Wednesday, 28 January 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: January 28, 1990

What an odd collection of songs we have to talk about this week! Some pop, some dance, some Aussie rock and the debut of an artist who blended a whole range of genres.

Dreads, nose ring, celeb wife... there was no cooler rock star than Lenny Kravitz in 1990

But then, that was what was happening on the ARIA singles chart in 1990 - the floodgates had been opened and all sorts of music that never would have got anywhere near the top 50 in the past was finally making its presence felt.

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

The B-52's continued to - yep, you guessed it - make their presence felt at number 1 this week 25 years ago as "Love Shack" was once again the most popular song in the land.


Off The Chart
Number 95 "Scandalous!" by Prince
Peak: number 95
Another single from Batman, and one without much of a discernible melody and featuring a little too much screeching for my liking. It was also released as an EP, The Scandalous Sex Suite, featuring the film's star Kim Basinger.


New Entries
Number 49 "More Than You Know" by Martika
Peak: number 32
"Toy Soldiers" and "I Feel The Earth Move" had been so massive that a re-release of Martika's breakthrough US hit would be just as big, right? Wrong. Bringing her top 10 run to an end, "More Than You Know" did perform better than on its original release in 1989, but was still a bit of a disappointment - especially for me, since I'd bought this song just as "Toy Soldiers" was taking off and had waited patiently for it to hit the chart locally. A number 32 peak was somewhat of an anticlimax. 




Number 38 "Let The Night Roll On" by The Angels
Peak: number 17
1990 would turn out to be one of the most successful years in The Angels' lengthy career, with the band scoring their very first number 1 album, Beyond Salvation, in June. "Let The Night Roll On" was the lead single from the album - but both it and a version of Beyond Salvation had already been released overseas in 1989 under the name the band adopted internationally, The Angels From Angel City. 
Another fun fact I didn't know about The Angels until now is that two former members of the band ended up forming GANGgajang (who scored their first ARIA top 50 hit this week 30 years ago). Anyway, back to "Let The Night Roll One"... This may well be the first time I've ever listened to this single - and the chorus reminds me a little bit of "Highway To Hell", especially the way the song's title is sung. That's all I've got.




Number 37 "Let Love Rule" by Lenny Kravitz
Peak: number 36
His debut single may not have progressed much further up the ARIA chart but it was early days for Lenny Kravitz, who'd go on to become quite successful throughout the rest of the decade. Accompanied by a video both directed by and featuring his then-wife, former The Cosby Show star Lisa Bonet, "Let Love Rule" had the throwback sound and blend of psychedelic rock, soul and funk for which Lenny would become known firmly in place. Like Australia, I'd take a little while to warm up to his particular brand of music.




Number 30 "Italo House Mix" by Rococo
Peak: number 13
What do you get when you cross Jive Bunny with Black Box? This timely megamix of current dance hits with re-recorded vocals courtesy of twins Elaine and Evelyn (who don't seem to have a surname). Although, I actually wouldn't be surprised if the girls, who clearly subscribed to the Collette school of fashion, didn't actually sing on the record and just appeared in the video. That would have been very on-trend.
"Italo House Mix" is actually a bit of a misnomer, since only three of the seven songs were Italo house tracks - Black Box's "Ride On Time", "Numero Uno" by Starlight (which re-entered the top 50 this week) and "Sueño Latino" by the act of the same name. The other four - "Mantra For A State Of Mind" by S'Express, Lil Louis' "French Kiss", Technotronic's "Pump Up The Jam" and "Warning!" by Adeva - were from different parts of the world and different sub-genres of house. 
Regular readers will know of my disdain for Jive Bunny and the songs they mixed together, but despite the fact that I actually liked most of the tracks utilised in "Italo House Mix", I'd much rather listen to the original versions than this cheap-sounding cash-in.




Next week: two simultaneous new entries by the same artist - who probably had the Rococo record to thank for her sudden success. Plus, the arrival of the Forbidden Dance. 


Back to: Jan 21, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 4, 1990


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: January 27, 1985

One of the things that annoys me most about retro music television programming is that the same old hits get wheeled out over and over - usually the biggest single by any given act - and the rest of an artist's back catalogue is ignored. Do I really need to see "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" or "True" again when they could play "Everything She Wants" or "Communication"?

I'm Talking had as many top 10 hits as Kate Ceberano managed as a solo artist

I'm not just randomly venting. The reason I'm bringing this up is that the new entries on the ARIA singles chart this week 30 years ago were all from acts that had bigger and/or better known hits - and as a result, many of this week's songs have faded into obscurity since they're rarely played anymore. In most of the cases, that's not a good thing.

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

A song that has become anything but obscure over the past three decades was still at number 1 this week in 1985 - Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" held on to the top spot for a second week.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing)" by Romeo Void
Peak: number 74
Not long after this single gave them their first US top 40 hit, American new wave band Romeo Void split up. How's that for gratitude?

Number 96 "Closest Thing To Heaven" by Kane Gang
Peak: number 57
A nice example of the excellently named genre sophisti-pop, this single was Kane Gang's first hit in the UK. They'd have to wait until later in 1985 to achieve one in Australia.

Number 85 "Catch My Fall" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 61
There's a reason this fourth single from Rebel Yell has become all but forgotten in the past 30 years - it's a bit boring, really.


