This Week In 1983: October 9, 1983
Apart from half-time shows and the odd sportsperson who makes an ill-advised attempt at a recording career, music and sport don't often mix. Even in a sports-obsessed country like Australia, hit records linked to sporting teams or achievements aren't that common.
This week in 1983, however, a recent Australian victory in an international competition prompted two singles to speed onto the ARIA singles top 50. After all, nothing says patriotism like buying a song out of nationalistic pride rather than because it's any good...
Nationalistic pride of a very different kind was behind the record at number 1 this week in 1983: "Australiana" by Austen Tayshus, which spent its sixth week on top. The comedy track parodying local sayings and customs was part of an all-local top 3, with Pat Wilson and the Australian-based Dragon just behind.
Off The Chart
Number 100 "Don't You Know (Ambushed)" by Blue Rose
Peak: number 77
I don't know much about this Dutch group, apart from the fact that "Don't You Know (Ambushed)" didn't make either the US or the UK top 100 and the song could've done with a more definite chorus.
Peak: number 45
I'm always impressed by just how successful Air Supply were in the States. This new song included on the duo's Greatest Hits album was their eighth and final top 5 on the Billboard chart — a tally they amassed in just over three-and-a-half years. Australia had seemingly lost interest in the soft rock balladeers some time ago, with 1981's "The One That You Love" the last time Air Supply had reached the top 10 locally.
But, although "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" became their latest single to wind up in the lower reaches of the top 50, Greatest Hits had just topped the albums chart so it wasn't all bad news. One listen to "Making Love..." and it should be obvious the song was written and produced by the master of the overblown power ballad: Jim Steinman. Like "Total Eclipse Of The Heart", it had initially been offered to Meat Loaf, but since the songwriter and performer were on the outs, both tracks ended up being gratefully received — and turned into hits — by other performers. This would be Air Supply's final top 50 appearance in Australia.
Number 38 "Modern Love" by David Bowie
Peak: number 6
Here's a performer who was having no trouble landing hits on the Australian chart. The third release from Let's Dance, "Modern Love" followed the album's title track (number 2) and "China Girl" (number 15) into the top 50, and going on to become his sixth top 10 single overall. Influenced by the call and response style of Little Richard, "Modern Love" is easily my favourite single by the late singer. What a shame he had to go and ruin it by turning it into a Pepsi commercial jingle with Tina Turner wailing all over it.
Number 35 "I Hear Motion" by Models
Peak: number 16
Up until this point, Models' only appearance on the singles chart had been with "Cut Lunch", which peaked at number 38 (while the EP of the same name made number 37 on the albums top 50). By 1983, the band had welcomed James Freud as bass player and alternate vocalist alongside Sean Kelly, and landed their first big hit with this lead single from The Pleasure Of Your Company. With a keyboard riff inspired by Stevie Wonder's "Superstition", "I Hear Motion" was the sound of a band entering the mainstream, after the more experimental sound of earlier Models releases. The chart success was limited for the time being, with follow-ups "No Shoulders, No Head" and "God Bless America" missing the top 50, but the stage was set for the band to really take off next time around.
Number 28 "The Australia's Cup" by Allan Caswell
Peak: number 17
Australia was pretty excited about winning the America's Cup in 1983 — a sailing competition few would even have heard of at the start of the year. But, when the Australia II took out the seventh and final race in that year's challenge on September 26, it ended a 132-year winning streak by the New York Yacht Club. The nation went wild, Prime Minister Bob Hawke got drunk and basically told people not to go to work, and everyone was thrilled at sticking it to the Yanks.
Singer/songwriter Allan Caswell, who was best known for composing "On The Inside", the theme to TV's Prisoner (or Prisoner: Cell Block H, for our overseas readers), rushed out this cheeky ditty, which burst into the top 100 at number 28. "The Australia's Cup" didn't exactly mince its words — with references to the attempt by the NYYC to have the Australian boat disqualified due to its winged keel ("you might think it quite un-Australian for me to suggest that they cheat") and Alan Bond's joke about renaming the competition ("we'll get a team of good lawyers to defend The Australia's Cup"). As the excitement about the win died down, "The Australia's Cup" raced out of the chart just as quickly as it had entered, only spending eight weeks in the top 100 in total.
Peak: number 6
Entering the top 50 just one spot above Allan Caswell was yet another song about the America's Cup. Blasting up from number 83 the previous week, this single by former (and future) Little River Band singer Glenn Shorrock was just as straight-to-the-point as "The Australia's Cup", but considerably more polite ("we're coming to get you/to race you and beat you"). Like "The Australia's Cup", "We're Coming To Get You" was recorded in a traditional folk style and featured arguably the most famous exponents of the genre, The Buchwackers. Its time in the top 100 was also fleeting. Purchases made in the wake of the Australian victory would propel "We're Coming To Get You" into the top 10 the following week, but it would plummet back down the chart just as quickly, exiting after just 10 weeks. For Glenn, it was his second and final solo top 10 single, following his 1979 cover of Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover".
Listen to every top 50 hit (that's on Spotify) from the second half of 1983 on my playlist:
Next week: the biggest Australian single of summer 1981-82 returns to the chart also thanks to the America's Cup, alongside one of the biggest Australian singles of summer 83-84. Plus, we'll see a number 78 song from 1968 remade into a hit and the original flop version of a big ballad that would be remade into a hit in 1990.