A Cool Dude In A Loose Mood

Let’s take a look at those unlucky singles that were Bubbling Under in the 80s during chart week seven. [Note – more New Wave, more Soul]

The Inmates – The Walk (debuted on 2/16/1980, peaked at #107)

British quintet, The Inmates, crossed over in the US with their first single, Dirty Water, a cover of the Standells 1996 hit. [They substituted the Thames for the Charles.] This was their follow-up track, a song originally performed by Jimmy McCracklin, who took it into the Top 10 in 1958. It will reach the UK Top 40.

Pearl Harbor & The Explosions – You Got It (Release It) (debuted on 2/16/1980, peaked at #108)

Here’s a sensitively-titled quartet from San Francisco with a single from their one-off debut album. This song isn’t the best track off of the album (that would be this one), but it’s still a fair representation of what most New Wave rock bands sounded like in 1980. Lead singer Pearl E. Gates was married to Clash bassist Paul Simonon for a spell.

Crazy Joe and the Variable Speed Band – Eugene (debuted on 2/21/1981, peaked at #105)

What the hell is this? I remember this song getting a lot of NY airplay when I was younger. Was the lead character mentally challenged or just doing a poor Italian accent? As kids, we assumed the former, using the line ma-name-is-uh-you-jean to make fun of anyone we thought was a dork. (not realizing that I was one myself) Eugene is horrible at picking up women (two ginger ales for my girls) and pick-up lines (I like to stick my hands in fans for fun). But it’s still debatable whether or not this Ace Frehley-produced disco-rock song is parody or not. Or were they making fun of a bass player named Mr. Simmons?

Chas Jankel – Glad To Know You (debuted on 2/20/1982, peaked at #102)

Labelmate Quincy Jones had a Top 30 hit in 1981 with his version of Chas’ Ai No Corrida. So the label made sure to promote (poorly) the first single from his next album, Questionnaire (or Chasanova in England). I quite enjoy Chas’ first two albums, and they were a big hit in the clubs. This track, which reached #57 on the R&B charts, was the biggest Dance single of 1982, reaching #1 for seven weeks. Future Mechanic Peter Van Hooke programmed the Linn drum patterns.

Rosanne Cash – Blue Moon With Heartache (debuted on 2/20/1982, peaked at #104)

Rosanne, daughter of Johnny and his first wife, Vivian, scored a surprise smash in 1981 when Seven Year Ache, the title track of her third album, reached #22. This was the third single released from the album, a beautifully tender ballad that will become her third #1 Country hit. [Love Emmylou Harris’ harmonies on the chorus.] It’s the last time she’ll come anywhere near the Hot 100, but she will rack up seven more Nashville chart-toppers before the decade’s end.

New York Citi Peech Boys – Life Is Something Special (debuted on 2/19/1983, peaked at #108)

Pumping Iron was a bodybuilding documentary released in 1977, which centered on a competition for Mr. Olympia between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. Eight years later, the sequel focused on the women. the soundtrack featured way better music by Art of Noise, Grace Jones, and this track, which was co-written and produced by DJ Larry Levan. This was their first single, but they would shorten their name to Peech Boys for all subsequent releases.

Survivor – I Never Stopped Loving You (debuted on 2/18/1984, peaked at #104)

Over an eight-year period, this Chicago quintet had eight Top 40 hits, ten entries into The Other Sixty, and two Bubblers. This rock ballad was the second single released from the group’s fourth album, Caught In The Game, which would be lead singer Dave Bickler’s last recording.

Mary Jane Girls – Jealousy (debuted on 2/18/1984, peaked at #106)

I’m gonna guess that producer Rick James severely pissed off the A&R department at Gordy Records. Otherwise, how do you explain this single as one of four Bubblers from this quartet’s debut? This one was the most Pop of the bunch, which also explains its #84 zenith on the R&B charts.

Pieces Of A Dream – Fo-Fi-Fo (debuted on 2/18/1984, peaked at #107)

Here’s a jazz fusion trio from Philly who started incorporating more R&B a la George Benson as they moved on. Their third album, Imagine This, was produced by Saxophonist Grover Washington Jr, a big 76ers fan. He had already written an ode to Dr. J. [Let It Flow] in 1980, so when his favorite basketball team won the NBA champs, he knew he needed to pay tribute again. Thus, he wrote this song that enumerates his Moses Malone-inspired lucky number 4-5-4, the amount games the Sixers won in the 1983 playoffs. This smooth paean was the group’s biggest hit reaching #15 on the Soul charts.

Wilton Felder featuring Bobby Womack – (No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Lookin’ Up To You (debuted on 2/16/1985, peaked at #102)

Crusaders sax player Wilton Felder released his fifth solo album, Secrets, in 1985, which featured this gospel-flavored ballad sung by Bobby Womack and female singer Alltrinna Grayson. It will hit #2 for three weeks on the R&B charts.

Gladys Knight & The Pips – My Time (debuted on 2/16/1985, peaked at #102)

At this point, Gladys and the guys had been shut out by Top 40 radio for ten years. What were they supposed to do? Their sound changed with the times, and this boogie jam reflects that. I think their move to Columbia was a mistake, and they were forgotten on that massive roster for years. This track, the lead single from their album, Life, will reach the R&B Top 20.

