Back On The Beat

We’re feeling the heat of Summer as we reach chart week twenty-seven in our review of 80s singles Bubbling Under the Hot 100. We have an excellent group of New Wave tunes and, as always, some forgotten R&B.

Al Jarreau – Never Givin’ Up (debuted 7/5/1980, peaked at #102)

Al was four albums deep when he finally crossed over to the R&B charts with this single from the Jay Graydon-produced This Time, a #1 Jazz album. It will also garner him a Best Male R&B Vocal Grammy nomination and will set up his Pop breakthrough with Breakin’ Away.

J.C. Cunningham – The Pyramid Song (debuted 7/5/1980, peaked at #104)

Here’s a country novelty record sung in the style of Jim Stafford or early Charlie Daniels. But it didn’t have near the success of either of those two artists. In fact, outside of Bernie Madoff, I don’t know who else even bought this 45. JC would write a few Country hits, namely David Allan Coe’s Mona List Lost Her Smile.

Def Leppard – Rock Brigade (debuted 7/5/1980, peaked at #106)

Time for the Sheffield, England quintet who constantly tried to go through the metal door even though they were better characterized as hard rock. From their debut, On Through The Night, this single was their first attempt at the US  market. It wouldn’t be until three years later that producer Mutt Lange would inject a little pop into their sound, resulting in their first hit, Photograph.

Ian Hunter – We Gotta’ Get Out Of Here (debuted 7/5/1980, peaked at #108)

The former frontman of Mott The Hoople continued to climb onto the charts as a solo act and finally managed a #68 peak with Just Another Night from 1979’s You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic. And in the 70s, with a bit of success comes either a greatest hits compilation or a double live LP. Ian opted for the latter and kept side four open for some new studio recordings, of which this rocker is one.

Congrats to the class of 1981, chart week 27, especially the song Tempted by Squeeze, which debuts as a Bubbler and will scuttle onto charts cheating its way up to #49. It remains the band’s signature song even though it has two other Top 40 hits.

Squeeze – Black Coffee In Bed (debuted 7/10/1982, peaked at #103)

Keeping the R&B vibe of the former tune but moving on from the Paul Carrack vocals, here’s the first single from the UK quintet’s fifth album, Sweets From A Stranger. This New Wave classic featured backing vocals from Paul Young and Elvis Costello, neither of whom had a Top 40 hit under their belt at the time. One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands.

Roxy Music – Take A Chance With Me (debuted 7/10/1982, peaked at #104)

Roxy’s eighth and final album, Avalon, was their third UK #1. This was the third single released from it which reached #26 over in England. It wasn’t as catchy as More Than This but still worthy of a better showing than as a 1982 Bubbler. But this was never going to best anything from the Air Supply department as far as Pop radio was concerned.

Heaven 17 – We Live So Fast (debuted 7/9/1983, peaked at #102)

Ian Craig Marsh & Martyn Ware were founding members of the Human League. But by 1980, they couldn’t take being boiled any longer and split to form their own synth-pop band, Heaven 17. Officially a trio with lead singer Glenn Gregory, they racked up seven Top 40hits in the UK but only one chart hit in the US [Let Me Go, #74]. This speedy dance single, also from the album, The Luxury Gap,  got close to the Hot 100, but it died as it lived.

Ultravox – Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (debuted 7/7/1984, peaked at #108)

Midge Ure became famous for co-founding Band Aid and then, Live Aid in the mid-80s. But he was also the lead singer of a pretty good New Wave outfit that netted seventeen Top40 singles in the UK. The closest they ever got in the States was Reap The Wild Wind in 1982. This 45 was even better than that and barely even bubbled. It reached #3 in England and the Top 10 in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Kid Creole & The Coconuts – My Male Curiosity (debuted 7/7/1984, peaked at #110)

What an odd choice to have August Darnell and his 40s-style trio of coconut ladies perform in the Jeff Bridges film, Against All Odds. I’m cool with it. Any chance to see them perform. Unfortunately, their placement in the movie and the soundtrack did not help elevate their status. Their only chart single will be as guests of Barry Manilow on the #90 peak of Hey Mambo in 1988. If you want to know what they’re all about, pick up a copy of their 1982 LP, Wise Guy, which has three of their best songs: Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy, I’m A Wonderful Thing, Baby and Stool Pigeon.

Gwen Guthrie – Padlock (debuted 7/6/1985, peaked at #102)

The first lady of the Paradise Garage is back with another post-disco Bubbler. It’s a great upbeat dance song that could have easily fit in on Pop radio during the Summer of 1985. Initially recorded for Gwen’s 1983 album, Portrait, and produced by Sly & Robbie, it received a special remix by DJ Larry Levan. It will climb to #25 on the R&B charts.

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