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This Week In 1983: the first ARIA chart

Today is the anniversary of the first ever ARIA chart. Or, to give it its original name, the Countdown Chart (authorised and endorsed by the Australian Record Industry Association). As announced by Molly Meldrum on Countdown, it was available in record stores on July 4, 1983, but since my posts have always coincided with the dates on the official top 50 printouts, I'm marking the landmark by counting down the full chart now.

Before we crack on with the chart, the question has to be asked: if this was the first ARIA top 50, does that mean there weren't charts before July 10, 1983? Well, yes and no. There wasn't a national chart you could pick up in record stores around the country. But since 1974, the Kent Music Report had tallied national music sales. Chart expert David Kent compiled the report, which was later known as the Australian Music Report. Before that, local music magazine Go-Set had published charts.

As you can see from the printout above, the sales data in the Kent Music Report was the basis for the ARIA chart - and would remain so until mid-1988. And, as you can also see, every song on this first chart has a chart position listed for the previous week (unless it was a new entry). The record-buying public might not have been able to hold that previous chart in their hands, but it did exist.

Off The Chart

Outside the top 50, these songs entered this week's top 100 but didn't end up making it onto the printed chart.

Number 99 "Waves" by Blancmange

Peak: number 99

"Living On The Ceiling" had reached the top 5 back in March, but not even a remix from the album version could turn this fourth single from Happy Families into a hit.

Number 77 "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" by Bonnie Tyler

Peak: number 69

This is a surprise. "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" was currently massive, but Bonnie's version of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic missed the top 50 altogether. 

Number 76 "Stranger In My House" by Ronnie Milsap

Peak: number 55

One of the American country star's only singles from the '80s not to top Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart was also one of his more successful crossover hits on the mainstream Hot 100.

The Top 50

Number 50 "Speak Like A Child" by The Style Council


Peak: number 29

Our first entry on the first ever ARIA chart is also the first ever single from The Style Council. "Speak Like A Child" quickly established that the group, fronted by singer Paul Weller, sounded quite distinct from his previous band, The Jam, who'd reached number 35 in February with their final single, "Beat Surrender". Paul's partner in soul was Mick Talbot, whose last band, The Bureau, had managed one hit in Australia in 1981 with "Only For Sheep". "Speak Like A Child" made a modest impression, but the band would perform significantly better in 1984-5, peaking with top 10 hit "Shout To The Top!".

Number 49 "Der Kommissar" by After The Fire

Peak: number 17

The first of two versions of "Der Kommissar" on this week's top 50, this English-language remake was released by British band After The Fire, who'd broken up by the time it became an international hit.

Number 48 "Live Lady Live" by The Angels


Peak: number 43

The week's second new entry is from a band I've constantly found myself writing about thanks to their steady stream of singles throughout the '80s and early '90s. Like many of The Angels' releases that I've covered, "Live Lady Live" flew under the radar on the chart - peaking 20(ish) places lower than the other two singles from Watch The Red"Stand Up" and "Eat City".

Number 47 "Rock The Boat" by Forrest

Peak: number 33

Seems Forrest (that's his real name) didn't get the memo about disco being over. The music video for this cover of the 1974 single by Hues Corporation features a 19-year-old Sinitta.

Number 46 "Let The Franklin Flow" by Gordon Franklin & The Wilderness Ensemble

Peak: number 12

Featuring members of Goanna, Redgum and Midnight Oil, this charity single protested the damming of Tasmania's Gordon and Franklin rivers. It'd first been performed at a nuclear disarmament concert in February.

Number 45 "Black And White" by INXS


Peak: number 24

Debut number three was the latest single from INXS, but it wasn't an ordinary single - and it wasn't actually called "Black And White". The 12" only release was actually named Dance and featured an extended version of "Black And White" as its lead track. Non-album tracks "Long In Tooth" (the B-side to "Don't Change" in North America) and "Any Day But Sunday" (which featured in the film No Small Affair) were included on the flipside. I've always liked the song "Black And White", but despite it being part of a decent-sized hit for the band - especially given its format - it's a track that is often overlooked in INXS's back catalogue. Of course, the fact that their next release topped the chart might have a little something to do with that.

Number 44 "Let's Dance" by David Bowie

Peak: number 2

The second biggest hit of his career in Australia (up until that point) kicked off a year of consistent singles chart success for David Bowie. His decision to shoot the video for "Let's Dance" locally can't have hurt.

