Saturday, 22 July 2017

This Week In 1984: July 22, 1984

Already on this blog, we've seen the solo debuts of locally based former backing singers Kate Ceberano, Jenny Morris and Wendy Matthews. Before any of those women hit the ARIA top 50 with their own releases, one of the most recognisable female voices in '80s pop stepped out from behind the band she performed with.

Helen Terry and Boy George made beautiful music together

She had the full support of the band she'd backed - they even helped write and perform her first single. Question was: would her solo record be as big as the chart-toppers she'd already performed on?

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 22, 1984

Another British band whose backing singers would eventually strike out on their own scored their very first Australian chart-topper this week in 1984. Wham! brought an end to The Twelfth Man's run at the top by climbing to number 1 with "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" for the first of seven (non-consecutive) weeks.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Please Don't Fall In Love" by Cliff Richard
Peak: number 95
It had been the second - and most successful - single from Silver in the UK in late 1983, but this drippy ballad ended up as the third - and least successful - one locally.

Number 95 "Sweetest Sweetest" by Jermaine Jackson
Peak: number 57
As "State Of Shock" inched up just one place from last week's high-flying debut, this lead single from Jermaine Jackson's self-titled album was a more under-the-radar release.   

Number 85 "Dancing Until Midnight" by Pseudo Echo
Peak: number 53
After a couple of smash hits, Pseudo Echo's dream run hit a speed bump with this third single flopping. Parent album Autumnal Park had debuted (and peaked) at number 11 in mid-June, however.


New Entries
Number 49 "Love Lies Lost" by Helen Terry
Peak: number 34
She wasn't an official member of Culture Club, but can you imagine songs like "Church Of The Poison Mind" or "Victims" without the input of backing singer Helen Terry? By 1984, Culture Club's label, Virgin Records, obviously thought her profile was high enough to give her a shot in the spotlight and released her debut solo single, "Love Lies Lost". 
Keeping things in the musical family, Helen co-wrote the track with Boy George and Culture Club's guitarist/keyboard player, Roy Hay, who both performed on the song, as did drummer Jon Moss. Although the bouncy, soulful pop tune perfectly showcased her powerhouse vocals, it ended up not being as big a hit as anything Culture Club had so far charted with. The story was the same in the UK, where it also peaked at number 34.
Despite continuing to release music until the end of the decade, Helen only made this one appearance on the ARIA chart. These days, she works in TV, most recently as executive producer of the BRIT Awards broadcast.




Number 46 "Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us" by Ollie & Jerry
Peak: number 25
Joining "Street Dance", "Up Rock" and "Breakdance" on the top 50 was yet another breakdance-related track - in fact it was the theme tune to the movie also called Breakin', which is really only notable now for being the first film Ice-T ever acted in and also featuring an early uncredited appearance by Jean-Claude Van Damme. The duo of drummer Ollie E Brown and singer/bass player Jerry Knight had previously worked together on the debut album by Raydio - the group fronted by Ray Parker Jr. A top 10 hit in both the US and the UK, "Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us" performed surprisingly averagely in Australia. The pair released a follow-up, "Electric Boogaloo", which was, as you probably guessed, taken from the film's sequel Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, but that single didn't chart at all locally.




Number 42 "Only When You Leave" by Spandau Ballet
Peak: number 12
Following up the international juggernaut that was the True album was always going to be difficult, but Spandau Ballet didn't do too badly with this lead single from Parade, which just fell short of the top 10. Not as classic a song as "True" or "Gold" (which had immediately preceded it), "Only When You Leave" was nevertheless another sophisticated blend of pop and soul that was just made for radio. Of course, whether or not Australian radio played Spandau Ballet at the time is another issue entirely.




Number 41 "To Sir With Love" by Vicki Sue Robinson
Peak: number 7
Here's another female performer whose earliest appearances on record were as a backing singer. Better known as a theatre actress, Vicki Sue Robinson had found solo success with her 1976 US top 10 single, "Turn The Beat Around" (a number 28 hit in Australia). Then followed years of flop singles until this dance cover of the soundtrack tune by Lulu (an Australian number 14 and US chart-topper in 1967) unexpectedly reached the ARIA top 10. The upbeat arrangement works reasonably well compared to the slower Lulu original - although "To Sir With Love" is such a great tune that it'd be pretty hard to completely destroy it.




