Wednesday, 26 April 2017

30 Years Ago This Week: April 26, 1987

If there was one thing that was in plentiful supply in the '80s, it was movie soundtrack hits. By my calculations, there were 19 chart-topping singles associated with films during the decade (not including songs like "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" that would go on to be used in movies down the track).

Dave Dobbyn's slice of perfect pop was one of three soundtrack hits in the year-end top 5

Even a New Zealand movie based on a comic strip spawned a number 1 hit in Australia. Although chances are, like many of the chart-toppers, the song would've been massive without the film tie-in.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending April 26, 1987

A song that reached number 1 without a movie association - or radio play or a music video - was still on top this week in 1987. "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" by Paul Lekakis was the most popular song in Australia for a second week.


Off The Chart
Number 96 "I Just Can't Wait" by Mandy
Peak: number 91
Not even the Stock Aitken Waterman Midas touch could turn this debut single by the then-16-year-old future Mrs Bill Wyman into a hit - either in Australia or the UK, where it peaked at exactly the same position.


New Entries
Number 49 "Heartache" by Pepsi & Shirlie
Peak: number 49
Speaking of SAW, they had a hand in this debut single by former Wham! backing singers Pepsi DeMacque and Shirley Holliman - although exactly what part the Hit Factory played in the record has long been debated. Regardless of who produced, mixed or was otherwise responsible for it, "Heartache" was a brilliant pop song from a pair of singers who'd contributed to their fair share of classics over the previous few years. 
In the UK, the song was denied the number 1 spot for two weeks by none other than their old boss, George Michael (together with Aretha Franklin), while in Australia, "Heartache" criminally progressed no further than the exact opposite end of the top 50. Their next two singles, "Goodbye Stranger" and "Can't Give Me Love" missed the top 100 completely, and we'd next see the duo just outside the top 50 with their cover of "All Right Now".




Number 47 "Big Love" by Fleetwood Mac
Peak: number 16
It'd been almost five years since the world had heard any new music from Fleetwood Mac, but in 1987, the best known lineup of the band returned following various solo endeavours with what would end up being the second biggest album of their career, Tango In The Night. "Big Love" had started out intended for Lindsey Buckingham's next solo record, but ended up on Tango... instead - and became its lead single and the band's 10th top 20 hit in Australia. 
Contrary to popular belief, all the vocals heard on the song are provided by Lindsey, with the female-sounding gasping noise achieved by altering his voice via some studio trickery. Given the romantic history between the various band members, the recording of Tango... was as fraught as you'd expect, resulting in Lindsey quitting Fleetwood Mac shortly after the album's release and ahead of the world tour to support it. "Big Love" wasn't performed live by the band until he came back into the fold a decade later.




Number 44 "At This Moment" by Billy Vera & The Beaters
Peak: number 11
Movie hits were one thing, but successful songs from TV shows weren't quite as common in the '80s. This 1981 single had Family Ties to thank for its belated chart action. Originally released on Billy Vera & The Beaters' self-titled live album, the song was only a minor success in the US, but once it started being played as the theme song for Alex Keaton (Michael J Fox) and Ellen Reed (Tracy Pollan, aka the future Mrs Fox) in the hit sitcom, interest in the track prompted a reissue and an appearance at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1987. A few months later, Australia sent the soulful ballad to just outside the top 10. Billy continued his association with TV series, performing the theme songs to Golden Girls spin-off Empty Nest and The King Of Queens




Number 29 "Slice Of Heaven" by Dave Dobbyn with Herbs
Peak: number 1
Here's another one of those film hits now. Taken from the animated family film Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale (which I saw at the movies when it was released in 1987), "Slice Of Heaven" was the Australian breakthrough for New Zealand singer Dave Dobbyn, who'd previously been a member of Th' Dudes and DD Smash. And what a breakthrough it was - a four-week number 1 hit that ended the year as 1987's fourth biggest single. 
A huge part of the appeal of "Slice Of Heaven" came from its incorporation of two elements: 1) the Japanese flute that opens the track and 2) the backing vocals of Pacific Islands vocal group Herbs - both of which gave the cute pop song that extra bit of oomph. Although Dave never returned to the ARIA top 50 - coming closest with the follow-up single - "Slice Of Heaven" has lived on thanks to its use in New Zealand tourism ads and being a regular inclusion on retro playlists on music TV.




Next week: the best version of one of the most-covered songs of all time and a remake of a song that wasn't even a year old. Plus, the Queen Of Pop goes Latin.


