Wednesday, 25 February 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: February 25, 1990

For some musical acts, chart success is a breeze, while others have to slog away making slow progress towards their first top 40 hit. This week 25 years ago, both situations played out on the ARIA singles chart.

1990: time for Soul II Soul on the ARIA chart?

In one case, a band with three top 10 hits already under their belt arrived with what would turn out to be their fourth to reach the top tier. In the other, a band who'd already released two classic singles debuted with the song that would see them finally slip into the top 40. I was a fan of both, so it was good news all round as far as I was concerned.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending February 25, 1990

A song I wasn't a fan of made major chart news this week in 1990. After debuting last week at number 37, "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor made a chart-shattering leap of 36 places to knock Aerosmith from the number 1 spot. 

The last song to make a jump to number 1 from within the top 50 anything like that was "99 Luftballons" by Nena, which advanced from number 17 to number 1 in March 1984. Since then, only "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx had managed to jump from outside the top 10 to number 1 (moving 11-1), making Sinéad's feat all the more remarkable.


Off the chart
Number 99 "Can't Shake The Feeling" by Big Fun
Peak: number 97
The world's worst boy band follow up the most awful cover of "Blame It On The Boogie" with an actually quite good Stock Aitken Waterman original. Pity about those vocals.

Number 93 "Most Wanted Man In The World" by Paul Kelly & The Messengers
Peak: number 74
Featuring a live version of his composition "Beggar On The Street Of Love" (as performed with a shorter title by Jenny Morris) on the B-side, this was the final single from So Much Water So Close To Home

Number 86 "Resurrection Time" by Nick Barker & The Reptiles
Peak: number 86
Their cover of "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)" had put them on the map, but this original track didn't get any further than this debut position... and isn't online.

Number 81 "Happy Birthday" by Concrete Blonde
Peak: number 81
1990 would bring a much bigger - and darker-sounding - hit for the American band, but this single from the Free album is much more my kind of thing.

Number 74 "Heart Of Stone" by Cher
Peak: number 70
Recorded the year earlier by Bucks Fizz as one of their final singles, Cher's version - and title track of her then-current album - made the US top 20 but fizzled in Australia.

Number 72 "Never Gonna Stop" by Indecent Obsession
Peak: number 72
I'm convinced flop ballad "Come Back To Me" caused this fourth single from the Aussie pop band, which was almost as good as hits "Say Goodbye" and "Tell Me Something", to be completely overlooked.


Breakers
"I Don't Wanna Lose You" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 59
Seems like opting for "Steamy Windows" instead of "I Don't Wanna Lose You" as the second single from Foreign Affair in Australia had been a good choice, with this more laidback song (which had been the second single in Europe) failing to follow its predecessors into the top 40. Despite another three singles being lifted from the album, none would perform in Australia - and Tina wouldn't return to the upper reaches of the chart until 1991, when a pair of cover versions gave her back-to-back number 16 hits.




"I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Peak: number 52
By 1989, Jeffrey Townes and Will Smith were already up to their third album, And In This Corner... - and this track referencing the boxing champ was its lead single. But despite its topical subject matter (Tyson was in the midst of career and personal strife), both the single and album were relative disappointments in the US compared to their previous efforts. In Australia, "I Think I Can..." became another single to land around the number 50 mark for the duo and it'd be another three-and-a-half years before they finally landed their musical TKO.




New entries
Number 46 "Get A Life" by Soul II Soul
Peak: number 38
After all but ignoring "Keep On Movin'" and "Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)", Australia was slowly starting to catch onto worldwide R&B stars Soul II Soul, with "Get A Life" becoming their first single to breach the top 40. The song, which swapped out Caron Wheeler for Marcie Lewis on guest vocals, was the lead single from the band's second album, Vol. II: 1990 - A New Decade
Caron, meanwhile, moved on to a solo career in 1990, although her debut single, "Livin' In The Light", didn't register in the ARIA top 100.  A song that did register (for a second time) on the top 100 as a result of the success of "Get A Life" was "Back To Life", which re-entered at number 45 on the chart we'll see next week.




Number 44 "Dangerous" by Roxette
Peak: number 9
While Soul II Soul were having a hard time crossing over in Australia, Roxette notched up their fourth straight top 10 hit here with "Dangerous". a remarkable feat given their album, Look Sharp!, had already spent 35 weeks on the top 50 - including four weeks at number 2 - and gone double platinum. And as we've seen so often, latter singles don't usually do as well once the album's been out for a while. Yes, "Dangerous" was remixed for the single - but it wasn't that different. Clearly, Australia just couldn't get enough of the Swedish duo (who, coincidentally, are playing in Sydney tonight!).




