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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1980: April 20, 1980

As much as I've always tried to keep on top of what's going on in music, it wasn't easy in the 1980s, especially when I was very young. And so I didn't discover two of the new entries from this week in 1980 until much later.


Blondie's Debbie Harry: her hair was beautiful

One of the songs came to my attention thanks to a mid-'90s remix, while I was introduced to the other (which also had a mid-'90s remix) at a retro club night I went to in 1993. One of the songs would end up as my number 1 single released in 1980.



After seven weeks of Queen hogging the Australian number 1 position, Split Enz took over as "I Got You" moved up to monopolise the top spot for eight weeks.

Off The Chart

Number 94 "Daydream Believer" by Anne Murray

Peak: number 94

Besides her number 2 hit from 1978, "You Needed Me", Canadian Anne Murray hadn't had much luck on the Australian chart, including with this remake of The Monkees' number 2 from 1967.

Number 92 "Wonder World" by John St Peeters

Peak: number 78

Earlier in 1980, Simon Townsend's Wonder World presenter Edith Bliss landed herself a hit, but the same thing didn't happen for the afternoon kids' TV show's theme song.

New Entries

Number 50 "Gonna Get Along Without You Now" by Viola Wills

Peak: number 37

After years in the music industry, Viola Wills, who was discovered by Barry White in the mid-'60s, enjoyed a breakthrough hit with her remake of this song, which dated back to the early '50s and had been recorded several times in the years since. Viola's disco rendition, which spent 16 of its 19 weeks in the top 50 bouncing around the 40s, is the sort of song I would've liked at the time had I been aware of it. Instead, it wasn't until 17 years later, when a Handbaggers remix of the track was on high rotation on dance music radio station Wild FM and in the clubs I'd frequent, that I heard it and eventually sought out the original version.

Number 46 "Atomic" by Blondie

Peak: number 12

Here's another song that I was introduced to in a nightclub in the 1990s, but in the case of "Atomic", it was this original version that was played at an '80s night called (imaginatively enough) Retro at Club 77 in Sydney in 1993. For some reason, although I knew "Heart Of Glass" and other Blondie hits at the time of their release, "Atomic" passed five-year-old me by - possibly because it was overshadowed by the imminent release of "Call Me" in a few weeks' time. Thanks to an unusual release pattern in Australia, "Atomic" became the second single from Blondie's fourth album, Eat To The Beat, following "Dreaming", which had missed the top 50 in 1979. Anyway, in 1993, "Atomic" was a brand new song for me, and I loved it so much so that when I was putting together my chart of personal favourites from 1980, it ended up on top. Then, in 1994, a remix of "Atomic" became one of my favourite songs from that year. It surely is the gift that keeps on giving.



Number 39 "Same Old Girl" by Darryl Cotton

Peak: number 6

Just as his former band, Zoot, had managed one top 10 single - their 1970 cover of "Eleanor Rigby" - so too did singer/actor/kids' TV presenter Darryl Cotton only venture into the upper reaches of the chart with this one track, otherwise placing no higher than number 44 in his solo career. It must have been something of a relief to finally have a song really connect with the Australian public after a decade spent in and out of different musical projects, but unfortunately Darryl's music career didn't maintain the momentum, and he was better known to kids of my generation as one of the hosts of Channel 10's late '80s Saturday morning TV show, The Early Bird Show, than as a musician.

Number 36 "Rockabilly Rebel" by Major Matchbox

Peak: number 12

Rockabilly really was big in 1980, wasn't it? Around for most of the '70s, British band Matchbox finally landed a hit with this jaunty little number. The group were renamed Major Matchbox in Australia due to the existence of a band called Matchbox from Melbourne who had been releasing satirical records for a few years. Although (Major) Matchbox had a few more hits in the UK following "Rockabilly Rebel", this was their only success locally.

Number 33 "People" by Mi-Sex

Peak: number 6

Fresh from the success of their chart-topping single, "Computer Games", New Zealand-formed, Australian-based band Mi-Sex returned to the top 10 with this lead single from their second album, Space Race. Although they were shaping up to be one of the most popular local bands, this would be the final major hit for Mi-Sex, whose next biggest single was 1981's "Falling In And Out", which peaked at number 20.

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

Next week: more rockabilly, plus two big '70s stars from America - one male, one female - continue to score hits in the '80s.


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