After the success of Chart Hits ’81, K-Tel decided to repeat the dose for Christmas 1982. There was a twist; namely in the form of comments penned by Jonathan King – English singer-songwriter, record producer, music entrepreneur, television and radio presenter. By now, King had moved to New York was regularly producing reports from there that would appear on Top Of The Pops. My big present that yuletide was the bulky Rothmans Football Yearbook 1982-1983. 13th edition. £6.50 cover price. Hours of statistical fun.
Chart Hits ’82 contains 33 tracks spread over two LPs which represents a decrease of five from the previous year. Nobody was complaining as that meant for fewer edits. As it was meant to represent the full year, invariably those of us who had shelled out for previous compilations found ourselves with 11 overlapping songs. The majority of these (nine) are on Volume 1. The lowdown on all of them:
Action Trax: Hall and Oates – I Can’t Go For That, Godley and Creme – Wedding Bells, Philip Lynott – Yellow Pearl, Tight Fight – The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Chart Busters ’82: Altered Images – I Could Be Happy. NB – Tight Fit’s Lion also turned up the second volume of Chart Busters.
Turbo Trax: Hot Chocolate – Girl Crazy*, Roxy Music – More Than This*, Bucks Fizz – My Camera Never Lies. *Also included on Ronco’s Overload.
Breakout: Boys Town Gang – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.
Chart Beat: Bad Manners – My Girl Lollipop.
Chart Attack: Haircut 100 – Nobody’s Fool.
Jonathan King’s star fell sharply in 2001 when he was convicted of sexually abusing five teenage boys during the 1980s. A most heinous crime. However, I do not propose to re-write history and exclude Chart Hits ’82 from my compilation reviews. With that in mind, I have decided to include his trite sleeve notes which now read like bland musings.
Hot Chocolate – Girl Crazy: “One of the most consistent yet underrated British talents and one of my favourite singles.”
Imagination – In The Heat Of The Night: “One of the biggest groups to emerge from Britain this year.”
Boys Town Gang – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You: “From our ‘World Cup Final’, look at the European No. 1s on Top Of The Pops. This transferred from Holland to Britain and the band’s from San Francisco.”
Hall and Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do): “Another hit we broke from the Top Of Tops US chart segment – one of America’s hottest names finally got a smash in Britain.”
Shakatak – Street Walking: “One of the best disco bands of the year.”
Linda Clifford – Red Light: “The phrase ‘Red Light’ has a number of meanings none of which we will talk about now.”
Eddy Grant – I Don’t Wanna Dance: “Ever since The Equals, Eddy Grant has been producing hits.”
The Piranhas – Zambezi: “One of the most unusual, bizarre and fun hits of 1982.”
Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust: “A great new group to come out of Britain.”
Roxy Music – More Than This: “Bryan Ferry is a personal favourite singer and I thought this was one of his best in ages.”
Altered Images – I Could Be Happy: “One of the exciting British acts to emerge recently.”
Philip Lynott – Yellow Pearl: “Top Of The Pops has been stronger and more popular than ever this year.”
Tight Fit – The Lion Sleeps Tonight: :”Who will forget this threesome as they frolicked on Top Of The Pops to their No. 1 hit?”
The Beat – Jeanette: “I love this record. It should have been a much bigger hit.”
Godley and Creme – Wedding Bells: :”10 years ago I discovered and named 10cc. Kev and Lol were part of that and they’re still making this.”
Haircut 100 – Nobody’s Fool: :”Silly, odd and highly commercial. Punk rock met Broadway and gave birth to a No. 1 smash!”
Joan Jett and The Black Hearts: “Broken out of our Top Of The Pops US chart segment – a No. 1 in America and a hot top 5 in Britain.”
Toto – Rosanna: “One of the best albums of 1982 – a huge hit in the USA which should have happened in the UK.”
Journey – Who’s Crying Now: “A great American hit by a great American act.”
Boomtown Rats – House On Fire: “One of the most pleasant surprises of the year was The Wall and how good Bob Geldof was in it.”
Philip Jap – Total Erasure: “Another UK artist to hit the charts.”
Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl: “This was my personal favourite disc of 1981 and I had to beg for its inclusion on this album so you can enjoy it too.”
Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra: “A great American No. 1 which almost made it in Britain too.”
Irene Cara – Fame: “Always a great track, it went to No. 1 thanks to the TV series.”
Bananarama featuring Fun Boy Three – Really Saying Something: “One of the best new bands to emerge out of Britain in 1982.”
Trio – Da Da Da: “We featured this weird hit in our Top Of The Pops look at European No. 1s and it broke big in the UK.”
Bucks Fizz – My Camera Never Lies: “Another enormous hit from the Eurovision winners of 1981.”
Bad Manners – My Girl Lollipop: “Which only goes to show you don’t need long hair to be a pop star.”
Sharon Redd – Never Give Up: “I predicted on Round Table that this would be a UK hit.”
