Tuesday, 16 June 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: June 16, 1985

Gay rights might have made leaps and bounds in the three decades since 1985 (when same-sex relations were still illegal in half of Australia), but the music charts were just as inclusive 30 years ago - if not more so - than they are now.

A love of hair gel wasn't the only thing Jimmy and Marc had in common

This week in 1985, three back-to-back new entries came from acts that today would fall under the all-encompassing acronym LGBTQI - and unlike some music superstars (Elton John, George Michael), who kept their sexuality wrapped up at that point, none of the three artists made any secret of their preferences. Indeed, in some cases, it was a big part of their public image.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending June 16, 1985

Meanwhile, USA For Africa was denied a 10th week at number 1 as "We Are The World" was replaced by Eurythmics' "Would I Lie To You?", which stole two weeks at the summit before Madonna took up residency at the top of the ARIA chart.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "Piece Of The Action" by Meatloaf
Peak: number 98
He endured a top 50 drought from 1978's "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" until his big comeback in 1993, with songs like this final single from Bad Attitude barely denting the top 100 in the meantime.

Number 91 "Dangerous Dancing" by Goanna
Peak: number 91
Another act unable to muster the chart action they'd enjoyed previously is the Australian rock band behind 1982's number 3 smash "Solid Rock", with this second single from Oceania becoming their final top 100 showing.

Number 89 "Won't You Hold My Hand Now" by King
Peak: number 86
In the UK, they enjoyed further big hits with "Alone With You" and "The Taste Of Your Tears" from their second album, Bitter Sweet, but this follow-up to "Love & Pride" was King's only other ARIA top 100 appearance.


New entries
Number 46 "Suddenly" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 15
Suddenly is the right word. After a chart dry spell to rival Meatloaf's - going without a hit from 1977 to 1984 - Billy Ocean was suddenly one of the most consistently successful male artists in the world. This ballad and title track of his fifth album became the British singer's third big hit in a row, following the more upbeat "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)" and "Loverboy", which had both made the ARIA top 10. A slush-fest along the lines of Lionel Richie's "Hello", "Suddenly" is the type of heartfelt ballad that just doesn't get made anymore - although I reckon if someone did release a song like this, it'd be massive.




Number 44 "My Heart's On Fire" by Machinations
Peak: number 27
Guess who'd been listening to a bit of Frankie Goes To Hollywood? Sounding more than a little like "Welcome To The Pleasuredome", the latest release from one of Australia's best synthpop bands was the follow-up to their biggest hit, "No Say In It", and the second single from their Big Music album. Despite its top 30 placing, I don't actually remember "My Heart's On Fire" from the time but, having familiarised myself with it now, I don't rate it as highly as either its predecessor or the group's later singles from 1987/88 - there's not enough of a song for me.




Number 38 "Baby U Left Me (In The Cold)" by Marilyn
Peak: number 34
It might have been a more conservative time in 1985, but the charts were actually pretty diverse - and, as this next trio of new entries demonstrates, all sorts of queer acts were able to score hit records on the strength of their music. Sure, the novelty of their sexuality or gender identification sometimes played a part in their initial fame, but acts like Culture Club and Frankie Goes To Hollywood proved that the hits continued as long as the songs were good enough. 
For Boy George's sometime bestie, Marilyn, chart success wasn't what it once was. Granted "Baby U Left Me..." did return the singer born Peter Robinson to the ARIA top 50 after previous single "You Don't Love Me" had only reached number 57 (despite its video featuring scenes from his promo visit to Australia), but it was a long way from the heady days of "Calling Your Name" peaking at number 3 in early 1984. 
Despite it being well over a year since that smash debut single, Marilyn had still to release his first album - but Despite Straight Lines would finally surface in the next few weeks. Produced by Was (Not Was) member Don Was, fourth single "Baby U Left Me..." was fairly consistent with Marilyn's earlier pop/soul tracks, but there was one significant difference with this release - the singer had been through a complete image overhaul, with his long blond locks cut short. Unfortunately that wasn't enough to turn what was a pretty average song into a big hit - and after this brief foray back into the top 50, Marilyn was never seen on the charts again.




Number 37 "I Feel Love (Medley)" by Bronski Beat & Marc Almond
Peak: number 34
It was a match made in camp heaven as two of the most prominent gay singers in the world took on the Queen of Disco. This astonishing medley of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" and "Love To Love You Baby" also contained a bit of 1961 single "Johnny Remember Me" by John Leyton for good measure - and would be Jimmy Somerville's final release with Bronski Beat before he left the trio and went on to form Communards. 
Despite making his name with original songs like "Smalltown Boy" and "Why?", from this point on, Jimmy's biggest hits - both with Communards and as a solo act - would be with remakes. Joining Jimmy on lead vocals was Marc Almond, who had himself moved on from his former group, Soft Cell, and also did quite well with covers. 
Intended for Bronski Beat's second album, "I Feel Love (Medley)" ended up on remix album Hundreds And Thousands, along with a version of what would have been Bronski Beat's next single, "Run From Love", a song Jimmy later revived as a solo artist in 1991.




