Tuesday, 19 May 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: May 19, 1985

Music history is littered with pop partnerships - duos whose skills perfectly complement each other. So far in our trip back in time to 1985, we've seen singles by Wham!, Tears For Fears and Eurythmics infiltrate the ARIA top 50 - and 30 years ago this week, three new duos hit the chart.

Go West scored at the two-for-one leather jacket sale

Well, one of the musical pairs weren't exactly new, having been an integral part of music history for a couple of decades - but this week in 1985 marked their debut chart appearance as performers in their own right. The other two duos were brand new - one would turn out to be among the year's biggest new acts, while the other would end up as a musical footnote.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 19, 1985

In its sixth week at number 1, "We Are The World" was showing no signs of going anywhere - even though it had already fallen off the top spot in both the US and the UK.


Off The Chart
Number 97 "I Know What It Is To Be Young (But You Don't Know What It Is To Be Old)" by Orson Welles
Peak: number 68
Quite the musical oddity, this single features the 70-year-old actor reciting the song's lyrics over a vocal and orchestral accompaniment. Orson passed away in October 1985.

Number 84 "Hammer To Fall" by Queen
Peak: number 69
Like the third single from The Works, "It's A Hard Life", this fourth release was a chart miss for the band that'd recently hit the top 10 with "Radio Ga Ga" (number 2) and "I Want To Break Free" (number 8).

Number 82 "Sex Symbol" by Flame Fortune
Peak: number 76
Born Heather Hogue and a child star under the name Heather Harrison in the late '60s/early '70s, Flame turned to music in the '80s - with this single produced by Michael Hutchence. In 1991, she was found murdered in Los Angeles.


New Entries
Number 49 "Just A Gigolo / I Ain't Got Nobody" by David Lee Roth
Peak: number 13
Van Halen's larger-than-life singer continued his musical journey through eras past with this follow-up to his cover of "California Girls" - also taken from the Crazy From The Heat EP. Originally paired by jazz singer Louis Prima in 1945 (and recorded by him in 1956), the medley of "Just A Gigolo" (which dated back to 1929) and "I Ain't Got Nobody" (a 1915 song) had been popular for decades and remade as recently as 1978 when Village People included a version on their Macho Man album. David's take on the medley was fairly consistent with Louis' version - but where Mr Lee Roth made the song his own was in the cheeky music video, which featured parodies of Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Boy George and Billy Idol, and references to music censorship, aerobics and other '80s phenomenons.




Number 48 "Solid" by Ashford & Simpson
Peak: number 21
After decades of providing massive hit singles for the likes of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), Diana Ross ("Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)") and Chaka Khan ("I'm Every Woman"), the songwriting, production and performing partnership of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson finally registered a worldwide smash as artists themselves with "Solid". It made perfect sense for the pair to sing a song about a relationship that had stood the test of time - they'd been married since 1974, and remained husband and wife until Nickolas's death from throat cancer in 2011.




Number 47 "Take It Back" by The Pookah Makes 3
Peak: number 28
Like Thompson Twins, the name of this act was deceptive - there were two members in The Pookah Makes 3 (and three in the best known line-up of TT). Unfortunately for the duo of Martyn Wilson and the oddly named Mallett (actually Martin Allett), "Take It Back" was not a success in their British homeland, despite it being the sort of synthpop that did very well there. The song did make our top 30, but none of their other singles made any impact locally. As for that name, it has something to do with a Celtic fairy called the pรบca - perhaps that's the third member?




Number 45 "House Of Cards" by GANGgajang
Peak: number 45
Improving only slightly on the peak position of their debut single, "Gimme Some Loving", GANGgajang couldn't seem to get things off the ground - even though "House Of Cards" is a better song than their previous top 50 entry.




Number 40 "We Close Our Eyes" by Go West
Peak: number 8
Simon and Garfunkel. Hall and Oates. Cox and Drummie? Their surnames may not be so well known, but Go West joined the ranks of hit duos in 1985 with this debut single, a top 10 hit in Australia and the UK. And, unlike The Pookah Makes 3, they'd return to the top 50 another four times (another 11 times in the UK). The lead single from the pair's self-titled album, "We Close Our Eyes" came with a video directed by another duo: Godley & Creme, who were behind some of the era's most memorable clips - although this was the only one featuring the singer wielding a giant wrench.




Next week: a solo hit from the singer of one of this week's groups, the biggest hit by a family of musicians and Australia's biggest party band bring it down a notch with an epic ballad.


Back to: May 12, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 26, 1985


3 comments:

  1. Very strange chart entry with the Orson Welles track.

    I didn't hear the Flame Fortune track until some time in the mid 00's, after seeing it on rage. The guitar riff seemed familiar (sounding somewhat like the riff in Australian Crawl's 'Beautiful People'), and I later realised it was the same riff used in the 1986 bicycle helmet safety ad campaign featuring Molly Meldrum. Quite a sad story what happened to her, and a pity this track wasn't a hit. As someone recently said on a pop forum, she had a certain star quality despite never making it big. The guy who appears with her in the video, Troy Davies (who later 'became' Ecco Homo, with his own flop single in 1989), is also dead now.

    I've heard 'Solid' a couple of times, but can never remember how it goes. Didn't know the Pookah Makes 3 or GANGgajang tracks.

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  2. Sad about Flame Fortune - she was definitely star quality and this song should have gone higher than #76. I have wondered how close Michael Hutchence really was to her and how much it may have affected him after she was murdered.

    I actually liked House of Cards better than Sounds Of Then and Gimme Some Loving, so I'm surprised it only just scraped into the Top 50.

    Remember the Go West track well, what a way to announce yourselves and another act that had a great 1985.

    Don't think much of the song, but loved the film clip for Just a Gigolo as a kid and still love it now :D So funny.

    'Solid' is just that, a solid song that takes me back to the time.

    I didn't know Queen released anything in 1985 until last summer so don't remember 'Hammer to Fall' at all. Of course, a certain worldwide concert would thrust them back into the spotlight shortly after this...

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  3. Some good memories there - I won a signed photograph of the Pookah Makes Three from Smash Hits! I also remember reading about Flame Fortune in Smash Hits, though don't think I ever heard the song. House of Cards was one of the songs in my grade 6 production of Alice in Wonderland.

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