Tuesday, 7 April 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: April 7, 1985

Even without the chartbusting debut of "We Are The World", it would've been a big week on the ARIA singles chart 30 years ago. Besides the charity single's arrival, seven other songs moved into the top 50 - the highest number of new entries on the chart so far in 1985. 

Cyndi Lauper always did know how to stand out from the crowd

But of course, all those other new hits were overshadowed by the collaboration between a whole host of music superstars (and Dan Aykroyd) on America's answer to "Do They Know It's Christmas?". Blasting straight in to the top 5 (three places lower than the Band Aid single), the song was a guaranteed chart-topper.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 7, 1985

Before USA For Africa claimed the number 1 spot, Jim Diamond sneaked in to spend a single week on top with "I Should Have Known Better", which was the third one-week number 1 in a row following "One Night In Bangkok" and "Shout" (in that order). 


Off The Chart
Number 99 "When The Rain Begins To Fall" by Jermaine Jackson / Pia Zadora
Peak: number 63
I don't normally say much about these songs, but this one is too good to summarise briefly. A duet between Jermaine Jackson, one of the only Jackson siblings not to appear on "We Are The World", and actress/singer Pia Zadora, it was a European smash that flopped in the US, the UK and Australia. The track was taken from the musical Voyage Of The Rock Aliens, a movie that was about as good as the title suggests (although that was kind of the intention) featuring future One Tree Hill star Craig Sheffer and Pia, who was notorious for the rumours surrounding her 1982 Golden Globe Award win"When The Rain Begins To Fall" is typical of the synthpop feel of the songs in the movie, which included two contributions from Australia's own Real Life.

Number 95 "Walking On A Thin Line" by Huey Lewis & The News
Peak: number 70
This fifth and final single from Sports was the only one to miss the US top 10 from the album. A more issue-driven song from the band, it was about the Vietnam War.


New Entries
Number 50 "You're The Inspiration" by Chicago
Peak: number 43
As "Hard Habit To Break" spent its final week in the top 50, the next single from Chicago 17 (deceptively, the 14th studio album by MOR champions Chicago) made its way into the chart. But despite being another collaboration between lead singer Peter Cetera and songwriter/producer David Foster (just like "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" from Chicago 16), "You're The Inspiration" was much less successful in Australia, although in the US, it reached number 3. Peter Cetera re-recorded the song in 1997 and enlisted the help of R&B vocal harmony group Az-Yet, after having made a guest appearance on their cover of "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" earlier that year.




Number 45 "I Know Him So Well" by Elaine Paige / Barbara Dickson
Peak: number 21
"One Night In Bangkok" had made it all the way to number 1, but this second single from future musical Chess didn't manage to crack the top 20 (although it did top the chart in the UK). Chosen to perform the duet were two singers who were no strangers to songs written by Tim Rice. 
Elaine not only originated the roles of Eva Perรณn in Evita and Grizabella in Cats, but scored a UK hit single with her recording of "Memory" in 1981 (and an Australian hit with it later in 1985). Barbara, meanwhile, had her own success with a number from Evita: "Another Suitcase In Another Hall", a UK hit in 1977. 
Elaine and Barbara's duet on "I Know Him So Well" has been covered numerous times in the years since, by artists diverse and Whitney Houston and mother Cissy Houston, Steps, Melanie C and Emma Bunton, and, in a recreation of the original music video for Comic Relief, Susan Boyle and Geraldine McQueen (aka comedian Peter Kay).




Number 44 "I Wanna Hear It From Your Lips" by Eric Carmen
Peak: number 27
Besides his two periods off significant success (1976's "All By Myself"; 1988's "Hungry Eyes" and "Make Me Lose Control"), I knew nothing of Eric Carmen's other releases until now. This lead single from his 1984 self-titled album (not to be confused with his 1975 self-titled solo debut album) was his next highest charting single in Australia - and it's an OK, if somewhat unmemorable, tune. It's nice to see his mane of hair looking as fine as ever, though.




Number 43 "Respect Yourself" by Kane Gang
Peak: number 19
We saw their previous single, "Closest Thing To Heaven", just miss the top 50 earlier in the year, but British trio Kane Gang made up for it with this cover of The Staples Singers' 1971 hit, which became their one and only top 50 appearance in Australia. "Respect Yourself" actually charted higher here than in either the UK or the US, where fans of the song would have to wait until 1987 and a remake by Bruce Willis - yes, really - which entered the top 10 in both countries.




Number 39 "The Heat Is On" by Glenn Frey
Peak: number 2
The second of what would be three hits in Australia (sorry, Patti LaBelle) from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, "The Heat Is On" was the biggest of them all - and one of six different songs to land at number 2 behind "We Are The World" during its run at the top. The track was also the most successful single for Glenn Frey, who, like his Eagles band-mate Don Henley, had a great year as a solo artist in 1985. One of two soundtrack hits Glenn released that year, "The Heat Is On" was co-written by Harold Faltermeyer, who we'd be seeing on the top 50 before too long in his own right, and Keith Forsey, who'd been involved with early '80s classics by Irene Cara and Billy Idol.




