Find Me The Place For Us

Here we are. We’ve reached chart week twenty-eight during our review of Bubbling Under the Hot 100 singles from the 80s. There’s a lit bit of country, soundtrack tunes, and as always, soul. Let’s lift these castoffs up and give them a new life.

Barbara Mandrell – Crackers (debuted 7/12/1980, peaked at #105)

Is this song about the eldest Mandrell sister going crazy? No, the title refers to the food she won’t mind her lover eating in bed with her. My joke meter just sounded off multiple alarms, but I’ll keep it clean. Considering Babs doesn’t mind sleeping in a double bed rather than a Queen or King or could care less about being wrong about love, her low self-esteem of sleeping in a pile of Ritz crumbs matches perfectly. From her first 80s LP, Love Is Fair, this single will climb to #3 on the Country charts.

Cheeks – Boney Moronie (debuted 7/12/1980, peaked at #110)

Here’s a pub rock band that released a few singles between 1979 and 1981. This one ended up on the soundtrack to the Animal House-ripoff, Up The Academy starring a young Ralph Macchio. The film is an absolute debacle, and even Mad Magazine, which “presented” it, immediately distanced itself from it after its release.  This amateur cover of this 1957 Larry Williams classic fits the movie to a T. As it plays, you can imagine horny teens crazily running around, gratuitous nudity, and senseless destruction.

Savoy Brown – Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone (debuted 7/18/1981, peaked at #107)

UK blues-rock outfit Savoy Brown had some minor success in the States during the late 60s and early 70s but fell out of favor by the time of their 1976 release Skin N Bone, which failed to chart. Their last attempt at crossing over to the US Top 40 was filled with Smokie covers, first this single, initially a #12 UK hit for Chris Norman and his gang (a Bubbler for Savoy B.), then Run To Me released later in 1981. It was featured on Smokie’s 1980 Greatest Hits Volume 2 collection, but Savoy Brown’s version was their best US showing, reaching #68.

Charlie Daniels Band – Sweet Home Alabama (debuted 7/18/1981, peaked at #110)

From Volunteer Jam VII (which I assumed no one was paid for) comes the inevitable Skynyrd cover from Charlie D. I’m not sure if this was done as a tribute to the fallen members, pandering to the Nashville crowd, or a veiled political statement. I only say that as after the line Birmingham, they love the governor, and he leaves out the Boo, boo, boo part. They peaked at #94 on the County charts.

Zapp – Dance Floor (Part I) (debuted 7/17/1982, peaked at #101)

Roger Troutman was the most successful musically in advancing the funk genre into the 80s with funky synth grooves that were so tight, you’d think they’d snap in half. Maybe his talkbox was the glue that held them together. These jams were too good for Top 40 the first time around, but the hip-hop community sampled them so much, you heard them in dozens of rap songs, especially West Coast, in the 80s and beyond. Everything came full circle when Roger performed the talkbox on Dr. Dre & 2Pac’s #1 smash, California Love. This single will be Zapp’s only R&B #1 hit.

John Williams – Theme From E.T. (The Extra-Terrestrial) (debuted 7/17/1982, peaked at #103)

John Williams is one of the best-known film composers of all time and has garnered a few Top 40 hits with his themes to Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Jaws. The blockbuster film E.T. quickly became the highest-grossing film for over a decade. The single didn’t get any traction on radio, though, and was relegated to Bubbler status. As soon as you hear John’s theme, you immediately think of Elliott riding his bicycle, flying in the sky with E.T. in his basket. Or it makes you hide in your closet crying into a bag of Reese’s Pieces. Take your pick.

Charlie Daniels Band – Ragin’ Cajun (debuted 7/17/1982, peaked at #109)

Charlie’s back with the second single from his twelfth studio album, Windows, and the follow-up to his #22 hit, Still in Saigon. Someone from Louisiana will have to confirm if this funky fiddle hoedown gets played at U of L games or maybe during your roller coaster ride at Six Flags America in Maryland.

Dionne Warwick – All The Love In The World (debuted 7/16/1983, peaked at #101)

The third single from the Bee Gees-produced Heartbreaker album has a similar shuffly feel to Eyes That See In The Dark, a tune the trio would write for Kenny Rogers. This single didn’t chart on the Hot 100 or the R&B charts, but it would reach #16 on the AC charts and #10 in the UK.

Yello – I Love You (debuted 7/16/1983, peaked at #103)

Here’s the Swiss electronic duo with the lead single from their third album, You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess,  a New Wave-vibed dance track that will reach #16 on the Dance Club charts. In the US, they are most known for their tune, Oh Yeah, featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which only reached #51. Or, as Mac calls it, Day Bow Bow.

Juluka – Scatterlings Of Africa (debuted 7/16/1983, peaked at #106)

Here’s the Johannesburg, South Africa band led by Johny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu with a single from their fourth album, Scatterlings, which helped get their interpretation of  Zulu music heard outside of their native country. Only three years later, we’d be listening and overpraising Paul Simon’s Graceland. Johnny would re-record this track with his new band Savuka in 1987, and it would land on the Rain Man soundtrack.

Shor Patrol – Loverboy (debuted 7/16/1983, peaked at #108)

The pride of Baltimore (or at least, Ocean City) in the 80s was this hard-working rock band led by vocalist Alana Shor. This quintet, which rose from the ashes of the group Paper Cup,  released a four-song EP on Arista Records in 1983, and this single almost broke them into the big time. Instead, its lack of success drove the five members to split up.

Karla Bonoff – Somebody’s Eyes (debuted 7/14/1984, peaked at #109)

The Footloose soundtrack had already generated six Top 40 hits in 1984. But I think Columbia Records got a little greedy releasing a seventh single. Not that the tune isn’t good. It was just overkill. Though it did manage to climb the AC charts landing at #16.

Russ Ballard – The Fire Still Burns (debuted 7/13/1985, peaked at #105)

We wrap up chart week twenty-eight with the title track from this British singer/songwriter/guitarist’s seventh album and last, for eight years. It will fail to make an impact on Pop radio but will receive a decent amount of airplay on Mainstream Rock stations.