Dokken – Just Got Lucky (debuted on 2/16/1982, peaked at #105)

Here’s the only band that I know of who had their lawyer fill in on guitar. After the failure of this metal quintet’s debut and a growing contention between Don Dokken and guitarist George Lynch, their follow-up Tooth and Nail almost didn’t happen. This was the second single released from the album, and it gave the ban a little hope even as it bubbles here. Their next single, Alone Again, will get up to #64 and push sales onto the Gold level.

All The Years and No One Heard

Let’s take a look at those songs from 1983, 1984, and 1985 that were held down beneath the Hot 100 waters that make up the Bubbling Under during chart week six.

Dolly Parton & Willie Nelson – Everything’s Beautiful (In Its Own Way) (debuted on 2-12-83, peaked at #102)

In 1982, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton & Brenda Lee collaborated together on a double album called The Winning Hand. Everyone duets with each other as well as records something solo. This waltz ballad is not a cover of the Ray Stevens 1970 hit; instead, it’s written by Dolly. It will become a Top 10 Country hit and reach the AC Top 20.

Peter Brown – Baby Gets High ((debuted on 2-12-83, peaked at #104)

After Peter’s 1977 debut, A Fantasy Love Affair, spawned two hits, Do Ya Wanna Get Funky & Dance With Me, he disappeared from Pop radio but not the clubs. This jam will reach #6 on the Dance charts. In a year from now, a singer named Madonna will begin recording a song that Peter co-wrote for her new album, Like A Virgin. It will become her new nickname.

ABBA – One Of Us (debuted on 2-12-83, peaked at #107)

This tune, originally recorded for 1981’s The Visitors but released in the US to promote the optimistically titled The Singles: The First Ten Years, starts off like a scene scored for The Godfather Part 2 before moving into a gentle synth-pop groove. This sad tale of impending divorce hit #1 in six countries, but not in the UK, where it hit #3, or Sweden, where it reached #13. This is the closest the quartet will come to the Hot 100 again.

Rufus and Chaka Khan – One Million Kisses (debuted on 2-11-84, peaked at #102)

Chaka got together with her former band Rufus one more time for the double live album, Stomping at the Savoy. They recorded one side full of new studio tracks, including the classic, Ain’t Nobody. This was the follow-up, co-written by Jeffrey Osborne, and a smooth midtempo track worthy of way more success than its inclusion here. It will peak at #37 on the R&B charts.

Boys Brigade – Melody (debuted on 2-11-84, peaked at #104)

And now, here’s a New Wave rock quartet from Toronto, Canada, whose debut album was produced by Geddy Lee of Rush. This moody ode to a lost love is spoken and sung by keyboardist Malcolm Burn and is part Lou Reed and part Here Comes My Girl. The band broke up after one album, and Burn would go on to produce the Grammy-winning album Red Dirt Girl by Emmylou Harris, among others.

Jacqui Brookes – Lost Without Your Love (debuted on 2-11-84, peaked at #105)

Before the Scottish band, The Silencers were formed, guitarists Jimmie O’Neill collaborated with singer Brookes for an electro-pop album called Sob Stories. Even during the heydey of New Wave, this LP disappeared without a trace, with only this dance single spending a here as a Bubbler.

The Cure – The Love Cats (debuted on 2-11-84, peaked at #107)

It’s as if someone asked Robert Smith to write a song for The Aristocats soundtrack. The Cure’s lead singer gets to play Thomas O’Malley full of yowls and alley skirmishes knocking over bottles. It was also a nice little jazzy change of pace for the group, and it became their first UK Top 10 smash. It also features producer Phil Thornally on double bass.

Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon (debuted on 2-11-84, peaked at #109)

This was the first solo studio album since Oz’s guitarist Randy Rhoads died in a plane crash in 1982. Four months after that, he married his manager, Sharon, and recorded a live album with new guitarist Brad Gillis. In 1983 he got back in the studio with yet a new six-string slinger, Jake E. Lee, who states that he co-wrote this title track and was never given any credit. It’s now one of his best efforts, but at least it kept that crazy train moving. This single will become his first solo hit in the UK, peaking at #21.

Gwen Guthrie – Love In Moderation (debuted on 2-9-85, peaked at #110)

Gwen was a songwriter who co-wrote Ben E. King’s 1975 Top 10 Supernatural Thing. She was also a back-up singer, who got a chance to support Aretha in 1974 on I’m In Love and many songs on Madonna’s 1983 debut. Collaborating with DJ Larry Levan, she also had many of her singles played at the Paradise Garage in NY. This pleasantly laidback synth-soul tune from her third album, Just For You, probably wasn’t one of them but it would be her second R&B Top 40 topping out at #17.

A Fortune In Your Fingertips

We’re onto chart week six of our review of Bubbling Under tracks of the 80s. Let’s take a look at 1980 up through 1982.

Henry Mancini and his Orchestra – Ravel’s Bolero (debuted on 2-9-80, peaked at #101)
I’m sure you’re wondering what a film composer and a piece of seventy-year-old piece of classical music are doing here. Henry actually had a #1 hit in 1969 with the Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet, and he almost made the Top 40 as late as 1977 with the Charlie’s Angels theme, which hit #45. He’s also the man behind the iconic Pink Panther theme, which started his lifelong collaboration with filmmaker Blake Edwards.

