Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Best Of 1983 - part 2

JUMP TO: 40-31 II 30-21 II 20-11 II 10-1

Although 1983 was an exciting time for music, you wouldn't have known it in my house. I've already mentioned that my parents' LP collection included two ABBA albums and the soundtrack to Can't Stop The Music, but some other artists whose records they owned were Frank Sinatra, Dr Hook, Nana Mouskouri and Johnny O'Keefe. All successful acts, but hardly what you'd call cutting edge.

This is the sound... of a band becoming absolutely massive

There was one singer my dad was a fan of who I also liked - and he'll feature in this part of the countdown - but I remember being quite jealous of friends who had more up-to-date albums in their homes. One friend owned Thriller as well as one of the big various artists compilations that came out in 1983, while a neighbour had an album which featured performances by the casts of TV series A Country Practice and Sons & Daughters. I was very envious of that one!

Back to my countdown, and numbers 30 to 21 are a real mixed bag (OK, there's no thrash metal, but you know what I mean).

First up at number 30 is "True" by Spandau Ballet, who were really hitting their stride in 1983, even if their ultra-commercial sound lacked some of the edge of their earlier records. I, for one, was all for it - and so, it seemed, was the rest of the world, with the singles from the True album proving to be their most successful of their career. The song "True" has lived on, being frequently sampled (most famously by PM Dawn in 1991 and Nelly in 2005) and used in a stack of movies since 1998's The Wedding Singer.

Some Scottish pop/rock at number 29 - it's "In A Big Country" by Big Country, the biggest of their three top 50 hits in Australia (it peaked at number 7). Some of the original line-up still performs today, but singer Stuart Adamson (previously a member of Skids, whose "The Saints Are Coming" was covered by U2 and Green Day) tragically committed suicide in 2001.

Back again at number 28, it's "Communication" by Spandau Ballet, which, together with previous single "Lifeline", would appear on the True album.

Next up at number 27 is "Bad Boys" by Wham!, their third hit in a row - although I don't think George and Andrew were convincing anyone with their tough guy act.

A music legend is at number 26: "Modern Love" by David Bowie, which is probably the poppiest song he's ever released (if you don't count his and Mick Jagger's cover of "Dancing In The Street") and the only song of his I remember properly liking at the time. I can appreciate how influential his earlier '70s records were, but they've never resonated with me in the way this song has.

A massive Australian chart-topper is at number 25: "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar, and the thing I remember most about this song is the dance routine towards the end of the video, because if anything's going to scare a no-good pimp off, it's a troupe of women aggressively shaking their moneymakers at him.

Another local number 1 is here at number 24: "All Night Long (All Night)" by Lionel Richie, whose Can't Slow Down album was huge in 1983, just not as massive as Thriller. This was the first of five big singles released from the LP and a bit of a shift in musical direction for the balladeer and former Commodore. It was a change which was clearly welcomed, since the party anthem would go to number 1 in the US and topped the chart in Australia for six weeks across summer '83/'84. Hideous trousers, though.

Here's the artist my parents and I agreed on - at number 23, it's "Tell Her About It" by Billy Joel, from the album, An Innocent Man, which was on high rotation on our JVC turntable. More from Billy to come...

A group with a curious name is at number 22: "Hold Me Now" by Thompson Twins, who, of course, were most famous as a trio and never featured anyone called Thompson in their line-up. Also curious were some of the members' hairstyles. I know it was the '80s, but really? This first single from their Into The Gap album was also their one and only top 10 hit in Australia.

Some Australasian rock at number 21: "Rain" by Dragon, one in a long line of New Zealand acts we Australians claim as our own. I like quite a lot of Dragon's 1980s output, and while "Rain" still gets a good airing today, tracks like "Cry", "Dreams Of Ordinary Men" and "Wilderworld" have been all but forgotten, which is a shame. "Rain" got to number 2 in Australia, the same position as "April Sun In Cuba" six years earlier. Their biggest hit, though, was the 1978 number 1, "Are You Old Enough?".

We're halfway through my 1983 countdown, and still to come in Part 3: another big local band, a pint-sized megastar and the first of two hits from the year's biggest soundtrack.

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  2. "Hold Me Now" didn't chart in Australia until May 1984, so it really shouldn't appear in your 1983 summary. Your commentaries are fascinating, though - well done!!

    1. Thanks for reading. For my personal charts prior to 1987 (which is when I actually started collecting ARIA charts and compiling my own favourites), I just go with the date of a song's original release. Since it was up to six months before some songs would chart in Australia, that explains the year discrepancy.

    2. Ah OK! Fair enough! By that logic, though, you need to move "Lucky Star" and "Holiday" by Madonna from 1984 to 1983, since they were both released in the US then (even before "Hold Me Now" was released in the UK).

      I love checking out your recaps and do so regularly. I'm a chart fanatic from way back, too :-). Keep up the great work!!

    3. Sorry, I oversimplified things a little. Over the years, I've moved songs back into earlier years when the Australian release/chart date was significantly after the UK date (I tend to follow UK charts more than US charts). And there are some songs where I've stuck with the Australian date. At some point I will go back and be a bit more exacting with it. It's always nice when someone notices these things!