Back On The Beat

We’re feeling the heat of Summer as we reach chart week twenty-seven in our review of 80s singles Bubbling Under the Hot 100. We have an excellent group of New Wave tunes and, as always, some forgotten R&B.

Al Jarreau – Never Givin’ Up (debuted 7/5/1980, peaked at #102)

Al was four albums deep when he finally crossed over to the R&B charts with this single from the Jay Graydon-produced This Time, a #1 Jazz album. It will also garner him a Best Male R&B Vocal Grammy nomination and will set up his Pop breakthrough with Breakin’ Away.

J.C. Cunningham – The Pyramid Song (debuted 7/5/1980, peaked at #104)

Here’s a country novelty record sung in the style of Jim Stafford or early Charlie Daniels. But it didn’t have near the success of either of those two artists. In fact, outside of Bernie Madoff, I don’t know who else even bought this 45. JC would write a few Country hits, namely David Allan Coe’s Mona List Lost Her Smile.

Def Leppard – Rock Brigade (debuted 7/5/1980, peaked at #106)

Time for the Sheffield, England quintet who constantly tried to go through the metal door even though they were better characterized as hard rock. From their debut, On Through The Night, this single was their first attempt at the US  market. It wouldn’t be until three years later that producer Mutt Lange would inject a little pop into their sound, resulting in their first hit, Photograph.

Ian Hunter – We Gotta’ Get Out Of Here (debuted 7/5/1980, peaked at #108)

The former frontman of Mott The Hoople continued to climb onto the charts as a solo act and finally managed a #68 peak with Just Another Night from 1979’s You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic. And in the 70s, with a bit of success comes either a greatest hits compilation or a double live LP. Ian opted for the latter and kept side four open for some new studio recordings, of which this rocker is one.

Congrats to the class of 1981, chart week 27, especially the song Tempted by Squeeze, which debuts as a Bubbler and will scuttle onto charts cheating its way up to #49. It remains the band’s signature song even though it has two other Top 40 hits.

Squeeze – Black Coffee In Bed (debuted 7/10/1982, peaked at #103)

Keeping the R&B vibe of the former tune but moving on from the Paul Carrack vocals, here’s the first single from the UK quintet’s fifth album, Sweets From A Stranger. This New Wave classic featured backing vocals from Paul Young and Elvis Costello, neither of whom had a Top 40 hit under their belt at the time. One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands.

Roxy Music – Take A Chance With Me (debuted 7/10/1982, peaked at #104)

Roxy’s eighth and final album, Avalon, was their third UK #1. This was the third single released from it which reached #26 over in England. It wasn’t as catchy as More Than This but still worthy of a better showing than as a 1982 Bubbler. But this was never going to best anything from the Air Supply department as far as Pop radio was concerned.

Heaven 17 – We Live So Fast (debuted 7/9/1983, peaked at #102)

Ian Craig Marsh & Martyn Ware were founding members of the Human League. But by 1980, they couldn’t take being boiled any longer and split to form their own synth-pop band, Heaven 17. Officially a trio with lead singer Glenn Gregory, they racked up seven Top 40hits in the UK but only one chart hit in the US [Let Me Go, #74]. This speedy dance single, also from the album, The Luxury Gap,  got close to the Hot 100, but it died as it lived.

Ultravox – Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (debuted 7/7/1984, peaked at #108)

Midge Ure became famous for co-founding Band Aid and then, Live Aid in the mid-80s. But he was also the lead singer of a pretty good New Wave outfit that netted seventeen Top40 singles in the UK. The closest they ever got in the States was Reap The Wild Wind in 1982. This 45 was even better than that and barely even bubbled. It reached #3 in England and the Top 10 in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Kid Creole & The Coconuts – My Male Curiosity (debuted 7/7/1984, peaked at #110)

What an odd choice to have August Darnell and his 40s-style trio of coconut ladies perform in the Jeff Bridges film, Against All Odds. I’m cool with it. Any chance to see them perform. Unfortunately, their placement in the movie and the soundtrack did not help elevate their status. Their only chart single will be as guests of Barry Manilow on the #90 peak of Hey Mambo in 1988. If you want to know what they’re all about, pick up a copy of their 1982 LP, Wise Guy, which has three of their best songs: Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy, I’m A Wonderful Thing, Baby and Stool Pigeon.

Gwen Guthrie – Padlock (debuted 7/6/1985, peaked at #102)

The first lady of the Paradise Garage is back with another post-disco Bubbler. It’s a great upbeat dance song that could have easily fit in on Pop radio during the Summer of 1985. Initially recorded for Gwen’s 1983 album, Portrait, and produced by Sly & Robbie, it received a special remix by DJ Larry Levan. It will climb to #25 on the R&B charts.

To Say What’s Got To Be Said

It’s easy in hindsight to shake your head and wonder why some of these songs weren’t bigger hits or at least chart on the Hot 100. That’s my immediate thought as I look at this list of 80’s Bubbling Under songs from that week twenty-six. It’s easy to forget that some songs take time to grow into classics. Sometimes record companies just bungle the promotion. Some program directors who had particular tastes or were towing corporate lines created pop radio playlists as formulas for marketing executives rather than listeners. Eventually, we, the fans, get to choose, generation by generation, what we enjoy, so long as we can find it and have the ability to listen to it.

Gary Numan & Tubeway Army – Are ‘Friends’ Electric? (debuted 6/28/1980, peaked at #105)

Gary blew up the Pop charts in the late Spring of 1980 with the Synthpop classic, Cars, an absolute game-changer, robotic and lush. When it peaked at #10 in early June, it was surrounded by Linda Rondstadt on one side and Elton John on the other. A new day had come. But rather than release another track from The Pleasure Principle, such as Observer or Complex, ATCO re-released this 1979 UK #1 smash recorded with his former band, Tubeway Army. The single was more aligned with Joy Division than with Funkytown, and thus Gary remains a US one-hit-wonder.

