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.

Keep The Feeling Of The Spirit

Let’s continue our review of the 80s Bubbling Under tracks from chart week twenty-six with a slew of R&B that was kept off the Pop charts.

Starpoint – Don’t Be So Serious (debuted 7/2/1983, peaked at #107)

Here’s a synth-funk quintet from Maryland led by four Phillips brothers. They released their fifth album, It’s So Delicious, in 1983. This was the lead single which became their biggest R&B hit to date, reaching #14. The band would only reach the Pop Top 40 once in 1985 with Object of My Desire.

Kool & The Gang – Straight Ahead (debuted 6/30/1984, peaked at #103)

After adding permanent lead singer J.T. Taylor and bring in Deodato to produce, this Jersey City funk outfit went on a Top 40 tear throughout the 80s. This was one of the few misses from an album [In the Heart] that already spawned Tonight [#13] and the #2 smash, Joanna. Not sure why this didn’t get picked up on Pop and R&B playlists [It peaked at #49 Soul], but it climbed to #15 in the UK.

Glassmoon – Cold Kid (debuted 6/30/1984, peaked at #103)

Here’s a Pop-rock quartet from Raleigh, NC, called initially Glass Moon, who had two albums under their belt and one charting record, a cover of the Hollies’ On A Carousel which reached #50 in 1982. Then the band split, but lead singer Dave Adams recruited new members, removed the spaced between glass and moon, and recorded one more album, Sympathetic Vibration, which spawned the New Wave-y tune. Their next recorded album has shelved, and the band was no more.

Fun fact: Bobby Patterson, who played bass on the 1984 album, went on to form Dag, a superb retro-funk band who put out a stellar album in 1994 called Righteous.

Luther Vandross – It’s Over Now (debuted 6/29/1985, peaked at #101)

It took Luther an entire decade to become Luther, although the R&B audience took to him almost immediately. Eddie Murphy was already spoofing him on 1983’s Delirious. Vandross got his second Top 40 hit in 1985, Til My Baby Comes Home, from his sixth album, The Night I Fell In Love, but it only climbed as high as #29. This was the second single from the album, and even though this boogie jam hit #4 on the R&B charts, it ends up here as a Bubbler.

René & Angela – Save Your Love (For #1) (debuted 6/29/1985, peaked at #101)

And yet another Soul act that couldn’t cross over. This was the duo’s first R&B #1 and seventh Top 40 on that chart. But the lead single from their fourth and final album, Street Called Desire, bottoms out here. It will have a #3 zenith on the Dance Club charts.

Melba Moore – When You Love Me Like This (debuted 6/29/1985, peaked at #106)

Then there’s the Pop radio shunning of New York City-born Melba Moore. Since this stage singer started recording in the late 60s, the closest she came to a Pop hit was her #47 cover of the Bee Gees’ You Stepped Into My Life in 1978. And that was attributed more to Gibb fever. This Quiet Storm midtempo ballad from her fourteenth album, Read My Lips, will be her thirteenth R&B Top 40.

The Textones – Midnight Mission (debuted 6/29/1985, peaked at #109)

We finish with a great single that has a little ahead of its time for acceptance. Led by singer/ songwriter Carla Olson, The Textones were formed in the L.A. punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s. By their debut in 1984, they added a little folk and country into the mix, which aligned them more to the cowpunk scene that featured bands like Lone Justice. A song about the forgotten poor at the height of 80s jingoism was always going to be a tough sell. But it’s not late to give this a spin because the message is, unfortunately, still timely.

Fun fact: Guitarist Kathy Valentine was an early band member but left to join the Go-Gos just before their debut album.

Fun fact 2: The Textones drummer on their debut was Dwight Twilley’s cohort, Phil Seymour.

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.

Playing Around With Words

It’s Bubbling Under in the 80s time again. Let’s review the other half of the tracks that didn’t make it onto the Hot 100 during chart week twenty-four.

Joe Cocker – Threw It Away (debuted 6/18/1983, peaked at #104)This dude had such an up and down career when it came to Pop radio, a few highs followed by long lulls. He’s in the midst of one in 1983 after topping the charts in 1982 with Up Where We Belong. It will be another seven years before he hits the Top 40 one more time in late 1989 with When The Night Comes. That probably had more to do with the fact that it was written by Bryan Adams and Diane  Warren. Folks passed on this melancholy single that has a bit of Yachtiness to it. It was his last single for Island Records, so it never made it onto an album and is very hard to find.

Robert Hazard – Change Reaction (debuted 6/18/1983, peaked at #106)

The man from Philly who wrote Girls Just Want To Have Fun (a future hit for Cyndi Lauper) and who charted earlier in the year with Escalator Of Life [#58] is back with a bouncy rocker. It’s bound to make you push up your jacket sleeves and shake your head.

Pamala Stanley – Coming Out Of Hiding (debuted 6/16/1984, peaked at #106)

Here’s another Philly singer who bubbled under back in 1979 with This Is Hot is back with her second Bubbler. Co-written with her brother James, this synth-disco tune reached #4 on the Billboard Dance charts. I remember seeing the video a lot on public access video shows and thought it was a much bigger hit than it ended up to be.