Number 36 "Lover Come Back To Me" by Dead Or Alive
Peak: number 13
Concluding our LGBTQI triple play is this follow-up to "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)", another Stock Aitken Waterman production for the band led by an eye-patch-wearing Pete Burns. "Love Come Back To Me" was taken from Dead Or Alive's Youthquake album, which jumped into the top 20 on the ARIA chart this week in 1985 and was completely produced by the Hit Factory - an experience that Pete Waterman recalls in his book, I Wish I Was Me: "Pete [Burns] wanted thirty different sorts of song on one album, so one minute it would sound like Dead Or Alive, and the next like Michael Jackson, and the next like Wham! It just wasn't working out for us, so we stopped working with them. I've worked with a lot of artists in my life, but the one person that I think I could really have done amazing things with is Pete Burns. If he'd given me more control over the direction the band went in, I think we could have taken Dead Or Alive onto a whole new level."




Number 24 "A View To A Kill" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 6
In 1983-84, Duran Duran had been unstoppable. In Australia alone, four of their six singles released here in those years reached the top 5. And then, one of the biggest bands in the world split in two, with the Arcadia and The Power Station projects keeping the members busy between Duran Duran albums. 
There was, however, the small matter of a single the quintet had recorded for the latest James Bond film, A View To A Kill. Released to coincide with the movie reaching cinemas in mid-1985, the theme song would turn out to be the last release from the line-up of Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor until their 2004 reunion album, Astronaut. 
"A View To A Kill" was the first Bond theme to be recorded by a band since 1973's "Live And Let Die" by Paul McCartney & Wings, with the previous five title songs performed by female singers like Rita Coolidge, Shirley Bassey and Lulu. Bass player John Taylor has confirmed he's responsible for the band getting the gig, after a drunken discussion with 007 producer Cubby Broccoli in which he asked, "When are you going to get someone decent to do one of your theme songs?"
Turns out John's arrogance was warranted, with "A View To A Kill" becoming the first - and, to this day, the only - Bond theme to reach number 1 in the US, no doubt helped along by the song's Eiffel Tower-set music video, a Bond-style spectacle that maintained Duran Duran's popularity on MTV.




Next week: it's out with the old and in with the new as one of the most successful Australian bands of the '80s lands their final top 50 hit, while an up-and-coming local group hit the top 5 with their debut single. Plus, The Style Council, Animotion and China Crisis debut. 

Finally, before I go, if you enjoy reading this trip back to the music of 1985 each week, I'd love it if you would share, tweet, post or otherwise spread the word about my blog. I appreciate all the support!


Back to: Jun 9, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 23, 1985


4 comments:

  1. Interesting to see that 'Would I Lie To You' made it to #1 nationally despite only being #1 in South Australia! Victoria and Queensland must've had the biggest bogan populations in Australia at the time with their choice of state #1.

    Didn't know this Meat Loaf track, but 'Nowhere Fast' from the same album is my favourite of theirs that I know (and one of few that I like).

    The King song is no 'Love and Pride'.

    I didn't know the Machinations track until downloading it in 2012, but it's fantastic.

    I didn't know the Marilyn, Bronski Beat/Marc Almond or Dead or Alive tracks until their airings on rage in the last 6 or so years. The charts definitely seemed a lot more overtly gay back then, but it seems like it wasn't a big thing like it probably would be now.

    I didn't know any Dead or Alive singles between 'You Spin Me' and 'Turn Around and Count 2 Ten' back then. 'Lover Come Back To Me' isn't one of their best, I don't think.

    I didn't know the Duran Duran track either, other than by title. I clearly wasn't into music in a big way yet to not know a few top 10 hits from the year.

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    1. I didn't even look at the state charts this week - but what an interesting situation there, with Uncanny X-Men topping two state charts but only managing number 9. And Victoria leading the Madonna love as usual.

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  2. I'm surprised 'Won't You Hold My Hand Now' wasn't a hit for King, it was a hit in the UK and having heard it again recently, it's a very good song. Think this was the last I ever heard from King, which is a shame, they had some talent.

    Dangerous Dancing wasn't really on the same level as Solid Rock unfortunately.

    Don't remember the Marilyn song, but I wasn't much of a Marilyn fan, too much of a poor person's Boy George for me and didn't think a lot of his music.

    I remember the Bronski Beat cover, thought it was an interesting song. Didn't really know or care about their sexuality at the time, still no issue to me now.

    Lover Come Back To Me was a solid follow-up to 'You Spin Me Round', Dead Or Alive were on a roll at this point.

    I loved 'My Heart's On Fire', although it's an odd single choice as it's little bit atypical of the Machinations and the political backdrop of this song probably didn't help its chart position. Admittedly though I like just about all of the Machinations work.
    Loved View To A Kill, one of the best Bond themes. Pity about the movie.... This to me was the last 'classic' Duran Duran single. They sounded so different when they released 'Notorious' over a year later.

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    1. I love Machinations as well, so I'm surprised I was unfamiliar with My Heart's On Fire. I might have to buy that CD reissue of their first two albums that came out a while back.

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