Back to: Apr 19, 1987 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 3, 1987


Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Longest-running Number 1s In Australian Chart History

He's broken just about every chart record possible so far in 2017, and now Ed Sheeran is seven days away from having the title of longest-running number 1 single in Australian chart history all to himself. At present, he ties with ABBA for that honour. 

Of course, the Swedes did it in one run while "Shape Of You" racked up its 14th week after spending a week at number 2 behind Harry Styles's "Sign Of The Times", so while Ed won't be able to claim the longest consecutive run at the top, he may end up with the highest number of weeks if he can cling on again.

Will Ed Sheeran's "Shape Of You" make it to 15 weeks at number 1?

Here's a handy guide to the songs that've spent the most weeks at number 1 in Australia since the rock'n'roll era began in the late 1950s.


14 WEEKS
"Fernando" by ABBA
Date reached number 1: April 5, 1976




"Shape Of You" by Ed Sheeran
Date reached number 1: January 16, 2017





13 WEEKS
"Hey Jude / Revolution" by The Beatles
Date reached number 1: October 5, 1968




"Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring L.V.
Date reached number 1: October 22, 1995




12 WEEKS
"Lose Yourself" by Eminem
Date reached number 1: December 9, 2002




"Happy" by Pharrell Williams
Date reached number 1: January 6, 2014





11 WEEKS
"Mull Of Kintyre / Girls' School" by Wings
Date reached number 1: December 12, 1977




"(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams
Date reached number 1: July 28, 1991
*Click the song title above for the un-embeddable music video




"Wannabe" by Spice Girls
Date reached number 1: November 3, 1996





10 WEEKS
"Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" by The Platters
Date reached number 1: February 14, 1959




"Eagle Rock / Bom Bom" by Daddy Cool
Date reached number 1: June 28, 1971




"Mamma Mia" by ABBA
Date reached number 1: November 3, 1975




"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston
Date reached number 1: December 20, 1992




"I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)" by Sandi Thom
Date reached number 1: September 4, 2006




"Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock
Date reached number 1: April 18, 2011




This Week In 1984: April 22, 1984

If a picture is worth a thousand words, surely one image will introduce this week's big new entry better than I could. A photo like this...



Or this...



Definitely this...



This week in 1984, a song that needs no introduction to anyone old enough to remember the year debuted on the ARIA chart on its way to number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 22, 1984

Holding on to the number 1 spot this week in 1984 was Nena's "99 Luftballons/99 Red Balloons", which remained on top for a third week.



Off The Chart
Number 99 "My Ever Changing Moods" by The Style Council
Peak: number 70
Revamped from the understated piano and vocal album version for its single release, this might have been criminally overlooked in Australia but remains Paul Weller's career-best effort in the US.

Number 94 "The Dream (Hold On To Your Dream)" by Irene Cara
Peak: number 84
After non-movie single "Why Me?", Irene Cara was back in soundtrack mode with this latest Giorgio Moroder collab, taken from comedy film D.C. Cab, starring Mr T and Gary Busey.

Number 92 "Don't Count The Rainy Days" by Michael Martin Murphey
Peak: number 92
Here's one of those random country tracks that slipped into the top 100 without most people realising. This was MMM's final Australian chart appearance - his biggest hit having been "Wildfire" (number 22 in 1975).

Number 86 "(Feels Like) Heaven" by Fiction Factory
Peak: number 51
So close yet so far! This debut single by the Scottish new wave band really should've done better locally. The UK number 6 hit was covered almost two decades later by Dario G.


New Entries
Number 50 "Working With Fire And Steel" by China Crisis
Peak: number 47
We saw follow-up single "Wishful Thinking" enter the top 100 last week and finally the (kind of) title track of China Crisis's second album edged into the top 50 after climbing the chart since mid-March. "Working With Fire And Steel" would get stuck on the bottom rung for two more weeks before finally mustering enough momentum to reach its final peak - not a massive hit, but a song that seems to have a fond place in many synthpop fans' hearts. I'm pretty sure there's an anti-Thatcher message in the lyrics.




Number 48 "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 40
While "Thriller" had brought proceedings to an end for the album of the same name in most parts of the world, Australia went back and mopped up the single we'd skipped over. Thriller's sixth single, "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)", became the final release here and brought the album's tally of Australian top 40 hits up to six, with only "Human Nature" having missed out. 
Co-written by Quincy Jones and James Ingram using the title from a different song Michael Jackson had co-written, the much-sampled funk track had been a top 10 hit in the US, but probably did as well as it was going to at this stage in Australia - especially without a music video. It's still staggering how tight-fisted Epic Records were, considering how much money Thriller would've made them, to not OK a clip for this song. How amazing would it have been, especially if guest vocalists Janet and La Toya Jackson put in an appearance?




