We’re up to chart week thirty-two in our review of those singles that were Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s. Let’s take a look.
The Chipmunks – You May Be Right (debuted 8/9/1980, peaked at #101)
This is the stupidest novelty that will not die. What seemed cute or mildly funny (after twenty Mai Tais) in 1958 has been highly annoying ever since. The nadir of the Chipmunk unpleasantry was 1980’s Chipmunk Punk album, one of the rodents’ countless reboots, which contained grating covers of current pop songs (aka no punk at all). Take the last five seconds of Godley & Creme’s Cry, apply that vocal to any song, and feel your ears bleed profusely. I guarantee when Billy Joel heard this, that rock surely left his hand.
This almost charted on the Hot 100, folks. Worse, the album went Gold by October. If you find yourself minutes from the apocalypse, find their version of The Knack’s Good Girls Don’t and play it. Everything that comes after that will feel like paradise.
Ronnie Milsap – Cowboys and Clowns (debuted 8/9/1980, peaked at #103)
Here’s one of a zillion Country #1s [actually, his 15th, at the time] that Ronnie will garner in his career. This ballad will be featured on the soundtrack to the Clint Eastwood film Bronco Billy, which was the seventh one he directed.
Photoglo – When Love Is Gone (debuted 8/9/1980, peaked at #106)
Singer-songwriter Jim Photoglo released his debut under his last name and nabbed a mellow Top 40 hit, We Were Meant To Be Lovers. His follow-up was even wispier and disappeared like the air after a newly-poured Sprite’s bubbles pop. Like most Pop stars do when they fall out of favor, Jim will move over to Nashville and write #1 hits for Alabama.
Fred Knoblock – Memphis (debuted 8/15/1981, peaked at #102)
Fred scored a Top 20 hit in 1980 with Why Not Me. Then he followed it up with an unlikely duet with Susan Anton, assisting her on her debut album. Killin’ Time would reach the Top 30. After that, his career started to fizzle up, beginning with his lifeless cover of the 1959 Chuck Berry classic. Fred’s was more aligned by the Johnny Rivers version with reached #2 in 1964. Unfortunately, Marie hung up the phone on him.
Foghat – Live Now-Pay Later (debuted 8/15/1981, peaked at #102)
The name “foghat” was a made-up word by guitarist Dave Peverett back in the early 70s. Now it means out-of-touch overblown classic rock. By the time of their eleventh album, Girls To Chat and Boys To Bounce, the group expanded to a quintet, adding keyboardist Nick Jameson, but their sound had to evolve beyond mumbly blues guitar caveman stomps.
George Harrison – Teardrops (debuted 8/15/1981, peaked at #102)
What is an ex-Beatle doing here? First, let’s remember that George was done with the music industry by the mid-70s. Whatever the greedy hands and the hounding press didn’t take from him, the My Sweet Lord copyright infringement suit surely did. Also of note, in 1980, Warner Brothers rejected his original submittal of Somewhere in England. Two months later, his friend was murdered, prompting Harrison to rework a tune he gave Ringo as a tribute to John he could record himself. All Those Years Ago would reach #2. This was the follow-up, also written as a commercial attempt. It’s amazing that the record suits forced a song like this out of George and then failed to push it as a single.
Jody Moreing – All Girls Want It (debuted 8/15/1981, peaked at #103)
Now here’s a lost 45. There’s not a lot out there about Jody, but I do know this. She was in a late 60s band called Sincerely, San Jose, which changed its name to the Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band. When she left, she was replaced by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. So let’s say she’s the Bob Welch of Fritz. This single is Jody’s only known solo recording before she moved over to Christian music in the late 80s. Though she did make a few bucks writing a song on Tiffany’s debut album.
Billy Preston & Syreeta – Searchin’ (debuted 8/15/1981, peaked at #106)
The Fifth Beatle loved his duet with Syreeta Wright, With You, I’m Born Again, recorded for the film, Fast Break. A year after that film’s release, the 45’s success prompted the duo to record a full duets album a la Flack & Hathaway. But because this was on the Motown label, the promotion was bungled, so no one had a chance to hear it. This funky track was written and produced by Raydio’s Ollie Brown.
Tom Jones – What In The World’s Come Over You (debuted 8/15/1981, peaked at #109)
Here’s Tom doubling down on the Country thing in 1981. I grew up hearing him played in my house a lot as a kid, but thankfully my folks spared me this era where he sounds like a parody of himself. This will be the second Bubbler from The Country Side of Tom Jones, a cover of Jack Scott’s #5 smash in 1960. Tom’s will reach #25 on the Country chart.
All the songs that debuted as Bubblers during this chart week in 1982 made it onto the Hot 100, including Josie Cotton’s He Could Be The One.
Mary Jane Girls – All Night Long (debuted 8/13/1983, peaked at #101)
Don’t tell me Soul music wasn’t being shut out by Pop programmers in the 80s? The Mary Jane Girls had four singles from their debut remain as Bubblers, including this stone-cold classic. This was the jam back in the day, and that cliche doesn’t remotely cover how cool it was. When it came to producing Female groups, Rick was better at it than Prince was, and this was proof. This made it to #11 on the R&B charts and #13 in the UK, so what gives Top 40? In the 90s, it will show up in the Top 10 as a sample in LL Cool J’s Around the Way Girl and Groove Theory’s Tell Me.
Fun fact: To be fair, that sweet bassline and groove were “borrowed” (I’m being nice) from Keni Burke’s 1982 single, Risin’ To The Top.
Southside Johnny & The Jukes – New Romeo (debuted 8/11/1984, peaked at #103)
This was the Asbury Park band that didn’t make it out. It’s not for the lack of good songs as this one from the Nile Rodgers-produced seventh album, Trash It Up, is. It’s also the first to drop the “Asbury” from their name. Some just don’t get the breaks.
Fun Fact: For those that don’t know, the band was co-founded by Steven Van Zandt (y’know, the dude from Lilyhammer). Even when he left in the mid70s to join the E Street Band, he still collaborated and performed with the group.
The System – The Pleasure Seekers (debuted 8/10/1985, peaked at #108)
Keyboardist David Frank met singer Mic Murphy while both were on tour with the funk band, Kleeer, the former as a session musician, and the latter as road manager. They formed The System, and by 1985, they were three albums deep with one catchy charting single (You Are In My System, #64) and this synth-funk Bubbler. In two years, they’ll hang a sign upon the door that says, “don’t disturb this groove.”
Mai Tai – History (debuted 8/10/1985, peaked at #109)
We finish with one of my favorite songs of this lot. I first found this Dutch trio’s single on an import cassette compilation, Now That’s What I Call Music 5. It compiled the biggest UK smashes from the Summer of 1985 and turned me to so many great bands, such as Scritti Politti, Fine Young Cannibals, and Simply Red. And of course, this track, which reached #8 in England, #3 on the US Dance charts, and #37 on R&B charts. After 36 years, I still have it, and it still plays.