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Popular music: 1981

Top 20 Singles of 1981

1. Counting The Beat - The Swingers
The Swingers are one of the great one-hit wonder (or in this case, two-hit wonder) bands of the early 1980s. Formed in New Zealand in 1979 by Phil Judd (formerly of Split Enz), Dwayne "Bones" Hillman (formerly of Midnight Oil) and Buster Stiggs, their song "One Good Reason" made the Top 20 in NZ. Developing a sizeable Antipodean following, they hit their peak in 1981 with the No.1 hit "Counting The Beat". They disbanded in 1982 after an album, several singles and some personnel changes.

2. Stars on 45 - Stars on 45 (Starsound)
A hideously sterile medley of snippets from different songs put together to make one. In concerts, many artists sing medleys of their hits so they can get them all in and please their fans, but this was the first recorded medley to be a big hit. The original medley was as follows: "Stars on 45 intro/Venus/Sugar Sugar/No Reply/I'll Be Back/Drive My Car/Do You Want to Know a Secret/We Can Work It Out/I Should Have Known Better/You're Going to Lose That Girl/Stars on 45." At 41 words, it was the longest title of any single to make the Hot 100. "Stars on 45" referred to both a song in the medley and the group of studio musicians that put together the initial 12" single. The name of their album was "Stars On LP," the group's name on all other releases was "Stars On" except in the UK, where the medley itself was called "Stars on 45" and the group was called "Starsound." The Stars on 45 phenomenum was inspired by a crudely-edited bootleg single sold in Holland. The managing director of Red Bullet Productions (owner of the copyright of "Venus") heard it being played in a store and asked Jaap Eggermont (former drummer of Golden Earring of "Radar Love" fame) if he could produce a similar record.

The original "Medley" interrupted Kim Carnes' US reign at No.1 with "Bette Davis Eyes", and the floodgate of medleys opened. In addition to "Medley 2" (in the US), Stars On medleys were being released every other month in 1981 and 1982. A medley of song introductions called "Intros" failed to chart, but a single from their second LP, "More Stars on 45," did much better. An "ABBA Medley" hit No.2 in the UK, and "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World" (US title: "Rollin' Stones") likewise hit the Top 10 in Britain and Europe. In 1982, Stars On fed off the craze it started and hit the Top 30 again with a medley of Stevie Wonder hits called "Stars on 45 III". Late in 1981, The Beach Boys came out with a medley of their hits, and the next year, the "Beatles Movie Medley," containing hits from Beatles movies, was released. The medley craze eventually cooled off, but the end of Radio Records in 1983 effectively put an end to the career of Stars Ons.

3. Antmusic - Adam & The Ants
Adam Ant is the stage name of London born Stuart Leslie Goddard, lead singer of 1980s New Wave/post-punk group Adam and the Ants and later a solo artist. His first school was Robinsfield Primary where he created a considerable stir by heaving a brick through one of the windows. One of the themes he was to use in his later work - the suppressed minorities - came because he is of gypsy stock. In 1979, he formed a new band, Bow Wow Wow. A year later, he reformed the lineup, sound and image of the band, now featuring two drummers and pirate dress. This new look, under a new name, Adam & The Ants, enjoyed considerable but short-lived success with three top 10 singles before the band split up in early 1982.

4. Jealous Guy - Roxy Music
John Lennon wrote this song when he was still a Beatle. The group recorded it as a demo called "Child of Nature," which he'd written about their trip to India to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It didn't make it onto any Beatles albums, so Lennon used it on his Imagine album with the lyrics changed to reflect on his relationship with Yoko, and how possessive he became of her while The Beatles were breaking up. The 1981 version by Roxy Music (lead singer Briran Ferry, right) was recorded as a tribute to Lennon, who was murdered on 9th December 1980. Roxy Music had regrouped in the fall of 1978 after spending 18 months on solo projects. Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay and Thompson added former Ace keyboardist Paul Carrack to the band's lineup and hired Gary Tibbs, formerly of the Vibrators, and ex-Kokomo Alan Spenner as studio bassists.

5. Devo Live - Devo
Devo (pronounced DEE-vo or dee-VO, sometimes spelled Dev-O and often "DEVO") is an American Rock group formed in Akron, Ohio in 1972. Their style has been variously classified as punk, art rock and post-punk, but they are most often remembered for their late 1970s and early 1980s New Wave music which, along with others, ushered in the synth pop sound of the 1980s. Devo's work has proved hugely influential on subsequent popular music, particularly New Wave and alternative rock artists, and they created many memorable music videos popular in the early days of MTV. "Devo live" was such a video.

