Wednesday, 2 March 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: March 2, 1986

Thanks to the leap year in 2016, our regular look back at the ARIA singles chart from 30 years ago has been pushed back a day. From now on, we'll revisit the top 50 from 1986 every Wednesday (and the one from 1991 on a Thursday).

The going was pretty good for Billy Ocean in 1986

There are few songs that scream 1986 more than this week's highest new entry on the chart. It was by an artist who was never as successful as he was in the mid-'80s and it was taken from one of the year's biggest films (well, it came out in 1985 in the US).

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending March 2, 1986

The most successful song of all this week in 1986 was "A Good Heart" by Feargal Sharkey, which spent its second week at number 1. The Irish singer also popped up further down the top 50 with the follow-up, which we'll get to shortly...


Off The Chart
Number 99 "I Must Be Dreaming" by Mink DeVille
Peak: number 99
The second single taken from Willy DeVille's final album released with his band Mink DeVille, which by this point was pretty much just him and session musicians anyway.

Number 98 "Yeh Yeh" by Matt Bianco
Peak: number 64
Here's another band with a permanent singer (Mark Reilly) and a floating roster of musicians. This cover of the Georgie Fame And The Blue Flames track was the lead single from Matt Bianco's self-titled second LP.

Number 97 "Le Café" by Nightfire
Peak: number 95
OK, this one has me stumped. From what I can determine, this was released on a small independent label - and may have been a double A-side with a song called "Set Your Body Free". Beyond that, I have no idea!

Number 94 "The Promise" by Arcadia
Peak: number 94
Well this was no "Election Day", was it? The one upside of this pretty nothing song being released as a single was that the overly long album version was edited back to a more reasonable length.


New Entries
Number 50 "Walk Of Life" by Dire Straits
Peak: number 11
There are two reasons why it's amazing "Walk Of Life" was a big hit in Australia. Firstly, it had already been released as a single. Well, as the double A-side of "So Far Away", the first track lifted from Brothers In Arms, which had reached a respectable number 22 in June 1985. Secondly, by now seemingly every Australian household (except mine) had a copy of the album, which spent its 27th non-consecutive week at number 1 this week in 1986. So who was buying "Walk Of Life"? Clearly, enough people to send the poppiest single from the album almost into the top 10. I recall the US video featuring sports blunders airing in Australia, but another clip was made for the song for use in the UK.




Number 47 "Sex As A Weapon" by Pat Benatar
Peak: number 33
It doesn't get anywhere near the attention that her other '80s hits like "Love Is A Battlefield", "We Belong" or "Shadows Of The Night" do, but "Sex As A Weapon" is right up there with those other Pat Benatar singles in my estimatation. It probably has something to do with the killer chorus courtesy of songwriters Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, who'd worked - separately - with Pat on her 1981 album, Precious Time. Since then, the pair had begun to write together and hit pay dirt with a little tune called "Like A Virgin". We'd be hearing a lot more from them in the years to come.




Number 36 "Living In America" by James Brown
Peak: number 18
Last week, we saw that Australia wasn't interested in a B-grade "Eye Of The Tiger", but there was one song on the Rocky IV soundtrack that did find a receptive audience locally. Something of a theme song for the character Apollo Creed, "Living In America" returned the Godfather of Soul to the Australian top 50 for the first time since 1966 and his number 39 hit, "It's A Man's Man's Man's Man's World". Despite the fact that James released a number of influential and sample-ready singles throughout his career, those two songs were James's only chart appearances locally.




Number 32 "You Little Thief" by Feargal Sharkey
Peak: number 4
It was only fair, really. After releasing "A Good Heart", which if you recall was written by Maria McKee about her relationship with musician Benmont Tench, Feargal Sharkey was more or less obligated to release this track written by Benmont about the same topic. Clearly, "You Little Thief" came at things from a different perspective. The much angrier horn-drenched track, produced once again by Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, was another huge hit for Feargal, but the last one he managed, making him the archetypal two-hit wonder as a result. 




Number 17 "When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 1
Billy Ocean must've been happy with how his mid-'80s comeback had gone. Three singles from his Suddenly album had been global smash hits - so how would he follow that up? With a song that was an ever bigger success, that's how. The theme from The Jewel Of The Nile, "When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going" became Billy's first single to top the ARIA chart - and repeated that feat around the world (except for the US, where it peaked at number 2). The catchy song probably would've been big without their help, but the presence of the movie's stars, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, in the otherwise unremarkable music video for "When The Going..." certainly didn't hurt matters. 




Next week: one of the two main singers from an Australian band has a massive solo hit. Plus, another single linked to The Young Ones impacts the top 100.


Back to: Feb 23, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 9, 1986


5 comments:

  1. I remember seeing the 'Walk of Life' video aired one Sunday afternoon in 1986 as a filler clip, while my grandma was present, and she made a comment like "it's just music set to sport" (i.e. it's crap). My household didn't own 'Brothers In Arms' either, though there was virtually no need, as radio was flogging 3 of the singles so heavily.

    I also remember seeing 'Sex as a Weapon' as either a filler video or a featured video on a before-school cartoons program one morning (which was kind of a risqué selection). I like the song, but wish the chorus (the best part for me) was repeated in the outro. It seems like it was a bigger hit than #33.

    Somehow I don't think I knew 'You Little Thief' until it aired on a repeated 1986 Countdown on rage in 2004, but it became an instant fave. Something about the song and video captures the energy and excess of the 80's so well, in my mind. The staircase routine was no doubt an influence for Daft Punk's 'Around the World' video.

    The Billy Ocean video is another one I remember seeing as a standalone time filler between programs. We had to learn a dance routine to it at school.

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  2. PS I meant to add - this must be the first instance of a previous top 50 entry appearing as a breaker (Divinyls' 'Sleeping Beauty')... and just a week after it was at #50! Odd.

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    1. Yeah, so disappointing that they ever decided to do that. It happens a lot in the next few weeks.

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  3. I think Oingo Boingo had a release with 'weird science" - possibly from the movie of the same name???. Jan Hammer also release the Miami Vice theme .

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    1. Yep, both of those songs are on this chart - and were featured in previous weeks when they debuted.

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