Next week: the arrival of one of 1990's worst singles, plus the top 50 debut of a rock band that'd become a major chart force in the years to come.


Back to: Feb 18, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 4, 1990


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: February 24, 1985

When we looked back at the ARIA singles chart from 1985 last week, it was all about the guys, with new entries exclusively from male artists. This week, women get a look-in, with debuts from two of the decade's most recognisable female voices, Cyndi Lauper and Alison Moyet.

Despite the title of her single, Alf was far from invisible on the ARIA chart 

The two singers sounded quite different - both vocally and musically - but their careers did share one thing in common: their period of commercial success didn't extend into the '90s. As we'll see, they have one more interesting (well, to me) musical link.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 24, 1985

At number 1 this week 30 years ago was a band who couldn't keep the momentum going beyond the '80s. Foreigner spent a second week on top with mega-ballad "I Want To Know What Love Is".


Off The Chart
Number 99 "Hands Tied" by Scandal featuring Patty Smyth
Peak: number 83
"The Warrior" had been a big number 6 hit, but this rather pedestrian follow-up missed the top 50 here and the top 40 in the US. 

Number 95 "Goodbye Barbara Ann" by Richard Clapton
Peak: number 90
Beyond this being the lead single from Richard's first (and seemingly only) album on Mushroom Records, Solidarity, I don't know a great deal about this song, which doesn't seem to be online.

Number 73 "Believe In The Beat" by Carol Lynn Townes
Peak: number 65
How have I never heard this song before? Taken from (and performed by American singer Carol Lynn at the end of) Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, it's three-and-a-half minutes of pure joy.

Number 57 "Listen To The Man With The Golden Voice" by Time Bandits
Peak: number 53
After two back-to-back top 10 hits, the luck ran out for the Dutch synthpop band with this single, which pre-dated "I Am Only Shooting Love", just falling short of the top 50.


New Entries
Number 50 "Invisible" by Alison Moyet
Peak: number 16
So far, Alison Moyet's solo career hadn't yielded a hit as big as either of Yazoo's top 10 singles ("Only You" and "Don't Go"), and while that didn't change with this third single from the Alf album, "Invisible" did become the powerfully voiced singer's highest charting song in Australia. The track was also the only song on her debut LP not written by the songwriting and production team of Jolley & Swain (who'd also been behind albums by Bananarama and Spandau Ballet). Instead, "Invisible" was penned by Lamont Dozier, one third of an even more successful songwriting and production unit: Motown hit factory Holland-Dozier-Holland.




Number 40 "Money Changes Everything" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 19
Meanwhile, Cyndi Lauper had been a regular visitor to the Australian top 10, with one chart-topper ("Girls Just Wanna Have Fun") and two number 6 singles ("Time After Time" and "She Bop"). Her fifth single, "Money Changes Everything" gave her another top 20 hit, peaking two places lower than "All Through The Night", and is by far my least favourite of the She's So Unusual singles. As a bonus, the single had a live recording on one side and the studio version on the other.
Like many of the songs on that album, "Money Changes Everything" is a remake of a song originally recorded by a man - in this case, a cover of the 1978 single by The Brains. The others? "Girls Just Wanna..." had originally been demoed by its songwriter, Robert Hazard; final single "When You Were Mine" is a Prince track; and "All Through..." was included on the debut solo album of its writer, Jules Shear
Which brings us to that other link with Alison Moyet. Alf's biggest '90s single was 1994's UK number 18 hit "Whispering Your Name" - a cover of another song on Jules Shear's debut album, Watch Dog




Number 37 "The Boys Of Summer" by Don Henley
Peak: number 3
His first solo album hadn't really turned him into the next Phil Collins (despite one big single in the US with "Dirty Laundry"), but Eagles drummer/singer Don Henley stepped up his game with his second album, Building The Perfect Beast. Boasting even more of a pop sound than his debut effort (and obviously anything released by Eagles), "The Boys Of Summer" and the accompanying album were major global hits. In Australia, Don easily outperformed anything released by his then-former band (biggest release: "Heartache Tonight", number 13 in 1979). He even won the second ever MTV Award for Video Of The Year for the stylish black and white clip. Nearly 20 years later, the song would return to the Australian chart twice - in cover versions by Eurodance act DJ Sammy (in 2002) and rock band The Ataris (in 2003).




Next week: the first solo Australian hit from the singer of another massive rock band, plus the arrival of three future top 10 hits.


