Top 40 Metrics: The Jackson Family 1980-1981

 

Whether or not you’re a fan of the Jacksons, it feels as if their music has always been a part of the culture ever since the five brothers burst onto the scene at the beginning of 1970. But feels don’t always tell the entire story. Sometimes you gotta get analytic. I wanted to dig into their Top 40 metrics to understand how and when they made their most significant impact.

During the Me decade, the Jackson 5, later the Jacksons, nabbed nineteen Top 40 hits, four of them reaching #1, while Michael racked up six [two #1s] and Jermaine had one. That’s a total of twenty-six. They would surpass that tally in the following ten years by diversifying their talents into multiple solo careers. For each year of the 80s, there was one or more Jacksons with a radio. Let’s look at the first of the decade, starting with 1980 and 1981.

[Note: Each song is listed with its peak position and number of weeks spent in the Top 40]

1980

Michael Jackson-Rock With You [#1 (4 wks), 19 wks in Top 40]

After the first four Jackson 5 singles went to #1, the group would never hit the top again, while Michael would get there thirteen more times. This was the second #1 from his 1979 career-invigorating Off The Wall LP. Even though it entered the Top 40 during the previous late November, it would reach its zenith on January 19th, 1980, and stay there for a month.

Michael Jackson-Off The Wall [#10, 11 wks]

The title track to Michael’s album was the third straight Top 10 and the second written by Heatwave’s Rod Temperton.

Michael Jackson-She’s Out Of My Life [#10, 11 wks]

This is the fourth and final Top 10 single from Off The Wall. It was written by Tom Bahler. He wrote a Top 10 single for Bobby Sherman called Julie, Do Ya Love Me. It peaked at #5 just as the Jackson 5 debuted on the Hot 100 at #40 with I’ll Be There. Tom will also be a part of the USA for Africa project as an associate producer.

Jermaine Jackson-Let’s Get Serious [#9, 14 wks]

Jermaine’s solo career needed a giant boost at the turn of the decade. Maybe this Stevie Wonder-penned track was the self-motivation he was looking for. It will crack the Pop Top 10, matching the high of his previous hit, Daddy’s Home, at #9. It will also spend six weeks atop the Soul charts.

Jermaine Jackson-You’re Supposed To Keep Your Love For Me [#34, 4 wks]

This sweet little ballad was also written by Stevie Wonder but will stall near the bottom of the Top 40. The Let’s Get Serious album was Jermaine’s most successful and even featured backing vocals by his first wife Hazel, Berry Gordy’s oldest daughter

The Jacksons-Lovely One [#12, 9 wks]

The smoke hadn’t even settled from the Off The Wall fire before the Jacksons were back in the studio recording their follow-up to 1978’s Destiny. Triumph was released in October, and this was their first single, co-written by Michael and Rany. This is my favorite album of theirs, and I find it their most consistent. I think the lack of Top 10 hits could be due to the overexposure of multiple Jacksons or the still rolling Disco backlash. Nevertheless, the family racked up six Top 40 hits, which spent a total of 68 weeks in the Top 40. Not a bad way to start the 1980s.

1981

The Jacksons-Heartbreak Hotel [#22, 8 wks]

1981 was definitely the lightest year of Jackson influence on the charts as their second Triumph 45 would only reach #22. Maybe it was because Elvis’ estate forced them to change the title to This Place Hotel, which sounds stupid. Two more singles, Can You Feel It and Walk Right Now, were released but only reached #77 and #73, respectively.

Jermaine couldn’t capitalize on his serious fortune as his follow-up album, I Like Your Style, tanked, and its lead single, I’m Just Too Shy, reached #60.

The Jacksons embarked on a three-month tour supporting the Triumph LP culminating in a live album released in November.

After the work with his brothers was done for a while, Michael knew he had to up his solo game. So he convened with Quincy Jones once The Dude sessions were finished to work on his next masterpiece.

An aside: Sister Janet had yet to begin her recording career. But after a few years watching her on Good Times, she started showing up on Diff’rent Strokes in late 1980 as Willis’ girlfriend, Charlene.

Next: 1982 will be a big year in the Jackson household, but it will take most of the year before anyone realizes it.

Say It Again In the Land of the Free

We have reached the end of our review of singles Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s.

Let’s wrap it up and first take a gander at chart week fifty-one.

Lord Williams on Twitter: "@rembert reminded me of the Dave Chapelle  episode with the wrap it up button. Lol https://t.co/cKtdhlHbno" / Twitter

Atlanta Rhythm Section – Silver Eagle (debuted 12/20/1980, peaked at #101)

ARS couldn’t carry any of their 70s mojo into 1980 and ended up with two Bubblers from their ninth album, The Boys From Doraville – I Ain’t Much and this one, which was the follow-up. It was a solid album, but maybe it was missing that extra special something with drummer and lyricist Robert Nix getting “nixed’ from the band {So that’s where that phrase comes from…] They’ll be back in the Top 30 next Fall with Alien.

Devo – Freedom Of Choice (debuted 12/20/1980, peaked at #103)

The follow-up to the Akron, OH quintet’s platinum single, Whip It was this equally catchy synth-rock single and the title track to their third LP. This track which talks about the concept of free will becoming a burden in a land with so many options, will climb to #8 on the Dico Top 100.

Captain & Tennille – This Is Not The First Time (debuted 12/20/1980, peaked at #106)

Even though this duo hit #1 at the beginning of the year with Do That To Me One More Time, they were still trying to shake their wholesome image. So they decided to go the soft porn route, which I’m sure was indulged by Casablanca president Neil Bogart. Had folks only realized back then that Toni sang back-up vocals on the year’s biggest release, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, maybe she wouldn’t have had to hang out naked in saunas with just a small towel covering her to move some records.

Fun fact: During the release of C&T’s fifth album, Keeping Our Love Warm, Toni was on TV hosting her own syndicated talk show, The Toni Tennille Show. Here’s the episode from the week of this 45’s Bubbler debut.

Bobby Hart – Lovers For The Night (debuted 12/20/1980, peaked at #110)

With songwriting partner Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart wrote some big hits in the 60s, such as Come a Little Bit Closer for Jay & the Americans and Hurt So Bad for Little Anthony & the Imperials. They also wrote hits for the Monkees, such as (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone and Valleri and a smash for themselves in early 1968, I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight, which reached #8. After many years of performing with Tommy, Bobby released his first solo album in late 1979. When that bombed, he switched labels from WEA to Ariola and recorded this ballad, a mere bubblin’ blip at the end of the year.

ZZ Top – Tube Snake Boogie (debuted 12/26/1981, peaked at #103)

The Texas trio was winding down the first half of their career by their seventh album, El Loco. Their initial use of synthesizers on this release would inform the direction of their sound throughout the 80s. For now, we’re still treated to analog blues-rock courtesy of Frank, Billy & Dusty. It will reach #4 on the Mainstream Rock charts.

