Released today in 1985: System Addict


Tent PB40515

The release of System Addict provided evidence that Romford’s answer to the Jackson Five weren’t just inspired by Michael Jackson’s music, his vocal techniques and his dance moves, they were inspired by his commercial strategies too. It was the seventh single from their album Luxury Of Life; Jackson had taken the same number from his most recent album Thriller in America. His British record company only chanced six of those as singles here, so Five Star had actually gone one step further Jackson with their seven, and he was promoting the biggest selling album of the 1980s. One of the advantages of having your own label, I suppose, which with Tent, Five Star had.

Jackson’s sister Janet equalled Five Star’s effort by the end of 1987 when her record company, A&M, took a seventh single from her album Control in the UK. (In the US, they stopped at six.) But eighteen months later, Jackson himself set a new record: he took eight of the ten songs on Bad (nine of eleven songs, if you had the CD version) as singles. It took two years to release those nine singles, the resultant publicity keeping the album in the chart for 108 consecutive weeks. As there was more profit to made in the sale of an album, keeping that album in the news via a string of hit singles was a shrewd business move, but of course this could only be done if there were sufficient radio-friendly tracks on the album to lift from it as singles in the first place. Few other albums in the eighties were plundered for quite so many singles. Other albums containing six UK singles during the decade included

  • George Michael’s Faith (Epic, November 1987) – it took eighteen months to release all six singles, and the album remained in the chart for all but a handful of weeks in that time;
  • Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl (Siren, October 1988) – it took over two years to release the singles, with some being issued more than once in that period due to disappointing sales the first time around. The album only charted for a few weeks at a time when the singles were selling;
  • Whitney Houston’s Whitney Houston (Arista, August 1985) – the album, a classic of sorts, failed to chart in the UK when first released as its early singles weren’t hits: it started to sell when Saving All My Love For You made #1 at the end of 1985. The last of the six singles was released a few months later (it took just a year to release all of them), but the LP remained on the album chart long after the last single exited the chart in June 1986;
  • Def Leppard’s Hysteria (Bludgeon Riffola, August 1987) – eighteen months to release the singles, but again the album continued to sell steadily after radio airplay had died down;

and Five Star (again), with their second album Silk And Steel. The singles they took from Silk And Steel did much better than those from Luxury Of Life, with five of them making the Top 10. Only one of the singles from Luxury Of Life made the Top 10, and somewhat surprisingly – given it was the last of them – that was System Addict. It remains one of their best-known songs, and was re-mixed for re-issue in 2005.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 30
SINITTA I Could Be (Midas MID4)
EURYTHMICS It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back) (RCA PB40375)
FIVE STAR System Addict (Tent PB40515)
KING (Paul King) Torture (CBS A6761)
SADE (Sade Adu) Is It A Crime (Epic A6742)


Released today in 1987: New Sensation


Mercury INXS9

“Collectors’ edition poster bag versions on 7” and 12” containing full colour doubled sided band poster, also available on ordinary 7” and 12”,” declared the initial press adverts for this eleventh British single from INXS. Mercury were going all-out with merchandising to make sure this time the band had a major hit in the UK, given none of their previous singles had quite made it. In the band’s native Australia their new album Kick (probably the best of their career) had been an immediate hit and there was no reason to think it wouldn’t finally break them in the UK too. But lead single Need You Tonight had continued the pattern in Britain of minor hits, and so this time as well as the formats listed in the advert mentioned, a 7” picture disc, a CD single and a 12” single featuring a previously unreleased alternate mix of New Sensation would also be made available to maximize the opportunity to influence purchasers. It worked: it was their first Top 40 hit here.

Early INXS singles in the UK had been available only on standard 7” and 12” singles in picture sleeves. There had been some creative marketing: the title track of their fifth single I Send A Message inspired the production of a special outer cover shaped like an envelope, with a postcard and information sheets accompanying the standard 7” inside, and all four singles taken from the album Listen Like Thieves were available as limited edition double-packs to attract sales, although this promotional technique had been outlawed (see the earlier article on chart hyping) by the time of Kick’s appearance. But there were all sorts of other techniques used by record companies to make the product look attractive, and during the 1980s most of the commonly available formats were used by Mercury for INXS singles, including:

