Tuesday, 28 July 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: July 28, 1985

There came a point in time where I went from being a music fan who had never heard the original versions of cover songs or the old tracks that had been sampled in new releases to someone who had lived through those earlier records.

It might've been Dream Academy's only hit, but what a hit to have

I can't pinpoint the exact moment that happened, but it was definitely by the time the highest new entry from this week in 1985 was later sampled in a 1997 dance track - then, I was old enough to remember the single that first featured the riff and young enough to be in clubs when the new song was played. Thirty years ago this week, I doubt few people would have expected the one to lead to the other.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 28, 1985

Speaking of one thing leading to another, this week in 1985, an outgoing Madonna number 1 made way for a brand new Madonna chart-topper as "Angel/Into The Groove" stepped down and allowed "Crazy For You" to ascend to the top. The chart feat made Madonna the first act to replace themselves at number 1 since ABBA had done it twice a decade earlier (with "I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do" followed by "Mamma Mia" followed by "SOS") in late 1975/early 1976.


Off the chart
Number 93 "Baby Please Don't Go" by Willie And The Poor Boys
Peak: number 92
From an album of remakes by yet another rock supergroup - this time masterminded by The Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman - came this cover of the blues standard originally recorded by Big Joe Williams.


New entries
Number 50 "Cry" by Godley & Creme
Peak: number 43
After splitting from 10cc (with whom they recorded the much-covered "I'm Not In Love", number 3 in 1975), Lol Creme and Kevin Godley launched themselves as a duo in 1977 and soon became as famous - if not more so - for directing other artists' music videos as they were for their own music. 
Already in 1985, we'd seen their handiwork on Go West's "We Close Our Eyes", Duran Duran's "A View To A Kill" and "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" by Sting, whose future single "Englishman In New York" was not a remake of Godley & Creme's biggest Australian hit (and their music video directorial debut), "An Englishman In New York", which had reached number 17 in 1980.
"Cry", the first single from the pair's sixth album, The History Mix Volume 1, wasn't a massive hit in Australia - but its video was certainly groundbreaking for the time. Years before Michael Jackson utilised the same face-morphing technique in his promo for "Black Or White", Godley & Creme made more primitive use - in black and white - of analogue cross-fading. The song itself would eventually reach the ARIA top 10 when it was covered in 1992 by one of John Farnham's best known backing singers, Lisa Edwards.




Number 46 "(Billy) Don't Lose My Number" by Phil Collins
Peak: number 10
Speaking of music videos, Phil Collins just didn't know what to do about the clip for "Don't Lose My Number" (which got a slight title tweak for its single release in Australia) - or so the premise of the actual video would have you believe. As the latest hit from No Jacket Required (his third straight top 10) played in the background, the star of the recent Live Aid concerts considered pitches from various directors about what kind of video to make. With concepts ranging from Western to martial arts to Mad Max-inspired to spoofs of famous clips by The Police, David Lee Roth and The Cars, Phil got to show his funny side for once. For me, "(Billy) Don't Lose My Number" is Phil's best single - but it seems to have become overlooked in the years since, not even included on his ...Hits retrospective despite also being a sizable US hit, reaching number 4.




Number 39 "It's It's... The Sweet Mix" by Sweet
Peak: number 36
Massive in the mid-'70s, British glam rockers Sweet had topped the Australian chart with 1975's "Fox On The Run" and reached number 2 with "The Ballroom Blitz" two years before that, but by 1978, the band had fractured and weren't attaining the level of success they'd been used to. That year, "Love Is Like Oxygen" became their last top 10 hit - and chart appearance of any kind - in Australia, and by 1982, Sweet had called it a day. 
But, thanks to this megamix by DMC DJ Sanny X of "Blockbuster", "Hell Raiser" and "Teenage Rampage" on the 7" single, and those songs plus "Fox" and "Ballroom" on the 12" single, Sweet not only returned to the chart with the release - which served to promote the latest in a long line of compilation albums - but the band actually reformed. In fact, in the mid-'80s, there were two rival versions of Sweet - one centred around guitarist/keyboardist Andy Scott which retained the original band name and one launched by former lead singer Brian Connolly dubbed The New Sweet. RSLs in Australia and working men's clubs in the UK beckoned.




Number 37 "Life In A Northern Town" by Dream Academy
Peak: number 4
With names like Nick Laird-Clowes, Kate St John and Gilbert Gabriel, the three members of Dream Academy sound like a posh lot - and, whether or not that was the case, their art school background and proficiency with instruments like the cor anglais, oboe and clarinet certainly made them one of the more refined bands in the chart in 1985. Then there was debut single "Life In A Northern Town", which, with its orchestral feel and references to influential folk singer/songwriter Nick Drake, had a certain intellectual feel to it. 
A bigger success in Australia than in the UK (number 15) or the US (number 7), the song would turn out to be their only hit, despite a three-album career. Then, just when it seemed like Dream Academy and "Life In A Northern Town" had been relegated to their place in musical history, the song was resurrected in 1997 when Dario G sampled the "Ah hey, ma ma ma" hook for dance track "Sunchyme" - a move that was as genius as it was unexpected. 




Next week: one of the biggest Australian bands of the first half of the decade bomb out in a big way, while an up-and-coming local band scores their first big hit. Plus, a massive soundtrack single blasts straight into the top 10.


Back to: Jul 21, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 4, 1985


1 comment:

  1. The Willie and the Poor Boys track seems vaguely familiar, even though it was a massive flop.

    I didn't hear the Godley and Creme version of 'Cry' until some years after the Lisa Edwards cover. 7 years doesn't seem long to wait to cover a song at all now.

    Never knew the 'Billy' part of the Phil Collins song title was in parentheses, nor an Australian exclusive. I also thought there was a 'You' in the title. I don't think I've seen the video before either.

    I wasn't aware that megamixes were a thing until 1990.

    I didn't hear 'Life In a Northern Town' until it aired on rage in the late 00's, though I knew it was sampled for 'Sunchyme'. Quite odd considering it was a #4 hit locally. I must've tuned out of music for large slabs of 1985. Had I known the original at the time, it would have cheapened 'Sunchyme' for me somewhat.

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