Number 46 "It's A Miracle" by Culture Club
Peak: number 14
Speaking of music videos, I have vivid memories of this clip - the Monopoly board, the geisha girl playing guitar, Jon Moss's crop top, the premature career flashbacks... At this point, though, Culture Club could pretty much do whatever they wanted and no one would mind since they were releasing one great single after another. And there was no more perfect way to follow dramatic ballad "Victims" than with the bouncy, Caribbean-influenced "It's A Miracle", which became the band's sixth consecutive top 20 hit.




Number 30 "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins
Peak: number 1
As it wrapped up three weeks on top of the US chart, Australia kicked off the Sunday shoes and got dancing to one of the year's biggest soundtrack hits. Taken from the movie of the same name, "Footloose" not only played over the climactic prom scene but would provide the soundtrack from countless weddings, 21st parties and retro club nights for decades to come. 
The song was co-written by Kenny Loggins with Footloose screenwriter Dean Pitchford, who co-wrote all nine of the tracks on the soundtrack album. Given Kenny's previous (overseas) success with "I'm Alright" from Caddyshack, his involvement with the theme song was crucial for film execs - but it almost didn't happen. Kenny had broken a rib during a show and taken time out to recuperate, leaving only a very small window for the collaboration to happen. Dean fought through his own illness rather than lose the opportunity.
"Footloose" was the first of six top 40 hits from the soundtrack album in the States. In Australia, only two songs from the movie achieved the same level of success - we'll see the second one in early June. Kenny's other US hit from the album, "I'm Free (Heaven Helps The Man)" either went unreleased here or, if it did come out, missed the top 100 entirely. The video below is the one I remember with all the variously shoed feet dancing, while the official Vevo video features more scenes from the movie, especially Kevin Bacon's warehouse dance (which was actually performed to Moving Pictures' "Never" in the film).




Next week: time for some comedy (oh, good), with all three singles entering the top 50 having a humorous bent - including the record that sneaked to number 1 ahead of "Footloose" and parodied another of this week's debuting artists.


Back to: Apr 15, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 29, 1984


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: April 19, 1992

How things had changed by 1992. Dance music was so acceptable in the mainstream 25 years ago this week that a local club track had recently reached number 1, while a techno anthem was sitting pretty in the top 5.

Dance music was alive and well in Australia in 1992

Joining both those hits on the top 50 was another Dutch techno duo's debut single, and the latest fusion of dance beats and Indigenous music to grace the ARIA chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 19, 1992

At the top of the chart this week in 1992, rock reasserted itself as Red Hot Chili Peppers stepped up to number 1 with "Under The Bridge".


Off The Chart
Number 95 "We We" by Angélique Kidjo
Peak: number 95
The world music star made her only ARIA top 100 appearance with this track from her major label debut, Logozo, which remains her highest charting album in Australia.

Number 94 "Far Gone And Out" by The Jesus And Mary Chain
Peak: number 88
Previous single "Reverence" had been banned in the UK (and promptly hit the top 10 there), but this follow-up was a pretty straightforward indie track, which finally gave The Jesus And Mary Chain their first top 100 placing.

Number 89 "Are You Ready To Fly" by Rozalla
Peak: number 88
We saw "Faith (In The Power Of Love)" as a breaker last week - and it was swiftly followed into the top 100 by another under-performing track from club star Rozalla.

Number 86 "Kissing The Wind" by Nia Peeples
Peak: number 86
Not quite as good as "Street Of Dreams", the latest from the actress/singer was consequently not as big a chart hit in either Australia or the US.


Breakers
"Ain't Gonna Get" by Baby Animals
Peak: number 65
Given their debut self-titled album had recently spent six weeks at number 1 and was still in the top 10 this week in 1992, there was little chance a fifth track from Baby Animals would set the singles chart alight. The song's concert music video was mirrored on the CD single, which contained live versions of the band's first three singles as bonus tracks.




"Ripple" by The Church
Peak: number 62
Their last studio album, Gold Afternoon Fix, had yielded their biggest hit on the ARIA chart in the form of 1990's "Metropolis", but The Church enjoyed limited commercial success with eighth album Priest=Aura and its lead single, "Ripple". Unconcerned with such things, the band consider the more experimental release to be their creative zenith.




