Thursday, 29 September 2016

25 Years Ago This Week: September 29, 1991

Back in the days of physical music formats (you know, the pre-iTunes era), I never approved of record companies deleting singles while they were still on the chart. Whether it was to shift attention on to a follow-up song or to "persuade" people to buy the album, it resulted in the chart life of a song being artificially cut short. 

Technically, this was the single that knocked "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" from number 1

Twenty-five years ago this week, a single debuted on the ARIA top 50 that was responsible for a number 1 hit being deleted while it was still on top of the chart. The deleted single was "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams, which would drop out of the top 100 in a matter of weeks as the remaining existing copies were snapped up.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending September 29, 1991

This week in 1991, the soundtrack ballad spent its 10th week at number 1. It would manage one more week, but who knows how many more it might have spent on top had it not been made unavailable. Could it have equalled or surpassed the all-time record-holder, "Fernando" by ABBA, which lasted 14 weeks at number 1 in 1976? We'll never know - and that, in a nutshell, is my problem with singles being deleted.


Off the chart
Number 94 "Like A Rolling Stone" by Ana Christensen
Peak: number 94
"Isolate Your Heart" hadn't cracked the top 50 despite two attempts, so Ana Christensen tried her luck with her version of the Bob Dylan classic, which can be heard around the 27:43 mark on the link above.

Number 92 "Skat Strut" by MC Skat Kat & The Stray Mob
Peak: number 82
They certainly took their time with this "Opposites Attract" cash-in, didn't they? Sampling "Let's Groove", "Skat Strut" came from poorly received album The Adventures Of MC Skat Kat And The Stray Mob and featured Paula Abdul in the music video. Few people cared.

Number 90 "Wave Of The Future" by Quadrophonia
Peak: number 83
Another cut of techno/rap from the group whose self-titled single had peaked 10 places higher back in June. Australia wasn't quite ready for this yet, it would seem. Yes, pun intended.

Number 85 "She's A Star" by Ian Moss
Peak: number 74
Well, this was an unmitigated disaster, wasn't it? Making 1927's second album look like a raging success, Ian Moss continued to be met with chart disappointment with this second single from Worlds Away. "She's A Star" would be his final top 100 appearance.

Number 76 "Just A Groove" by Nomad
Peak: number 76
"(I Wanna Give You) Devotion" was on its last legs in the top 100 and while this follow-up wasn't quite as brilliant a song, it was still a cool dance track that deserved better.


Single of the week
"A Thousand Suns" by Russell Morris
Peak: number 118
No matter how hard Festival Records pushed or how many times they made Russell Morris the recipient of the Single Of The Week when it was their turn, it seemed the Australian public weren't interested in the latest from the once-chart-topping performer. Following the number 100 peak of "Tartan Lines", the title track of his upcoming album missed the top 100 completely. When A Thousand Suns came out in November, it didn't do much better, reaching number 98 on the albums chart. Despite all that, a third single, "Stay With You", was released in 1992. 




Breakers
"Near Wild Heaven" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 65
It may not have been quite as gleeful as "Shiny Happy People", but this third single from Out Of Time was another fairly breezy tune from the band whose biggest hit remained the angst-ridden "Losing My Religion". By now, though, Out Of Time had spent six months inside the albums top 30 (including 17 weeks in the top 10), so R.E.M. went from back-to-back top 20 hits to a chart footnote.




"That's The Way Love Goes" by Young MC
Peak: number 63
Hopes were high enough for Young MC for Capitol Record to sign him up fresh from his success with debut album Stone Cold Rhymin' (and after a lawsuit brought by former label Delicious Vinyl had been settled). But even though he had a major record company (and their budget to make flashy music videos) behind him, the rapper who'd hit number 1 with "Bust A Move" couldn't achieve the same success with this single or the Brainstorm album. Probably because "That's The Way Love Goes" lacked that sense of fun that'd made Young MC's earlier singles so appealing and is almost a chore to listen to.




New entries
Number 49 "I'll Be There" by The Escape Club
Peak: number 43
Last week, we saw the top 50 hit that prevented EMF from being a one-hit wonder - and here's the song that does the same for The Escape Club. Despite its similarities to "Wild Wild West", previous single "Call It Poison" hadn't taken off and so the band shifted gears with this emotional ballad. Written about the death of a friend of the band, "I'll Be There" made more of a connection with the public, especially in the US, where it reached number 8.




