A while back, we did an extensive series called Down in the Bottom, in which we examined the one-hit wonders whose lone chart hit peaked between #90 and #100 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. But #100 isn’t necessarily the end of the line. From 1959 to mid-1985, and again from 1992 to the present, Billboard has published a Bubbling Under chart, showing the singles that have yet to make it onto the big chart. Over the years, the number of songs on the chart has varied in size, usually at least 10, but as many as 35 during the 1960s.
It occurred to me not long ago that there’s a rich vein of interesting music history/trivia in that chart, so let’s mine some of it: I count something like 60 records between 1959 and 1985 that were the artist’s lone pop chart hit and that peaked at #101, just shy of Hot 100 status. Here are the first six, in chronological order.
“Vacation Days Are Over”/Argyles (10/12/59 five weeks on chart). I am pretty sure this batch of Argyles is not related to the Hollywood Argyles of “Alley Oop” fame despite the fact that both were on the Brent label. “Vacation Days Are Over” is a pretty decent uptempo doo-wop record.
“Scandinavian Shuffle”/Swe-Danes (3/7/60, four weeks). The Swe-Danes were a Danish/Swedish trio. Alice Babs had become a nightclub singer while still a teenager and acted in a number of Swedish films. She was quite the rage with Swedish kids for a time, apparently, and later sang with Duke Ellington. Guitarist Ulrik Neumann was also known as an actor, and violinist Svend Asmussen was a big deal on the Swedish jazz scene. (All biographical details are from Wikipedia, so who the hell knows for sure.) Get a taste of “Scandinavian Shuffle” here, and should you speak Swedish, probably a lot more.
“Come Dance With Me”/Eddie Quinteros (4/18/60, five weeks). Brent Records was having a good year in 1960; Eddie Quinteros was in the label’s stable along with the Argyles, and this song was successful enough to get Quinteros onto American Bandstand in February. One of the musicians on the Richie Valens-esque “Come Dance With Me” is Roy Estrada, one of the founding members of Little Feat.
“Respectable” /The Chants (5/29/61, two weeks). Do not confuse these Chants with a Liverpool-born northern soul group with the same name. “Respectable” is an Isley Brothers tune, recorded on the small family-run label TRU-EKO and leased to MGM once it started getting airplay in New York City. Bill Jerome of TRU-EKO later produced hits by the Left Banke (“Walk Away Renee” and “Pretty Ballerina”) and the 1970s synthesizer novelty “Popcorn” by Hot Butter. Jerome remains an active promotion man to this day.
“Ev’rybody Pony”/Teddy & the Continentals (9/18/61, one week). Teddy and the Continentals were from Wilmington, Delaware, that came up the way so many other bands of the time did, via a local record label. They were a popular attraction around Wilmington for several years in the early 60s. “Ev’rybody Pony” is a competent bit of mid-tempo rock ‘n’ roll that was a top-10 hit in Pittsburgh. (You want trivia, you got it.)
“Trade Winds, Trade Winds”/Aki Aleong (11/20/61, four weeks). Ake Aleong began an acting career in the mid 50s and has made over 250 TV appearances and 40 movies, although for most of the 60s and 70s he was a musician, producer, and record executive. (His best-known production is probably “You Are My Starship,” the 1976 hit by Norman Connors.) “Trade Winds, Trade Winds” is the smoothly tasteful tale of a man on the run for a crime that turns out to be self-defense, and they all live happily ever after, except the dead guy.
Coming in the next installment: a jazz player’s cover of a Connie Francis tune, and a song that hit Number One on the country charts.
Note to Patrons: For the last couple of months, I’ve been repeating posts from the past while I have been off dealing with actual remunerative labor. The pace of said labor has slowed enough to permit me to spend more time with this blog, although the repeats I’ve got scheduled through the end of the month are still going to run. Here’s hoping I’ll someday be busy enough again someday to necessitate more reruns, because I gotta pay the cat’s vet bill somehow.