Monday, 13 August 2012

The Best Of 1983 - part 3

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

In 1983, one thing I got in the habit of doing was setting my alarm (on my Parachute Game & Watch) to wake me up early on a Saturday morning so I could watch the cartoons before the rest of the family surfaced.

I remember being really annoyed when I'd turn the TV on and Thunderbirds would still be going (I hated that show!), but before long it'd be the turn of The Smurfs, He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe and other awesome animated shows.

A decade before "The Rachel", there was The Keren, The Sara and The Siobhan

Years later, my Saturday morning ritual would continue, but it would be music programs I'd drag myself out of bed for. In 1983, however, by the time Sounds started, the rest of the family would be up and the TV would be flicked over to the sport - and since we didn't yet own a VCR, I had to do without. Tough childhood, hey?

We start this batch of songs at number 20 with "Listening" by Pseudo Echo, the debut single by Australia's very own synthpop band, who would take the world by storm three years later with their cover of "Funky Town". It's a shame that remake has now overshadowed all their other singles, though, since originals like "Listening", "Love An Adventure" and, my favourite, "Don't Go", proved they could write their own hits.

At number 19: "1999" by Prince, which, after years of build-up, really got the ball rolling for His Purpleness, who'd dominate the charts for the next few years. In 1983, the year 1999 seemed like ages away, which of course meant the song would be relevant for years to come - and could then be a hit all over again when the turn of the millennium actually came around. Genius.

From 1999 we now go to 1964, since the song at number 18 is "Always Something There To Remind Me" by Naked Eyes, a cover of the Sandie Shaw hit written by Burt Bacharach & Hal David. Naked Eyes would only ever have this one hit (number 7 in Australia, but a flop back home in the UK), but one half of the duo, Rob Fisher, would go on to form another, slightly more successful, duo: Climie Fisher.

With another of their regular early '80s hits, at number 17 is "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)" by Bananarama, which didn't do so well in Australia (number 38) but gave them their fourth top 5 hit in the UK and was a cover of the 1969 US number 1 by Steam. The chorus to "Na Na Hey Hey..." has become a bit of a crowd-chanting favourite at WWE matches and even when news of Osama bin Laden's death broke. Those crazy Americans!

Next, at number 16 is "Maniac" by Michael Sembello, which featured prominently in Flashdance, specifically the scene where Jennifer Beals has a furious workout. Michael's another one-hit wonder, except in the US where his follow-up single, "Automatic Man", cracked the top 40. Ever wondered who Michael is? Well, aside from releasing the brilliance that is "Maniac", he played guitar for Stevie Wonder during the '70s and has done a heap of work for other film soundtracks. He even has a website!

At number 15: "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club, which went to number 1 just about everywhere, including Australia for five weeks in 1983.

A song which is in two of my year-end countdowns is at number 14: "Temptation" by Heaven 17, which was given a great remix in 1992. Heaven 17 was comprised of Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware (who'd earlier formed Human League, before quitting and leaving the band name to Phil Oakey) and singer Glenn Gregory. The female voice on "Temptation" is Carol Kenyon, who was a pretty popular backing vocalist in the '80s and '90s - and adds the key ingredient to this classic tune.

With their first UK chart-topper, at number 13 is "Is There Something I Should Know?" by Duran Duran, a stand-alone single which bridged the gap between the Rio album and Seven And The Ragged Tiger.

More Australian synthpop is at number 12: "Send Me An Angel" by Real Life, who hit big with this and "Catch Me I'm Falling" both going top 10 locally and making the US top 40. In fact, "Send Me An Angel" was a hit twice in the US - once in 1983 and again in 1989 with a remixed version - and was also big across Europe. With such a great start to their career, it's a pity they didn't sustain the momentum.

Another Australian act who were making inroads overseas is at
number 11: "Original Sin" by INXS, which is my favourite track by the band and was the first single from The Swing. It was also their first Australian top 10 single, going all the way to number 1. Their major overseas success was still a few years away, but for the time being, they were fast becoming Australia's biggest band.

That just leaves us with my 10 favourite songs from 1983. Coming up: the first appearance by a superstar-in-the-making, as well as a great song from a crap film, a great song from an OK film and a great song from a great film.

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