Sunday, 25 December 2016

This Week In 1983: December 25, 1983

It's funny what it takes for a song to be banned - and how that's changed over the years. Just last week, we saw that the suggestion of an interracial relationship was enough for "Original Sin" by INXS to be banned by some US radio stations.

Mondo Rock's tale of young lust was too hot for some radio stations to handle

This week in 1983, another controversial single by an Australian band arrived on the ARIA chart - and some local radio stations refused to play it. As is so often the case, the ban did nothing to stop the song becoming a big hit, only kept from the number 1 spot by... "Original Sin" (and "Love Is A Battlefield" for its second week at number 2).

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending December 25, 1983

At number 1 this week in 1983, Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)" became the fourth chart-topper in as many weeks. Unlike Semantics, "Uptown Girl" and "Islands In The Stream", however, Lionel's single would stay put for six weeks.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence" by Ryuichi Sakamoto
Peak: number 88
We saw the vocal version featuring David Sylvian in the top 50 back in October. Now, the instrumental theme from the war film made the top 100 just in time for Christmas.

Number 97 "Don't Girls Get Lonely" by Glenn Shorrock
Peak: number 75
A markedly different stand-alone single than his previous effort, the poppy "Don't Girls Get Lonely" would wind up being included on career retrospective The First Twenty Years in 1985.

Number 75 "Chinese I's (Here Come The Minute Men)" by Venetians
Peak: number 63
Venetians' catchy, although racially insensitive, second single was a significant improvement on debut "Sound On Sound" and hinted of the greatness to come from the synthpop band. 

Number 68 "That Was Then But This Is Now" by ABC
Peak: number 63
For ABC, it appeared their greatest days were behind them, with this lead single from second album Beauty Stab not a patch on their previous singles. It'd be another four years before their next ARIA chart appearance.

New Entries
Number 50 "Kissing With Confidence" by Will Powers
Peak: number 50
Yes, that's Carly Simon handling the vocals on this parody record released by photographer Lynn Goldsmith under the name Will Powers. Lynn does the spoken bits, with her voice lowered to sound like male character Will, who's a send-up of the self-help gurus who sprang to prominence in the early '80s.

Number 42 "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" by Yes
Peak: number 14
It's quite apt that the previous album by prog rockers Yes had been called Drama, since a fair amount of tumult followed that LP's 1980 release. The band ceased to exist, but a number of former members - and by this stage, there were quite a few ex-Yes members out there - ended up working together as Cinema. Original Yes singer Jon Anderson was later recruited and, when it transpired that other bands had claims on the name Cinema, the group decided to just call themselves Yes.
The only member of the current line-up who hadn't been part of Yes before was Trevor Rabin, who wrote the initial version of "Owner Of A Lonely Heart". During work on what would become Yes's 11th album, 90125, other members and producer Trevor Horn (who'd been Yes's singer for a short time) added their own elements to "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" and turned it into the career-reviving pop smash it was. In the US, the song, which sounded nothing like Yes's earlier work, was a hit with the MTV generation, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Here in Australia, it was the band's first top 50 appearance since "Your Move" reached number 32 in 1971 - and easily their biggest hit.

Number 39 "Cum On Feel The Noize" by Quiet Riot
Peak: number 9
Here's another American band with their biggest single in Australia - Quiet Riot and their heavy metal cover of Slade's "Cum On Feel The Noize". A decade earlier, the original version had reached number 1 in the UK and the Australian top 20, but had bombed out at number 98 in the US. And so, there was a fresh audience for the song in America, where Slade had never enjoyed a hit single despite managing six chart-toppers at home. 
Quiet Riot, who'd been around since 1973, weren't so receptive to idea of remaking the glam rock classic and, as legend has it, tried to record the worst version they could in the hopes that the idea would be dropped. Turns out, their worst version became a top 10 hit in Australia and America. In 1984, the band tried to repeat the trick by updating another Slade tune, "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" - and we'll see how that did next year (or you can cheat and find out here).

Number 27 "Come Said The Boy" by Mondo Rock
Peak: number 2
It was quite the week for bands enjoying their biggest hits - although in the case of Mondo Rock, they'd actually had top 10 singles in Australia before. The controversial "Come Said The Boy" beat the number 6 peak of 1980's "State Of The Heart", hitting number 2 and equally the position achieved earlier in 1983 by "Bop Girl" - the song lead singer Ross Wilson had written and co-produced for wife Pat. Why the controversy? "Come Said The Boy" just happened to be about a guy losing his virginity... to a more experienced girl... on the beach. The biggest objection to the song came from Sydney's still successful, Catholic Church-owned 2SM, which wouldn't play the song, but with FM stations on the rise, their stand didn't have the impact it might once have had. 