6. Bette Davis Eyes - Kim Carnes
This song was originally recorded in a 1920s Jazz style by its writer, Jackie DeShannon, on her 1975 album, New Arrangement. The producer of Carnes' version had an assistant go out and buy the cheapest (and cheapest-sounding) drum set for this particular song. Carnes, who was a member of The New Christy Minstrels before recording as a solo artist, had several other hits before and after this, but none this big. The song refers to Bette Davis, an actress known for playing strong, independent women. Her movies include What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? and All About Eve. She was famous for her New England accent and her piercing eyes.

7. 9 to 5 (Morning Train) - Sheena Easton
Scotsgirl Sheena Easton (real name Sheena Shirley Orr) was completing her studies at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama to become a teacher of speech and drama when fate stepped in. During the evenings, while performing with local band 'Something Else' to pay the bills, she was chosen to take part in the BBC documentary series The Big Time.  She soon recorded her debut single 'Modern Girl', which reached No. 56 in Britain. '9 to 5' rapidly climbed the charts in Britain as the documentary was aired. It peaked at No. 5, and was followed by another single, 'Modern Girl'. Sheena became the first artist since the 1950s to achieve two simultaneous top 10 singles in Britain.

8. Endless Love - Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
This song was written and recorded for the 1981 film of the same name. The film (which was based on the best-selling novel Endless Love) was not very successful (On the plus side though, Endless Love did mark the film debut of one James Spader), but the song received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and won a Marquee Award in 1982 for Best Original Song. A duet with Lionel Richie (right), it was also Diana Ross' last No.1 hit in the US. It is called a duet, but Richie and Ross were never actually in the studio together and they have never ever sung it live together.

9. Who Can It Be Now? - Men At Work
Men at Work were one of the more surprising success stories of the new wave era, rocketing out of Australia to become the most successful artist of the year. With its Police-styled rhythms, catchy guitar hooks, wailing saxophones, and off-kilter sense of humor, the band's debut album Business as Usual became an international blockbuster, breaking the American record for the most weeks a debut spent at the top of the charts. Their funny, irreverent videos became MTV favourites, helping send "Who Can It Be Now?" and "Down Under" to No.1. Colin Hay, who wrote the song, says, "I was up in the bush in Southern New South Wales with my girlfriend, just sitting outside at night.

We had this little tree hut in the middle of the bush. It was a great place to kill the time, mess around with ideas. It was just an idea that popped out, it took about half and hour to write that song. I was living in St. Kilda in Melbourne, which is a great part of Melbourne. At that particular time it was a very interesting area, it was frequented by everybody from the high Jewish population, punks, drug movers, all kinds of different people. It was about 6 or 7 hours drive away, sitting in the middle of the bush in New South Wales and that song just popped out. My girlfriend at the time said, 'that will be your first hit, that song,' and she was right." MTV was new and didn't have many videos at the time, so intriguing and distinctive ones like this, about a paranoid man in his house, got plenty of airplay.

10. Kids In America - Kim Wilde
English pop singer, gardener, and pop cultural figure Kim Wilde debuted in 1981 with the hit 'Kids in America'. She was the first child of 1950s rock 'n' roller Marty Wilde (real name Reginald Smith) and Joyce Baker, formerly of the British singing and dancing group, Vernon's Girls. Her self-titled debut album followed later that year and spawned a further two hits, "Chequered Love" and "Water On Glass". Most of the music on this album was played by the symphonic rock band The Enid, and the songs were all written by her father Marty and brother Ricky Wilde. Production duties were fulfilled by Ricky.

11. This Ole House - Shakin' Stevens
Cardiff born Shakin' Stevens (real name Michael Barrett) has the distinction of being the top selling UK singles artist of the 1980s. He began his career fronting Shakin' Stevens and the Sunsets, a 1950s influenced rock'n'roll outfit that were given a support slot for the Rolling Stones in 1969. Shaky right the band in 1977 and gained a lead role in Jack Good's "Elvis!" musical. In 1981, he had his first No. 1 with "This Ole House" and would have 10 more songs reach the top 5, including three UK No. 1 hits with "Green Door", "Oh Julie" and "Merry Christmas Everyone", while "You Drive Me Crazy" and "A Love Worth Waiting For" reached No. 2 in 1981 and 1984 respectively. "This Ole House" was published in 1954. It describes a house in a state of disrepair after its owner's death, and was inspired by a real-life house found by songwriter Stuart Hamblen and his friends while on a fishing trip. Despite its subject matter, the song is normally performed in an upbeat style. The first recorded version by Rosemary Clooney reached No.1 on the US Billboard charts in 1954. Over 30 artists have recorded the song.

12. Turn Me Loose - Loverboy
Canadian rock band Loverboy was very popular in the 1980s, accumulating numerous hit songs in Canada and the US, making four multi-platinum albums, and selling millions of records. They are based in Vancouver, British Columbia. On March 20, 1980, Loverboy went into the studio and their self-titled début album. Over that summer, the record became a huge hit, with over 700,000 records sold in Canada alone. "Turn Me Loose" is a single lifted from the album. The band's hit singles, particularly "Lovin' Every Minute of it" have become some of the biggest arena rock songs ever.