New Entries
Number 49 "America: What Time Is Love?" by The KLF
Peak: number 40
After three top 5 hits (four, if you include "Doctorin' The Tardis"), The KLF were no more, having announced their retirement in a blaze of glory at the 1992 BRIT Awards in February. All that was left was for their other UK smash, "What Time Is Love?", to finally become a hit in Australia - and it did so (just) in the form of the reworked "America: What Time Is Love?" Even heavier than the original, the updated version of the stadium house track incorporated everything from "Aquarius" to "Ace Of Spades", and featured vocal contributions from Deep Purple's Glenn Hughes in addition to a new rap from Isaac Bello. I much preferred the original, which never advanced further than number 73 despite two attempts in 1991.




Number 43 "Help Yourself" by Julian Lennon
Peak: number 30
If it wasn't for the fact that he was coming of a number 1 single, I doubt this pleasant but kinda forgettable midtempo number by Julian Lennon would've got anywhere near the top 30. The title track of his latest album, "Help Yourself" would probably have benefitted from some beefed up production - as it was, it sounded a bit wishy-washy. At least the music video, in which Julian dressed up as various religious and spiritual characters, was fun.




Number 41 "Djäpana (Sunset Dreaming) (Gapirri Mix)" by Yothu Yindi
Peak: number 13 (4 weeks)
A month earlier, they won the ARIA Awards for Single Of The Year and Song of The Year - a distinction that no longer exists - for "Treaty (Filthy Lucre Mix)". This week, Yothu Yindi returned to the top 50 with another dance reworking of one of their songs. The original version of "Djäpana (Sunset Dreaming)" dated back to 1989's Homeland Movement album, from which it was released as a single with no success. Remixed by David Burnham, the song gave the Indigenous band another huge hit, which spent four non-consecutive weeks at its peak of number 13. The song was added to a repackaged Tribal Voice album - the original version would fall out of the chart next week and storm back into the top 20 at the end of May, with its new tracklisting seeing it go all the way to number 4.




Number 34 "James Brown Is Dead" by L.A. Style
Peak: number 7
Where 2 Unlimited led, fellow Dutch techno act L.A. Style followed with their debut single, "James Brown Is Dead". The brainchild of DJ/producer Wessel Van Diepen, who'd go on to launch Vengaboys, and rapper FX (real name: Frans Merkx), L.A. Style weren't just big in Australia and Europe, they also made inroads into the US. Although "James Brown Is Dead" only reached number 59 there, it sold enough copies to go gold and stayed on the top 100 for 20 weeks - apparently the first techno track to do well in that market. Of course, the Godfather Of Soul wasn't deceased - he'd live until Christmas Day, 2006 - and the song's unique title prompted all manner of answer tracks, like the not-that-inventive "James Brown Is Still Alive".




Number 19 "Skin To Skin" by Melissa
Peak: number 16
Shooting into the top 20 in its first week, "Skin To Skin" looked like it'd give soap star-turned-singer Melissa Tkautz her third top 5 smash. Once again co-written and co-produced by former Koo De Tah member Leon Berger, the song certainly sounded like another big hit. But then something unexpected happened - "Skin To Skin" went nowhere in its second week and then started dropping. At the end of May, no doubt after some emergency extra promotion, it ended up reaching its ultimate peak of number 16, but it quickly fell back again. Melissa's debut album, Fresh, still wasn't out yet, so it can't have been because people were buying that. Had she been a little hasty in leaving E Street to concentrate on her music career? 




Next week: one Aussie girl group deserves another, with Teen Queens joined on the top 50 by a brand new flower hat-wearing five-piece. Plus, new hits from Prince, Metallica, Rockmelons and Midnight Oil.


Back to: Apr 12, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 26, 1992


30 Years Ago This Week: April 19, 1987

The return of the world's soon-to-be-biggest band? An ambitious double album by music's most inventive male artist? A landmark hip-hop track? In any other week, they'd be worth highlighting at the start of a post.

Only takes a moment to become stars - Mel (left) and Kim got fresh in 1987

But not when there's the debut of one of the best pop duos of the '80s to talk about instead. Responsible for my second favourite album of all time - yes, really - the pair of East London sisters burst onto the ARIA chart in 1987 with some club-influenced pop smashes. Their first track debuted 30 years ago this week and would be quickly joined on the top 50 by its chart-topping follow-up.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending April 19, 1987

At the top end of the chart this week in 1987, there was a major overhaul as Paul Lekakis's "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" ascended to number 1 and another four tracks pushed their way into the top 10.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Can't Take Anymore" by The Angels
Peak: number 63
It's just typical. After all these years of having to write about their singles, the one song by The Angels I don't mind wasn't a hit. Since it was the fourth release from the already successful Howling, it's not that surprising.