Number 43 "Just Like You" by Robbie Nevil
Peak: number 4
Up until this point, most people (although not me) would have classed Robbie Nevil as a one-hit wonder thanks to 1987's number 4 single "C'est La Vie", despite the fact that he'd reached number 38 with the follow-up, "Dominoes". But, any 1HW tag was definitely shaken off with this chart comeback. The lead single from third album Day 1 - there'd been a second album in there that had done nothing locally -  "Just Like You" was as catchy as pop songs get and equalled the chart peak of "C'est La Vie". Robbie's knack for writing pop tunes served him well when his performing career wound down. More recently, he's worked as writer and producer for former American Idol contestants like David Archuleta and Jordin Sparks, and Disney TV series like Hannah Montana and High School Musical




Number 41 "Primal Scream" by Mötley Crüe
Peak: number 29
As album names go, Decade Of Decadence couldn't be more fitting. The title of Mötley Crüe's first greatest hits album, it perfectly summed up the hardest partying rock band around. "Primal Scream" was one of three new songs recorded for the compilation and it's a song I have absolutely no memory of. A quick listen and I don't feel like I was missing much.




Number 38 "R.I.P. (Millie)" by Noiseworks
Peak: number 26
The latest release by Noiseworks was the week's second new entry inspired by the passing of a loved one. "R.I.P. (Millie)" was dedicated to singer Jon Steven's mother, who had succumbed to cancer not long before the release of Love Versus Money. The rousing ballad ended up as one of the band's more successful singles, equalling the peak of "Miles And Miles".




Number 35 "Emotions" by Mariah Carey
Peak: number 11
There's nothing like striking while the iron's hot, and just over a year after she debuted on the ARIA chart, Mariah Carey was back with the first single and title track of second album Emotions. Truth be told, the iron had gotten a little cold in Australia, with her previous two singles, "I Don't Wanna Cry" and "Someday", barely scraping into the top 50. But in the US, she'd equalled The Jackson Five by hitting number 1 with all four of her singles to date. That streak continued with "Emotions", setting a new record of five consecutive number 1s to kick off a career - a record that still stands today. The feel-good tune, which Mariah wrote and produced with David Cole and Robert Clivillés from C+C Music Factory, also returned her to the upper reaches of the Australian chart, becoming her first upbeat song to really take off locally. There'd be more where that came from.




Number 33 "Ballad Of Youth" by Richie Sambora
Peak: number 25
With Jon Bon Jovi's solo project done and dusted, it was band-mate Richie Sambora's turn to release a side project while Bon Jovi's between-albums break continued. Unfortunately for Richie, Stranger In This Town and lead single "Ballad Of Youth" were nowhere near as successful as Blaze Of Glory. Not that I've listened to it since 1991, but I remember liking "Ballad Of Youth" way more than "Blaze Of Glory". Even though that's not actually saying much since I was no fan of the Young Guns II soundtrack hit, I always thought Richie's song, with its "Layla"-style riff, was pretty catchy. I did wonder, though, why it wasn't called "Yesterday's Blues".




Number 24 "Gett Off" by Prince
Peak: number 8
Anyone who'd heard Prince's non-singles "Head", "Erotic City", "Darling Nikki" or "Jack U Off" during the '80s would've already known just how dirty he could get, but up until this point, most of his big hits had been less blatant and more suggestive. That changed with "Gett Off". The lead single from Diamonds And Pearls, the song sounded like sex and boasted a quite astonishing lyric (for the time) about what Prince wanted to do with the object of his lust. Naturally, it was massive - his biggest hit (and first top 10 placing) since 1989's "Batdance".


Number 18 "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" by Bryan Adams
Peak: number 9
I can see why Polygram Records would've deleted "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You". I don't agree with the decision, but I can understand it. The Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves theme was in danger of overshadowing everything else Bryan Adams had ever and would ever release thanks to its 10 weeks (and counting) at number 1. 
Crucially, Bryan had a new album full of potential singles (six more, in fact) that was a week away from release. How could any follow-up singles be expected to compete with a song that refused to budge from the top spot? Never mind the fact that Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark" - the number 1 single of 1985 - had remained on the top 50 for 53 weeks, during which time three further singles reached the top 20 and the album, Born In The U.S.A., continued to sell.
Anyway, "(Everything I Do)..." was withdrawn from sale, opening up the door for the next single, the kind of appropriately named "Can't Stop This Thing We Started" - except Polygram could stop it. A rockier track more typical of the work co-writer and co-producer Robert "Mutt" Lange was known for, the song burst into the top 20 and quickly gave Bryan his second top 10 hit in Australia. I tend to think the catchy pop/rock track would've been successful without the record company interference, just as "Cover Me", "Born In The U.S.A." and "I'm On Fire" had all done well for Bruce.
In the US, "(Everything I Do)..." was included on the B-side to "Can't Stop This....", which provided an added incentive for people to buy "Can't Stop This..." - a strategy that would become commonplace here in the '90s. In Australia, a live version of "It's Only Love" was the B-side, meaning anyone still desperate to own "(Everything I Do)..." would've been forced to buy the album - another occurrence we'd see fairly regularly throughout the decade.