George Clinton – Double Oh-Oh (debuted 6/15/1985, peaked at #101)

Not one of George’s solo singles ever charted on the Hot 100.  But boy, oh boy, have they been sampled. This one got as close as Atomic Dog did two years earlier, but it’s not as catchy. It’s from his third album, Some of My Best Friends Are Jokes.

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly – Too Many Games (debuted 6/15/1985, peaked at #103)

Here’s another artist that couldn’t cross over to the Pop market even though they place four songs on the Hot 100. But this Philly (again) band wasn’t making music for the Top 40. All of those tasty grooves were for their R&B audience, who still appreciate them today. If you’ve never heard their music, the album, Can’t Stop the Love is an excellent place to start.

Force M.D.’s – Itchin’ For A Scratch (debuted 6/15/1985, peaked at #105)

A year before they hit the Top 10 with Tender Love, this Staten Island sextet was making the transition from hip-hop to doo-wop. Thus you have some smooth harmonies over jacked-up drum beats, some vinyl scratching with a bit of rapping mixed in for good measure. The single was released from the soundtrack to the movie Rappin’, the unofficial sequel to Breakin’ 2.

Nolan Thomas – One Bad Apple (debuted 6/15/1985, peaked at #105)

Nolan was a teen singer from New Jersey who had a club with Yo’ Little Brother, which climbed to #57. Some record company nitwit thought it was a good idea to have him record a Freestyle cover of the Osmonds 1971 smash. Let’s just say the whole barrel became rotten. Career juiced. Next.

Cheyne – Call Me Mr. ‘Telephone’ (Answering Service) (debuted 6/15/1985, peaked at #106)

Anything that sounded remotely like Madonna, who was super huge at the time, was pushed out there to grab some of Madge’s money. This odd slice of Italo-Disco, which also features a mini-rap, is actually a cover as it was initially recorded by a band named Answering Service. This reached #1 on the Dance Club charts and #62 on the R&B charts. A better quality recording might have garnered the track more attention.

Bryan Ferry – Slave To Love (debuted 6/15/1985, peaked at #109)

Another artist who wasn’t motivated to make the Top 40 even though he made many great Pop singles. This makes a one-week stop as a Bubbler at #109 but reached the UK Top 10. It lives on as a New Wave classic as the background music to any erotic film scene.


Simple But No So Clear

Let’s continue our review of those snakebit tunes Bubbling Under the Hot 100 during the 80s. Here’s the group that showed up on chart week twenty-three from 1983 to 1985.

Carlos Santana – Watch Your Step (debuted 6/11/83, peaked at #107)

Devadip brings a little Muscle Shoals to San Francisco on his fifth solo album, Havana Moon, produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett. This fun, upbeat rocker also features the Tower Of Power horns. Carlos has only charted once on the Hot 100 outside of his band for all of his output. That was his live version of Evil Ways with Buddy Miles that reached #84 in 1972.

O’Bryan – Lovelite (debuted 6/9/84, peaked at #101)

O’Bryan Burnette is an R&B singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who racked up seven Top 40 hits on the Soul charts. This synth-funk jam from his third album, Be My Lover, was his biggest going all the way to #1. It was co-written as all the album tracks were by Don Cornelius. And that’s one way to get yourself on Soul Train. Also, does he know a limo driver is waiting for him at LaGuardia?

Greg Kihn Band – Reunited (debuted 6/9/84, peaked at #101)

And it feels so good. But this isn’t a Peaches & Herb remake. It’s the first single from Kihntagious, the sixth official release from the Greg Kihn Band.  Kihn this power popper make the Hot 100? No, it kihnt, as it kihn only climb as high as #101. Kihn you believe that? What an absolute kihn. Too bad they weren’t Kihnadian. They could’ve gotten some kihnkihn airplay.

John Lennon – Borrowed Time (debuted 6/9/84, peaked at #108)

Almost four years after John & Yoko’s Double Fantasy, Ono tried to finish the album that she & he were working on when he was murdered in December 1980. She called it Milk And Honey. Nobody Told Me ended up reaching #5, and after I’m Stepping Out only climbed as high as #55, this was released as the third single. Inspired by Bunny Wailer and a harrowing sailing trip, John wrote and recorded the first version of the song in Bermuda, which heavily influenced the reggae vibes, before going into the studio in New York during August 1980 band sessions.

The Deele – Material Thangz (debuted 6/8/85, peaked at #101)

This Cincinnati quintet kept delivering the synth-funk jams, which got them R&B airplay (#14 Soul) but never helped them crossover to Pop radio. They didn’t realize they had a smooth ballad songwriter in their lineup called Babyface. When they did, he co-wrote and co-sang Two Occasions, their only Top 40 hit. And then he split.