13. Start Me Up - The Rolling Stones
The Stones first recorded this at the Some Girls sessions in 1977. Keith Richards recalls: "The story here is the miracle that we ever found that track. I was convinced - and I think Mick was - that it was definitely a Reggae song. And we did it in 38 takes - 'Start me up. Yeah, man, cool. You know, you know, Jah Rastafari.' And it didn't make it. And somewhere in the middle of a break, just to break the tension, Charlie and I hit the Rock And Roll version. And right after that we went straight back to Reggae. And we forgot totally about this one little burst in the middle, until about five years later when somebody sifted all the way through these Reggae takes. After doing about 70 takes of "Start Me Up" he found that one in the middle. It was just buried in there. Suddenly I had it. Nobody remembered cutting it. But we leapt on it again. We did a few overdubs on it, and it was like a gift, you know? One of the great luxuries of The Stones is we have an enormous, great big can of stuff. I mean what anybody hears is just the tip of an iceberg, you know. And down there is vaults of stuff. But you have to have the patience and the time to actually sift through it."

14. You Weren't In Love With Me - Billy Field
There are a couple of myths surrounding Billy Field, the man responsible for the often covered hit, "Bad Habits". The first myth is that Billy was an American who moved to Australia to kickstart his musical career. Another is that he was a rep for Warner Bros. Neither is true, in fact Billy was raised in Urana in rural New South Wales. He worked on a station in the Riverina region through his teens and early twenties before heading to Sydney to have a crack at the music industry. Despite his association with pop music, Field was an extremely talented jazz and blues musician, influences that can be heard on his first, and most commercially successful, album, Try Biology.

The album, released in 1981, featured this song and a second single that also reached No. 1 on the Australian charts, "You Weren't In Love With Me". Field's next album, Try Biology, went gold within weeks of it's release and was followed by an adventurous third album, Say Yes, which featured the entire string section of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Field's later releases could not eclipse the phenomenal success of his debut, but that was far from the end of Billy Field's involvement in the Australian music industry. He had set up his own studio in Woolloomooloo in Sydney known as Canteen Studios where many a jazz and blues artist, amongst others, laid down their tracks.

15. Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield
In the mid 1970s, former Zoot lead singer, Rick Springfield, right Australia for Malibu in the US in search of stardom, which he eventually found with his fourth album, Working Class Dog, released in 1981. Rick has only returned once to Australian shores for the purpose of touring, in 1985, preferring to concentrate on his massive popularity across the US. While everyone knows songs like "Jessie's Girl", "Don't Talk to Strangers" and "Affair of the Heart", not many people in Australia are aware of the enormity of the Rick Springfield phenomenon in other parts of the world, particularly in the US and Japan.

16. Duncan - Slim Dusty
A measure of the man in terms of his influence on Australian music culture is that Slim Dustry's two best selling single, "A Pub With No Beer" and "Duncan", besides being among the top selling singles of all time, were recorded 23 years apart. Both were Slim's favourites as both said so much about mateship and the Aussie spirit. "The author of that ('Duncan') used to be a mail sorter in the ABC," recalled Slim. "He hawked this song around for a long time and he used to go to a pub that he mentions in the song. There was a character called Duncan who used to call there. Him and Duncan always got on the tear a bit and he wrote that song."

17. Girls Can Get It - Dr Hook
Dr Hook signed a new recording deal in 1980 which saw their music released on a new label. Their first album under the new arrangement, Rising, just made the top 50 album charts. Their single, "Girls Can Get It", made the top 40 in all major international markets and was in fact their last hit of that magnitude. A year later, the band recorded their final studio album, Players In The Dark, but increased tensions and musical differences were taking their toll. Ray Sawyer right the line-up in 1982 to pursue a solo career and Dennis Locorriere carried on with the band, doing two more sell out tours of the U.K and Australia - including " Dr. Hook's One and Only Farewell Tour" before disbanding the group in 1985.

18. (Just Like) Starting Over - John Lennon
Released on John Lennon's 40th birthday - 9th October 1980 - one month before Lennon's last album, Double Fantasy, and two months before he was shot by Mark David Chapman. The single, Lennon's first release in six years, was a song he wrote while vacationing in Bermuda earlier in the year. It was also one of the last songs recorded for the album. Lennon was not sure he should record it, but his producer and session musicians convinced him it would be a hit. Double Fantasy was released on David Geffen's record label, DGC. Many labels were competing for the album, but Geffen impressed Lennon when he wrote directly to Yoko and agreed to release it without hearing it first. All of Lennon's previous albums had been released on The Beatles' label, Apple. Beatles' producer George Martin's comment on Double Fantasy was, "John hadn't been in a studio in a while and it showed."