New Entries
Number 50 "Gimme Some Loving" by GANGgajang
Peak: number 46
Here's the debut single by a band that'd go on to release one of the best known Australiana rock songs of all time ("Sounds Of Then") before the end of the year. Formed by four musicians who'd worked on TV series Sweet And Sour, the members of GANGgajang had also all played for a bunch of different bands over the years - with Chris Bailey (not the guy from The Saints) and Graham "Buzz" Bidstrup both formerly of The Angels. "Gimme Some Loving" is an OK song - but a number 46 placement is about right.




Number 47 "Dancing On The Jetty" by INXS
Peak: number 39
Given The Swing had already spent 43 weeks on the top 50 albums chart - five of those at number 1 - getting a big hit from the LP's fourth single was always going to be a tall order. And so, after three consecutive top 3 hits ("Original Sin", "I Send A Message" and "Burn For You"), "Dancing On The Jetty" became INXS's worst performing single since 1982's "Night Of Rebellion" and least successful top 50 effort to date. None of that means it's not a good song - in fact, I quite like it - but it's probably not among the first dozen songs by the band most people would think of.




Number 42 "Trust Me" by I'm Talking
Peak: number 10
1985 was a big year for Kate Ceberano, but ask most people to hum this breakthrough single by her band I'm Talking and they'd probably struggle. The first of three top 10 hits by the funk group, "Trust Me" (and the rest of I'm Talking's material) hasn't had the longevity of Kate's later solo work, which is a shame since it was rare for an Australian band to produce funk music this good - let alone for it to chart so well. But even at the time, the song was a bit overshadowed by the two much bigger hits Kate and fellow I'm Talking singer Zan performed guest vocals on in 1985 - Models' "Barbados" and "Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight".




Number 38 "The Belle Of St. Mark" by Sheila E
Peak: number 16
"The Glamorous Life"? You still hear that every now and again. This follow-up isn't so lucky, despite being almost as big a hit in Australia. Once again written and co-produced by Prince, "The Belle Of St. Mark" was actually the third collaboration between the pair to feature's Sheila's vocals - she'd performed on his classic B-side "Erotic City" (the flip side to "Let's Go Crazy") in 1984. I'm sure even that gets more attention today than this excellent track.




Number 31 "The Riddle" by Nik Kershaw
Peak: number 6
It might have peaked one place lower than his biggest hit, "Wouldn't It Be Good" (and done the same in the UK, where his biggest hit was "I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"), but "The Riddle" will always be my favourite single by Nik Kershaw - nonsense lyrics and all. The song was the lead single from his second album, also called The Riddle, which came out just eight-and-a-half months after his debut release, Human Racing




Next week: a Canadian rocker and a flamboyant British pop act make their top 50 debuts, while one of my favourite songs by my all-time top girl group is a chart disappointment in Australia. Plus, a future number 1 from a two-hit wonder arrives.


Back to: Jan 20, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 3, 1985


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: January 21, 1990

I've always been more a fan of pop singers than rock chicks - and the divide between the two grew ever wider in the 1990s with less artists straddling both genres (as had often been the case in the 1980s). To prove the point, one of each type of singer made their ARIA top 50 debut this week 25 years ago.

Black leather-sporting Alannah Myles hit big with "Black Velvet"

On the one hand, we had the arrival of a Canadian rocker whose first two singles would soon be climbing the chart simultaneously, and on the other we had a British singer known for her work with house group Coldcut but whose solo work tended more towards pop and soul. Naturally, I preferred the latter.

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

The new entry by each female performer was a number 1 single internationally, and although both did well in Australia, neither topped our top 50. Meanwhile, the song that once again was on top the Australian chart this week in 1990 was "Love Shack" by The B-52's.


Off The Chart
Number 98 "Volare" by Gipsy Kings
Peak: number 90
One of music's most covered songs, the Italian standard was given a Spanish twist by the flamenco guitar-wielding troupe for their latest album Mosaïque.

Number 90 "I See Red" by Split Enz
Peak: number 75
In 1979, it peaked at number 15, and in 1990, "I See Red" was reissued to coincide with the release of History Never Repeats - The Best Of Split Enz. In this case, the first half of the album title was accurate.


Single Of The Week
"Fool For Your Loving" by Whitesnake
Peak: number 69
It'd worked a treat on their last album, but the decision to re-record another of their old singles wasn't as fruitful for Whitesnake second time around. Originally appearing on their third album, Ready An' Willing, in 1980, "Fool For Your Loving" was given a do-over for 1989's Slip Of The Tongue - and ended up being lifted as the lead single. But, unlike the reception that greeted the band's remake of "Here I Go Again" a couple of years earlier, this new version was a chart disappointment. 




