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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1980: June 15, 1980

Australia had plenty of successful rock bands in 1980, but with the rise of synthpop and new wave, a new breed of local groups started to hit the charts.

Flowers had a big future ahead of them... mostly under another name

This week in 1980, the band that became Australia's most consistently successful new wave band arrived on the top 50 with their debut single - the first of six top 10 hits they would score over the next few years.

Australia's favourite imported new wave band, Split Enz, finally surrendered the top spot this week in 1980, with "I Got You" replaced at number 1 by throwback hit "Tired Of Toein' The Line" by Rocky Burnette.

Off The Chart

Number 98 "I Want You" by The Hitmen

Peak: number 98

A second and final top 100 appearance for the Sydney hard rock band, "I Want You" followed debut single "Didn't Tell The Man", which peaked at number 75.

Number 97 "Words" by Sharon O'Neill

Peak: number 56

Already established at home in New Zealand, Sharon O'Neill took on the Australian market with her first release here. "Words" came close, but Sharon would have to wait a bit longer for her first top 50 hit.

Number 94 "One-Two-Five" by 10cc

Peak: number 94

Their last couple of studio albums had yielded top 5 hits (as had a couple of earlier LPs), but 10cc's lead single from Look Hear? did not match that. The song's title came from disco's standard tempo of 125 BPM.

Number 93 "It's Different For Girls" by Joe Jackson

Peak: number 85

In the UK, this single from Joe Jackson's second album, I'm The Man, would end up being his highest-charting single. In Australia, it didn't live up to the early promise of number 15 hit "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"

Number 90 "January February" by Barbara Dickson

Peak: number 64

She'd made a name for herself in the UK with ballads like "Another Suitcase In Another Hall" from Evita, but this song written and produced by Alan Tarney took the Scottish singer in a more pop direction.

Number 89 "It Must Be Autumn" by Sinclair Bros.

Peak: number 89

They slipped into the top 50 with 1978's "Yesterfool", but this new easy listening tune from brothers John and Wayne Sinclair didn't progress beyond this debut position.

Number 78 "I Can't Help It" by Andy Gibb / Olivia Newton-John

Peak: number 62

Not even the presence of ONJ could turn this second single from Andy Gibb's third album, After Dark, into a hit. Another Barry Gibb composition, it charted marginally higher than previous release "Desire". 

Number 74 "Products Of Your Mind" by Jimmy And The Boys

Peak: number 66

Despite gaining quite a reputation for themselves thanks to their envelope-pushing live act, the group led by Ignatius Jones and Joylene Thornbird Hairmouth couldn't translate that into chart success... yet.

New Entries

Number 48 "Together We Are Beautiful" by Fern Kinney

Peak: number 20

Some songs have a way of becoming hits, no matter what it takes. Like this track by American singer Fern Kinney, which had been performed by two other singers before she recorded it for her album Groove Me. Then, it was released as the B-side to her single "Baby Let Me Kiss You", only for it to be championed by DJs instead and become a hit in its own right, topping the UK chart earlier in 1980. In Australia, the top 20 success of "Together We Are Beautiful" was a marked improvement on previous single "Groove Me" (which reached number 94), a cover of a 1970 hit by King Floyd on which Fern had provided backing vocals (and which itself had started out as a B-side).

Number 47 "The Modern Song" by The Numbers

Peak: number 47

Before we get to our big new local band, here's another up-and-coming Australian group of the time - but one that never really took off. Fronted by siblings Annalisse and Chris Morrow, The Numbers had a pretty standard pop/rock sound, and "The Modern Song" was a catchy enough track, but also kind of forgettable, too. Guess it was an unfortunate choice of band name when the song was metaphorically and literally by the numbers. We'll see The Numbers' only other hit, another song that peaked in the 40s, later in the year, while the Morrows returned to the top 50 just over a decade later on a pair of hits that did slightly better and peaked in the 30s with their subsequent band, Maybe Dolls.

Number 45 "Can't Help Myself" by Flowers

Peak: number 10

While The Numbers failed to set the chart alight, fellow Sydneysiders Flowers did just that with debut single "Can't Help Myself", a track that incorporated synthpop and new wave elements, but still wouldn't have sounded out of place in an Aussie pub settling. While the line-up and even their name would change in the years ahead - we'll get to when Flowers became Icehouse in due course - singer Iva Davies, who wrote and co-produced this track, would be the mainstay in Flowers that would see the band become one of Australia's most successful acts by the end of the decade (with plenty of hits along the way).

Number 41 "We Are Glass" by Gary Numan

Peak: number 15

From a local new wave act we move now to the latest from UK synth star Gary Numan, who followed "Cars" and "Are Friends Electric?" (with Tubeway Army) with a third top 15 hit. A stand-alone single released between albums The Pleasure Principle and Telekon, "We Are Glass" was also Gary's final top 50 appearance in Australia, although he continued enjoying chart success in Britain for a couple more years, and has maintained a release and touring schedule until today.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):

Next week: who said disco was dead? Not Australia, with three big hits from the genre joining the top 50. Plus, an early appearance by a pair who'd gone on to be one of the decade's top duos.

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