Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Best Of 1983 - part 2

JUMP TO: 40-31 II 30-21 II 20-11 II 10-1

Although 1983 was an exciting time for music, you wouldn't have known it in my house. I've already mentioned that my parents' LP collection included two ABBA albums and the soundtrack to Can't Stop The Music, but some other artists whose records they owned were Frank Sinatra, Dr Hook, Nana Mouskouri and Johnny O'Keefe. All successful acts, but hardly what you'd call cutting edge.

Billy Idol (or William Broad to his mum)
snarled his way up the charts in 1983

There was one singer my dad was a fan of who I also liked - and he'll feature in this part of the countdown - but I remember being quite jealous of friends who had more up-to-date albums in their homes. One friend owned Thriller as well as one of the big various artists compilations that came out in 1983, while a neighbour had an album which featured performances by the casts of TV series A Country Practice and Sons & Daughters. I was very envious of that one!

Back to my countdown, and numbers 30 to 21 are a real mixed bag (OK, there's no thrash metal, but you know what I mean).

Starting things off at number 30 is "White Wedding" by Billy Idol, the sneering, fist-pumping, leather-clad, peroxide fan who'd started his career as a member of punk band Generation X. The good thing about Billy was that for all his rock god posturing, he didn't seem to take himself too seriously. "White Wedding" actually first came out in 1982, but wasn't a hit anywhere until 1983 (and not in the UK until 1985, oddly).

At number 29: "True" by Spandau Ballet, who were really hitting their stride in 1983, even if their ultra-commercial sound lacked some of the edge of their earlier records. I, for one, was all for it - and so, it seemed, was the rest of the world, with the singles from the True album proving to be their most successful of their career. The song "True" has lived on, being frequently sampled (most famously by PM Dawn in 1991 and Nelly in 2005) and used in a stack of movies since 1998's The Wedding Singer.

A massive Australian chart-topper is at number 28: "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar, and the thing I remember most about this song is the dance routine towards the end of the video, because if anything's going to scare a no-good pimp off, it's a troupe of women aggressively shaking their moneymakers at him.

Some Scottish pop/rock at number 27 - it's "In A Big Country" by Big Country, the biggest of their three top 50 hits in Australia (it peaked at number 7). Some of the original line-up still performs today, but singer Stuart Adamson (previously a member of Skids, whose "The Saints Are Coming" was covered by U2 and Green Day) tragically committed suicide in 2001.

A music legend is at number 26: "Modern Love" by David Bowie, which is probably the poppiest song he's ever released (if you don't count his and Mick Jagger's cover of "Dancing In The Street") and the only song of his I remember properly liking at the time. I can appreciate how influential his earlier '70s records were, but they've never really resonated with me in the way this song has.

Back again at number 25, it's "Communication" by Spandau Ballet, which, together with previous single "Lifeline", would appear on the True album.

At number 24: "All Night Long (All Night)" by Lionel Richie, whose Can't Slow Down album was huge in 1983, just not as massive as Thriller. This was the first of five big singles released from the LP and a bit of a shift in musical direction for the balladeer and former Commodore - but one which was clearly welcomed, since the party anthem would go to number 1 in the US, and also in Australia for six weeks across summer '83/'84. Hideous trousers, though.

Here's the artist my parents and I agreed on - at number 23, it's "Tell Her About It" by Billy Joel, from the album, An Innocent Man, which was on high rotation on our JVC turntable. More from Billy to come...

A group with a curious name is at number 22: "Hold Me Now" by Thompson Twins, who, of course, were most famous as a trio and never featured anyone called Thompson in their line-up. Also curious were some of the members' hairstyles. I know it was the '80s, but really? This first single from their Into The Gap album was also their one and only top 10 hit in Australia.

Speaking of bands with noteworthy hair, at number 21, it's "Listening" by Pseudo Echo, the debut single by Australia's very own synthpop band, who would take the world by storm three years later with their cover of "Funky Town". It's a shame that remake has now overshadowed all their other singles, though, since originals like "Listening", "Love An Adventure" and, my favourite, "Don't Go", proved they could write their own hits.

We're halfway through my 1983 countdown, and still to come in Part 3: another Aussie synthpop act, a pint-sized megastar and the first of two hits from the year's biggest soundtrack.

1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. "Hold Me Now" didn't chart in Australia until May 1984, so it really shouldn't appear in your 1983 summary. Your commentaries are fascinating, though - well done!!

    1. Thanks for reading. For my personal charts prior to 1987 (which is when I actually started collecting ARIA charts and compiling my own favourites), I just go with the date of a song's original release. Since it was up to six months before some songs would chart in Australia, that explains the year discrepancy.

    2. Ah OK! Fair enough! By that logic, though, you need to move "Lucky Star" and "Holiday" by Madonna from 1984 to 1983, since they were both released in the US then (even before "Hold Me Now" was released in the UK).

      I love checking out your recaps and do so regularly. I'm a chart fanatic from way back, too :-). Keep up the great work!!

    3. Sorry, I oversimplified things a little. Over the years, I've moved songs back into earlier years when the Australian release/chart date was significantly after the UK date (I tend to follow UK charts more than US charts). And there are some songs where I've stuck with the Australian date. At some point I will go back and be a bit more exacting with it. It's always nice when someone notices these things!