Wednesday, 28 October 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: October 28, 1990

It's amazing the difference a remix can make - not only to how good a song sounds but also to its chart performance. There have been countless examples over the years of a single suddenly leaping up the chart after some studio remodelling, but the story of the song that entered the ARIA chart 25 years ago this week is slightly more complicated than that.

Suzanne Vega: unlikely dance music act

Not only was the track in question originally released back in 1987, but it was completely transformed, shifting the song from one genre to another and, in the process, opening up the singer to a whole new audience. It was also kind of annoying - well, to me, anyway. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending October 28, 1990

In other news, there was a new number 1 single this week in 1990. After slowly but surely making its way up the chart, "Bust A Move" by Young MC became only the second rap song to reach the top of the Australian singles chart. As a bonus, it dethroned "Blaze Of Glory" by Jon Bon Jovi. So, win win. 


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Rhythm Rude Girl" by The Angels
Peak: number 77
After a string of top 40 hits dating back to their live version of "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again", The Angels were relegated to the lower reaches of the chart with this latest single from Beyond Salvation

Number 97 "Peace By Piece" by Sound Unlimited Posse
Peak: number 97
Formerly known as Westside Posse and sometimes just as Sound Unlimited, this Sydney hip-hop group was the first local rap act signed to a major label. Mainstream success was still some way off.

Number 95 "Never Too Popular" by Crash Politics
Peak: number 76
Speaking of first signings, this Sydney band was the first to join the roster of Chris Murphy's rooArt label - but this single would be their only top 100 placing.

Number 89 "The Other Side" by 1927
Peak: number 83
There was no use even pretending anymore that 1927 weren't hurtling down the dumper - with this third single and title track from their sophomore album their lowest charting single to date.

Number 80 "Justifier" by Big Pig
Peak: number 73
Here's another Australian band struggling with their second album - with the performance of this lead single from You Lucky People (which sounded like all their previous hits rolled into one) signalling the beginning of the end for Big Pig.

Number 78 "King Of The Road" by The Proclaimers
Peak: number 78
Finally, Australia came to its senses and also abandoned the Reid twins in droves. Not even a cover of the Roger Miller classic (number 16 in 1965) could propel Charlie and Craig back up the chart.


Breaker
"Only Your Love" by Bananarama
Peak: number 51
While I was happy enough to see the latest from The Angels, 1927, Big Pig and The Proclaimers miss the top 50, one former hit group that I was disappointed to see falter was Bananarama (aka my favourite girl group of all time). Having (mostly) moved away from the Stock Aitken Waterman hit factory (for the time being), Sara, Keren and newest member Jacquie went all experimental with their sound. 
Co-written and produced by Youth, "Only Your Love" was the lead single from Bananarama's fifth album, Pop Life - and in between its musical references to "Sympathy For The Devil" by The Rolling Stones, its samples of Primal Scream and The Stone Roses, and its dimly lit music video, it was like nothing the trio had released before. Seemingly, it was a step too far away from the pure pop sound the group had stuck to for the previous four years. 
"Only Your Love" didn't just receive a tepid reception in Australia - in the UK, it became the group's lowest charting single since 1987's "A Trick Of The Night" and when the British version of Smash Hits put Bananarama on the cover in 1990, it was, according to a friend of mine who worked there at the time, one of their lowest selling issues ever.




New Entries
Number 49 "Venus '90" by Shocking Blue
Peak: number 49
Peaking just two places above the latest Bananarama single was a new mix of the song the girl group had famously covered in 1986. Originally released by Shocking Blue in 1969, "Venus" had topped the Australian chart in March 1970 for two weeks. Twenty years later, that guitar-based version was given a dance remix, complete with the obligatory "whoo... yeah" James Brown sample heard in countless tracks at the time. Having charted in late August, the BHF mix of "Venus" had been competing on the top 100 for the previous two months with another version of "Venus" released by Don Pablo's Animals - a record which actually originated from the same production team as the Shocking Blue remix. In the end, this version won the chart battle.




Number 37 "Tom's Diner" by DNA featuring Suzanne Vega
Peak: number 8
Next up, another song benefitting from a dance remix - but unlike "Venus", "Tom's Diner" hadn't been a hit when it was first commercially released in 1987. Written half a dozen years earlier, "Tom's Diner" was finally included on Suzanne Vega's second album, Solitude Standing, in two forms - one a cappella and one instrumental. That might have been that had the vocal version not been laid over a dance beat by producers/remixers DNA. The duo's bootleg of "Tom's Diner" became a club hit before being snapped up by Suzanne's record label for an official release. 
And just like that, the folk singer suddenly had a massive chart hit on her hands. As much as I liked dance music in 1990, I couldn't get into "Tom's Diner". I found the "do-do-do-do" vocal hook irritating and I much preferred Suzanne in her guise as occasional chart visitor thanks to songs like "Left Of Centre" and "Luka". Seems I was alone, since the single became a worldwide phenomenon, also reaching the US and the UK top 10. The original version also went on to play a pivotal role in the development of the MP3, as discussed by Suzanne herself here.