New Entries
Number 48 "Sacrifice" by Elton John
Peak: number 7
It might have been a new decade, but it was business as usual for Elton John, who racked up yet another top 10 hit with this second single from Sleeping With The Past. His biggest record in Australia since 1986's "Heartache All Over The World" (which also peaked at number 7), "Sacrifice" would also form one half of Elton's first ever solo UK number 1 when it was re-released there along with "Healing Hands" later in 1990. For me, the song falls into the same category as "Nikita" and "Blue Eyes" - ballads that are pleasant enough but pale in comparison to the likes of "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" and "Your Song"




Number 42 "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles
Peak: number 3
Before there was Alanis Morissette and Avril Lavigne, there was original Canadian rocker Alannah Myles, who found herself with one of the world's biggest singles for 1990 in "Black Velvet", which reached number 1 in the US, number 2 in the UK and number 3 here. Although it was her first song to reach the ARIA top 50, it wasn't her debut single - that'd arrive on the chart in a few weeks' time. Aged 31 when "Black Velvet" took off, Alannah, whose real surname is Byles, had worked as an actress in the '80s while she tried to land a record deal. We'll pick up her story in early February.




Number 27 "All Around The World" by Lisa Stansfield
Peak: number 9

And, at the other end of the musical spectrum is this pop singer who already had a couple of big UK hits to her name (well, one was actually credited to Coldcut featuring Lisa Stansfield) and took the rest of the world by storm with this single. Less house and more soul, "All Around The World" was even a chart-topper on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart (now known as the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart), which was obviously a rarity for a non-African American artist at the time. 
The song was co-written and produced by Ian Devaney and Andy Morris, the two other members of Lisa's former group, Blue Zone. When Blue Zone failed to set the charts alight (despite releasing a great version of "Jackie" in 1988), Lisa stepped even further into the spotlight as a solo artist, while the other two carried on working in the background. Side note: Lisa and Ian entered into a different type of partnership in 1998 when they were married. 




Number 20 "Please Send Me Someone To Love" by Johnny Diesel & The Injectors
Peak: number 11

What do you get when you combine Australia's hottest young rock band with the soundtrack to the first feature film starring Kylie Minogue? A smash hit, that's what. A cover of the 1950 single by Percy Mayfield, "Please Send Me Someone To Love" was Johnny Diesel & The Injectors' first release not to have appeared on their debut self-titled album. It was also the band's second cover of a pre-rock'n'roll era blues song in a row (following "Since I Fell For You") - but there was a reason for revisiting that period of history. "Please Send Me..." was taken from The Delinquents, the 1950s romantic drama that marked Kylie's first foray onto the big screen. The rest of the soundtrack album consisted mostly of original songs from the period - although Kylie also remade a song from that decade, which we'll see hit the chart in a few weeks.




Next week: the Black Box effect takes hold of the chart, while an artist who'd be a major chart force throughout the decade makes a low-key debut.


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


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: January 20, 1985

A few years back, when music was in the throes of a major '80s revival (think La Roux, Goldfrapp's Head First, Little Boots, Fischerspooner), there was one trend from that decade that didn't really enjoy a resurgence: the power ballad. Sure, songs like "Someone Like You", "Wrecking Ball" and a fair few Ryan Tedder compositions have given it a shot over the past few years, but for me, they've all lacked that certain something that defined an '80s power ballad.

Future solo star Gloria Estefan made her ARIA debut in 1985

This week 30 years ago, the top two new entries on the ARIA singles chart were proper power ballads with big sing-along choruses, over-the-top emotion and the odd choir thrown in for good measure. Modern ballads tend to play it too cool - you really need to go all out with a power ballad, and these two songs did just that... all the way towards the top of the chart.

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

At the top this week in 1985 - Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" dethroned "Like A Virgin" for the start of a four-week run at number 1. 

Before we get to the new entries on this week's printed ARIA chart, let's take a quick look at the songs that made their debut inside the top 100 this week - but didn't make it as far the top 50.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Midnight Man" by Flash & The Pan
Peak: number 66
Who would ever have expected Vanda & Young of The Easybeats to end up in a synthpop band? Initially successful in Australia in the late '70s, interest in the new wave act had waned by 1985.

Number 97 "Centipede" by Rebbie Jackson
Peak: number 97
It was inevitable. Since every other member of the Jackson clan had released an album, eldest sibling Rebbie finally got around to hers. This lead single was written and produced by Michael. 

Number 96 "The Heart Of Rock & Roll" by Huey Lewis & The News
Peak: number 58
Australia had passed on this song first time around - it peaked outside the top 100 - but following the success of "If This Is It" (which was still in the top 30), "The Heart Of Rock & Roll" finally got a look-in.

Number 95 "Singing In The Shower" by Solid Citizens
Peak: number 59
More under-performing Australian synthpop from the Brisbane group whose debut single had previously featured on the soundtrack to ABC series Sweet & Sour before they released their own version.

Number 89 "Easy Lover" by Philip Bailey & Phil Collins
Peak: number 74
How did this single - a UK number 1 and a US number 2 - perform so badly in Australia? Because Phil Collins' record label dug their heels in and it wasn't given a local release. Instead, "Easy Lover" charted here due to imports from New Zealand. A blight on Phil's otherwise impeccable chart record between 1983 and 1985.


New Entries
Number 49 "Skin Deep" by The Stranglers
Peak: number 11
Australia hadn't been interested in The Stranglers until they moved away from their punk roots for the sophisticated sound of 1982's "Golden Brown", rewarding that song with a number 10 peak. The lead single from eighth album Aural Sculpture, "Skin Deep" did almost as well, but it would be another two-year gap before the band landed their next hit. The Stranglers are still around today, with the core of Jet Black, Jean-Jacques Burnel and Dave Greenfield having been present since the mid-'70s, however this song's vocalist, Hugh Cornwell, left in 1990.