For Edwards’ 1979 movie, 10, he needed HM to record a new version of Maurice Ravel’s most famous composition, Bolero, a one-movement orchestral ballet. It seems that Bo Derek’s character likes to do it to that jam, and it becomes the setting music when she and Dudley Moore finally get it on. I’m assuming by this 45, or the soundtrack was a lot cheaper than getting cornrows.

Alan Parsons Project – You Won’t Be There (debuted on 2-9-80, peaked at #105)

Abbey Road engineer Alan and Eric Woolfson continue their project with their fourth album, Eve, released in 1979, a concept album based on (a man’s feeling about) women’s strengths and characteristics. It will not be the first or last music created in the Mansplaining genre. Damned If I Do was the first single released, and it reached the Top 30. This laidback ballad was sung by singer-songwriter Dave Townsend who also contributed to 1977’s I Robot.

J.D. Souther – White Rhythm And Blues (debuted on 2-9-80, peaked at #105)

JD spent a decade trying to get a solo hit, finally scoring in late 1979 with the title track to his third album, You’re Only Lonely, a Roy Orbison tribute or re-write, depending on your view. This was a lovely follow-up that didn’t gain any traction despite featuring Phil Everly on backing vocals and John Sebastian on harmonica solo. Former flame Linda Ronstadt recorded her version on 1978’s Back In the U.S.A.

Rupert Holmes – Blackjack (debuted on 2-14-81, peaked at #103)

Six albums in and five different record companies – not a great way to keep any consistency. A lot of this was not Rupert’s fault. In fact, he survived and had success despite it. His 1980 Adventure spun out two members of The Other Sixty, Morning Man & I Don’t Need You. Between those two was this single, and although it’s not as immediate as Escape or Him, I still dig it. And I hope to hell someone in Vegas included in a medley as part of their lounge act. Otherwise, why did he bother?

Whitesnake – Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City (debuted on 2-14-81, peaked at #109)

Here’s the follow-up to the #53 peaking track Fool For Your Loving,  and it’s a cover of the 1974 Bobby Blue Bland tune. Are you wondering if this is the same Whitesnake that sang Here I Go Again with a slithering Tawny Kitaen in the video? Why yes, it is. They began life as an unofficial blues-rock offshoot of Deep Purple with Jon Lord on keyboards and David Coverdale on lead vocals. By the third album, Ready an’ Willing, they also had former DP drummer Ian Paice on drums. It’s quite good, and there’s plenty of metal on here, just not the type of slick glam that they padded their 401ks with

Triumph – Say Goodbye (debuted on 2-13-82, peaked at #102)

It’s hard for me to think of this band and not think of the comic insult dog puppet. It’s also hard to have a band name like this and continuously have untriumphant moments like these. Even in Canada, where they have CanCon, the band only managed four Top 40 hits, none higher than #14, over a three-decade career. From 1981’s Allied Forces, this track made it to #36 in the Great White North, which probably explains why it’s here.

Lakeside – I Want To Hold Your Hand (debuted on 2-13-82, peaked at #102)

Lakeside only had one Hot 100 entry, and it only reached #55. But lots of folks know the song Fantastic Voyage, even before Coolio mangled it into submission. What you may not know or have ever heard was their funky doo-wop-inspired cover of the Beatles classic. The first single released from their fifth album, Your Wish Is My Command, traveled up to #5 on the R&B charts.

The Whispers – In The Raw (debuted on 2-13-82, peaked at #103)

While finally breaking through to the Pop charts in 1980 after a decade of trying, this Soul quartet had trouble maintaining that crossover success throughout the 80s despite releasing one sweet jam after another. Released as the lead single from their fourteenth album, Love Is Where You Find It, it will be their eighth Top 10 single on the Soul charts.


Time Isn’t After Us

We are on chart week five of the Bubbling Under singles, and as you can see, we have a lot of R&B and dance tracks that didn’t get a chance to cross over. If you ever thought that the Pop charts were whitewashed in the 80s, especially compared to the previous decade, here’s some pretty good proof.

Phyllis Hyman – You Know How To Love Me (debuted 2-2-80, peaked at #101)

Now, this is what I call classy Disco gold. This was the title track and first single released from her fourth album. It was produced by Reggie Lucas, and James Mtume, who were in between the success of Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway’s The Closer I Get To You and Stephanie Mills’ Never Knew Love Like This Before. This single should have easily joined those folks in the Top 40, but Disco was getting blackballed on radio, so very few tunes got a chance to shine. It will reach #12 on the R&B charts and #6 on the Disco charts. Phyllis never placed a single on the Hot 100.

Michael Johnson – The Very First Time (debuted 2-2-80, peaked at #101)

MJ racked up three Top 40 hits between 1978 and 1979, including Bluer Than Blue. Then someone shut off the faucet, which prompted him to turn to the Country charts, where he had more success throughout the 80s. This ballad, written by Randy Goodrum, was from the album Dialogue, which already gave us the Top 20 Bill LaBounty-penned track, This Night Won’t Last Forever.

Instant Funk – Bodyshine (debuted 2-2-80, peaked at #103)

I don’t understand why this disco-funk band did not have a more prominent career. They moved down to Philadelphia and became the backup band for lots of stars such as Lou Rawls, Evelyn Champagne King, and Bunny Sigler. They were also favorites of DJ Larry Levan, who was working his magic at the Paradise Garage in Manhattan and remixed their single, I Got My Mind Made Up, which eventually hit #20 in 1979. He remixed this cut from their third album, Witch Doctor, and although it was a club hit, it didn’t even reach the R&B Top 40.