19. You Drive Me Crazy - Shakin' Stevens
Welsh singer Shakin' Stevens (real name Michael Barrett), who modelled himself as a performer on the early Elvis Presley, had his first No.1 with "This Ole House". He would have 10 more songs reach the top 5, including three No. 1 hits with "Green Door", "Oh Julie" and "Merry Christmas Everyone", while "You Drive Me Crazy" and "A Love Worth Waiting For" reached No. 2 in 1981 and 1984 respectively.

20. Keep On Loving You - REO Speedwagon
Up until 1980, REO Speedwagon was little known outside of the US. That all changed with the release of their album, Hi Infidelity. Commercially, it was a mega-success and REO Speedwagon became world-famous overnight. Through mid-1982, Hi Infidelity and it's singles - "Keep On Loving You," "Take It On The Run," "Don't Let Him Go," and "In Your Letter" - sold over 18 million copies worldwide. The most successful single was the Kevin Cronin-written power ballad, "Keep On Loving You".

    view the video online

    Top 10 Australian Hits of 1981

    1. Counting The Beat - The Swingers
    See above.

    2. Who Can It Be Now? - Men At Work
    See above.

    3. You Weren't In Love With Me - Billy Field
    See above.

    4. Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield
    See above.

    5. Duncan - Slim Dusty
    See above.

    6. Physical - Olivia Newton-John
    Instead of writing about the emotions of love, songwriters Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick decided to write this about the physical side. When Olivia first heard and recorded this song, she had no idea it was about sex. After she recorded it, someone expressed surprise that she would record such a song. She became concerned about her image and had doubts about releasing it, but her managers knew it would be a huge hit and convinced her to stay the course. To allay her fears, the video clip took a light-hearted angle on the song along the lines of Olivia's original perception of it. Newton-John is shown teasing fat men as they try to exercise. At the end of the video, they are replaced by fit, muscular guys. This song and Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" were the only singles to stay at No. 1 in the US for 10 weeks. This occurred in spite of a few radio stations in conservative communities banning it for it's veiled sexual content. A slow and sultry version was recorded by Kylie Minogue for the movie, Moulin Rouge, but it was cut by director Baz Luhrmann.

      View the video online

      7. Shaddup You face - Joe Dolce

      8. If I were A Carpenter - Swanee (John Swan)
      This song, written by Folk singer Tim Hardin who wrote The Carpenters' "Reason To Believe", was first recorded by Babby Darin in 1966. It became Darin's last big hit; he died in 1973 at age 37. This song did for John Swan (Swanee) what another Darin Hit, "Dream Lover", did for fellow Adelaide-raised rocker, Glenn Shorrock, giving him his best selling single as a solo artist. John Swan has been on the Australian music scene since he was 14 years old. He became part of this country's musical backbone playing first as a drummer, then as a singer with many of the country's top rock and roll outfits. In 1978 Swanee released his first album, Into The Night. "If I Were A Carpenter" was lifted from the album, This Time It's Different. The next two singles from the album - "Lady What's Your Name" and "Temporary Heartache" were also hot sellers.

        View the video online

        9. Bad Habits - Billy Field
        Billy Field seemingly came from out of nowhere in 1981 with the album Bad Habits and the hit single of the same name. The Bad Habits LP became one of the biggest selling albums of the year, and was followed by another hit LP, Try Biology. Billy's live work included his long-running jazz group the Bad Habits Band which toured and released his fourth and fifth albums throughout the 1990s.

          View the video online

          10. State Of The Heart - Mondo Rock
          During their career, Mondo Rock had 17 top 40 hits in Australia, but it was not always sunshine and roses. Mondo Rock ground to a halt at the beginning of 1980, but being a man of determined nature, lead singer Ross Wilson (right) was not prepared to abandon what had become a respected rock entity in Australia. So within three months he was back with a new band, a new record deal and very much a new sound. Standing alongside him was the guitarist from Matchbox,Eric McCusker, a talented songwriter. By 1981, with James Black on keyboards, Paul Christie on bass and J.J. Hackett on drums - the definitive Mondo Rock formation - the band was one of the most popular in Australia. Eric's 'State Of The Heart' (later a U.S. hit for ex-patriate Rick Springfield) and Ross' 'Cool World' were both top ten hits, while the Chemistry album shot to No. 3. Two more hits were forthcoming from this landmark album - the title track and "Summer Of '81".