Van Zant – You’ve Got To Believe In Love (debuted 6/8/85, peaked at #102)

The Johnny Van Zant Band released three early 80s albums with not much to show for it. Even though Southern Rock was falling out of fashion, Johnny was undeterred and knew what to do. He changed the name of the band to Van Zant and released a fourth album under that moniker. And, voila, he was rewarded with a Bubbler. This track was co-written by Bill “This Night Won’t Last Forever” LaBounty. Johnny will later team up with Donnie as a tribute to Ronnie.

Ashford & Simpson – Babies (debuted 6/8/85, peaked at #102)

This married duo, which had their biggest Pop hit with Solid when it reached #12 in early 1985, is now on single #3 from that 1984 release. And still no love. This moody synth-soul tune will reach #29 on the R&B charts and features a muted trumpet solo by Joe Mosello, who played with Maynard Ferguson in the late 70s.

Run-D.M.C. – You Talk Too Much (debuted 6/8/85, peaked at #107)

Homeboy, you never SHUT UP! Another great track from the Hollis, Queens trio’s second album, King of Rock, which was blasting out of boomboxes all Summer in 1985. It will also make the R&B Top 20.

Greg Kihn – Boys Won’t (Leave The Girls Alone) (debuted 6/8/85, peaked at #110)

Kihn you believe this? Two Greg Kihn songs in one post. This one was from Citizen Kihn, Greg’s first solo album since 1978’s Next Of Kihn and was written with his long-time bass player, Steve Wright. It’s the catchy follow-up to his last Top 40 hit, Lucky but kihn barely get itself into the Bubbler club. It features Pete Escovedo on percussion. Also, rosebud.


A Democracy of Sorts

Let’s continue our review of those unlucky tracks held down by Pop radio programmers as they Bubbled Under the Hot 100 during chart week twenty-two from 1983 to 1985.

Mary Jane Girls – Candy Man (debuted on 6/4/1983, peaked at #101)

What started out as an attempt to get Motown to sign singer Jojo McDuffie turned into a contract for a four-woman group of singers who called themselves the Mary Jane Girls. Named after Rick James’ song, Mary Jane, these ladies had been mining backup for the superfreak on tour for a few years. But when Prince created Vanity 6, Rick kicked into gear to show he could do the same but better. Well, Rick was right. Their debut was a funky delight and spawned three R&B Top 40 hits as well as endless grooves to sample.

Roxy Music – More Than This (debuted on 6/4/1983, peaked at #102)

How does an established band that heavily influenced many 80s New Wave bands create a critically revered album at the height of New Wave and fail to have any of their songs played on Pop radio? This classic was a smash worldwide, including reaching #6 in the UK a year previous. Bryan Ferry would split the group up and Avalon remains their last studio album. Fourteen years later, a Merchant-less 10000 Maniacs would grab their only Top 40 hit with a cover of this song. But that pales in comparison to tastemaker Bob Harris.

Spandau Ballet – Lifeline (debuted on 6/4/1983, peaked at #108)

Here’s a band who enjoyed the second British Invasion. Their third album, True gave us the title track and the #29 single, Gold. This was the first single released from the album in the Uk and peaked at #7. In the US, it was the third and it stalled in the Bubbler zone.

Amy Holland – Anytime You Want Me (debuted on 6/4/1983, peaked at #110)

This synthy pop-rock track, written by Paul Bliss, was the first single from the Michael McDonald-produced sophomore effort from Amy called On Your Every Word. It did not plan any Hot 100 entries after Amy’s debut gave us How Do I Survive and garnered her a nomination for Best New Artist. It is still a smooth recording with my favorite track, Rollin’ By, featuring a tasty guitar solo by Steve Lukather. Amy & Michael got married in 1983 and are still together.

Herbie Hancock – Mega-Mix (debuted on 6/2/1984, peaked at #105)

Herbie had his biggest R&B hit with Rockit in 1983 reaching #6. It also hit #1 on the Dance charts. So the thinking was, why not take all of the tracks on Future Shock, throw in 1974’s Chameleon and mash it all together? Well, mash it what it sounded like, and it may have killed the momentum of Hancock’s future electro-funk experiments.

Roger Waters – 5:01 A.M. (The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking) (debuted on 6/2/1984, peaked at #110)

After years of leading Pink Floyd, Roger finally left the quartet and released his first (non-soundtrack) solo album, The Pros and Cons Of Hitch Hiking. He started working on this idea at the same as The Wall, revolving around a man having a midlife crisis in real-time from 4:30AM to 5:11 AM, hence the title, the tenth cut on the LP. It’s bizarre as shit but somehow makes sense if you enter Roger’s world. Clapton’s guitar meanders throughout.

Jesse Johnson’s Revue – Can You Help Me (debuted on 6/1/1985, peaked at #110)

The guitarist for The Time released his first of three solo 80s albums, Jesse Johnson’s Revue, in 1985. This was the second single released after Be Your Man reached #61 on the Hot 100. I have to believe that had Jesse put this out on any other label than square-ass A&M, which was in the midst of screwing up Janet Jackson’s career,  this might have heard by more folks. As it stood, it will be his second straight R&B Top 10, peaking at #3.


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.