Odyssey – Don’t Tell Me, Tell Her (debuted 6/28/1980, peaked at #105)

This New York City trio had a U.S. Top 40 in early 1978 with Native New Yorker. But they just could not get any more songs of theirs to click on the Pop chart for some reason. This was the lead single from their third album, Hang Together, and with the proper promotion and maybe better timing, this easily could have been a hit. Its gentle calypso vibe helped it do well on the Dance Club charts, where it reached #6.

Cameo – Freaky Dancin’ (debuted 7/4/1981, peaked at #102)

New York funk band Cameo whittled their group down from 14 to 10 members by their seventh album, Knights of The Sound Table. They are also of the few funk outfits to move through the pre-Disco, Disco, and post-Disco periods without losing their stroke. This will be their eleventh R&B Top 40 hit and fifth Top 10 when it peaks at #3. They will rack up 19 Soul hits before their first Pop Top 40 smash, Word Up!.

Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train (debuted 7/4/1981, peaked at #106)

People forget that when Ozzy was kicked out of Black Sabbath in 1979, many thought his career was over. But this where the legend of Oz begins. His agent, Don Arden, got him signed to Jet Records and made his daughter Sharon look after him and get him on the right track. [Ozzy was currently married to his first wife, Thelma, at the time.] He recruited members of various rock bands, including Quiet Riot’s Randy Rhoads, to play with him and record his debut, Blizzard Of Ozz, released in the UK in the Fall of 1980. This was the first solo single he ever released, and although it never reached the Hot 100, it was certified four times platinum in 2020.

Imagination – Just An Illusion (debuted 7/3/1982, peaked at #102)

Here’s a British trio that dabbled in some post-disco synth-funk that netted them lots of hits in their native country. This single, released from the second album, In the Heat of the Night, reached the Top 10 in almost every European country during the Spring of 1982. By the time this midtempo track reached the US shores, it had managed some Dance club spins and a #27 post on the R&B charts, but not much else. Producers Steve jolly & Tony Swain helmed one more album for the group before turning their attention to creating hits for Spandau Ballet and Bananarama.

Gino Soccio – It’s Alright (debuted 7/3/1982, peaked at #108)

If you listened to dance music after 1979 or danced in the clubs, you know that Disco never died. It just became less mainstream and less commercialized. You’re also probably one of the few who would know who Canadian producer Gino Soccio is. He had a slew of smashes on the Disco charts in the early 80s, including this one which peaked at #2. It will also chart on the R&B Hot 100, reaching #60.

U2 – Two Hearts Beat As One (debuted 7/2/1983, peaked at #101)

Until The Joshua Tree, the quintessential U2 album was War. If you were a fan, you knew every song on this album and truly believed Bono and the boys could change the world. It became their first #1 album in the UK and spent years on the US album charts. This single, easily my favorite from the LP,  was the follow-up to their first chart single, New Year’s Day, which hit #53.

Jennifer Warnes – Nights Are Forever (debuted 7/2/1983, peaked at #105)

Nobody thinks of Jennifer Warnes as the Queen of 80s soundtracks. But if you needed a woman to sing your film’s theme song, you called her. Her voice was at once familiar and new, comforting yet disquieting. What a perfect choice for Twilight Zone – The Movie, a production with its own complicated history. This track probably got buried because of the film’s bad press, but its Yachty-vibe is ripe for rediscovery. It will reach the Top 10 on the AC charts.

I’ll get to the rest in the next post…

Time To Work It Out

We’ve made it to chart week twenty-five in our review of the singles Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s. It’s a light week, so congrats to those who go out. Let’s see who didn’t make it.

Brick – All The Way (debuted 6/21/1980, peaked at #106)

The Atlanta funk quintet that gave us Dazz and Dusic hit a wall at the turn of the decade. This mid-tempo groover owes a bit of debt to those late 70s Raydio hits, albeit with grittier lead vocals. The lead track from their fourth album, Waiting On You, will reach #38 on the Soul charts. Push Push, the funkier follow-up, will do a little better.

Split Enz – One Step Ahead (debuted 6/27/1981, peaked at #104)

This New Zealand quintet’s sixth release, Waiata, Maori for singing, spawned the band’s second Top 10 hit in Australia. It’s one of my favorite songs of theirs and writer Neil Finn’s. But a track this downtempo wasn’t going to break through the Bette Davis Eyes wall that Pop radio was erecting.

Also, if it seemed weird to you that Neil Finn and Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers filled in for Lindsey Buckingham’s spot in Fleetwood Mac recently, consider that Split Enz opened for Tom Petty in 1981.

Bram Tchaikovsky – Shall We Dance? (debuted 6/27/1981, peaked at #109)

The former guitarist of the UK New Wave quartet The Motors had a surprise Top 40 in 1979 called Girl of My Dreams with a band that was also his stage name, kinda like Alice Cooper or Sade. But as the charts quickly softened in the early 80s, it was hard to get another song to break through the Pop cheese. This Power pop track from his third album, Funland, was his last stand before quitting the music industry.

Rich Little – President’s Rap (debuted 6/26/1982, peaked at #105)

Rich Little, the man of a thousand voices, is here to destroy America’s last musical art form. If you don’t know who Little is, consider yourself lucky. When it comes to roasts, he was to Dean Martin’s as Jeffrey Ross is to Comedy Central’s. Someone had the great idea in 1981 to do another installment of Vaughn Meader’s The First Family, but have Rich do the Ronnie Reagan part. Wait, it gets worse. Then Boardwalk Records decided to take a bunch of the “comedy bits” and insert them over the band War performing Tom Tom Club’s Genius of Love. And they didn’t even bother to credit the songwriters. It’s a cringe-worthy mess.

Fun fact: Michael Richards plays Ron Jr. on the cover, but the voice of a psychiatrist on the album.

Bill LaBounty – Never Gonna Look Back (debuted 6/26/1982, peaked at #110)

Bill LaBounty is a WestCoast legend. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always pay the bills. Thankfully Michael Johnson covered his 1978 #65 hit This Night Won’t Last Forever and took it into the Top 20 in 1979. This single was the last time Bill would get close to the Hot 100 again. And it’s from an album, his fourth, which in my opinion is his absolute best. Recorded with the best L.A. studio musicians of the day, this ballad will be his highest-charting single on the AC charts, peaking at #22. Warner Bros./Curb Records screwed up when they couldn’t get this or one of the three best tracks on LP on the radio: Dream On, Livin’ It Up, or Look Who’s Lonely Now.