Grover Washington Jr. with Patti LaBelle – The Best Is Yet To Come (debuted 12/25/1982, peaked at #104)

Along with Bill Withers, Grover came up with the perfect tune that mixed soul, jazz, and pop in 1981 when Just the Two Of Us climbed to #2. He never got that close again and ended with two more Bubblers, this one representing the title track from his fourteenth LP. This Quiet Storm ballad sung by Patti Labelle and synth work from co-writer Dexter Wansel will peak at #14 on the R&B charts.

Madonna – Everybody (debuted 12/25/1982, peaked at #107)

And this is where it all began. A simple dance song that would be Madonna’s only Hot 100 miss until Bedtime Story in 1995. Nothing on this track tells the listener that you are hearing the most significant female artist of the 80s. She added that element by fusing an ever-evolving video image with business smarts and her ambition. This will rise to #3 on the Dance/Disco Top 80.

Fun fact: Her follow-up, Burning Up, which I prefer, will not even become a Bubbler. But because of its strength in the clubs, it convinced Sire Records to record an entire album with her. And the rest is…..

Stacy Lattisaw – Hey There Lonely Boy (debuted 12/25/1982, peaked at #108)

I love Eddie Holman’s 1969 recording of this song, which reached #2 in early 1970. And even though it was initially recorded by Ruby & the Romantics as “lonely boy,” and I think it plays better as “lonely girl,” But I understand Stacy’s choice in covering it because it’s a great song ad she sells the hell out of it. Unfortunately, she will only chart at #71 on the R&B charts.

Jennifer Holliday – Just Let Me Wait (debuted 12/24/1983, peaked at #103)

Effie’s follow-up to the #49 song, I Am Love, from her debut, Feel My Soul, is a nice little soul boogie track that will climb to #24 on the R&B charts but keep her a one-hit-wonder on the Pop charts. It was produced by Earth, Wind & Fire’s  Maurice White and features some of those synth horn riffs he’d utilize in the 80s.

Linda Ronstadt – Skylark (debuted 12/22/1984, peaked at #101)

Linda did so well with a Pop standards album, What’s New, in 1983 that she recorded another one with Nelson Riddle called Lush Life. The first single released was her version of the Johnny Mercer/ Hoagy Carmichael standard, initially recorded by Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. The song just missed charting on the Hot 100 but will peak on the AC charts at #12. It also features harmonica by Wrecking Crew member Tommy Morgan.

Fat Boys – Jail House Rap (debuted 12/22/1984, peaked at #105)

Stick ’em! Years before they tackled the Beach Boys & Chubby Checker, this hefty hip-hop trio gets their first Bubbler from their debut, the Fat Boys. Produced by Kurtis Blow, they beatboxed up to #17 on the Soul charts as the first of six R&B Top 40 hits.

There was only one year during the 80s where Bubblers appeared during chart week fifty-two. So what did 1980 chew up and spit out?

Robin Williams (Popeye) – I Yam What I Yam (debuted 12/27/1980, peaked at #104)

Robin was hot in 1980 with a big sitcom, Mork & Mindy, and a burgeoning adult comedy career. He decided to try his hand in films garnering the lead in Robert Altman’s live-action version of Popeye. It was a financial success but a critical flop. It’s an oddity that should be rewatched light-heartedly.  The soundtrack was written and produced by Harry Nilsson. So what we have here is Robin Williams singing a Harry Nilsson tune and almost having success with it.

Fun fact: For you movie buffs – the Popeye song, He Needs Me, sung by Shelley Duvall (Olive Oyl), was heavily used in the Paul Thomas Anderson film Punch-Drunk Love.

George Benson – Turn Out The Lamplight (debuted 12/27/1980, peaked at #109)

We’re gonna wrap it up with the third single from the Quincy Jones-produced album, Give Me The Night, which won three Grammy awards. One of five tracks written by Rod Temperton, it will clip #3 on the R&B charts and #9 on the AC charts for all you teeth drillers out there.

So there you have it, all of the singles that Bubbled Under the Hot 100 during the 80s. Now what? Ideas? Drop me a line.

Here With Me, Lost In the Past

It’s a short list of Bubbling Under singles from chart week fifty during the 80s. Let’s jump in and review.

Carly Simon – Take Me As I Am (debuted 12/13/1980, peaked at #102)

Here’s the follow-up single to Carly’s #11 hit, Jesse, from her ninth album, Come Upstairs. The album had a harder edge adding in more synths. And if Jesse didn’t reflect that, this song did – a straight-up rocker that was a warning to her partner about the “grasser never being greener on the other side.” Or, as Roy Munson once said…

The Manhattans – I’ll Never Find Another (Find Another Like You) (debuted 12/13/1980, peaked at #109)

After reaching #5 during the Summer with Shining Star, this vocal quartet decided to wrap up the year with a Greatest Hits collection. They recorded a few new tunes for the set, including this sprightly number which was considerably out of step for Top 40. It was a great catchy little tune, but it probably would have been more successful in 1973. This will be the final of the group’s nine Bubblers.

Carly Simon – Hurt (debuted 12/19/1981, peaked at #106)

Carly’s back with her tenth album, Torch, a collection of standards that she recorded during her divorce of James Taylor. And you can feel the pain and ache in each song, especially this one, initially recorded by Timi Yuro in 1961. Michael Brecker is playing the sax solo. An overlooked gem in her collection.

Nikki Wills – Some Guys Have All The Luck (debuted 12/19/1981, peaked at #109)

Many folks have recorded this song since it was first released by The Persuaders, who took it to #39 in late 1973. The most successful version was by Rod Stewart in 1984, who had his version climb to #10. Along the way, Robert Plamer, Maxi Priest, and Louise Mandrell gave their respective takes. And in 1981, former lead singer of the Johnny Average Band,  Nicole Wills, who first went by Nikki, threw her soft-rock shot into the ring. This seems custom-tailored for those mushy soft early-80s playlists. I could see this showing up on one of those Radio Daze compilation volumes right next to Leslie Pearl.

The Time – The Walk (debuted 12/18/1982, peaked at #104)

One of the best contributions Prince made to popular culture was writing and producing this group of talented musicians and giving us music that was as funk as his own output. It took Purple Rain to finally break these guys into the mainstream. But those first two LPs were some of the best, sophisticated slapdown funk of the period or, as Ricky Vincent described them, “refined tightness in a band.” The album version is nine-plus minutes, and you never know where the time went.

Fun fact: Denise Matthews shows up on the album version as Grace “in tight jeans,” and Prince plays a club owner with a bad Italian accent who’s about to get introduced to a headache.

