Monday, 24 February 2020

This Week In 1980: February 24, 1980

Who said disco was dead? This week in 1980, the dance genre that was facing a backlash around the world was proving as popular as ever in Australia - but then we were about six months behind the UK and the US at that stage.

Christie Allen wasn't our number 1, but she came close

Three of the week's six new entries on the top 50 singles chart were disco tracks (or disco-influenced). And given the other three were new wave tunes, it was a pretty good week for a pop fan like me.

Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending February 24, 1980

At number 1 this week in 1980, disco act KC & The Sunshine Band remained on top for a second week with ballad "Please Don't Go".

Off The Chart
Number 93 "Drinking PiƱa Colada" by Freefall
Peak: number 68
Seems everyone was downing rum, coconut milk and pineapple juice cocktails in 1980. With Rupert Holmes' "Escape..." in the top 3, Brisbane band Freefall released their own ode to the drink.

Number 90 "Jane" by Jefferson Starship
Peak: number 72
The band's only charting single in the Jefferson Starship era in Australia, this track from fifth album Freedom At Point Zero had been a top 20 hit in the US.

Number 89 "You Are Australia" by Two-Man Band
Peak: number 85
The Mojo Singers had reached the top 10 with their follow-up to "C'mon Aussie C'mon", but the team behind "Up There Cazaly" didn't have anywhere near as much luck with their next (presumably) patriotic anthem.

New Entries
Number 50 "Fly Too High" by Janis Ian
Peak: number 7
Co-written by Giorgio Moroder and produced by Harold Faltermeyer, this single from Janis Ian's Night Rains album was her first major Australian hit since her first, "At Seventeen", in 1975. Disco-influenced track "Fly Too High", which was a change of pace, also appeared on the soundtrack to a film I'm only now hearing of called Foxes, which starred Jodie Foster, Scott Baio and Randy Quaid. Anyone remember it?

Number 42 "Diamond Smiles" by The Boomtown Rats
Peak: number 42
Entering the top 50 where it would peak, this follow-up to chart-topper "I Don't Like Mondays" was another song inspired by a real-life tragedy, in this case the suicide of a debutante who strangled herself to death. This time, however, the Irish band's tale didn't translate into chart success, and I dare say "Diamond Smiles" probably only did as well as it did since the band were coming off a number 1 hit.

Number 39 "Under Fire" by Jackie
Peak: number 28
This song sure was popular in 1979, recorded by no less than three different artists. Written by Terry Britten and B.A. Robertson, who were also responsible for Cliff Richard's current hit, "Carrie", "Under Fire" was released by female singers Jackie and Fern Kinney (on her album Groove Me), and South African girl band Clout. Jackie's version, which was also produced by Terry, was the one that became a hit in Australia - her only chart appearance.

Number 38 "Space Invaders" by Player [1]
Peak: number 3
As Mi-Sex's "Computer Games" fell out of the top 10, it was joined on the top 50 by another song inspired by video games - in this case one of the most popular games in the world. The Australian disco track veered more towards being a novelty record and Player [1] ended up as the first one-hit wonder of the new decade, although the production duo behind it, Bruce Brown and Russell Dunlop, both had many more credits to their names.

Number 35 "He's My Number One" by Christie Allen
Peak: number 4
Here's another new hit written by Terry Britten and B.A. Robertson, who clearly had their fingers on the pulse at this point in time. The follow-up to one of my favourite songs of all time, "Goose Bumps" (which had also been written by the pair), the poppy "He's My Number One" was Christie Allen's first single since the release of her debut album, Magic Rhythm, which had come out in November, and became her second consecutive top 5 single. Despite featuring both tracks, as well as previous number 20 hit "Falling In Love With Only You", the album missed the top 50, and Christie, who was named Most Popular Female Performer at back-to-back TV WEEK/Countdown Music Awards in 1979-80, never enjoyed such chart highs again, as we'll see in coming months.

Number 34 "Money" by The Flying Lizards
Peak: number 11
Interesting chart quirk: two singles by The Flying Lizards had entered the Australian top 100 in the same week in October 1979 - and both of them were cover versions. The British new wave band's take on "Summertime Blues" (originally recorded by Eddie Cochran) didn't end up getting any higher than number 75, but their spin on "Money (That's What I Want)" by Barrett Strong (and also previously remade by The Beatles) gradually found its way into the top 50 and almost made the top 10. Thanks especially to the deadpan delivery of vocalist Deborah Evans-Stickland, The Flying Lizard's version on "Money" was a radical reworking of the song, but it's one that has aged quite well, still popping up in ads and on soundtracks today.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):

Next week: the follow-ups to two of the biggest hits of the summer, both of which would follow their predecessors into the top 10.

Back to: Feb 17, 1980 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 2, 1980


  1. I remember a few things about Foxes: they also played Donna Summer's "On the Radio" a fair amount; some of the actors had visible acne and actually looked like teenagers (unlike the 30-year-olds playing high school students in American films and TV these days); and there was a scene where one of them was in a ?car crash, and at the hospital they get an oxygen mask put on their face, then have some sort of cunvulsion where the mask suddenly splatters and fills up with blood. Nice viewing for a primary school kid at the time.

  2. I like the Freefall song, which I'd not heard before.

    I didn't know 'Fly Too High' until a few years ago, but of course like it.

    Hadn't heard the Jackie song before... interesting.

    'He's My Number One' sounds like an ABBA song to my ears. If you'd told me it was by ABBA, without the visuals, I would have believed you.

    I loved the Countdown interview The Flying Lizards did, around this time (repeated during retro month several years ago, and uploaded here ), where the "singer" simply says "I can't sing", and speaks with a rather posh-sounding voice, while seeming bored with the whole thing.