Back to: Feb 17, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 3, 1985


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: February 18, 1990

After last week's rock-fest, order was restored this week 25 years ago on the ARIA singles chart with the new releases coming from a more diverse array of genres. Included among the debuts were two cover versions that topped the British chart.

Sinéad O'Connor changed the face of her music career in 1990

In Australia, the two remakes would have very different chart fortunes - one would go on to be the year's biggest single and make a star out of its previously little-known performer. The chart peak of the other cover would be the latest sign that its singer's career was flagging in this country.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending February 18, 1990

After a summer dominated by one song: "Love Shack" by The B-52's, Australia had a new number 1 single this week in 1990. Aerosmith landed their first chart-topper with "Janie's Got A Gun" - although it'd only last as the nation's most popular song for one week.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Street Tuff" by Rebel MC & Double Trouble
Peak: number 85
This UK number 3 hit was a collaboration between rapper Michael "Rebel MC" West and deceptively named production trio Double Trouble - and deserved to do much better in Australia.

Number 89 "This Woman's Work" by Kate Bush
Peak: number 89
Written for the 1988 John Hughes film She's Having A Baby, this would go on to appear on Kate's The Sensual World album and be lifted as its second single, complete with a similarly themed music video.



Breakers
"Heaven" by The Chimes
Peak: number 62
It's a testament to just how much great dance music there was in the late '80s/early '90s when classics like this second release by Scottish trio The Chimes and the aforementioned "Street Tuff" went under the radar. In fact, "Heaven" even missed the mark first time around in the UK, only managing to crack the top 40 there after a re-release in September 1990. Although The Chimes would later become well known for a creative cover of a U2 song, both "Heaven" and The Chimes' debut single, "1-2-3", are well worth re-discovering.




"Pump It Hottie" by Redhead Kingpin & The F.B.I.
Peak: number 58
Now that the likes of Tone Lōc and Bobby Brown had broken down Australian resistance to US R&B and hip-hop, a song like this - which probably never would've got anywhere near the top 50 previously - also found an (albeit small) audience here. Redhead Kingpin was rapper David Guppy and The F.B.I. were his five-piece backing band - and "Pump It Hottie" was actually their second single, with debut release "Do The Right Thing" making a belated appearance on the top 100 in the months to come.




New Entries
Number 50 "Jimmy Dean" by Icehouse
Peak: number 47
The week's first new entry was the latest single from Icehouse's best of (except for the Man Of Colours singles) collection, Great Southern Land. Nowhere near as good as the other new track, "Touch The Fire", "Jimmy Dean" is obviously about the heartthrob actor - and if you want to know more about the song, why not listen to Iva Davies talk about it himself?




Number 49 "Just Between You And Me" by Lou Gramm
Peak: number 31
His first solo hit, "Midnight Blue", featured in my very first blog post - and in 1990, Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm finally returned to the ARIA top 50 (and US top 10) with this lead single from his second album, Long Hard Look. I didn't think too much of "Just Between You And Me" at the time, but listening to the song now, I quite like it. The classic '80s rock ballad was co-written by Lou and Holly Knight, one half of the songwriting team behind "The Best" and "Love Is A Battlefield".




Number 44 "When You Come Back To Me" by Jason Donovan
Peak: number 40
Released in time for Christmas in the UK, this lead single from what would be Jason's second Stock Aitken Waterman-produced album, Between The Lines, finally saw the light of day in Australia two months later. And while it was one thing for "Everyday (I Love You More)" to have tanked given it was the fifth single from an already released album, it was quite another for a brand new song to perform so badly. Clearly, the bubble had burst on Jason's pop career as far as Australians were concerned. Need more proof? How about the fact that his Australian record label, Mushroom, didn't even bother with a proper release for the two follow-ups to "When You Came Back To Me", "Hang Onto Your Love" and "Another Night", in Australia? Yep, pretty telling.




Number 37 "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor
Peak: number 1
Originally recorded by one of Prince's many offshoot projects, The Family, this song written by His Purpleness was an obscure album track before Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor got her hands on it. Her emotionally anguished performance turned the ho-hum original into an incredibly affecting and poignant tune, which was only heightened by the iconic and MTV Award-winning music video - a clip which was just ripe for Fast Forward spoof.
Sinéad's chart-topping spin on "Nothing Compares 2 U" launched her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, which also reached number 1 on the ARIA chart, making her suddenly one of music's biggest stars. She quickly gained a reputation for being one of the industry's most outspoken and political artists as well - something she's maintained until as recently as 2013, when she posted an open letter to Miley Cyrus about - and I'm paraphrasing here - acting like a skank.
Its debut in the top 100 here at number 37 without even being onsale for a full week pretty much guaranteed "Nothing Compares 2 U" would make a big upward movement on the subsequent chart. Just how big a leap it would make... well, you'll have to come back next week to read about that.




