We have another large batch of singles Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s, so we’re breaking it up again. Let’s review the first half of chart week thirty-three.
Holly Penfield – Only His Name (debuted 8/16/1980, peaked at #105)
Holly was a singer-songwriter who got her start in San Francisco in the mid-60s singing with the garage rock band, Fifth St. Exit. By the time of her debut in 1980, Full Grown Child, she had moved on to New Wave pop. Her closest attempt at success was this Phil Spector-inspired ballad which could have reached a few more ears with more promotional push. But it was released on Dreamland Records, a subsidiary of RSO, which was flushing its 1978 profits down the toilet.
Earl Klugh – Doc (debuted 8/16/1980, peaked at #105)
Earl was a jazz fusion guitarist from Detroit who nabbed his first Grammy nomination (for Best Jazz Fusion performance) for his sixth album, Dream Come True. If you listen to this song and think, which TV show is this from, don’t tax your brain too hard. It’s not a TV theme, although it sure sounds like one. This bouncy instrumental is a tribute to percussion player/ bandleader Leonard Gibbs Jr. This was the closest Klugh ever came to landing on the Hot 100, although I think Twinkle from his next LP, Crazy For You could have done the trick.
Joyce Cobb – How Glad I Am (debuted 8/16/1980, peaked at #107)
Here’s a lady who just missed the Top 40 in early 1980, with her disco single, Dig The Gold, which peaked at #42. Her next closest visit was this buried treasure, a mellow-funk cover of the 1964 Nancy Wilson hit. Joyce went on to greater acclaim as a jazz singer, specifically in Memphis. In the mid-90s, there was a club on Beale Street called Joyce Cobb’s and by 1996 she was added to the Beale Street Walk of Fame.
Rob Hegel – Tommy, Judy & Me (debuted 8/16/1980, peaked at #109)
This is the kind of single that should win the Bubbling Under Gold medal. It’s such a weirdly constructed Pop rock song with a chorus that comes out of nowhere and an arrangement that gets in the way of the tune’s hook. It would have been perfect for a show like Glee to cover had he not been singing about how he and his friend love banging random chics in the backseat of their car with schoolmate Judy, their next exploit. Although we find out this five-foot diamond in the rough has the upper hand with the boys and might be into S&M. Also, there’s a dose of racism, sexism, misogyny, and a possible school shooting attempt by Tommy that’s quickly averted by his friend. It makes for an interesting song, but it scared the folks at American Bandstand away. Frankly, it’s an awkward twenty seconds that has nothing to do with the song but hits too close to home. Rob would smooth it out five years later and co-write Air Supply’s last Top 40 hit, Just As I Am.
Carl Wilson – Heaven (debuted 8/22/1981, peaked at #107)
With all of the Beach Boys’ success, the only one who had a Top 40 hit was Brian. And that was once, back in 1966, with Caroline, No [#32], a track from the group’s Pet Sounds album credited only to him. Carl definitely had the voice to do it, just not the right song. This single was released from Carl’s self-titled debut, a beautiful ballad that still became a Bubbler.
The Producers – What’s He Got? (debuted 8/22/1981, peaked at #108)
Some breaks just don’t go your way. Here’s some Power pop from an Atlanta quartet that really should have broken through, and they had a good promotional push. Their first single from their debut, What She Does, climbed to #61, but this frenetic follow-up disappeared. Personally, I dig this one better. Also, if you live in the Southeast or near Madison, WI, a Producers reunion show may pop up from time to time.
Voggue – Dancin’ The Night Away (debuted 8/22/1981, peaked at #109)
And now for some leftover throwback Disco from a Canadian duo that owes its sound to the late 70s European machine sound. Weird to think that by 1981 that it was clearly out of date. Even still, it will spend three weeks at #1 on the Disco Top 80 charts.
Phil Gentili – Mama Lied (debuted 8/22/1981, peaked at #110)
Another lost single by an artist who’s hard to find. All that’s known is that this was the first of two solo 45s this Boston-based singer-songwriter recorded. It’s a contemporary version of a 50’s style ballad, and I’m surprised it even shows up here. Tower of Power found it and recorded their version for their 1993 album, T.O.P.
Are all of the singles of 1982 in these last few weeks good enough to have them cruise up to the Hot 100? Or was there a lack of releases and space to fill? You read Billboard and judge for yourself.
Zapp – I Can Make You Dance (debuted 8/20/1983, peaked at #102)
Yes, it’s the requisite funk and soul that misses out on the blanched-out Pop playlists of the early 80s. No matter, the second single from Zapp III will reach #4 on the R&B charts and be sampled on numerous hip-hop jams by Erick Sermon, Guy, and Naughty By Nature.
Ministry – I Wanted To Tell Her (debuted 8/20/1983, peaked at #106)
Of all the great Ministry tunes out there, I can’t believe this is the one to get closest to crossing over to the Hot 100. Not Work For Love, Revenge, or Halloween. This one. It’s a great dance tune, but just not the one I think of from these folks when describing them. Featuring lead vocals by Shay Jones, it will peak at #13 on the Dance/Disco Top 80.
I got to see them live once during the first run of Lollapolooza. I can’t remember if it was great or not. All I remember was the twenty-minute paper cup shower on the audience.
Part two coming up in two and two.