Gloria Gaynor – I Am What I Am (debuted 12/17/1983, peaked at #102)

We hadn’t heard much from GG since her 1979 smash, I Will Survive, and the July Disco demolition backlash. She released three albums between 1979 and 1982, all of which were ignored. Then for her 1983 album, I Am Gloria Gaynor, she recorded this song from the Broadway musical La Cage Aux Folles (The Birdcage, to you American folks). If she wasn’t a gay icon before, she definitely was now. It will reach #3 on the Dance/Disco Top 80 charts, where she will have #1 hits into the 2000s.

Force M.D.’s – Tears (debuted 12/15/1984, peaked at #102)

I don’t think I’ve had a week where R&B bubblers were less than 50 % of the group. This week’s no exception. It makes me realize how much Soul music was out there, trying to crossover during the 80s, and percentage-wise, how little actually made it.  This vocal quintet from Staten Island will nab two Bubblers before being saved by some ‘tender love’ in 1986. This throwback ballad will become their first Soul hit, rising to #5 on the R&B charts.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – I Love You Love (debuted 12/15/1984, peaked at #105)

I thought I knew all of Joan’s 80s singles, but I didn’t remember this one. From her third album with the Blackhearts called Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth, here’s another cover from artist and convicted pedophile Gary Glitter, which had previously been #1 for him in the UK in 1973. Even though it rocks, I’m sure Joan isn’t happy that this piece of trash gets any royalties from this.

Hold On Longer If You Want

We’re up to chart week forty-nine in our review of singles Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s. Let’s see what was forgotten in the year-end mix.

Keith Sykes – Love To Ride (debuted on 12/6/1980, peaked at #108)

Keith was a singer-songwriter who recorded three albums in the 70s before Jimmy Buffet recorded a few tunes and asked him to join his Coral Reefer Band for the 1979 Volcano tour. [Keith also wrote the title track to that album.] So there was some decent momentum happening for him when he released his fourth album, I’m Not Strange, I’m Just Like You, which was picked up for release by Tom Petty’s Backstreet Records label. This single falls somewhere between Dave Edmunds and Rodney Crowell and should have been a bigger hit. Instead, it’s been credited as an early form of Americana.

Bar-Kays – Hit And Run (debuted on 12/12/1981, peaked at #101)

After this funk band’s resurrection, culminating in a #23 showing for Shake Your Rump to the Funk in early 1977, The Bar-Kays never came close to the Top 40 again. They would rack 22 R&B Top 40 hits, with ten of them reaching the Top 10, as this did when it climbed to #5.

And then there’s this, cause even the Russians knew good music when they heard it.

Kraftwerk – Numbers (debuted on 12/12/1981, peaked at #103)

Would you like to learn how to count to ten German (or French and Spanish?) using a Speak and Spell? Look no further than this track, from the eighth album, Computer World, which was nominated for a Best Rock Instrumental album Grammy. It will reach #13 on the Disco Top 80 and become a breakdancing classic.

Sue Saad – Looker (debuted on 12/12/1981, peaked at #104)

Sue was the lead singer of The Next, who had released their debut in 1980 to positive reviews. The lead single, Won’t Give It Up, will become a Bubbler at #107. The band will get an opportunity to record the title song to the 1981 Albert Finney science-fiction bomb, but it will be released under Sue’s name only. Maybe this rocker would have had a better fate if the film had done better. Kim Carnes recorded a synthier version for her 1982 LP, Voyeur.

Grand Funk Railroad – Stuck In The Middle (debuted on 12/12/1981, peaked at #108)

The Flint, MI trio split up in 1977, two years after their last Top 40 hit, Bad Time which reached #4 in 1975. Their first album in five years, Grand Funk Lives, yielded this single, which starts to sound like This Guy’s In Love With You before the rest of the band shuffles in. I think it’s a really good song with an awful release date, which explains why it didn’t get much Rock or Top 40 airplay.

Loverboy – Jump (debuted on 12/11/1982, peaked at #101)

The Vancouver quintet netted two Top 40 hits from their second album, Get LuckyWhen It’s Over, and the 80s classic Working For The Weekend. They should have been happy with that, but they kept releasing singles, including this plodding affair co-written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. And that’s called pushing your luck.

Don Felder – Bad Girls (debuted on 12/10/1983, peaked at #104)

Thanks to the Eagles documentary, History of the Eagles, we all know about Glenn Frey’s disdain for Don Felder (and probably every other Don in the world, save Henley). In the film, there’s a scene where they discuss taking away Don’s promised lead vocal on one of The Long Run tracks but privately decide against it. Instead of discussing it with him, their manager, Irving Azoff, takes him out to dinner and gives him the bad news. It’s an incredibly cowardly act, but that’s what assholes do.

Not that idea was off-base, as this single illustrates. Felder is no Henley on the mic, but he can still jam on guitar. He was allowed to be a part of the band’s big Hell Freezes Over payday but was eventually fired in 2001.

Sade – Hang On To Your Love (debuted on 12/8/1984, peaked at #102)

Man, do I love some Sade. Their first three albums, especially, are smooth, mellow affairs and paved the way for a wave of sophisticated soulful pop from the UK. Their debut album, Diamond Life, was released in the Summer of 1984 and immediately became a big hit in England. By the time their first single was released in the States, they had three UK Top 40 hits. Surprisingly, this was not one of them. While it ends up as a Bubbler here, it will reach #14on the Soul charts. Their second single, Smooth Operator, will put them on the map.

The Whispers – Contagious (debuted on 12/8/1984, peaked at #105)

Here’s another slab of synth-funk that will reach the Top 10 on the Soul charts [#10] and remain a Bubbler here [one of five 80s Bubblers]. This L.A. soul quintet could not score anything at Pop radio between 1981 and 1987, even though they released one R&B smash after another. I’m sure lots of hilarious folks that created Covid playlists in the Spring of 2020 missed this one.

Make Your Intentions Clear

 

We are post-Thanksgiving going into the holiday season on our review of singles Bubbling Under the Hot 100. During chart week forty-eight, programmers were more focused on sprinkling in some Christmas tunes into their format and preparing year-end lists rather than adding new tunes. Here are the ones they missed out on.

Jim Carroll Band – People Who Died (debuted 11/29/1980, peaked at #103)

I am surprised and delighted to see this here. And I’m assuming it’s due to 45 sales rather than any airplay. This punk paean to all the folks Jim knew in his life who passed on was never gonna make a Pop playlist. Jim wrote and published The Basketball Diaries in 1978, and encouraged by Patti Smith to try and kick his heroin habit, he moved from N.Y. to L.A. to start a band. Catholic Boy was their debut album, and this was the lead single. Jim will be immortalized in the 1995 film, The Basketball Diaries by Leonardo Dicaprio. He will die on September 11, 2009.

