #5, and it will be his only other Top 10 hit aside from American Pie. It was also hit #1 in the UK.

10. ABBA – The Winner Takes It All

This is the definitive ABBA song. Yes, Dancing Queen is sonically beautiful, and Waterloo and Mamma Mia are catchier. But this encapsulates everything about the group’s dynamic that they hid behind a shiny Pop veneer. This will be their fourth and final US Top 10 smash, and thank God for that cause alimony is a bitch.

9. Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne

PFK (and, please do it while I’m there) – This song was inspired by Dan meeting his high school sweetheart at a convenience store when he was back home in Peoria visiting his parents on Christmas Eve 1975, six years after they graduated. They end up splitting a six-pack of Olympia in the parking lot. Dan would have been 24 and just had his first Top 40, Part of the Plan, from his third album, Captured Angel. And yet, here he was bitchin’ about traveling to perform at paying gigs.  This single was released ahead of his seventh album, The Innocent Age, and will become his second Top 10 hit. Michael Brecker plays the sax solo at the end.

8. Delbert McClinton – Giving It Up For Your Love

OHW – The man who played harmonica on Bruce Channel’s #1 smash Hey Baby and had a decade of solo albums under his belt finally breaks through with his only Top 40 hit, which is sitting at its zenith this week. This sounds so much like a Bonnie Raitt song that I’m surprised that she’s never covered it.

7. Blondie – The Tide Is High

PD – Not many songs have number one in their lyrics and then end up hitting #1. Did anybody else do it?

6. Styx – The Best Of Times

All the older kids in my neighborhood were into the Paradise Theatre, to the point which they would tease me that I wasn’t. Why would anyone defend this album and/or song unless you were on a prom committee?

5. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You

I like to pretend that these guys are one-hit-wonders, that they wrote this, that it hit #1 (which it did), and then they disappeared. That’s the kind of world I want to live in.

4. Kool & The Gang – Celebration

PD – I love this group, and I love that Yah- Hoo! The rest of this song can vanish and take every last yellow ribbon with it.

3. John Lennon – Woman

Paul McCartney was right, and he sleeps just fine. His love does it good, and there’s nothing wrong with filling the world with silly love songs. I just wish John was around longer for us to hear him perfect a mix of his rough and tender sides. This track that he possibly could.

2. Dolly Parton – 9 To 5

Dolly Parton Gets First Shot of COVID-19 Vaccine

1. Eddie Rabbitt – I Love A Rainy Night (1 wk at #1)

PD -I didn’t think anyone could not like this song. Until I saw this:

For some reason, that made me laugh so hard. [Thanks, JB. No disrespect intended.] Now every time I hear this, I’ll think of someone listening to that finger snap and hand clap interplay, wanting to haul off and throw a brick through a window. Actually, I’m going to watch The Big Lebowski scene where Walter destroys the car with the sound off and this song playing instead.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake

The Need To Give Such Secrets Away

Let’s take a look at the first half of what was popular the week of February 28th, 1981.

40. Con Funk Shun – Too Tight

THW – Since their 1976 debut, this Vallejo, CA funk band has been throwing down jam after jam with only a #23 Top 40 hit, Ffun in 1978, to show for it. This song debuts at its peak because 1981 was anything but funky. I bet Maurice White heard this and immediately sat down to write Let’s Groove.

39. Firefall  – Staying With It

This is the sixth and final Top 40 hit for the five-man band from Boulder, CO. It also features female vocals by singer/songwriter Lisa Nemzo who released a trio of solo albums in the 80s and is still musically active today.

38. Terri Gibbs – Somebody’s Knockin’

OHW – Here’s the only Top 40 hit for the Country singer, Terri Gibbs, debuting at #38. It was nominated for a Best Country Song Grammy but only peaked at #8 on those charts, placing higher on the AC charts at #3. In the Pop world, she’ll take this one up to #13.

37. AC/DC – Back In Black

Some people become frozen in their grief. Others channel their energy into something productive, such as creating one of the best hard rock songs of all time. It was almost a year ago this week that original lead singer Bon Scott passed away, and their tribute to him is sitting in the Top 40.

36. Elvis Presley – Guitar Man

STA – Has any record company done as inferior a job with a classic artist’s catalog as RCA had done with Elvis? There are generations of folks who have no idea what his music sounds like, let alone his impact on music history. Anyway, Elvis’ first version of this Jerry Reed-penned track reached #42 back in 1967, recorded for the film, Clambake. In late 1980, the backing track was re-recorded with Jerry on electric guitar, but Presley’s vocals were kept intact. The single release will be his last #1 Country hit and last Top 40 when it reaches #28.

35. The Jacksons – Heartbreak Hotel

The thing I appreciate about the Billboard magazine staff is their sense of humor. It’s why Pete Wingfield’s Eighteen With A Bullet actually reaches #18, with a bullet rather than 17 or 19. It’s also why we have Elvis right next to a song that originally shared the same title as one of his biggest hits. As the story goes, the title eventually had to be changed to This Place Hotel because MJ was unaware of the original. Yes, the guy that eventually marries the King’s daughter didn’t know about one of the biggest 50s songs, which would inspire many British Invasion bands, including the Beatles, the catalog of whom he would own in a few short years. Hope everyone wore their boots for this post.