Variations in size, shape and colour of vinyl
Traditionally, singles were seven inches in diameter, round, and black. But they didn’t have to be. The most common variation was the 12” single (a discussion of which can be found in the earlier article about them), and with the exception of I Send A Message, all INXS singles in the UK from their second release Don’t Change onward were available on that size of record. Rarer but still made by all the major record companies was the 10” single, the first single from INXS appearing on that size being Devil Inside. Their next 10”, Never Tear Us Apart, was also pressed in white vinyl, changing the colour of the disc being a frequently used gimmick. Picture discs (usually a paper image contained within two sides of a transparent vinyl record) were another popular option for making a release stand out on the record racks, and were usually housed in a clear PVC sleeve rather than the usual paper ones. Listen Like Thieves was the first INXS picture disc in the UK, and that also changed the shape of the record itself. It was marketed as a 7” single but was cut into a flag shape. Shaped discs generally had the usual 7” circular playing area, but had been pressed from a larger piece of vinyl which was cut to the desired shaped around it. The shape had to be kept to a maximum of twelve inches wide or the manufacturer risked creating a disc that wouldn’t turn on the purchaser’s record deck.

Paper ephemera
Originally, singles came in plain, die-cut sleeves or paper bags with the issuing record company’s logos on them. Occasionally, advertisements for other products might appear on the bags. But by the 1980s it was usual for singles to come in a picture sleeve with photos of the act concerned on the front, and maybe the lyrics of the lead track on the reverse. There were a number of variations possible with the record’s sleeve. Some sleeves were printed on large pieces of paper designed to fold into a bag for the record, but when unfolded were poster-sized and revealed a large image of the artist. As indicated at the top of this article, New Sensation used poster sleeves for limited editions of its 7” and 12” versions. The re-issue of Need You Tonight in 1988 came in a special ‘magic pack’ which unfolded to reveal images of all the band members. Another type of sleeve was the gatefold, which opened up book-style. Usually printed for practical purposes (double albums where there were two discs to house), INXS used one for aesthetic reasons on a limited edition of the 12” of Never Tear Us Apart. Other paper goods used for INXS releases were cards and stickers (inserted in the pack for the Mystify single) and postcards (Devil Inside, and the previously mentioned I Send A Message).

Other sound carrying media
The 8-track cartridge was obsolete by the time Kick was released, but cassettes were popular with music buyers at that time and compact discs were growing in popularity. It was the latter format that Mercury favoured for INXS, with all the singles from Kick being made available on CD. Initially, most record companies used the 3” CD format for singles on compact disc, reserving the standard 5” disc for albums. Difficulty with playing the smaller discs made them unpopular with consumers (most people had to clip them inside an adaptor to play them, and the adaptors sometimes jammed in the players), and in any case they were unattractive, cover art having to be reduced to in size and losing all its impact. INXS’s CD singles were the 5” ones. The last three INXS singles of the 1980s were also issued on the CDV (compact disc video) format. These held audio content and could be played like a compact disc, but could also hold five minutes of video content. This was ideal for including all the sound media from the regular CD, plus the promotional clip filmed for the single. CDVs never took off though, as most people didn’t have the hardware to play them and weren’t about to pay the prohibitive price to get it. As for cassettes: INXS did not issue cassingles in Britain during the 1980s. One was manufactured, for the What You Need single, but this was given away free with the 7”.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 29
DEPARTMENT S Is Vic There? (Demon D1003)
DEAD OR ALIVE (Pete Burns) Something In My House (Epic BURNS1)
BANGLES Walking Down Your Street (CBS BANGS1)
Kylie MINOGUE I Should Be So Lucky (PWL PWL8)
INXS (Michael Hutchence) New Sensation (Mercury INXS9)

Today in 1987

TwitterAnd so the run-up to Christmas really begins, with the cover of Smash Hits for the fortnight ending 15th December 1987 showing Wet Wet Wet enjoying some festive fun. “We are here to ‘discuss’ the meaning of this thing they call Christmas, to fondly recall those cherished past memories, to conjure those visions of Old Aunty Mildred being sick in the ‘plum’ pudding, etc,” explained Sylvia Patterson in the introduction to the article inside. Most of the memories the band shared with her were about childhood Christmas gifts, seasonal television programmes, and a little about music: family singsongs, hymns at midnight mass, carol singing (and Tommy Cunningham’s family playing his drum kit at four in the morning).