Number 22 "Megamix" by Technotronic
Peak: number 13
Rounding out our club mix triple play is the inevitable megamix from Belgian dance act Technotronic. As medleys go, "Megamix" was one of the best around. Yes, matters were helped by the fact that the four Technotronic singles to date all kind of sounded the same, but some care had been taken to ensure this was more than just some roughly cobbled together cash-in. "Megamix" worked as a song in its own right, with the best bits from "Pump Up The Jam", "Get Up! (Before The Night Is Over)", "This Beat Is Technotronic" and "Rockin' Over The Beat", as well as some fresh samples, all worked in to a cohesive track. The single was also one of the best performing megamixes, matching the number 13 peak of Rococo's "Italo House Mix", and beating similar (but shoddier) releases by Paula Abdul, Bobby Brown, Black Box and Snap!




Next week: watch out, Mariah - the original big balladeer is back. Plus, two hair metal band debut with new songs, and a song that's hit the top 50 for three different artists debuts in its most unique version.


Back to: Oct 21, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 4, 1990


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: October 27, 1985

A couple of months ago, we saw the ARIA singles chart with the highest number of new entries for all of 1985. By contrast, 30 years ago this week, the top 50 featured only one new entry, which was the year's lowest amount - better than nothing, I guess. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 27, 1985

There was, at least, a new number 1 single this week in 1985. UB40 and Chrissie Hynde's cover of "I Got You Babe" knocked "Dancing In The Street" from the top. It was the first time there'd been two consecutive remakes at number 1 since Toni Basil's "Mickey" replaced "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts in mid-1982.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Tears Me In Two" by The Stems
Peak: number 99
This second single from the Perth band sounded like it could have come from the '60s - or the late '90s. Something of a lost classic, it should really have done better.

Number 96 "Yesterday's Men" by Madness
Peak: number 54
In some ways, this would turn out to be a pretty appropriate title - being the lead single from the once-great band's final album before their split. Of course, the breakup didn't last that long...

Number 93 "Number 1" by The Accelerators
Peak: number 58
Not to be confused with the identically named American band from the same era, this short-lived Adelaide group almost made the top 50 with this song about car racing.

Number 81 "The Way You Do The Things You Do/My Girl" by Hall & Oates
Peak: number 81
Taken from Live At The Apollo, this medley of songs originally recorded by The Temptations featured two members of that group: Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin, who'd also performed with Hall & Oates at Live Aid.


New Entries
Number 46 "Seven Spanish Angels" by Ray Charles with Willie Nelson
Peak: number 29
Here's two more music legends who'd performed together earlier in 1985 - this time as part of USA For Africa. Although, this duet predates "We Are The World", having been released at the end of 1984 in the US. In Australia, "Seven Spanish Angels" had spent the last two months bouncing around the top 100 before becoming Willie's second duet hit in a row - following 1984's "To All The Girls I've Loved Before" with Julio Iglesias. 
Both songs were taken from Half Nelson, an album of duets by Willie Nelson and assorted singing partners - with a mix of previous releases and new recordings making the tracklisting. A song about a gunfight between a Mexican bandit, his girlfriend and the men pursuing them, "Seven Spanish Angels" would be Willie's final top 50 hit in Australia, while Ray would achieve one more - appearing on "Please (You Got That...)" by INXS in 1993.





Albums Chart
With only one new entry on the singles top 50, there's no better time to take a look at what was happening over on the albums side of the chart.




Doing something they hadn't been able to do on the singles chart with "What You Need", INXS were at number 1 for a second week with Listen Like Thieves. It would only be a brief respite from Dire Straits' chart domination, with Brothers In Arms returning to the top the next week. Listen Like Thieves was one of 10 albums by Australian acts on the top 50, a total which included the band's previous release, The Swing.




Back in the days when they were still listed on the main chart, several various artist albums were among the 50 best-sellers this week in 1985. None were bigger than 1985 Hottest On Record!, which included recent hits like chart-toppers "Out Of Mind Out Of Sight", "The Power Of Love" and "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)".




It may have been released at the end of 1983, but Can't Slow Down by Lionel Richie was still on the top 50 almost two years later. The album's 98 weeks on the chart was the highest tally by any album 30 years ago this week, although LPs such as Born In The USA, Like A Virgin, Stop Making Sense and Private Dancer had all also clocked up impressive runs.