Number 99 "A Trick Of The Night" by Bananarama
Peak: number 99
Given their experience in 1984-85, Bananarama should've known better than to release a moody ballad and expect it to do well. It's a shame because "A Trick Of The Night" is one of their best singles - and even came with a SAW remix.

Number 95 "Slow Train To Dawn" by The The
Peak: number 95
"Infected" had reached the top 30, but there was no such love for this follow-up, which features a pre-fame Neneh Cherry on backing vocals and in the music video.

Number 91 "Dreaming" by The Radiators
Peak: number 91
The Rads' fifth album, Nasty Habits In Nice Children, reached its peak of number 68 this week, while this subdued single from it would prove to be the band's final visit to the top 100.


Breakers
"Walking Down Your Street" by The Bangles
Peak: number 56
As "Walk Like An Egyptian" fell out of the top 10, The Bangles gained some momentum with this similarly ambulatory themed follow-up. Alas, the girl band was going to end up walking around in circles as "Walking Down Your Street" spent the next seven weeks dawdling between numbers 56 and 62. Like all the flop singles by The Bangles - and they had way too many in Australia - "Walking Down Your Street" deserved much better. Guess everyone was too busy buying Different Light, which would climb to its peak position of number 2 on the albums chart the following week. A fifth single from the album was released in Europe, but it doesn't look like "Following" came out locally.




"What's Going On" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 52
The Bangles had provided guest vocals on her eighth consecutive top 20 hit, "Change Of Heart", but like them, Cyndi Lauper was facing difficulty with her latest single - another remake of a song originally performed by a man. A cover version of Marvin Gaye's landmark socially conscious anthem from 1971, "What's Going On" not only became Cyndi's first release to miss the ARIA top 20, but it peaked outside the top 50. It did, however, improve on the peak of Marvin's original, which had only reached number 69 locally despite being a massive number 2 hit in the US.




New Entries
Number 50 "Let's Go" by Wang Chung
Peak: number 14
They had one of the songs of the summer with "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and the duo version of Wang Chung returned this week with another outrageously catchy pop song in the form of "Let's Go". With vocal duties once again shared by Jack Hues and Nick Feldman, the song became their second consecutive top 10 hit in the US, but just missed doing the same here. This would be the last time we'd see Wang Chung in the top 100.




Number 49 "Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)" by Mel & Kim
Peak: number 12
Australia really was slow off the mark sometimes in the '80s, never more so than with the debut single by sisters Mel and Kim Appleby. Released at the start of September 1986 in the UK, "Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)" had also taken its time to reach its peak there, finally getting to number 3 in late November. In Australia, the song had been bubbling under the top 100 for weeks since early 1987 before finally making its top 50 debut. Even then, it would only reach number 27 before starting to drop back down the chart. Spurred back on by the success of follow-up "Respectable", "Showing Out..." would rally and spend eight weeks inside the top 20, winding up as the year's biggest single not to reach the top 10.
As for the song itself, it was the latest hit from songwriting and production trio Stock Aitken Waterman. But where "Showing Out..." differed from "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" and "Venus" was that Mel & Kim were a brand new act rather than established performers coming to the Hit Factory. And unlike Princess or any number of other acts SAW had worked with up until this point, Mel & Kim became true stars. Thanks to a combination of their cheeky personalities, which were encapsulated in the lyrics and spirit of "Showing Out...", as well as their super stylish image (all those hats!) and dance moves, the sisters became instant role models to teenage girls everywhere who sang into their hairbrushes and made up routines with their friends.
Although another song, "System", had been intended as the duo's debut single, it was soon relegated to B-side status in favour of the edgier Chicago house-influenced "Showing Out..." - just one of many occasions when SAW proved they could take a club trend and turn it into pop gold. As mentioned, "Respectable" would play a big part in the success of "Showing Out..." in Australia and we'll see that debut in June. We'll pick up the Mel & Kim story then, but anyone interested in some extra credit can check out this recent interview with Mike Stock about the girls.




Number 44 "Sign O' The Times" by Prince
Peak: number 29
Few artists were as prolific as Prince in the '80s - or, in fact, ever - and to prove the point he released a double album of new material at the end of March 1987. Originally intended as a triple album, Sign O' The Times became his most acclaimed release yet, while its politically charged title track was lauded as one of the best songs of the year. With its minimal arrangement and lyrics touching upon some of the biggest social issues of the era, "Sign O' The Times" was a departure from the music fans had come to expect from Prince. Possibly as a result, it and the accompanying album were only modestly successful in Australia. I've included the video, in which Prince didn't appear, below since it seems to have been online for a while, but I expect it'll be taken down soon enough...