Next week: a superstar duet from a pair of singers who know a thing or two about superstar duets. Plus, a song named after an actor that's not about what you might think.


Back to: Jul 15, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 29, 1984


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: July 19, 1992

A brand new single by a megastar performer was always a cause for excitement. What would they do this time? Could they possibly top what they'd done already?

No strangers to controversy, only one of Madonna and Prince caused any this time

This week in 1992, two of the biggest musical acts in the world debuted on the ARIA singles chart with completely new songs. For one, it was the type of raunchy funk for which the artist was known, while for the other, its subdued tone contrasted quite dramatically in style with their releases either side of it. Both would naturally become big hits.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 19, 1992

The biggest hit in Australia this week in 1992 was "Save The Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams, which moved up into the top spot vacated by Kris Kross - and would move back down in seven days' time.


Off The Chart
Number 97 "Your Love" by Girl Overboard
Peak: number 70
Almost a year after we last saw them, Girl Overboard were back with this first taste of their Charles Fisher-produced second album, Go. Despite being quite good, it didn't improve matters for them on the chart. 


Single Of The Week
"Move Me No Mountain" by Soul II Soul
Peak: number 96
By this point, I'd pretty much given up hope that Soul II Soul would ever have anything resembling a decent-sized hit in Australia - an assumption that was backed up by the failure of their latest single to get even close to the top 50. A cover version of a song first recorded by Love Unlimited in 1974, and later covered by Dionne Warwick and Chaka Khan, "Move Me No Mountain" was another slide of sophisticated UK R&B from the British band. Lead vocals on the track were handled by Kofi (aka Carol Simms), who was once in a group called Brown Sugar with fellow Soul II Soul featured performer Caron Wheeler. 




Breaker
"Walk The Dinosaur" by The Tin Lids
Peak: number 64
I guess I should be thankful for small mercies - that this atrocity, which somehow had the blessing of The Flintstones producers Hanna Barbera, didn't give Jimmy Barnes's offspring a second top 50 single. Nevertheless, this kiddie version of "Walk The Dinosaur" effectively ruined the Was (Not Was) classic from 1987 and is Exhibit A in the case against children being allowed to record music. It took a while longer for the "brains" behind The Tin Lids to get the hint and desist with the project, but we were, however, spared any further top 100 entries.




New Entries
Number 50 "This Used To Be My Playground" by Madonna
Peak: number 9
In between "Justify My Love" and the upcoming Erotica album, the early '90s were a sexually charged time for Madonna - even more so than usual. But in the midst of all that she released this sentimental ballad from A League Of Their Own, the latest film in which she had a role. After being asked for a song to include in the movie, Madonna and Erotica producer Shep Pettibone got to work and came up with "This Used To Be My Playground" in a couple of days. 
The result: a US chart-topper (her 10th) and an ARIA top 10 hit (her 20th), although the song has tended to be swept under the carpet a bit since then. At the time, I thought it would be the perfect song to play at my Year 12 class's final assembly at the end of 1992. Instead, we got to graduate to the strains of a rock song we'll see debut on the top 50 next week.




Number 42 "I Can't Help Myself" by Teen Queens
Peak: number 28
For some reason, people had been quite receptive to Teen Queens' debut effort, "Be My Baby", sending it all the way into the top 10. So the female trio did what any other manufactured pop group would do - released more of the same. Kind of. "I Can't Help Myself" was yet another cover of a well-known '60s song - originally released in 1965 by The Four Tops - but the production and styling was decidedly more 1992 than last time. Regardless, it was still horrible.




Number 31 "Perfect Place" by Voice Of The Beehive
Peak: number 31
Over the past few months, we've seen a number of top 50 entries that owed their presence on the chart to some pretty hefty price discounting. Songs like "Innocence" and "Love Is Holy". I'm pretty sure this latest single from Voice Of The Beehive was another one. It was, I'm reliably informed, also aided by a promo visit by the band around the time. Problem was: once those initial factors wore off, "Perfect Place" dropped like a stone back out of the chart. Still, it was another lovely original single from the band whose biggest hit remained their remake of "I Think I Love You".