After this release, Bill moved over to Nashville and wrote some big hits for Steve Wariner, such as the #1s, Lynda, and I Got Dreams.

Deniece Williams – Do What You Feel (debuted 6/25/1983, peaked at #102)

Niecy’s seventh album, I’m So Proud, was named after the 1964 Curtis Mayfield-penned hit by the Impressions, which she covers on the LP. This single was the lead 45, written by Willaims and produced by George Duke. The track, which will reach #9 on the R&B charts, has a familiar sound to it, mainly because the intro sounds like this hit, and the chorus sounds like this one. Of course, the chorus also reminds me of this Ashford & Simpson tune recorded five years previous.

Roger Glover – The Mask (debuted 6/23/1984, peaked at #102)

I think it’s obvious that Roger had a wild dream or a bad trip and thought it was a good idea to turn it into a misguided NEw Wave attempt. But the Deep Purple bassist might have been wiser to write it down and share it with a shrink instead. Instead, we get a very 80s production and an offensive video – a NatGeo clip gone awry.

Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere (debuted 6/22/1985, peaked at #105)

Let’s end on a high note from a band who knew how to make interesting videos. This was the lead single from the quartet’s 1985 LP, Little Creatures, their sixth, featuring a cover designed by Howard Finster. And like Once In a Lifetime before it, this classic too will languish under the charts. This will be a hit in many other countries, including the Top 10 in Germany, New Zealand, and the UK. David Byrne finished his American Utopia performance with this track, and for the Spike Lee film, he takes his band through the audience while they performed it.

Forget What I’ve Tried To Be

It’s another full dance card for chart week twenty-four regarding those Bubbling Under singles from the 80s. First, let’s review a handful from 1980 through 1983.

GQ – Sitting In The Park (debuted 6/14/1980, peaked at #101)

After scoring a #20 hit in 1979 with the Billy Stewart tune, I Do Love You, this Bronx quartet goes back to the well with another of his songs, which initially reached #24 in 1965. This one finds a bench, feeds the pigeons, and ends up a Bubbler. It will reach the R&B Top 10.

Gene Chandler – Does She Have A Friend? (debuted 6/14/1980, peaked at #101)

The Duke Of Earl tries to elongate his late 70s mini-comeback with this funky mid-tempo track from his eleventh album, ’80. It was a nice change of pace after his last two disco singles and should have received more love. It will only reach #28 on the Soul charts but will match that peak in the UK.

Survivor – Rebel Girl (debuted 6/14/1980, peaked at #103)

Oh, Survivor. We meet again. The band that placed ten singles in The Other Sixty group is back with their second and final Bubbler. It’s the follow-up to their first chart hit, Somewhere in America, but was not included on their 1980 debut for some reason.

Fun Fact: Lead singer Dave Bickler was also the band’s keyboard player in the beginning. Keyboardist Jim Peterik played rhythm guitar for the first two albums before switching.

Angel City – Marseilles (debuted 6/14/1980, peaked at #109)

Wanna know what AC/DC would sound like with a mellower lead vocalist? Well, look no further. The Angels were an Australian quintet eager to break into the US market at the turn of the decade. Their 1980 album Face to Face was a compilation from their last two late 70s Down Under releases, Face To Face and No Exit. They changed their name to Angel City, and this was all they had to show for it. The group would keep that double name charade up for five years. During that time, the US band Angel split up, and no one ever mistook these guys as the ones who sang My Boyfriend’s Back.

Heart – Bebe Le Strange (debuted 6/14/1980, peaked at #109)

The first five years of Heart’s career were filled with false starts and lawsuits. But even with their janky momentum, they still racked up seven Top 40 hits to this point. The title track to their fifth album was the follow-up to the #33 climber, Even It Up. No one got their Zeppelin better on better than the Wilson sisters.

Billy Ocean – Night (Feel Like Getting Down) (debuted 6/20/1981, peaked at #103)

Leslie Charles had an eight-year Top 40 gap between 1976’s Love Really Hurts Without You and Caribbean Queen. But he wasn’t on hiatus or asleep. Pop programmers were. The title track to his third album is a smooth jam that should have been pumping from car speakers that Summer. The cool cars in my neighborhood did, and it reached #7 on the R&B charts.

Also, Billy’s presence here is my cue to link this pre-Ted Lasso favorite.

The Pinups – Song On The Radio (debuted 6/19/1982, peaked at #110)

What a horribly misogynistic and exploitative concept as a band. But this is a damn fine pop song, which goes to prove that T&A doesn’t automatically sell music [see The Pussycat Dolls]. The song was written by Tony “A Fine Fine Day” Carey and released in the Netherlands in 1981 before getting a proper release here in the States. Pop radio missed the boat on this one.

The Isley Brothers – Between The Sheets (debuted 6/18/1983, peaked at #101)

We’re gonna finish with two classics in their respective genre. First up, the smooth grooves of the Isley Brothers, who released the title track to their twenty-second LP and last with the classic six-person lineup. Pop radio has absolutely no excuses for ignoring this Quiet Storm masterpiece. It will reach #3 on the Soul charts but will be sampled repeatedly by Jay-Z, Aaliyah, Whitney Houston, and, most importantly, Biggie. It’s hard to play this song and not think of throwing your hands in the ay-ya like a true playa. But we all know the true big poppa was Ronald Isley.

Marshall Crenshaw – Whenever You’re On My Mind (debuted 6/18/1983, peaked at #103)

Now on to a New Wave classic. What was the reason to keep the lead single off of Marshall’s second album, Field Day, off Pop radio? It’s easily the best thing he ever wrote and performed, and considering he already had a Top 40 presence the year before with Someday, Someway, this should have been a non-brainer for programmers. I also dig this version by Marti Jones, another artist Pop radio ignored.