Number 40 "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" by Beastie Boys
Peak: number 37
Next up, another (eventually) highly influential act with their breakthrough hit. Problem was: "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" was intended as a parody of partying frat boys, but most people didn't get the joke, especially the hip-hop trio's growing audience, which was largely comprised of... partying frat boys, who were attracted by the song's fusion of rock and rap. The debaucherous, MTV-ready music video also did nothing to help Beastie Boys establish their hip-hop cred, and although the song raced into the US top 10 and Licence To Ill became the first rap number 1 on the Billboard chart, they quickly disowned it. It would be another 11 years before Beastie Boys returned to the ARIA top 50, by which time their status as inventive and inspirational artists was firmly established.




Number 34 "With Or Without You" by U2
Peak: number 9
1987 really was a changing of the guard in the world's biggest band stakes with first Bon Jovi and now U2 stepping into the void left by The Police and Dire Straits. Unlike Bon Jovi, the Irish four-piece already had some runs on the board thanks to 1984's top 5 hit, "Pride (In The Name Of Love)", and their star-making slot during Live Aid. But, to continue the metaphor, Bono and pals went supernova with the release of their fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree
The lyrics for lead single "With Or Without You" were written by Bono about the difficulty he faced balancing the touring life of a rock star with the family life of a married man - but the song was almost abandoned during the recording of the album when a satisfactory version proved elusive. When the final mix did come together, it proved to be a pivotal moment in the album's recording process. As with "One" (which I recently recapped in my 25 Years Ago... posts) a few years later, finally nailing "With Or Without You" was a real breakthrough. When released, the song became the band's second ARIA top 10 hit and also topped the Billboard Hot 100. And the rest is chart-dominating history...  




Next week: the return of one of the biggest bands of the '70s, plus a chart-topping song from an animated film and the debut single by a pair of backing singers from the biggest pop duo of the decade.


Back to: Apr 12, 1987 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 26, 1987


Saturday, 15 April 2017

This Week In 1984: April 15, 1984

As clichés go, "third time's the charm" was never truer than in the case of Madonna. The future music megastar's third single became a worldwide hit after her previous two efforts had failed to take off.

The song that started it all...

In Australia, she zoomed straight into the top 50 on her way to registering her first of 39 (to date) top 10 hits. Not bad for a song that didn't even have a proper music video.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 15, 1984

At the top of the ARIA chart, somewhere Madonna would be before the year was out, Nena held onto the number 1 spot a second week with "99 Luftballons/99 Red Balloons".


Off The Chart
Number 98 "Tonight Will Last Forever" by Sherbet
Peak: number 69
The once-massive Australian band who'd recently been operating as The Sherbs reverted to their original name for this farewell single from an equally unsuccessful greatest hits set.

Number 96 "They Don't Know" by Tracey Ullman
Peak: number 56
While her TV career continued to blossom, British comic Tracey Ullman turned Kirsty MacColl's 1979 song into a UK and US top 10 smash. She had two other top 10 hits at home, but this was her only visit to the ARIA chart.

Number 94 "Adult Education" by Daryl Hall & John Oates
Peak: number 94
Despite giving the duo another US top 10 hit, the second new track from Rock 'n Soul Part 1 peaked 70 places lower than "Say It Isn't So" in Australia.

Number 91 "Wishful Thinking" by China Crisis
Peak: number 57
Previous single "Working With Fire And Steel" was still working its way towards the top 50 - we'll see it debut next week. This hastily released follow-up, the band's biggest UK hit, didn't quite get that far.

Number 90 "I Want You Back" by Hoodoo Gurus
Peak: number 68
I'm always surprised this fourth single by Hoodoo Gurus, released contemporaneously with debut album Stoneage Romeos, didn't do better. It was inspired by the departure of founding member Roddy Radalj.


New Entries
Number 48 "Holiday" by Madonna
Peak: number 4
"Everybody" hadn't even been released in Australia. "Burning Up" had flopped. But, as in other parts of the world, "Holiday" was the song that turned Madonna from just another aspiring singer into a bona fide star in Australia. The final song chosen for inclusion on Madonna's debut self-titled album, "Holiday" had been written by two members of dance act Pure Energy, and previously been pitched to R&B singers Phyllis Hyman and Mary Wilson. When offered to Madonna, it slotted in perfectly with the pop/dance direction of the album. Released towards the end of 1983 in the US, it became a top 20 hit there and a top 10 single in the UK in early 1984.
Championed by Countdown's Molly Meldrum, "Holiday" also took off locally, with a performance on Top Of The Pops used as a de facto music video. Bursting with positivity and energy, the song was only ever going to be massive and it remains a staple of her live repertoire, still standing up after all these years. From here, things took off incredibly quickly for Madonna, whose image - the hair, the bracelets, the dancer-meets-street urchin chic - was adopted by fans around the world, and whose follow-up hits (including a re-promoted "Burning Up") came thick and fast.




