Chart Wars (Ronco, 1982)

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Review
Ronco’s Chart Wars entered the Christmas compilation market during mid-November 1982. “May the hits be with you” was the tagline on the front cover, with a new romantic couple wielding lasers. Star Wars made its UK television premiere on Sunday October 24 1982 at 7:15pm (ITV) and would later become a regular fixture in their 1980s Christmas / New Year holiday lineup. It was broadcast again on Sunday December 30 1984 at 2:45 pm, Thursday January 1 1987 at 1:15 pm, and Friday January 1 1988 at 6:45 pm. Excitement…

1982 was the year of Rio, Duran Duran’s most ambitious album. The title track starts us off here, all 4:40 of it fully intact. Director Russell Mulcahy filmed the music video which featured iconic images of the band in Antony Price suits, singing and playing around on a yacht speeding over the crystal blue Caribbean Sea. All set on Antigua. And speaking of tropical things, Kid Creole’s delicious Latin groover Stool Pigeon follows, a funky tribute to 1940s gangsters. Meanwhile four songs on this LP had already featured on Chart Hits ’82: Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust, Sharon Redd – Never Give You Up, The Piranhas featuring Bob Grover – Zambezi, Eddy Grant – I Don’t Wanna Dance.

Classix Nouveau’s The End Or The Beginning came with a video shoot outside Southwark Cathedral and still thrills now. It’s followed by Thomas Dolby’s Magnus Pyke-guesting Michael Jackson favourite She Blinded Me With Science. Massive in the US, #49 in the UK. Moving on, the Boys Town Gang hit similarly lowly heights (#50) with a competent cover of Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours). And making it an unremarkable chart sequence, there’s Scarlet Party’s super new wave power pop of 101 Damnations. The gap between The Jam and Oasis which stalled at #44. Time for it to finally get pop justice.

Making their debut in October were two guys known as Wham! They were invited on to Top Of The Pops despite being outside the top 40 threshold, as a last-minute replacement for another act which couldn’t appear. Young Guns (Go For It!), a breezy story of girlfriend vs best mate eventually climbed into the top 3. And it was third time lucky for Japan’s Life In Tokyo, originally penned with Giorgio Moroder in 1979. We get the Special Remix as played by Alan Partridge on Radio Norwich. (“That was Japan. The effeminate futurists, from the 80s. With Life Can Be Cruel in Tokyo. It’s certainly congested. I’d love to go.”)

The under-achievers continue with Dracula’s Tango, Toto Coelo’s Boney-M meets Bow Wow Wow (#54). Then a Balearic classic, Carly Simon’s Why, produced by Nile Rodgers for the film Soup For One. Bittersweet with a slice of reggae. Plus a melancholic synth pop monster from A Flock Of Seagulls – Wishing (I Had A Photograph Of You) and Talk Talk’s hypnotic eponymous single. Soon after Tight Fit’s second LP came out, members Julie Harris and Denise Gyngell departed and were replaced by two other ladies to re-record (and promote) the I’m Undecided single. It does not appear to have made the UK top 75; a shame for such an uncannily accurate ABBA pastiche. Slipping through their fingers.

Gwen Guthrie’s It Should Have Been You gets the feet moving but it’s sadly truncated at 2:19. Meanwhile the closing track, the appalling Save Your Love from Renée and Renato became 1982’s Christmas #1. Two steps back: to Dollar’s sublime Videotheque and what has been described by Marcello Carlin as “The greatest and bleakest pop single ever made. They met, loved, parted and now exist only as ghosts on either side of a perceived screen. I repeat, Bazar’s concluding descent of ‘only ghosts are lovers on the screen’ in tandem with J J Jeczalik’s Fairlight is the most chilling vocal in the history of pop.”. One of Trevor Horn’s finest ever productions, a retro-futuristic portal into virtual reality.

And that’s all from me for 2016. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Favourite tracks
Carly Simon – Why

Japan – Life In Tokyo (Special Remix)

Dollar – Videotheque

Lest we forget
Scarlet Party – 101 Damnations

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9 Responses to Chart Wars (Ronco, 1982)

  1. andynoax says:

    Someone I know has this, but it’s not one that shows up very often. Some of the non-hits on here sound quite intriguing, especially the Tight Fit song. The Thomas Dolby tune should have been huge, of course.

    ‘Videotheque’ gets a lot of love these days. Strange given that I had no recollection of it from the time. I do like it but it can’t beat ‘Hand Held In Black And White’ for genius if you ask me.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Definitely not a big seller in Ireland anyway – compared to its contemporaries. You see a lot more copies of K-Tel’s Street Scene which came out around the same time. The Trevor Horn productions of Dollar are sublime. Love The Buggles’ version of Videotheque too.

  2. Pingback: Street Scene (K-Tel, 1982) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  3. Pingback: Super Chart ’83 Volumes 1 and 2 (Telstar, 1983) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  4. suzy says:

    You’ve written Scarlet Fantastic, instead of Scarlet Party in your write up lollll
    Your mostky right about dollars videotheque one of the most modern production pieces of any pop music era and eerie too.

  5. Pingback: Raiders Of The Pop Charts (K-Tel, 1984) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  6. siouzey says:

    I hope you didn’t mind that correction lol, I didn’t mean to appear ded rude or anything? As I really like your site, its’ amazing all the memories your giving back to us regarding all these marvellous compos luv xxoo siouxzey 🙂

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