It looks like there were many debuts from chart week twenty-three that did not make it onto the Hot 100. So we had to break this list up in two. First, let’s check out those 80s Bubblers from 1980 to 1982.
Red Rider – Don’t Fight It (debuted 6/7/80, peaked at #103)
Here’s the second single from the Toronto, Canada quintet’s debut, released in 1979. Their first 45, White Hot, reached #48 earlier in the year, while this genial pop-rocker received barely any notice south of their border. They may be best known for their 1981 track, Lunatic Fringe, which got a lot of Rock radio airplay but did not chart in the US. Nevertheless, VH-1 still named it one of the greatest one-hit-wonders of the 80s. But then again, they also have songs like Black Velvet listed, which hit #1 in March 1990.
Felix Cavaliere – Good To Have Love Back (debuted 6/7/80, peaked at #105)
Along with Tommy James, another voice from the 60s ended their Top 40 absence in 1980. The former lead singer of the Rascals had recorded three solo albums and one under the moniker Treasure in the 70s. This was the second single from 1979’s Castles In The Air, which sounds ripe for a Yacht Rock renaissance. But how can I be sure, in a world where the format keeps changing?
Willie Nile – It’s All Over (debuted 6/7/80, peaked at #106)
Somewhere between Tom Petty and Steve Forbert lies Willie Nile. This singer-songwriter is an artist whose name should be far more recognizable than it is. His debut was a critic’s darling back in 1980, but record company woes derailed his career for nearly a decade. Willie’s latest, New York At Night, was released in 2020 and continues to add to his legacy.
Rachel Sweet – Spellbound (debuted 6/7/80, peaked at #107)
What goes for Willie also applies to Rachel. At least she had a minor hit with her Rex Smith-duet cover of Everlasting Love. But, my Lord, she had a boatload of other tunes that were way more interesting, such as this New Wave pop release from her second LP, Protect the Innocent. Sweet moved into TV production in the late 90s on shows such as Sports Night, Dharma & Greg, and more recently, Hot In Cleveland and The Goldbergs. The 80s circle has now been closed.
Joe Chemay Band – Love Is A Crazy Feeling (debuted 6/13/81, peaked at #105)
Joe Chemay is a session bass player who not only played on Pink Floyd’s The Wall, he toured with them as a backup singer. He came off of that tour and released an album under The Joe Chemay Band called The Riper The Finer, a nice slice of West Coast AOR. [The album was eventually released on CD in Japan in 2002 but is now out of print.]The single, Proud, reached #68 and this Toto-vibed track was the follow-up. Joe has played on most of Kenny Rogers’ album starting in the 80s and moved to Nashville, playing on classics by Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks.
Emmylou Harris – I Don’t Have To Crawl (debuted 6/13/81, peaked at #106)
Emmylou got her start as a Fallen Angel singing with Gram Parsons just before he died in 1973. Once you hear her voice, you know why. She has been consistently nominated for Country Grammys since the mid-70s. No one ever mentions her in RNRHOF discussions, but they sure as shit should, as her music has influenced generations of singers and songwriters in various genres. Her eighth album, Evangeline, provided Harris with her only Top 40 hit, a #37 cover of Mister Sandman. This beautiful ballad gets stuck down here, and it’s her only single to make the Country Top 40 between 1975 and 1985. I never appreciated those Trio albums she did with Dolly and Linda when they came out. But I sure do now.
Roberta Flack – You Stopped Loving Me (debuted 6/13/81, peaked at #108)
Lost between her unfinished duets album with Donny Hathaway and her 1982 LP, I’m the One, was the soundtrack to the Richard Pryor film Bustin’ Loose, which Roberta recorded. This upbeat track was written by Luther Vandross and will sneak into the R&B Top 40 at #32.
Meco – Big Band Medley (debuted 6/12/82, peaked at #101)
Did Meco inspire the medley craze of the early 80s, or was he just riding the wave? This gave something for your grandparents to dance to, but they weren’t buying 45s anymore. This debuts a week after Larry Elgart’s Hooked On Swing, and although it will climb to #32, I can’t tell which is worse.
Junior – Too Late (debuted 6/12/82, peaked at #102)
British soul singer Junior Giscombe reached the Top 40 with that sweet ass jam Mama Used To Say in early 1982. It only reached #30, so it was probably too much to ask this one which is just as great, to do much better than a #102 showing. It will reach #8 on the Soul charts and #20 in the UK.
Fun Fact: Junior was a member of the Red Wedge, a group of British artists such as Paul Weller and Billy Bragg who formed in 1985 to help enthuse young voters to become engaged with the Labour Party campaign.
Jethro Tull – Fallen On Hard Times (debuted 6/12/82, peaked at #108)
Named after the seed drill inventor, this prog band led by flutist Ian Anderson fell on hard times in the 80s, with an ever-shuffling lineup per album release. Their last chart hit was in 1977, with the #59 peak of The Whistler. This Bubbler from The Broadsword and The Beast was the closest they would ever come to the Hot 100 again. However, the decade wasn’t all bad for the Tull because they’ll win the first Best Hard Rock/Metal Performace Grammy in seven years from now.