This Week In 1980: November 9, 1980
To paraphrase the number 18 song on the Australian singles chart from this week in 1980: everybody's got to start somewhere. And in the case of a local band who would become one of our biggest exports, that was with a minor chart entry.
And yes, the chart debut might have been overshadowed by the return of one of Britain's then-biggest bands and a homegrown comedy record that would take the world by storm, but the up-and-coming six-piece would go on to outdo both in terms of chart success.
Enjoying success at number 1 for the second week in row this week in 1980, Leo Sayer's "More Than I Can Say" stayed put despite pressure from four of the world's most popular singers.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 94
He'd reached the top 10 with his version of "Darlin'" in early 1979, but Scottish singer Frankie Miller was at the other extreme of the top 100 with this track from his Easy Money album.
Number 97 "Chinatown" by Thin Lizzy
Peak: number 74
Never as big in Australia as Ireland and the UK — "The Boys Are Back In Town" didn't even make our top 50 — Thin Lizzy made a final top 100 appearance with the title track of their 10th album.
Peak: number 1
Regular readers will know exactly what I'm going to say about this chart-topping novelty record that not only reached number 1 in Australia but did the same in more than a dozen countries around the world. So I won't go on about how I'm not a fan of comedy songs or that I couldn't see the point in buying a single that you'd find funny the first couple of times but then grow tired of or... oops, I just can't help myself, can I?
Anyway, personal feelings about this send-up of stereotypical Italian immigrants aside, American-born, Australian-based musician Joe Dolce certainly tapped into something bubbling away in a country that was increasingly embracing (or confronting, depending upon your tolerance level) its multiculturalism. The pisstake tone of "Shaddap You Face" also went down very well in a country that generally likes to laugh at itself — and there was some power in controlling (instead of being the butt of) the joke. Naturally, with a song like this, Joe was a one-hit wonder in Australia.
Number 49 "Dreamer (live)" by Supertramp
Peak: number 39
The original version of "Dreamer" had sputtered out at number 47 in 1975 as Supertramp's first foray into the top 50, but five years and one top 20 hit in the form of "The Logical Song" later, the track returned to the chart in a live version. The new recording was taken from concert album Paris and also resulted in "Dreamer" becoming a success in the US for the first time.
Peak: number 48
Throughout most of the '70s, Daryl Hall & John Oates had performed consistently in the US — with a brief spurt of major success in the middle of the decade breaking up their otherwise regular but average chart fortunes. In Australia, only their first American chart-topper, "Rich Girl", had been a big hit, reaching number 6 in 1977. Not that you'd know it from this underwhelming lead single from the Voices album, but things were about to go ballistic for the duo in the States, where they would rack up another five number 1s among a lengthy string of hits. They'd do reasonably well here, too. But "How Does It Feel To Be Back", which featured John on lead vocal, seems like an odd first single from an album that also contained "Kiss On My List" and "You Make My Dreams". Luckily for them, this single's failure to climb any higher didn't prove to be a problem, as we'll see in a couple of weeks.
Peak: number 37
He was currently in the top 5 and she'd recently been there twice, so you might have thought a duet between pop stars Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard would do better than a number 37 peak. But ballad "Suddenly" was the fifth single from the enormously successful Xanadu soundtrack, and so while it was likely a very popular song, there would have been less takers than if it was a new release. Or, if enough people had been convinced to part with their hard-earned cash by the appearance on the B-side of "You Made Me Love You" — an ONJ song from the film that did not feature on the soundtrack.
Number 44 "Just Keep Walking" by INXS
Peak: number 38
It wasn't their debut single — that had been "Simple Simon" from earlier in 1980 — but this track, the only one lifted from INXS' self-titled debut album, would be their very first hit in Australia. A blend of new wave and pub rock, the rough around the edges "Just Keep Walking" didn't really indicate that the band would go on to be one of the most successful Australian groups of all time, but there was certainly something attention-grabbing about them. Or maybe that was just Michael Hutchence's bright red shirt in the music video. If nothing else, there was no denying, even in these early days, that he had that star quality. Although it only reached number 38, "Just Keep Walking" spent exactly half a year on the top 100, with five separate runs inside the top 50.
Peak: number 3
While in retrospect, the debut of INXS on the Australian top 50 was a landmark occasion, at the time, the biggest music event of the week would undoubtedly have been this new hit from a band who had firmly established themselves over the previous couple of years as one of the world's most popular music acts. The first release from third album Zenyatta Mondatta, "Don't Stand So Close To Me" told the tale of an illicit affair between a teacher and a student. Although Sting had previously worked as a teacher and could relate to the idea of being "the subject of schoolgirl fantasy", it was not based on actual events. The song, which maintained the reggae influences of The Police's earlier work, became their biggest hit up until that point in Australia, eclipsing the number 5 peak of "Message In A Bottle", and would return to the top 50 in 1986 thanks to a re-recorded version.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):
Next week: a British group that had one hit at either end of the decade, plus the top 50 debut of a female singer who'd have one of 1981's biggest singles.