The Gap Band – Steppin’ (Out) (debuted 2-2-80, peaked at #103)

This was the first single from the Gap Band II album, and it will become their second R&B Top 10 hit. As a casual fan, you might not realize who the band is as they have yet to find their signature synth-funk sound. This sprightly track features Fender Rhodes, Latin percussion, and some keyboard work by Greg Phillinganes.

AC/DC – Touch Too Much (debuted 2-2-80, peaked at #106)

Highway to Hell was AC/DC’s last album with Bon Scott. In fact, two weeks after this track debuted here, Bon passed away. One month later, they hired Brian Johnson as the new lead vocalist, and one month after that, they started to write and record their next album. Only five months after losing Scott, they released Back In Black, which has sold over 50 million records internationally. Understandably this single, which as their second UK Top 40, was lost in the wake, so to speak.

Jim Stafford – Cow Patti (debuted 2-7-81, peaked at #102)

Former lover of snakes and spiders and current co-host of Those Amazing Animals is back at it with a song originally written for the Clint Eastwood orangutan sequel to Every Which Way But Loose. Jim is also in the film. It’s as everything bit as dumb as the title suggests.

Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime (debuted 2-7-81, peaked at #103)

Now imagine being a member of this New York City quartet and realizing that your single didn’t chart higher than Cow Patti. All that talk from producer Brian Eno discussing that it should be left off the new album, Remain In Light, might make you doubt its existence. Or sometimes you create something so out there that people need time to catch up with.

Considering this song never charted on the Hot 100 ( a live version charted in April 1986), it’s impressive that it became one of if not the most well-known song from this New Wave band. This is partly due to its iconic video, which earned lots of MTV airplay and was frequently used in their advertising. The song’s message of living life on auto-pilot is timeless, especially for those who hit middle age. It’s also funky as hell. I’m convinced that this is the song which convinced Tina & Chris to start the Tom Tom Club.

FYI – It became a Top 20 hit in the UK and Ireland.

Bettye LaVette – Right In The Middle (Of Falling In Love) (debuted 2-6-82, peaked at #103)

Miss Betty had her first taste of success back in early 1963 when she hit #7 on the Soul charts with My Man-He’s A Lovin’ Man.  You might have caught her on Broadway in the mid-70s as part of the cast to Bubbling Brown Sugar. And even though she recorded sporadically for two decades, it wasn’t until 1982 that she released her first full album when she was signed to Motown. This midtempo ballad, written by Sam Dees, will become her last R&B Top 40 hit. She continues to record and released Blackbirds, a bluesy homage to her female peers, in 2020.

Novo Combo – Tattoo (debuted 2-6-82, peaked at #103)

Here’s a quartet made up of four dudes who had been playing solo or with bands for years and came together to create two New Wave Power Pop albums in the early 80s. Singer Stephen Dees released a Daryl Hall-produced album in 1977. Guitarist Pete Hewlett was in the Euclid Beach Band. And drummer Michael Shrieve played with Santana on his first seven albums. Another great band lost to history.

André Cymone – Kelly’s Eyes (debuted 2-5-83, peaked at #107)

After playing with Prince since his 94 East days up through the Controversy album, Andre struck out on his own in 1982. Unfortunately, he was now competing with his childhood friend, and although his songs were entertaining, they could not hold up in comparison to him. For example, when you listen to this track, you would swear that you were about to hear Prince’s falsetto yowl. But you don’t. It’s a bit jarring to hear Andre’s low tenor come in instead. He would never chart on the Hot 100 but would share some success with his one-time wife, Jody Watley, producing her first four albums.

All debuts in the Bubbling Under chart during this week in 1984 made the Hot 100.

Ashford & Simpson – Outta The World (debuted 2-2-85, peaked at #102)

Here is the follow-up to this married duo’s biggest Pop [#12] & R&B [#1] hit, Solid. This midtempo synth-boogie will reach #4 on the Soul charts but will be kept off the Hot 100, even with all of that great momentum.

Klymaxx – The Men All Pause (debuted 2-2-85, peaked at #105)

We wrap it up with a female sextet from L.A., who not only played their instruments but wrote their own songs as well. They were on album number three with no success and their label, SOLAR, refused to release it. So they went back into the studio and recorded Meeting In The Ladies Room. Released in late 1984, this was the first single, and this synth-funk jam climbed up to #5 on the Soul charts. It would take two more single releases until they crossed over with I Miss You, which hit #5 in early 1986.

The band’s image also inspired this recent SNL sketch.

Injections of Magic Stimulation

They could have been. They should have been. But they never got to the Hot 100. Here are the songs that stayed below in the Bubbling Under charts in the 80s during chart week four.

Head East – Got To Be Real (debuted 1/26/80, peaked at #103)

This Midwest quintet sounds like Styx if they never let Dennis DeYoung join them. They dropped three singles onto the Hot 100 in the late 70s, with each one doing progressively better. Their fifth album, A Different Kind Of Crazy, spawned this track, which I think is better than the others. I guess I’m alone in thinking that.