Number 31 "Every Little Hit Mix" by Bobby Brown
Peak: number 21
Hot on the heels of Jive Bunny and Rococo, the music of Bobby Brown became the latest to receive the megamix treatment. Working its way through "Every Little Step", "On Our Own", "Don't Be Cruel" and "My Prerogative", "Every Little Hit Mix" is not to be confused with "The Free Style Mega-mix", the British version which added "Rock Wit'cha" and "Girl Next Door" into the mix and came out in June. The releases kind of coincided with Bobby's remix album, Dance!... Ya Know It! - and soon all sorts of artists would be issuing either megamixes, remix albums or both. And we all know who to blame. Yep, bloody Jive Bunny.




Number 28 "Roam" by The B-52's
Peak: number 11
They may have lost the number 1 spot with "Love Shack" falling from the top this week, but The B-52's had another hit single waiting in the wings to join it on the chart. Every bit as catchy as their chart-topper, "Roam" saw the vocal duties handed over entirely to the band's female members, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, who were also perfectly suited for the Fast Forward parody treatment. 




Number 21 "Tears On My Pillow" by Kylie Minogue
Peak: number 20
Next, an artist who was becoming accustomed to having the piss taken out of her in Australia - and it seemed to be having a knock-on effect on her chart success, with the peak positions of her nine singles to date going: 1, 1, 1, 11, 2, 4, 6, 14 and now 20. Yes, there were other factors at play, but the hammering Kylie had received from the Australian media had to have had an impact. As a Year 10 student in 1990, it was deeply uncool for me to like Kylie (not to mention Jason) - not that I let that stop me. 
A cover of the 1958 doo-wop single by Little Anthony & The Imperials (number 42 in Australia), Kylie's version of "Tears On My Pillow" was included on the soundtrack of her feature film debut, The Delinquents, which was set in the '50s. It was actually my least favourite of her singles up until that point, but I could see why it made sense to release it. Thankfully, 1990 would see Kylie turn things around locally with a radical image makeover and some of her best singles of all time to come as the year continued.




Next week: the latest singles from two of my favourite groups from 1989/1990 have very different chart experiences. Plus, two female icons coming off big singles disappoint with their next releases.


Back to: Feb 11, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 25, 1990


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: February 17, 1985

It was a bad week for female performers 30 years ago this week, with the new entries on the ARIA top 50 singles chart performed exclusively by men. On the chart as a whole, only 15 of the 50 entries were performed by women. Even Band Aid, which featured a few female artists among its number, gave all the solos to men.

Jim should have known better than to think he'd have more than one hit

In all but one instance, the new singles were by male solo artists. And, in the other case, the vocalist was a man who was viewed by many as essentially a solo artist, especially since he'd started to release singles away from the duo that'd made him a star.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 17, 1985

Meanwhile, after four weeks at number 1, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" gave up the top spot to "I Want To Know What Love Is" - another song performed by a man: Foreigner's Lou Gramm.


Off The Chart
Number 74 "Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)" by Hazell Dean
Peak: number 74
The only woman to discuss this week had done well in Australia with her breakthrough release, "Searchin' (I Gotta Find A Man)", but this Stock Aitken Waterman number - the producers' first top 10 single in the UK - didn't find as receptive an audience here.

Number 71 "Look The Other Way" by The Angels
Peak: number 55
They might have debuted this week at number 7 with latest album Two Minute Warning (which would end up peaking at number 2), but Aussie rockers The Angels couldn't crack the top 50 with this second single from the LP.


New Entries
Number 49 "The Old Man Down The Road" by John Fogerty
Peak: number 10
I didn't think I was familiar with this song at first, but a quick listen to the comeback single from the former Creedence Clearwater Revival vocalist and it was familiar to me - not surprising, given its top 10 placing in Australia. Having said that, it's one of those songs I thought came from the '70s, and despite the almost decade-long gap since John's most recent release, his sound hadn't exactly moved with the times. 
Part of the reason for the delay in new music from John was that he had a habit of embroiling himself in legal disputes over the years - and as it just so happens, "The Old Man Down The Road" became the subject of a lawsuit when it was alleged by CCR's record label that the song had the same chorus as "Run Through The Jungle" by John's former band. The singer ended up winning the case, and even successfully sued for the cost of defending the action.