Elsewhere in the magazine there were other yuletide references. Adverts for new singles included Christmas In Hollis by Run-DMC (“Xmas chill,” as London records described it) and releases by Five Star (Somewhere Somebody, available in a special gatefold advent calendar sleeve) and Samantha Fox (True Devotion, available in a box with a Christmas card, a balloon and bedside calendar). The singles reviewed included Bad News’s Cashing In On Christmas (well, at least they admitted it); Rick Astley’s cover of When I Fall In Love (he wasn’t admitting cashing in, despite the poster of him on the back page all but roasting his chestnuts on an open fire); The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale Of New York; and the song that would be that year’s Christmas #1, Always On My Mind by Pet Shop Boys. The charity compilation album A Very Special Christmas (from which the Run-DMC single was taken) was also reviewed in the same issue.

All the singles mentioned were already in the shops before this issue of Smash Hits had gone to print. The run-up to Christmas led to a period of winding down for the record industry in the UK during the 1980s, the major labels having put out their best shots at the top of the charts earlier in the month. Accordingly, there are a number of days during this month where there are no releases to list, this being one of them.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 15
No release scheduled for this date.

Released today in 1985: Last Christmas


Epic WHAM1

Which half of the 1980s produced the best pop music? There was plenty of good stuff from both of the periods 1980 – 1984 and 1985 – 1989, of course. But the songs that the decade is most closely associated with are probably those million-selling singles that everyone remembers. 20 singles first released in the 1980s have to date sold over a million copies each in the UK, and interestingly the vast majority were first issued in the earlier half of the decade.

Just three were first released in the UK in the late ‘80s, and two of those owe much to the early part of the decade. Jennifer Rush’s The Power Of Love was first issued on her album Jennifer Rush on 2 March 1984 in Germany, and released as a single there in the same year. Her career wasn’t launched in Britain until 1985. Black Box’s Ride On Time relied heavily on sampled vocals and instrumental sections from Loleatta Holloway’s 1980 hit Love Sensation, so might also be considered a product of the early part of the decade. The only song definitely composed in the second half of the ‘80s is The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York; Shane MacGowan talked about the song’s composition in the Christmas edition of Melody Maker in 1985, although it wasn’t ready for release then. It underwent a number of changes before it was finally recorded in 1987. It should be noted that it reached #2 when first released and was some way off selling a million at the time; it is only recently that it has achieved this, through seasonal re-issues and the inclusion of digital download sales in the last few years.

In release date order, the 20 best-selling singles in Britain first released in the 1980s are:

Stand And Deliver by Adam And The Ants (1981)
Tainted Love by Soft Cell (1981)
Don’t You Want Me? by The Human League (1981)
The Lion Sleeps Tonight by Tight Fit (1982)
Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor (1982)
Fame by Irene Cara (1982)
Come On Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners and The Emerald Express (1982)
Blue Monday by New Order (1983)
Karma Chameleon by Culture Club (1983)
Uptown Girl by Billy Joel (1983)
Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1983)
Two Tribes by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1984)
Careless Whisper by George Michael (1984)
Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Junior (1984)
I Just Called To Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder (1984)
Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid (1984)
Last Christmas/Everything She Wants by Wham! (1984)
The Power Of Love by Jennifer Rush (1985)
Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl (1987)
Ride On Time by Black Box (1989)

NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 9
VISAGE (Steve Strange) In The Year 2025 (Polydor POSP660)
WHAM! Last Christmas [Re-issue] (Epic WHAM1)

Released today in 1983: Victims

Virgin VS641

Virgin VS641

Virgin provided the public with two new opportunities to buy Culture Club’s track Victims on 28 November 1983. The song was already available before that date on the group’s album Colour By Numbers, but those who didn’t want a whole album of Culture Club songs could now purchase Victims as a 7” single or as the final track on a various artists compilation album called Now, That’s What I Call Music – both were released on the same day.

Jon Webster, co-creator of the ‘Now’ series, said in a 2014 interview: 1 “I was working in marketing at Virgin back then. We had hits coming out of our ears: we were the top-selling singles label in the country.” Smash Hits’ choice of cover stars backed this statement up: over two dozen Virgin acts appeared on the cover on the magazine during the 1980s, and there are 171 singles from the label listed on If You Were There – more than any other company. (No other has more than 100 titles listed, in fact.) Webster’s colleague Stephen Navin: “By the 1980s, Virgin was becoming a real force. The Human League had had a monster hit with Dare, their third album, and Phil Collins was huge, as were Culture Club and Mike Oldfield. The company was firing on all cylinders, nudging up against the majors, and the setting up of ‘Now’ was the apotheosis of this rise. It made 1983 our Annus Mirabilis.”