Fun fact: Lead singer Dave Schlitt was fired after the group’s sixth album in 1980 for being a druggie. He cleaned up and formed the Christian rock band Petra.

Ambrosia – Outside (debuted 1/31/81, peaked at #102)

Now a little West Coast for you from a band with two big singles in 1980 – You’re The Only Woman and Biggest Part Of Me. They were asked to be a part of the soundtrack to the Richard Donner-directed film, Inside Moves and had this jazzy single released only to languish below the Hot 100 for two months. It was written by lead singer David Pack along with Michael McDonald, who also provided backing vocals.

Moon Martin – Love Gone Bad (debuted 1/31/81, peaked at #105)

Oklahoma native John “Moon” Martin had a memorable 1979. He nabbed his only Top 40 hit, Rolene and Robert Palmer took one of his songs, Bad Case Of Lovin’ You (Doctor, Doctor), into the Top 20. This singer-songwriter put out his third LP, Street Fever, in late 1980, and this country-tinged midtempo pop-rocker was the lead single. Moon passed away in May 2020.

Nielsen/Pearson – Two Lonely Nights (debuted 1/31/81, peaked at #110)

Here’s a little more smoothness for ya. Pull the boat out of dry dock and enjoy this follow-up to Reed Nielsen and Mark Pearson’s only Top 40 entry, If You Should Sail.

ELO – Rain Is Falling (debuted 1/30/82, peaked at #101)

Jeff Lynne decided it was too much work to say “the electric light orchestra’ and from now on, his band would be known as three letters. Plus, technology started to wipe away the necessity of stringed instruments. Their cinematic third single from the album Time did not follow the other two into the Top 40, let alone the Hot 100.

Rick James – Ghetto Life (debuted 1/30/82, peaked at #102)

It’s interesting to see these two artists chart and fail together. Rick’s music was never made for the Pop crowd. The fact that he crossed over with his punk-funk was a testament to his talents. It’s a shame, though, that a terrific song like this, the third released from Street Songs and featuring backing vocals by The Temptations, wasn’t more successful.

Prince – Let’s Work (debuted 1/30/82, peaked at #104)

The student will soon become the master. The man Rick took out on tour with him, dissed and humiliated constantly, will become an icon in the 80s. It will take a while for many folks to appreciate the dark funk of his fourth album, Controversy. This jam was probably to most straightforward tune on the album but isn’t even close to the best. And within nine months, he will release his first opus, the double LP, 1999, so he’s just getting started.

Chic – Stage Fright (debuted 1/30/82, peaked at #105)

Nile Rodgers was hit with divine inspiration while he wrote this. Or maybe he was feeling the force from Dagobah? Otherwise, how do you explain the Yoda-like hook, “My stage fright holds back me.”? The lead single from Take It Off was funky disco-rock, showing more muscle than their polished classics, and it’s one of my faves from them.

Tané Cain – My Time To Fly (debuted 1/29/83, peaked at #108)

Jonathan Cain moved from The Babys to Journey in 1981 and immediately used that juice to get his then-wife, Tane (pronounced Tawnee), an album deal. Her single, Holdin’ On, co-written by Jonathan, reached #37. This slick pop-rock offering was the follow-up, but it never took flight.

Fun fact: Tane played Reese Witherspoon’s mom in Legally Blonde.

Randy Crawford – Imagine (debuted 1/29/83, peaked at #108)

It’s a shame that Randy didn’t have more success on the Pop charts, outside of her appearance of the Crusaders’ 1979 hit, Street Life. Her buttery voice melts over everything she sings. This jazzy cover of John Lennon’s classic was recorded with the Yellowjackets live in Europe, where she was well-regarded, for an all-star Warner Brothers album called Family Affair. I’m not sure it was ever released.

Shalamar – You Can Count On Me (debuted 1/28/84, peaked at #101)

Shalamar released a rare ballad that starts off sounding like Styx’s Babe before Howard Hewitt kicks in with his silky falsetto. It was the third single released from their seventh album, The Look. This will still be bubblin’ as Jody Watley splits the group, and they debut in mid-March on the Hot 100 with their last Top 40 hit, Dancing In the Sheets.

Earth, Wind & Fire – Touch (debuted 1/28/84, peaked at #103)

The second single from EWF’s thirteenth album, Electric Universe, did not reach any of the band’s heights of the 70s.  Even Let’s Groove, a smash two years previous, seemed like a lifetime ago in 1984. They have fully embraced the digital age, and while this is a good song,  it’s just not as immediate as their other hits.

Freeez – Pop Goes My Love (debuted 1/28/84, peaked at #104)

Freeez started out as part of the Brit-Funk movement of the early 80s, and their debut contains one of my faves from that period, Southern Freeez. Fast forward a few years, and the group is now recording breakdance music with Arthur Baker. This was the second track from their second album, Gonna Get You, and it hit #5 on the Dance charts and the UK Top 40.

Whodini – Freaks Come Out At Night (debuted 1/26/85, peaked at #104)

Finally, some hip-hop, even if it’s being held down. Another great track from the Brooklyn trio’s landmark second album, Escape. I also remember hearing this song in The Jewel Of The Nile for some reason.

Sam Harris – Hearts On Fire (debuted 1/26/85, peaked at #108)

Star Search legend follows up his one Top 40, Sugar Don’t Bite, with another one for your aerobic workout.