He'd topped the chart with his debut album, Rodney Rude Live, in 1984, but there were slightly less takers for Rodney Keft's dirty brand of comedy the following year when I Got More peaked at number 7 (its position on this week's chart). With success came controversy, with Rodney arrested for indecency - charges he successfully fought in court. 




What would an albums chart from 1985 be without an oddity like this? New Zealander John Rowles hadn't had a top 40 single since 1978 and his biggest hit was a decade before that - "If I Only Had Time", number 6 in 1968 - so the logical thing to do was sign up with budget label J&B and release a covers album.


Next week: a more respectable seven new entries, including the best song (although not the biggest hit) by an Australian synthpop band, the long-forgotten follow-up to a number 1 single, yet another track lifted from Born In The USA, and debuts from Simple Minds, Talking Heads and Hoodoo Gurus.


Back to: Oct 20, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 3, 1985


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: October 21, 1990

They might look like a cross between Fabio and Derek Zoolander but the two guys below are music royalty. Not only were they second generation hitmakers like Wilson Phillips, but their musical legacy extended back even further.

In 1990, Nelson were hair today, gone tomorrow

One of three new entries on the Australian singles chart this week in 1990, the twins' debut single was also a US chart-topper, just like the first release by Wilson Phillips had been months earlier. Would it do as well as "Hold On" in Australia?

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending October 21, 1990

Spending its sixth - and mercifully - final week at number 1 in Australia 25 years ago this week was another song that topped the US chart. "Blaze Of Glory" by Jon Bon Jovi became the longest-running ARIA chart-topper since the eight-week stint of "Nothing Compares 2 U" earlier in the year.


Off The Chart
Number 98 "Peace Throughout The World" by Maxi Priest
Peak: number 87
Somewhat of a comedown after the number 2 success of "Close To You", this second single from Bonafide was harmless enough. It'd be another six years before Maxi's next big hit.

Number 95 "Pure" by The Lightning Seeds
Peak: number 92
The debut single from one of my favourite bands of the '90s might not have made waves in Australia, but it started a run of chart success for the group in the UK.


Single Of The Week
"Blue Heeler" by James Blundell
Peak: number 127
Last week, I mistakenly previewed this single by referring to it as a song about a dog. Turns out "Blue Heeler" is actually about a pub: the Blue Heeler Hotel in Kynuna, North West Queensland. James wrote the song after playing at the pub's 100th birthday celebrations. Unfortunately for him, the single didn't make it into the ARIA top 100, although accompanying album Hand It Down did. It'd be a couple of years before the country star would make his singles chart breakthrough - with a little help from another James.




Breaker
"Jack Talking" by Dave Stewart And The Spiritual Cowboys
Peak: number 57
His soundtrack hit, "Lily Was Here", was still climbing the chart, so what better time to also launch his new band? With Eurythmics on what would turn out to be a decade-long hiatus, the artist sometimes known as David A Stewart released this debut single with new group The Spiritual Cowboys - but the lightweight rock sound of "Jack Talking" failed to impress. As a result, Dave became a one-hit wonder as a solo artist, just as he had been as part of The Tourists during the late '70s/early '80s.




New Entries
Number 49 "(Can't Live Without Your) Love And Affection" by Nelson
Peak: number 20
As impressive as Wilson Phillips' launch as second generation hitmakers had been earlier in 1990, twins Gunnar and Matthew Nelson went one better with their debut single. Not only were they the sons of 1950s and '60s TV star and pop heartthrob Ricky Nelson (biggest hit: "Travelin' Man", number 1 in 1961), but they were also the grandchildren of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, stars of the 14-season show The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet and hitmakers in their own right - albeit in the pre-rock'n'roll era. 
Like Wilson Phillips' "Hold On", the twins' debut single, "(Can't Live Without Your) Love And Affection", was a perfectly formed slice of radio-friendly power pop that climbed all the way to number 1 in the US. And also like the vocal harmony trio, Nelson only managed the one major hit in Australia despite a clutch of big singles back home. Fun fact: the Nelson boys' mother, Kristin, is the older sister of NCIS star Mark Harmon.




Number 33 "Never Enough" by The Cure
Peak: number 22
If you needed proof of how much of a thing remix albums had become in 1990, then how about the fact that even gloom merchants The Cure jumped on the bandwagon? To be fair, the British band had been releasing extended remixes of their songs for years and Mixed Up pulled together some of these as well as new mixes of tracks like "A Forest" and "The Walk". And what would a remix album be without a brand new single to promote it? "Never Enough" served that purpose - and became the band's biggest ARIA hit since 1987's "Why Can't I Be You?" Like "Lullaby", this was another of those Cure singles that didn't quite do it for me, especially since recent releases "Lovesong", "Fascination Street" and "Pictures Of You" had all been so good. 