Number 48 "The NeverEnding Story" by Limahl
Peak: number 6
About as subtle as an overblown power ballad, this soundtrack single from the ex-Kajagoogoo singer has everything you want in an '80s hit - a curiously coiffed singer in what looks like double pleather, Giorgio Moroder production, random female vocals from an uncredited vocalist (who's not the woman in the clip), a key change. The theme to the movie of the same name, "The NeverEnding Story" equalled the peak reached by "Too Shy", the biggest single by Limahl's old band. The song would also have qualified him as a one-hit wonder in his own right were it not for the number 50 placing of prior single "Only For Love".




Number 47 "Life's A Gamble" by The Radiators
Peak: number 47
Elsewhere on this blog, I've mentioned my eldest sister's influence on my musical taste. Howard Jones, Madness, The Cure, The Style Council... her love of all those acts rubbed off on me. She was also a huge fan of The Radiators - or The Rads (as in "Rads Rule") - but for the most part I avoided anything to do with them. After all, one of their early songs was a charming track called "Gimme Head" and I was a kid who didn't even want to go and see an M-rated movie in case it was too rude. Anyway, this is the exception to the no-Radiators rule for me (I even borrowed said sister's best of CD to rip it into my iTunes collection) - and I'm kind of surprised it wasn't a bigger hit. But then, The Radiators were never that successful, peaking at a career-high of number 27 with 1983's "No Tragedy".  




Number 45 "Dr. Beat" by Miami Sound Machine
Peak: number 11
Between 1977 and 1984, Latin group Miami Sound Machine released seven albums before tackling the English-speaking world with Eyes Of Innocence - and interestingly, Australia and the UK showed interest way ahead of America, where the band would have to wait until later in 1985 for their first hit with "Conga". Their first international single, the infectious (pun intended) "Dr. Beat" hit number 6 in the UK and fell just short of the top 10 locally. Twenty years later, it'd return to the ARIA top 20 as part of Mylo's mashup hit "Doctor Pressure", which peaked one place lower.




Number 44 "Had A Dream (Sleeping With The Enemy)" by Roger Hodgson
Peak: number 21
I have to admit, I had never heard of this song or artist before putting this post together - something that surprised me given it was a decent-sized hit and while I might not have been collecting the ARIA chart by 1985, I was certainly following it on TV and radio. Turns out, even though I didn't recognise the name, I do know Roger Hodgson's voice from his time as one of the two main vocalists in Supertramp. "Had A Dream (Sleeping With The Enemy)" was Roger's debut solo single and performed considerably better in Australia than either the UK or the US. Think the six-minute music video below is lengthy? The song clocked in at even longer eight-and-a-half minutes on the album In The Eye Of The Storm. Seems you can take the guy out of the prog rock band, but you can't... well, you know.




Number 42 "Ti Amo" by Laura Branigan
Peak: number 2
Here's the first of our two epic ballads - and it was yet another song originally recorded by Italian singer Umberto Tozzi that Laura Branigan transformed for the English-language market. The others? Australian chart-topper "Gloria", for one; Branigan 2 album track "Mama" for another. And like the latter, "Ti Amo" received a little help in translation from future A-list songwriter Diane Warren. A little histrionic for my liking, "Ti Amo" nevertheless became Laura's second-biggest hit in Australia - and one of four top 5 hits for her locally. Besides "Gloria", there was 1983's "Solitaire" (number 5) and 1984's "Self Control" (number 3).




Number 28 "I Want To Know What Love Is" by Foreigner
Peak: number 1
When you think of the biggest '80s power ballads, this has to be somewhere towards to the top of the list - and it did what five other Foreigner US top 5 hits couldn't by going all the way to number 1 in America. It also topped the chart in Australia and the UK, where Foreigner's only previous top 10 hit was warm-up ballad "Waiting For A Girl Like You". A massive song - thanks in no small part to the presence of the New Jersey Mass Choir - it ended 1985 as Australia's fifth-biggest single. In subsequent decades, "I Want To Know What Love Is" has been covered by two singers who know their way around a power ballad: Tina Arena and Mariah Carey, but nowhere near as effectively.




Next week: one of my favourite songs from 1985 arrives, as does the Australian funk act that'd launch a future ARIA Award-winning female singer on an unsuspecting public. Before then, I head to 1990 for 25 Years Ago This Week


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


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: January 14, 1990

One of the most exciting things about the Australian charts from 1990 onwards is that information about positions 51 to 100 is readily available. Well, exciting for chart geeks like me, that is. For some reason, when ARIA took the compilation of the charts in-house in mid-1988, they didn't reveal any positions outside the top 50 until the start of 1990 - although I've been able to find some of those out for the purposes of this blog over the past couple of years.

Even Bros, Kylie and Jason couldn't help Band Aid II's chart fortunes in Australia

With all of the top 100 info at my fingertips from now on, I thought I'd add a section to my weekly post where I list the new entries that didn't make it as far as the top 50 - and didn't wind up as a Single Of The Week or a Breaker. I won't go into them too much, since they're mostly long-forgotten flops, but there will be the odd overlooked classic in there (maybe not this week, though).

