Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Only Charts That Counted: 1980

With George and son somewhat misunderstanding the idea of mash-ups by putting part of one Beatles song on top of another Beatles song, let's have a check of what was going on in Christmas week when the dream died, or somesuch.

40 Racey - Runaround Sue
Note to all journalists and press release writers: doo-wop is not some people harmonising. Doo-wop in its traditional meaning is vocal-led, contains nonsense inflections designed to keep the melody moving and is performed by absolutely nobody these days. For example, The Marcels' version of Blue Room, Who Put The Bomp, In The Still Of The Night and this in its original Dion & The Belmonts form and certainly not when performed by these RAK pop-rockers.

39 Stephanie Mills - Never Knew Love Like This Before
Largely forgotten but briefly huge disco-soulster. Briefly married to one of Shalamar, which seems about right.

38 UB40 - The Earth Dies Screaming
Their third single, when they were a dub-inflected rhythm machine with political leanings as opposed to a wine bar version of reggae cover act.

37 Mike Berry - If I Could Only Make You Care
No idea what this is, so let's look further down the chart where we find the steadily climbing New Wave makeweights The Look's one hit I Am The Beat at 43, Visage's Fade To Grey beginning the long road up at 53, Stevie Wonder's ever popular on local BBC radio I Ain't Gonna Stand For It in at 55, imperial phase Elvis Costello peaking at 60 with the great Clubland and, erm, Jim Davidson doing White Christmas at 52.

36 Bad Manners - Lorraine
Endlessly entertaining skanking nutcases, Buster Bloodvessel famously dressing in a splitting at the seams Henry VIII costume to do this on Top Of The Pops. Never had a Madness-esque serious phase.

35 Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out
Inspired by Nile Rodgers seeing performing drag queens, and thus never going to be the most Buju Banton-friendly record ever made even if now tainted by Puffy'n'Biggie association.

34 Showaddywaddy - Blue Moon
Doo-Wop lesson two: there were enough of them, so they covered this, Who Put The Bomp *and* Runaround Sue. In fact they released a covers album just this year including I Love Rock 'n' Roll, 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Jeepster, See My Baby Jive, Tiger Feet, Jungle Rock, Mink Deville's Spanish Stroll, The Cars' My Best Friend's Girl, Canned Heat's Let's Work Together, the Jags' Back Of My Hand and Dave Edmunds' I Hear You Knocking. What the hell must those last five sound like?

33 Robert Palmer - Looking For Clues
Deceased Batley soul man back when he was still tinily New Wave.

32 Kate Bush - December Will Be Magic Again
As has been pointed out this is in the expensive This Woman's Work box set as well as our Christmas covermount. Why just December, Kate? Is this a 'holidays are coming' precursor?

31 Nolans - Who's Gonna Rock You
Not you. Too easy, this, isn't it?

30 Dennis Waterman and the Dennis Waterman Band - I Could Be So Good For You
The themes to On The Up and New Tricks never got released as singles, by the way. Serviceable pub rock from man who, having previously slagged them off, gamely played along with the Little Britain routine in the recent charity version of the live show.

29 Mac Davis - It's Hard To Be Humble
Much requoted title of faux-AOR from otherwise unremarkable US singer-songwriter.

28 Gary Numan - This Wreckage
Not as rich in comedic possibility as it might seem as apparently he wasn't piloting the plane that crashed. He was an examiner for the Civil Aviation Authority at one point, though, which must have been the most daunting sight imaginable.

27 AC/DC - Rock'n'Roll Ain't Noise Pollution
Depends who's playing it at what level. We've never mentioned that the cover of If You Want Blood You've Got It actually gave us nightmares, have we?

26 Electric Light Orchestra - Don't Walk Away
Critical renaissance long underway, although this one's from their still marked Not To Be Touched Without Safety Equipment In Place Xanadu period.

25 Kool And The Gang - Celebration
Wedding reception DJs find their prayers answered. Kool was the bassist, lest we forget.

24 Specials Featuring Rico With The Ice Rink String Sounds - Do Nothing/Maggie's Farm
The Ice what, Jerry? Third single from More Specials and one penned by Lynval Golding, later to be performed on the first TOTP of 1981 with everyone in Christmas jumpers, backed by an in no way loaded Dylan cover.

23 The Beat - Too Nice To Talk To
Not on 2-Tone, although they did help out in the later AKA period, but it was all ska round here back then. Possibly the most forthrightly funky thing they ever did, complete with video set in a vinyl processing factory.

22 Barry Manilow - Lonely Together
Barry Manilow's Nose jokes now in the Where Are They Now file.

21 Eddy Grant - Do You Feel My Love
Equals opportunities! This was Eddy's second single and first top ten hit, paving the way for probably the first of the many Summers Of Reggae Revival. Still touring as well as producing and running a label, and indeed future Libertine/Dirty Pretty Thing Gary Powell was his drummer for a bit.

20 Blondie - The Tide Is High
Originally by The Paragons, as well you know. Lite reggae not the best use of the divine Debbie's vocal abilities, although it gave her another video outfit that skimped in the leg department.

