Keith Harris

1982 Christmas Top 40

You might have thought that by 1982 old-fashioned analogue music would be dead and the entire chart would be computer generated. Of course that scenario was still a good 25 years away. In fact synthpop was struggling, with the likes of Duran Duran and Wham! taking elements of electronica and mixing them with “proper” instruments to create the classic ’80s pop formula. Of course, this being Christmas, they all had to battle for chart places alongside an Italian opera singer from Birmingham, the Welsh Elvis and an overgrown green duckling in a nappy.

The full top 75 for this week can be found on the Official Charts Company site.

Party Starters

The enormous Patrick Cowley remix of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love is at number 23, which will not only start your party but take up much of its first hour. The imperial phase of ’80s pop is just starting to kick in with Wham!’s first hit Young Guns (Go For It!) at 13, Duran Duran’s Rio at 21 and, er, Best Years Of Our Lives by Modern Romance at number 8. Last year’s chart toppers The Human League are at 12 with their only single of 1982 Mirror Man, while Malcolm McLaren takes most of the credit for the World’s Famous Supreme Team’s efforts at bringing scratching to the UK with Buffalo Gals at number 18. Phil Collins’s future number 1 You Can’t Hurry Love is at 6, just below Madness with their future US hit Our House at 5.

Party Poopers

Good luck dancing to the number 34 hit, Theme From ET (The Extra-Terrestrial) by John Williams. The now über-miserable ABBA are at 26 with Under Attack, the last single they would release before splitting, while The Jam’s swansong Beat Surrender is at number 10 (at least you can stomp to it if you have to). Eddy Grant doesn’t wanna dance at number 30, Supertramp’s It’s Raining Again is at 31 (dreaming of a wet Christmas) and Soft Cell’s run of top five hits comes to a shuddering halt with the downbeat Where The Heart Is at 27. Even Kid Creole & The Coconuts are in a reflective mood with Dear Addy at 29.

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It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaaaaas!!!

There are four Christmas songs in the chart this year, five if you count A Winter’s Tale by David Essex at number 7, which you probably don’t. After the modest success of Christmas On 45 the previous year, the Christmas medley idea has a Chas & Dave-style knees up filter applied to it by Santa Claus & The Christmas Trees; their Singalong-A-Santa is at 19. Not for the only time, Cliff Richard has taken a seasonal song that already has a perfectly serviceable tune and given it a different one for no clear reason – he’s at 11 with Little Town. Shakin’ Stevens turns in a reasonable performance of Blue Christmas as the lead track on The Shakin’ Stevens EP at number 2, but the stand-out festive hit of this year is the legendary duet between David Bowie and Bing Crosby on Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy at number 3. The duet was recorded for Crosby’s last TV special a few weeks before his death in 1977; the Peace On Earth part of the medley was written specially for Bowie because he hated Little Drummer Boy and refused to sing it.

Novelty Island

Not too many novelty records around this year, but the ones that did make the chart are corkers. Apart from Bing ‘n’ Dave’s Christmas special mentioned above and the number 1 mentioned below, number 33 brings us the horror that is Orville’s Song. Orville was the charge of ventriloquist Keith Harris who had begun his own TV series in 1982, the popularity of which helped this saccharine-filled tale of love between a grown man and a poor flightless duckling all the way to number 4 in January, prompting Top of the Pops host John Peel to call it “one of the very best things since Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow.”

The number 1

Even by Christmas chart standards, this was a strange one. Save Your Love, a song written by Metal Mickey creator Johnny Edward and performed by Renée and Renato – Italian born tenor Renato Pagliari and English soprano Hilary Lester. By the time the single was released Lester had moved on and wanted nothing to do with it, so a model was drafted in to lip synch to her part for the video (famously ripped to shreds by Kenny Everett) and Renato was obliged to record the inevitable cash-in album on his own. Renée did return for an album Just One… in 1983 but apart from the #48 hit Just One More Kiss no further hits were forthcoming. Renato passed away in 2009 while Renée now performs with a Frank Sinatra impersonator in the duo Renée and Sinatro. You couldn’t make this up.

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