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

A song that could never be called overlooked is "Love Shack" by The B-52's, which held onto the number 1 spot and had established itself as the song of the summer by this stage. We'll see the song that ended up deposing it from the top make its debut this week.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "Rock And A Hard Place" by The Rolling Stones
Peak: number 99
Lead single "Mixed Emotions" had been a top 30 hit in 1989, but this second release from Steel Wheels made the most fleeting of visits to the top 100.

Number 98 "Sister" by Bros
Peak: number 98
In the UK, this ballad was their eighth and final top 10 hit but the Australian public passed on Bros' latest, written about the death of Matt and Luke's 18-year-old stepsister, Carolyn, in a 1988 car accident.

Number 97 "Enemy The Sun" by Bad Boy Johnny & The Prophets Of Doom
Peak: number 78
Performed by future top 30 act Troy Newman (who took over the role from Russell Crowe), this was taken from the soundtrack to the stage musical written by Return To Eden villain Daniel Abineri.


Breaker
"Oh Father" by Madonna
Peak: number 59
It had all been going so well! After three smash singles, which all made the year-end top 50 for 1989, the Like A Prayer campaign hit a snag when fourth single "Oh Father" bombed in spectacular style. By peaking at number 59, "Oh Father" became the lowest charting single of Madonna's career up until this point in Australia (side note: international singles "Everybody""The Look Of Love" and "Spotlight" were not released locally). 
It was a similar story in the US, where the ballad became her first single since "Holiday" not to make the top 10, peaking at number 20. In the UK, "Dear Jessie" was released instead at this point (and reached number 5), but the curse of "Oh Father" continued six years later when Madonna's British label issued the song to promote Something To Remember and it also became one of her only singles not to reach the top 10 there, getting no further than number 16. I, for one, quite like the song but no doubt most fans in Australia already had the album.




New Entries
Number 48 "Kickstart My Heart" by Mötley Crüe
Peak: number 34
"Dr. Feelgood" had given them their biggest chart hit in Australia in 1989, but Mötley Crüe didn't do quite as well with this frenetic follow-up - and it was the same story in the US where the number 27 peak of "Kickstart My Heart" paled in comparison to the top 10 hits either side of it. Written by bassist Nikki Sixx about his near-death experience following - what else - a drug overdose in 1987, the track is probably my favourite song by the decadent band, although that's not saying much.




Number 45 "Come Back To Me" by Indecent Obsession
Peak: number 40
After two upbeat pop hits, it was time for the obligatory big ballad - complete with kiddy choir and key change - for Indecent Obsession. If this were the UK, the school hymn-like "Come Back To Me" would've been released slightly earlier and been in the running for the Christmas number 1 spot - it certainly sounds like a third-rate "Stay Another Day" by East 17. In Australia, the song only just slipped into the top 40 and was pretty much the death knell for the band's career locally, even though they'd bravely soldier on for a few more years.




Number 42 "La Luna" by Belinda Carlisle
Peak: number 21

It was an improvement on the performance of the second singles from her previous two albums, but "La Luna" still fell some way short of living up to the top 10 success of "Leave A Light On" (just as "I Feel The Magic" and "I Get Weak" disappointed after "Mad About You" and "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" respectively). The Latin-flavoured "La Luna" wasn't actually lifted from Runaway Horses in the States - instead "Summer Rain" was chosen as single number two there. And, even though "Summer Rain" would eventually be released here, I can't help but think the Americans got it right with their pick and "La Luna" should probably have been left to later. 




Number 39 "Don't Know Much" by Linda Ronstadt/Aaron Neville
Peak: number 2

A quintessentially '80s ballad, "Don't Know Much" had indeed been around for the entire decade, first recorded by co-writer Barry Mann for his self-titled album in 1980. Covered over the years by artists like Bill Medley (who released it as a single in 1981) and Bette Midler (whose 1983 version was re-titled "All I Need To Know"), it had never been a big hit. Turned into a duet by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, and given a more rousing feel, the song finally connected - and how, reaching number 2 in the Australia, the US and the UK. Easily the best version recorded of "Don't Know Much" thanks to Linda and Aaron's effortless vocals, the duet became an instant wedding dance and love song dedication favourite.




Number 38 "Janie's Got A Gun" by Aerosmith
Peak: number 1

They were known more for good-time tracks like "Walk This Way" and "Love In An Elevator", but it was this significantly more serious song about an abused child growing up to take revenge on the father who molested her that gave Aerosmith their first substantial hit in Australia. It even spent a week at number 1. Not sure what that says about us, although it's probably fair to say "Janie's Got A Gun" was always going to get a lot of attention regardless of who performed it, thanks to that subject matter and the dark music video directed by David Fincher.




Number 30 "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid II
Peak: number 30
On my first 30 Years Ago This Week post, we saw the original version of "Do They Know It's Christmas" debut on the Australian chart - and exactly five years later, a new version produced by Stock Aitken Waterman arrived. Featuring most of the Hit Factory's stable of artists (Kylie, Jason, Bananarama, Sonia, Big Fun) as well as big pop acts of the day like Wet Wet Wet, Bros and Lisa Stansfield, it once again raised money for famine in Africa. All but written out of Band Aid history in the wake of the "more credible" versions released in 2004 and 2014, the charity song was as popular as it's ever been in 1989, taking out the UK Christmas number 1 spot and staying there for three weeks. In Australia, this belated entry position was as good as it got - and it remains the only version of the song not to make the top 10 locally.




