Wednesday, 11 June 2014

25 Years Ago This Week: June 11, 1989

Twenty-five years is a long time, and a lot has happened to the band with the highest new entry on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1989 in the intervening period. Following the loss of lead singer Freddie Mercury in the early 90s, many would have expected Queen to fade away, but that hasn't been the case at all.

Queen wanted it all, but they had to settle for a top 10 hit in 1989

In one way or another, Queen have maintained a fairly steady presence over the past two-and-a-half decades thanks to a series of re-releases, collaborations and a stage musical based on their biggest hits. In 1989, however, it was business as usual as the band returned with their 13th studio album and Freddie's battle with AIDS was kept under wraps for the time being.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending June 11, 1989

The madness at the top of the ARIA singles chart continued this week 25 years ago, with former number 1 "Eternal Flame" returning to nudge "Wind Beneath My Wings" aside and spend a second week at the top. Where would it end?


Singles Of The Week
This week in 1989, Virgin Records had so many hot new singles out they couldn't choose just one to feature in this slot and instead packaged up five releases as "club classics". Three of them (by Inner City, Paula Abdul and Neneh Cherry) we'll see in the coming weeks when they become breakers, but two didn't even manage that - and none of the five made the top 50, a fact that illustrates a point I make pretty regularly on this blog: Australia just wasn't ready for dance music.

"Don't Take My Mind On A Trip" by Boy George
Peak: number 162
This song flew so under the radar at the time that not only did it get nowhere near the top 100, but I had never heard it until putting this post together. Turns out Boy George had a go at new jack swing with this track written by Gene Griffin and produced by Teddy Riley, the team behind Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative". But Boy George was no Bobby Brown and his attempt to take on America's coolest brand of R&B went about as well as you'd expect.




"Keep On Movin'" by Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler
Peak: number 77
While it's a stretch to call the Boy George song a club classic, this breakthrough hit for British act Soul II Soul is definitely one - and even came from an album called Club Classics Vol. One. One of two massive trans-Atlantic hits by the group to feature the vocals of Caron Wheeler, "Keep On Movin'" was a musical revelation, establishing the much-imitated Soul II Soul strings and beats sound, and proving that R&B and dance music could mix.




New Entries
Number 50 "After All" by Cher & Peter Cetera
Peak: number 50
I've never been a fan of duets or collaborations recorded separately - I like the idea of artists heading into the studio together and standing around the microphone with their headphones on one ear and off the other, Band Aid-style. But, it seems Cher and Peter Cetera not only didn't meet up to record this ballad for the soundtrack to the Robert Downey Jr and Cybill Shepherd rom-com Chances Are, but they also didn't film a music video or even perform it live together. They even had stand-ins (James Ingram and Melissa Manchester) sing it at the Oscars when it was nominated for Best Original Song. It's like it never happened - something that can also be said of the song's fleeting ARIA chart appearance.




Number 46 "Rocket" by Def Leppard
Peak: number 15
Australia had finally caught on to what America had known for the previous two years - that Def Leppard's Hysteria was packed with great singles and this final release from the album received a suitable chart position in Australia, something the other six songs lifted from the LP hadn't managed. As we'll see in a few months' time, one of those earlier singles would be given a second go, but "Rocket" would remain the most successful release from the album.




Number 39 "Come Anytime" by Hoodoo Gurus
Peak: number 27
After the career hiccup that was "The Generation Gap", Hoodoo Gurus finally got their fourth album campaign off to a start with this first single from Magnum Cum Louder, which, although not the biggest hit, did chart higher than any release since "What's My Scene?" in 1987. Decades later, the track would be used as the theme song to improv comedy show Thanks God You're Here, the second time a Hoodoo Gurus track had been licensed in such a high-profile way.




Number 35 "I Want It All" by Queen
Peak: number 10
They'd been absent from the charts for three years, but Queen slotted straight back in with this lead single from The Miracle and landed their 8th top 10 single in Australia in the process. I've never been a massive fan of Queen, and this single sounded as bombastic and overblown as any of their over-the-top rock opera hits. Still, there's something to be said for consistency.