Fun fact: Sam co-created the TV show, Down to Earth, which ran for four seasons on TBS.

Tired Of Being In The Shade

Who’s that looking through the window into the warm halls of the Hot 100? It’s those Bubbling Under songs trying to keep warm while they chill in the hundreds. Let’s review chart week three from 1980 to 1985.

Jimmy Messina – Do You Want To Dance (debuted 1/19/80, peaked at #110)

It’s a mystery why this former Buffalo Springfield & Poco member and Kenny Loggins cohort never mustered a solo hit or at least a Hot 100 entry. He barely even gets a tally here placing this song at #110. It’s quite a pleasant mix of Westcoast pop with some yachty disco vibes from his 1979 album, Oasis.

Patrice Rushen – Look Up (debuted 1/24/81, peaked at #102)

Singer/songwriter/keyboardist Patrice Rushen was one of the best of her ear to effortlessly blend jazz, soul, and disco. This single from her sixth album, Posh, is one of many great examples and while it makes the R&B Top 15 and #2 on the Dance charts, it misses the mark here. She’ll become a one-hit-wonder next year when Forget Me Nots reaches #23.

Jackson Browne – Hold On, Hold Out (debuted 1/24/81, peaked at #103)

This was Jackson’s third single from his sole #1 album, Hold Out, with the first two, Boulevard & That Girl Could Sing, reaching the Top 40. Because he chose to not edit the eight-minute song down, it was released as a special 12″ record. It’s a product of a decade-long love affair with long overly-dramatic rock songs that ends up sounding like an overblown mess.  Two thumbs up!

XTC – Generals And Majors  (debuted 1/24/81, peaked at #104) (RSO/Virgin 300)

XTC is one of my all-time favorite bands. This Swindon, England quartet possessed two great songwriters: guitarist Andy Partridge, who was Lennon & McCartney rolled into one and wrote the bulk of their songs, and bassist Colin Moulding, who was more like Harrison. Early on in the band’s history, it was Colin’s songs that were successful. In the UK, Life Begins At The Hop hit #54, and Making Plans For Nigel reached #17. The first release from their fourth album, Black Sea, will top out at #32. Andy will eventually write their biggest British hit, Senses Working Overtime, in 1982.

XTC remained a cult band in the US, partly because they stopped touring in 1982, partly because they were severely mismanaged, and partly because their singles were being released on different labels in the States. This one is on RSO, and it’s strange to think they were US labelmates with the Bee Gees and Andy Gibb. What were those company barbecues like?

Roger Daltrey – Waiting For A Friend (debuted 1/24/81, peaked at #104)

Daltrey is back with another song from the McVicar soundtrack, this one working as the follow-up to his lone Top 40 hit, Without Your Love, which peaked at #20 in the Fall of 1980. This rocker gets caught in the Bubblin’ jail for two weeks before being released for bad behavior.

There were no songs during chart week three in 1982 that stayed peaked below #100.

KISS – I Love It Loud (debuted 1/22/83, peaked at #102)

This N.Y. quartet is still wearing their make-up, trying to avenge their disco sins but to no avail. It will stomp around underneath the Hot 100 for two months, and it’s from their tenth album, Creatures of the Night, which is notable as the last Ace Frehley album, even though he didn’t play on it.

New Edition – Popcorn Love / Jealous Girl (debuted 1/21/84, peaked at #101)

Here’s the teenage quintet from Boston who made their debut in 1983 with Candy Girl, an updated version of the Jackson 5’s ABC. This was their third single release, a two-sided 45 with the sprightly Popcorn Love on the A-side and the doo-wop ballad Jealous Girl on the flip. It will reach #25 on the R&B charts.

Debbie Harry – Rush, Rush (debuted 1/21/84, peaked at #105)

Now that Blondie had officially split, Debbie tries her hand at another solo hit, this one from the soundtrack of the Al Pacino movie, Scaface. It reunites her with producer Giorgio Moroder, and it garnered some club play and a minor hit down under. But after one week, it says goodbye to the bad guy after a #105 debut.

Was (Not Was) – Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like A Rubber Ball) (debuted 1/21/84, peaked at #109)

Before they went dinosaur walking and love house spying, this Detroit act led by un-brothers Don & David Was mixed a variety of styles such as New Wave, lounge rock, and soul into their own musical stew. With lead vocals by Sweet Pea Atkinson, this track was from their critically acclaimed second album, Born to Laugh At Tornadoes.

Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three – Request Line (debuted 1/19/85, peaked at #103)

Break out your worn piece of cardboard for this early hip-hop track. Rockmaster Scott was the DJ and MBG, Slick Rick (not the well-known one), and KingCharlie Prince handled the mic. This track will reach #21 on the R&B charts, but it’s the B-side, The Roof Is On Fire, that they are well-known for. Notoriously, their tour rider included no need for water.

Missy E. sampled the beginning of this track for her 2002 hit, Work It.

For Everybody Who Can Understand

We’re going to review the second half of the first two chart weeks of songs Bubbling Under during the 80s. Reminder – Billboard killed this feature in August 1985, so we can only review 1983 up to that year. Pity those songs that lost the bragging rights to a #109 hit.