Fun fact: You can hear this song in the background in the movie E.T. during the scene where the kids are playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Dynasty – Do Me Right (debuted 11/29/1980, peaked at #103)

SOLAR records had the band Shalamar on their roster, but it looked like they might break up. So they created another trio, this time with two women and one man called Dynasty. But Shalamar did continue bringing in singer Howard Hewitt and producer Leon Sylvers III. When they struck gold with The Second Time Around, all resources went to them, and Dynasty was given the sloppy seconds. And that’s a shame because, with a little more effort, this funky track could have made more of an impact. It will only climb to #34 on the Soul charts.

Robert Palmer – Looking For Clues (debuted 11/29/1980, peaked at #105)

Robert’s stock and trade was to perform as many different genres as he fancied. Moving from the Caribbean flavored Double Fun LP, his sixth album, Clues, has a distinct synthy New Wave edge.  Featuring drums by Talking Heads member Chris Frantz, this track was written and produced by Palmer at Compass Studios in the Bahamas, where he was living with his family at the time. It will hit #33 in the UK.

Twennynine With Lenny White – Kid Stuff (debuted 11/29/1980, peaked at #106)

Fusion drummer Lenny White got his start recording with Miles Davis, playing on the landmark album Bitches Brew. In 1972 he formed Return To Forever with Chick Corea, playing them until they split in 1977. After three solo albums, he put together the group Twennynine, recording a trio of long plays. My favorite of theirs was 1979’s Best of Friends, which featured the title track and the #80 single, Peanut Butter.  This single was the first release from their second self-titled LP co-produced by EWF’s Larry Dunn and reached #19 on the R&B charts. Another tune too funky for Pop radio.

Peter Gabriel – I Don’t Remember (debuted 11/29/1980, peaked at #107)

The #1 song in the Country during this week this track starts bubbling was Lady by Kenny Rogers. How in the world could they ever share a Pop playlist? The first recording of this track was in the Fall of 1978 and will eventually be finalized for Peter’s third album,  referred to as Melt. It’s one of the earliest recordings to feature a Fairlight CMI synth. Reportedly this was one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite songs.

L.T.D. – Kickin’ Back (debuted 12/5/1981, peaked at #102)

One of the bands to break out of the R&B scene of Greensboro, NC, was this funky outfit that was pared down to a nonet after Jeffrey & Billy Osborne left earlier in the year. Singer Leslie Wilson joined for their eighth album, Love Magic which included this R&B Top 10 single.

Nothing from 1982 was left behind, and the one debut, at #110, ended up climbing onto the charts, peaking at #46. It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls will go on to be a dancefloor classic.

Smokey Robinson – Don’t Play Another Love Song (debuted 12/3/1983, peaked at #103)

After having two big solo hits at the start of the decade, one of the best, IMO, soul singers in the world was shut out from Pop radio until 1987. Was a certain generation so invested in their Big Chill moments that they couldn’t or wouldn’t hear Smokey sing anything new? It’s still well-produced and arranged and solidly performed even if it wasn’t Cruisin’ level or even Ooh Baby Baby. And it’s still Smokey. It was included on a new solo compilation called Blame It On Love & All The Great Hits.

Gladys Knight & The Pips – Hero (debuted 12/3/1983, peaked at #104)

In 1983, this quartet released their twenty-second album, eight years removed from their last Top 40 hit. Visions will feature, Save The Overtime For Me, their first #1 R&B hit since 1974’s I Feel A Song (in My Heart). There should have been more crossover happening than a #66 showing. This single was the third release and had already been recorded by Sheena Easton, Lou Rawls, Roger Whitaker, and others. But no one could make a Pop hit out of it. That was until Bette Midler changed the title to Wind Beneath My Wings and took it to #1 in 1989. Personally, I think Gladys’ version is the best.

Aldo Nova – Always Be Mine (debuted 12/3/1983, peaked at #107)

The pride of Montreal (after Gino Vannelli left) was back with his second album, Subject…Aldo Nova. The release will go Gold but not feature any Top 40 hits. In fact, this lead single will be the closest Aldo will get to any sort of radio airplay. He will go on to write and/or produce such artists as Faith Hill, Jon Bon Jovi, and Celine Dion.

Rick Dees – Get Nekked (debuted 12/1/1984, peaked at #104)

Eight years after Disco Duck, we still have to put up with this? Isn’t it bad enough that he subjected us to his poorly produced third-rate rip-off of American Top 40? At least programmers had some sense and closed the door on this dreck. Just kidding. They flipped the single and played Eat My Shorts instead, which rose to #75. That’s right, a better showing than any of the other worthy tunes reviewed here.

Evelyn “Champagne” King – Just For The Night (debuted 12/1/1984, peaked at #107)

The effects of the 1979 disco backlash lasted through most of the 80s. Over half of the songs, this week were by R&B artists, and most were established. It’s no wonder that the floodgates opened during the 90s. Now I admit that this is not Miss King’s best track. But with production by Rufus’ Hawk Wolinski on a song written by Patrick Leonard and Bruce Gaitsch ( maybe a warm-up for Madonna hits?), this should have seen a little more traction than a Bubbler appearance. The first single from her seventh album, So Romantic, will reach #16 on the Soul charts.

There’s Nothing Sure In This World

We have a short list of singles that were Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during chart week forty-seven. Even one of those will eventually make it out. Let’s review.

Johnny Lee – One In A Million (debuted on 11/22/1980, peaked at #102)

Johnny was one of many benefactors of the Urban Cowboy craze of the 80s, specifically because he placed Looking For Love on the soundtrack. That reached #5.  [It also helped that he played Gilley’s a lot.] This follow-up track should have kept him from being a one-hit-wonder, but he could not find any traction of Pop radio playlists. It will end up as his second #1 Country hit.

Fun fact: Johnny would marry Charlene Tilton in 1982, wowing the country as Lucy Ewing in Dallas. They would divorce in 1984. But the show played Johnny’s Looking For Love a few times during Season 11 in 1988. Tilton was off the show that season.

Heatwave – Gangsters Of The Groove (debuted on 11/22/1980, peaked at #110)

Here’s another R&B group that was cast aside after the Disco backlash, although they did have some additional lousy luck befall them. Their lead singer Johnnie Wilder was in a bad car crash which left him paralyzed, and although he could still sing, he could not perform. At the same time, Quincy Jones was employing their keyboardist Rod Tempterton for Michael Jackson’s new album, Off The Wall, pinching some of his best tunes. I think it was always going to be challenging to top monster hits like Boogie Nights and The Groove Line. However, this interracial, multi-international outfit still put out consistently good party music. The lead single from their fourth album, Candles, will reach #21 on the Soul charts and #19 in the UK. 

BTW – this LP had a lot of great singles on it like Posin’ Til Closin’ and Jitterbuggin’ and was finally released on CD during the last decade, but only in the UK & Japan. Oh, and on YouTube.

