It was May 1983. The days were getting warmer. Aberdeen had just won the European Cup Winners Cup by beating the mighty Real Madrid 2-1. Before, after and through half time, 10 Point Wembley was the order of the garden. A book called The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and 3/4 was doing the rounds in our school. I was about twelfth in line. The Irish police were cracking down on Dublin’s pirate radio stations with equipment seized from Radio Nova, Kiss FM and Radio Sunshine. There was a new Ronco compilation in the shops. Buy one, get one free. And for the third time in a row:
THE TRACKS CONTAINED IN THIS ALBUM ARE THE COMPLETE UNEDITED SINGLE VERSIONS AS ORIGINALLY RECORDED.
Chart Encounters Of The Third Kind concentrates on the spring of 1983. 30 new tracks to savour with none of them overlapping with previous collections. First out of the blocks are Culture Club, bringing the house down with the superb Church Of The Poison Mind. It’s driving pop tune with quality backing vocals from Helen Terry. We rock down to Electric Avenue, Eddy Grant’s gritty streetwise Brixton boogie. But the traffic goes the wrong way for Belle Stars as the ordinary Sweet Memory misses the top 20 while Bob Grover’s skank rock Easy Come, Easy Go fails to make any impression. Thank the Lord for Depeche Mode who restore equilibrium with the delightfully melodic Get The Balance Right.
There’s good vibes all day long when Chill Fac-torr’s Twist (Round ‘N’ Round) blasts out out the speakers. An uplifting jazzy delight. Like night and day, the contrast of Joe Jackson’s Breaking Us In Two. A fan: “The video speaks tons to me…I just wanna feel so happy and cry at the same time seeing those overcast grey skies and cobblestones in a very familiar industrial English town. Sting’s work also has the same effect on me. Talking about steel mills and shipyards, why does industrial England resonate so much to me? I love the quality of towns/cities especially in Europe retaining its old charm for decades/centuries not ever-changing at all, unlike what fast changes the world has gone to now. I revisit artist’s works like these just so I wouldn’t feel lost in today’s world.”
Another world: Toto’s Africa. The one with the explosive chorus and the 7″ picture disc shaped like the continent. An ’83 staple. Fast forward to Nick Heyward’s solo debut, the stirring Whistle Down The Wind. A ghost story for March. More: Joan Armatrading’s terrific Drop The Pilot before the groove kicks in.
#1 Mezzoforte – Garden Party. All the way from Iceland, a jazz funk classic, worthy of its place among British contemporaries.
#2 I-Level – Minefield. A delightful slice of soul goodness.
#3 Grace Jones – My Jamaican Guy. Classic avant-garde directed jerkiness.
Side 2 signs off with Haysi Fantayzee’s party flavour Shiny Shiny followed by Phil Collins devastating ballad (another one!) Don’t Let Him Steal You Heart Away.
Volume 2 keeps the momentum going. The Thompson Twins bring more clues to the table on the puzzling We Are Detective. Quick step to premier goth rockers Bauhaus and their grinding She’s In Parties before the fat soul sound of David Joseph’s You Can’t Hide. Robert Palmer drops another taut groove with the zoned out You Are In My System while Prince Charles gives us a royal treat on the ace Cash (Cash Money). Northern disco: The Band AKA and the gorgeous Joy. It’s second time around for 4AD’s Colourbox and the enhanced Breakdown (Version 2) which comes with a new vocal from Lorita Grahame. One of my favourites on the label – check out the mini LP with the horse on the front and pump up the volume. And in the best possible taste – Kenny Everett’s hilarious Snot Rap.
“You can chuck in a word like circumcision, ‘coz we ain’t going in for Eurovision.”
Getting better: Madness’ resigned Tomorrow’s Just Another Day. And then Telegraph, the brilliant second single from Dazzle Ships. See Chart Runners for more on that classic LP. Elsewhere U2 go for raw power on the searing Two Hearts Beat As One. As they played Red Rocks (the greatest concert movie ever), I played a league final on a sunny O’Kennedy Park. The technology may be ancient but Pete Shelley’s Telephone Operator still rocks. Go back to 1798 for the solemn sonorities of Louise Tucker’s Midnight Blue which is based on Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8. Skip the horror ham of Julian Clerc’s Lili and bask in the moody Nightmares, a pop injustice for A Flock Of Seagulls. #53 with a bullet. Wishing. . .
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Telegraph
U2 – Two Hearts Beat As One
Joe Jackson – Breaking Us In Two
Mezzoforte – Garden Party
Lest we forget
I-Level – Minefield
You picked two belters in I Level and one of my personal favourites, Mezzoforte, so I don’t have to.
Apart from that:
Culture Club – Church of the Poison Mind
Chill Factor – Twist (Round & Round) [Another track I own on 7″ vinyl.]
Joan Armatrading – Drop the Pilot (exhilirating stuff!)
David Joseph – You Can’t Hide (Your Love from Me) [I’d say the UK picked up the disco baton when the US let it lie.]
Robert Palmer – You Are In My System
The Band A.K.A. – Joy
Prince Charles – Cash (Cash Money)
Cuddly Ken (legend!) – Snot Rap [Also got this on 7″. In the BEST POSSIBLE TASTE!]
Madness – Tomorrow’s Just Another Day (To me, this vies with The Sun & The Rain for the best Nutty Boys chart hit of 1983.)
Bubbling under: Eddy Grant, Toto, and Colourbox.
This is one that I’d like to get 2nd hand sooner or later, and unlike some others you’ve reviewed recently, I have seem these discs occasionally.
A bit like ‘Raiders Of The Pop Charts’, there are a fair few that didn’t hit the Top 40 but just like that collection, most of them are very good.
I think you’re a bit harsh on the Belle Stars song, I think it’s rather good (though admittedly not a patch on ‘Sign Of The Times’) and I remember that ‘Snot Rap’ was I think the second single I ever bought on 7″.
When placed against Sign Of The Times, I think it shows up as ordinary. Thinking about it – if it was released beforehand, it would have come across as a better tune.
I bought this off ebay a couple of years ago. They were absolutely immaculate which amazed me. The sleeves looked as if they were brand new. I felt song wise it was a bit hit and miss with the start of the 4th side the best few songs. I did enjoy hearing a few tracks I hadn’t really encountered before including the Phil Collins song (don’t think it was on his best of from the end of the 90s). The other plus with these compilations was they were always good for the random song choices that haven’t really appeared on many of the newer 80s compilations.
Saw a pristine copy in a local charity shop last year too – wonder what the deal was? Yes, these compilations are great for a two / three month snapshot of the charts. Because they were so frequent, they’re very comprehensive in what they cover. The Nows and Hits did a good job but had a much wider period to encompass so invariably they missed out on the top 40 “breakers”.
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No problem, go ahead. Please send me the link when it is up.
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