This Week In 1980: March 9, 1980
So far in these flashbacks to the Australian top 50 from 1980, we've seen some of the first big hits of the decade. This week that year, all the new entries were firsts in another way.
From the first hip-hop hit to the first appearance of a influential British punk band, the debuting singles all brought something new to the singles chart. In one case, it took a locally based band all the way to number 1.
Before then, Queen continued to rule the roost at number 1, with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" staying on top of the chart for a second week.
Off The Chart
Number 100 "I Have A Dream" by ABBA
Peak: number 64
Their previous single, "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)", had been the new track on Greatest Hits Vol. 2, but it was back to Voulez Vous for this belatedly released ballad, which did much better in Europe than in Australia.
Number 99 "Ravel's Bolero" by Henry Mancini
Peak: number 76
The 1928 composition featured prominently in Blake Edwards' 10, which had been released in January, with this release credited to Henry Mancini, who'd written the film's score.
Number 93 "Déja Vu" by Dionne Warwick
Peak: number 69
The second single from her Barry Manilow-produced comeback album, Dionne, this follow-up to top 40 hit "I'll Never Love This Way Again" was co-written by Isaac Hayes.
Peak: number 89
The only top 100 entry here and in the UK for Scottish band The Headboys, "The Shape Of Things To Come" did slightly better in the UK, where it just missed the top 40.
Number 50 "Rapper's Delight" by Sugarhill Gang
Peak: number 37
Everything has to start somewhere, and although this seminal hip-hop track wasn't the first ever rap record, it was the first to make the Billboard Hot 100 and, I'm assuming, the Australian chart (although correct me if I'm wrong). Put together by studio and record label owner Sylvia Robinson (one half of Mickey & Sylvia of "Love Is Strange" fame), the track, which came in three versions of varying lengths up to 15 minutes, was an attempt to capture what was happening at New York block parties, where MCs would rap over records like Chic's "Good Times".
Sylvia hired the trio who would become Sugarhill Gang, Guy "Master Gee" O'Brien, Henry "Big Bank Hank" Jackson and Michael "Wonder Mike" Wright, as well as the musicians who recreated the "Good Times" backing track, and soon had a hit on her hands. Although it only peaked one place higher in the US, "Rapper's Delight" sold two million copies there, proving rap could be much more than just a live music genre. The record's success also provided the world with the first interpolation pay-out following legal action by Chic, which resulted in a settlement and writer credits for Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. In Australia, "Rapper's Delight" remained on the top 100 for more than half a year.
Number 46 "How Do I Make You" by Linda Ronstadt
Peak: number 19
Speaking of things starting somewhere, "How Do I Make You" was the first hit for songwriter Billy Steinberg, who'd go on to co-write some of the biggest tunes of the decade (including "Like A Virgin" and "Eternal Flame") with partner Tom Kelly. At the time, he'd intended this "My Sharona"-influenced song for his own band, but Linda Ronstadt heard a demo and recorded it for her Mad Love album. "How Do I Make You" was also the first time Linda had really rocked out like this, with her previous albums veering between country rock, classic rock and rock ballads. Drawing comparisons to Blondie, the new wave-ish song gave her a fourth top 20 hit in Australia.
Number 41 "I Got You" by Split Enz
Peak: number 1
Possibly the biggest new wave single to come from this part of the world, "I Got You" was the track that turned adopted Australians Split Enz into superstars, holding down the number 1 spot for eight weeks and helping parent album True Colours to do the same for 10 weeks. Having previously climbed no higher than number 15, with both "My Mistake" and "I See Red", it was a huge jump in fortune for the New Zealand band, who would enjoy a string of successes over the next few years. Interestingly, "I Got You" wasn't initially considered by either the band or Mushroom Records as a song that would be likely to be a hit. "It just goes to show I don't know a hit when I hear one," songwriter Neil Finn once said about the track.
Number 39 "London Calling" by The Clash
Peak: number 28
Another first: this was the debut appearance by British punk (or were they post-punk by now?) band The Clash on the Australian chart. The title track of their third album, "London Calling" is a pretty gloomy song, with lyrics influenced by some of the news items Mick Jones and Joe Strummer had been seeing about the doom facing the world. The title comes from the station ID of the BBC World Service.
Peak: number 8
The first four of this week's five new entries are all classic tracks that in some way changed the face of music and still stand up today. And then there's this. The folk tune was the debut release (and only hit) for Fiddler's Dram, whose members came from an alternate group, The Oyster Band. Dated even in 1980, the dirge-like ditty is about an outing to Bangor in North Wales, and somehow made the top 10 in Australia. Blame the expats?
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):
Next week: another highly influential band lands their first massive hit in Australia. Plus, one of the cuddliest duos of all time.