Number 46 "A Rockin' Good Way" by Shakin' Stevens / Bonnie Tyler
Peak: number 21
From the future of pop music, we move now to two former chart-toppers who'd been knocking around the charts for a while collaborating on a remake of a song that dated back to the late 1950s. Originally recorded by Priscilla Bowman in 1958, and turned into a hit duet by its co-writer Brook Benton with Dinah Washington two years later as "A Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around And Fall In Love)", the song sounded dated in 1984. Still, the its retro feel had sufficient admirers to ensure it gave Shakin' Stevens his biggest hit since 1982's "Oh Julie" and returned Bonnie Tyler to the top 50.




Number 44 "Street Dance" by Break Machine
Peak: number 21
There was nothing retro about this next song - the latest breakdancing-themed track to reach the top 50. Co-written by Jacques Morali (who also produced it) and Henri Belolo - the creative force behind Village People - "Street Dance" was a chart-topper across Europe. In Australia, the act fronted by radio DJ Keith Rogers had to settle for six weeks just outside the top 20 (three at number 23, three at number 21). Fun Madonna link: "Street Dance" was co-written and arranged by Fred Zarr (who can be heard playing keyboard on "Holiday"), and released in the US on Sire Records (also her label).




Number 43 "Wouldn't It Be Good" by Nik Kershaw
Peak: number 5
Overshadowed somewhat by having the misfortune to debut in the same week as "Holiday", "Wouldn't It Be Good" marked the debut hit for British singer Nik Kershaw. Like Madonna, Nik had actually released music before "Wouldn't It Be Good" took off that would be given a second push by his record company down the track. In Nik's case, his debut single had been the original release of "I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me", which had peaked outside the UK top 40 in 1983 and, if it was released here at all at that stage, missed the ARIA top 100. But "Wouldn't It Be Good" was the song to get people to take notice - a moody synthpop track with an insanely catchy melody. A fancy music video featuring Nik wearing a glowing suit didn't hurt matters, and helped Nik attract attention in the US, courtesy of high rotation on MTV. 




Number 42 "Rockit" by Herbie Hancock
Peak: number 16
This song certainly took its time to become a hit in Australia. Having originally charted in October 1983, "Rockit" peaked at a dismal number 72 before returning months later and ending up as a top 20 hit. The first charting single by the jazz legend came from his 35th album, Future Shock, which was his first to delve into electro and hip-hop. Apparently the first hit in the US to feature scratching, "Rockit" horrified jazz purists but delighted a larger number of fans of the emerging genres it straddled. Like "Wouldn't It Be Good", its Godley and Creme-directed music video made it popular at MTV and would end up winning five trophies at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards in a few months' time. After a lengthy stay inside the top 50, "Rockit" finally fell out of the top 100 at the start of September, almost a year after its original release.




Number 18 "Saturday Night" by Cold Chisel
Peak: number 11
Despite all the future stars and new musical trends debuting this week in 1984, far and away the biggest new single of the week was by a rock band that'd dominated the local scene over the past six years - and had just broken up. Debuting two weeks ahead of Cold Chisel's final (for the time being) album, Twentieth Century, "Saturday Night" was the start of a last hurrah for the band on the chart. The song, which was heard for years after on Hey Hey It's Saturday, became Cold Chisel's third biggest hit, following "Forever Now" (number 4 in 1982) and "Cheap Wine" (number 8 in 1980). With vocal duties shared by Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss, the track was also memorable for its Richard Lowenstein-directed music video, which featured footage filmed around the inner city of Sydney, and at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.




Next week: the debut of one of the year's biggest soundtrack singles, plus the latest top 50 hit from an album that'd now spent over 70 weeks on the chart.


Back to: Apr 8, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 22, 1984


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: April 12, 1992

Girl groups had been around for decades, but so far in the early '90s, they'd been mostly going unnoticed in Australia. That was despite there being a veritable flood of female vocal groups coming out of the US - En Vogue, Sweet Sensation, Exposé, The Cover Girls, Seduction... Even Wilson Phillips had only had one hit here.

Teen Queens didn't stray too far from the girl group template

That changed in April 1992, with two local girl groups making a big splash on the ARIA singles chart. The first appeared 25 years ago this week, with a fairly horrendous cover of a classic girl group number from the 1960s.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 12, 1992

Meanwhile, at number 1 this week in 1992, "Marvellous" by The Twelfth Man spent a second week on top. It wouldn't stay there - one of the three songs speeding up the chart right behind it would topple it in seven days' time.


