CHRIS REA - 80s Songs and Albums

by Mark Nobes, chief editor

Born in Middlesbrough, UK, Chris Rea is best known for his distinctive gravelly voice and the hit singles "Stainsby Girls", "Let's Dance", "On The Beach", "The Road To Hell" and "Driving Home for Christmas". Since 1978, the guitar playing singer-songwriter has released 24 studio albums and 72 singles. The musician was generally much more successful with album sales than singles, and released eight studio albums during the 1980s.
Rea's first chart hit was the 1978 single "Fool (If You Think It's Over)", which reached #30 in the UK and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. It remains his only major hit in the States, and featured on his debut album Whatever Happened To Benny Santini?

Please Note: All chart positions shown on this page refer to the UK charts, unless otherwise stated.

Tennis (1980 Album)

Chris Rea's third studio album was released in 1980 and reached #60 in both the UK and Australia. It included the two singles "Tennis" and "Dancing Girls", which did not chart in the UK. "Tennis" was a minor chart hit in Australia, reaching #88.

Chris Rea (1981 Album)

The musician's self-titled fourth studio album reached #52 in the UK album charts, but failed to chart in any other country. It featured the singles "Loving You" (#65 in UK and #88 in U.S.) and "Every Beat Of My Heart" (#53 in Australia).

Water SIgn (1983 Album)

Released in March 1983, the fifth album was the first to reach the top 10 in any country, peaking at #7 in Sweden. It also reached #64 in the UK, #36 in France, #30 in Germany, #33 in The Netherlands and #60 in Australia. 
It included the singles "Let It Loose" (#35 in UK) and "I Can Hear Your Heartbeat" which reached #60 UK, #15 Belgium, #25 in The Netherlands and #60 in Australia.
Water Sign cassette album by Chris Rea (1983)

Wired To The Moon (1984 Album)

Chris Rea's sixth studio album was the first to break into the Top 40 in the UK, reaching #35. Released in April 1984, the album included the singles "I Don't Know What It Is But I Love It" (#65), "Bombolini" (#21 in Ireland but did not chart in UK), "Touche D'Amour (#86), "Ace Of Hearts" (#79), "Ace Of Hearts (Re-issue)" (#78).
Wired To The Moon LP by Chris Rea

Shamrock Diaries (1985 Album)

Chris had to wait until 1985 to achieve another Top 30 single. The lead single from Shamrock Diaries, "Stainsby Girls", reached No.26 in the UK and No.10 in Ireland.  It was written by Rea for his wife, Joan, who went to the Stainsby Secondary Modern School. The B-side featured the track "And When She Smiles, which was penned on a yacht in Ibiza. The follow-up single "Joesphine", however, stalled at No.67.
The album became the first for the singer to reach the UK top 20, peaking at No.15 and achieving a Silver sales certificate. It also reached No.3 in the Dutch Album Top 100.
Shamrock Diaries LP - Chris Rea (1985)

On The Beach (1986 Album)

Released in April 1986, Chris Rea's eighth studio album, On The Beach, was the first of five consecutive studio albums to achieve at least one platinum sales certificate. Three singles were released from the album; "It's All Gone" (#69), "On The Beach" (#12), "Hello Friend" (#79) - chart positions shown are for the UK singles chart.
The album reached #11 in the UK and also in Sweden, and topped the Dutch album charts.It also reached #2 in Germany, #7 in Norway and #10 in Switzerland.
Although the original 1986 release of the "On The Beach" single failed to become a big hit, stalling at #57, a re-recorded re-release in 1988 reached No.12 in the UK.
On The Beach Vinyl LP (1986) Chris Rea

Dancing With Strangers (1987 Album)

Dancing With Strangers was the first album by Chris Rea to break into the UK top 10, peaking at No.2 and achieving platinum sales. It included the singles "Let's Dance (#12 in UK), "Loving You Again" (#47), "Joys Of Christmas" (#67), and "Que Sera (re-recording)" (#73). 
Dancing With Strangers Vinyl LP - Chris Rea

"LET'S DANCE" (1987 Single)

This infectious 80's tune was released as the lead single from Rea's ninth studio album Dancing With Strangers, and peaked at #12 in the UK singles chart in 1987, but only managed #81 in the United States.

All versions included "I Don't Care Anymore" as the B-side. This was included as a bonus track on a later re-release of Dancing With Strangers. The 12" vinyl, cassette and CD singles also included "Josephine (Extended French Re-Record)" as the B-side. The original version appeared on the 1985 album Shamrock Diaries.

"Let's Dance is certainly a very uplifting tune that will put you in a good mood before going on a night out.

Chris Rea - Let's Dance Vinyl Single Sleeve

New Light Through Old Windows (1988 Compilation Album)

This compilation album was hugely successful, reaching No.5 in the UK and achieving triple platinum sales. A number of singles were released to promote the album, and these were "On The Beach (Summer '88) (Re-recording) #12, "I Can Hear Your Heartbeat" (Re-recording) #74, "Driving Home For Christmas (#53) and "Working On It" (#53).

"The Road To Hell" (1989 Album)

The Road To Hell is Chris Rea's most successful album to date, achieving 6 x platinum sales in the UK and topping the album charts.
The title track and lead single reached #10. The lyrics refer to Rea's traffic jam troubles on the M25 motorway, and his frustration at not being able to use the accelerator in his racing car. I adore the piano riff in this track, and many of Rea's finest songs can be found on The Road To Hell album, which has aged incredibly well.

The Road To Hell was the title track from Chris Rea's most successful studio album which achieved 6x Platinum status in the UK. The single reached #10.

Further singles released from the album were "That's What They Always Say" (#83), "Tell Me There's A Heaven" (#24) and "Texas" (#69).

Studio Albums

  • 1978 Whatever Happened To Benny Santini? -
  • 1979 Deltics #54
  • 1980 Tennis #60
  • 1981 Chris Rea #52
  • 1983 Water Sign #64
  • 1984 Wired To The Moon #35
  • 1985 Shamrock Diaries #15
  • 1986 On The Beach #11
  • 1987 Dancing With Strangers #2
  • 1989 The Road To Hell #1
  • 1991 Auberge #1
  • 1992 God's Great Banana Skin #4
  • 1993 Espresso Logic #8
  • 1998 The Blue Cafe #10
  • 1999 The Road To Hell: Part 2 #54
  • 2000 King Of The Beach #26
  • 2002 Dancing Down The Strog Road #14
  • 2003 Blue Street (Five Guitars) #179
  • 2004 Hofner Blue Notes -
  • 2005 Blue Guitars #85
  • 2008 The Return Of The Fabulous Hofner Blue Notes -
  • 2011 Santo Spirit Blues #13
  • 2017 Road Songs For Lovers #11
  • 2019 One Fine Day -
Chris Rea in concert