Number 34 "You're So Strong" by Mental As Anything
Peak: number 11
After their novelty Christmas single at the tail end of 1984, it was back to business as usual for Mental As Anything with this, their first proper release since "Working For The Man" in November 1983. My favourite single by the Mentals, "You're So Strong" was the lead release from their Fundamental album and it's a good example of what the band could do when they weren't busy being all zany - even if Greedy Smith insisted on doing his best wacky dancing in the Countdown performance below.




Number 29 "I'm An Individual" by Jacko
Peak: number 15
In a week when there was so much exciting new music hitting the chart, it was a travesty that the second highest new entry was this piece of musical excrement by VFL player Mark "Jacko" Jackson. The maverick sportsman, who was playing for Geelong at this stage of his colourful career, was a polarising personality - and this single was just as divisive. Clearly enough people were amused to send it into the top 20, but I don't even think it's a good novelty record (and regular readers will know my feelings about those). Thankfully, despite releasing a follow-up, "Me Brain Hurts", Jacko remained a one-hit wonder. We did have to put up with him in ads for Energizer batteries and Nutri-Grain for the rest of the decade, however.




Number 5 "We Are The World" by USA For Africa
Peak: number 1
Mostly recorded on January 28 after the 1985 American Music Awards, "We Are The World" was, as well all know, America's contribution to the effort to fight famine in Ethiopia - a cause that had been championed by Bob Geldof, leading to the release of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in December 1984. One thing I didn't realise for all these years is that the USA in USA For Africa actually stands for United Support of Artists.
Structurally, the song, which was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, was fairly similar to the Band Aid record, with the stars of the days (except Prince, who declined to be involved, and Madonna, who wasn't invited to take part) performing a line or two each before a massed choir featuring even more artists sang the choruses at the end. 
My only criticism of the track - and it's a song I actually like a lot - would be that it does go on a bit, with all those extra choruses and ad libs from James Ingram, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen bumping it up to over seven minutes. As a fan of 7" versions, a radio edit wouldn't have gone astray. On a positive note, the best bit of "We Are The World" is clearly when Cyndi Lauper lets loose during the climactic bridge.
There's so much more to say about this song - which holed up at number 1 for a massive nine weeks in Australia (five more weeks than in the USA) - but I couldn't summarise it better than this Rolling Stone article from a few weeks back.




Next week: top 50 entries from another five songs, including two long-forgotten Australian records, a soft rock classic and the biggest hit by a member of pop royalty.


Back to: Mar 31, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 14, 1985


4 comments:

  1. I know you don't comment on the albums chart, but I assume The Firm debuting this week was not the same The Firm responsible for Star Trekkin'?

    The Jermaine/Pia duet, which I hadn't heard before, was interesting.

    I'd heard of, but never actually heard (at least that I can remember) the Elaine Paige/Barbara Dickson track, which has that 'syn-bell' music during the intro that was so prominent on American-produced MOR ballads in the 80s and early 90s.

    I didn't know the Eric Carmen track either.

    Strange that the Kane Gang track charted highest here.

    I may be confusing it with 'Axel F', but I think Melbourne TV used to play a clip of surfing footage to 'The Heat Is On' (it was definitely one of the two tracks) as a filler in between shows. Ah, those were the days when they'd slot in a random music video instead of more ads or 3-minute long previews to kill time.

    I didn't know for years later that the Mentals sang 'You're So Strong' (or what it was called), but I remember it being on heavy rotation on radio just after moving back here from NZ. It's one of their best singles, I think. They're another act who it seems have many, but not all, of their videos blocked from youtube. I thought of uploading this one a while back, but suspect it might not be worth it, as 'Rock & Roll Music' was blocked instantly when I uploaded that one.

    Not yet being familiar with the word 'individual', I thought the Jacko song was "I'm an inde-vegetable" (?) at the time, ha ha. Or maybe there was a parody of it using those lyrics and I confused it with the real thing.

    I thought Band Aid was much better than USA For Africa. It's odd that Madonna wasn't invited to be part of it... but Kim Karnes was.

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    1. Re: The Firm, indeed it wasn't the same group. We'll see a single from that album pop into the top 100 in May.

      Yeah, there were some random inclusions and exclusions from USA For Africa - especially given most artists would have been readily available after the AMAs. Band Aid, they had to make more of an effort to gather people.

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    2. Madonna wasn't invited to participate. I guess she wasn't seen as being big or creditable enough at the time.

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  2. I actually found 'I'm An Individual' amusing as an 11 year old, as an adult - eeewwww.

    I too think 'You're So Strong' is one of the Mentals' finest, what a year they would have.

    I prefer 'Do They Know It's Christmas', but 'We Are The World' is still a very fine song.

    I've not heard the original 1971 version of 'Respect Yourself', but The Kane Gang version is the one I'm most familiar with and my favourite - well it only has to beat Bruce Willis' version as far as I'm aware :P

    I don't remember the Eric Carmen song either - will have to check it out

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