28 September 2021

Kent Music Report beyond the top 100: 28 September 1981

Let's take a look at what was bubbling under the Australian top 100 singles chart 40 years ago this week...
Rickie Lee Jones: "Look mom, no hands!"
Beyond the top 100:
Position 33 "Woody & Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking" by Rickie Lee Jones
Highest rank: 21st
Peak date: 26 October 1981
Weeks on below list: 5 weeks
American singer-songwriter Rickie Lee Jones scored her biggest, and only real hit in Australia in 1979 with "Chuck E.'s in Love" (number 15, June 1979).  She would eventually land a second, and final, top 100 'hit' down under in 1984 with "The Real End" (number 90, November 1984).  Rickie Lee had more success on the Australian albums chart, with her debut album Rickie Lee Jones reaching number 1 in June 1979 and spending six months on the chart.

"Woody & Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking" was the third single lifted from Ricki Lee's second album Pirates (number 9, August 1981).  It followed "A Lucky Guy" and "Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue)", neither of which registered on the Australian chart.  "Woody & Dutch..." reached number 31 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, which I do not consider a real chart, in August 1981.  The song did not chart anywhere else.

Rickie Lee will bubble under again in 1983.
Position 34 "Feels So Right" by Alabama
Highest rank: 20th
Peak date: 2 November 1981
Weeks on below list: 6 weeks
As one would expect from the band's name, American band Alabama originate from Alabama.  The group formed in 1969, but did not land a top 100 entry in Australia until 1984, with "When We Make Love" (number 55, August 1984).  This would be the band's only release - single or album - to chart in Australia.
Alabama had much greater success in their homeland, where they landed 32 number 1 singles on the Country chart (not a real chart in my book) between 1980 and 1993.  "Feel So Right" was the band's first single to register on the US Billboard Hot 100, where it reached number 20 in September 1981.
Position 38 "Don't Play Your Rock 'n' Roll to Me" by Smokie
Highest rank: 20th
Peak date: 26 October 1981
Weeks on below list: 5 weeks 

English band Smokie placed 12 singles on the Australian top 100 between 1975 and 1980.  Their biggest hit locally was "Living Next Door to Alice" (number 2, April 1977).  A techno cover version of this track by The Steppers, re-titled "Alice... Who the F**k Is Alice?" matched this peak in September 1995.

"Don't Play Your Rock 'n' Roll to Me" originally peaked at number 50 in Australia in March 1976, and was Smokie's second single to chart down under.  In the UK, "Don't Play Your Rock 'n' Roll to Me" reached number 8 in October 1975, and was also a top 10 hit in Germany and Ireland.

I am not sure why this song (almost) re-charted in 1981.  Does anybody reading this know?  Please let me know in the comments section if so!

Smokie would not land any further top 100 singles in Australia, but numerous compilation albums they released charted here.

Next week (5 October): Three singles bubbling below the top 100, including an artist who bubbled under many times.

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  1. Hi Nathan,

    The 1981 re-release of Don't Play Your Rock 'n' Roll to Me states that it's taken from their Australasian-only compilation, All the Best, so I'd say it was issued again to promote that album.


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