Next week: Australia's favourite rocker gets soulful, plus the country's latest female-fronted rock band debuts. Yep, it's one of those weeks.


Back to: Sep 22, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 6, 1991


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: September 28, 1986

There's no denying Paul McCartney and Rod Stewart are music legends, but as well as both having decades-spanning careers that continue to this day, they share a couple of other things in common.

In 2013, they shared best man duties at Ronnie Wood's wedding;
in 1986, they shared the honour of being the only new entries in a dull chart week 

In 1971, they each enjoyed an Australian number 1 hit with their very first charting solo single - Paul with "Another Day" and Rod with "Maggie May / Reason To Believe". And 30 years ago this week, they both debuted on the ARIA top 50 with singles from their 14th studio albums (in Paul's case, that includes his work with Wings). 

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending September 28, 1986

As impressive as all that is, I was much more interested in the song at number 1 this week in 1986. "Venus" by Bananarama spent a second week on top, once again keeping "Dancing On The Ceiling" by Lionel Richie in the runners-up spot.


Off the chart
Number 98 "Love Zone" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 91
After two top 10 singles from the Love Zone album, its title track was a big old flop in Australia. The mediocre mid-tempo track managed a top 10 peak in the US, however.

Number 78 "Everything's On Fire" by Hunters & Collectors
Peak: number 78
After two top 50 singles from Human Frailty, Hunters & Collectors stumbled with this track that made all the right sounds but didn't have as killer a hook as "Say Goodbye" or "Throw Your Arms Around Me".


New entries
Number 49 "Press" by Paul McCartney
Peak: number 47
Thanks to a handful of high-profile duets, the start of the decade had been some of Paul McCartney's most successful years on the Australian chart as a solo artist - with five top 10 hits added to the 37 he'd previously notched up (31 with The Beatles and six in the '70s after the band split). But since "No More Lonely Nights" reached number 9 at the end of 1984, neither his festive release "We All Stand Together" (which missed the top 100) or soundtrack single "Spies Like Us" had performed well at all. 
That trend continued with "Press", the lead single from Press To Play, which crept into the top 50, and missed the top 20 in the US and the UK. Despite enlisting Phil Collins producer Hugh Padgham to update his sound (and Phil himself playing drums on "Press"), the single and album were a resounding flop. Paul would eventually add more top 10 singles to his tally, but not until 2014/2015 when a couple of collaborations with Kanye West and Rihanna signalled a major comeback.




Number 40 "Every Beat Of My Heart" by Rod Stewart
Peak: number 26
Rod Stewart had been just as prolific as Paul McCartney since 1971 but, similarly, hadn't had a top 10 hit in a while - not since 1983's "Baby Jane". However, Rod hadn't been relegated to pop's wilderness in the same way that Paul had, with "Every Beat Of My Heart" following up the moderately successful number 12 hit "Love Touch". The title track of his latest album, "Every Beat..." is one of those dirgy, funereal ballads I came to hate Rod for in the early '90s, but enough people liked it for it to become a middling hit on the ARIA chart - his last for over a year. Interestingly, one of the other songs released from Every Beat Of My Heart was Rod's version of The Beatles' "In My Life".




Albums chart

ARIA Top 50 Albums Chart - week ending September 28, 1986

With only two new entries on the singles chart - neither of them very good - it's the perfect opportunity to flip the top 50 over and see what was happening on the albums side this week in 1986.



At the very top of the albums chart was the latest various artist release from Festival Records and EMI - but it's actually one of the weaker compilations to reach number 1 in the '80s. The first side has a number of minor and non-hits by Queen, Venetians, Culture Club, Suzanne Vega and Robert Palmer. Side 2 is better, with only one of the nine tracks not making the top 20. At number 16, the Mega-Mixes version of 1986... Just For Kicks made a leap up the chart. The double album featured 12" mixes of some of the songs from the main version alongside more club-friendly tracks by Lana Pellay, Pet Shop Boys and Kids In The Kitchen.




They both still had singles in the ARIA top 10, and this week in 1986, albums by Samantha Fox and Cyndi Lauper named after those hits debuted on the albums top 50 - one considerably higher than the other. That said, Cyndi's True Colors actually climbed 66-3, while Samantha's Touch Me made its first appearance in the top 100 at number 40. It would be the only chart feat Samantha would have over Cyndi, with True Colors starting a four-week stretch at number 1 the following week, while Touch Me peaked at number 20.