19 Matchbox - Over The Rainbow/You Belong To Me
One of those bands who racked up hit after hit around this stage and were forgotten about seconds after their appeal became more selective (cf Darts), but the staying power of straight rockabilly revivalists will always be tied down, Judy Garland cover or not. Not the most glamorous band name, is it?

18 Neil Diamond - Love On The Rocks
From the remake of The Jazz Singer, and why you'd want to remake the first talkie at the end of the 70s we don't know. Better than the Darkness' song of the same title, but then so is diptheria.

17 Barron Knights - Never Mind The Presents
Spoofs of topical album titles committed three years later was about right for Britain's premier medley lyrical parodists, this being their sixth and last top 20 single including Another Brick In The Wall. A simpler age, although as they're still doing the working men's club circuit the ironic revival possibilities are still on. We're looking at you here, Justin Lee Collins.

16 Spandau Ballet - To Cut A Long Story Short
Hark, hide your panstick, the New Romantics are arriving. Actually given their name by Robert Elms, now cheery post-style age Landaner of local radio schtick, this was produced by Richard Burgess of Landscape (Einstein A Go Go? Oh, alright) and made the Blitz Club the day's most deeply hateable place.

15 Queen - Flash
He probably saved very few of us, in truth. Just bass and samples for the most part, isn't it?

14 Kenny Rogers - Lady
Now Hasselhoff's out of the way we fear Rogers will be next for ironic revival.

13 Chas And Dave - Rabbit
They are a duo from London, m'lud. That comedy high speed crosstalk at the end is great, though.

12 Status Quo - Lies/Don't Drive My Car
It does occur to us that they might have got more respect had they not kept providing the nation with easy gags after announcements that they were suffering RSI/pretending to split just so the bassist would fuck off/making a record with Manchester United/sueing Radio 1/growing ponytails while balding. Has anyone heard Camper Van Beethoven's cover of Pictures Of Matchstick Men?

11 Boomtown Rats - Banana Republic
There'd always been a reggae element to their polarising new wave sound. Kids, you'll find it hard to believe but people once liked Bob Geldof.

10 Stray Cats - Runaway Boys
Rockabilly revival part II, and while the quiffs and brothel creepers might not have suggested it they did it with a lot more conviction and less novelty than the Matchboxes of this world. Brian Setzer later spearheaded the short-lived American swing revival. Few thanked him.

9 John Lennon - Imagine
Now we're down to the crux. December 1980 was a time of great national mourning and this, already nine years old, got rush-released for this chart, hitting the summit in the first week of 1981 and staying there for four weeks before the similarly hurried out Woman deposed it.

8 Madness - Embarrassment
Jaunty brass, check; alehouse piano, check; North London vowels, check; lyrics about Lee Thompson's sister falling pregnant with a mixed-race baby, erm... Of course they were always more astute than their reputation suggests, as will be ignored again as Suggs prepares for a daily slot on Virgin after the Christmas tour.

7 Adam And The Ants - Antmusic
Pop music's lost its taste, so try another flavour. It sparked the ridiculously unlikely from this distance Antmania, it would have been number one but for Imagine, and it allowed everyone to overlook that gubbins about ants maybe treading on you one day. That's GM for you.

6 The Police - De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
No lute on it.

5 Abba - Super Trouper
On the way back from being their last number one, as Benny and Bjorn were busy going introspective.

4 John And Yoko And The Plastic Ono Band With The Harlem Community Choir - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Also recorded in 1971, two years after the pair put the slogan on billboards in eleven major cities. The sentiment probably wasn't forefront in the minds of everyone who worked on the Pop Idol 2 cover version.

3 Jona Lewie - Stop The Cavalry
Not actually a Christmas song, as Lewie and Stiff's Dave Robinson remind us every year, it just references the "over by Christmas" line in an anti-war polemic. He really does live on the proceeds, apparently.

2 John Lennon - (Just Like) Starting Over
""A great loss to music" is a very over used statement. I will not mention any names, but how can this be said about someone who's hardly been on the scene for five minutes? Yes, they may have released one good album, but how do we know that any future releases will live up to expectations? For example, let's take John Travolta who had four hit singles in 1978. If something tragic had happened to him in early 1979, we may have seen the phrase "A Great Loss To Music" (yes, I know you wouldn't have agreed). But look what happened. He's still alive, yet he didn't have any more hits (save for re-issues), so it wouldn't have been any loss to music would it?"

1 St Winifred's School Choir - There's No-One Quite Like Grandma
So Starting Over was the single at the time which peaked at 8, was at 21 the week of the shooting and immediately shot back up to number one where it was expected to stay, well, forever. Until the eight year olds of Stockport got in the way as the kids and grandparents of the nation decided to piss off the Lennonites. Just because every year we're reminded of their futures as teachers/goths/Shelley Unwin doesn't make the achievement any less remarkable - Bob The Builder beating Eminem is X Factor inevitable by comparison.

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