Number 25 "Sexy MF" by Prince & The New Power Generation
Peak: number 5
Even though he'd launched his previous album with the sexed up double whammy of "Gett Off" and "Cream", and had been known to get particularly ribald on the odd B-side, I don't think anything quite prepared the world for "Sexy MF", the lead single from the Love Symbol Album. A brazen appreciation of the object of Prince's desire, the funk/R&B track caused exactly the amount of controversy you'd expect a song with the line "you sexy motherfucker" would. It was also also exactly as big a hit as those types of songs always are - except in America, of course.


Number 20 "I Don't Care" by Shakespears Sister
Peak: number 18
Another single benefitting from a reduced recommended retail price was this follow-up to top 5 smash "Stay", which blasted straight in to the top 20 (higher than either Prince or Madonna). A cost of around $1 or $2 (depending on the format) compared to anywhere from $5 to $9 will help on that front. Price aside, "I Don't Care" is also a great song, which explains why it didn't immediately exit as quickly as it arrived. 
As different to previous hits "Stay", "You're History" and "Run Silent" as they all were from each other, the jangly, upbeat "I Don't Care" was remixed significantly from the album version, but retained the portion of poetry ("Hornpipe" by Edith Sitwell) that Siobhan Fahey recites in the middle. This was the last time the duo would be seen on the ARIA top 50, but then again, Shakespears Sister's days as a two-piece were numbered anyway, with tension between Siobhan and Marcella Detroit as high as the music video for "I Don't Care" (lightheartedly) suggested.




Next week: brace yourselves - it's another of those weeks. Ten new entries in the top 50, including two of the hottest American girl groups, Australia's other girl group, one of the biggest dance anthems of all time and three of the country's most popular singers uniting for a spot of Andrew Lloyd Webber.


Back to: Jul 12, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 26, 1992


Saturday, 15 July 2017

This Week In 1984: July 15, 1984

When does a music star become a superstar? In the case of Madonna, it was with the release of Like A Virgin and her chart-dominating run of hits in 1985; with Michael Jackson, it was "Billie Jean" and his debut of the moonwalk. In other words, it's when an already successful artist makes an even greater impression, going from being just a popular performer to a pop culture icon.

Prince's career went from warm to scalding in 1984

This week in 1984, a singer/multi-instrumentalist with a couple of top 10 hits to his name debuted on the ARIA singles chart with the lead single from an album (and movie) that would take him to that next level and give him his first number 1 hit locally.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 15, 1984

For a third and final week, the number 1 single in Australia was still "It's Just Not Cricket" by The Twelfth Man, but even the cricket parody couldn't withstand the might of the rapidly ascending Wham!


Off The Chart
Number 99 "(I've Really Got To Use My) Imagination" by The Coup
Peak: number 99
The original by Gladys Knight & The Pips had been a US top 5 hit following its release in late 1973, but this slightly renamed remake didn't enjoy the same chart trajectory.

Number 97 "See You In Spain" by The Cockroaches
Peak: number 97
Their commercial breakthrough was still a couple of years away, but live favourites The Cockroaches finally poked their heads into the top 100 with their sixth single. 

Number 96 "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" by Ultravox
Peak: number 58
Despite having plenty of singles as good as "Vienna" (a list that also includes "The Voice" and "Hymn"), nothing else Ultravox released ventured into the ARIA top 50 - although this UK number 3 hit came closest.

Number 95 "High On Emotion" by Chris De Burgh
Peak: number 91
His albums either side each yielded an ARIA top 5 hit, but the best effort from Man On The Line was this lead single, which veers more towards "Don't Pay The Ferryman" than "The Lady In Red".

Number 88 "God Is A Shield" by Spaniards
Peak: number 54
I've already covered their subsequent two top 100 appearances here and here, but this was the first - and highest charting - single they released and was apparently produced by Molly Meldrum.

Number 74 "You Don't Love Me" by Marilyn
Peak: number 57
Well that was over quickly! Less than six months after causing a major stir with debut single "Calling Your Name", Marilyn had already struck out. Of course, it wasn't quite over...