Off The Chart
Number 89 "Leave Them All Behind" by Ride
Peak: number 89
Another of the many British indie bands that went under the radar in Australia, shoegazers Ride enjoyed their biggest UK hit with this lead single from second album Going Blank Again.

Number 84 "Girlfriend" by Matthew Sweet
Peak: number 71
Another overlooked indie classic - this time from American alt rock singer/songwriter Matthew Sweet. "Girlfriend" was the title track of Matthew's breakthrough third album.

Number 73 "I Need Love" by Luka Bloom
Peak: number 73
An Irish folk musician covering LL Cool J's 1987 rap ballad? I've heard stranger things. Born Kevin Moore, Luka Bloom got his stage first name from another 1987 song - Suzanne Vega's "Luka".


Breakers
"The Way You Do The Things You Do" by UB40
Peak: number 63
UB40's record company really were taking the old adage "if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again" seriously. The reggae band's latest re-release had originally charted in early 1991 - around the same time as "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight". Although a slight improvement on its original number 78 placing, the fact "The Way You Do The Things You Do" didn't reach the top 50 was enough for it to be the last try at pushing songs from a two-and-a-half-year-old album.




"Faith (In The Power Of Love)" by Rozalla
Peak: number 62
"Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" had been one of the dance hits of the summer, but brackets fan Rozalla didn't repeat the feat with follow-up "Faith (In The Power Of Love)". In truth, it wasn't anywhere near as good a song, although its piano house production was right on point. This wasn't the last we'd see of Rozalla hanging around outside the top 50 in April.




New Entries
Number 44 "I Love Your Smile" by Shanice
Peak: number 8
Former child star and Star Search contestant Shanice Wilson's first record deal with A&M had yielded little in the way of hits. In Australia, the closest she'd come was with 1988's "I'll Bet She's Got A Boyfriend". Things changed in 1992. Having switched label to Motown, Shanice returned (sans surname) with the breezy pop classic "I Love Your Smile", reaching number 2 in both the US and the UK, and the top 10 in Australia. 
Still only 19 when the song reached the Australian chart, Shanice's biggest hit was age-appropriate without seeming childish thanks to her mature vocals and slick production courtesy of Narada Michael Walden. Featuring one of the best bridges ever heard in pop music - the bit starting "Time came and showed me your direction..." - "I Love Your Smile" still sounds great today and never fails to put me in a good mood.




Number 40 "Give Me Just A Little More Time / Do You Dare" by Kylie Minogue
Peak: number 24
Whether or not "If You Were With Me Now" would've done as well without listing "I Guess I Like It Like That" as a double A-side, I don't know. But Kylie Minogue's Australian record company obviously thought her next single, a cover of Chairmen Of The Board's overseas hit but Australian flop "Give Me Just A Little More Time", also needed an extra selling point. And so, club-oriented B-side "Do You Dare" was elevated to double A-side status locally. 
In this case, since "Do You Dare" didn't already feature on the Let's Get To It album, I'm sure its presence had some impact. It certainly did for me, since "Give Me Just..." is one of my least favourite of her songs. Even with the previously unreleased track, the single became Kylie's new lowest-charting in Australia (by one spot). In the UK, "Give Me Just..." reached number 2 and gave Kylie her biggest hit since "Better The Devil You Know"




Number 30 "Be My Baby" by Teen Queens
Peak: number 6
Having already helped Melissa and Euphoria reach number 1 on the ARIA singles chart, the producers of primetime soap E Street turned their attentions to a new pop offering - a trio of singer/actresses calling themselves Teen Queens. Formed with the intentions of starring in a TV series set in the '60s, the threesome were modelled on classic girl groups of the era, right down to their name, which had been used by a pair of singing sisters in the 1950s.
Although the series was never picked up, Teen Queens went ahead with the musical side of the project, releasing their version of The Ronettes' classic from 1963 (with a bit of "(The Best Part Of) Breaking Up" thrown in for good measure) as their debut single. The trio, which comprised Roxanne Clarke, Kellie Hoggart and Liza Witt, got off to a flying start with the medley. We'll see a couple more hits in months to come, but these days, the act is best known as being the launchpad for future Hi-5 member Kellie, who just so happened to have played Nancy in my school's production of Oliver! in 1988. 




Next week: the latest single by another act with an E Street link, as well as a second Indigenous dance hit and the final chart appearance (to date) by one of the most revolutionary electronic acts of all time.


Back to: Apr 5, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 19, 1992