Aretha Franklin – Jump To It: “My two favourite lady singers, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin.”
Melissa Manchester – You Should See How She Talks About You: “A strong American hit with a great melody and a very clever lyric.”
Air Supply – Even The Nights Are Better: “This Australian’s band’s popularity over the last two years has been absolutely staggering. They have eight consecutive top 5 hits.”
In the words of Roald Dahl, over to you. So what about Imagination then? Grab hold of the glorious boogie tune In The Heat Of The Night, also the title track of their second album. In lieu of a normal bass line, this track showcases the Roland TB-303 bass synthesiser instead. Also vying for funk glory were Shakatak with the seductive jazz of Street Walking. A total smoothie. Fame, fame, fatal fame: Linda Clifford’s banging Red Light taken from the movie soundtrack. Reggae wasn’t vile yet: the lovers skank of I Don’t Wanna Dance by Eddy Grant still gets me shuffling. Dig those horns! It’s the man with the golden trumpet, Bob Grover. Not a second wasted on the year’s ultimate dinner party tune. He’s on his way.
“Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo
Like some cat from Japan, he could lick ’em by smiling.”
Bauhaus do Bowie magnificently. Video shot in Camden Lock; memories of taking ages to get ready and dancing all night. Moving on, some light ska sounds by The Beat and the near-forgotten Jeanette. And then, a musical finale. Happy Talk is from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. It is sung by Bloody Mary to the American lieutenant Joe Cable. In the summer of ’82 it was covered by The Damned’s guitarist Captain Sensible with Dolly Mixture on backing vocals and Robyn Hitchcock on guitar. More memories: New Ross Musical Society’s annual performance every January all through the 80s.
I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll was my most treasured 7″ single of 1982. A ferocious guitar riff and a memorable video set in a dingy bar with Jett scaring me with her intensity. And then there’s the endless reworking of the lyrics into obscene schoolboy poetry. Hilarious when you’re 10. Rock on to Toto’s Rosanna. High heels, a fence, street lights and a killer outro. Next comes a kindred spirit, Journey’s atmospheric Who’s Crying Now. What’s interesting about these inclusions is the fact that they’re wholly based on their US rather than UK success and are entirely there due to Jonathan King’s influence. Rosanna wasn’t a hit until after Africa’s breakthrough in spring ’83 while Who’s Crying Now stalled at #46.
House On Fire sees the Boomtown Rats doing ska. Like a knock-off UB40. Of much more interest is Philip Jap’s sinister Total Erasure with its lively synth action and Prisoner-inspired video. After that brief interlude we go back across the Atlantic for Jessie’s Girl, Rick Springfield’s stirring ode to unrequited love. Rick was Australian but the song was massive in the USA. It wasn’t released in the UK until March 1984 and only made #43. Elsewhere the Steve Miller Band’s Abracadabra was a sizeable hit all over the world, its catchy magic formula proving irresistible. The UK single mix has never yet appeared on CD; an exclusive edit where the chorus is edited back in at 3:06 and repeats to fade.
After the broadcast of the Fame television series, Irene Cara’s theme song from the 1980 movie went all the way to the top of the UK charts during the summer of 1982. It had already won the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 1981 awards. A catchy cover of Really Saying Something was released as the first single from Bananarama’s debut album Deep Sea Skiving. Providing background vocals were Fun Boy Three, who had a hit with girl group earlier in the year with another cover, It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It). In a great piece of sequencing, Trio’s Casio-driven Da Da Da. We are the robots.
Never Give You Up: the experts say that this should be filed under post-disco. It’s heavy enough to get the lino out to; a breakdancer’s choice. Equally funky is Aretha Franklin’s frisky Jump To It, written and produced by Luther Vandross. Perfect for an ’80s soul weekender. There’s more American chart heat next; Melissa Manchester’s You Should Hear How She Talks About You, new wave bubblegum guitars. Or roller rinks, music stores, dances, cruising on the weekend, time spent with friends, etc. It won a Grammy in 1983. In keeping with the dominant theme, Volume 2 closes out with Air Supply’s blinding soft rock anthem Even The Nights Are Better. Expertly crafted. Now and forever.
History tells us that Chart Hits ’82 is the least-fondly remembered of the three releases. The 1981 instalment reached #1 in the album charts and was K-Tel’s sign that they could match Ronco in the BOGOF stakes. And as you’ll see next year, Chart Hits ’83 would prove to be a fine snapshot of pop’s greatest 12 months and a worthy challenge to new kid on the block, Now That’s What I Call Music. Notwithstanding such powerful competition, Chart Hits ’82 will always have a special place in my heart as a solid snapshot of the UK’s pop highlights along with unique peek at what was burning up the Billboard charts.
Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust
Shakatak – Street Walking
Joan Jett and The Black Hearts – I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll
Melissa Manchester – You Should Hear How She Talks About You
Lest we forget
Philip Jap – Total Erasure
And so K-Tel have their hand in compiling some of the best-known hits from a pivotal year in music.