Two male artists also arrived on the chart with their latest albums. For Paul Kelly, the debut of Gossip, his first release with backing band The Coloured Girls, marked his return to the top 50 after a break of five years. Back in 1981, Talk, his first album with previous band The Dots, had reached number 44. Spurred on by hit single "Before Too Long", Gossip hit a much more respectable number 15 and spent three-quarters of a year on the top 100. An album that would spend well over a year on the top 100, including five weeks at number 1, was Graceland by Paul Simon, which entered at number 44 despite lead single "You Can Call Me Al" sitting at number 79. That song would also soon rocket up the chart and be inescapable all summer.




The longest-running album on the chart was, not surprisingly, Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits, but two other stayers were coming up to their top 50 anniversaries. Whitney Houston's debut self-titled LP was in its 51st week, while Scarecrow by John Cougar Mellencamp was one week behind. Whitney Houston would end up spending 96 weeks in the top 50 and be 1986's number 1 album; Scarecrow's tally was 65 weeks and the year's number 4.


Next week: a much more interesting singles chart thanks to six new entries, including Samantha Fox's follow-up to her chart-topper, the return of synthpop royalty and a song forever associated with Princess Diana.


Back to: Sep 21, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 5, 1986


Sunday, 25 September 2016

This Week In 1983: September 25, 1983

As I write my flashbacks to ARIA charts from years past, I sometimes come across songs I didn't know at the time. Often, it's an obscure track that didn't make the top 50, or a song from when I was only eight or nine years old and hadn't yet become such a chart obsessive.

I know Agnetha, but I don't know her solo single from 1983

The new entries on the singles chart from this week in 1983 provide a first for me. Even though I'm familiar with most of the artists behind the songs (seven new entries outside the top 50 and two debuts on the top 50 itself), I'd only ever heard one of the tracks prior to sitting down to write this post - and I only heard that for the first time a couple of years ago. 

So, I'm going to do things a little differently this week. I'll give my first impressions of each song. Do I like it? Should it have been a hit? Then, I'll fill you in on the story behind each single as usual. Exciting, right?

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 25, 1983

A single I'm all too familiar with registered a fourth week at number 1 this week in 1983. "Australiana" by Austen Tayshus triumphed yet again over a surprisingly resilient "Flashdance... What A Feelng" to claim the title of highest selling record in the country.


Off the chart
Number 99 "Manuel Goodbye" by Audrey Landers
Peak: number 90
First impression: European, surely? If ABBA couldn't cut it with this kind of Europop in the early '80s, what hope did Audrey Landers have? It's OK, I guess, but the verses seem to last forever and the chorus sounds like it's from a song that gets knocked out at the semi-final stage of Eurovision. 
The facts: She might have been an American actress, starring in Dallas at this point in time, but Audrey's first single of the '80s enjoyed most of its success on the Continent, where it hit the top 10 in a handful of countries.

Number 98 "Saved By Zero" by The Fixx
Peak: number 98
First impression: I'm familiar with "One Thing Leads To Another" from later in 1983, but this earlier single lacks that same big hook. I like the feel of it, but it doesn't scream hit to me.
The facts: Well, it was a top 20 hit in the US, but "One Thing..." did much better, reaching the top 5. "Saved By Zero" was the lead single from the band's second album, Reach The Beach, and is about getting back to basics in a Buddhist kind of way.

Number 95 "Casual Encounter" by Divinyls
Peak: number 91
First impression: Obviously I know who Divinyls are, but "Casual Encounter" is one of those between-hits singles that's passed me by until now despite the fact that I own Greatest Hits on which the song appears. I like the bridge (or pre-chorus or whatever it is), but the chorus doesn't really go anywhere.
The facts: The fourth and final single from the band's debut studio album, Desperate, "Casual Encounter" was the first to miss the top 50.

Number 86 "Can't Shake Loose" by Agnetha Fältskog
Peak: number 76
First impression: This is the song I've been most interested to hear since I was a big fan of ABBA-mate Frida's solo hit, "I Know There's Something Going On", from 12 months earlier, but I'd never heard (or bothered to search out) Agnetha's solo efforts from the same era. "Can't Shake Loose" sounds like something Physical-era Olivia Newton-John might have released and has a pretty decent chorus, so I'm not sure why it didn't perform better on the chart.
The facts: This was Agnetha's only solo single to reach the top 100 in Australia, and was actually the third track lifted from her first post-ABBA solo album, Wrap Your Arms Around Me. "Can't Shake Loose" was written by Russ Ballard, who also penned Frida's "I Know There's...".