Number 44 "Everything Must Change" by Paul Young
Peak: number 27
Paul's second album, The Secret Of Association, didn't get off to a great start in Australia with lead single "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" only reaching number 25 - and this follow-up actually did slightly worse despite being a far superior song. In fact, Paul would never see the ARIA top 10 again, after having visited it twice with "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" (number 9 in 1983) and "Love Of The Common People" (number 8 in 1984).




Number 43 "I Should Have Known Better" by Jim Diamond
Peak: number 1
Jim Diamond had the dubious honour of being a one-hit wonder twice over in Australia during the 1980s. The first time was as the singer for Ph.D, whose single "I Won't Let You Down" hit number 5 in 1981. A few years later, Jim returned to his solo career and struck gold once again with this first single post-PhD, which reached the top of the chart in both Australia and the UK. 
In Britain, "I Should Have Known Better" was a number 1 before Christmas and Jim publicly asked record buyers to purchase "Do They Know It's Christmas?" instead in the hopes that the charity record would be number 1, even though his own single had actually already been knocked off the top (by Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "The Power Of Love"). 
Jim kept up a steady stream of singles throughout the rest of the decade, but none resonated as strongly as this earnest ballad, which Jim co-wrote with Graham Lyle, who was also behind Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It".




Number 35 "Everything She Wants" by Wham!
Peak: number 7
Last week, we saw "Last Christmas" rebound up the chart from number 8 to its previous peak of number 3 even though the festive season was well and truly over. Here's the reason for the renewed interest in that single. "Everything She Wants" was included as the double A-side on "Last Christmas", and as the holiday period faded further into history, airplay shifted to the flip side. As demand for "Everything She Wants" grew, Wham!'s record label even issued a separate single with the order of the songs reversed and "Last Christmas" relegated to double A-side status. That's the single that makes it debut here and would go on to reach the top 10 in its own right.




Number 29 "Daylight" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 12
In 1984, former Cold Chisel vocalist Jimmy Barnes made a triumphant debut as a solo artist - registering a number 1 album with Bodyswerve and hitting number 12 with single "No Second Prize". Then, the unthinkable happened: Jimmy had a flop. Second single "Promise Me You'll Call" didn't just miss the top 50, it peaked at number 86. Disaster. Order was restored with this third single, which matched the peak of "No Second Prize", positioning Jimmy nicely for the onslaught that was to come from album number two.




Next week: Another former member of a seminal American rock band returns with a top 10 solo single. Plus, new releases from two of the best female vocalists of the mid-'80s.


Back to: Feb 10, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 24, 1985


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: February 11, 1990

Just when the ARIA chart was starting to look diverse, along comes a big old rock week. Yep, there's not a house synth or rap beat among this week's songs, with rock of all varieties either entering the top 50 or charting lower down the top 100.

Midnight Oil addressed new social issues in 1990

So, spare a thought for me (since I only like three of the 11 songs up for comment this week) as I wade through more guitar-based music than ever before. Of course, it might be a little surprising which of the three songs are the ones that find my favour. Or maybe not.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending February 11, 1990

Finding favour with the Australian record buying public for an eighth and final week was "Love Shack" by The B-52's, which was about to surrender the number 1 spot to... a rock song. 


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Big Bad Moon" by Joe Satriani
Peak: number 100
There's nothing more rock than a guitar solo, and naturally this second single from Flying In A Blue Dream has plenty of those - but it also features vocals and harmonica playing, too.

Number 99 "Too Late To Say Goodbye" by Richard Marx
Peak: number 99
This fourth and long-forgotten single from Repeat Offender was a return to a rockier sound after two ballads. In the US, it was Richard's first single to miss the top 10 (it reached number 12).

Number 93 "I Feel Possessed" by Crowded House
Peak: number 93
Well over a year since the hits from Temple Of Low Men had dried up, Crowded House were still trying to make up for releasing "When You Come" as the album's second single. "I Feel Possessed" is a good song, but it was too little, too late.

Number 86 "House Of Fire" by Alice Cooper
Peak: number 80
It was third time unlucky for comeback kid Alice Cooper, who couldn't follow up "Poison" and "Bed Of Nails" with a third hit from Trash, not even with this track co-written by Joan Jett.


Single Of The Week
"She Bangs The Drums" by The Stone Roses
Peak: number 128
Although I was much more interested in all the dance music hitting the UK chart around the turn of the decade, I did like the odd British indie track as well - and this is one of those songs. The single that turned The Stone Roses into a top 40 act in the UK, "She Bangs The Drums" fell some way short of the mark in Australia but I still think it's the best thing they've ever released. One of the key acts in the burgeoning Madchester scene, the band would eventually make Australia sit up and take notice. 