Number 43 "She Means Nothing To Me" by Phil Everly & Cliff Richard


Peak: number 39

It'd been nearly 20 years since The Everly Brothers last visited the Australian top 50, and younger brother Phil returned with this single from his self-titled fifth and final solo album. Along for the ride was Cliff Richard, who'd prove quite partial to a duet in the '80s. Despite Phil and Cliff's chart pedigree, "She Means Nothing To Me" didn't take the chart by storm. Could it have been because the track sounded like it came straight out of the '60s and retro rock'n'roll had gone out of fashion with the demise (for the time being) of Shakin' Stevens in 1982?

Number 42 "Baby I Need Your Lovin'" by Carl Carlton

Peak: number 12

"She's A Bad Mama Jama (She's Built, She's Stacked)" hadn't taken off in Australia, but we couldn't get enough of Carl Carlton and his sensible slacks on this cover of the Four Tops classic.

Number 41 "Gloria" by Laura Branigan

Peak: number 1

A seven-week chart-topper back in February/March, this English reworking of the Umberto Tozzi song showed remarkable resilience, spending its 28th week inside the top 50. (I know it says 30 weeks on the printout, but that must be taking into account its two weeks inside the top 100 before it reached the top 50).

Number 40 "Running For Our Lives" by Marianne Faithfull

Peak: number 40

She'd last featured in the top 50 with 1980's "The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan", and the '60s star added one final hit to her tally with this track from the A Child's Adventure album. Never heard it in my life! 

Number 39 "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby

Peak: number 19

Try as I might, I've never really liked this synthpop classic, which features British TV star and "mad" scientist Magnus Pyke on the track and in the accompanying music video.

Number 38 "1999" by Prince

Peak: number 2

The first of Prince's 12 Australian top 10 hits, "1999" was the lead single from the album of the same name and was successful locally before it reached either the US or UK top 10.

Number 37 "No Tragedy" by The Radiators

Peak: number 27

Both this single and the album it came from, Scream Of The Real, were the biggest hits by the Sydney pub rock band, who were averaging 200 shows a year at the time.

Number 36 "Change" by Tears For Fears

Peak: number 29

A year-and-a-half later, this British duo would spend 14 weeks in the top 10 with two massive singles. For now, they had to make do with this mid-table placement for their second hit.

Number 35 "Mexican Radio" by Wall Of Voodoo

Peak: number 33

We saw singer Stan Ridgway's first solo appearance in the ARIA top 100 on last week's 1986 post and here is Wall Of Voodoo's biggest hit during his tenure as lead singer.

Number 34 "Going Home" by Mark Knopfler

Peak: number 29

Speaking of solo efforts, here's the debut solo release by Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler. "Going Home" was lifted from the soundtrack to Local Hero, which starred Burt Lancaster.

Number 33 "Is There Something I Should Know?" by Duran Duran

Peak: number 4

In the UK, it became their first number 1 single and in Australia, stand-alone single "Is There Something I Should Know?" was also Duran Duran's best charting song to date.

Number 32 "Pressure Sway" by Machinations

Peak: number 21

Next up, one of the first local synthpop acts to reach the Australian top 50 did so with their fourth release. Parent album Esteem just missed the albums top 50, however, peaking at number 54.

Number 31 "Affair Of The Heart" by Rick Springfield

Peak: number 26

This lead single from the curiously titled Living In Oz album - curious since the General Hospital star was still based in the US - reached the US top 10 and was Rick's final ARIA top 50 hit.

Number 30 "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls

Peak: number 16

It might've taken Geri Halliwell to make this song an ARIA top 10 hit, but you really can't beat the original version of the camp classic, which had been offered to Diana Ross, Cher, Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer first.

Number 29 "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)" by Wham!

Peak: number 9

As it had in the UK, Wham's debut single became a hit in Australia after the success of follow-up "Young Guns (Go For It)". I have a feeling "Wham Rap!..." might also have been only the second song with a rap in it to reach the Australian top 10 following Blondie's "Rapture" - correct me if I'm wrong!

Number 28 "Play The Game" by Wendy & The Rockets

Peak: number 28

This was the peak position for the best charting single by the future Mrs Paul Norton (aka Wendy Stapleton) and her band, which would add Paul to its line-up in 1984.

