This Week In 1983: October 2, 1983
In last week's recap of the ARIA singles chart from 1983, we encountered a bunch of songs I'd never heard before. I can't say the same thing this week, with the arrival of one of the year's biggest singles, "Karma Chameleon".
The second number 1 hit for Culture Club, the track was one of four new entries that were definitely on my radar in 1983. The other four debuts? Well, we'll see...
The week's number 1 single was still "Australiana", which would stay on top until "Karma Chameleon" got there in a few weeks' time. It was Austen Tayshus' fifth week with the highest-selling single in the country.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 68
The roller-coaster chart career of Rod Stewart continued with this follow-up to top 10 hit "Baby Jane" falling short of the top 50. True to form, he'd be back amongst it in 1984.
Peak: number 91
A bit of Caribbean-influenced British pop music now from a band managed by Malcolm McLaren. "Tantalise" was produced by Steve Levine, who took care of Culture Club's first three albums.
Number 91 "Feel The Love (Oomachasaooma)" by 10cc
Peak: number 76
Here's another British band with world music influences — and a song subtitle to prove it. The music video for "Feel The Love" was directed by former band members Godley & Creme.
Number 49 "Lined Up" by Shriekback
Peak: number 42
Shriekback is one of those British bands whose name I know, but whose music I've never investigated (see also: Marillion, Hawkwind). It's probably because this single, which reminds me a little of Talking Heads, is their one and only ARIA top 100 appearance, and not a very high one at that. Still, "Lined Up" did better here than either the original release or the remix release (both of which came out in 1983) did in the UK. I think Australia went with the original version — whether or not that the's mix I've posted below, I can't tell you.
Number 47 "Big Log" by Robert Plant
Peak: number 23
His first solo effort post-Led Zeppelin, 1982's Pictures At Eleven, had been a top 10 success without yielding any hit singles ("Burning Down One Side" peaked at number 96). Second time around, The Principle Of Moments repeated the chart achievement of its predecessor but came with a hit in the form of rock ballad "Big Log". No, the song's not about a huge tree — the words "big log" don't even appear in the lyrics. The title is part of an extended metaphor in which love is compared to a freeway and a person's investment in pursuing love is akin to truck drivers writing down their hours in a log book. Or something.
Peak: number 20
The week's first new entry I actually recall from 1983 was the latest hit from Eurythmics, who, once they started having chart success, quickly established themselves as remarkably reliable hit-makers. Their third top 20 single in a row, "Who's That Girl" was also the lead release from the then-upcoming Touch album, which hit record stores in November, just 10 months after Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This). In Australia, the gap between albums felt even shorter since Sweet Dreams... didn't actually reach the top 100 until May 1983.
Another instantly impactful song, "Who's That Girl" was made all the more memorable by its music video, which not only featured Annie Lennox playing a male and female character (who kissed!), but saw Dave Stewart accompanied by a bevy of female pop stars (Bananarama's Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey, as well as future member Jacquie O'Sullivan, Kiki Dee, Bucks Fizz's Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston, Kate Garner from Haysi Fantayzee, Hazel O'Connor) and a pre-fame Marilyn.
Number 43 "Montego Bay" by Allniters
Peak: number 19
It'd originally reached number 9 in 1970 for one-hit wonder Bobby Bloom and 13 years later, Sydney's Allniters returned the song about Jamaican city Montego Bay to the Australian chart, albeit with the calypso feel of the original updated with a ska twist. The remake vastly improved the fortunes of the band, whose only previous chart action had been earlier in 1983 with number 40 single "Hold On". As we'll see in coming months, it was a hit they were never able to live up to. One thing I didn't know until now was that, of the many other versions of "Montego Bay" recorded over the years, a cover by a pre-Noiseworks Jon Stevens reached number 1 in his home country of New Zealand in 1980.
Number 35 "(She's) Sexy + 17" by Stray Cats
Peak: number 21
I can't honestly say whether or not I recall this single by Stray Cats from 1983 since — and apologies to fans of the rockabilly band — their songs kind of sound all the same to me. Taken from their 1983 album, Rant N' Rave With The Stray Cats, "(She's) Sexy + 17" was Stray Cats' third and final top 10 hit in the US. While it didn't do quite so well in Australia, it did become their biggest single since breakthrough hit "Runaway Boys" reached number 15 in 1981. This would be the last time we'd see the band in the top 50, but they'd pop up in the top 100 as late as 1991.
Number 34 "McRawhide" by The Chaps
Peak: number 14
Not content with one comedy record in the top 50, the record buyers of Australia united to make a hit out of this... well, I don't even know what to call it. Based on the theme to TV western Rawhide, "McRawhide" was by Scottish group The Chaps. You'd think the novelty of hearing an American classic performed with a Scottish accent would've worn off pretty quickly, but no — the single stayed in the top 20 for six weeks.
Number 29 "Give It Up" by KC & The Sunshine Band
Peak: number 3
A few months back, we saw KC & The Sunshine Band return to the Australian top 50 with "(You Said) You'd Gimme Some More" and I wondered why that track was released when they had this pop classic just waiting to become a hit. When "Give It Up" came out in due course, it was as massive as it was always going to be — returning the disco group to the upper reaches of the chart for the first time since 1979. It would be KC and band's final hit of note, although the song would return a decade later in a Eurodance remake by Cut 'n' Move, which topped the ARIA chart in early 1994.
Number 18 "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club
Peak: number 1
If The Police was the biggest rock band in the world in 1983, then without a doubt Culture Club was the biggest pop act — and they became even bigger following the release of their signature song, "Karma Chameleon". A global number 1, the inescapable ditty was the highest-selling single in the UK for the year and a five-week chart-topper in Australia. Yes, it became one of those songs, like "Mickey" and "Come On Eileen", that was overplayed to within an inch of its life, but there's no denying what a great pop tune it is — even if I don't want to listen to it that much anymore. Their third Australian top 10 hit out of the last four releases, "Karma Chameleon" featured "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" on the 12" format — and even though that song had been skipped over for full single release, I'd wager it would also have been a hit if issued separately. And that's as sure a sign as any that a band is massive — when they can relegate potential hit singles to bonus track status. Could Culture Club continue to dominate pop in 1984?
Listen to every top 50 hit (that's on Spotify) from the second half of 1983 on my playlist:
Next week: an Australian sporting victory over the US infiltrates the top 50, while an Aussie group that had claimed victory over the American chart barely scrapes into the top 50. Plus, the lead singer of another local band that'd cracked the States has a solo hit and David Bowie debuts with his best ever single.