Next week: the arrival of two new female vocalists who'd take the world by storm in 1990 - one of whom you can see in the YouTube screenshot just above. Plus, a song taken from the film debut of another Band Aid II contributor. Before that, I'll pop back to 1985 on Tuesday to see what was happening on the ARIA singles chart 30 years ago.


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


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: January 13, 1985

For the past couple of years, I've been taking a look back 25 years to what was happening on the ARIA top 50 singles chart - and I've reached 1990 with those posts. But, this year marks three decades since one of the most important times in music history. Spurred on by the overwhelming success of the highest new entry on the chart this week in 1985, the music industry pulled together like never before in the name of charity.

Band Aid changed the face of music as 1985 began

So it only seemed right to revisit 1985 with a new weekly update - the imaginatively titled 30 Years Ago This Week. I wasn't collecting the ARIA chart myself at that stage (that wouldn't happen until 1987), but I have managed to get my hands on every top 50 from that year. If you want to know what I was doing and listening to that year, you can check out my favourite songs from 1985 here 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - three weeks ending January 13, 1985

Before we get on with our first look back at what Australia was listening to 30 years ago, a couple of points to note. This first ARIA top 50 is for the three weeks ending January 13, 1985 and reflects record sales prior to December 23, 1984 - which explains some of the festive tunes in the upper reaches of the chart. For this week only, I'll take a quick look at all the songs in the top 50 and pay particular attention to the new entries. Then, from next week, I'll follow the same format as my 25 Years Ago... posts and focus mainly on the debuts.


Number 50 "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" by U2
Peak: number 4
Until 1988, this was the Irish group's biggest hit of the decade in Australia - and this marked its final week in the top 50.

Number 49 "What About Me?" by Kenny Rogers with Kim Carnes & James Ingram
NEW ENTRY
Peak: number 49
In 2015, a collaboration like this would be nothing new - but in 1985, it was pretty unusual for three singers to perform on a track together. The lead single from country crossover star Kenny Rogers' album of the same name, "What About Me?" saw him reunite with Kim Carnes (who he'd duetted with on 1980's number 38 "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer) and also team up with soul star James Ingram - the third choice after Lionel Richie and Jeffrey Osborne pulled out. Kim, meanwhile, became involved after Barbra Streisand and Olivia Newton-John were unavailable. A love story told from three perspectives, the song was written by Kenny with hitmaker David Foster and a then-unknown Richard Marx. Not a massive hit in Australia - it'd fall out of the top 50 the following week - "What About Me?" performed better in the States, where it reached number 15.




Number 48 "I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister
NEW ENTRY
Peak: number 43
It was always going to be hard following up "We're Not Gonna Take It" (which was making its way down the chart from its top 10 peak), but "I Wanna Rock" was a valiant effort by Twisted Sister to avoid becoming a novelty one-hit wonder and is a better song (if you like that sort of thing) than its lowly chart peak suggests. Again, much of the appeal of the single came from its music video, which featured two of the stars of National Lampoon's Animal House and felt like the climax of a teen comedy film. Despite the effort, "I Wanna Rock" ended up a minor hit both here and in the US, and Twisted Sister puttered out a couple of years later with only one further Billboard Hot 100 entry - a cover of The Shangri-Las' "Leader Of The Pack" - to their name.




Number 47 "Phantom Shuffle" by Austen Tayshus
Peak: number 16
No "Australiana", this parody of comic strip character The Phantom (aka The Ghost Who Walks) had more of a niche appeal.

Number 46 "Apocalypso (Wiping The Smile Off Santa's Face)" by Mental As Anything
Peak: number 37
Another comic record - this stand-alone festive single kept the Mentals in the chart until they were ready to release Fundamental

Number 45 "Like To Get To Know You Well" by Howard Jones
Peak: number 16
Amazingly, "What Is Love" had stalled at number 31, but Howard made up for it with this, his first top 20 hit in Australia - which was on its way off the chart.

Number 44 "Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)" by Eurythmics
NEW ENTRY
Peak: number 5
Sneaking into the top 50 just as the year after it is named came to an end, this brand-new single by Eurythmics was taken from the soundtrack to Nineteen Eighty-Four, the film adaptation of the George Orwell novel (in which the concept of Big Brother was created). Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart recorded the entire soundtrack album, which was only a modest hit (it reached number 22) after two consecutive top 5 albums. But, there was nothing modest about the success of "Sexcrime...", which became the duo's biggest hit in Australia up until that point, beating the number 6 peak of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" by one spot. An even bigger song was just around the corner for the pair - and no, I'm not talking about "Julia", the second single from the soundtrack, which may not even have been released in Australia.




Number 43 "Moonlight Lady" by Julio Iglesias
NEW ENTRY
Peak: number 43
Decades before his son told listeners in no uncertain terms what he was going to do to them, Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias took a more subtle approach to wooing the fairer sex. The smooth-as-silk "Moonlight Lady" was the latest single from Julio's smash album 1100 Bel Air Place, which was firmly ensconced in the albums top 10 and featured previous hits "To All The Girls I've Loved Before" (with Willie Nelson) and "All Of You" (with Diana Ross). Written by the songwriting team of Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager (who'd also penned Leo Sayer's "When I Need You"), "Moonlight Lady" was, like the Kenny Rogers song, another brief chart hit and would be Julio's last appearance on the top 50 for over three years.