The Temptations – Oh, What A Night (debuted on 11/28/1981, peaked at #102)

The mishandling of the Temptations career in the 80s is a tragedy with no acceptable explanation. Heart. Their self-titled 1981 album was produced by Thom Bell, and this was the follow-up to the #67 peak of Aiming At Your Heart. Obviously, no one was interested in one of the best 60s R&B groups doing Philly Soul back in 1981, including Soul stations that didn’t play this either. While this might not be the pinnacle of anyone’s career, this album and 45s should have received a lot more airplay than they did.

Bob Welch – Two To Do (debuted on 11/28/1981, peaked at #107)

After two albums and four Top 40 hits, Pop radio completely turned their back on Bob, even though he continually cranked out interesting pop-rock fare. For his self-titled fifth album, RCA, his new record label tried to lean him in a Westcoast Yacht direction, which didn’t have him picking up any new fans. This straight-ahead rocker was written by Michael Clark, who had success earlier in the year with a co-write on the Pointer Sisters’ Slow Hand.

Billy Idol – White Wedding (debuted on 11/27/1982, peaked at #108)

Billy finally scored a Top 40 hit in 1982 with Hot In the City, which rose to #23. This was the follow-up and should have been a no-brainer to be hit #2. Sometimes it takes a while for a classic to become one, which failed upon first release.  Six months later, Chrysalis reissued the single in the States, and it would finally crawl onto the Hot 100, sliding all the way up to #36., though it would fail in the UK. Two years later, England would embrace it as a Top 10 single. Timing is everything, I guess.

Paul Rodgers – Cut Loose (debuted on 11/26/1983, peaked at #102)

Paul reached the Top 40 in three different bands: Free, Bad Company, and the Firm, but never as a solo artist. His debut album was released in 1983, and there is nothing in the sound or the album cover that tells you it’s the early 80s. This bluesy rocker easily could have been on the Bad Company’s 1974 debut, which is probably why it failed here. It did get some Rock airplay reaching #15 on the Mainstream Rock charts.

Lindsey Buckingham – Slow Dancing (debuted on 11/24/1984, peaked at #106)

Now, this track sounds like the 80s, probably a little too much, like a madman left alone in his own studio with a Fairlight, a Linn drum machine, and a mountain of coke. This is what Fleetwood Mac would have sounded like without an intervention.

Find Someone To Teach Us

Let’s take a look at those singles from the 80s that were Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during chart week forty-six.

Mickey Gilley – That’s All That Matters (debuted on 11/15/1980, peaked at #101)

Mickey had an eventful 1980, not only scoring his only Top 40 hit but having his place Gilley’s featured in one of the year’s biggest movies, Urban Cowboy. Anything after that was just gravy, so grab a biscuit and sop up this #1 Country ballad.

LaToya Jackson – If You Feel The Funk (debuted on 11/15/1980, peaked at #103)

How amazing is it that one family created two major superstars? I’m talking about Michael & Janet Jackson. If you look at all of the Jackson children, eight of the nine were on Top 40 records. That’s unbelievable. So when sister LaToya tried to make it a perfect 9 for 9, she was going up against some serious odds. Also, she wasn’t a terrific singer. Her debut album was released in 1980, featuring this light disco-funk track, which barely cracked the R&B charts at #40. It will peak at #17 on the Disco Top 100. LaToya will only reach the Top 40 on a technicality, as part of USA For Africa on 1985’s, We Are The World.

Sailor – Runaway (debuted on 11/15/1980, peaked at #103)

Sailor was a UK glam-pop quartet who a few big hits in England in the mid-70s, such as Girls, Girls, Girls, and A Glass Of Champagne, the latter sounding like XTC after they settled out of their punk phase. By album number six, Dressed For Drowning, they were on the Beach Boys label (Caribou) in a reformed lineup for one more stab at US success. Produced by long-time Chicago producer James William Guercio, this single was originally released in 1978 but recorded for the new album. The only maritime adventure these guys would have was on a sea of bubbles.

Ambrosia – No Big Deal (debuted on 11/15/1980, peaked at #105)

Once Ambrosia left their prog-pop dalliances behind for some smooth Westcoast pop, they started having some big Top 10 hits such as How Much I Feel and Biggest Part of Me. This single,  the third from their fourth album, One Eighty, was a straight-ahead rocker meant to alienate their new fan base, I guess. I think it’s telling that they did not include this on their 16-song Anthology collection in 1997.

Delbert McClinton – Sandy Beaches (debuted on 11/21/1981, peaked at #101)

After placing his song, Giving It Up For Your Love, in the Top 10 earlier in the year, Del took a slight Yachty detour for the lead single from his next LP, Plain From The Heart. His voice perfectly suits this laidback soulful number. He must have thought so, too, since he’s used the title to promote an annual cruise full of msusicans that he headlines.

Nicolette Larson – Fool Me Again (debuted on 11/21/1981, peaked at #105)

Here’s the tried and final Bubbler from the former Neil Young backing vocalists who scored her biggest hit, Lotta Love, in early 1979. This ballad is from the soundtrack to the Dudley Moore comedy, Arthur, a movie that my friends and I pretended that we saw, but one I’ve never actually watched all the way through.

Mac Davis – You’re My Bestest Friend (debuted on 11/21/1981, peaked at #106)

Sammy Bones is back with a sweetly humorous ditty from his latest album, Midnight Crazy. It will reach the Top 5 on the Country charts and be the last time Pop programmers show any interest in Ol’ Mac.

No Bubblers this week in 1982 as Chaka Khan debuts with her cover of the 1971 Michael Jackson hit. She’ll take it up to #67. Michael is at #14 this week with The Girl Is Mine.

Grandmaster & Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Do It) (debuted on 11/19/1983, peaked at #101)

Hip hop had a challenging time crossing over for much of the 80s. And even though this outfit’s track, The Message, peaked at #62 during the previous year, this rap classic couldn’t even get onto the Hot 100. In fact, it lingered underneath for two and a half months, despite reaching the Top 10 on the Dance charts. The band’s name on this single needs a little clarification.

First known as Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, the group changed its name due to a lawsuit filed by DJ Flash. Even though he wasn’t on their 1982 album, the Message, he wanted to get paid for it. Flash would not let the band use his name anymore, hence the change on this single.

Fun fact: The bassline for this song, played by Doug Wimbush, was taken from the track Cavern by Liquid Liquid. The band sued for royalties, and after subsequently settling, the rap group and the record label disintegrated.

The Carpenters – Make Believe It’s Your First Time (debuted on 11/19/1983, peaked at #101)

In February 1983, Karen Carpenter died from heart failure due to anorexia. She and her brother Richard had already recorded their eleventh album, Voice of the Heart, which was finished and released in the Fall of that year. This single was actually recorded for the album previous, 1981’s Made In America. But even with outpouring of the public and the fan’s sadness at her passing, this song could not get on the Pop charts. It definitely feels out of step with the 1983 Pop playlists and sounds more like something that would have fit in 1973. It will reach #7 on the AC charts.