          Other Hits of 1981

          In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins
          Collins wrote this song about the anger he felt after divorcing his first wife Andrea in 1979. He was so devastated that he even right Genesis for a short time. Collins explains the lyrics, "If you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand," by saying the drowning is symbolic. The meaning of this song became a pervasive urban myth. The story, which is not true, is that Collins viewed as a man who raped his wife drowned. Another version has Collins writing this about a man who viewed another drown. Yet another variation claims that when Collins was a young boy, he witnessed a man drowning someone but was too far away to help. Later, he hired a private detective to find the man, sent him a free ticket to his concert, and premiered the song that night with the spotlight on the man the whole time. All these stories are not true. This was Collins' first single as a solo artist. All the original songs on the album, including the follow-up hit, "I Missed Again," were intended as "messages" to his first wife in an attempt to lure her back to him. The album sold more than any previous Genesis release, prompting the group to change its musical direction. View the video online

          Precious To Me - Phil Seymour
          Phil Seymour is best remembered as one half of the creative force behind the Dwight Twilley Band, co-writing with Dwight Twilley. After two albums (1976's Sincerely and 1978's Twilley Don't Mind), Seymour right to pursue a solo career. While waiting for a recording deal, he began recording solo sessions, as well as contributing session work for a number of artists. His 1981 self-titled debut was well received at the time and has become highly revered in power-pop circles as one of the landmark albums of the era. He followed in 1982 with Phil Seymour 2, a less satisfying album both creatively and commercially. He was later diagnosed with lymphoma, which took his life in August 1993 while he was preparing a new album. View the video online

          9 To 5 - Dolly Parton
          Not to be confused with the similarly named song that was a hit in 1981 for Sheena Easton, this one was written by Parton for the 1980 film of the same name. Parton, in her acting debut, starred with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Parton, and Dabney Coleman in a lightweight story about life in an office. This song won the 1981 Grammys for Best Country Song and Best Country Vocal Performance, Female; it also received a Grammy nomination for Best Album Of Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or Television Special and received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. It also won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture Song. This was a huge crossover hit for Parton, who expanded her audience from Country to the world of mainstream Pop. Years later, many Country music artists followed Parton's lead and made headway on the Pop charts. Hear the song online

          Kiss On My List - Daryl Hall & John Oates (right) 
          Hall and Oates proved that their 1977 hit "Rich Girl" wasn't just a flash in the pan with the release of the album, Voices, in 1981. While two other songs from the album ("How Does It Feel to Be Back", and the well-received cover of the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin') had returned the duo to chart activity, it was the success of "Kiss On My List" that confirmed the start of their sustained run as one of American pop's top-selling acts, a run that lasted into 1985. "Kiss On My List" was written by Janna Allen and Daryl Hall, and produced by Hall and Oates. View the video online

          Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do) - Christopher Cross
          The man with a name like a crossword puzzle (Chris Cross, born Christopher Geppert) is best known for this song, "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" from the film Arthur starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli. The song won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1981 (with co-composers Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen). Cross first played with an Austin-based cover band named Flash before signing a solo contract with Warner Bros. Cross released his self-titled debut album in 1979, which garnered him five Grammy Awards. He is, along with Norah Jones, one of only two artists to receive all of the "Big Four" Grammy Awards (Best Record, Song, Album, and New Artist) in the same year (it should be noted however that although Jones sang the song, she did not personally receive the Song of the Year Grammy because it is a songwriter's award). Hits from this album included "Sailing", "Ride Like the Wind" and "Never Be the Same." View the video online

          Private Eyes - Daryl Hall & John Oates
          By the time "You Make My Dreams" - the last single to be released from the Voices LP - was falling down the charts, Hall & Oates had already released their follow-up album, Private Eyes. The four singles from Private Eyes all reached the US top 40. The title track and "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" were consecutive No.1 hits in the US. "Did It in a Minute" and "Your Imagination" followed, with both reaching the US top 40. The set is considered among the duo's best albums, mixing soul, new wave, and power pop. View the video online

          One of Us - ABBA
          "One of Us", from ABBA's final studio album, The Visitors, was one of the last songs recorded for that album and was therefore one of the last times the four were in the studio together working on a hit record. It was one of only a handful of tracks that explored the darker territory of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson's songwriting as the two men's divorces were beginning to influence their musical output. Indeed, the message of the song was about a woman trying to revive a dead relationship. Despite the somewhat depressing context, and reservations by manager Stig Anderson, "One of Us" was released as the first single from The Visitors. It became ABBA's last major hit, and their last No.1 single in many countries, including Australia. In the US, "One of Us" reached a high of No.107, making it ABBA's worst ever performing charting song there. Nevertheless, it was ABBA's swansong in terms of their hit-making career. The Visitors was the eighth and final album by ABBA, and was in fact one of the earliest releases to be made available on the new CD format. View the video online

          One Day In Your Life - Michael Jackson (right)
          Recorded when Jackson was just 16, this song was originally included on the artist's 1975 LP, Forever, Michael. It was Jackson's final contractual studio album as a soloist with Motown Records. In 1979 Jackson recorded his breakthrough solo album Off The Wall with Epic Records. It was a smash success and Motown cashed in on his new found fame by re-releasing this song. It topped the UK charts, knocking off Smokey Robinson's "Being With You," thereby giving Motown back to back UK No.1s. View the video online