Number 26 "Let's Make It Last All Night" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 12
In shocking news, Jimmy Barnes released two consecutive singles in 1990 that I actually didn't mind (although I had completely forgotten all about "Let's Make It Last All Night" until now). The problem with the second single from Two Fires was that, like "Lay Down Your Guns", it was Jimmy singing it and not someone with a less raucous voice. Also like his previous single, "Let's Make It Last All Night" had the input of heavyweight American songwriters - in this case Diane Warren and Desmond Child. Despite the ongoing effort made at breaking Jimmy in the US - a quest that dated back to the repackaging of his debut album as For The Working Class Man back in 1985 - he never managed to cross over. I suspect his vocal style was also too rough and ready for the American market, who preferred their rock ballads sung by the more palatable likes of Bad English's John Waite and Michael Bolton.




Next week: a song that'd topped the chart in 1970 (and again in 1986 for a different act) returned to the top 50. Plus, the latest dance megamix and a dance remix of an a cappella track from a folk star's 1987 album.


Back to: Oct 14, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 28, 1990


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: October 20, 1985

Unlike songs themselves, song titles are not protected by copyright, which is why we've seen multiple songs called "Heaven", "Around The World" and "Temptation" - to name just a few - over the years. In 1985 alone, three different songs with the same title charted in Australia - and the third one arrived exactly 30 years ago this week.

What she lacked in originality, Jennifer Rush made up for with power ballad pipes

One of the songs had charted just before Christmas 1984 and remained on the first chart of 1985. The second had recently surrendered the number 1 spot. And the third song would also hit number 1 - and on two separate occasions: once in 1985 by its original performer and again almost a decade later in a version by a different singer.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 20, 1985

The number 1 single this week in 1985 was still "Dancing In The Street" by David Bowie and Mick Jagger. The duet spent its second and final week at the top.


Off The Chart
As well as the two songs below that entered the top 100 but didn't reach the top 50, this week saw a re-entry from "Memory" by Barbra Streisand, which had spent one week on the chart at number 97 in 1982. In the wake of the success of Elaine Paige's version of the Cats song, Babs' rendition reached a new peak of number 59.

Number 81 "Don't Stop The Dance" by Bryan Ferry
Peak: number 68
Yes, it's not as good as "Slave To Love", but this stylish second single from Boys And Girls deserved better - even if just for its Jean-Baptiste Mondino music video.

Number 79 "Pop Life" by Prince & The Revolution
Peak: number 67
For once, the fact that Prince's videos aren't on YouTube isn't the reason there's no link for this third single from Around The World In A Day - no clip was shot for "Pop Life". 


New Entries
Number 50 "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)" by Simply Red
Peak: number 21
Last week, we saw the arrival of Fine Young Cannibals on the ARIA top 50 and seven days later, another British pop/soul band who'd go on top the chart in 1989 debuted with their first single. Like their future chart-topper, "If You Don't Know Me By Now", this debut single by Simply Red was a cover version - of a song by American R&B group The Valentine Brothers. With its references to Ronald Reagan's economic reforms, "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)" had obvious trans-Atlantic appeal and the track became the first of several British and American hits for the band fronted by Mick Hucknall, after whose ginger locks Simply Red was named. In Australia, the track was one of a string of mid-table hits leading up to their number 1 hit, and would eventually be used as the theme tune for long-running financial advice series Money




Number 45 "Face To Face" by Real Life
Peak: number 32
I'd previously assumed Australian synthpop exponents Real Life were two-hit wonders - thanks to their dual top 10 singles, "Send Me An Angel" and "Catch Me I'm Falling". But, I'd overlooked this lead release from second album Flame - a song I don't believe I've heard until now. It's not a bad track in its own way (and I might just download it on iTunes), but it does pale in comparison to those two earlier hits and its number 32 placing seems about right. Following "Face To Face", the band would endure a string of flop singles before resorting to remixing "Send Me An Angel" in 1989.




Number 43 "Don't Mess With Doctor Dream" by Thompson Twins
Peak: number 17
After the drawn-out saga surrounding previous single "Lay Your Hands On Me" and the Here's To Future Days album (which involved the single being remixed and re-released, producers being swapped for the album and singer Tom Bailey collapsing from exhaustion), Thompson Twins had settled back into the business of releasing pop hits. In Australia, the trio achieved their highest-charting release since "Doctor! Doctor!" with "Don't Mess With Doctor Dream". This time, though, the doctor in question wasn't a medical practitioner capable of healing "burning burning". Instead, Doctor Dream was a reference to drugs - as in, "don't do them, kids".