New Entries
Number 49 "The Love We Make" by Girl Overboard
Peak: number 23
We saw their debut single, "I Can't Believe", sneak into the top 50 in the final chart for 1989, and Girl Overboard did even better with this follow-up. I wasn't particularly a fan of either track - I found the Australian pop/rock band's sound a little dated - but if I had to choose, I'd probably select this song as my favourite. Whether it played a factor in its success or not - the liberal use of the accordion in "The Love We Make" coincided with a resurgence in the presence of that instrument on the chart thanks to Kaoma's "Lambada". Thankfully, the trend didn't last long.




Number 48 "I Go To Extremes" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 48
The third and final of this week's songs that I like is the follow-up to one of my least favourite songs of 1989, "We Didn't Start The Fire". A return to the form he showed in the mid-'80s with the An Innocent Man and The Bridge albums, "I Go To Extremes" sounds possibly a little bit too slick and glossy (in part, thanks to production by Billy and Foreigner's Mick Jones) to adequately reflect the personality shifts the lyrics suggest, but I'll take this over a song as fraught as "Pressure" any day.




Number 47 "Downtown Train" by Rod Stewart
Peak: number 29 
He counts as pop/rock, right? Maybe only just - especially with this MOR cover version of the 1985 Tom Waits singleOne of two new songs on Rod's first best of collection in a decade, "Downtown Train" was a top 10 hit in the UK and the US, but in Australia, it was the latest in a seven-year run of singles to fall short of that achievement. Not being a fan of this single, I was glad to see it get no further than it did - but little did I know, Rod would enjoy a career resurgence in the next 12 months, with songs I found even more objectionable. 




Number 46 "I'm An Adult Now" by The Pursuit Of Happiness
Peak: number 39
In 1986, an independently released version of this song led to Canadian rock band The Pursuit Of Happiness signing a major label record deal. Re-recorded for their debut album, Love Junk, with legendary rock producer Todd Rundgren, "I'm An Adult Now" became their only song to cross over in Australia. For some reason, I always associate this with D.A.D.'s "Sleeping My Day Away", which we'll see in a few weeks' time - maybe because both have a reasonably catchy chorus tucked away in there somewhere. But not catchy enough for me to like this track.




Number 36 "Love Is" by Alannah Myles
Peak: number 12
"Black Velvet" jumped into the top 10 this week in 1990, and after bouncing around the bottom half of the top 100 since November 1989, Alannah Myles' debut single, "Love Is", finally joined it in the top 50. Spurred on by the success of "Black Velvet", this track probably became a much bigger hit than it would ordinarily have done on its own, since it lacks the killer chorus of its follow-up. Alannah became an FM radio staple throughout the year with the two singles on high rotation - and even made one more fleeting appearance in the top 50 in the months to come.




Number 10 "Blue Sky Mine" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 8
In the two-and-a-half years since the release of Diesel And Dust, Midnight Oil had been busy touring the world as a result of their new-found international success, and continuing to devote their time and energy to the issues that concerned them at home. In between all that, they recorded a new album, Blue Sky Mining, which followed their two previous LPs to the number 1 spot and won the ARIA Award for Album Of The Year. 
Naturally, the release of this lead single was incredibly well received by the band's legion of Australian fans, becoming their fifth top 10 hit. Written about asbestos mining in Wittenoom, Western Australia, "Blue Sky Mine" was as politically charged as any of Midnight Oil's songs - and despite its very local focus, it even made the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100.




Next week: Pop's sweet revenge, with two Stock Aitken Waterman-produced new entries and another megamix hitting the top 50. Plus, the arrival of what would end up as 1990's highest-selling single.


Back to: Feb 4, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 18, 1990


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: February 10, 1985

If you've looked around this blog at all, you may have noticed I have a bit of a thing about one-hit wonders - especially when acts are incorrectly stated as being one. Well, I'm about to get on my soapbox again because this week 30 years ago, two artists often described as one-hit wonders entered the ARIA top 50 singles chart with songs other than their most famous hits.

