Hits You Never Heard Of, Part 6
by Chuck Eddy | February 8, 2013
Cute animals always win the Internet, but the Internet didn't invent them. Turns out they showed up in lots of old Billboard Hot 100 singles you're probably unfamiliar with, by artists whose names start with K and L! Trinidadian sibling duo Mac and Katie Kissoon's tragic Top 20 1971 "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep," for instance, was sung from the P.O.V. of a baby bird who woke up only to disturbingly discover its mom was missing -- shades of P.D. Eastman's confusing children's book Are You My Mother?, only sans Snort. Hollywood Flames/Bob & Earl alumnus Jackie Lee went Top 15 in 1965 with a dance number called "The Duck"; Mickey Lee Lane had an equally fruggable Top 40 the year before with "Shaggy Dog." And in 1980, a middle-of-the-road quasi-New Wave trio calling themselves The Korgis -- spun off from '70s Brit prog-folk cult act Stackridge -- went Top 20 with their heartbreaking "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime."
How, you're probably asking now, might one learn of such creatures?
Well, as with the five previous alphabetically sorted installments of Hits You Never Heard Of (all clickable at Rhapsody's Oldies post tab, here), these discoveries came from paging through Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1999 to find second-half-of-the-20th-century hits and almost hits that now make one wonder, "What the heck was that, and was it any good?" If a song makes the playlist, it was!
In this sixth two-hour edition of our lost-and-found-hit series, there's actually at least one more dog not mentioned above: Namely, the title character of "Stop Doggin' Me Around," a Jackie Wilson cover the otherwise pop-crossover-free R&B trio Klique took to No. 50 in 1983. This is a fairly R&B-heavy list all around, in fact. Brooklyn singer Leschea cruised Manhattan's "Fulton Street" (joking about Fila earrings and underwear!) in 1997; Debra Laws (of Houston's jazzily talented Laws family) quiet-stormed in 1980; Frankie Knuckles let sad rain soak his Chicago house in 1992; fellow Chicagoan Latanya seduced somebody over the phone in 1998. Plus we have lots of folks from earlier, back when R&B was still called "rhythm and blues" or at least "soul music": The Larks (1964's Top 10 "The Jerk," another crazy dance step); The Knight Bros; Korona; Kuf-Linx; Southern soul god Latimore; heavenly-falsettoed blue-eyed soul lifer David Lasley.
On R&B's outer edges, there's hip-hop too: Kool J Rap and DJ Polo's 1995 "Fast Life" (guest-starring Nas, hence possibly too well known in certain circles to belong here), and not one but two '90s "Low Rider" updates -- L.A.D.'s doo-wopping "Ridin' Low" and Latin Alliance featuring War's "Lowrider (On the Boulevard)" (credited here to Alliance member Kid Frost). Plus there's Latin freestyle (Laissez Faire in 1991); hi-NRG club sleaze (Paul Lekakis begging you to boom boom boom back to his room in 1987); Dutch techno-industrial club sleaze (L.A. Style delivering James Brown's obit 14 years early in 1992); South African-born big-boot glam-stomping (John Kongos' 1971 "He's Gonna Step on You Again," later covered by both Happy Mondays and Def Leppard); and other things to shake booties to, should yours feel so inclined.
Rockwise, we got Klaatu (The Day the Earth Stood Still-inspired late-'70s Canadian proggers whom conspiracy theorists swore were The Beatles in disguise); Krokus ('80s Swiss-cheese midnite metal maniacs); and Le Roux (Louisiana boogiemen delivering an obit for Carol Burnett's daughter Carrie Hamilton 19 years early in 1983). Plus a trio of young ladies navigate messy relationship conundrums just as the playlist begins: Boston '80s quasi-waver Robin Lane, whose barely remembered No. 87 1980 hit had placed No. 22 as an indie-label B-side in the Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll in 1979. And we couldn't pass up New York '80s quasi-waver Holly Knight, who wrote way bigger hits for other people, or L.A. actress Michele Lee, who got way more famous on Knots Landing long after her finger-snappy "L. David Sloane" got to No. 52 in 1968. And just for kicks, there's an evidently extremely Italian Jersey fellow born Nicola Tomaso Lionetti, who scored a No. 54 pop hit in 1969 with his rendition of the South Carolina Gullah Creole slave spiritual turned beatnik folk mass classic "Kum Ba Yah." Someone's laughin' and cryin', Lord -- but it ain't us, honest!