This Week In 1983: November 13, 1983
What a week it's been, right? As luck would have it, today's look back at the ARIA singles chart from 1983 allows us to draw a neat parallel between then and now. How so? Well, the highest new entry just happened to come from a guy who was punching well above his weight when it came to women. Difference is — he was actually talented.
And Billy Joel was the first to admit he managed to attract incredibly beautiful women despite not being what you could call a looker. Women like the one who featured in the music video for his single that debuted this week in 1983 — a model he'd go on to marry. The song itself became his first Australian number 1 hit.
The number 1 song this week in 1983 was still "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club, with Australian Crawl's Semantics EP settling in for a second week at number 2 — somewhere it'd be stuck for another couple of weeks.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 96
Number 95 "I Think You're Cute" by The Johnnys
Peak: number 51
They'd end up landing two top 50 hits in a couple of years' time, but country-influenced pub rock band The Johnnys came oh-so-close with their debut single.
Number 90 "All Time High" by Rita Coolidge
Peak: number 80
The last Bond theme, Sheena Easton's "For Your Eyes Only", had been a top 10 smash in early 1982, but this ballad from Octopussy by the former Mrs Kris Kristofferson wound up at the opposite end of the top 100. After a short run in November 1983, it re-entered and reached its ultimate peak of number 80 in March 1984.
Number 86 Matt Finish by Matt Finish
Peak: number 53
After a two-year hiatus, Matt Finish reconvened and released this self-titled EP, but ended up back in the 50s, where 1981's Fade Away had also placed. Lead track "Out On Those Moments" would also be included on next studio album Word Of Mouth.
Number 82 "Jumping The Gap" by Machinations
Peak: number 59
"Pressure Sway" had almost cracked the top 20 back in July, but Machinations' next single, the far less commercial "Jumping The Gap", faltered.
Peak: number 35
Someone sound the novelty record siren! This former New Zealand number 1 single was released by three members of Hogsnort Rupert as a side project. Yes, Hogsnort Rupert — or to give the band its full name: Hogsnort Rupert's Original Flagon Band. Dave was singer Dave Luther, who, together with band-mates Kevin Findlater and Bernie Reber, inflicted this "comedy" rock'n'roll tune about aging musos on the world. Well, NZ and Australia.
Peak: number 17
In their short but influential career, punk pioneers Sex Pistols never reached the Australian top 50 — a fate that had so far befallen the second band fronted by singer John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten). That all changed with this single that would appear (in slightly different form) on Public Image Limited's fourth studio album, This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get. Easily PiL's greatest chart success, "This Is Not A Love Song" peaked 20 places higher than their next best effort, 1986's "Rise", and was a top 5 hit in the UK. I've never been quite able to see its appeal, however. Yes, it was part of the band's move towards a more commercial sound, but I still find the vocals too irritating and the chorus too monotonous for my taste. I expect some of you will disagree.
Number 45 "Life Gets Better" by Graham Parker
Peak: number 35
It might sound like Elvis Costello, but instead it's fellow Brit Graham Parker, who'd been releasing music slightly longer and had scored three minor hits in Australia with former band The Rumour in the late '70s. The optimistic "Life Gets Better" was taken from Graham's second solo album, The Real Macaw, and shares its "things improve as you get older" sentiment with "Life Begins At Forty". I suspect Graham actually meant it.
Number 41 "Long Hot Summer" by The Style Council
Peak: number 28
Their second single, "Money-Go-Round" had missed the top 100 altogether, but The Style Council returned to the top 30 and improved on the peak of debut single "Speak Like A Child" (by one place) with this laidback gem. In an example of excellent timing, "Long Hot Summer" was released locally to coincide with the start of our own warmer months, which no doubt helped its cause. And its chilled out, dreamy feel still elicits thoughts of lazy picnics, beachside strolls at sundown and a glass of wine in a sunny beer garden. That's tomorrow's agenda sorted.
Number 28 "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 1
It was written about former flame Elle Macpherson and starred his subsequent girlfriend Christie Brinkley in the music video — if "Uptown Girl" taught us anything, it's that there is, as Billy himself jokes, hope for "every ugly guy in the world". As with previous single "Tell Her About It" and the entire Innocent Man album, "Uptown Girl" was a throwback to music of years past — in this case, the closely harmonised sound of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons and the "love despite class differences" theme of their song "Rag Doll".
In this case, Billy played the downtown guy who was in love with the out-of-reach uptown girl, and while we'll never know whether his character in the song succeeded in his love quest, the singer did in real life, going on to marry his video co-star in 1985. The perfect combination of music and video, "Uptown Girl" gave Billy his first Australian chart-topping single and was one of the songs of summer '83/'84.
Listen to every top 50 hit (that's on Spotify) from the second half of 1983 on my playlist:
Next week: more sounds of summer '83/'84 — with the arrival of the first big number 1 single of the new year as well as another song with the word "summer" in its title.