This Week In 1980: March 16, 1980
One of the best parts of these weekly trips back to the Australian singles chart of 1980 is seeing artists have their first hits and remembering a time when household names were up-and-coming unknowns.
This week in 1980, a British band (with an American singer) broke through with their third release, a song that became the first new number 1 of the decade in the UK and almost reached the top here.
Still at number 1 this week in 1980 were Queen, with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" spending a third week on top.
Off The Chart
Number 100 "Get 'Em Going Cabes" by Ken Walther
Peak: number 87
Perhaps someone from Western Australia will be able to confirm, but from what I can determine, this song is about footballer and coach Barry Cable, who had just retired from playing.
Number 97 "Prefab Hearts" by The Reels
Peak: number 52
Their debut single, "Love Will Find A Way", had taken them inside the top 50, but The Reels, who I've just discovered are from Dubbo, narrowly missed out on a second hit with this follow-up.
Number 76 "Movin' Right Along" by Fozzie & Kermit
Peak: number 58
"Rainbow Connection" was still inside the top 40, but this jaunty number from The Muppet Movie, performed by voice actors Frank Oz and Jim Henson respectively, didn't find as many takers.
Number 48 "Brass In Pocket" by The Pretenders
Peak: number 2
Formed in the UK two years earlier around American expat Chrissie Hynde, The Pretenders had enjoyed two minor top 40 entries on the British chart in 1979 with "Stop Your Sobbing" and "Kid". It's unclear whether either of those were released in Australia at that point, although they later would be as a joint follow-up. But it was "Brass In Pocket", named after the northern English slang for money and about putting on a confident front, which put the band on the map. The first song to rise to number 1 in the UK in 1980 (knocking off Pink Floyd, who'd been there since the end of 1979), the song just missed out on doing the same here, kept at number 2 for three weeks by Split Enz's "I Got You". "Brass In Pocket" was also a hit in the US, with the subtitle "I'm Special", peaking at number 14. It was the first of six top 20 hits for The Pretenders in Australia between 1980 and 1994.
Number 34 "Romeo's Tune" by Steve Forbert
Peak: number 13
The week's other new entry was by American one-hit wonder Steve Forbert, who recorded "Romeo's Tune" four times (in a variety of studios and with an array of producers) before being happy with the result. Persistence paid off, with his song about taking some time out from the world with your lover - a concept that's especially timely 40 years later - peaking just outside the US and Australian top 10. Fun fact: Steve played Cyndi Lauper's boyfriend in the music video for "Girls Just Want To Have Fun".
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):
Next week: The original version of a song that would reach number 1 for a different artist in 1983, plus a solo hit for a member of a sibling girl group.