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.