So hot was Virgin at the time that the first volume of the ‘Now’ series could have comprised only artists from that label. As it was, the track listing was dominated by Virgin artists, including, in addition to those Navin mentioned Genesis, Heaven 17, Malcolm McLaren, Rock Steady Crew, and Simple Minds. Virgin also distributed the labels Men Without Hats and UB40 were signed to, two more acts who were included. But what was unusual about ‘Now’ was that Virgin had teamed up with another label, EMI, to jointly release the collection. EMI acts featured were Duran Duran, Kajagoogoo and Limahl, and its subsidiary Capitol released the singles by Tina Turner and Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack that were featured. EMI also handled distribution for Island (represented on the album by Will Powers) and Stiff (Tracey Ullman and Madness).

The idea of record companies joining forces to release a various artists album themselves was an unusual idea: until the ‘Now’ series, most of these compilations were issued by budget labels who licenced specific tracks from record companies to include on a record. (Often, popular songs would be re-recorded by an in-house orchestra employed by the issuing label, rather than using the hit recording by the original artist.) Webster said that “compilation albums were cheap and nasty things with black and yellow sleeves. They were mostly 20 Top Hits! or collections of as-seen-on-TV music from companies like K-tel. Supermarkets sold loads of them.” It was being overwhelmed with requests from these budget companies to buy tracks that inspired the team at Virgin to create a collection they would put out themselves, and involving EMI increased the range of material they had access to. They also licenced specific songs from the other major companies: volume 1 of ‘Now’ featured Howard Jones and Rod Stewart, appearing with the permission of WEA group companies; KC And The Sunshine Band, Men At Work, Bonnie Tyler and Paul Young, via the CBS group; and The Cure and New Edition via PolyGram. The latter company joined up with EMI and Virgin from volume 8 of the ‘Now’ series in 1986, but WEA and CBS initially decided against joining the fold. Instead, they teamed up to launch their own rival series to ‘Now’, called The Hits Album, the first volume of which was released on 19 November 1984. (A shorter-lived series called Out Now was launched the following year, a joint effort between MCA and Chrysalis.)

Thereafter, quality ‘various artists’ albums became an important part of the market, so much so that chart compilers Gallup decided to remove them from the album chart in 1989 and list them in their own, separate ‘compilations’ chart. But the most prolific and biggest selling was still the ‘Now’ series. In the 1980s, there were 22 further volumes to the series as follows:

♬ Now, That’s What I Call Music II (26 March 1984)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 3 (23 July 1984)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 4 (26 November 1984)
♬ Now Dance – The 12″ Mixes (20 May 1985)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 5 (5 August 1985)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music – The Christmas Album – 18 Original Christmas Hits (18 November 1985)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 6 (25 November 1985)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music – The Summer Album – 30 Summer Hits (6 July 1986)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 7 (11 August 1986)
♬ Now Dance ‘86 (27 October 1986)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music ’86 (27 October 1986)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 8 (24 November 1986)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 9 (23 March 1987)
♬ Now! Smash Hits (21 September 1987)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 10 (23 November 1987)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 11 (21 March 1988)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 12 (11 July 1988)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 13 (21 November 1988)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 14 (20 March 1989)
♬ Now Dance 89 – 20 Smash Dance Hits (The 12″ Mixes) (3 July 1989)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 15 (14 August 1989)
♬ Now That’s What I Call Music 16 (20 November 1989)

Now! Smash Hits was a tie-in with Smash Hits, featuring many of the artists who had appeared on the cover of the magazine during the 1980s. Those included who hadn’t were Michael Jackson (who didn’t make the cover until October 1990), Queen (although David Bowie, who appeared with them on the track that was featured, did appear on the cover twice during the decade), and Hue And Cry.

Worldwide sales of ‘Now’ titles now exceed 100 million copies. “For a lot of people, the full title, Now That’s What I Call Music, is a bit of a mouthful. But having the word NOW – those three big capital letters shouting out from the album sleeve – is a pretty arresting image,” said Navin. “And it’s gone into history as the most successful and longest-lasting compilation series ever. Would it have been so big under another name? My guess is yes – Virgin was so hot, and EMI was a massive force. It raised the bar in terms of what a compilation album was, and of course that first one made an ideal Christmas present.”

Volume 92 is out at the end of this week.