That’s nine. We’ll finish up the chart week with the back nine in the next post.

 

Mysteries Of Time Unravelled

It looks like there were many debuts from chart week twenty-three that did not make it onto the Hot 100. So we had to break this list up in two. First, let’s check out those 80s Bubblers from 1980 to 1982.

Red Rider – Don’t Fight It (debuted 6/7/80, peaked at #103)

Here’s the second single from the Toronto, Canada quintet’s debut, released in 1979. Their first 45, White Hot, reached #48 earlier in the year, while this genial pop-rocker received barely any notice south of their border. They may be best known for their 1981 track, Lunatic Fringe, which got a lot of Rock radio airplay but did not chart in the US. Nevertheless, VH-1 still named it one of the greatest one-hit-wonders of the 80s.  But then again, they also have songs like Black Velvet listed, which hit #1 in March 1990.

Felix Cavaliere – Good To Have Love Back (debuted 6/7/80, peaked at #105)

Along with Tommy James, another voice from the 60s ended their Top 40 absence in 1980. The former lead singer of the Rascals had recorded three solo albums and one under the moniker Treasure in the 70s. This was the second single from 1979’s Castles In The Air, which sounds ripe for a Yacht Rock renaissance. But how can I be sure, in a world where the format keeps changing?

Willie Nile – It’s All Over (debuted 6/7/80, peaked at #106)

Somewhere between Tom Petty and Steve Forbert lies Willie Nile. This singer-songwriter is an artist whose name should be far more recognizable than it is. His debut was a critic’s darling back in 1980, but record company woes derailed his career for nearly a decade. Willie’s latest, New York At Night, was released in 2020 and continues to add to his legacy.

Rachel Sweet – Spellbound (debuted 6/7/80, peaked at #107)

What goes for Willie also applies to Rachel. At least she had a minor hit with her Rex Smith-duet cover of Everlasting Love. But, my Lord, she had a boatload of other tunes that were way more interesting, such as this New Wave pop release from her second LP, Protect the Innocent. Sweet moved into TV production in the late 90s on shows such as Sports Night, Dharma & Greg, and more recently, Hot In Cleveland and The Goldbergs. The 80s circle has now been closed.

Joe Chemay Band – Love Is A Crazy Feeling (debuted 6/13/81, peaked at #105)

Joe Chemay is a session bass player who not only played on Pink Floyd’s The Wall, he toured with them as a backup singer. He came off of that tour and released an album under The Joe Chemay Band called The  Riper The Finer, a nice slice of West Coast AOR. [The album was eventually released on CD in Japan in 2002 but is now out of print.]The single, Proud, reached #68 and this Toto-vibed track was the follow-up. Joe has played on most of Kenny Rogers’ album starting in the 80s and moved to Nashville, playing on classics by Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks.

Emmylou Harris – I Don’t Have To Crawl (debuted 6/13/81, peaked at #106)

Emmylou got her start as a Fallen Angel singing with Gram Parsons just before he died in 1973. Once you hear her voice, you know why. She has been consistently nominated for Country Grammys since the mid-70s. No one ever mentions her in RNRHOF discussions, but they sure as shit should, as her music has influenced generations of singers and songwriters in various genres. Her eighth album, Evangeline, provided Harris with her only Top 40 hit, a #37 cover of Mister Sandman. This beautiful ballad gets stuck down here, and it’s her only single to make the Country Top 40 between 1975 and 1985. I never appreciated those Trio albums she did with Dolly and Linda when they came out. But I sure do now.

Roberta Flack – You Stopped Loving Me (debuted 6/13/81, peaked at #108)

Lost between her unfinished duets album with Donny Hathaway and her 1982 LP, I’m the One, was the soundtrack to the Richard Pryor film Bustin’ Loose, which Roberta recorded. This upbeat track was written by Luther Vandross and will sneak into the R&B Top 40 at #32.

Meco – Big Band Medley (debuted 6/12/82, peaked at #101)

Did Meco inspire the medley craze of the early 80s, or was he just riding the wave? This gave something for your grandparents to dance to, but they weren’t buying 45s anymore. This debuts a week after Larry Elgart’s Hooked On Swing, and although it will climb to #32, I can’t tell which is worse.

Junior – Too Late (debuted 6/12/82, peaked at #102)

British soul singer Junior Giscombe reached the Top 40 with that sweet ass jam Mama Used To Say in early 1982. It only reached #30, so it was probably too much to ask this one which is just as great, to do much better than a #102 showing. It will reach #8 on the Soul charts and #20 in the UK.

Fun Fact: Junior was a member of the Red Wedge, a group of British artists such as Paul Weller and Billy Bragg who formed in 1985 to help enthuse young voters to become engaged with the Labour Party campaign.

Jethro Tull – Fallen On Hard Times (debuted 6/12/82, peaked at #108)

Named after the seed drill inventor, this prog band led by flutist Ian Anderson fell on hard times in the 80s, with an ever-shuffling lineup per album release. Their last chart hit was in 1977, with the #59 peak of The Whistler. This Bubbler from The Broadsword and The Beast was the closest they would ever come to the Hot 100 again. However, the decade wasn’t all bad for the Tull because they’ll win the first Best Hard Rock/Metal Performace Grammy in seven years from now.

 

 

 

Just Follow All The Written Rules

This is a tantalizing mix of country, soul, New Wave, rock, and funk that we have here Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s. Let’s see what we got on chart week twenty-two from 1980 to 1982.

Tommy James – You Got Me (debuted on 6/1/1980, peaked at #101)

The leader of the Shondells had a surprise comeback hit in 1980 with Three Times In Love which reached #19. This was his follow-up, and it’s not a shock to see it here as it’s too mellow even for 1980 and not as immediate as its predecessor.

Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers – Taking Somebody With Me When I Fall (debuted on 6/1/1980, peaked at #108)

Larry got his start writing songs for Dottie West and singing back-up for Kris Kristofferson. He recorded his first solo album in 1973 and brought his brothers, Steve & Rudy, in with him, officially changing their name in 1979 to the above. They had a #1 hit, All The Gold In California, from their album, Straight Ahead. This was the third single released, a nice little slice of Yacht Country, which could easily sit beside Poco or Firefall.