Number 85 "Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Peter Schilling
Peak: number 57
First impression: This is the song I've heard before - but only in the past couple of years. I'm puzzled why it didn't cross over in Australia in a Falco/Nena kind of way.
The facts: "Major Tom (Coming Home)" is the English version of synthpop act Peter Schilling's German chart-topper, "Major Tom (Völlig Losgelöst)". Lyrically, it's a sequel to David Bowie's "Space Oddity", even though that ground had been covered in "Ashes To Ashes".

Number 79 "Openhearted" by Real Life
Peak: number 72
First impression: Like "Face To Face", which I discovered when it popped up in my 30 Years Ago... posts covering 1985, this single from the Australian synthpop band is not bad at all. At the same time, I can see why it wasn't anywhere near as big as the singles either side of it, "Send Me An Angel" and "Catch Me I'm Falling"
The facts: This second single from Heartland liked the number 72 position - it spent three non-consecutive weeks there.

Number 78 "Potential New Boyfriend" by Dolly Parton
Peak: number 53
First impression: I'm not opposed to a bit of Dolly, especially when it's at the poppier end of the spectrum like this. "Potential New Boyfriend" doesn't blow me away, but I wouldn't turn it off if it came on the radio (if I listened to the radio, that is).
The facts: The only single from her Burlap & Satin album, "Potential New Boyfriend" was Dolly's first top 100 appearance since a re-recorded version of "I Will Always Love You" (from The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas) made number 72 in the last week of 1982. The song was accompanied by her first ever music video and ended up hanging around the top 100 for 18 weeks, no doubt thanks to the success of "Islands In The Stream", which we'll see arrive on the top 50 in a few weeks.


New entries
Number 50 "Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love" by BJ Thomas
Peak: number 39
First impression: This made the top 50 when some of those other songs didn't? Actually, it makes sense. "Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love" is the type of sentimental pop/country tune that sometimes found an audience in Australia in the early '80s. It's got an incredibly catchy chorus that I'm sure will be stuck in my head for hours now - and it was performed by a singer with chart pedigree, even if it's nowhere near as good as the best thing he ever recorded.
The facts: BJ Thomas topped the Australian chart way back in 1966 with his second single, "Mama" and had enjoyed a number of local hits over the years since then, including the original version of "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" that was on the chart at the same time as John(ny) Farnham's number 1 remake. The first single from BJ's New Looks album, "Whatever Happened..." was his biggest hit in the US since the late '70s and, although only a minor hit on the ARIA chart, it then spent many weeks hovering outside the top 50, eventually racking up 25 weeks on the top 100.




Number 45 "Garden Party" by Mezzoforte
Peak: number 32
First impression: Oh, this sounds familiar. I'm sure I've heard this played in the background of something or other over the years - probably an '80s variety or daytime talk show - but I've never known what it was called. Are there vocals or is it just an instrumental track? (A minute and a half later) With the exception of some brief backing vocals, it's an instrumental it would seem. I can see why this was popular. The hook is immediately memorable, but I can also see why it didn't get any further than number 32. (A minute later) OK, I'm kind of bored of it now.
The facts: Mezzoforte are from Iceland - I never would've picked that. "Garden Party" had been a top 20 hit in the UK in March, and both it and album Surprise Surprise were the jazz-funk band's only appearances on their respective ARIA charts. Herb Alpert recorded a version of it, apparently.




Next week: eight new songs debut on the top 50, including the single that would knock Austen Tayshus from the number 1 spot, a comeback from a hit disco group and a cover version by an Australian band about a city in Jamaica. And, a couple of releases I don't recall from 1983.


Back to: Sep 18, 1983 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 2, 1983


Thursday, 22 September 2016

25 Years Ago This Week: September 22, 1991

Some artists have a huge hit straight out of the gate - and then spend the rest of their career trying to live up to it. This week in 1991, the third single by a British band that'd had a global smash with their debut single struggled to climb very high on the ARIA chart.

It was her highest charting single, but was it her best song?

Meanwhile, other acts take their time to achieve their biggest hit. Twenty-five years ago this week, a singer who'd already released a dozen or so singles and won two ARIA Awards for Best Female Artist debuted with the song that'd peak the highest for her on the top 50.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending September 22, 1991

The biggest single of Bryan Adams' career - and I say that safe in the assumption that he'll never better it - was still at number 1 this week in 1991. By registering a ninth week on top, "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" became the longest running chart-topper since USA For Africa's "We Are The World". The next target? The 11-week stretch at number 1 enjoyed by "Mull Of Kintyre/Girl's School" by Wings.


Off The Chart
Number 96 "My Body Says Yes" by Titiyo
Peak: number 96
This single from Swedish singer Titiyo Jah should've been bigger - here and in the US, where it peaked just outside the top 40 but still featured on American Top 40. Titiyo is Neneh Cherry's half-sister.