Number 27 "The Walls Came Down" by The Call


Peak: number 21

Things I've learnt writing this post: Michael Been, the singer of The Call, is the father of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club frontman Robert Been (aka Robert Turner). This week in 1983, Michael and his band had the highest new entry on the first ARIA chart with the politically charged "The Walls Came Down". It didn't get much further and was the band's only top 50 appearance, but no doubt anyone who can remember 1983 will know the song's memorable hook and can join in on the "ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya" bit.

Number 26 "Communication" by Spandau Ballet

Peak: number 24

Things were chugging along nicely for Spandau Ballet, with this second single from True giving them their best chart peak since debut single "To Cut A Long Story Short". Little did anyone know what was just around the corner for the band...

Number 25 "Der Kommissar" by Falco

Peak: number 7

Earlier, we saw After The Fire's cover of "Der Kommissar", but here's the German-language original by Austria's Falco, which actually dated back to 1981.

Number 24 "China Girl" by David Bowie

Peak: number 15

Originally co-written and produced by David Bowie for Iggy Pop, who released it in 1977, "China Girl" became the follow-up to "Let's Dance" and also featured a music video filmed in Australia.

Number 23 "You Are" by Lionel Richie

Peak: number 17

Lionel Richie's solo career was ticking along nicely, with this latest single from his self-titled album following "Truly" into the top 20. Little did we know how big a year 1983 would turn out to be for the ex-Commodore.

Number 22 "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson

Peak: number 1

Speaking of big years, Michael Jackson was having one of those as he lifted hit after hit from Thriller. Biggest of all was "Billie Jean", which had spent five weeks at number 1 in April/May.

Number 21 "Love Is A Stranger" by Eurythmics

Peak: number 17

Thanks to the success of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)", which we'll come to in a bit, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart's previous release, "Love Is A Stranger", shot up the chart as well.

Number 20 "Baby Jane" by Rod Stewart

Peak: number 10

I have no memory of this Rod Stewart single, a UK chart-topper which would go on to become his eighth top 10 single in Australia. He wouldn't score his ninth until 1991.

Number 19 "Orchard Road" by Leo Sayer

Peak: number 17

Future Australian resident Leo Sayer had been a chart regular since 1974, but those days were numbered, with this ballad about a bust-up with his wife ending up as his final top 50 hit. 

Number 18 "Blue Monday" by New Order

Peak: number 13

Famously the highest selling - and most expensive to manufacture - 12" single of all time, "Blue Monday" would be a hit again in 1988 and (in the UK) in 1995 thanks to regular remixes.

Number 17 "Let's Go To Bed" by The Cure

Peak: number 15

Taking a break from their gloomier sound turned The Cure's chart fortunes around, as "Let's Go To Bed" improved on the peak of 1981's "Primary" by almost 80 positions. No doubt, hardcore fans despaired at the mainstream attention. 

Number 16 "Jeopardy" by The Greg Kihn Band

Peak: number 11

In 1981, "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)" reached number 14, and pun-loving Greg Kihn (his band's albums have titles like Next Of Kihn, Kihnspiracy and Citizen Kihn) improved slightly with a song later parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Number 15 "I Was Only 19" by Redgum

Peak: number 1

This two-week chart-topper from folk rock band Redgum detailed the experience of soldiers serving in Vietnam, with proceeds donated to veterans.

Number 14 "Drop The Pilot" by Joan Armatrading

Peak: number 6

Ever wondered what "Drop The Pilot" is about? According to Joan it means "don't go out with that person, come out with me. It's just a different way of saying that." So there you go.

Number 13 "Fraction Too Much Friction" by Tim Finn

Peak: number 8

The Split Enz member couldn't have hoped for a better solo debut, although being stuck for four weeks at number 8 might have been a little frustrating. He'd never see chart highs like that on his own again.

Number 12 "Solitaire" by Laura Branigan

Peak: number 5

We saw her in Part 1 with the enduring "Gloria" from debut album Branigan. "Solitaire" was the lead single from Laura's imaginatively titled second album, Branigan 2, and, like "Gloria", had started life as a foreign language hit. The English lyrics were penned by up-and-coming songwriter Diane Warren. 

Number 11 "Church Of The Poison Mind" by Culture Club

Peak: number 4

The week's biggest jump within the top 50 came from this song, the first release from Culture Club's second album, Colour By Numbers. It was a big hit, but the band's next single would be absolutely massive.

