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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1980: February 24, 1980

Who said disco was dead? This week in 1980, the dance genre that was facing a backlash around the world was proving as popular as ever in Australia - but then we were about six months behind the UK and the US at that stage.

Christie Allen wasn't our number 1, but she came close

Three of the week's six new entries on the top 50 singles chart were disco tracks (or disco-influenced). And given the other three were new wave tunes, it was a pretty good week for a pop fan like me.

At number 1 this week in 1980, disco act KC & The Sunshine Band remained on top for a second week with ballad "Please Don't Go".

Off The Chart

Number 93 "Drinking Piña Colada" by Freefall

Peak: number 68

Seems everyone was downing rum, coconut milk and pineapple juice cocktails in 1980. With Rupert Holmes' "Escape..." in the top 3, Brisbane band Freefall released their own ode to the drink.

Number 90 "Jane" by Jefferson Starship

Peak: number 72

The band's only charting single in the Jefferson Starship era in Australia, this track from fifth album Freedom At Point Zero had been a top 20 hit in the US.

Number 89 "You Are Australia" by Two-Man Band

Peak: number 85

The Mojo Singers had reached the top 10 with their follow-up to "C'mon Aussie C'mon", but the team behind "Up There Cazaly" didn't have anywhere near as much luck with their next (presumably) patriotic anthem.

New Entries

Number 50 "Fly Too High" by Janis Ian

Peak: number 7

Co-written by Giorgio Moroder and produced by Harold Faltermeyer, this single from Janis Ian's Night Rains album was her first major Australian hit since her first, "At Seventeen", in 1975. Disco-influenced track "Fly Too High", which was a change of pace, also appeared on the soundtrack to a film I'm only now hearing of called Foxes, which starred Jodie Foster, Scott Baio and Randy Quaid. Anyone remember it?

Number 42 "Diamond Smiles" by The Boomtown Rats

Peak: number 42

Entering the top 50 where it would peak, this follow-up to chart-topper "I Don't Like Mondays" was another song inspired by a real-life tragedy, in this case the suicide of a debutante who strangled herself to death. This time, however, the Irish band's tale didn't translate into chart success, and I dare say "Diamond Smiles" probably only did as well as it did since the band were coming off a number 1 hit.

Number 39 "Under Fire" by Jackie

Peak: number 28

This song sure was popular in 1979, recorded by no less than three different artists. Written by Terry Britten and B.A. Robertson, who were also responsible for Cliff Richard's current hit, "Carrie", "Under Fire" was released by female singers Jackie and Fern Kinney (on her album Groove Me), and South African girl band Clout. Jackie's version, which was also produced by Terry, was the one that became a hit in Australia - her only chart appearance.

Number 38 "Space Invaders" by Player [1]

Peak: number 3

As Mi-Sex's "Computer Games" fell out of the top 10, it was joined on the top 50 by another song inspired by video games - in this case one of the most popular games in the world. The Australian disco track veered more towards being a novelty record and Player [1] ended up as the first one-hit wonder of the new decade, although the production duo behind it, Bruce Brown and Russell Dunlop, both had many more credits to their names.

Number 35 "He's My Number One" by Christie Allen

Peak: number 4

Here's another new hit written by Terry Britten and B.A. Robertson, who clearly had their fingers on the pulse at this point in time. The follow-up to one of my favourite songs of all time, "Goose Bumps" (which had also been written by the pair), the poppy "He's My Number One" was Christie Allen's first single since the release of her debut album, Magic Rhythm, which had come out in November, and became her second consecutive top 5 single. Despite featuring both tracks, as well as previous number 20 hit "Falling In Love With Only You", the album missed the top 50, and Christie, who was named Most Popular Female Performer at back-to-back TV WEEK/Countdown Music Awards in 1979-80, never enjoyed such chart highs again, as we'll see in coming months.

Number 34 "Money" by The Flying Lizards

Peak: number 11

Interesting chart quirk: two singles by The Flying Lizards had entered the Australian top 100 in the same week in October 1979 - and both of them were cover versions. The British new wave band's take on "Summertime Blues" (originally recorded by Eddie Cochran) didn't end up getting any higher than number 75, but their spin on "Money (That's What I Want)" by Barrett Strong (and also previously remade by The Beatles) gradually found its way into the top 50 and almost made the top 10. Thanks especially to the deadpan delivery of vocalist Deborah Evans-Stickland, The Flying Lizard's version on "Money" was a radical reworking of the song, but it's one that has aged quite well, still popping up in ads and on soundtracks today.

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

Next week: the follow-ups to two of the biggest hits of the summer, both of which would follow their predecessors into the top 10.

Back to: Feb 17, 1980 <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 2, 1980

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