(ALL versions of this song are great – beginning with Frankie Valli’s original. Another “standard” pop tune that everybody knows.)
Hall & Oates were great. Among my favourites:
Another “highpoint” tune for another US blue-eyed soul act that made the transatlantic crossover:
And another “holiday soundtrack” hit. A cliché, but this is a really great tune. No, really, it *is*!
No, on this side of the Atlantic, disco DIDN’T die.
And since you mentioned Shakatak and Melissa Mancunia then I don’t have to. Apparently MM also got a mention on TOTP on the week she peaked on the Billboard singles chart. I see they tried to add some lashings of Billboard to this compilation. So that explains the presence of blue-eyed soul/AOR/MOR acts that were riding high in the US during this period when the US pop music scene was trying to find its feet again after disco was publicly shunned*.
*Not that I am criticising these acts, they could still churn out good tunes at this period. But it would have to take MTV picking up Britain’s post-punk acts and playing their videos to shake up the Billboard charts again.
Thanks Cosmo, I think the Billboard chart was almost like a parallel universe in 1981/82. Certainly very little crossover in US / UK compilations aside from this.
This was a Christmas present so I will always have a soft spot for this pair, even if Volume 1 always got much more airplay given that it had more actual hits and less in the way of American obscurities dished up seemingly on JK’s say so.
Not that Volume 1 is perfect – I think everyone is aware by now of my hatred of Shakatak. And there are some gems on Volume 2 – it made me aware of the brilliant ‘Rosanna’ before it was a hit, Trio and the Fizz are on there and there’s also the second different non-hit version of ‘You Should Hear….’ in consecutive years! I could do without the likes of Air Supply and Journey though….
Cheers Andy, my preference is for Volume 2 purely because of the thrill of the unfamiliar…. Rosanna is a classic.
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Just stumbled on your blog. Was intrigued as I’ve just picked up this compilation in vinyl in a charity shop for €2. Now sitting alongside my ‘held on to since youth’ Chart Hits 81.
Great write up, I’ll be reading more of your posts for sure 🙂 Thanks for giving the memories a stir
Thanks very much, glad you’re enjoying it. There’s nothing like compilations of our childhood to bring back the memories. I have two more 1982 albums to feature (next post is 7 January) and then I’ll tackle 1983.
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Have only ever owned this on cassette and not vinyl so have never had an opportunity to read the commentary on each track by Jonathon King so thanks for sharing this here.
For some reason on both cassettes Side 1 is the shorter of the two and the inlay makes reference to there being a “Run Off” at the end of Side One. Wonder why they didn’t add an extra track to pad out the running time and/or have an equal number on both sides.
Zambezi has always been a favourite of mine but I’ve never been sure did The Piranhas ever include it on an album or was it a “Standalone” single?
Jeanette was also a huge favourite of mine at one point but from what I heard the album which it came off of wasn’t too successful. Are you familiar with that album at all?
Hi Martin, that’s always annoyed me too. The vinyl has much wider grooves for side 1 – should have been sequenced a bit better.
The Piranhas did have an album which predated the two hits – came out in 1980.
That Beat album – Special Beat Service is my favourite of theirs. Great 2CD reissue out.
Hello again Paul
Once again thanks for an interesting response. I have the cassette version earlier Piranhas album (self titled) although it definatley doesn’t contain Zambezi.
Will have to listen to “Special Beat Service” and see what I think of it.
There’s a couple of other Ktel compilations where the track order differed slightly between the LP and the cassette. Presumably to avoid a situation whereby there is a long gap at the end of one side. An earlier compilation called “High Energy” is one example. Have you ever heard that one?
There’s a US High Energy and also a German one – what’s the sleeve like?
Have been listening to Abracadabra a lot over the last few weeks on the journey into work. Must say I do prefer the single version which repeats the chorus over the album version which seems to be the preferred choice for compilations. I didnt realise the single version had never actually come out on CD.
Out of interest have you ever heard the album it comes off of (also called Abracadabra)?
I like the album Martin – the title track is the best thing on it though.
I don’t think I have that album in my collection so will have to make a point of locating a copy and then listening to it.
I’m a huge fan of 1982. Every country had its own compilation albums released in 1981-82 or 1982. I would watch Count Down with Molly Meldrum and Sounds, and now watch Rage and have collected over 160 music videos to do with 1982. I’m meticulous when it comes to actual songs that were released in late 1981 and still in the charts in early 1982, songs released in 1982 and songs released in late 1982 and still in the charts in early 1983. To explain, I was 12 and got my first tape recorder, and had a lot of freedom at the time for a 12 year old hanging out with my best friend -still have the photos. Even as a kid I really appreciated how many Australian bands had some of the best songs released in 1981-82!
Hi Kasvou and thanks for the comment – I am the same way with 1983/1984 songs as I was at a similar age. Amazing the memories those tunes evoke & stay with you forever.