This Week In 1980: October 19, 1980
After they dominated the music scene in the late '70s, it made sense for Bee Gees to take more of a backseat approach to the music industry as the '80s began. As it would turn out, they wouldn't have much say in the matter, with few takers for their 1981 return.
Before then, though, the brothers Gibb (some more than others) were involved in the first of a series of massive releases by other performers during the '80s. The album they wrote and produced for a well-established female singer would provide her with her first number 1 single in Australia.
Another female performer enjoying her first chart-topper locally — and who would also benefit from the Midas touch of the Bee Gees in the years to come — stayed on top this week in 1980. "Upside Down" by Diana Ross spent its third week at number 1.
Off The Chart
Number 100 "Drivin' My Life Away" by Eddie Rabbitt
Peak: number 100
Best known in Australia for performing the theme from Clint Eastwood film Every Which Way But Loose, country singer Eddie Rabbitt's lead single from sixth album Horizon barely made the top 100. The album's next single would do much better.
Number 97 "Mystery School" by Korona
Peak: number 97
A second (and final) top 100 appearance for the duo formed by Bob Gauthier and Bruce Blackman, who we saw back in June with "Let Me Be".
Peak: number 91
In March, we saw (but didn't hear) the Adelaide version of this radio jingle reach number 62. The Melbourne spin on "Rhythm Of The City" didn't fare quite as well.
Number 92 "I Die: You Die" by Gary Numan
Peak: number 86
After three top 15 hits (one with Tubeway Army), Gary Numan suddenly found himself out of favour in Australia — and wouldn't set foot inside the top 100 again.
Number 50 "Into The Night" by Benny Mardones
Peak: number 19
In the '90s, dance acts with one big hit would often remix and re-release that song at regular intervals to squeeze some more life out of it. In the case of one-hit wonder Benny Mardones, he has re-recorded his Australian and US top 20 single "Into The Night" a number of times over the years. Indeed, the song reached the Billboard Hot 100 in both 1980 and 1989. In Australia, only the 1980 version was a hit, but it had two runs inside the top 50. In a couple of weeks, it would peak at number 31 (and again a couple of weeks after that) before sliding out of the top 50 in January. Then, it would about face and go back up the chart to reach its ultimate high inside the top 20 in March. The song returned to the chart — as "16 (Into The Night)" — in 1991 thanks to a reggae cover by Junior Tucker.
Number 47 "Food For Thought" by UB40
Peak: number 36
A band who would come to be the posters boys for reggae cover versions, with two chart-topping remakes to their name as well as a number of other hits, actually made their start on the Australian chart with an original song. Released in the UK as a double A-side single with "King", "Food For Thought" tackled the topic of hunger in Africa four years before Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?". And although it came out in the UK in February, the lyrics for "Food For Thought" were written by the band's singer Ali Campbell during the festive season when he noticed the stark contrast between first world feasts and famine in the third world.
Number 39 "We Can Get Together" by Flowers
Peak: number 16
"Can't Help Myself" was proving to be one of the year's most enduring hits, spending its 19th week inside the top 50 this week in 1980. And the band that would become Icehouse proved that was no fluke, returning to the top 20 with their follow-up, "We Can Get Together". Another effortless blend of Aussie rock and synthpop, the song is actually my favourite of the two — it's a little more pop than "Can't Help Myself", although both number among my favourites for the year. "We Can Get Together" would be released as the band's debut UK and US single in 1981, complete with a new video and under their revised name of Icehouse, due to the existence of a Scottish band called The Flowers.
Number 34 "Woman In Love" by Barbra Streisand
Peak: number 1
In recent weeks, legendary performers Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder had arrived on the Australian chart with singles that would give them with (to date) career-best performances locally. Add another to the list, as Barbra Streisand, who hadn't done too badly over the years in terms of hit singles, debuted with "Woman In Love" — a song written for her Barry and Robin Gibb.
The lead release from her 22nd studio album, Guilty, the ballad was part of a major collaboration with Barry in particular — he even featured on the album's cover — and Robin and Maurice to a lesser extent. For the Bee Gees brothers, working on someone else's album made sense since a) they were no doubt conscious of wearing out their welcome after the massive success of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and 1979's Spirits Having Flown, and b) disco was on the wane.
But despite such major involvement from the Gibbs, which might have overwhelmed a lesser artist, "Woman In Love" was without a doubt a Barbra Streisand record. Last seen in the top 10 on Donna Summer duet "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)", Barbra took things down in tempo with this dramatic ballad, which became her first number 1 in a chart career dating back to 1964 and top 20 hit "People". Guilty also hit the top — another career first — staying at number 1 on the albums chart for six weeks.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):
Next week: Barbra's former duet partner joins her on the top 50 with her latest hit, plus a band that dabbled in rockabilly with great success change musical direction again.