Annual Chart

The ARIA chart was only made available to the public for the second half of the year, but this list of the top 100 songs for 1983 includes some singles I haven't recapped that were successful between January and June. I've provided links to the YouTube clips for those songs, while the ones without links were covered in my weekly recaps, a full list of which can be found at the bottom of this post:

1.       “Australiana” by Austen Tayshus
2.       “Flashdance... What A Feeling” by Irene Cara
3.       “Gloria” by Laura Branigan
4.       “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
6.       “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” by Bonnie Tyler
7.       “Save Your Love” by Renee & Renato
8.       “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club
9.       “Beat It” by Michael Jackson
10.     “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
11.     “Bop Girl” by Pat Wilson
12.     Semantics by Australian Crawl
13.     “I Was Only 19” by Redgum
15.     “Rain” by Dragon
16.     “1999” by Prince
17.     “Give It Up” by KC & The Sunshine Band
19.     “I'm Still Standing” by Elton John
20.     “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant
23.     “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats
24.     “Let's Dance” by David Bowie
26.     “Send Me An Angel” by Real Life
27.     “Drop The Pilot” by Joan Armatrading
29.     “I.O.U.” by Freeez
32.     “Red Red Wine” by UB40
34.     “Puttin' On The Ritz” by Taco
37.     “Church Of The Poison Mind” by Culture Club
38.     “I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues” by Elton John
39.     “Maniac” by Michael Sembello
40.     “Islands In The Stream” by Kenny Rogers / Dolly Parton
41.     “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by Eurythmics
42.     “Always Something There To Remind Me” by Naked Eyes
43.     “True” by Spandau Ballet
44.     “Modern Love” by David Bowie
45.     “Maggie” by Foster & Allen
46.     “Baby I Need Your Lovin'” by Carl Carlton
48.     “Shiny Shiny” by Haysi Fantasyzee
49.     “Words” by F.R. David
50.     “She Works Hard For The Money” by Donna Summer
51.     “Fraction Too Much Friction” by Tim Finn
52.     “Moonlight Shadow” by Mike Oldfield
53.     “Blue Monday” by New Order
54.     “Is There Something I Should Know?” by Duran Duran
55.     “Der Kommissar” by Falco
57.     “Say Say Say” by Paul McCartney / Michael Jackson
59.     “Tell Her About It” by Billy Joel
62.     “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel
66.     “Union Of The Snake” by Duran Duran
69.     “Solitaire” by Laura Branigan
70.     “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” by Peabo Bryson / Roberta Flack
72.     “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)” by Paul Young
73.     “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” by The Human League
74.     “Gold” by Spandau Ballet
75.     “I Don't Wanna Dance” by Eddy Grant
76.     “Candy Girl” by New Edition
77.     “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)” by Wham!
78.     “Little Red Corvette” by Prince
80.     “Baby Jane” by Rod Stewart
86.     “Bad Boys” by Wham!
87.     “All Night Long (All Night)” by Lionel Richie
91.     “I Hear Motion” by Models
92.     “Rock 'N' Roll Is King” by Electric Light Orchestra
94.     “Let's Go To Bed” by The Cure
95.     “Orchard Road” by Leo Sayer
97.     “Montego Bay” by The Allniters
98.     “Let The Franklin Flow” by Gordon Franklin
100.     “McRawhide” by The Chaps

And to celebrate reaching the end of the first year (well, six months) of the ARIA chart, here's a Spotify playlist featuring all the songs that entered the top 50 since the top 50 printout began. Well, most of them:

Next time: 1984 gets off to a good start with new hits for Hall & Oates, Simple Minds and Siouxsie & The Banshees.

Before that, our final flashback for the year is the last singles chart from 1986, which we'll look at on December 28. I'll also start counting down my favourite songs from 2016 before the New Year.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Charts - 1983

Jul 10 II Jul 17 II Jul 24 II Jul 31 II Aug 7 II Aug 14 II Aug 21 II Aug 28 II Sep 4 II Sep 11 II Sep 18 II Sep 25 II Oct 2 II Oct 9 II Oct 16 II Oct 23 II Oct 30 II Nov 6 II Nov 13 II Nov 20 II Nov 27 II Dec 4 II Dec 11 II Dec 18 II Dec 25

Back to: Dec 18, 1983 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 15, 1984


  1. I wonder if that's the only time an instrumental plus vocal version of the same track have charted separately? Although the embedded video is a (rather nice) live solo piano rendition.

    Singing about 'Chinese eyes' seemed to be a thing in the early/mid 80s, with Fancy also releasing a song titled 'Chinese Eyes', plus 'Turning Japanese'. 'Chinese I's' almost sounds a bit like Depeche Mode in parts.

    The Glenn Shorrock track reminds me of Steve Winwood's 'Valerie' with that synth used.

    I didn't realise (or had forgotten) that nothing charted locally from ABC's 'How To Be a Zillionaire' album, which is shame. I've heard this track before but can never remember how it goes. Not a great lead single.

    I love 'Owner of a Lonely Heart', but for many years thought it was sung by Sting.

    Never heard the Will Powers track before. I've seen 2 videos of hers on rage in recent years, and assumed it was a man with the voice and name.

    I remember hearing 'Come Said the Boy' on the radio quite a bit (the only place I would have known the song from), actually, so maybe the controversy was limited to (the more-religious generally?) New South Wales.

    It's quite sad that 'Australiana' was the highest selling single (or, at least had the best chart-run) of 1983.

  2. Molly Meldrum commented at the time that he felt that 2SM's refusal to play "Come Said The Boy" prevented it from reaching #1, so even though it was still a massive hit, the ban could well have robbed it of an even bigger place in history.

    "Australiana" was absolutely huge - it really was a cultural phenomenon and I wasn't the least bit surprised at the time that it was #1 for the year. Even my parents and their friends were talking about it and they had zero interest in popular music at the time (in spite of their constant exposure to it thanks to my obsession with the charts).