          Like An Angel Passing Through My Room - ABBA
          Appearing on ABBA's final studio album, The Visitors, this is the only ABBA song ever to feature a single voice - Frida's. The song opens with the ticking of a metronome and closes the same way. It was originally entitled 'An Angel's Passing Through My Room' and had more of a disco feel, similar to 'Lay All Your Love On Me', but was extensively redone. Hear the song online | excellent cover by Norwegian soprano Sissel

          Errol - Australian Crawl
          Hailing from the Mornington Peninsula suburb of Mt.Eliza on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australian Crawl carved a place for themselves in the suburban pub rock scene of the 1970s. In keeping with their thinking-boys-just-wanting-to-have-fun image, the band called their second album Sirocco, after the yacht on which womanizing Errol Flynn got up to his tricks. The album also contained the group's ode to their hero, 'Errol'.  View the video online

          This Little Girl Is Mine - Gary U.S. Bonds
          Florida born Gary "U.S." Bonds (born Gary Anderson) began singing publicly in church, and with a group called The Turks in the 1950s. He joined record producer Frank Guida's small Legrand record label and Guida changed his name to U.S. Bonds in hope that it would be confused with a public service announcement advertising the sale of government bonds and thus get more airplay. The plan worked and Bonds had a string of US hits in the early 1960s.

          In a 1963 tour of Europe, he actually headlined above The Beatles. In the early 1980s, Bonds had a career resurgence, working in collaborations with Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, and the E Street Band. Later hits included "This Little Girl", "Jolé Blon" and "Out Of Work". View the video online

          The Land of Make Believe - Bucks Fizz (right)
          Like Mary Hopkin and ABBA, English band Bucks Fizz got their big break by winning the Eurovision Song Contest. The song that won them the award in 1981 was "Making Your Mind Up". The initial group members were Jay Aston, Cheryl Baker, Bobby G (or Gee, actually Gubby) and Mike Nolan, the classic 'two male - two female' Eurovision line-up established by ABBA. Already experienced singers, they were quick to build on their Eurovision success, "Making Your Mind Up" was their first No.1 in March 1981 and they followed up with two top 20 singles and a further No.1 in November 1981 with "The Land Of Make Believe" and also an eponymously-titled album. In 1982 the group had their final No.1 in March with "My Camera Never Lies"; their output of singles then slowed as they concentrated on touring. Their last Top 10 hit came in 1986 - "New Beginning (Mamba Seyra)". They broke up in 1988. View the video online

          Cool Night - Paul Davis
          "Cool Night" is a song by Paul Davis that hit the charts in January 1982. It was one of two top 10 hits from the album, Cool Night. The other was "'65 Love Affair", which went to No.6 in April of that same year. These singles were more pop-oriented than Davis liked and he did not feel comfortable entrenched in the genre. He subsequently retired from making records, save for two duet singles with Marie Osmond in 1986 and a collaboration with country singers Tanya Tucker and Paul Overstreet (on 1988's "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love").  View the video online

          Just Can't Get Enough - Depeche Mode (right)
          Inspired by "To Cut a Long Story Short" by Spandau Ballet, this hit single was written by Depeche Mode keyboardist Vince Clarke after he had turned 20. The song was a major hit and paved the way for Depeche Mode's debut album, Speak & Spell, released in November 1981. Critical reviews were mixed - Melody Maker described it as a "great album ... one they had to make to conquer fresh audiences and please the fans who just can't get enough", while Rolling Stone was more critical, calling it "PG-rated fluff". Clarke right the band not long after making this recording, and formed Yazoo with Allison Moyet. They later shortened their name to Yaz. Allison went on to a solo career and Vince teamed up with Andy Bell to form Erasure. Clarke has been known to sing this song with an acoustic guitar at Erasure concerts.  View the video online

          Romeo and Juliet - Dire Straits (right)
          Like all good romance songs, this one was based on a real life experience. It was inspired by Mark Knopfler's broken relationship with Holly Vincent, who was the leader of the band Holly And The Italians. Some of the lyrics indicate that Knopfler felt she used him to boost her career. The line, "Now you just say, oh Romeo, yeah, you know I used to have a scene with him," came from an interview where Holly Vincent was quoted as saying: "What happened was that I had a scene with Mark Knopfler and it got to the point where he couldn't handle it and we split up."

