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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1980: January 27, 1980

For celebrities in 2020, multi-tasking means appearing on a reality TV show and maintaining an Instagram account. In the '70s and '80s, multi-tasking stars would do a bit of signing and a bit of acting, pop up on Blankety Blanks and Hey Hey It's Saturday, and tour on the RSL circuit.

Edith Bliss: pop star one minute, kids' TV reporter the next

Two of the entries on the Australian singles chart this week in 1980 came from two such multi-taskers - stars who moved from music to TV with seeming ease.

Displacing The Buggles from number 1 this week in 1980 was Michael Jackson, who returned to the top spot for the first time since 1972's "Ben" with "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough".

Off The Chart

Number 100 "Star Of The Show" by Dolly Parton

Peak: number 99

"You're The Only One" had reached number 33 when it was released as the lead single from Great Balls Of Fire, but this more uptempo follow-up didn't generate the same interest.

Number 94 "Peter Piper" by Frank Mills

Peak: number 82

Here's another follow-up to a hit - in this case, this instrumental by Canadian pianist Frank Mills fell significantly short of the number 14 peak scaled by "Music Box Dancer" in 1979.

New Entries

Number 49 "I'm An Aussie, Yes I Am" by Salvador Smith

Peak: number 41

Releasing singles of patriotic jingles was a real thing around the turn of the decade. Following "C'mon Aussie C'mon" and its sequel, which was at number 25 this week, came this tune, which celebrated Australia's emerging multiculturalism just in time for Australia Day - sample lyric: "I'm as Greek as a souvlaki, I'm as Irish as a stew." The song, which was written by Pete Best (although I'm not sure if it's ex-Beatle Pete Best), was clearly too ahead of its time - after all, SBS had only just been established - and it didn't crack the top 40. Forty years later, Australia's multiculturalism - not to mention Australia Day itself - is still the subject of much debate.

Number 46 "Locomotion" by Ritz

Peak: number 12

The original version by Little Eva (titled "The Loco-motion") reached the top 50 twice - it got to number 16 in 1962 and number 49 when re-released a decade later. Then, in 1974, a rockier version by Grand Funk cracked the top 10, peaking at number 7. Proving that the song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King would be a hit no matter who recorded it or in what genre, this disco remake by French trio Ritz took the slightly retitled track back into the top 20. Of course, it would be another seven years before the biggest version of all, which has overshadowed this prior cover - in fact, I wasn't even aware of this "Locomotion" until now.

Number 43 "If It's Love You Want" by Edith Bliss

Peak: number 24

In 1979, Edith (real name: Eda) Bliss was working in a shoe store in Bondi when she tagged along with a friend for a singing audition. Edith ended up getting the gig instead and released this poppy debut single, which launched the music division of TV production company Grundy Organisation. Twenty years old at the time, Edith released a few more singles with decreasing success as 1980 went on, but that coincided with her joining the cast of kids' afternoon show Simon Townsend's Wonder World. Edith faded from public view later in the decade and raised her four kids. She passed away from cancer in 2012.

Number 39 "You're Only Lonely" by J.D. Souther

Peak: number 17

He'd co-written some of the best-known songs by Eagles, including "Heartache Tonight", which sat at number 32 on the chart this week, but John David Souther's own musical career hadn't been as successful... until this point. The title track of his third solo album, "You're Only Lonely" reached the US top 10 and the Australian top 20 - his only hit locally.

Number 37 "Hot Town" by Jon English

Peak: number 11

Here's another locally based multi-tasker - British-born singer/actor Jon English had been releasing music since 1973, with his biggest hit coming in early 1979 with "Six Ribbons" from miniseries Against The Wind, in which he also appeared. The lead single from sixth album Calm Before The Storm, "Hot Town" almost gave him a third top 10 hit (following "Six Ribbons" and 1978's "Words Are Not Enough"). Jon, who died in 2016, didn't have a hit as big again and reached the top 50 for the final time in 1983, but continued to enjoy a high profile in the decades following, particularly as the star of 1990s sitcom All Together Now

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

Next week: a new smash hit by a duo that reached the top 10 three times in the mid-'70s, plus a song by one of the biggest groups in the world that would just miss the top 10.

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