1 Stevens, Jenny. “How we made … Now That’s What I Call Music”, The Guardian, Guardian Media Group, 9 December 2014.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Nov. 28
ADAM ANT Antmusic (CBS CBS9352)
FRANTIC ELEVATORS (Mick Hucknall) You Know What You Told Me (Eric’s ERICS006)
Holly JOHNSON Hobo Joe (Eric’s ERICS007)
Hazel O’CONNOR Time (Albion ION1006)
SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES (Siouxsie Sioux) Israel (Polydor POSP205)
SKIDS Women In Winter (Virgin CHEAP11)
VISAGE (Steve Strange) Fade To Grey (Polydor POSP194)
CULTURE CLUB Victims (Virgin VS641)
Malcolm McLAREN Duck For The Oyster (Charisma MALC4)
UB40 Many Rivers To Cross (DEP International DEP9)
BON JOVI (Jon Bon Jovi) Born To Be My Baby (Vertigo JOV4)
Bobby BROWN My Prerogative (MCA MCA1299)
Neneh CHERRY Buffalo Stance (Circa YR21)
Kylie MINOGUE and Jason DONOVAN Especially For You (PWL PWL24)

Released today in 1985: Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves

RCA PB40339

RCA PB40339

It was once suggested that the three most influential and powerful people in Britain during the 1980s were women: the Queen, Elizabeth II; the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher; and consumer rights champion and charity campaigner Esther Rantzen. But in the British music industry during that time, to what extent were sisters indeed “doin’ it for themselves”?

The biggest selling single of the period was released almost exactly half-way through the decade. The Band Aid charity effort Do They Know It’s Christmas? first appeared in the shops on 3 December 1984 and sold more than a quarter of a million copies in its first three days. Surprisingly few women were involved in the recording. The song was written by men, produced by men, and all the solo vocalists were men. In fact, of the 37 performers on the track, there were just four women: Jody Watley and the three members of Bananarama. (Although when the call for the ladies’ vocals to be recorded was given, Keren Woodward allegedly quipped, “Coming, Marilyn?”) This wasn’t unrepresentative of the British music scene at the time. Most of senior posts in the industry were held by men, the biggest selling records were by men, and the music press focused primarily on the work of male musicians and performers. The latter was certainly true of the ‘serious’ music press (NME and the like), but was also true of the pop end of the market – of the 41 pop stars who appeared on the cover of Smash Hits during the same year, 35 were men.

The following year, 1985, there were signs of a change – in some respects, at least. While ALL the stars on the cover of Smash Hits that year were men, in the charts women were having more of an impact. Madonna placed an astonishing eight singles in the Top 5 during the year, one of which was the third-biggest selling single of the year. The singles that beat her were also by women. The top seller was Jennifer Rush, whose The Power Of Love made her the first woman to sell a million copies of a single in the UK. She was followed by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson, their I Know Him So Well being that rarest of things, a hit duet between two women. It had topped the singles chart for four weeks at the beginning of the year. Over in the year-end albums chart, three of the ten top-selling ‘artist’ albums were by female soloists. Madonna’s Like A Virgin was at #3, but she wasn’t yet in full control of her recordings: Nile Rodgers produced the album and Madonna didn’t receive a writing credit for either of its biggest singles. Alison Moyet co-wrote all but one of the songs on her album Alf, the seventh-biggest seller of the year, but again she did not produce it. It wasn’t until the ninth biggest seller that a woman who wrote and produced her own music could be found: Kate Bush wrote, recorded and produced all the material on her album Hounds Of Love at her home studio in Welling.

Bush had already broken some ground for female soloists earlier in the decade. In 1980, she was the first British woman to have a #1 album with Never For Ever, which she again wrote but on that occasion co-produced. Shortly afterwards, American Barbra Streisand also had a best-selling album in the UK with Guilty – the fourth-biggest seller of the year. She was joined in the year-end Top 10 by three groups fronted by women: ABBA, Rose Royce, and Pretenders. The latter had also been responsible for ensuring the first new #1 single of the decade, Brass In Pocket, was sung by a woman; while it was only the 35th biggest selling single of the year, three female soloists (Streisand, Kelly Marie and Fern Kinney) placed singles in the Top 10 bestsellers, as did two groups fronted by women (ABBA again, and Blondie). Male/female duo Ottawan were also in the Top 10 that year, meaning that more than half of ten biggest selling singles of the year featured a female lead vocal. But in 1981, the male domination returned to the year-end charts.