          The song is from the Dire Straits album, Making Movies, which was recorded at The Power Station in New York City with producer Jimmy Iovine. Mark Knopfler's younger brother David, who was Dire Straits' rhythm guitarist, right the band during the album sessions. Having the brothers in the same band had caused tension and arguments. Said David: "We'd be walking around in the studio with eyes averted to the floor. We no longer had a communicating relationship." View the video online

          Wild Colonial Boy - Dr Hook
          Dr Hook lead singer Dennis Locorriere (right) first performed this song during their third tour of Australia, in 1979. The band had always been well received in Australia and to say "thank you" for the support, Locorriere went to the trouble of finding a traditional Australian bush ballad that everyone would know to sing at their Australian concerts. Fans responded by demanding it be released as a single, and when it was, they turned it into a top 10 hit. The song originated in Ireland and first appeared in print circa 1830. The villian, alternatively called Jack Doogan, is believed to have been based on the career of Jack Donohue. A criminal who was transported to Australia, Donohue escaped and resumed a life of crime as a bushranger, but was eventually captured and shot near Campbelltown, NSW, in 1830. The song was first published in 1881. Hear the song online

          For Your Eyes Only - Sheena Easton (right0
          "9 To 5" was Scottish singer Sheena Easton's first single release in the US, although it was renamed "Morning Train (Nine To Five)" to avoid confusion with Dolly Parton's hit movie title song "9 to 5." "Morning Train" became Easton's only No.1 hit in the US. "Modern Girl" was released as the follow-up, and before 1981 was over Sheena had another top 10 hit with the Academy Award-nominated James Bond movie title song, "For Your Eyes Only." The movie starred Roger Moore as secret agent 007. Easton's US success culminated in her winning the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of 1981. View the video online

          Hold On Tight - Electric Light Orchestra
          "Hold On Tight", written and performed by Electric Light Orchestra, is track twelve on the band's (1981) album, Time. The first song from the album to be released as a single, it became ELO's last major hit. The song went top ten in most countries and hit the top spot in Switzerland only. View the video online

          Can You Feel It - The Jacksons (right)
          The Jackson 5 (also spelled The Jackson Five or The Jackson 5ive, abbreviated as J5, and later known as The Jacksons), an American popular music quintet of five African American brothers, is considered one of the biggest phenomenons in pop music during the 1970s. They are also notable for launching the careers of their lead singers Michael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson. "Can You Feel It" was recorded in March 1980 and released in September 1980 as the first track on The Jacksons' album, Triumph. When the video was released in 1981, it became famous for its amazing special effects from Robert Abel and Associates that were ahead of their time. While not a big hit saleswise, it became one of the group's most popular anthems for social change and peaceful unity. Written by brothers Jackie and Michael, the song featured solo leads by Randy and Michael.  View the video online

          Vatching The Wheels - John Lennon
          Lennon wrote this to explain what he was up to since he recorded his previous album, Walls And Bridges, which was released in 1974. His message was that he was now dedicating himself to his family - his wife Yoko and young son Sean. Lennon had being accused of being crazy for abandoning his music career - this song makes a statement that climbing off the fame bandwagon, taking it easy and spending time with loved ones is anything but crazy.  View the video online

          The Green Fields of France - The Fureys
          Also known as "No Man's Land" and "Willie McBride", this ballad is sung from the point of view of a tired walker who rests on the grave of a young man in a military cemetery in Northern France who died in World War I. One of the most powerful anti-war songs ever written, its haunting chorus refers to two famous pieces of military music, "The Last Post" and "The Flowers of the Forest". The song was written in 1976 by Scottish-Australian singer-songwriter as "No Man's Land" after visiting the war cemeteries of Flanders and Northern France. According to the song, the gravestone of the soldier, Willie McBride, says he was 19 years of age when he died in 1916.

          According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, there were eight soldiers named "William McBride", and a further six listed as "W. McBride", who died in France or Belgium during the First World War but none matches the soldier in the song. Two "William McBrides" and one "W. McBride" died in 1916 but one is commemorated in the Thiepval Memorial and has no gravestone. The other two are buried in the Authuile Military Cemetery but one was aged 21 and the age of the other is unknown. All three were from Irish regiments. The song was a huge success for The Furey Brothers and Davey Arthur in Ireland, however their version's melody and words vary somewhat from the Eric Bogle original. It was also recorded by Dropkick Murphys and John McDermott. Film maker Pete Robertson used the Dropkick Murphys version in his 2008 short film The Green Fields of France. View the video online

          It Must Be Love - Madness
          "It Must Be Love" was originally written and recorded in 1971 by Labi Siffre. However, the best known version was done by the ska/pop band Madness in 1981. The video mostly shows band members playing in a white room and standing over a grave. It also features guitarist Chris Foreman and saxophonist Lee Thompson playing their instruments underwater. Foreman appears at the start of the video warning viewers not to attempt the "very dangerous stunt" they are about to see, presumably referring to the swimming pool sequence. Labi Siffre makes a cameo appearance as a violin player. View the video online