New Entries
Number 49 "People Are People" by Depeche Mode
Peak: number 25
It was welcome back to the Australian chart to a band who hadn't been seen on the top 100 since "Just Can't Get Enough" reached the top 5 in early 1982. Since then, Depeche Mode had lost their main songwriter (Vince Clarke, who'd gone off to form Yazoo then The Assembly), found a new one in Martin Gore and released the song that remains their best ever single
But it was actually this lead single from fourth album Some Great Reward that would finally give them another hit locally - probably because it was the poppiest thing they'd done since "Just Can't Get Enough". The fact "People Are People" is so catchy would also explain why it became their highest charting single in the UK (equalled twice but never beaten over the decades) and their first hit in the US. Naturally, the band hate it and haven't played it live in nearly 30 years.




Number 44 "Oh Sherrie" by Steve Perry
Peak: number 5
Depeche Mode might not have had many hits in Australia, but they'd done better than this guy's band, 2017 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees Journey, who didn't get any higher than number 43 with 1982's "Open Arms" (a US number 2). Steve Perry more than made up for that with his solo debut - one of the best power ballads of the decade. Released in between Journey albums, "Oh Sherrie" replicated its US top 5 performance here in Australia. It was a one-off though, with Steve never returning to the top 50. I don't think I've ever watched the music video all the way through before - the behind-the-scenes premise is quite fun. And, of course, it features Steve's then-girlfriend, Sherrie Swafford, about whom the song was written.




Number 43 "Miss Me Blind" by Culture Club
Peak: number 26
While his on-off friend Marilyn was languishing outside the top 50, Boy George and Culture Club not only racked up yet another hit, but did so with the fifth single from Colour By Numbers. Released instead of "Victims" in the US, the upbeat "Miss Me Blind" didn't come out in the UK, but the band's Australian record company clearly believed they could squeeze out one more hit from the album. And they were right - even if it did become Culture Club's first single since their breakthrough to miss the top 20.




Number 42 "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Peak: number 4
Whatever fuss there'd once been surrounding Culture Club had long since died down with Frankie Goes To Hollywood assuming the mantle of Britain's most controversial band. For their second single, they traded sexual innuendo for political satire, with "Two Tribes" tapping in to the simmering tensions caused by the Cold War and the fear of nuclear war. Musically and visually, the song exploited the conflict between the USA and the USSR - in the song, elements of Russian classical music sat alongside modern American styles, while in the music video, actors made up to look like Ronald Reagan and Konstantin Chernenko engaged in an all-out brawl. 
The topical track was another huge hit for FGTH - in the UK, it spent nine weeks at number 1, selling over 1.5 million copies in the process; in Australia, it was the 20th biggest single of the year despite only reaching number 4. In both countries, the success of "Two Tribes" resulted in "Relax" climbing back up the chart, with the earlier single returning to the ARIA top 50 in late August.




Number 39 "Self Control" by Laura Branigan
Peak: number 3
Laura Branigan had done very well for herself by covering an old Italian song and changing the lyrics to English, with "Gloria" becoming a major worldwide hit in 1982-83 (and she'd repeat the trick with "Ti Amo" in a couple of singles' time). With "Self Control", she did very well by remaking yet another song by an Italian singer - but this time it was one that was already in English. The original version by Raf was also released in 1984 and in some countries the two recordings charted contemporaneously. In Australia, however, Laura had the top 50 all to herself and her take on "Self Control" (which I have to say I prefer) took her back into the top 5 for a third time.




Number 36 "When Doves Cry" by Prince
Peak: number 1
You know you're a new kind of famous when you star in a movie based on your life, which is exactly what Prince did with 1984's Purple Rain. Taken from the film's soundtrack album, "When Doves Cry" eclipsed all his previous singles, reaching number 1 in Australia and also in the US, where it was the biggest song of the year. Unlike his later movie projects, Purple Rain was also a commercial and critical success, and a steady stream of hits were issued from the project. For the time being, Prince could do no wrong.
Although the Purple Rain album was credited to Prince & The Revolution - his first release with his new backing band - "When Doves Cry" was credited solely to Prince, who performed everything on the track and made the decision to leave out the bass line for a more minimalist effect. The song has returned to the ARIA chart on two occasions since 1984 - in 1997, Quindon Tarver's remake from Romeo + Juliet reached number 3, while Prince's original shot back to number 11 shortly after his death.
On a side note, it's nice to finally be able to embed a music video to go with one of my write-ups of a Prince single, since his clips are starting to surface on YouTube.




