There must have been a Pop radio jailbreak during chart week sixteen since there aren’t that many Bubblers left behind. Let’s review those forgotten 45s from the 80s.
Sister Sledge – Reach Your Peak (debuted 4/19/1980, peaked at #101)
This is easily my favorite of the bunch. Had the Disco backlash not happened, the Sledge sisters would have had a few hits from 1980’s Love Somebody Today, their Nile Ridgers/ Bernard Edwards-produced follow-up to We Are Family. After Got To Love Somebody reached #64 Pop and #5 R&B, this breezy reggae-tinged track only climbed as high as #21 on the Soul charts. The album track Pretty Baby was never minted as a 45, but this confident disco strutter was another favorite of mine.
John Cougar – A Little Night Dancin’ (debuted 4/19/1980, peaked at #105)
Don’t let the title fool you. JC didn’t go disco, but he did get his Van Morrison on. This straight-ahead acoustic rocker was the third single released from his self-titled third LP, which included his first Top 40 hit, I Need A Lover.
The 1981 debuts all moved onto the Hot 100, so let’s continue with 1982.
Cameo – Just Be Yourself (debuted 4/24/1982, peaked at #101)
Funk was another casualty of the Disco backlash as well as the recession. It’s hard to keep ten guys on the payroll if you do not have giant hits. Cameo was now down to five members on their 1982 release, Alligator Woman. They’d shrink to four with their next release, and by the time of their first Top 40 ht, Word Up!, they were a trio. This compact jam will reach #12 on the R&B charts.
Fun fact: Did you know that the model on the cover of Alligator Woman was Vanity?
Xavier – Work That Sucker To Death (debuted 4/24/1982, peaked at #104)
Here’s a funk octet from Connecticut that received a little help from George Clinton & Bootsy Collins, who performed on two tracks on their album, Point Of Pleasure. This monster jam was one of them and worked itself into the R&B Top 10, hitting #6. Because it was released on the same label as Kenny Rogers, I’m not sure that was any A&R money to go around to push this one to Pop radio.
Devo – Through Being Cool (debuted 4/24/1982, peaked at #107)
Devo will amass five single singles that were labeled as Bubblers in the 80s. Pop radio had no idea what to do with them. And even during the early 80s New Wave invasion, their sound was too future-forward. This was the second single released from 1981’s New Traditionalists and was also featured on the Heavy Metal soundtrack. Writing a song for nerds when that word was still an insult garnered them a loyal cult following to this day. Now they look to aim their spud guns at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
1983 was strutting around like a sharp-dressed man this week, moving their singles up to higher highs.
Evelyn “Champagne” King – Shake Down (debuted 4/21/1984, peaked at #107)
This was one of the few songs of Evelyn’s that I wasn’t as familiar with. It sounds like Sly Stone meets synth-funk with King working her sultry lower register a la Ruth Pointer on Automatic or Jody Watley on Still A Thrill. [JW’s producer, Andre Cymone produced four tracks on Face To Face.] This #12 peaker will be one of eighteen Top 40 R&B hits that she’ll rack up.
B.E. Taylor Group – Reggae Rock N Roll (debuted 4/20/1985, peaked at #102)
The pride of Pittsburgh, Bill Edward Taylor, known as BE, formed a quartet with three former members of the West Virginia prog-rock band, Crack The Sky. They released three albums, which yielded two Hot 100 entries and one EP called Life Goes On, which this single was spawned [It would also appear on their final full length, Our World in 1986.] Also, the single didn’t have a lot of (if any) reggae, but it did have a lot of anthemic Midwest pop-rock comin’ at ya.
If you want to read more weeks of Bubbling Under during the 80s, the rabbit hole is this way.