Number 42 "Dancing In Berlin" by Berlin
Peak: number 39
I love a song that features the band name in its title (see also: "Living In A Box", "Talk Talk"). I also like Berlin's synthpop singles, like this and "No More Words" (number 23 in 1984).

Number 41 "No Say In It" by Machinations
Peak: number 14
Local synthpop now, with the biggest and best single by Sydney-based Machinations, whose first two albums are just about to get the deluxe reissue treatment

Number 40 "Guardian Angel" by Masquerade
Peak: number 27
Completing a trio of international synthpop is this track by German duo Masquerade, which came out in Europe in late 1983 and would finally reach its Australian peak in February 1985.

Number 39 "Hard Habit To Break" by Chicago
Peak: number 20
The last time MOR kings Chicago were on the top 50 it was with another "Hard..." single: "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" (number 4 in 1982). "Hard Habit To Break" wasn't as big and would be the band's final top 20 hit in Australia.

Number 38 "Agadoo" by Black Lace
Peak: number 16
The chart run of "Agadoo" was torturous, but thank heaven for small mercies - Australia was spared other party favourites like "Hokey Cokey" and "Do The Conga" reaching our top 50, as they had in the UK.

Number 37 "Searchin' (I Gotta Find A Man)" by Hazell Dean
Peak: number 17
Gay classic time - with the first of a high-energy double play. First, it's future Stock Aitken Waterman artist Hazell Dean with this track, covered over two decades later by Young Divas.

Number 36 "Why?" by Bronski Beat
Peak: number 10
Next, it's a song with an anti-homophobic message from the politically charged trio Bronski Beat, who enjoyed a second top 10 hit with this powerful single.

Number 35 "Dancing In The Dark" by Bruce Springsteen
Peak: number 5
The highest-selling single in Australia for 1984 didn't even hit number 1, but it did spend 64 weeks in the top 100 (11 in the top 10) - and was about halfway through that run at this point.

Number 34 "Private Dancer" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 21
The title track from her comeback album gave Tina a fourth chart hit in 1984, the biggest of which had been chart-topper "What's Love Got To Do With It".

Number 33 "Power Of Love" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Peak: number 4
As we'll see, Christmas of 1984 will go down in history as one of the biggest years for festive hit singles - and this third release from FGTH came complete with a nativity-themed video.

Number 32 "Big On Love" by Models
Peak: number 24
A Models single I'd forgotten about until the last couple of years - partly because it was left off the best of I have and partly because it was overshadowed by the band's next two singles.

Number 31 "All Through The Night" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 17
Another song that gets a little overlooked - the fact it didn't have an official video doesn't help - is this fourth hit by 1985's Grammy Award-winning new artist.

Number 30 "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister
Peak: number 6
Fun fact: Twisted Sister's big hit was taken from the album Stay Hungry. The band revisited the LP two decades later in a revamped version they called Still Hungry

Number 29 "The Glamorous Life" by Sheila E
Peak: number 11
One of the many female artists to benefit from the songwriting and production prowess of Prince during the '80s was singer/percussionist Sheila E. This was her debut single. 

Number 28 "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" by Paul Young
Peak: number 25
His breakthrough hit, "Wherever I Lay My Hay (That's My Home)", was a cover of on obscure soul track, and so was this lead single from second album The Secret Of Association - but this was nowhere near as big.

Number 27 "Left In The Dark" by Barbra Streisand
Peak: number 27
Another under-performing lead single was this epic Jim Steinman-penned and produced ballad from Babs' Emotion album. Never heard it before, don't care to again.

Number 26 "Careless Whisper" by George Michael
Peak: number 1
The first of four entries to feature the vocals of Georgios Panayiotou, "Careless Whisper" was his debut effort as a solo artist - and the fourth highest-selling single of 1984 in Australia.

Number 25 "No More Lonely Nights" by Paul McCartney
Peak: number 9
Ah, the vanity movie project, so beloved of music stars in the '80s (see also: Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson). This single was taken from the flop film Give My Regards To Broad Street.

Number 24 "All Cried Out" by Alison Moyet
Peak: number 21
The glut of ballads continues with this second single from the former Yazoo single - a song that's better than the last three entries combined.

Number 23 "If This Is It" by Huey Lewis & The News
Peak: number 20
Another middling chart position for the band who sued the man at number 7 over plagiarism claims. The matter was settled out of court, while Huey and pals finally achieved chart glory themselves in 1985.

Number 22 "The Warrior" by Scandal featuring Patty Smyth
Peak: number 6
One of three songs on this chart by genuine one-hit wonders, "The Warrior" was co-written by Nick Gilder, who hit number 18 in 1978 with "Hot Child In The City". 

Number 21 "The War Song" by Culture Club
Peak: number 2
After their two number 1 hits ("Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" and "Karma Chameleon"), this polarising release was the next highest placing single for Boy George and the other three.

Number 20 "Smooth Operator" by Sade
Peak: number 20
Interestingly, this fourth single by Sade and debut single "Your Love Is King" had both entered the top 100 in the same week. "Smooth Operator" peaked 44 positions higher.