          Too Many Times - Mental as Anything
          According to a popular urban myth, a group of Sydney art students conned their way into giving them a gig in exchange for a free beer. The con worked a treat and the group came to be known as Mental as Anything. The band's highly listenable brand of idiosyncratic garage pop was a hit and quickly earned them a cult following. Their 1982 album Cats and Dogs achieved platinum status on the strength of the hits "If You Leave Mee, Can I Come Too?" and "Too Many Times". By then, they had attracted worldwide attention, and in 1982, they mounted their first tour of the US. Fan Elvis Costello produced the single "I Didn't Mean to be Mean" issued later that same year, and in 1983 the group issued their fourth LP, Creatures of Leisure, another Aussie top ten hit. View the video online

          Cool World - Mondo Rock
          In 1977, formed Daddy Cool lead singer Ross Wilson formed Mondo Rock. Their 2nd album, Chemistry, became one of the largest selling Australian albums of 1980/81, yielding the hits "Cool World", "State of the Heart", "Chemistry" and "Summer of '81". Mondo Rock continued to produce hits with "No Time", "Come Said The Boy" and "Primitive Love Rites", until Ross decided to pursue a solo career. He released the album Dark Side Of The Man and the hit single "Bed Of Nails" in 1989. View the video online

          Angel Of The Morning - Juice Newton (right)
          Evie Sands originally recorded this song, about a one-night stand, in 1967. Her version was doing well, but two weeks after it was released, her record label, Cameo/Parkway, went bankrupt. Chip Taylor, who wrote and produced the song, was devastated when he found out that the label could not promote it or even make more singles of it. A few months later, Merrilee Rush's version became a hit for another label. According to Taylor, he based this song on the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday"; listen to both songs and the similarities are evident. Taylor is perhaps best known for being The Monkees' producer. It is to him that Davy Jones is heard saying, "what number is this Chip? Seven-A!", at the beginning of "Daydream Believer". Taylor, who is the brother of actor Jon Voight, also wrote the party anthem "Wild Thing". "Angel of The Morning" was revived in 1981 by Country singer Juice Newton. A few months later, she had an even bigger hit with "Queen Of Hearts." View the video online

          Wired For Sound - Cliff Richard (right)
          A tribute to the newly invented Sony Walkman, it celebrated what at the time was a genuine breakthrough in the world of portable hi-fi music. B.A. Robertson wrote this song with Alan Tarney. Robertson has written many international hits, including "Carrie" (also for Cliff Richard) and "The Living Years" for Mike & The Mechanics. He has also enjoyed chart success in Europe as an artist. His first solo single, "Bang Bang" (1979), achieved worldwide sales of over 1 million and reached No.2 in the UK. "Wired For Sound" made the Top 10 in many countries, including No.2 in South Africa and Australia. It was nominated for the 1981 Ivor Novello Song of the Year award.  View the video online

          Why Do Fools Fall In Love? - Diana Ross (right)
          "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" is the title song of Ross' 1981 album. It was the first album she recorded after leaving Motown Records for RCA. The album was also the first to be produced by the singer and she even co-wrote some songs on the LP, which became her second RIAA-certified platinum album after Diana. The hits on the album include the title track, the rock-flavoured "Mirror Mirror" and the Olivia Newton-John-like song, "Work That Body". A solo version of Ross' Lionel Richie duet, "Endless Love", is also featured.

          The song "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" was originally a hit single by New York City-based Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers in 1956. It helped to make Lymon a household name and rock'n'roll pioneer, paving the way for similar teen prodigies Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, whose careers also took off at the age of 13. With four key changes, the song was notably hard to sing. Lymon had long since died (due to a heroin overdose) and many people almost forgot that the song or Lymon ever existed. Like she had done with Billie Holiday and 'Lady Sings the Blues', she helped reintroduce newer audiences to Lymon. The song had also been used the Beach Boys as the B-side for their single "Fun, Fun, Fun" in 1964.  View the video online

          History Never Repeats - Split Enz (right)
          Split Enz became the first New Zealand band to achieve worldwide success. Tim Finn and Phil Judd founded the group in 1972 in Auckland. Initially, the band was a light acoustic combo called Split Ends. Finn and Judd were the main song-writing force in its early years. Judd drew his inspiration from a wild variety of often non-musical sources while Finn's tastes leaned toward British pop like The Beatles, The Kinks and The Move. The band's 1981 album, released in Australia only as Corroboree  and everywhere else as Waiata (Maori for `a gathering for a tribal dance') continued the winning streak that began with their previous album, True Colours. Although not as well received by some critics, the public had no such qualms, and it would be another Australian and New Zealand No.1 album, led by two top selling singles - Neil Finn's "One Step Ahead" and "History Never Repeats". Significantly though, the album's third single, written by Tim Finn, "I Don't Wanna Dance" failed to chart. View the video online

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