Number 40 "The Power Of Love" by Jennifer Rush
Peak: number 1
At the start of 1985, Frankie Goes To Hollywood hit the ARIA top 10 with their third single, "The Power Of Love". In September, Huey Lewis And The News went one better and reached number 1 with a completely different song called "The Power Of Love". Clearly the year's most popular song title, "The Power Of Love" was also the name of the breakthrough hit for American-born, German-based singer Jennifer Rush. 
First released in Germany at the same time as the FGTH single came out (late 1984), Jennifer's "The Power Of Love" took its time to make a mark, eventually reaching the top of the British chart in mid-October after a 17-week climb up the top 100 there. It'd be the year's highest-selling single in the UK as well as the best-selling single by a female artist ever... until 1992. It did pretty well in Australia, too - spending two non-consecutive weeks at the top in December.
The hyper-emotional power ballad wasted no time achieving similar chart success around the world, except in the US, where it stalled at number 57. Nine years later, Celine Dion's remake of the song did what so many other versions - including covers by Air Supply and Laura Branigan - couldn't and topped the US chart.
"The Power Of Love" was far and away the biggest hit of Jennifer's career, which began in 1979 with her debut album under her real name of Heidi Stern. She did continue to enjoy success throughout the rest of the decade in mainland Europe, but her only other top 50 appearance in Australia was on the excellent "Flames Of Paradise" - a duet with Elton John in 1987.




Number 33 "And We Danced" by The Hooters
Peak: number 6
Time for one of my favourite pop/rock songs of the 1980s - the second and final Australian hit for American band The Hooters. Like predecessor "All You Zombies", "And We Danced" hit the ARIA top 10, but musically, it couldn't have been more different. A feel-good party track as opposed to the heavier "All You Zombies", "And We Danced" never fails to perk me up. I've been waiting for someone to give the song an Eric Prydz-style makeover for years.




Next week: a duet by two music legends that I didn't even know existed (the song, not the legends), plus two of the biggest groups of the early '80s struggle with their latest releases.


Back to: Oct 13, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 27, 1985


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: October 14, 1990

Just when I was beginning to despair at the state of the ARIA chart, things took a turn for the better 25 years ago this week. After a shocking run of new entries in recent weeks, two of 1990's most exciting acts debuted with songs that injected some much needed fun into the top 50.

Deee-Lite were a de-lovely addition to the top 50

One was a retro-flavoured dance track from a kooky trio, while the other was a punchy rap tune from a cartoonish female MC. Even the week's highest debut, which was a song I hated, at least added a splash of colour back to the chart after weeks of dreary rock songs.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending October 14, 1990

Speaking of... "Blaze Of Glory" was really starting to get on my nerves, registering its fifth week at number 1 for Jon Bon Jovi. But even though this week's new entries included two future chart-toppers, it was an existing chart hit that'd been patiently biding its time that would end up dethroning the Young Guns II single in a couple of weeks' time.


Off The Chart
Number 92 "People" by Soul II Soul
Peak: number 90
Without the help of "Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)" and "Get A Life", which had aided previous single "A Dreams A Dream", this latest from the British R&B band sank with little trace.


Single Of The Week
"I Almost Felt Like Crying" by Craig McLachlan & Check 1-2
Peak: number 103
How quickly things change! Just five months earlier, soapie heartthrob-turned-rock star Craig McLachlan was riding high at number 3 on the ARIA chart with his band's version of "Mona". Two singles later and "I Almost Felt Like Crying" peaked exactly 100 places lower. So what happened? Was he wearing too many clothes in the music video? It's not like he wasn't popular - he'd won the Gold Logie earlier in 1990 and was still appearing in Home And Away as Grant Mitchell (no relation to his Neighbours character, Henry Mitchell). And this song was a much better single than "Amanda". But, Craig was seemingly suffering from the backlash that'd faced former co-star Jason Donovan as he got further into his music career. A major rethink was needed - and fast!




Breaker
Walk This Way by Aerosmith
Peak: number 55
As we've previously seen, Aerosmith didn't score their first Australian top 50 hit until 1989's "Love In An Elevator" - and so the band had a huge back catalogue just waiting to be exploited locally, especially in the wake of the Pump Tour reaching our shores at the end of September. This neatly timed Australian tour souvenir EP included four tracks from the band's 1970s output - "Walk This Way", "Dream On", "Sweet Emotion" and "Back In The Saddle", none of which had charted higher than number 72 in Australia first time around.