Many of the women mentioned in this article had greater control over their recording careers by the end of the 80s. Madonna was co-writing and co-producing all her material. Bananarama were named in the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful British girl group of all time. Barbara Dickson had her own record label; Kate Bush was allowed to work at her own pace and without record company interference. Debbie Harry was enjoying the successful years of her solo career away from Blondie, and Chrissie Hynde was the only remaining original member of Pretenders still in the band. How had the latter, for example, successfully managed to navigate the macho world of rock and pop in the 1980s? Early in the following decade, she wrote a witty list of tips for emerging female talent, entitled “Chrissie Hynde’s Advice To Chick Rockers, or ‘How I Did It’”. It ran as follows:

1. Don’t moan about being a chick, refer to feminism or complain about sexist discrimination. We’ve all been thrown down the stairs and fucked about, but no one wants to hear a whining female. Write a loosely disguised song about it instead and clean up ($).
2. Never pretend to know more than you do. If you don’t know the chord names, refer to the dots. Don’t go near the desk unless you plan on becoming an engineer.
3. Make the other band members look and sound good. Bring out the best in the them; that’s your job. Oh, and you better sound good too.
4. Do not insist on working with “females”. That’s just more b.s. Get the best man for the job. If it happens to be a woman, great – you’ll have someone to go to department stores with on tour instead of making one of the road crew go with you.
5. Try not to have a sexual relationship within the band. It always ends in tears.
6. Don’t think that sticking your boobs out and trying to look fuckable will help. Remember you’re in a rock and roll band. It’s not “fuck me”, it’s “fuck you”!
7. Don’t try to compete with the guys; it won’t impress anybody. Remember, one of the reasons they like you is because you don’t offer yet more competition to the already existing male egos.
8. If you sing, don’t “belt” or “screech”. No one wants to hear that shit; it sounds “hysterical”.
9. Shave your legs, for chrissakes!
10. Don’t take advice from people like me. Do your own thing, always.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Oct. 21
The CURE (Robert Smith) The Love Cats (Fiction FICS19)
JIMMY THE HOOVER (Derek Dunbar) Kill Me Kwik (Inner Vision IVLA3735)
Kirsty MacCOLL Terry (Stiff BUY190)
SFX (Samantha Fox) Rockin’ With My Radio (Lambourgini LMG4)
The ASSOCIATES Take Me To The Girl (WEA YZ47)
EURYTHMICS and Aretha FRANKLIN Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves (RCA PB40339)
The HOUSEMARTINS Flag Day (Go! Discs GOD7)

Released today in 1980: Bankrobber



Anyone wondering how Bankrobber managed to appear on the UK singles chart for the week of the 3rd to the 9th of August 1980 when the single was only due for release at the end of that week should take a look at the image the Official Charts Company has used to illustrate its entry in their archives.Charts1It’s a picture of the European version of the single (a double A-side with Train In Vain, and also featuring the bonus track Rockers Galore … UK Tour credited to producer Mikey Dread) which had been released in June in France, Germany and the Netherlands (and in Spain, with a different photograph on the sleeve) as CBS8370. Import copies had arrived in the UK by the end of July and fans, who had been waiting a long time for a new single by The Clash, bought it thinking it might be the only opportunity to own the song as it did not appear on the current album London Calling. Hence, sales of the imported version ensured it appeared at #60 on the chart for the week ending 9 August.

CBS in the UK had originally listed Bankrobber for release in the UK on 7 March 1980, but according to Sounds someone at the label thought it “not in the best interests of the band” to put it out. The concern seemed to be its commercial appeal for the British market. When interest in the European release started to pick up, the single was again scheduled for release, this time for August the 1st, but by then the band had got cold feet about issuing it all and it was put back another week “for consideration”. The following week, the release could be promoted as one happening due to “public demand” and any fears about it not being commercial enough were unfounded: a #12 hit, it was one of The Clash’s highest-charting singles.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Aug. 8
The BEAT Best Friend (Go Feet FEET3)
The CLASH (Joe Strummer) Bankrobber (CBS CBS8323)
GRADUATE (Tears For Fears) Ambition (Precision PAR111)
ORANGE JUICE (Edwyn Collins) Blue Boy (Postcard 80-2)
SKIDS Circus Games (Virgin VS359)
UB40 Red Red Wine (DEP International DEP7)
SEVENTH AVENUE (Big Fun) No Mans Land (Record Shack SOHO67)
BIG COUNTRY (Stuart Adamson) King Of Emotion (Mercury BIGC5)
CLIMIE FISHER I Won’t Bleed For You (EMI EM66)
GUNS N’ ROSES Sweet Child O’ Mine (Geffen GEF43)
UB40 Where Did I Go Wrong? (DEP International DEP30)
Midge URE Answers To Nothing (Chrysalis URE5)