We’re up to chart week forty in our review of 80s singles that were Bubbling Under the Hot 100. Let’s take a look at what we have this week.
Joni Mitchell – Why Do Fools Fall In Love (debuted on 10/4/1980, peaked at #102)
Joni released her second live album, Shadows and Light, in 1980. This was recorded in September 1979 at the Santa Monica Bowl during the Mingus tour. For the title track and this Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers #1956 classic, she brought out the R&B group, The Persuaders, to back her up. Had critics not been so down on her work during this period, they might have given this fun cover a better chance.
Roxy Music – Oh Yeah (On The Radio) (debuted on 10/4/1980, peaked at #102)
Bryan Ferry and the boys reached #80 with the lead single from their seventh album, Flesh & Blood. This mid-tempo tune was the follow-up release, a pleasant mix of New Wave and island rhythms which reached #5 in the UK. In the States, it will be the first of four 80s Bubblers for the group.
Lenny Williams – Ooh Child (debuted on 10/4/1980, peaked at #109)
Lenny was the lead singer of the horn rock band Tower of Power, taking them into the Top 40 three times. But when he officially went solo in 1976, it was all Bubblers for the poor dude, five in total. Until he hooked up with Kenny G in 1987 for the #15 hit, Don’t Make Me Wait For Love. The slowed-down cover of the Five Stairsteps 1970 smash was from his sixth album, Let’s Do It Today.
Tubes – Talk To Ya Later (debuted on 10/10/1981, peaked at #101)
After four albums on A&M Records, The Tubes retained a devoted fan base but not many monetary gains. And those bills were piling up, keeping seven band members on the payroll. After an appearance in 1980’s Xanadu, the group signed with Capitol Records, who insisted on some commercial success to keep their contract. The band asked Bobby Colomby to produce the album, bringing in David Foster to take over. David co-wrote the first single, Don’t Want To Wait Anymore, and the power ballad reached #35. Next up was this single, a track co-written by David with the band along with Steve Lukather, who plays additional guitars. It was one of his first co-writes outside of Toto. The track got lots of Rock airplay reached #6 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Teddy Baker – It’s Over (debuted on 10/10/1981, peaked at #101)
Teddy and his band were popular in Atlanta in the late 70/ early 80s, enough to get a notice from fellow Southern singer Paul Davis. He brought him to Casablanca Records for this one-off single that Paul co-produced and featured his keyboard playing. This is a missed opportunity by pop programmers, a tune that splits the difference between Paul & the Atlanta Rhythm Section, tailor-made for soft 81 charts. A lost 45, for sure.
Rodney Crowell – Stars On The Water (debuted on 10/10/1981, peaked at #105)
When people tell me that they like all kinds of music except for Country, I tell them to take a listen to any of Rodney’s first three albums. He’s one of my favorites of that era, and I wish songs like these received more Pop airplay. This was the lead single from his self-titled third album, which features wife Rosanne Cash on backing vocals and Vince Gill on guitar. The LP also showcases the original version of Shame on the Moon, which Bob Seger took to #2 in 1983.
Poco – Ghost Town (debuted on 10/9/1982, peaked at #108)
Just in time for Halloween, Paul Cotton, Rusty Young the fellas release their fifteenth album and second of 1982. The title track was the first 45 spun off to radio and record stores. More melancholy than spooky, this should have received more spins but will end up as a lost Westcoast AOR track. The follow-up, Shoot For The Moon, will do better, peaking at #50.
Willie Nelson with Waylon Jennings – Take It To The Limit (debuted on 10/8/1983, peaked at #102)
Willie & Waylon threw out their third duets album in 1983 using the Eagles’ hit as its title. From the sound of it and the way the critics thumbed their nose at it, it was an apropos title. They had reached their limit. Then again, I would rather hear Willie sing this than hear Randy Meisner and think of the emotional abuse he had to endure from Glenn Frey every night performing it live.
Miquel Brown – So Many Men, So Little Time (debuted on 10/8/1983, peaked at #107)
I’m surprised that more Hi-NRG/ Eurodisco tracks didn’t become popular when New Wave took hold in the early 80s. What was New Wave dance music but sped up synth-laden 60s soul? This track was co-written and co-produced by Ian Levine, a notable Northern Soul DJ in the 70s, spinning for years at Blackpool Mecca.
Alicia Myers – You Get The Best From Me (Say, Say, Say) (debuted on 10/6/1984, peaked at #105)
Here’s a Detroit singer who was part of Al Hudson’s group, the Soul Partners, and eventually, One Way. She left in 1981 for a solo career, and by 1984 she was on album number four, I Appreciate. This was her signature song and biggest hit on the R&B and Dance charts, reaching the Top 5 on both. If Maze isn’t playing at your barbecue, then it’s only because this is instead.
Smokey Robinson – I Can’t Find (debuted on 10/10/1981, peaked at #109)
Smokey is a legend, an icon, and he’s one of my favorite singers. I know that singles like these aren’t his best work, but his voice can still melt the chill in the heart and cool the anger in my mind, no matter what he sings. That’s why I have no idea why Pop radio ignored him for most of his solo career. Looking at the stats, it’s an indisputable fact that his solo work was ignored mainly by Pop radio. Over an eighteen-year chart period, where he placed twenty-five singles on the Hot 100, nine hit the Top 40, and only three of those climbed into the Top 10. He has more than double the Bubblers  than Top 10 hits. But that also doesn’t mean I sanction a Doja Cat or Da’Baby duet either.