ELO – Stranger (debuted on 11/19/1983, peaked at #105)

The third single from the band’s tenth LP, Secret Messages, is my favorite from that album. It sounds like a lost Al Stewart track, in my opinion. A forgotten melancholy gem in their catalog, it will chart on  Adult Contemporary radio at #33.

Mtume – C.O.D. (I’ll Deliver) (debuted on 11/17/1984, peaked at #104)

James Mtume and company borrow the beats from The Message and take it in a different Quiet Storm direction. This is the follow-up to the title track of the group’s fourth album, You, Me & He. This will reach #20 on the R&B charts.

Dreamboy – I Promise (I Do Love You) (debuted on 11/17/1984, peaked at #106)

We finish up with a quintet from Oak Park, MI, and the lead track from their second and final album, Contact. This soulful retro ballad was released a little ahead of its time, it seems. Because once the 90s hit, bands like After 7, Mint Condition, and Boyz II Men were churning tunes such as these like crazy. This will only get as high as #45 on the Soul charts.

 

Rant and Rave To Manipulate Me

As we approach chart week forty-five in our quest to discuss 1980s singles that Bubbled Under the Hot 100, we reach a group where eight out of the eleven artists have had multiple Bubblers. On the positive side, six out of the eight mentioned had at least one Top 40. Let’s review, shall we?

Roxy Music – In The Midnight Hour (debuted 11/8/1980, peaked at #106)

The third single from this UK art rock trio’s seventh album, Flesh & Blood, is a cover of the 1965 Wilson Pickett classic. The song had all of its soul stripped from it in the 1973 Top 40 version by Cross Country, so Bryan Ferry thought to add a little back in, along with some melodrama and style.

Aussie Band – Somebody Wants You (debuted 11/8/1980, peaked at #109)

Out of the ashes of the UK folk-rock band, Spriguns, came this studio duo of Dennis Dunstan and Wayne Morrison. While both were from Australia, this one-off single produced by Kan Caillat sounds like they were dropped off in Topanga Canyon. I believe this only became a Bubbler because someone mistook it for an Eagles song, which probably pissed off Glenn Frey.

Devo – Beautiful World (debuted 11/14/1981, peaked at #102)

Set your spudguns to sarcasm. Here’s the lead single from this Akron, OH quintet’s fourth album, New Traditionalists. It will, unfortunately, stall in the States but reach #14 in Australia. A handful of artists have covered it, including Harvey Danger, Information Society, and Rage Against The Machine.

Steve Wariner – All Roads Lead To You (debuted 11/14/1981, peaked at #107)

Here’s a former backing musician for Dottie West who started a solo career in the late 70s. This track from Steve’s self-title debut record became his first Country #1 and was tailor-made for Pop crossover in the early 80s. Not sure why it got stuck here and not onto Top 40 playlists. Don’t cry for SW, though. He’ll rack up eight more Country #1s in the 80s and finally get his Top 40 hit in 1999 – Two Teardrops, which will peak at #30.

Grace Jones – Nipple To The Bottle (debuted 11/13/1982, peaked at #103)

After having club success with Pull Up to The Bumper and her Nightclubbing album, Miss Jones went back down to the Bahamas in 1982 and recorded her sixth album, Living My Life. Co-written with Sly Dunbar, the first single has a similar vibe as Bumper and will match its peak of #2 on the Dance/Disco Top 80. It will also climb to #17 on the Soul charts.

Bananarama featuring Fun Boy Three – Really Sayin’ Somethin’ (debuted 11/13/1982, peaked at #108)

Here’s the third single that this female UK trio ever recorded and the second collaboration with another threesome, the Fun Boy Three. It’s a percussive ska-flavored cover of a 1965 Velvelettes single which only clipped#64. It will be their second Top 5 hit in the UK and be featured on their debut Deep Sea Skiving.

Rick James – U Bring The Freak Out (debuted 11/12/1983, peaked at #101)

Here’s the second single from Buffalo Rick’s seventh album, Cold Blooded, which only yielded one Top 40 song, the title track, which peaked at #40. Was he blacklisted by MTV like he claims he was? More than likely. I’m sure he didn’t play ball with them either, nor should he have. This will peak at #16 on the Soul charts. Also, there’s a great 2021 doc on his life, which is currently on Showtime.

Was (Not Was) – Smile (debuted 11/12/1983, peaked at #106)

It’s hard to characterize the sound of Don & Dave Was since they tackled many different genres. They mainly adopted the position as a backing band for two male Soul singers, Sweet Pea Atkinson & Sir Harry Bowens. But on their second album, Born To Laugh At Tornadoes, they indulged in a handful of artist cameos, such as Mitch Ryder, Mel Torme, and Ozzy Osborne. They enlist former Knack frontman Doug Fieger for some 60s-inspired New Wave dance fun on this single.

Zapp – Heartbreaker (Part 1) (debuted 11/12/1983, peaked at #107)

Here’s the lead track from the Ohio funk outfit Zapp and their accompanying LP, Zapp III, one of six Bubblers they would accrue. It will bounce up to #15 on the R&B charts. Among the multitude of hip hop songs to sample it, I prefer this understated clip that’s featured on Heavy D’s Take Your Time from 1994.

The S.O.S. Band – No One’s Gonna Love You (debuted 11/10/1984, peaked at #102)

Surprisingly, this Atlanta octet, who hit big out of the gate with 1980’s Take Your Time (Do It Right), could make a return visit to the Top 40. Any one of their other fifteen Soul Top 40 hits could have done the trick, such as this one, the second single from their fifth LP, Just The Way You Like It. This Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis-produced midtempo ballad will rise to #15 on the R&B charts.

Champaign – Off And On Love (debuted 11/10/1984, peaked at #104)

We finish up with a septet named after their hometown in Illinois. They had already reached the Top 40 twice with How ‘Bout Us [#12] in 1981 and Try Again [#23] in 1983. Their third album, Woman In Flames, and its lead single saw them lose a band member while trading on its organically soulful pop vibe for an antiseptic synth & drum machine-led sound. While it will be their third and final Top 10 on the Soul charts, it will Bubble Under here, and the group will take a six-year hiatus.

It’s Easy To Live In Your Imagination

We have made it to chart week forty-four and this motley crew of singles Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s.

Vince Vance & The Valiants – Bomb Iran (debuted 11/1/1980, peaked at #101)

In November 1980, the Iran Hostage crisis had been happening for a year, and people were fed up. Some people tied yellow ribbons on trees and held vigils. Others recorded this song – a parody of the Regents/Beach Boys hit of the 60s. I say others because there were multiple ‘bomb Iran’ singles out in the late Fall of 1980. In fact, this was even the first one as supposedly a version came out almost a year earlier. But this 45 was the one that got the closest to the Hot 100.

