Chart Hits 83

Twenty-six years ago I saw a TV ad for a music compilation, put it on my Christmas list and unwrapped it on Christmas Day. That’s how life works when you’re twelve. I’ve a feeling I was given a different compilation than the one I asked for — maybe the TV ad was for the [first Now That’s What I Call Music]( — but I didn’t care and listened to it over and over and over again.

After having the two cassettes sitting on my desk for a few months I finally got round to piecing together all the tracks. I thought of digitising it all and slicing it into individual MP3s but instead gave the iTunes Store twenty quid. (Here’s an iTunes iMix link, although there are four tracks you can’t buy there.)

UPDATE: I made a Spotify playlist of the album, currently missing only Tom Robinson, Musical Youth, Clubhouse, F.R. David, and Forrest. 30 July 2009.

Chart Hits 83

I’ve loved hearing this again. Mostly it’s personal nostalgia and won’t mean as much to you as a collection. But also it’s because I haven’t heard most of this music since the 80s.

Nostalgia relies on our recognition of something — maybe a tune or an image. And so once mainstream nostalgia about a period kicks in, the recurring instances begin to reinforce each other. If one TV show has reminded viewers about this band and this toy then another TV show might as well use the same ones. At least the viewers might remember them from the first TV show, even if they don’t recall the originals. And soon we get that warm fuzzy feeling for things we’ve merely seen lots of times in nostalgia programmes and articles.

Our memories of a period become packaged and we remember the music that other people — researchers from TV production companies or music consultants for Hollywood period movies — remember. There becomes a single communal memory of, say, 1980s music and you could be forgiven for thinking that everyone back then listened to the same few dozen tunes.

I’m not talking about all the non-mainstream music that was around which will never feature on I Love 1983. Even in mainstream pop music there are loads of tunes we never hear any more. And, aside from my own personal memories, that’s one of the things I love about Chart Hits 83. There’s a load of crap on there but there’s some good stuff too. And plenty of it is music I’ve never, or rarely, heard since the 1980s. You can read the tracklisting for tapes one and two.

Anyway, onto the music. A few of the best (and/or least heard) tracks are on YouTube, so here you go…

No video, but this, the final track on cassette two, is pretty special. Gary Byrd and the GB Experience, The Crown:

No video here either, but this must be one of the earliest examples of a “mash up”. Clubhouse, Do It Again/Billie Jean:

I have no sense of this tune’s place in popular culture. Was it a hit? Is it good in any way? You decide! Love the 1980s video effects though. Will Powers, Kissing With Confidence:

I’m blind as to whether this is any good or not, but it was one of the hardest tracks to find online — I couldn’t find it for DRM-free download anywhere. But it was in Peel’s Festive Fifty so it can’t be bad. Tom Robinson, War Baby:

This, the penultimate track, was one of my favourites at the time, although at age twelve I’m not sure I really understood it as anything other than a nice tune about people going dancing. The Kinks, Come Dancing:

As one of the commenters on the next one says, this is a scary video. I’m almost glad we rarely saw music videos on TV in those days. I never realised I was listening to scratching, body-poppin’ type stuff back then. Herbie Hancock. Rockit:

I do like this one too. The Beat (or “The English Beat” if you’re American), Can’t Get Use to Losing You:

Anyway, enough of the nostalgia. Onward!


  • Great idea. I remember these compilations - I love the way you buy one and get the other free, both ways! I think some of these weren't really hits. The early compilations, like NTWICM 1-5, say, often had tracks on there to fill the space, or as a favour to an exec. NTWICM 3 had 2 (two) Kajagoogoo tracks on it!

  • I cannot put into words how fantastic it was to Google 'Chart Hits 83' and find this article. Best thing I've read this week. I was only nine when I got it (also at Christmas), and it was the album responsible for me becoming a Depeche Mode freak (still am).

    Really good stuff, cheers.

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25 Feb 2009 at Twitter

  • 6:52pm: Thanks for wiki thoughts, again. I settled on PmWiki as the least awful option. Wrote the decision process up here
  • 4:03pm: Very impressed with Drupal but considering it overkill when I JUST WANT A SIMPLE, PRETTY, EASY TO INSTALL AND USE WIKI.
  • 2:46pm: Shaving an entire herd of yaks.
  • 9:20am: Having a lot of fun.

Music listened to most that week

  1. Billy Bragg (17)
  2. Sleeper (11)
  3. Tom Waits (6)
  4. Miss Kittin (6)
  5. Hefner (4)
  6. Hank Williams (4)
  7. Low (4)
  8. Paolo Conte (3)
  9. David Bowie (3)
  10. Pizzicato Five (3)

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