Fun fact: In Kenny Rogers’ 1979 song, Coward of the County, Tommy’s girlfriend, Becky, is sexually assaulted by the Gatlin Boys. Both Kenny and the songwriters, Billy Ed Wheeler & Roger Bowling, deny they were referring to Larry, Rudy & Steve, even though there was three of them. It’s also interesting they chose the name Becky as Larry’s first hit was called Sweet Becky Walker.

Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper (debuted on 6/6/1981, peaked at #101)

Yes, this is a sweet jam. From Grace’s fifth album, Nightclubbing, this mix of New Wave funk and Caribbean rhythms was the third single released and her first Top 40 hit on the Soul charts, peaking at #5. It will climb to #2 on the Dance Club charts as well. Put this on your car playlist and turn it up while you drive. Also, this song has nothing to do with parking cars, if you know what I mean.

Kraftwerk – Pocket Calculator (debuted on 6/6/1981, peaked at #102)

This German quartet was so far ahead of the game, and they had to stop recording music by the late 80s for everyone to catch up. And remember, they were recording most of their work on brand new technology, working out the kinks for artists in future decades. It still blows my mind that they had a Top 40 hit in 1975 with this. Nothing sounded like the album Computer World in 1981, when it was released on May 10th, 1981. This is what the Top 40 looked like if you need a reference.

The Roulettes – Only Heaven Knows (debuted on 6/6/1981, peaked at #105)

This is an excellent piece of retro-flavored Power Pop, in the vein of Phil Seymour, but confoundingly out of date by the time of its release. Damn, the window was short. Even still, this would have sounded nice on Pop radio and preferable to the other gunk clogging the charts.

Split Enz – Six Months In A Leaky Boat (debuted on 6/5/1982, peaked at #104)

This New Zealand sextet was led by singer/songwriter Tim Finn, whose brother Neil joined the group by album three, Dizrythmia. By 1980, he wrote and sung their best-known song, I Got You, even though it reached #53. This was the lead single from their seventh album, Time And Tide. Tim sings lead on this nautical tale about the New Zealand pioneers sailing to a new land.  It went Top 10 in Australia and New Zealand as well as in Canada, but this catchy ditty didn’t get much of a chance in the States. Maybe a few Columbus day spins.

Lacy J. Dalton – Slow Down (debuted on 6/5/1982, peaked at #106)

Country singer Jill Byrem, otherwise known to her fans as Lacy J. Dalton, released her fourth album, 16th Avenue, in 1982. The lead single was her only crossover mark, bubbling at #106 while climbing to #13 on the Country charts. Many fans have commented that she sounds a lot like Bonnie Raitt, which is probably why…

Bonnie Raitt – Me and the Boys (debuted on 6/5/1982, peaked at #109)

…this single gets caught in the fishing net with Lacy. Of course, this bluesy rocker shouldn’t have competed with Lacy’s lazy ballad anyway. From her eighth album, Green Light, this cover was initially released by NRBQ on their 1980 LP, Tiddlywinks, but Bonnie gives it some special sauce.

Randy Crawford – One Hello (debuted on 6/5/1982, peaked at #110)

And here’s another lady who should have had at least one crossover hit. Singing on the Crusaders’ Street Life doesn’t count. She’s had a lot more success in the UK with five Top 20 hits, 3 of them reaching the Top 10. This ballad written by Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch and included on her sixth long-play, Windsong, was not one of them but should have been. This was also the featured song of the Neil Simon film flop, I Ought To Be In Pictures.

 

The Time That It Takes To Feel It

We’re up to chart week twenty-one during our review of those tunes that were Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s. So let’s see who we have this week.

Frank Zappa – I Don’t Wanna Get Drafted (debuted 5/24/80, peaked at #103)

I was surprised to see this here. Zappa’s music is its own universe, and you’re either in that world or not. Sure, you can make a visit, but Frank and his fifty time signatures changes force you to either stay or leave. Zappa’s statement on the upcoming draft reinstatement during the Carter Administration was released as a single before being re-recorded for the 1981 album, You Are What You Is. This single is also the first recorded appearance by his kids, Moon Unit and Ahmet.

Rush – Entre Nous (debuted 5/24/80, peaked at #110)

Here’s the second single from the Canadian prog-rock trio’s seventh album, Permanent Waves, following up the #51 peak of The Spirit of Radio. This one is a straight-ahead rocker that vibes along the lines of fellow Canucks, Max Webster but didn’t click on Pop radio.

Gino Soccio – Try It Out (debuted 5/30/81, peaked at #103)

Check it out – another Gino from Montreal. But rather than wanting to stop or partaking in an internal life, this Gino is making folks move on the dance floor. This boogie jam will spend six weeks at #1 on the Disco Top 100.

Randy Meisner – Gotta Get Away (debuted 5/30/81, peaked at #104)

Randy netted three Top 40 hits after stepping away from the Eagles in 1977, although I’m sure that none of them paid out anything close to his co-write of Take It To The Limit. You’re more likely to hear that song a thousand times before you hear any of his solo hits. This mellow rock single is the follow-up to his biggest hit, Hearts On Fire, which hit #19. It was the third release from his second album, One More Song.

Marshall Tucker Band – This Time I Believe (debuted 5/30/81, peaked at #106)

The pride of Spartanburg, SC is back with their eleventh album, Dedicated, a tribute to band member Tommy Caldwell and his brother Tim, who died in 1980 in separate traffic accidents. Unfortunately, Southern Rock had lost its favor with Pop radio and none of the singles from the album ever charted.

Larry Graham – Don’t Stop When You’re Hot (debuted 5/29/82, peaked at #102)

The master of the bass slap is back with a mid-tempo body shaker from his album, Sooner Or Later, that made no impression with Top 40 audiences at all. Could we have traded this for an Air Supply single? Yes, and we should have. It will reach the R&B Top 20 and become his only charting 45 in the UK.