Fun Fact: Vince recorded a Christmas song in 1989 called All I Want For Christmas Is You, which gets played frequently on Country stations during the holiday season. It is a different song than the one we’re subjected to each year by Mariah. Two Christmas songs. Same title. Different song.

Benny Mardones – Hometown Girls (debuted 11/1/1980, peaked at #103)

The Voice follows up his pedophile kidnapping opus with this pleasant-sounding pop-rocker. On its own, the lyrics are innocuous until you think about Into the Night and hear Benny sing this:

I was up and gone. I disappeared in the night. 

This dude is all about fleeing the scene of the crime.

Molly Hatchet – Beatin’ The Odds (debuted 11/1/1980, peaked at #107)

Well, I wouldn’t be putting down all my money on Southern rock in the 80s to win. Most music of the decade was starting to lose its rural feeling, and this genre was one of the first to be absorbed into corporate rock. The first single released was the title track to their third album and first with Danny Joe Brown singing lead. Its follow-up, The Rambler, will climb to #91.

Rocky Burnette – Fallin’ In Love (Bein’ Friends) (debuted 11/1/1980, peaked at #109)

The son of rock and roll follows up his surprise Top 10 smash, Tired of Toein’ The Line with more late 50/ early 60s-inspired sock hop rock. When I listen to tracks like this, I can’t help but think that it opened the door for Gary U.S. Bonds to have a few hits again.

John Entwistle – Too Late The Hero (debuted 11/7/1981, peaked at #101)

Thunderfingers was on solo album number five by 1981, his first in six years. The album featured Joe Walsh on guitar and Joe Vitale on drums, and he released the epic title track as the first single. It will be the closest John will get to a chart single, but its follow-up, Talk Dirty, received moderate Rock radio airplay.

Rupert Holmes – Loved By The One You Love (debuted 11/7/1981, peaked at #103)

Seven albums. Six different record labels. Such was the momentum-killing recording career of Rupert Holmes, who still somehow managed three Top 40 hits, including the #1 smash, Escape. After the lack of success of this single and accompanying album, Full Circle. Holmes moved on to the playwrighting, debuting on Broadway in 1985 with The Mystery Of Edwin Drood.

Spyro Gyra – Summer Strut (debuted 11/7/1981, peaked at #108)

Buffalo, NY jazz-fusion were on their fifth album, Freetime, by 1981, trying to get back on Pop radio after the #24 peak of 1979’s Morning Dance. The lite funk interplay between Jay Beckenstein’s sax licks and Tom Schuman’s electric piano didn’t get the group back onto the charts. But I bet a few stations played while they were “experiencing technical difficulties.”

Karla DeVito – Midnight Confession (debuted 11/7/1981, peaked at #109)

With the bombast of a Jim Steinman song, Karla covers this 1968 Grass Roots classic from her debut, Is This A Cool World or What? I’m all for it. The Meatloaf connection was strong, and although she didn’t sing on the recorded version of Paradise by the Dashboard Light, she appeared in the video and went out on the Bat Out Of Hell tour.

Zapp – Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing) (debuted 11/6/1982, peaked at #103)

All Roger and Zapp did in the early 80s was put out one funky synth jam after another. All Pop programmers did was ignore it until they were hidden in many hip songs from the 90s onward. This will reach #10 on the Soul charts and first show up as a sample on the Beastie Boys’ #36 charter, Hey Ladies. It will also feature on Paperboy’s  1993 Top 10 single, Ditty.

Melba Moore – Love’s Comin’ At Ya (debuted 11/6/1982, peaked at #104)

This single from Melba’s twelfth album, The Other Side of the Rainbow, was her fourth Bubbler out of seven. If Top 40 radio ignored it, it’s their loss. This will peak at #5 on the Soul charts and #2 on the  Dance/Disco Top 80. Folks in the UK dug this funky boogie track as it reached #15 in England.

Devo – Peek-A-Boo! (debuted 11/6/1982, peaked at #106)

When you think about the success of Whip It in late 1980, it’s truly amazing that the single reached #14. Even though we all might remember the video, it scaled that height before the advent of MTV.  The video channel aided in keeping the band on everyone’s mind through the 80s, but Pop radio did not follow suit. They would rack up five Bubblers, with this one as the lead single from their fifth LP, Oh No! It’s Devo.

Firefall – Runaway Love (debuted 11/5/1983, peaked at #103)

The pride of Boulder, CO, tried to update their Country rock sound by mixing in some synth drums and upping the tempo. But programmers couldn’t get past the band’s cultivated laidback image and sound, so they took a pass. This single from their seventh album, Mirror For the World, would be their last release for twelve years.

Southside Johnny & The Jukes – Trash It Up (debuted 11/5/1983, peaked at #108)

John Lyon and his Jersey shore outfit spent a lot of their career shaking off Springsteen comparisons. By their sixth album, they dropped Asbury from their name and some R&B synths and funky beats. The switch might have turned off some old fans, but they should have picked up some new ones. The album, produced by Nile Rodgers, also netted the band a #55 zenith for Get Your Body On the Job.

Pia Zadora – Rock It Out (debuted 11/5/1983, peaked at #110)

There has been a lot of cash thrown behind the idea that Pia has talent. When she failed as an actress, dollars were given to forward a singing career., first in Country, then in Pop. This is a single from her second album called Let’s Dance Tonight. When you listen to it, you will wonder how many people could have been fed with that money rather than it being wasted here.

There are no singles that debuted this week in 1984 that did not chart, with one being this track from Alphaville.

Sordid Details Following

Not all 80s Bubblers are made the same. Some singles signify an artist trying to get noticed. Some are at the tail end of their career. Some are crossing over from their main genre. And then some are just ahead of their time, to become classics later on. We have them all during chart week forty-three.

Prince – Uptown (debuted on 10/25/1980, peaked at #101)

Prince had a big hit from his second album in early 1980, I Wanna Be Your Lover. It got the record companies off his back and allowed him to do what he wanted while he tried to perfect his musical vision. You were going to come to him, not the other way around. That’s why he followed up his mainstream success with an album called Dirty Mind. This was a powerful shot of New Wave funk, and its lack of cross-over success was a portent of the mellow, risk-free programming that Top 40 radio would subject us to for the next few years. Or maybe they were afraid of this lyric:

“What’s up, little girl? I ain’t got time to play.”
Baby didn’t say too much
She said, “Are you gay?”
Kinda took me by surprise, I didn’t know what to do
I just looked her in her eyes, and I said, “No. Are you?”

David Bowie – Ashes To Ashes (debuted on 10/25/1980, peaked at #101)

This is a stone-cold classic, so you may be wondering why it ends up here. Well, Woman In Love by Barbra Streisand was the #1 song when this debuts. Imagine anyone in 1980 thinking those two songs should be played back to back. Bowie is driving a stick through the heart of the 70s with this one, taking his Space Oddity character, Major Tom, and turning him into a heroin fiend. It was the lead single from his fourteenth album, Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), and it would go to #1 in the UK.

