Tuesday, 1 December 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: December 1, 1985

It wouldn't almost have been Christmas, would it? What else could explain the rush of big releases onto the ARIA singles chart 30 years ago this week - as well as the nine new entries on the albums chart?

A flood of big singles hit the chart this week in 1985

The six songs debuting on the top 50 this week in 1985 were all major releases in one way or another - a collaboration between two popular acts, the second spin-off project from one of the world's biggest bands, a song that'd become an Australian classic, brand new songs from two chart stars and a big international single.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending December 1, 1985

A single that was one of the major releases of the Christmas period took over at number 1 this week in 1985. "The Power Of Love" by Jennifer Rush knocked a-ha off their perch, becoming the second song with that title to hit the top in 1985.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "In Your Eyes" by Dropbears
Peak: number 90
The second and final of their two top 100 singles, "In Your Eyes" would be the last release by the Sydney indie band before they broke up. Apparently features Jenny Morris and Sharon O'Neill on backing vocals.

Number 94 "The Night Is Still Young" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 82
The other new song on Greatest Hits Volume I & II had gone top 10, but this track didn't fare so well. Probably because the album had spent the last four months in the top 30.

Number 88 "Trouble Spot Rock" by Australian Crawl
Peak: number 69
Why didn't they just give up? Well, after this final flop from Between A Rock And A Hard Place they did, with the once-legendary Aussie rock band calling it quits as soon as their tour concluded.

Number 81 "My Life" by Kids In The Kitchen
Peak: number 74
Just because big ballad "Current Stand" had been a hit didn't mean this dreary follow-up was going to be as well. Turned out six singles from debut album Shine was one too many.

Number 79 "The Sweetest Taboo" by Sade
Peak: number 65
If they were going to miss the top 50, at least the band named after singer Sade Adu were consistent. This lead single from second album Promise became their third out of four releases to peak in the 60s.


New Entries
Number 49 "No Promises" by Icehouse
Peak: number 30
Besides the inconvenience of having to change their name, Icehouse had enjoyed a pretty flawless start to their career - landing six consecutive top 20 hits in Australia between 1980 and 1982. But it had been three years since "Hey Little Girl" reached number 7 and you were more likely to find the band treading water in the top 30, as demonstrated by "No Promises" despite it being a fairly excellent song.
The synth ballad was taken from their soundtrack album, Boxes (to a ballet collaboration between the band and Sydney Dance Company), and would also be included on Icehouse's upcoming fourth album, Measure For Measure. Good news was that the next couple of singles from that album would restore Iva and pals' chart fortunes.




Number 38 "Say You Say Me" by Lionel Richie
Peak: number 3
This week was a momentous one for Lionel Richie for two reasons. Firstly, his 1983 album Can't Slow Down finally fell out of the top 50 after an astounding 102 consecutive weeks. That tally was even more impressive given his last single from Can't Slow Down - "Penny Lover" - had been released back in October 1984 (and peaked at number 73). 
Secondly, he returned to the singles top 50 with this brand new song - the theme from ballet defection drama White Nights. Interestingly, "Say You Say Me" doesn't appear on the movie's soundtrack album, since it was released on a label other than Lionel's home of Motown.
Despite his amazing run on the albums chart, Lionel had experienced yoyo-ing fortunes on the singles chart, with his last four top 50 entries peaking at 1, 24, 1 and 24. "Say You Say Me" had no trouble becoming another big hit in Australia, although falling just short of giving the former Commodores frontman a fourth solo chart-topper here. The song, which won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Original Song, did reach the top in the US, his fifth number 1 there - seven, if you include his two number 1s with Commodores.




Number 36 "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" by Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin
Peak: number 15
Last week, much was made of it being almost 30 years since Kylie and Dannii Minogue teamed up on Young Talent Time to give this track a whirl. Well, it is actually 30 years since Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin hit the ARIA singles chart with the "song to celebrate the conscious liberation of the female state". 
"Sisters..." appeared on both acts' albums at the time - Be Yourself Tonight and Who's Zoomin' Who? - and in Aretha's case, it was the second single from the LP in as many weeks to make the chart, with the title track sitting at number 43 this week. This single would far out-perform "Who's Zoomin' Who?" but wouldn't do as well as either "Would I Lie To You?" or "There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)"
Songwriters Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart originally approached Tina Turner to provide guest vocals, but she declined. According to Annie, "[Tina] felt that the statement of the song didn't really suit her image." Aretha was happy to record the song, although the line "the inferior sex has got a new exterior" was a compromise from its original wording: "the inferior sex are still superior". 