Next week: solo singles from three artists who came to fame as members of massively successful '70s bands, and at the other end of the spectrum an American teen and two British singers in their early 20s return with new hits.


Back to: Jun 4, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 18, 1989


9 comments:

  1. Wow, I had no idea that the ARIA chart went as low as #162 at the time! Which makes my earlier request to ARIA for certain chart positions outside the top 50 from this period even more puzzling... (i.e. 'no chart history' was all that was given for Shakespear's Sister's 'Break My Heart/Heroine', Voice of the Beehive's 'I Walk the Earth', and Sam Brown's 'This Feeling' - though it's quite possible that all of them missed the top 200 or however low the chart actually went). Or maybe they only release those below-the-top-100 positions to people with a (current or previous) industry connection...

    I remember seeing an ad in the local Smash Hits for the albums by those Virgin dance artists, which interestingly fared better, if not spectacularly, on the albums chart (except Boy George again), until 'Opposites Attract' boosted the Paula album in 1990.

    Rage forgot to list the #50 track by Peter Cetera & Cher on the top 50 this week in 1989, when they aired one of their interlude ads for songs that didn't have a music video... so I never knew what #50 was this week until seeing this week's chart on the australiancharts.com website a few years back.

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    1. I was surprised by the #162 peak being available.

      Virgin definitely went all out trying to make their dance stuff happen at the time - I remember ads and competitions at the time. Pity nothing really took off - at least not at that stage.

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    2. Virgin always seemed to me like a minor record label at the time, with all of the dance stuff and few major hits. Sort of like Shock in the 90s, but before they had big hits consistently. I was surprised when Janet signed a multi-million deal with them in the early 90's.

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  2. PS it's interesting to see that 'Eternal Flame' was granted a bullet moving back to #1 from #3... which suggests there was a significant sales increase. Kind of odd after it was #1 the week before. Maybe there were (actual) distribution problems ;)

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  3. PPS I just noticed the "Let's save the planet and party afterwards" slogan in the Virgin ad. A sign that the world was becoming more environmentally conscious (at least on a token level). That year was the first time I'd heard about the ozone layer/greenhouse gases etc. at school, and we had special classes with an environmental science teacher. Two 'greenie' singles troubled the lower end of the top 50 in a few weeks too!

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    1. Yes, I am bracing myself to have to talk about those singles.

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  4. Nathan, I think there were distribution problems with 'Eternal Flame' around this time. I remember the single wasn't available on 7" for a week or so and you could only get the 12", which I have. From memory, (without me having to pull out the 12" record) the song is still a single and not an extended track with a couple of other tracks.

    Also, I guess you're talking about 'Rip Rip Woodchip' by John Williamson as one of the greenie singles? I like that song and just recently watched the video on YouTube and it is very daggy, the people and fashion. I remember seeing it on Countdown Revolution as a chartbuster and played in full I think. We learnt about the Greenhouse Effect in 1988. I had no idea what my science teacher was on about and at first just thought it had something to do with nurseries and green rooms filled with plants!

    That is very lame of Cher & Peter Cetera really putting no effort in the single. It went Top 10 in the US. You would think that they would have at least made a video when it became a big hit (which sometimes happened) and to think someone else sang it at the Oscars. Did those 2 just hate each other and only paired up for a few bucks?

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    1. I never understood 12" releases of non-dance or R&B songs - although having said that I did buy the 12" single of Debbie Gibson's "Foolish Beat", but that was because it had a megamix of her upbeat singles on the B-side.

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    2. I never bought any vinyl singles until the early 00's. Cassingles were new and increasingly available when I started to buy singles, so there was no real need.

      Michael, I don't think I've seen the 'Rip Rip Woodchip' video since 1989, but I remember it seemed very low budget at the time. I might spare myself that 'pleasure' until it's a top 50 entry here. I heard the song (I think there was a segment on A Current Affair or similar about it) before it hit the top 50, and I was shocked that it actually charted.

      I had no idea what our (primary school) science teacher was on about either with that stuff. I remember copying down notes from the board about the rain cycle and photosynthesis, not understanding any of it.

      Gavin reminded me, there's a 3rd 'greenie' song bubbling just outside the top 50 in a couple of weeks too, but I don't think I've ever heard it.

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