This Week In 1983: October 23, 1983
One of the ballads was performed by a pair of country superstars, while the other reunited two soul singers who'd previously collaborated on a live album in 1980. Both singles would be top 10 hits, one going all the way to the very top of the chart.
There was no change again at the top of the ARIA singles chart this week in 1983 as "Australiana" by Austen Tayshus spent an eighth week at number 1. The good news: it was the comedy record's final week as the nation's highest-selling single.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 81
He may have been marking his 25th anniversary as a recording artist with the Silver album, but as the chart position of this lead single shows, not so many joined in the celebration.
Number 99 "Scatterlings Of Africa" by Juluka
Peak: number 93
This world music track by the South African band would later be re-recorded by singer Johnny Clegg's next group, Johnny Clegg & Savuka, in 1986 and included in Rain Man.
Number 98 "Decisions" by The Expression
Peak: number 91
Debut single "With Closed Eyes" had peaked inside the top 30 earlier in the year, but the Sydney synthpop band's follow-up was both less catchy and less successful.
Number 49 "Soldier Of Fortune" by John Paul Young
Peak: number 17
Between 1972 and 1978, John Paul Young was one of the most successful singers in Australia, racking up nine top 20 singles, the penultimate of which was the world-conquering hit "Love Is In The Air". But, it's funny (although probably not to JPY) how quickly things can change. His 1979 album, Heaven Sent, was a commercial disaster, as was his 1981 covers collection, The Singer, which had been his first release after breaking away from songwriters and producers Vanda & Young. Just when it looked like it might've been all over for JPY, he returned in 1983 with his 10th top 20 hit, the on-trend "Soldier Of Fortune". The type of synthpop track you might've expected from Icehouse at this point in their career, the song's success seemed to suggest the former King Of Pop might just have salvaged his career. Time would tell...
Peak: number 1
How different things would have been if Marvin Gaye had recorded "Islands In The Stream" as originally intended. The brothers Gibb had written the song as an R&B track but when Barry Gibb began production work on Kenny Rogers' Eyes That See In The Dark album, the song was restyled for him. And, since collaborating with a female vocalist had worked so well earlier in the year on Kenny and Sheena Easton's cover of "We've Got Tonight", "Islands In The Stream" was turned into a duet featuring fellow country superstar Dolly Parton — a pairing that was long overdue.
With its instantly hummable chorus and sweet (but not sickly) sentiment, "Islands In The Stream" was a huge hit, reaching number 1 both here in Australia and on the mainstream Hot 100 in America. It would be the first of a number of collaborations between the singers, and not the last time the song (or, at least, its melody) would be a hit, with Pras Michel making use of the hook for his 1998 single "Ghetto Superstar (That Is What You Are)".
Peak: number 10
By 1983, Roberta Flack already had two Australian chart-toppers ("The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song") to her name, but it had been almost a decade since she'd seen the inside of the top 50. Peabo Bryson, meanwhile, had been releasing music since the mid-'70s without ever having landed a hit locally. Brought together again after 1980's Live & More, the two recorded a whole album of duets, Born To Love, which was kicked off by this Love Song Dedication favourite.
Also known to Days Of Our Lives viewers as Bo and Hope's theme song (back when daytime soaps could afford to license original pop songs), "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" was written by Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser — a pair who knew their way around a romantic tune. The songwriters were also responsible for "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)", "Saving All My Love For You" and "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You". The super-sweet ballad would be Roberta's final top 50 appearance in Australia, while Peabo would manage three more hits — two of them Disney movie duets in the early '90s.
Number 19 "Gold" by Spandau Ballet
Peak: number 9
Eclipsing those two love songs to be the week's highest new entry was the latest — and, for me, greatest — single by Spandau Ballet. We'd last heard from the British band with their own contribution to the list of classic '80s ballads, "True", but follow-up "Gold", while just as polished as its predecessor, was a dramatic and dynamic pop tune. Apparently conceived by the band's songwriter, Gary Kemp, as his spin on a Bond theme, "Gold" even came with a slick music video filmed in Spain that featured a young Sadie Frost spray-painted gold lying on a bed (a la Goldfinger). While not quite as big as "True", "Gold" provided Spandau Ballet with their second — and final — top 10 hit in Australia, and has been wheeled out ever since during Olympics coverage.
Listen to every top 50 hit (that's on Spotify) from the second half of 1983 on my playlist:
Next week: two soundtrack singles enter the top 50 — one three years after the film it was taken from was in cinemas. Plus, a closer look at the albums chart.