This is a tantalizing mix of country, soul, New Wave, rock, and funk that we have here Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s. Let’s see what we got on chart week twenty-two from 1980 to 1982.
Tommy James – You Got Me (debuted on 6/1/1980, peaked at #101)
The leader of the Shondells had a surprise comeback hit in 1980 with Three Times In Love which reached #19. This was his follow-up, and it’s not a shock to see it here as it’s too mellow even for 1980 and not as immediate as its predecessor.
Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers – Taking Somebody With Me When I Fall (debuted on 6/1/1980, peaked at #108)
Larry got his start writing songs for Dottie West and singing back-up for Kris Kristofferson. He recorded his first solo album in 1973 and brought his brothers, Steve & Rudy, in with him, officially changing their name in 1979 to the above. They had a #1 hit, All The Gold In California, from their album, Straight Ahead. This was the third single released, a nice little slice of Yacht Country, which could easily sit beside Poco or Firefall.
Fun fact: In Kenny Rogers’ 1979 song, Coward of the County, Tommy’s girlfriend, Becky, is sexually assaulted by the Gatlin Boys. Both Kenny and the songwriters, Billy Ed Wheeler & Roger Bowling, deny they were referring to Larry, Rudy & Steve, even though there was three of them. It’s also interesting they chose the name Becky as Larry’s first hit was called Sweet Becky Walker.
Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper (debuted on 6/6/1981, peaked at #101)
Yes, this is a sweet jam. From Grace’s fifth album, Nightclubbing, this mix of New Wave funk and Caribbean rhythms was the third single released and her first Top 40 hit on the Soul charts, peaking at #5. It will climb to #2 on the Dance Club charts as well. Put this on your car playlist and turn it up while you drive. Also, this song has nothing to do with parking cars, if you know what I mean.
Kraftwerk – Pocket Calculator (debuted on 6/6/1981, peaked at #102)
This German quartet was so far ahead of the game, and they had to stop recording music by the late 80s for everyone to catch up. And remember, they were recording most of their work on brand new technology, working out the kinks for artists in future decades. It still blows my mind that they had a Top 40 hit in 1975 with this. Nothing sounded like the album Computer World in 1981, when it was released on May 10th, 1981. This is what the Top 40 looked like if you need a reference.
The Roulettes – Only Heaven Knows (debuted on 6/6/1981, peaked at #105)
This is an excellent piece of retro-flavored Power Pop, in the vein of Phil Seymour, but confoundingly out of date by the time of its release. Damn, the window was short. Even still, this would have sounded nice on Pop radio and preferable to the other gunk clogging the charts.
Split Enz – Six Months In A Leaky Boat (debuted on 6/5/1982, peaked at #104)
This New Zealand sextet was led by singer/songwriter Tim Finn, whose brother Neil joined the group by album three, Dizrythmia. By 1980, he wrote and sung their best-known song, I Got You, even though it reached #53. This was the lead single from their seventh album, Time And Tide. Tim sings lead on this nautical tale about the New Zealand pioneers sailing to a new land. It went Top 10 in Australia and New Zealand as well as in Canada, but this catchy ditty didn’t get much of a chance in the States. Maybe a few Columbus day spins.
Lacy J. Dalton – Slow Down (debuted on 6/5/1982, peaked at #106)
Country singer Jill Byrem, otherwise known to her fans as Lacy J. Dalton, released her fourth album, 16th Avenue, in 1982. The lead single was her only crossover mark, bubbling at #106 while climbing to #13 on the Country charts. Many fans have commented that she sounds a lot like Bonnie Raitt, which is probably why…
Bonnie Raitt – Me and the Boys (debuted on 6/5/1982, peaked at #109)
…this single gets caught in the fishing net with Lacy. Of course, this bluesy rocker shouldn’t have competed with Lacy’s lazy ballad anyway. From her eighth album, Green Light, this cover was initially released by NRBQ on their 1980 LP, Tiddlywinks, but Bonnie gives it some special sauce.
Randy Crawford – One Hello (debuted on 6/5/1982, peaked at #110)
And here’s another lady who should have had at least one crossover hit. Singing on the Crusaders’ Street Life doesn’t count. She’s had a lot more success in the UK with five Top 20 hits, 3 of them reaching the Top 10. This ballad written by Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch and included on her sixth long-play, Windsong, was not one of them but should have been. This was also the featured song of the Neil Simon film flop, I Ought To Be In Pictures.