This Week In 1980: February 17, 1980
These days, some artists don't even bother with albums, opting to release a series of singles and EPs instead, but back in the 1970s, the album was king - and some bands didn't trouble themselves with putting out many (or any) singles.
This week in 1980, a British band that'd helped define music over the previous decade-and-a-bit entered the Australian top 50 singles chart for the first time in their career - and almost went to number 1.
There was a new number 1 in the country this week in 1980, as KC & The Sunshine Band moved up with "Please Don't Go".
Off The Chart
Number 96 "Street Life" by Crusaders
Peak: number 79
Guest vocals on this track by the American jazz-funk band were handled by Randy Crawford, whose solo career would take off towards the end of the year.
Number 95 "Such A Night" by Racey
Peak: number 94
They'd dominated the chart in 1979, with two number 1 singles, but this fourth track from top 5 album Smash And Grab proved one release too many for the British group.
Number 49 "Drac's Back" by Andy Forray
Peak: number 23
Why was a Halloween-themed disco track charting in February? Well, it had first featured on the top 100 in early November before slowly catching on, eventually peaking in the upper half of the top 50. Actor Andy Forray wrote the novelty song with risque (for the time) lyrics, which probably didn't get much radio play as a result. It's certainly not a song I ever heard as a kid, but I imagine some of you have very clear memories of this track so feel free to comment below.
Number 48 "I Go To Pieces" by Rachel Sweet
Peak: number 36
The biggest of Rachel Sweet's four singles to make the top 100 (all but one of which reached the top 50), "I Go To Pieces" was a cover of a song written by Del Shannon and originally recorded by British duo Peter And Gordon in 1964. The remake was one of two tracks added to the US version of the teenager's debut album, which had come out in the UK first. Another slow burn, "I Go To Pieces" had entered the top 100 in August and ended up spending 39 weeks on the chart despite only having a modest peak.
Peak: number 33
He'd been having hits since 1961, but the Australian musician and TV and radio personality hadn't seen the inside of the top 50 since 1974's "She's My Kind Of Woman". From what I can determine, this gentle pop/country song seems to have been Johnny Chester's first release with his latest band Hotspur, taken from their self-titled album.
Number 44 "September Morn" by Neil Diamond
Peak: number 23
Another chart veteran now - Neil Diamond's first hit had been "Cherry, Cherry" in 1966 and his Beautiful Noise album was one of the few my parents owned, so I was familiar-ish with him at the age of five. "September Morn" was the title track of Neil's 13th album and was co-written with Gilbert Bécaud, with whom he'd work more extensively on The Jazz Singer soundtrack released later in the year.
Peak: number 2
Here it is: the first Pink Floyd song to reach the Australian top 50, fresh from hitting number in the UK at the end of 1979. Of course, the British progressive rock band didn't often release singles, but had spent plenty of weeks on the albums chart, especially with 1973's The Dark Side Of The Moon. The middle part of a three-part sequence on rock opera album The Wall, "Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)" dealt with songwriter Roger Waters' views towards education, in particular restrictive private and boarding schools.
Producer Bob Ezrin is credited with the ideas to include a children's choir - he'd done the same on Alice Cooper's "School's Out" - and to incorporate a disco-influenced beat in an effort to make the song more catchy. As indicated by its chart position, the latter idea certainly worked. As for the vocals by the 23 kids from Islington Green School - which I found irritating at the time (and still do) - they were recorded without the music teacher showing the head teacher the lyrics, and she banned them from appearing in the music video once she heard the finished song. The students were offered concert tickets and studio time in return for their performance, while the school was given £1000. Fun fact: years later, a change in the law meant the chorus were entitled to royalties and a group of them were tracked down using social media to make their claim. Pink Floyd, meanwhile, wouldn't return to the top 50 for another seven years.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):
Next week: a much better selection of new entries, including yet another video game-related song and the follow-up to one of my favourite songs of 1979 (and all time).