SXMFU – The Big 80’s countdown starts this song off right a the chorus skipping the intro and first verse.

34. Sheena Easton – Morning Train (Nine To Five)

PFK – What does it say about 1981 that we had two songs sung by women reach #1 with 9 to 5 in the title, let alone appear in the charts simultaneously? This song was released in the UK six months before Dolly put out her song in the US. The biggest difference between the two is that Miss Parton is singing for the ladies, while Sheena waits at home (or the train platform) for her working man.

33. Phil Seymour – Precious To Me

OHW – Here’s a Tulsa, OK power-pop singer who had previously been in the Dwight Twilley Band in the mid-70s, performing on the Top 20 smash, I’m On Fire. After the group split up, Phil sang back-up on a few Tom Petty classics (Breakdown, American Girl) before launching his solo career with his only Top 40 hit, which will top out at #22.

32. The Outlaws – (Ghost) Riders In The Sky

THW – Southern Rock’s dominance on the Pop charts was winding down during the beginning of the 80s, but a few bands still eked out a hit or two. This will be the second and best showing for the Tampa, FL sextet, a cover of the Stan Jones Western classic written in 1948, recorded for its sixth LP, Ghost Riders. Their version will peak at #31.

31. The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me

The song that’s been most on repeat in my head for the last year whenever I see any of you.[ Lolita reference, not included.]

SXMFU – The first time the Big 40 Countdown aired, they played the 1986 remake instead of the original. Does anyone at Sirius actually final review their shows before broadcast? Someone noticed (and I can’t believe they cared) because it was changed to the Zenyatta Mondatta version in repeat airings.

30. Steve Winwood – While You See A Chance

RAR – By the time of Steve’s second album, Arc Of A Diver, he had yet to achieve any solo success in the U.S. This single, on which he plays all of the instruments, will be his first smash, reaching #8. Also, if you’re a synth geek, the lead riff is played on a Multimoog.

29. Donnie Iris – Ah Leah

The pride of Pittsburgh and king of cool nabs his first Top 40 from his 1980 solo debut, Back On The Streets. I don’t know what it is, but it sounds so good any time it comes on the radio. Also, per Donnie, the title doesn’t have any specific women in mind, nor is it a reference to the Jews’ exile from Israel. And singer Aaliyah was born in 1979, so her parents weren’t inspired by it either.

RFW – Read along with SXM as they talk about Donnie Iris album puns.

28. Air Supply – Every Woman In The World

PD – Here’s a soft rock ballad that was written by Bugatti & Musker about a dude who goes to discos to dance away his problems before being rescued by a real/fantasy woman. This Australian duo nabs their third straight Top 5 hit.

Fun fact: Early bandmate Jeremy Paul left in 1977 and formed the band Divinyls.

27. Bruce Springsteen – Fade Away

This is the follow-up to Hungry Heart from the double album, The River. It’s on its way to #20. I’m going to use the rest of this space to tell you to watch the hilarious show Broad City if you never have.

26. Leo Sayer – Living In A Fantasy

Leo’s coming to the end of his U.S. run. This is the second single and the title track from his 1980 LP written by him and Alan Tarney, becoming his eighth and final Top 40 hit. Leo is still at it and put out a few new singles, just last year.

25. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Kiss On My List

Even after nine LPs and wrestling control over producing their own recordings, it wasn’t until their third single from 1980’s Voices that Hall & Oates became the 80s juggernaut we all know and love. This one is on the way to #1 for three weeks, four years after their first chart-topper, Rich Girl, and the first of five they would have during the decade. Every time I hear this song, I can still smell the burnt pizza wafting through the Commack roller rink.

24. Ronnie Milsap – Smoky Mountain Rain

SXMFU – The DJ mentions that this is Ronnie’s best-known song, but I strongly disagree. On the Pop charts, it would probably be (There’s No) Gettin’ Over Me. On the Country charts, it’s a little more challenging as he’s racked up 35 #1s. I’d proffer that Lost in The Fifties Tonight might his most remembered down Nashville way. This track is at its peak on the Hot 100.

23. Randy Meisner – Hearts On Fire

I’ve seen rain. Now I see fire, courtesy of former Eagle Randy “I ain’t singing the high note tonight” Meisner. This will be the biggest out of his three Top 40 hits and will peak at #19.

22. Alan Parsons Project – Games People Play

APP is on their way to best showing in the Top 40 thus far, and they just can’t stop it. This was the first release from their fifth album, The Turn Of A Friendly Card, a concept album centered around gambling. Sung by Lenny Zakatek, it’s on its way to a #16 high.

21. Pat Benatar – Treat Me Right

I don’t care whether you like Pat or not. She rocks, and she belongs in the RNRHOF.

Fun fact: This single was written by Doug Lubahn, who played bass on the Doors album Strange Days. He also formed the horn rock group, Dreams in 1970 and played on Billy Squier’s Emotions In Motion and Signs Of Life albums.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
  • STA – Second Time Around
  • SXMFU – Sirius XM mistake