Corey Hart: proving he did things other than wear sunglasses at night

In fact, both acts in question actually made three visits to the top 50 in Australia. Granted, the songs we'll remember this week are, in both cases, the most forgettable of the three - but a sufficient amount of people liked them enough at the time to send them up the chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 10, 1985

Up at the top of the chart, festive records were still going strong with Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" spending a fourth week at number 1 and "Last Christmas" by Wham! rebounding to its previous peak of number 3. A look at the state charts would indicate that change was on the way, with Band Aid no longer maintaining its across-the-board stranglehold, while we'll find out the reason for Wham!'s resurgence next week.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Forest Fire" by Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
Peak: number 87
The first Australian chart appearance from - but not the debut single by - the Scottish band I always associate with the inner-Sydney suburb of Newtown, which in the '80s was overrun with indie music fans, who would've loved this.

Number 98 "Love Kills" by Freddie Mercury
Peak: number 98
Given Queen's popularity in Australia, it's surprising this first solo effort by the band's singer (which made the UK top 10) did so badly locally. The track was co-written and co-produced by Giorgio Moroder for use in the 1984 revamp of film Metropolis

Number 94 "I Work At My Machine" by Strange Tenants
Peak: number 89
Ska was never as big in Australia as the UK - as demonstrated by these Melbourne-based exponents of the genre. It's not a song I'm familiar with, but it's not as bad as its chart position would suggest.


Number 79 "It Ain't Necessarily So" by Bronski Beat
Peak: number 58
After back-to-back top 10 hits, Jimmy Somerville and pals lucked out with their take on this tune from 1934 opera Porgy And Bess. As much of a fan as I was of "Smalltown Boy" and "Why?", I couldn't get into this either.


New Entries
Number 49 "Stranger In Town" by Toto
Peak: number 40
1982 had been a very good year for Toto - and even though only two of the four international hits from Toto IV ("Rosanna" and "Africa") did well here, both singles showed great staying power. It was a very different story by 1985. 
For one thing, the band had a new lead singer, Fergie Frederiksen, who was responsible for two tracks on the soundtrack to Can't Stop The Music under the name David London. Outgoing singer Bobby Kimball had been embroiled in drugs-related charges and was sacked from the group (only to return to the line-up 14 years later). 
For another, this lead single from the Isolation album was the only real hit from the album, just scraping in to the US top 30 and the ARIA top 40. Although the song sounds like it could be taken from a mid-'80s film soundtrack, it wasn't - but it does have a movie link: the music video and lyrics were inspired by Whistle Down The Wind.




Number 45 "It Ain't Enough" by Corey Hart
Peak: number 37
The video to Corey Hart's second single starts with him taking off his sunglasses - a nod to his debut release, "Sunglasses At Night", which reached number 16 in Australia in 1984 and is the song for which the Canadian singer is best known. It's also way better than this lacklustre ballad, which sounds like one long verse in dire need of a chorus. "It Ain't Enough" actually outperformed its predecessor in Canada, but it was a chart also-ran in Australia, where Corey would register one more top 20 appearance later in 1985.




Number 43 "Common Ground" by Goanna
Peak: number 42
I always wondered why in old episodes of Countdown, Molly Meldrum used to refer to this Australian rock band as "Goanna Band" - and it seems The Goanna Band was actually the original name for what would become more simply Goanna by the time their debut album, Spirit Of Place, came out in 1982. 
After landing their best-known hit, number 3 smash "Solid Rock", that year, the band fronted by Shane Howard continued to blend politics with music in 1983 on number 12 single "Let The Franklin Flow" (recorded in collaboration with Redgum, Midnight Oil's Peter Garrett and Fairport Convention's Trevor Lucas, and credited to Gordon Franklin & The Wilderness Ensemble). They also made number 36 in their own right with "Razor's Edge"
"Common Ground" was, therefore, the third Goanna single to make the top 50 (fourth if you include their contribution to the anti-damming song) - and was the lead single from upcoming second album Oceania. More in line with the band's folk origins than the pop/rock sound of "Solid Rock", neither "Common Ground" nor the album from which it was taken did very well on the charts and Goanna would soon be dropped (for a second time) by their record label.




Next week: we'll find out just why people were suddenly buying "Last Christmas" again in mid-February, plus Barnesy gets his solo career back on track and a future number 1 from a true one-hit wonder arrives.


Back to: Feb 3, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 17, 1985


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: February 4, 1990

Second chances don't come along that often - but this week 25 years ago, several songs were given another opportunity to become hits on the ARIA singles chart. As we'll see, only some of them did any better.

After testing the water in 1988, Michael Bolton (and
his mullet) took up top 50 residency in 1990

The second chances came in a variety of ways - from reissues of previous singles to cover versions of songs that hadn't been hits for the original acts to a couple of releases by the same artist that were given a simultaneous boost up the chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending February 4, 1990

At the number 1 spot on the top 50 this week in 1990 - The B-52's held off yet another single as Black Box's "Ride On Time" became the latest track stuck at number 2 behind "Love Shack" (following "I Feel The Earth Move" and "I Want That Man"). 