New Entries
Number 48 "Fix Of Love" by Mark Williams
Peak: number 28
After years of plugging away in Australia, New Zealander Mark Williams had finally broken through with top 10 smash "Show No Mercy". Next, he made a decent showing with follow-up "Fix Of Love", although I'd suggest its chart position wouldn't have been anywhere as high had he not been coming off such an overplayed single. By contrast to its predecessor, "Fix Of Love" is a fairly forgettable tune and had faded completely from my memory until listening to it now. Mark would release one further single from his self-titled album, but the title of "Spell Is Broken" was pretty apt since it missed the top 100 and he hasn't been seen on the top 50 since. "Show No Mercy", however, has lived on - being wheeled out at sports events regularly ever since.




Number 46 "Doin' The Do" by Betty Boo
Peak: number 3
Australia had rudely ignored the song on which British rapper Betty Boo (real name: Alison Clarkson) had made her debut - The Beatmasters' "Hey DJ/I Can't Dance (To That Music You're Playing)", which reached number 7 in the UK but tanked at number 88 here. And so, Betty's first solo track, "Doin' The Do", served as her introduction to local music fans - and what an introduction it was. A cheeky slice of pop/rap, "Doin' The Do" presented her cute but feisty persona - a combination the brains behind Spice Girls would channel for the launch of the world-conquering girl group six years later.




Number 32 "Groove Is In The Heart" by Deee-Lite
Peak: number 1
If the arrival of Betty Boo didn't brighten up the top 50 enough for one week, then the debut of dance trio Deee-Lite certainly added a burst of colour to the chart, thanks to the psychedelic pop of future chart-topping single "Groove Is In The Heart". Comprised of three crazily named members, who hailed from the US (Lady Miss Kier), Japan (Towa Tei) and the Ukraine (DJ Dmitry), Deee-Lite was a much-needed breath of fresh air in a chart that still welcomed any old rock band or mullet-haired male singer to the countdown. A musical revelation, "Groove Is In The Heart" was sample heavy - making most notable (and songwriting credit requiring) use of "Bring Down The Birds" by Herbie Hancock. Also prominently featured was a drum track taken from "Get Up" by R&B singer Vernon Burch; Q-Tip, who provides the song's rap; and bassist Bootsy Collins.




Number 14 "Jukebox In Siberia" by Skyhooks
Peak: number 1
Perhaps it was because their original chart run was pretty much over and done with by the time I started to appreciate pop music, but I really couldn't have cared less about the Skyhooks reunion which resulted in this chart-topping single. One of two new tracks from compilation The Latest And Greatest, "Jukebox In Siberia" seemed like a relic from a different time rather than a once iconic band updating their sound for a new era. And, given that band had been responsible for "Horror Movie" and "You Just Like Me Cos I'm Good In Bed" in their mid-'70s prime, it also felt a bit tame. But there's no denying the power of nostalgia - and the sight of Shirley, Red et al back in their outlandish costumes was enough to guarantee a rapt reception for "Jukebox In Siberia". 




Next week: a pair of second generation pop stars debut, as does the latest from one of the bands we saw on this week's 30 Years Ago... post. Plus, a song about a dog.


Back to: Oct 7, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 21, 1990


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: October 13, 1985

It's very rare that I like every new entry on any given ARIA top 50 singles chart, but that was the case this week in 1985 - and it's even more remarkable given there were seven songs debuting that week.

The Madonna single that time forgot

From debut hits to comeback singles to the latest in a long line of releases by Madonna, the chart had everything 30 years ago this week. There were so many new hits that there wasn't room on the top 50 for another six singles, including the latest songs by a trio of proven hitmakers, which had to make do with top 100 positions.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 13, 1985

We also had a new number 1 single this week in 1985, as David Bowie and Mick Jagger's charity duet, "Dancing In The Street", edged out Huey Lewis & The News for the first of two weeks at the top of the chart.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Find A Way" by Amy Grant
Peak: number 98
It'd be another six years before Australia awarded her a pop hit, but Amy Grant's crossover from the Christian market to the mainstream began with this song - her first US top 30 hit.

Number 99 "A Love Until The End Of Time" by Placido Domingo & Maureen McGovern
Peak: number 54
Here's another artist who'd achieve a massive crossover hit in the early '90s - opera star Placido Domingo, who duetted with Broadway performer Maureen McGovern on this slush-fest.

Number 95 "Rainy Day" by Geisha
Peak: number 95
It'd get another lease of life in 1986, but this second single must've been a disappointment for the Melbourne band who also released their debut album in October 1985.