Number 87 "Romantic" by Karyn White
Peak: number 68
Another song that no doubt owes what Australian success it had to American Top 40 is this lead single from Karyn White's second album, Ritual Of Love. Produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, "Romantic" topped the US chart.

Number 72 "Monsters And Angels" by Voice Of The Beehive
Peak: number 72
Having tried of releasing and re-releasing tracks from debut album Let It Bee, Voice Of The Beehive turned to album number two, the provocatively titled Honey Lingers. This lovely single flopped locally, but they'd finally have a big hit with its follow-up.


Breaker
"Walking Down Madison" by Kirsty MacColl
Peak: number 58
Last week, Billy Bragg defied convention to venture into the ARIA top 50. This week in 1991, it was the turn of Kirsty MacColl, who'd provided backing vocals and appeared in Billy's music video for "Sexuality", to almost do the same. And, she peaked just outside the top 50 with a song that, like "Sexuality", was co-written by Johnny Marr. The hip-hop and dance-influenced "Walking Down Madison" was a change of musical direction for the British singer known more for UK hits like The Kinks cover "Days", "There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis" and her remake of Billy's "A New England". It even featured a rap, from Aniff Cousins. The music video was shot on Madison Avenue, New York, and depicted the two faces of the city, as described in the song's lyrics.




New Entries
Number 49 "Children" by EMF
Peak: number 49
Before we get to this week's big new entry, we have three minor top 50 hits that didn't progress any further than their entry positions. First up, it's the song that prevents EMF from being a one-hit wonder (in the strictest sense of the term) in Australia. By sneaking into the top 50, "Children" achieved what previous single "I Believe" couldn't, but came nowhere near matching the success of "Unbelievable". In Australia, this was the last we saw of EMF on the top 100, while in the UK, they were finally able to match the number 3 peak of "Unbelievable" in 1995 with a cover of "I'm A Believer", recorded in collaboration with comedy duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.




Number 45 "Hieronymus" by Clouds
Peak: number 45
Earlier in 1991, their Loot EP had almost reached the top 20, but like so many other Australian indie rock bands, the going had become tougher for Clouds on the singles chart and latest release "Hieronymus" puttered out here at number 45. The track, which got its name from painter Hieronymus Bosch, appeared alongside Loot track "Souleater" on the band's upcoming album, Penny Century. That, at least, received a better reception, peaking at number 23 on the albums chart and staying in the top 100 for over half a year.




Number 44 "She Talks To Angels" by The Black Crowes
Peak: number 44
Things were actually looking up for The Black Crowes who broke into the top 50 for the first time with this rock ballad from debut album Shake Your Money Maker. The song, about the type of person the band encountered on the Atlanta club scene as they were starting out, also provided them with their US breakthrough. After the top 30 success of "She Talks To Angels" on the Billboard chart, "Hard To Handle" was reissued and reached number 26 there, The Black Crowes' highest ever chart position in the States (and an improvement of nearly 20 places on its original peak). The band's biggest hit in Australia was still to come.




Number 35 "Break In The Weather" by Jenny Morris
Peak: number 2
"You're Gonna Get Hurt". "Body And Soul". "You I Know". "She Has To Be Loved". These are all songs I like much better than "Break In The Weather", which is Jenny Morris's biggest hit in Australia, held off the number 1 spot by Big Audio Dynamite II's "Rush". The lead single from third album Honeychild, the track came with a memorable video that utilised a ventriloquist's dummy and body parts from toy dolls as musical instruments - something that kind of creeped me out, which may or may not have been the intention. I didn't hate "Break In The Weather" - it was certainly a much better lead single than "Saved Me" had been - but I could never really get into it, either. Not for the first time, it seems I was alone on that score, although I suspect "Break In The Weather" might not have been quite as big had it appeared on Jenny's debut album and certainly benefitted from her increase in popularity since those days.




Next week: even Bryan Adams' record company are getting bored with him being at number 1, plus two '80s acts known for one big single return to the top 50 and another member of Bon Jovi goes solo.


Back to: Sep 15, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 29, 1991


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: September 21, 1986

Unlike TV talent quests Star Search, Pot Of Gold and New Faces, you weren't meant to take Red Faces seriously. The Hey Hey It's Saturday segment poked fun at those series and, thanks to po-faced, gong-wielding, low-scoring Red Symons, the contestants that dared set foot on stage to sing, tell jokes, dance or pretend to be a bobsled team.

Barry Michael demonstrated the power of Hey Hey It's Saturday in 1986

Every so often, someone would come along who was not only genuinely talented but would actually make Red hold off on banging the going - and maybe even giving a score higher than a two. Thirty years ago this week, a song originally performed on Red Faces even made the ARIA chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending September 21, 1986

Making it to the top of the ARIA chart this week in 1986 were Bananarama, who began a seven-week run at number 1 with "Venus".


