We’ve made it to chart week twenty-five in our review of the singles Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s. It’s a light week, so congrats to those who go out. Let’s see who didn’t make it.
Brick – All The Way (debuted 6/21/1980, peaked at #106)
The Atlanta funk quintet that gave us Dazz and Dusic hit a wall at the turn of the decade. This mid-tempo groover owes a bit of debt to those late 70s Raydio hits, albeit with grittier lead vocals. The lead track from their fourth album, Waiting On You, will reach #38 on the Soul charts. Push Push, the funkier follow-up, will do a little better.
Split Enz – One Step Ahead (debuted 6/27/1981, peaked at #104)
This New Zealand quintet’s sixth release, Waiata, Maori for singing, spawned the band’s second Top 10 hit in Australia. It’s one of my favorite songs of theirs and writer Neil Finn’s. But a track this downtempo wasn’t going to break through the Bette Davis Eyes wall that Pop radio was erecting.
Also, if it seemed weird to you that Neil Finn and Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers filled in for Lindsey Buckingham’s spot in Fleetwood Mac recently, consider that Split Enz opened for Tom Petty in 1981.
Bram Tchaikovsky – Shall We Dance? (debuted 6/27/1981, peaked at #109)
The former guitarist of the UK New Wave quartet The Motors had a surprise Top 40 in 1979 called Girl of My Dreams with a band that was also his stage name, kinda like Alice Cooper or Sade. But as the charts quickly softened in the early 80s, it was hard to get another song to break through the Pop cheese. This Power pop track from his third album, Funland, was his last stand before quitting the music industry.
Rich Little – President’s Rap (debuted 6/26/1982, peaked at #105)
Rich Little, the man of a thousand voices, is here to destroy America’s last musical art form. If you don’t know who Little is, consider yourself lucky. When it comes to roasts, he was to Dean Martin’s as Jeffrey Ross is to Comedy Central’s. Someone had the great idea in 1981 to do another installment of Vaughn Meader’s The First Family, but have Rich do the Ronnie Reagan part. Wait, it gets worse. Then Boardwalk Records decided to take a bunch of the “comedy bits” and insert them over the band War performing Tom Tom Club’s Genius of Love. And they didn’t even bother to credit the songwriters. It’s a cringe-worthy mess.
Fun fact: Michael Richards plays Ron Jr. on the cover, but the voice of a psychiatrist on the album.
Bill LaBounty – Never Gonna Look Back (debuted 6/26/1982, peaked at #110)
Bill LaBounty is a WestCoast legend. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always pay the bills. Thankfully Michael Johnson covered his 1978 #65 hit This Night Won’t Last Forever and took it into the Top 20 in 1979. This single was the last time Bill would get close to the Hot 100 again. And it’s from an album, his fourth, which in my opinion is his absolute best. Recorded with the best L.A. studio musicians of the day, this ballad will be his highest-charting single on the AC charts, peaking at #22. Warner Bros./Curb Records screwed up when they couldn’t get this or one of the three best tracks on LP on the radio: Dream On, Livin’ It Up, or Look Who’s Lonely Now.
After this release, Bill moved over to Nashville and wrote some big hits for Steve Wariner, such as the #1s, Lynda, and I Got Dreams.
Deniece Williams – Do What You Feel (debuted 6/25/1983, peaked at #102)
Niecy’s seventh album, I’m So Proud, was named after the 1964 Curtis Mayfield-penned hit by the Impressions, which she covers on the LP. This single was the lead 45, written by Willaims and produced by George Duke. The track, which will reach #9 on the R&B charts, has a familiar sound to it, mainly because the intro sounds like this hit, and the chorus sounds like this one. Of course, the chorus also reminds me of this Ashford & Simpson tune recorded five years previous.
Roger Glover – The Mask (debuted 6/23/1984, peaked at #102)
I think it’s obvious that Roger had a wild dream or a bad trip and thought it was a good idea to turn it into a misguided NEw Wave attempt. But the Deep Purple bassist might have been wiser to write it down and share it with a shrink instead. Instead, we get a very 80s production and an offensive video – a NatGeo clip gone awry.
Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere (debuted 6/22/1985, peaked at #105)
Let’s end on a high note from a band who knew how to make interesting videos. This was the lead single from the quartet’s 1985 LP, Little Creatures, their sixth, featuring a cover designed by Howard Finster. And like Once In a Lifetime before it, this classic too will languish under the charts. This will be a hit in many other countries, including the Top 10 in Germany, New Zealand, and the UK. David Byrne finished his American Utopia performance with this track, and for the Spike Lee film, he takes his band through the audience while they performed it.