Number 94 "Lovin' Every Minute Of It" by Loverboy
Peak: number 77
The clip for this lead single from the album of the same name features a cheeky version of "Working For The Weekend". But not even referencing their last Australian hit could help the Canadian rockers achieve a chart revival.

Number 81 "Sister Fate" by Sheila E
Peak: number 81
For her second album, Romance 1600, Sheila E was still working with Prince - not that he was credited under his real name for this lead single, which was also a flop in the US.

Number 76 "The Love Parade" by The Dream Academy
Peak: number 76
The British trio broke their one-hit wonder status in the US when this pleasant follow-up to "Life In A Northern Town" reached the top 40 there. In Australia, they couldn't avoid the 1HW tag.


New Entries
Number 48 "St Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" by John Parr
Peak: number 4
In the US, this soundtrack hit was the song to knock Huey Lews & The News from the number 1 spot, but in Australia, the St Elmo's Fire theme tune (not to be confused with "Love Theme From St Elmo's Fire", which we'll see in the coming weeks) had to settle for a top 5 berth. The song was actually written about multiple medal-winning Canadian Paralympian Rick Hansen, who'd embarked on an international trek in March 1985 called Man In Motion to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries. Nevertheless, it found its way into the classic Brat Pack film and the stars of the movie weren't yet so famous that they didn't mind turning up to help film the music video with John, whose only other major single was US top 30 hit "Naughty Naughty"




Number 47 "Cherish" by Kool & The Gang
Peak: number 8
Throughout the 1970s, they'd released more than two dozen singles from a range of musical genres, but it wasn't until 1980's "Celebration" that Kool & The Gang finally breached the Australian chart - and even then, they only reached number 33. Despite following that up with another string of (mostly excellent) singles that maintained their new pop sensibility, it would take a big cheesy ballad for the (at this stage) nine-piece band to finally land a decent-sized hit locally. Accompanied by a music video that would provide the template for karaoke clips for decades to come, "Cherish" was the third single from Kool & The Gang's 16th - and most successful - studio album, Emergency




Number 45 "Johnny Come Home" by Fine Young Cannibals
Peak: number 14
Their members came from two ska bands that hadn't made any impact in Australia and they were named after an obscure film from 1960 starring Natalie Wood, but Fine Young Cannibals would become a chart force to be reckoned with in the second half of the '80s. Comprised of Andy Cox and David Steele from The British Beat (biggest hit: "Too Nice To Talk To", number 73 in 1981) and singer Roland Gift from the even less-successful Akrylykz, the trio wouldn't actually release very much music in their lifespan, but they got things off to a fine start with "Johnny Come Home". One of those songs that once heard is never forgotten, the track has endured in the public consciousness more than a number 14 peak would generally warrant. In between Roland's distinctive vocal and the chorus' quotable refrain (generally to anyone named John), the tale of a young runaway was one of 1985's most memorable debuts.




Number 41 "In Between Days" by The Cure
Peak: number 16
They'd been moving in a more commercial direction for a while (either that, or music had moved in a more alternative direction), and The Cure maintained their more accessible sound with this lead single from The Head On The Door. At just under three minutes, it's a perfect burst of pop energy - and one that convinced me The Cure might be worth more of my attention. I'd heard their darker songs played by my elder sister, and shown a passing interest in tracks like "The Love Cats" and "Let's Go To Bed", but "In Between Days" was one of my favourite tracks of 1985. The good news was, I'd like more and more singles by the band in the years to come, proving just how much their sound (or my taste) had shifted.




Number 38 "Invincible" by Pat Benatar
Peak: number 23
By now, we'd come to rely on Pat for regular doses of power pop/rock and she didn't disappoint with this lead single from her confusingly titled sixth album, Seven The Hard Way. Once again penned by "Love Is A Battlefield" co-writer Holly Knight (with future Climie Fisher member Simon Climie), "Invincible" was another soundtrack hit. The song appeared in The Legend Of Billie Jean, which starred Supergirl's Helen Slater and, in his debut film role, Christian Slater as sister and brother - although, despite their shared surname, they aren't related in real life.  




Number 21 "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush
Peak: number 6
It would've been interesting to see what might have happened had this lead single from Kate Bush's Hounds Of Love album been released under its original title, "A Deal With God". Changed to "Running Up That Hill" due to fears from Kate's record company that the song wouldn't receive airplay if it had the word "God" in the title, it duly became her third top 10 hit in Australia - her first in five years. As well as being one of her biggest hits since her debut with "Wuthering Heights" in 1978, "Running Up That Hill" also featured another memorable - but significantly more stylised - dance routine in the music video. In fact, the clip was spurned by MTV in America since it didn't feature Kate just standing there singing. 




