Man, do we have a lot of tunes that missed the Hot 100 during chart week thirty in the 80s. We’re just gonna focus on the Bubbler, the near misses from 1980, 1981, and (some of) 1982.
France Joli – This Time (I’m Giving All I’ve Got) (debuted 7/26/1980, peaked #103)
From her debut album, sixteen-year-old France Joli had a Top 20 hit in 1979, Come To Me. So she thought it best to alienate her fans and put out a ballad when she released her follow-up, Tonight. Needless to say, Pop radio didn’t bite. Luckily for her, the fanbase forgave her, so long as she churned out danceable singles, none of which would crossover.
Grace Slick – Dreams (debuted 7/26/1980, peaked #104)
The Chrome Nun released her second solo album during a brief hiatus from Jefferson Starship, with no help from her current band members. The album garnered her a Best Rock Female Vocalist Grammy nomination and reached #32 on the Billboard Top Albums chart. The lead single, Seasons, only climbed to #95 while its follow-up, the title track, remained as a Bubbler.
Spyro Gyra – Percolator (debuted 7/26/1980, peaked #105)
Here’s the fusion pride of Buffalo, a jazz quintet whose music has entertained us many times during the Weather on the 8s segments of the Weather Channel. Their third album, Catching The Sun, hit #1 on the Jazz charts, and the title track had already reached #68. This peppy follow-up didn’t even get any Maxwell House endorsements.
Stephen Bishop & Yvonne Elliman – Your Precious Love (debuted 7/26/1980, peaked #105)
And now, from the soundtrack of the absolute mess of a film starring Meat Loaf called Roadie comes a yachty version of the Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell 1967 classic from two artists who released a lot of movie songs between them. Bishop still had a Tootsie left in him, but Elliman was done as the decade turned as her career felt the love pains.
Exile – You’re Good For Me (debuted 7/26/1980, peaked #105)
After hitting the top of the charts in late 1978 with Kiss You All Over, this sextet had no idea what they wanted to be or sound like for years. Here we find them in their Westcoast phase, ripping off a Roger Voudouris tune. By 1983, they fully commit to Nashville and rack up ten Country #1s.
RCR – Give It To You (debuted 7/26/1980, peaked #108)
RCR is short for Rhodes, Chalmers, and Rhodes, a two-women (sisters), one-man trio of background session singers. They got their chance at fame with their 1980 LP, Scandal, whose title track clipped the Hot 100 at #94. This funky follow-up pop tune was probably deemed to Disco for Top 40 playlists. If it sounds like a Bee Gees outtake, it’s because Bee Gee keyboardist Blue Weaver co-produced the track.
Van Halen – So This Is Love? (debuted 8/1/1981, peaked #110)
Van Halen started off their career with a few Top 40 hits in the late 70s. Then Pop programmers went soft, and VH’s singles didn’t get much chance for Top 40 airplay. This was the only single from their fourth album, Fair Warning, to sniff the Hot 100, even though four of its tracks got lots of Rock airplay. It’s easy to forget how great a band they were, and songs that can swing easy and rock hard can only be mastered by a few.
Stacy Lattisaw – Don’t Throw It All Away (debuted 7/31/1982, peaked #101)
And now we’ve reached the Soul portion of the Bubblers, the 80s R&B that was continuously kicked to the curb. The D.C. teenager had a few Top 30 hits in 1981 but then got locked out in 1982 with the release of her Narada Michael Walden-produced LP, Sneakin’ Out. This 60’s styled ballad would reach the R&B Top 10.
Stephanie Mills – Last Night (debuted 7/31/1982, peaked #101)
The production team behind her 1980 smash – James Mtume & Reggie Lucas – produced this track from her sixth album, Tantalizingly Hot. This would be her fourth and last collaboration with the duo. #14 on the R&B charts will be the peak for this slab of synth-funk.
Deniece Williams – Waiting By The Hotline (debuted 7/31/1982, peaked #103)
Niecy follows her up Top Ten cover of the Royalettes’ It’s Gonna Take a Miracle with this sweet midtempo ballad co-written and produced by Thom Bell. Released from her sixth album titled after her nickname, this track will rise to #29 on the Soul charts.
Nazareth – Love Leads To Madness (debuted 7/31/1982, peaked #105)
Sweet Jesus. It’s Nazareth, still trying to shake off their one-hit-wonder label. The Scottish lads had released their thirteenth album, 2XS, in 1982. This was the lead single and, in my opinion, good enough to break the curse. But alas, it ends up as a Bubbler even as it reached #3 in South Africa.
The second half shall be forthcoming. Until then, here’s Prince.