Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Best Of 1979 - part 1

JUMP TO: 10-6 II 5-1

Collecting ARIA charts was one thing, but my love for music started way before 1987. I was born in 1975, so I got to live through the best decade for music known to humankind. No, not the 2000s (although I’ll cover them eventually). I’m obviously talking about the 1980s.

It was impossible to escape ABBA in 1979... still

In fact, I used to always say that I didn’t care about any music before 1980. Except Motown. It was nice to have such a neat starting point to the era of music I enjoyed. But then it slowly dawned on me that I really couldn’t go on ignoring 1979. For one thing, I actually was old enough – just – to remember music from that year. And it was a stellar year for pop music. With disco not quite dead, new wave taking a hold and some good old fashioned MOR pop/rock (I have a soft spot for the likes of Toto and Chicago), there were more than enough songs to pique my interest.

So, as much as it pained me to have an odd year sticking out like a sore thumb, I embraced 1979 and compiled a list of my favourite tracks from that year. If you can sense a countdown coming on, you’d be right. Here’s the first half of my top 10 singles from 1979…

At number 10 it’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” by ABBA, which, five years on from their worldwide breakthrough, proved they could still come up with the goods. In this case, it was a brand new song for their second Greatest Hits collection. Three decades later, it still sounds fresh – although how much that has to do with Madonna’s “Hung Up”, I’m not sure. Madonna hasn’t been the only artist by any means to reinterpret this song – in fact, Erasure covered “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” in 1986, six years before releasing their ABBA-esque EP, which helped kick-start the whole ABBA revival. It’s a version that’s worth tracking down.

My number 9 song for 1979 is “Baby It’s You” by Promises, which was a massive number 2 hit here in Australia, despite (or possibly because of) the keyboardist/verse-singer’s bizarre braces and tie but no shirt look. I always assumed Promises were European (again, possibly because of his attire), but turns out they were a trio of siblings from Canada. They were, however, also big in Germany. Peculiar clothing aside, my favourite thing about the clip is the performance by Leslie Knauer, who sings the choruses like her life depends upon it. A great, great song.

At number 8, “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” by Kiss, and if there was any band that could rival ABBA for fan hysteria in Australia, it was the face-painted rock gods. It’s very possible that one of my earliest memories of TV is seeing Gene Simmons waggling his tongue and/or spitting fire out of his mouth – something you'd never get from a rock star these days. As fun as those theatrics were, it was probably only the fact that KISS decided to go disco on this song that appealed to me, since I can’t actually recall any of their other songs from the era.

More disco at number 7 – noticing a trend here? – with “Born To Be Alive” by Patrick Hernandez, who was the very definition of a one hit wonder on the Aussie chart. One song, peaking at number one and no other top 50 entries. In fact, aside from a 1987 remix of “Born To Be Alive” reaching number 83, he didn’t have another chart entry whatsoever. Still, better one hit than no hits.

Here they are again at number 6. It’s “Does Your Mother Know” by ABBA, which was notable for featuring Bj√∂rn rather than Frida and/or Agnetha on lead vocals. The ABBA double-up in my top 10 is understandable since, of the 10 LPs my parents had in their album collection, two were by ABBA. Like any child born in the second half of the ’70s, ABBA were inescapable. And that’s not a bad thing – unless we’re talking about “Fernando”.

Coming up in my next post, my top 5 for 1979 - and there's not an ABBA song in sight. Any ideas what might be included?

1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016 II 2017 II 2018 II 2019


  1. What's wrong with Fernando? *tsk*

    1. Ha! Let's just say it's not my favourite.

  2. Before i saw the "Baby It's You" video I used to think it was all the same singer. I suppose it makes sense that they're family - a certain similarity in the vocals is inevitable.

  3. Those days of ABBA vs. Kiss in the school yard. Now that's taking me back. Finn

  4. First time comment. I really enjoy this blog. However I Was Made For Loving You is one of the worst songs of all time. Yes I know they were taking the piss about disco so to speak & I've read how they wrote this saying how easy it was to make a disco song. The reason I hate is because Kiss sucked as a rock band let alone writing a disco song. In my opinion a disco song Stayin Alive is the 2nd best song of all time behind a rock song Smells Like Teen Spirit.

    1. Yeah, I'm not a fan of anything else KISS did, but whatever their motivations, I feel like they came up with the goods in this instance. If my musical memories went back earlier, I'm sure Stayin' Alive would make my charts too.

  5. Thanks guys,,, its a great site to come listen to and reminice over the music lists you of my favourite sites now i think