Number 32 "Oh Sheila" by Ready For The World
Peak: number 14
The reason this qualifies as a major release, even though R&B/funk band Ready For The World were unknowns in Australia up until this point and never charted again afterwards, was because "Oh Sheila" was a former US number 1 single - and 30 years ago, that was still hugely influential in Australia. In fact, every American chart-topper from 1985 was a top 20 hit in Australia, with 20 of the 26 Billboard number 1s songs making the top 10 locally. 
With that kind of strike rate, big things were more or less assured for "Oh Sheila", on which the Michigan six-piece sounded like a mix between Prince and DeBarge. Ready For The World didn't have the same success in Australia with their other US top 10 hit, quiet storm track "Love You Down"




Number 30 "Election Day" by Arcadia
Peak: number 13
So far in 1985, half of Duran Duran scored two top 10 singles as part of side-project The Power Station, while the full band released the theme to Bond film A View To A Kill. As the year drew to a close, the remaining members not associated with The Power Station - Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor - emerged as Arcadia. Other than the fact that all three members of the group had dyed their hair black, Arcadia was not too dissimilar to Duran Duran's recent output - particularly "Union Of The Snake" and "A View To A Kill". But for something new, "Election Day" did include a spoken word interlude from recent Bond villainess Grace Jones, who'd pop up on the top 50 again in her own right early in 1986. A top 10 hit in both the US and the UK, "Election Day" would be the only major hit from the Arcadia album, So Red The Rose, with Duran Duran reassembling - albeit down a couple of members - in 1986.




Number 28 "Working Class Man" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 4
"I'd Die To Be With You Tonight" had given him his first solo top 10 placing, and as the release of For The Working Class Man grew closer, Jimmy Barnes went one better with the follow-up, reaching the top 5 on the singles chart for the first time. Although, almost title track "Working Class Man" would go on to become such a career-defining song that you'd be excused for thinking it must have been an even bigger hit.
A rock anthem that summed up Jimmy's image as well as, according to the singer himself, the vast majority of his fans, "Working Class Man" wasn't actually written by the former Cold Chisel frontman. Instead, Jonathan Cain, the keyboard player in Journey, The Babys and Bad English, wrote and produced the track. Nevertheless, it fit Jimmy perfectly and became an Australian classic, helped more than a little bit by its video, which featured footage of men literally at work as well as iconic scenes of Barnesy hollering in front of burning fields of sugarcane.
Like the whole For The Working Class Man project (which was essentially a deluxe version of the Bodyswerve album), "Working Class Man" was partly aimed at breaking Jimmy in the US. To help things along, the song was featured on the soundtrack to the Ron Howard-directed, Michael Keaton-starring film, Gung Ho (which was retitled Working Class Man in Australia) and a separate American version of the video was filmed. Despite the effort, it only reached number 74 on the Billboard Hot 100.




Next week: a major milestone in the history of the ARIA chart with the unparalleled debut of a new EP by one of the biggest bands in the country. Plus, another new single from White Nights arrives on the top 50, as does a song that would go on to top the chart and several worst lyrics lists in the years since.


Back to: Nov 24, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 8, 1985


1 comment:

  1. Didn't think I knew the Australian Crawl track, but the "jungle" and "nam 16" (?) lyrics seem familiar.

    Sade certainly made pleasant background music, and 'The Sweetest Taboo' is one of their better releases, I think.

    I was shocked when I found out that 'No Promises' only peaked at #30, especially as the lead single from an as-yet-unreleased album. It deserved to do much better, I thought, and radio were flogging it in Victoria. I didn't hear/know any of the later (and much less spectacular, IMO) 'Measure for Measure' singles until the 00's, so it's surprising that some performed better than this release.

    'Say You, Say Me' was another track local radio were flogging around this time.

    I always thought 'Sisters..' should have been a solo Annie Lennox with Aretha Franklin track, if they were really doing it for themselves. Not a fave Eurythmics track of mine.

    Although it's catchy, I don't particularly care for 'Working Class Man'. It always strikes me as lazy when half of a chorus's lyrics are "oh" stretched across multiple syllables (Wax's 'Bridge To Your Heart' being an exception).

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