The chart really shifted up a gear in ’82, with JP making one final all-time chart (a practice which would not see the light of day again until 2000) and then inaugurating the yearly chart, whereby listeners would vote for their three favourite tracks from that year only. Since the chart had a cut-off date of November 30, it was not unusual to see some tracks that had actually been released the previous year creeping in to the following year’s megafest. For example, the Orb charted with the session track Loving You on 1990, despite the fact that it had been first aired in December 1989.
For 1983, this guaranteed a fresher look to the Fifty, and also that the Sex Pistols, haviing split in 1978, would not get to number one ever again. The top banana in this particular chart was New Order’s Blue Monday, which also happened to be the best-selling 12 inch single (one of five entries). Further down the list, we saw another innovation in that Sophie And Peter Johnson’s Television became the first Peel Session track to make the chart, and the Fall’s Eat Y’ Self Fitter even making the top 10 on the back of preference for the BBC version. In the same session, they did a version of Smile, which they perform here on The Tube, prefaced by a brief glimpse of John introducing them:
Relative newcomers the Cocteau Twins had five entries, and the new indie heroes the Smiths had four (three of them in the top 10). Despite Peel’s dislike of U2 and concomitant rare plays of their material, New Year’s Day was seen for the classic that it was and crept in at number 41.
The chart as a whole is very much of its time, and refused entry to nearly all the reggae and African music that JP had championed for a long time (the Naturalites track being a notable exception). This would increasingly get on his nerves, leading to the celebrated ‘white boys with guitars’ grumble that would permeate his links in years to come. Grab the whole chart here and here.
Out in that cold cruel world, the Conservative Party under its leader (I’m getting bored with counting asterisks) scored a landslide victory in the General Election, due undoubtedly to the opposition being led by Worzel Gummidge and the Falklands ‘war’ of the previous year (certainly not due to humane and forgiving leadership). Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a national holiday to honour Martin Luther King Jr., red rain from the Sahara fell on England, Neil Kinnock became leader of the Labour Party, Apple brought out the Lisa PC, Microsoft unleashed the Word programme on an unsuspecting world, and Samantha Smith became the inspiration for Letter To Brezhnev by being invited to see what a caring, understanding nation Soviet Russia was following her passionate missive on nuclear war (oh yeah, that was the same country that shortly afterwards shot down a Korean civilian airliner for doing nothing in its airspace).
John McEnroe made his way to the Wimbledon finals, like this:
and Steve Davis beat Cliff Thorburn 18-6 in the World Snooker championship. After all that exercise, buy all the booze you’ll see in this contemporary Granada advert break, and you’ll certainly need the Bisodol.
December saw the debut of probably the best-known and most-played video ever: Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Since embedding has been universally disabled, go here to see it.