Off The Chart
Number 95 "Lessons In Love" by Level 42
Peak: number 65
A slight improvement on "Leaving Me Now", but still a flop for the biggest UK hit by Level 42. In 1987, the follow-up to "Lessons In Love" would finally give the band an ARIA top 50 hit .

Number 77 "Try / Lonely Without You" by Pseudo Echo
Peak: number 60
Hedging their bets with one upbeat synthpop track and one ballad, Pseudo Echo missed the top 50 with this fourth release from Love An Adenture. They'd be back - with their biggest hit of all - in a matter of months.


Breaker
"Dreams" by Van Halen
Peak: number 51
They'd got off to a good start with new lead singer Sammy Hagar on top 10 hit "Why Can't This Be Love", but this second single from 5150 interestingly peaked just outside the top 50 at number 51. As well as being interesting numerically, it's curious (for me, anyway) because I would've said "Dreams" had been a bigger hit than that. Musically pretty similar to the synth-rock sound of "Why Can't This Be Love" and "Jump", the song also fell short in the US (peaking at number 22 compared to its predecessor's number 3 position). The song's music video, which doesn't feature the band, contains footage of the US Navy's flight demonstration squad, the Blue Angels.




New Entries
Number 50 "Dreamtime" by Daryl Hall
Peak: number 28
The first time he'd tried to release a solo album was in 1977, when he recorded Sacred Songs. That album ended up staying on the shelf for three years, finally released in 1980 shortly before Hall & Oates' Voices, their ninth album in as many years. Second time round there was no such delay - and also no forthcoming H&O album, with the duo on a hiatus. Led by catchy US top 5 single "Dreamtime", Three Hearts In The Happy Ending Machine performed much better than Sacred Songs but still nowhere near as well as any of Daryl's recent albums with John Oates. Co-producer on the album - and lead guitarist on "Dreamtime" - was Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, which brings us nicely to...




Number 49 "Missionary Man" by Eurythmics
Peak: number 9
The good thing about America and Britain deciding to release different singles from albums is that Australian record companies could pretty much pick and choose which tracks they wanted to go with in whatever order they wanted. And so, following "When Tomorrow Comes", which had been the first UK and Australian single from Revenge, Australia then went with "Missionary Man", which had been the first US single. Meanwhile both the US and UK opted for "Thorn In My Side" as second single instead. I've never been that fond of "Missionary Man". It's certainly a striking song, but I find it a bit harsh and difficult to listen to, especially the monotonous melody. I do like all the backing vocalist's wailing, though. Enough Australians liked it to send it into the top 10 - the duo's final song to reach so high (although they still had a few top 20 hits left in them).




Number 48 "My Favourite Waste Of Time" by Owen Paul
Peak: number 32
The last time this song appeared on the ARIA top 50, it was in early 1984 when Bette Midler took her version to number 44 and it was called "Favorite Waste Of Time". But that wasn't the first time the sing-alongable tune was released - or its original title. "You're My Favorite Waste Of Time" originally appeared on the B-side of "Someday, Someway" by Marshall Crenshaw, who wrote both songs. But, it was Scottish singer Owen Paul who had the only major international hit recording, with his rendition reaching number 3 in the UK and out-performing Bette's version locally. This was pretty much the last time Owen Paul was head of - although he did pop up in The Osbournes in 2002 in that episode when Sharon throws food over a noisy neighbour's fence. It transpires that Owen was one of the people responsible for the noise.




Number 42 "Stuck With You" by Huey Lewis & The News
Peak: number 2
They'd reached number 1 in 1985 with "The Power Of Love" and almost did it again in 1986 with a song that spent 10 weeks going up and down the top 10, an effort which no doubt prompted Countdown's Gavin Wood to make all sort of puns using the word "stuck" as he counted down the week's biggest singles. The first single proper from Fore!, "Stuck With You" was a sweet little number which came with an expensive-looking music video that was filmed in the Bahamas and featured the future Mrs Pierce Brosnan as Huey's love interest.




Number 41 "I Don't Understand (Where I Fit In)" by Barry Michael
Peak: number 35
Here's the song that owes its appearance on the ARIA chart to a performance on Hey Hey It's Saturday's Red Faces segment. The unassuming Barry Michael sang the amusing old-fashioned-sounding ditty (with a very modern lyrical twist) and won the night. Not only did Red Symons not give him a two out of 10 but, when EMI signed Barry to a record deal, the Skyhooks guitarist produced the track. It would be Barry's only ARIA chart appearance and his deal would only extend to a second single, but it did demonstrate the power of exposure on a hit primetime series. 