Mickey Gilley – Talk To Me (debuted on 1/8/1983, peaked at #106)

Mickey was still trying to ride the bull for more than eight seconds of fame throughout the early 80s. But this #1 Country ballad will be the last time he’ll sniff the Pop charts.

Fun fact: Mickey’s cousins include Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart.

Yarbrough & Peoples – Heartbeats (debuted on 1/15/1983, peaked at #101)

Cavin & Alisa, an unofficial offshoot of The Gap Band, hit the Pop Top 20 with Don’t Stop The Music in 1981. This was the lead single off their follow-up album, which was also the title track. It will reach the R&B Top 10, but Soul music was beginning to have a more challenging time crossing over. In fact, Pop songs were starting to cross over to the R&B charts. God knows why R&B stations had Sting & Wham! forced upon them. BTW – this duo got married in 1987, and as of 2020, is still keeping the music going.

Devo – That’s Good (debuted on 1/15/1983, peaked at #104)

This innovative synth-rock quintet, which featured two sets of brothers, is inexplicably a one-hit-wonder with Whip It. They have a handful of singles that are as good or better than that one, but most of them didn’t even chart. [Currently, they have five Bubblers.] This single was the second Bubbler from their fifth album, Oh No, It’s Devo, but has since become a New Wave classic.

Rush – Subdivisions (debuted on 1/15/1983, peaked at #105)

It took nine albums, but by the release of 1982’s Signals, this Canadian prog-trio had a Top 40 hit, with New World Man. They started to understand who was buying their records, so a song about teenage isolation and social hierarchy was right in their fan’s wheelhouse.

Cynthia Manley – Back In My Arms Again (debuted on 1/15/1983, peaked at #109)

One of the adverse side effects of nostalgia are people’s attempts to cash in and milk the memories. In the 80s, Motown was pilfered from so much, it can be hard to listen to the originals and remember why they were so great in the first place. San Francisco-based cabaret singer Manley had sung lead for The Boystown Gang, a DJ-led group releasing warmed-over disco versions of Diana Ross And Stevie Wonder smashes. So her move to a New Wave rock cover of this 1965 Supremes #1 was opportunistic at best, career diluting at least.

Ronnie Milsap – Show Her (debuted on 1/7/1984, peaked at #103)

Ronnie’s trying to get one more Pop hit before the door closes on Nashville for a while. It didn’t work, but the ballad from his album, Keyed Up, will be his twenty-fifth Country #1.

Luther Vandross – I’ll Let You Slide (debuted on 1/14/1984, peaked at #102)

Luther had his second crossover Top 40 hit in 1983, a duet with Dionne Warwick called How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye. That momentum should have carried this boogie follow-up from his third album, Busy Body, into Caseyland as well. But as you see, it did not. FYI – it took twelve Hot 100 chart entries before LV had a Top 20 hit and sixteen before his first Top 10.

Twisted Sister – The Price (debuted on 1/5/1985, peaked at #107)

Stay Hungry was this Long Island, NY’s third album and their most successful to date, featuring their only Top 40 hit, We’re Not Gonna Take It. This was their third single, and lead singer Dee Snyder had already become more well-known than the band. He will be the host of Headbanger’s Ball, which will debut on MTV in a few months, and publically spar with Tipper Gore during the PMRC Senate hearings that Summer.

The Gap Band – Beep A Freak (debuted on 1/12/1985, peaked at #103)

Tulsa, Oklahoma funk trio, The Gap Band are the owners of five Bubblers, with this single being the last one to chart there. It will hit #2 on the R&B charts and will go on to have eleven more Top 40 entries on that chart.

Vanity – Mechanical Emotion (debuted on 1/12/1985, peaked at #107)

Vanity dropped out of Purple Rain for this? Now that she was banished from the Prince empire, she would be busy filming The Last Dragon for Motown Productions while juggling her film and music career. Hey, she was in Highlander II, so back off. Her second single release from 1984’s Pretty Mess isn’t bad and featured Morris Day on backing vocals. But its peak at #107 isn’t all that surprising either. Strangely, she would pass away two months before Prince did.

To Be What I Was Meant To Be

Here at Music In the Key of E, we talked about 80s Top 40 hits and The Other Sixty, so it makes sense to keep digging down and discuss those songs that were Bubbling Under the Hot 100. This was a feature in Billboard that began in June 1959 to predict which new records will become chart climbers, as they put it. They started off with a list of 15 songs per week but expanded it during the 1960s up to 35 (and on a few occasions, 36) depending on the volume of releases. Boy, that must have been some ego boost to tell everyone that you had a single reach #135. I’m looking at you, P.J. Proby.

By 1974, the magazine settled on ten spots, numbered #110 to #120, and ran the chart until August 1985. They picked it up again in 1992, and it still exists today. I have frequently mined these lower ten for The UnCola as many exciting singles peaked there. So we’re going to review them all – January 1980 to August 1985 – starting with the first two weeks of the chart year.

Here are the Bubbles that never Popped.

January 1980 – 1982 (chart weeks 1 & 2)

Oak – Draw The Line (debuted on 1/5/1980, peaked at #108)

If you’re buying a record based on a name, then surely you think you’re gonna hear some good ol’ Country rock, right? Nope, you’re gonna get some warmed-over soft rock by a bunch of wannabe Eagles, who look like they’ll do your taxes for you in exchange for an eight ball. This quintet from Maine was led by Rick Pinette, who eventually joined the Jim Bakker Morningside Band in the 2000s. Let’s move on.

