As we reach chart week fourteen in our review of 80s tunes that were Bubbling Under the Hot 100, we find a bunch that did not make it, so much so that I split the group in two. Let’s review the Bubblers from 1980 to 1982.
Jane Olivor – Don’t Let Go Of Me (debuted 4/5/1980, peaked at #108)
Jane was a singer who got her start performing in the NY cabaret scene and places such as the Continental Baths, where Bette Midler was discovered. Thus far, her biggest hit was a cover of the Shirelles’ He’s So Fine, which reached #77 in 1978. This single, released from her fourth album, The Best Side Of Goodbye, should have been a much bigger hit. Its soft pop vibes would have sounded great next to Melissa Manchester or anything else on this countdown. It’s a mystery as to why someone on a major label with minor successes couldn’t get this Randy Edleman-penned tune onto the radio.
Atlantic Starr – When Love Calls (debuted 4/11/1981, peaked at #101)
This was the first big hit for the White Plains, NY sextet, climbing to #5 on the R&B charts. Released from their third album, Radiant and produced by Commodores pal James Anthony Carmichael, this funky jam was a far cry from the wedding tunes that they are more well-known for.
Fantasy – You’re Too Late (debuted 4/11/1981, peaked at #104)
Here’s a monster disco smash from a vocal quartet from New York. The Chic-ish track dominated the clubs during the Winter of 1980/ 1981 and spent five weeks at #1 on the Disco Hot 100. It also made the R&B Top 30, but Pop radio had long closed their door to Disco.
Point Blank – Let Me Stay With You Tonight (debuted 4/11/1981, peaked at #107)
Here’s a Texas rock quintet on their fifth album, American Exce$$, by 1981 with not much national exposure to show for themselves. The catchy tune got them a little more notice, enough to show up here. But their second single, Nicole, was the one that broke them when it reached #39.
Stephen Bishop – Send A Little Love My Way (Like Always) (debuted 4/11/1981, peaked at #109)
After scoring three Top 40 singles from his first two albums, Bish came up snake eyes with his third release, Red Cab To Manhattan, another well-crafted West Coast pop album. It’s befuddling that he couldn’t get this ballad on Pop radio when they were playing stuff like Wayne Newton’s Years instead. Stephen was already becoming somewhat of a movie guy with soundtrack songs to Animal House and Roadie. He’ll add Tootsie to that list a year from now, and It Might Be You will hit #25 in 1983. An aside: the B-side to this single is City Girl, one of my favorite tracks of the Bishmeister.
Rox – Dddddddance (debuted 4/11/1981, peaked at #109)
Not sure if this was a band or just an alter-ego for Boston singer Mike Rox. But the title is definitely someone’s attempt to obscure the fact that this song is boring as hell. It was produced by Village People impresario Jacques Morali and released on Boardwalk Records while it was going under. So it didn’t have a lot going for it at the time.
Grover Washington Jr. – Jamming (debuted 4/10/1982, peaked at #102)
Put this track on, and at about 20 seconds in, say out loud,” We’re experiencing operating difficulties. Please stand by.” If you were there, you’d get it. This is a very chill and pleasant cover of the Bob Marley classic and the second single from GW’s Come Morning LP. But a minute into this, you might start wondering why you’re not listening to Exodus instead.
Lulu – Who’s Foolin’ Who (debuted 4/10/1982, peaked at #106)
Here’s the third single release from Scottish singer Lulu’s 1981 comeback album, which gave us the #18 hit, I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do). It’s a bluesy number that rocks way harder than her previous pop endeavors. In fact, it was nominated for a Best Female Rock Grammy. It was originally recorded by Bobby Blue Bland for his 1974 album, Dreamer, and written by the guys that produced hits like this.
Poco – Sea Of Heartbreak (debuted 4/10/1982, peaked at #109)
It definitely seemed like MCA Records had contempt for these guys when they took over their ABC contract, even making them audition all over for them to keep them on. They completely destroyed a decade’s worth of momentum and success at radio, and the band just wanted out by this time. So the fellas recorded a half-hearted covers album, which benefited no one, least of which, the fans. This track was co-written by Hal David and recorded by Country singer Don Gibson, who took track up to #2 on the Country charts and #21 on the Hot 100 back in 1961.