Buckner & Garcia – Do The Donkey Kong (debuted 5/29/82, peaked at #103)

Pac-Man Fever was a huge novelty hit in 1982 due to the massive success of the aforementioned video arcade game. This catastrophe is an attempt at a follow-up by two guys who clearly ran out of ideas. Radio programmers and Pop music customers promptly threw a flaming barrel their way.

Chubby Checker – Harder Than Diamond (debuted 5/29/82, peaked at #104)

If Gary U.S. Bonds could have an early 80s comeback, why not that man who introduced us to The Twist. Checker released The Change Has Come, but the lead-off single, Running, only reached #91. I prefer the follow-up, which tried to update Chubby’s sound into melancholy New Wave rock. But it did even worse, turning up as a Bubbler.  I have the LP, and as far as I know, this has yet to be issued digitally. Had this been more successful, maybe Chubby wouldn’t have agreed to this.

Gary Moore – Always Gonna Love You (debuted 5/28/83, peaked at #103)

This Irish guitarist has had a long career as a session player, a solo artist, and a member of Colosseum II and Thin Lizzy. From his album, Corridors of Power, this power ballad was the closest that Gary had sniffed the Hot 100 until his #97 peak of Still Got the Blues (For You) in 1990.

Fun Fact: It’s not well-known, but Gary is considered the “sixth” Traveling Wilbury. He appears on the 1990 release Vol. 3 on She’s My Baby and is credited as Ken Wilbury.

Stacy Lattisaw & Johnny Gill – Baby It’s You (debuted 5/26/84, peaked at #102)

Six albums in, Stacy goes the Flack/ Hathaway route with a duet album featuring up-and-coming DC singer Johnny Gill. This a slow dance cover of the 1961 Shirelles classic written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and was the second single released from Perfect Combination. It will reach #37 on the Soul charts.

Santana – I’m The One Who Loves You (debuted 5/25/85, peaked at #102)

Santana has gone through many peaks and valleys in its lifetime. In 1985, the Beyond Appearances album would start a new career slide down and an absence from the Hot 100 until 1999’s mega-smash, Smooth. His cover of an obscure Impressions single from 1963 written by Curtis Mayfield has a dated arrangement and is just plain dull.

Fun Fact: Rob Thomas was only thirteen years old when this single came out.

Bill Withers – Oh Yeah! (debuted 5/25/85, peaked at #106)

We’re ending up on a high note. And if you’ve never heard this song before, blame Columbia. They systemically tried breaking Bill’s spirit for years, rejecting his material until he finally released the album, Watching You, Watching Me, seven years after ‘Bout Love. While the release suffers from tired 80s production, the sweetness still shines through. There’s no reason that this shouldn’t have been playing on Pop radio during the Summer of 1985 other than the fact that the record company didn’t push it. The single was co-written by Larry Carlton and David Foster and peaked at #22 on the Soul charts. Bill promptly retired from the music business and spent the last thirty-five years enjoying the company of family and friends while we continued to enjoy his music.

Must Be A Sucker For It

Let’s get back to checking out those songs held under the Hot 100 in the 80s, the ones we affectionately call the Bubblers. We’re up to chart week twenty, and as always, there’s a lot of lost Soul(s).

Kool & The Gang – Hangin’ Out (debuted 5/17/80, peaked at #103)

This New Jersey funk band made two significant changes in 1978. They brought in a producer (Deodato), and they hired a full-time lead singer (J.T. Taylor) Both paid immediate dividends that lasted through most of the 80s. Their 1979 album, Ladies Night, smoothed out some of their rough edges and spawned two Top 10 singles on both the Pop & R&B charts. This was the third single which reached #36 on the R&B Hot 100. Within six months, they’ll have the most successful and most enduring single of their career.

Chaka Khan – Clouds (debuted 5/17/80, peaked at #103)

Chaka reached #21 with I’m Every Woman from her debut in 1978, then proceeded to strike out at Top 40 radio with every solo single she released until 1984’s I Feel For You. She had a wealth of potential hit singles in between those years but was shut out by Pop programmers. This Ashford & Simpon-penned funky disco tune was the lead single from her terrific second album, Naughty, will reach the R&B Top 10.

Fun fact: Sixteen-year-old Whitney Houston, along with her mom Cissy sings back-up on this track. Whitney will return the favor by covering I’m Every Woman for The Bodyguard soundtrack, taking it up to #4, and giving Miss Khan a shout-out at the end.

Joe Perry Project – Let The Music Do The Talking (debuted 5/17/80, peaked at #110)

Aerosmith was in complete disarray by 1978, prompting Joe Perry to leave the band and form a new project. Unfortunately, the leader of this outfit was not charismatic but instead the quiet guy, hence the title. And the music was not worth listening to, in my opinion. We all know how it turns out, so let’s just call this rocks bottom.

Bill Summers And Summers Heat – Call It What You Want (debuted 5/23/81, peaked at #103)

Bill Summers is a percussionist who played in the Herbie Hancock’s band, The Headhunters, including their 1973 jazz fusion breakthrough album, which featured Chameleon & Watermelon Man. Bill formed the funk band Summers Heat in 1977, and this single, the title track from their fourth album, became their most successful, reaching #16 on the R&B charts.

Lakeside – Something About That Woman (debuted 5/22/82, peaked at #110)

Ohio, the land of Funk, was the birthplace of this nonet which tallied thirteen Top 40 R&B hits without ever grabbing one Top 40. This laid-back jam was the second single from the band’s sixth album, Your Wish Is My Command, and reached #25 Soul.

English Beat – Save It For Later (debuted 5/21/83, peaked at #103)

What’s this New Wave classic doing here? Well, the charts were getting clogged with catchy pop from the UK, and someone was going to held down. For every Our House, there was a Save It For Later, the second Bubbler from the group’s final album (in their original configuration), Special Beat Service. They had more success as parts of new outfits, General Public and Fine Young Cannibals.

Smokey Robinson – And I Don’t Love You (debuted 5/19/84, peaked at #106)

Smokey was still playing the boogie game in 1984 with another rare groove track, the lead single from his fourteenth solo album, Essar (get it? his initials…) It’s a sweet groove, but Smokey’s sweet soothing voice sounds odd on top of it. He’s still two albums away from his late 80s comeback.