Number 19 "Christmas Countdown" by Frank Kelly
Peak: number 16
Famous for playing Father Jack in British sitcom Father Ted, actor Frank Kelly performed this comic spin on "The 12 Days Of Christmas" - the number 1 song in NSW this week in 1985. 

Number 18 "We Belong" by Pat Benatar
Peak: number 7
A year after hitting the chart with chart-topper "Love Is A Battlefield", Pat returned to the top 10 (along with a kiddy choir) with this lead single from sixth album Tropico.  

Number 17 "I'm Tuff" by George Smilovici
Peak: number 10
A second one-hit wonder and another comedy record to feature on this top 50 from the Cuban-born comedian who still does stand-up today (see his website for upcoming dates).

Number 16 "Shout To The Top!" by The Style Council
Peak: number 8
He didn't manage a top 10 placing with The Jam (biggest hit: "Town Called Malice/Precious", number 15 in 1982), but Paul Weller's latest band did achieve that.

Number 15 "Sea Of Love" by The Honeydrippers
Peak: number 5
Our third one-hit wonder was a supergroup comprised of musicians who were otherwise no strangers to chart success - including Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Nile Rodgers.

Number 14 "Too Late For Goodbyes" by Julian Lennon
Peak: number 13
Four years after the death of his father shocked the world, Julian Lennon emerged as a music star in his own right with this hit debut single.

Number 13 "Together In Electric Dreams" by Giorgio Moroder/Phil Oakey
Peak: number 5
My favourite single for 1984, "Together In Electric Dreams" was another case of a soundtrack recording (in this case, the theme to Electric Dreams) being far better than the movie itself.

Number 12 "Soul Kind Of Feeling" by Dynamic Hypnotics
Peak: number 5
One of my least favourite hits from 1984, "Soul Kind Of Feeling" was one of those songs that was impossible to escape... and then get out of your head. Don't say I didn't warn you if you click the link above.

Number 11 "Out Of Touch" by Hall & Oates
Peak: number 11
The last of six US number 1s for Daryl Hall and John Oates, "Out Of Touch" would also be their final top 50 appearance in Australia - and is my favourite of their many hits.

Number 10 "Freedom" by Wham!
Peak: number 3
While "Careless Whisper" had been credited to Wham! featuring George Michael in some countries, this was the official follow-up to "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" - and one of two Wham! songs in the top 10.

Number 9 "I Am Only Shooting Love" by Time Bandits
Peak: number 9
The first of a pair of top 10 hits from the Dutch two-hit wonders - the other being 1985's "Endless Road". In between those two hits, Time Bandits flopped with number 53 single "Listen To The Man With The Golden Voice". 

Number 8 "The Wild Boys" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 3
Their last three top 10 singles had all peaked at number 4, and Duran Duran went one better with this song, which achieved the band's highest ever chart position in Australia. Probably a good thing given the cost of the music video.

Number 7 "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr
Peak: number 2
George Michael kept him off number 1, but Ray Parker Jr had the last laugh, with "Ghostbusters" finishing 1984 as the year's third biggest single (one place above "Careless Whisper"). 

Number 6 "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder
Peak: number 1
Another enduring hit - this song from The Woman In Red topped the chart for eight weeks from mid-October to mid-December and wouldn't leave the top 50 for good until May. 

Number 5 "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 2
I'd forgotten how big this song was - as well as its ARIA chart achievements, it topped the US top 100 and won a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. 

Number 4 "I Feel For You" by Chaka Khan
Peak: number 4
Like "The Glamorous Life", "I Feel For You" was written by Prince - but in this case was also originally recorded by him, appearing on his self-titled second album in 1979. Before Chaka released it, versions were also recorded by The Pointer Sisters and eldest Jackson sibling Rebbie.

Number 3 "Last Christmas" by Wham!
Peak: number 3
Wham!'s other big single this week in 1985 was a special festive release that clocked up eight weeks at number 3. It would've taken the coveted UK Christmas number 1 spot were it not for the song below (although "Last Christmas" did end up as the highest-selling UK number 2 of all time).

Number 2 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid
NEW ENTRY
Peak: number 1
Recorded on November 24, 1984 and in record stores in the UK by December 3 (and Australia shortly after), "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was a rapid-fire response to a serious problem: the famine in Ethiopia. The story behind the single is well known, with The Boomtown Rats' Bob Geldof and Ultravox's Midge Ure scrambling to write the song and assemble a group of (mostly) British musicians to perform it. 
The result was an instant number 1 in the UK - and for many years the highest-selling single of all time in Britain, with over three million copies sold by this point in 1985. In Australia, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" wouldn't reach number 1 for another week (reflecting sales from across the festive season) - and would stay there well after Christmas was a distant memory, registering four weeks at the top.




Number 1 "Like A Virgin" by Madonna
Peak: number 1
A fifth and final week at number 1 for the lead single from Madonna's second album. She'd return to the top twice more during 1985, as well as landing three other top 10 hits.


Next week: two of the biggest ballad hits of the year debut, as does the theme to a classic '80s movie - I know, that doesn't really narrow it down given it's 1985 we're talking about. And tomorrow, it's back to 1990 as I look back at the ARIA top 50 from this week 25 years ago.


                                                                     GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 20, 1985