Number 17 "Gambler" by Madonna
Peak: number 10
Her previous single, "Dress You Up", was still climbing in only its fourth week on the chart but that's no reason for Madonna not to release another single, right? In all fairness, two different record companies were responsible for the deluge of Madonna tracks during 1985 - her regular label, WEA, and CBS, who held the rights to the soundtrack to Crazy For You (aka Vision Quest). In the States, Madonna's label blocked the release of "Gambler" as a stand-alone single, believing it would interfere with the success of "Dress You Up" - but that didn't seem to be a problem in Australia or the UK, with the two tracks reaching the top 10 in both countries. Produced by Jellybean, "Gambler" was written by Madonna - her last single to be entirely self-penned for more than two decades. It's also one of her most over-looked releases, having never appeared on a Madonna album (studio or compilation) and not been performed live since 1985.




Next week: another five new entries (and another five songs I liked!) including the latest chart single called "The Power Of Love", the debut appearance by another British band that, like Fine Young Cannibals, would reach number 1 in 1989 and the second hit from a two-hit wonder.


Back to: Oct 6, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 20, 1985


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: October 7, 1990

As I write this post, I'm sitting on an un-air conditioned train in Sydney on a 35 degree day, and so it's very hard to muster much enthusiasm for either of the two new entries on the ARIA singles top 50 from this week in 1990. Both of the songs were solo singles by lead singers of rock bands that came to prominence in the 1970s. I didn't like either single, but both did reasonably well on the chart, so someone must have.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending October 7, 1990

Another song I didn't like - and also one by the singer of a rock band - was still at number 1 this week in 1990. "Blaze Of Glory" by Jon Bon Jovi spent its fourth week on top - a run that was beginning to feel as interminable as Heart's earlier in the year.


Off The Chart
Number 88 "The Real Thing" by Third Eye
Peak: number 76
With Michael Hutchence back in the INXS fold, the next musical project of his Max Q partner, Ollie Olsen, was this dance remake of the Russell Morris chart-topper.


Breaker
"Do Me!" by Bell Biv DeVoe
Peak: number 60
Just seven weeks after their first single, "Poison", entered the top 100, this super-sexual follow-up (sample lyric: "smack it up, flip it, rub it down") joined it. Once again, despite being a massive US hit (and receiving the requisite amount of local exposure thanks to American Top 40), "Do Me!" suffered pretty much the same fate as "Poison", peaking outside the top 50. Australia didn't know what it was missing, and BBD wouldn't manage a hit single here for another three years.




New Entries
Number 50 "Bound For Glory" by Angry Anderson
Peak: number 11
It was a case of Angry by name (well, actually Gary by name), Angry by nature in this shouty rock song. Yes, I know the lyrics are quite inspirational, but when they're barked by the former Rose Tattoo singer, they kind of sound like a threat. 
Just as his first solo chart hit, "Suddenly", had narrowly missed out on reaching number 1 in 1987, "Bound For Glory" was denied a top 10 placing, spending two weeks at number 11. Still, those chart achievements suggested going solo had been a good idea. The final two Rose Tattoo songs to chart had both peaked at number 100 for a single week - a far cry from their best chart effort: debut single "Bad Boy For Love" reached number 19 in 1977. 
With its rousing war cry feel, it was inevitable that "Bound For Glory" would be used by sporting teams and the track quickly became associated with AFL, leading to a notorious performance by Angry at the 1991 grand final. I'm not sure if it's related, but Angry never returned to the chart again - instead focussing on charitable activities as well as a TV career that's seen him show up reasonably regularly in everything from bogan comedy Housos to documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From




Number 44 "The Great Song Of Indifference" by Bob Geldof
Peak: number 25
Our next performer shares a few things in common with Angry Anderson. 1) Bob Geldof had released his first solo music a few years earlier, peaking at number 93 with "This Is The World Calling" in 1986. 2) He'd also fronted a influential band in the 1970s: The Boomtown Rats, who'd topping the Australian chart with "I Don't Like Mondays" in 1979. 3) He was involved in charity work - you might have heard of a little thing called Live Aid. 
But unless anyone can think of anything else, that's where the similarities end - with "The Great Song Of Indifference" being about as far from "Bound For Glory" musically as it's possible to get. Taken from Bob's second album, The Vegetarians Of Love, the Irish jig was certainly a novelty on the chart - and it's uniqueness worked in its favour. Easily the most successful of Sir Bob's solo releases, the song was one I absolutely couldn't stand.




Next week: it was a better chart week for me - but not because one of the biggest Australian groups of the '70s returned. No, it was the arrival of two of the biggest dance hits of 1990 that made up for this week's poor showing.


Back to: Sep 30, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 14, 1990