Skipworth & Turner – Thinking About Your Love (debuted 5/18/85, peaked at #104)

Talk about a lost jam. This is so good. How did this not cross over in the Summer of 1985? They used play this video a lot on VH-1 and that’s where I became familiar with it, rather than in its inclusion in the female bodybuilding documentary, Pumping Iron II. In the 2013 film, Begin Again during a celebratory wrap party scene during a fun ‘don’t dance‘ challenge. Everyone lost. It will reach the R&B Top 10 and UK Top 40.

Peter Brown – Zie Zie Won’t Dance (debuted 5/18/85, peaked at #108)

After after a few classic Disco smashes in the late 70s, Peter couldn’t get any of his 1980 singles to chart at all despite them being catchy, danceable, and radio-ready. Released from his 1984 album, Snap, it will be his last song to post on the Hot Disco/ Dance charts reaching #20

Frederick – Gentle (Calling Your Name) (debuted 5/18/85, peaked at #108)

We’re gonna wrap up the week of Bubblers with a Quiet storm ballad from the Cleveland singer, Frederick Davis. It didn’t get a lot of National play even on Soul radio, as it only reached #48 on the R&B charts. This was partly due to local record label Heat Records’ failure to keep up with the single’s buying demand. But if they played it in your region, there’s a good chance you danced to it at a prom, wedding or the privacy of your own home.

 

What Are Words Worth?

We’re stumbling through the jungle of Hot 100 songs that never were. Let’s review those tunes that were Bubbling Under in the 80s during chart week n-n-n-n-nineteen.

Skyy – High (debuted 5/10/1980, peaked at #102)

Here’s a funk octet from Brooklyn led by three sisters, mentored by Brass Construction leader Randy Muller. He wrote and produced this R&B Top 20 jam from the group’s second album, Skyway.  They would nab their only Top 40 hit, Call Me. from their fourth album, Skyy Line, in 1982.

The Whispers – I Can Make It Better (debuted 5/16/1981, peaked at #105)

After a decade of releases, this L.A. quintet led by twins Walter and Scotty Scott hit the Top 40 with three songs in a row. This funky groove was the follow-up to It’s A Love Thing, a #28 hit, but although it got significant club play, it only reached #40 on the Soul charts, as well as getting stalled here.

Phil Seymour – Let Her Dance (debuted 5/16/1981, peaked at #110)

Former bassist and drummer for the Dwight Twilley Band, Phil Seymour, follow up his only Top 40 hit, Precious To Me, with an obscure Bobby Fuller Four cover. Giving it the Power Pop treatment it deserved was not enough to push it onto the charts.

Tom Tom Club – Wordy Rappinghood (debuted 5/15/1982, peaked at #105)

Even though this followed up the Top 40 hit, Genius of Love, It was recorded and released first, selling tens of thousands as a 12″ import. It features an interpolation of the children’s song, A Ram Sam Sam, and a tune that Tina Weymouth and her sisters Laura and Lani made up as kids during their school days in France. That’s why they both received songwriting credit. This massive hit in Europe hit the Top 10 in Spain, Belgium, France, and the UK. It will top the Disco Top 80 charts. And this slaps like a mofo.

Kix – Body Talk (debuted 5/14/1983, peaked at #104)

Heavy metal was barely given any chance at Pop radio until MTV forced the issue.  Mostly that meant, you needed a vibrant, well-remembered video to push your single, and this band didn’t have one yet. This Maryland quintet was on their second album when they recorded a hard rock version of Nick Gilder’s (She Talks) Body Talk. Its failure did not deter the band, and six years later, they would record the power balled, Don’t Close Your Eyes, which they took up to #11.

Smokey Robinson – Touch The Sky (debuted 5/14/1983, peaked at #110)

It doesn’t feel right to say that Smokey was coasting in 1983. But how else would you describe a song where it feels like Smokey is barely there? I mean, here’s the album cover. Feels like he’s given up. This breezy single will only get up to #68 on the Soul charts.

Russ Ballard – Voices (debuted 5/12/1984, peaked at #110)

The man who wrote Three Dog Night’s Liar, America’s You Can Do Magic, and Ace Frehley’s New York Groove could not muster a solo hit of his won. The former Argent guitarist’s best showing has his 1980 single On The Rebound, which peaked at #58. This was the lead single from his sixth album, Russ Ballard, and should have been given a better shot.

Marvin Gaye – Sanctified Lady (debuted 5/11/1985, peaked at #101)

Marvin has his big comeback in 1983 with the smash Sexual Healing from his album, Midnight Love. It was the first of three LPs to be released by Columbia, and he had already recorded tracks for the follow-up, including this one, titled initially Sanctified Pussy. Lyrically Marvin was going into a very sexually suggestive, if not misogynistic direction. But musically, I really dig the electro-funk moves he was making. This easily could have been played next to anything else in the Summer of 85. And with Aretha shining brightly on Pop radio back then, it’s a shame Marvin couldn’t join her.

Fun fact: Barry White has mentioned that he had planned to record a duet with Marvin for this unfinished album. That’s enough to make a million ovaries explode.

B.B. King – Into The Night (debuted 5/11/1985, peaked at #107)

I loved this song back then, and I felt like the newly launched VH-1 played this quite often that Summer. This was used as the title theme to the new John Landis movie starring Michelle Pfieffer and Jeff Goldblum. B.B.’s song, My Lucille, his bluesy ode to his guitar, makes an appearance in the film as well. This will be his last R&B Top 40 when it reaches #15.

Wang Chung – Fire In The Twilight (debuted 5/11/1985, peaked at #110)

Here’s another soundtrack tune, this one from the John Hughes-directed high school flick, The Breakfast Club. Simple Minds was up at #3 with Don’t You (Forget About Me) when they single entered then immediately left the Bubblers. This track is played during the scene when the jock, the princess, the nerd, the burnout, and the basket case run through the hallways with a bag of weed trying to evade the principal.