Fun Fact: The video for the single cost £250,000, making it the most expensive at the time, even more than Thriller three years later. And MTV was still a year away from its debut.

Barry Goudreau – Dreams (debuted on 10/25/1980, peaked at #103)

After the second Boston album, Don’t Look Back, leader Tom Scholz became embroiled in a multitude of legal battles for a long time. So the remaining members, Brad Delp and Sib Hashian, joined guitarist Barry Goudreau and recorded an album together. It sounded like a warmed-over Boston record, and Tom Scholz got so pissed, he kicked Barry out of the band. Barry & Brad would form Orion the Hunter and release an LP in 1984, two years before Boston’s third offering, Third Stage. Delp was allowed to participate in that recording, but Barry was never allowed back in the fold.

Bruce Cockburn – Rumours Of Glory (debuted on 10/25/1980, peaked at #104)

Ottawa native Bruce finally found success in the US with his ninth album, Dancing In the Dragon’s Jaws, and #21 single, Wondering Where The Lions Are. His follow-up long play, Humans, led off with this 45 release, which ends up as a Bubbler. It will land in the Canadian Top 40 at #36.

Yes – Into The Lens (I Am A Camera) (debuted on 10/25/1980, peaked at #104)

Drama, Yes’ tenth album is an od one in the group’s catalog as they absorb Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes from the Buggles into the band after Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman left the group. Prog rock purists thumbed their nose at it. But when listened to it in hindsight, it’s a fantastic blueprint for where the band would travel throughout the 80s. I mean, once they would inadvertently get back together in 1983 after they officially split in 1981. Adding Trevor and Geoff was a superb decision to modernize their sound and cut down on the one-song-per-side album bloat. The Buggles would release their second album in 1981 and include a new recording of this single.

Johnny Van Zant Band – 634-5789 (debuted on 10/25/1980, peaked at #105)

While brother Donnie was getting his band .38 Special off the group, Johnny and his fellas released their debut, No More Dirty Deals. Produced by Al Kooper, it features this boogie rock cover of the 1966 Wilson Pickett classic written by Eddie Floyd & Steve Cropper. Kinds surprised the Blues Brothers didn’t tackle this the first time around. Unfortunately, they would tackle it in Blues Brothers 2000.

Curtis Mayfield – She Don’t Let Nobody (But Me) (debuted on 10/31/1981, peaked at #103)

I think I knew all of Curtis’ solo material, so I was surprised to find this single from an album I didn’t own called Love Is The Place, his twentieth release. To succinctly sum it up, Mayfield gets on the yacht. This 45, co-written and co-produced by Dino Fekaris, would reach #15 on the soul charts.

Jefferson Starship – Save Your Love (debuted on 10/31/1981, peaked at #104)

Now that Mickey Thomas had taken over the band and had a hit with Jane in 1980 [#14], Grace Slick slid her way back in. She joined the group for their follow-up album, Modern Times, which yielded the #29 track, Find Your Way Back (Grace wasn’t on that one.) This was the third single released, a Pete Sears co-write with his wife, Jeanette.

Fun fact: bassist Pete and Jeanette would write the band’s next two Top 40 hits, Be My Lady & Winds Of Change.

Gary Wright – Heartbeat (debuted on 10/31/1981, peaked at #107)

Gary had his first Top 40 hit in five years since the twin #2 peaks of Dream Weaver & Love Is Alive in 1976. The #16 peak of Really Wanna Know You from the LP, The Right Place, was followed up with this catchy pop-rock single that couldn’t get any traction at Top 40 radio. It features backing vocals by David Pack from Ambrosia and Timoty B. Schmit.

Fun fact: Gary has a sister, Lorna, who recorded a soulful Westcoast pop album in 1978 called Circle Of Love.

Spinners – You Go Your Way (I’ll Go Mine) (debuted on 10/31/1981, peaked at #110)

The Spinners had two big comeback hits in 1980, and they tried to parlay that success throughout the decade. This midtempo ballad, written by James Mtume & Reggie Lucas, was the first single from their upcoming album, Can’t Shake This Feelin’, the feelin’ being that the salad days were over. It barely snuck into the R&B Top 40, settling at #39. Had Pop radio not tried to slam the door so hard on 70s artists, this quintet and smooth track might have had a better showing.

Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford – Your Precious Love (debuted on 10/30/1982, peaked at #102)

Here’s a single from the Casino Lights album, a live concert in Montreux, Switzerland, featuring the Yellowjackets, David Sanborn, and Al & Randy dueting on three tracks. This duo adds a little more gospel and jazz into Ashford & Simpson’s sweet sentiment, originally made famous in 1967 by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It will reach #16 on the Soul charts.

The Jonzun Crew – Pack Jam (Look Out For The OVC) (debuted on 10/30/1982, peaked at #108)

And now, from Boston, we have the Johnson Brothers, not the Brothers Johnson. This trio foresaw that confusion and changed their electro-funk outfit to the Jonzun Crew. They had a handful of minor hits on the Soul charts, this being their first. This 12″ single will climb to #13 R&B and #19 in Germany, where a cult following of the group was formed. Michael Johnson, otherwise known as Maurice Starr (don’t ask), was also busy discovering five young kids from Roxbury called New Edition.

Mary Jane Girls – Boys (debuted on 10/29/1983, peaked at #102)

One of four Bubblers from this Rick James-produced debut by a female quartet. This synth-funk jam will climb to #29 on the Soul charts, the group’s third straight Top 40 hit.

Timothy B. Schmit – Playin’ It Cool (debuted on 10/27/1984, peaked at #101)

Imagine working your ass off in an established band (Poco) but never reaching that next level. Then one day, you get a call to join the biggest rock band in the world (Eagles), only for them to implode after one album. Welcome to Tim’s world. [Don’t feel too bad. He’ll rejoin the reformed Eagles in 1994 and get payyyyyy-d.] His first solo single, So Much In Love, was on the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack and peaked at #59 in 1982. This single was the title track to his debut, and it sounds like it could have been featured in that movie as well. J.D. Souther co-wrote the track and sings back up.

The Staple Singers – Slippery People (debuted on 10/27/1984, peaked at #109)

The Staple Singers’ last Top 40 hit was the #1 smash, Let’s Do It Again, in 1975. And then Pop radio ignored them for the rest of time. In 1984 Pops got the kids together for their first album in five years, Turning Point, and it featured this fantastic cover of the Talking Heads’ track from Speaking In Tongues. That they were ignored again by Pop programmers speaks volumes to their tight-fisted conservative playlists where Soul had very few opportunities. It will climb to #22 on the R&B charts and #4 on the Hot Dance/Disco charts.

 

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