Chic – My Feet Keep Dancing (debuted on 1/12/1980, peaked at #101)

Disco did not die in 1979 after the record demolition at Comiskey Park. Disco never died. The blood-sucking ad executives and coked-out record company exploiters just moved on. Unfortunately, they took many good bands down with them, and Chic, which was peaking in ’79, felt it immediately. This was the third single from their third album, Risque, which yielded the classic #1, Good Times. The follow-up, My Forbidden Lover, only reached #43. This one didn’t even chart on the Hot 100, missing by a notch. It will only reach #42 on the R&B charts but will get loads of Disco play.

April Wine – Say Hello (debuted on 1/12/1980, peaked at #104)

Alright, the pride of Nova Scotia is getting a little funky. This Canadian rock quintet released this as the first single from their eighth album, Harder…Faster. Their US fans took a pass on it, which is why it’s down here. They preferred the follow-up, I Love To Rock, although not that much as it only hit #86.

Hansie – Automobile (debuted on 1/12/1980, peaked at #109)

Artist Hansie or Hansje, if you’re enjoying a spacebar, was a singer from the Netherlands, who released a silly pop single in 1978 called Silex Pistols Piew Piew. She had a modicum of notoriety in the States when this 45 reached #109 in early 1980. It’s a car crash full of New Wave synths and sub-Moroder bass patches that could have found a home on the Bachelor Party soundtrack….and I can’t look away.

Tommy Dee – Here Is My Love (debuted on 1/10/1981, peaked at #107)

Who’s Tommy Dee? Never heard of him? Then you must have missed seeing The Idolmaker in the theatres, a Taylor Hackford-directed bomb starring Ray Sharkey as an overzealous manager trying to find the next big star. Even though this single release from the film is credited to “Dee,” it’s actually Jesse Frederick’s voice. He didn’t get rich on this, but eventually, he started lining his pockets with residuals from writing the TV show themes, Perfect Strangers, Family Matters, and Full House a handful of years later.

Jon Anderson – Some Are Born (debuted on 1/17/1981, peaked at #109)

Jon Anderson released his second solo album, Song Of Seven, in 1980 after the recording sessions for Yes’ Drama album went awry, and he and Rick Wakeman left the band. He would have varying degrees of success with his Vangelis collaborations, but not as much with his solo releases. This #109 single will be his best solo Pop showing. Some are born to work as a group.

The Spinners – Love Connection (Raise The Window Down) (debuted on 1/9/1982, peaked at #107)

The Spinners’ run of top-notch output from 1972 to 1976 was rarely matched by any R&B act during the 70s. When singer Phillipe Wynne left in 1977, the wheels just fell off. The magic was gone, and the group spent decades trying to restore it. A single like this has the group sounding like a band trying to sound like them, meaning you have no idea it’s the Spinners unless you look at the label. It will not get any higher than #68 on the R&B Hot 100.

Slave – Wait For Me (debuted on 1/16/1982, peaked at #103)

Some groups were just too funky (aka “black”) to be on Pop radio and needed a ton of 45 sales even to have a chance. This was the Dayton, OH’s band’s third single to linger as a Bubbler [after 1978’s The Party Song and 1979’s Just Freak]. They just kept hitting the Pop roadblocks. No wonder Steve Arrington tried to branch out on his own. [We’ll hear from him in April.] It will still reach the R&B Top 20.

The Manhattan Transfer – Spies In The Night (debuted on 1/16/1982, peaked at #103)

This New York vocal quartet was always riding the line between classy and cheesy. Sampling the James Bond theme (without any songwriting credit) pushes the band into the latter. Co-written by David Foster and producer Jay Graydon, it was the third single released from Mecca For Moderns and second follow-up to the Top 10 hit, Boy From New York City. Their second release, Smile Again, only showed up on the AC charts.

Diesel – Goin’ Back To China (debuted on 1/16/1982, peaked at #105)

Dutch quartet Diesel had a surprise Top 30 hit in late 1981 with Sausalito Summernight.  After visiting California, these dudes take a trip to Asia with this slower-paced follow-up. This had been a  1979 Top 40 hit in the Netherlands for the group, but no such luck over here.

Luther Vandross – Don’t You Know That? (debuted on 1/16/1982, peaked at #107)

Even though he became a star in his relatively short time on Earth, it took a lot of perseverance for him to finally breakthrough. There was a lot of backing vocal sessions on hit songs (Bowie, Chic), failed bands (Luther), uncredited lead vocals (Change), and commercial work (Kodak, KFC). But it wasn’t until 1981’s Never Too Much that Pop audiences first heard of him. This funky Quiet Storm jam was the follow-up to his first Top 40 single. It will become his second Top 10 Soul hit.

Diana Ross –  My Old Piano (debuted on 1/16/1982, peaked at #109)

What is this doing here almost two years after the release of 1980’s Diana? I’m guessing it’s due to Diana’s compilation, All The Great Hits, that Motown released after Diana signed with RCA Records.  In the UK, this single reached #5 in the Fall of 1980. It should have been released in the US back in early 1981 as the third single, and it might have had a better shot at success. It will not show up on any other Billboard chart.