Number 30 "A Matter Of Trust" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 3
Like "Stuck With You", "A Matter Of Trust" spent 10 weeks inside the top 10, including at least one week at every position between 3 and 10 - a performance which was a marked improvement on that of previous release "Modern Woman". Perhaps the fact that "A Matter Of Trust" actually had a music video helped its cause. Again like "Stuck With You", it was a memorable clip, even if it had more of a low-key feel as Billy and band jammed in a New York building's sweaty basement to an ever-increasing crowd outside, and the only model in sight was Billy's then-wife, Christie Brinkley, who wandered around with their baby girl, Alexa. "A Matter Of Trust" became Billy's biggest hit since the last song he'd released with a video featuring Christie: 1983's "Uptown Girl".






Next week: two of music's elder statesmen release new singles - but only one of them does well. Plus, since it's a quiet week, I'll flip the chart over and take a look at the top 50 albums.


Back to: Sep 14, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 28, 1986


Sunday, 18 September 2016

This Week In 1983: September 18, 1983

U2. Bon Jovi. Nirvana. R.E.M. Coldplay. At one time or other, they've all been regarded as the biggest band in the world. Before any of them ascended to that position, a trio from England held down the unofficial title in 1983.

The Police had the world wrapped around their finger in 1983

So far that year, they'd topped the Australian albums chart (as they had done with their three previous albums) and come close to doing the same on the singles top 50. But, as so often happens, with great success came great friction and the band's days were numbered.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 18, 1983

Enjoying great success on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1983 was Austen Tayshus, whose comedy release "Australiana" remained at number 1 for a third week.


Off The Chart
Number 96 "Trouble In Paradise" by Renée Geyer
Peak: number 81
One of two album-less singles included on best of collection Faves, the underrated "Trouble In Paradise" also marked the end of Renée's deal with Mushroom Records before she head off to try her luck in the US.

Number 94 "Burning Down The House" by Talking Heads
Peak: number 94
Despite three separate forays onto the top 100 between now and the end of the year, this lead single from Speaking In Tongues - a US top 10 hit - was never able to get out of the 90s.


New Entries
Number 49 "Hold Me 'Til The Morning Comes" by Paul Anka
Peak: number 49
A chart regular in the late '50s and early '60s, Paul Anka had already staged one comeback, reaching number 2 with 1974's "(You're) Having My Baby" after more than a decade's absence from the top 50. This week in 1983, he did it again, returning to the chart for the first time in eight years with what would turn out to be his last international hit single. A classic '80s weepy ballad, "Hold Me 'Til The Morning Comes" features a pretty significant vocal contribution from Peter Cetera, who was still in Chicago at this point, having only tested the solo waters with his first album away from the band in 1981. I'd never heard this song before, but every time it gets to the chorus and Peter starts to sing the song's title, I keep thinking he's going to sing "hold me now, it's hard for me to say I'm sorry".




Number 48 "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by The Police
Peak: number 26
"Every Breath You Take" had been a global smash, topping the US and UK chart, and almost doing the same in Australia - solidifying the notion that The Police were indeed the biggest band in the world in 1983. With that track still in the ARIA top 20, the second single from Synchronicity arrived on the top 50. Australia chose to follow the UK's lead and go with "Wrapped Around Your Finger" instead of "King Of Pain", which was issued in the US (and would come out here down the track). While by no means another monster single, "Wrapped Around Your Finger" did boast another killer chorus. It also came with a Godley & Creme-directed music video that was filmed in high speed then slowed down to give the slow-mo feel it ended up with. As with much of The Police's output at this time, different members filmed their parts of the clip separately, no doubt due in part to the ongoing tension that threatened to tear the band apart - and would ultimately do so.




Number 46 "The Walk" by The Cure
Peak: number 34
The Cure had actually come into existence the year before The Police did, but in 1983 the British gloom-merchants were only just starting to experience their commercial breakthrough. Non-album single "The Walk" provided the band with their first top 20 hit in the UK, following a string of peaks in the 30s and 40s, while in Australia, the synth-heavy track gave them a second top 40 hit following previous release "Let's Go To Bed". They may not have been - or would ever become - the biggest band in the world, but The Cure had certainly arrived. Given their longevity, perhaps not being as huge as The Police had its advantages.




Next week: a whole heap of songs I'm unfamiliar with - two new entries on the top 50 that I've never heard of and seven obscure songs that didn't make the top 50, only one of which I've heard before (and that was only in the last year or so). Wonder what gems (or otherwise) we'll discover.


Back to: Sep 11, 1983 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 25, 1983