Off The Chart
Number 98 "Animal" by Def Leppard
Peak: number 83
It originally made number 46 in 1987, but surely after their more recent success with the Hysteria album, "Animal" would be a bigger hit now, right? Wrong.

Number 96 "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" by Paula Abdul
Peak: number 76
In the US, this had been Paula's second single in late 1988 (after "Knocked Up") and made number 88. A re-release took it all the way to number 3 there. In Australia, where I'm not sure if it had ever been released previously, it didn't fare so well.

Number 89 "Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin'" by Inner City
Peak: number 86
Not a re-release, but a remake - of Stephanie Mills' debut US hit from 1979. Unsurprisingly, it was another Inner City single to miss the top 50 here but the cover was the house duo's fifth UK top 20 hit.


Single Of The Week
"I'm Not The Man I Used To Be" by Fine Young Cannibals
Peak: number 109
This is pretty much the only song I can't squeeze into my second chances theme this week - and believe me, I tried to think of a way. Despite the promotion it received on this week's chart, the fourth single from The Raw & The Cooked (fifth, if you include "Ever Fallen In Love") became the album's first to miss the top 100 entirely. Easily the weakest single so far, "I'm Not The Man I Used To Be" should perhaps have been left as an album track.




New Entries
Number 46  "Warning!" by Adeva
Peak: number 38
Two things contributed to this single by American house singer Adeva finally hitting the chart after bouncing around the bottom half of the top 100 since November and looking like it had run out of steam around the new year. Firstly, "Warning!" was one of the tracks included in "Italo House Mix" by Rococo (which we saw debut last week) - no doubt prompting some people to seek out the original. Secondly, the follow-up single to "Warning!" was also making its way up the ARIA chart - and as we'd seen with Mel & Kim and Bon Jovi, and would see again with Alannah Myles, the success of the second single prompted the first to make a resurgence. What was the follow-up single to "Warning!"? I'm coming to that...




Number 44 "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" by Michael Bolton
Peak: number 2
The first time this song was released in Australia, it had only reached number 46 for Laura Branigan. Six-and-a-half years later, Michael Bolton decided to record his own version of the ballad, giving it the full heart-wrenching treatment and watching it soar all the way to number 2. It was Michael's second cover version to make a splash on the ARIA chart - he reached number 3 in 1988 with an update of "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" - but the difference this time was that he had actually co-written "How Am I Supposed..." during his pre-fame years as a songwriter for hire. Michael's version of the song topped the US chart but had to make do with the runners-up spot here, where it was stuck for four weeks behind another remake we'll see debut on the chart in two weeks.




Number 41 "I Thank You" by Adeva
Peak: number 30
Here she is again - the singer born Patricia Daniels who found success in the UK thanks to a string of club and chart hits that had started with a remarkable remake of "Respect". Interestingly, "Respect", "Warning!" and "I Thank You" all peaked at number 17 in the UK - while in Australia, the number 30 placement of "I Thank You" was as good as it got for Adeva. Like Inner City, Adeva couldn't sustain her initial burst of success in the UK and despite releasing some excellent tracks throughout the rest of the decade (including collaborations with Frankie Knuckles and Hyper Go Go), she mostly went under the radar. She made one more appearance on the ARIA top 50, though, which we'll see when we reach 1991.




Number 35 "Lambada" by Kaoma
Peak: number 5
I might be stretching things here, but since world music hit "Lambada" was actually a cover version, it also fits this week's second chance theme. Although, unlike the original releases and versions of the singles we've seen so far, I don't think the songs "Lambada" is based on would ever have been in contention to hit the ARIA chart. 
Songs plural? Yes, "Lambada" has a complicated backstory, since the Kaoma single incorporates elements from a 1981 Bolivian folk tune, a 1984 dance version of that tune (which was the first to feature the accordion riff) and a 1986 track which included a Portuguese translation of the lyrics. What's more, Kaoma used some of those elements without permission. Naturally, since "Lambada" was a multimillion-selling global smash hit that spawned a brief dance craze and even two rival movies, legal action ensued. 
There were no second chances as far as Kaoma's career was concerned and the group became the first one-hit wonder of the '90s on the Australian chart since follow-up "Dançando Lambada" sank without a trace.




Next week: a massive debut from one of Australia's biggest bands, plus two singers from the '70s kick on into the '90s.


Back to: Jan 28, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 11, 1990