Number 10 "Always Something There To Remind Me" by Naked Eyes

Peak: number 7

A top 50 single for Sandie Shaw in 1964 and for RB Greaves in 1970, this much-recorded Burt Bacharach and Hal David tune was the only hit for Naked Eyes (although later singles "Promises, Promises" and "When The Lights Go Out" are worth checking out).

Number 9 "Send Me An Angel" by Real Life

Peak: number 6

Like Machinations, Real Life were proving you didn't have to be a pub rock band to have chart success. Debut single "Send Me An Angel" would end up having a lengthy lifespan, with both this original version and a 1989 remix reaching the US top 30.

Number 8 "Little Red Corvette" by Prince

Peak: number 8

Sexually suggestive, but not so blatantly that anyone in the US got offended, "Little Red Corvette" slowly but surely became Prince's first US top 10 hit. As a result, "1999" was reissued in America and made number 12. In the UK, the two tracks finally reached the top 10 when re-released as a double A-side in early 1985. Things weren't so complicated in Australia, where Prince was rewarded with another instant hit.

Number 7 "Save Your Love" by Renée And Renato

Peak: number 3

One-hit wonder time: this former UK Christmas number 1 by Hilary Lester and Renato Pagliari didn't reach the top here but hung around long enough (kind of like a bad smell) to be 1983's seventh biggest single.

Number 6 "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" by Eurythmics

Peak: number 6

The song that turned things around for Eurythmics was actually the fourth single from the album of the same name (although the other three had all come out in 1982). "Sweet Dreams..." was a strong enough track that it probably would've been a hit regardless, but the music video and Annie Lennox's striking image certainly helped establish the duo.

Number 5 "Every Breath You Take" by The Police

Peak: number 2

Album Synchronicity would debut at the top of the albums chart the next week (their fourth number 1 album in a row), but stalker-ish lead single "Every Breath You Take" would never reach the summit in Australia, as it did in both the US (for eight weeks) and the UK (for four). The track also won the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year.

Number 4 "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John

Peak: number 3

Ballad "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" had kicked off the album in the UK, but in Australia, the upbeat "I'm Still Standing" and its flashy Cannes music video launched Too Low For Zero and gave Elton his biggest hit since "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"

Number 3 "Beat It" by Michael Jackson

Peak: number 2

While Thriller spent a third week at number 1 on the albums chart this week, its Eddie Van Halen-featuring third single fell back a spot from the runners-up position it had held for four weeks. A US chart-topper, "Beat It" was specifically responsible for two of the eight Grammys Michael Jackson won in February 1984 - Record Of The Year and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.

Number 2 "Flashdance... What A Feeling" by Irene Cara

Peak: number 1

Here's another Grammy Award winner and US number 1 record, but unlike "Every Breath You Take" and "Beat It", the theme to Flashdance also reached the top of the Australian chart - for seven non-consecutive weeks. In fact, it's the song responsible for denying The Police a chart-topper. "Flashdance... What A Feeling" was Irene Cara's second big soundtrack hit, following 1980's "Fame", and was co-written and produced by Giorgio Moroder. It wound up as not only Australia's second-biggest single of 1983, but also my number 2 song of the year.

Number 1 "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler

Peak: number 1

Taking out the number 1 spot on the first ever ARIA chart is a song that'd also spent the previous five weeks as the highest-selling song in the country. The first fruits of the collaboration between Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler and writer/producer Jim Steinman (who'd been behind Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell juggernaut), the epic "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" ran to seven minutes on the album Faster Than The Speed Of Night. Even though it was cut back for single release, the track lost none of its melodrama and grandeur - quite a change of style from the last time Bonnie had been at number 1, with 1978's "It's A Heartache". Yet another song that also topped the British and American charts, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" has stayed in the public consciousness in no small part thanks to a hit remake in the mid-'90s by Nicki French and the mid-'00s literal video.

Listen to every top 50 hit (that's on Spotify) from the second half of 1983 on my playlist:

Next week: my 1983 recaps continue, following the usual format of my regular posts - a brief look at the top 100 entries that missed the top 50 and a closer look at the top 50 debuts, which will include two reggae hits, a one-hit wonder and the latest single by a group rapidly becoming the biggest pop act in the world.

                                                                      GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 17, 1983

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