Number 14 "State Of Shock" by The Jacksons (with Mick Jagger)
Peak: number 10
While Prince ascended to superstar status, Michael Jackson was basking in the glory of what would end up being the world's highest-selling album of all time. Before he began work on a follow-up to Thriller, he reunited with his brothers - all five of them - for his final album as part of The Jacksons, Victory. As well as being the only album to feature the six Jackson brothers, it would be the group's best-selling release, boosted by the success of this lead single. Originally recorded (but not released) as a duet between Michael and Freddie Mercury, "State Of Shock" ended up as a collaboration with Mick Jagger instead - and their combined star power resulted in it hurtling into the chart at number 14. It only progressed a few more positions, becoming The Jacksons' final single to make the top 10.




Next week: can you believe - another breakdance song? Plus, a dance remake of a song that'd first appeared in a film in 1967.


Back to: Jul 8, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 22, 1984


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: July 12, 1992

Extended versions and dance mixes had been around for years, but as we saw when a separate single of remixes of Michael Jackson's "Black Or White" charted, they were literally coming into their own in 1992.

Whether you liked your U2 traditional or remixed, there was a CD single for you

Twenty-five years ago this week, the biggest band in the world got in on the act, with their latest single coming with a stand-alone remix CD single. In the UK, the remixes charted higher than the standard release, while in Australia, they no doubt contributed to the song's overall chart performance.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 12, 1992

For a third and final week, "Jump" by Kris Kross was the number 1 single in Australia, with two ballads waiting patiently below for their turn at the top.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Come A Long Way" by Michelle Shocked
Peak: number 100
She'd almost reached the top 50 with debut single "Anchorage", but Michelle Shocked came nowhere near it with this lead single from Arkansas Traveler.

Number 98 "Nothin' But The Radio On" by Dave Koz
Peak: number 98
Because the world needed another Kenny G... The pop/jazz saxophonist, who used to play in Richard Marx's band, got a little help from vocalist Joey Diggs on this smooth single.


Single Of The Week
"Thrill Me" by Simply Red
Peak: number 109
Its singles hadn't achieved anywhere near the success they had in the UK, but Simply Red's Stars album had enjoyed a healthy stay in the ARIA top 20. And so it wasn't really a huge surprise that this fourth single, which I never really liked that much, didn't even break into the top 100. What was interesting was that the appearance of "Thrill Me" here as Single Of The Week also didn't seem to help the album's fortunes, with it dropping down the chart the following week.




Breaker
"Someday?" by Concrete Blonde
Peak: number 72
"Ghost Of A Texas Ladies Man" had put them back in the top 50, but Concrete Blonde were going to have to do better than this tepid follow-up if they wanted to stay there (or ever hope to rival the success of breakthrough single "Joey").




New Entries
Number 50 "Workaholic" by 2 Unlimited
Peak: number 35
OK, even I didn't really like this one very much. After two of the year's best dance hits (and it was only July), 2 Unlimited stumbled with their third single. A cacophony of techno beats and annoying synth sounds, it lacked the subtlety of "Get Ready For This" and "Twilight Zone" (and neither was particularly subtle), and opted instead for an angry sounding aural attack. "Workaholic" charted accordingly.




Number 45 "Love Is Holy" by Kim Wilde
Peak: number 29
After releasing seventh album Love Moves to general disinterest in 1990, despite it featuring a number of great singles, Kim Wilde had a bit of a rethink for follow-up Love Is. Instead of relying wholly on the production skills of brother Ricky, she enlisted the help of the hitmakers behind some of Belinda Carlisle's biggest songs: Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley. The pair wrote this lead single, which certainly sounded like it could've slotted in to any of Belinda's recent albums, and Rick co-wrote and produced another two tracks on the album. 
The move worked - to an extent - with "Love Is Holy" giving Kim her biggest hit since chart-topper "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and her first top 20 single in the UK since 1988's "Four Letter Word". Unfortunately, despite the album again featuring some quality singles, nothing else did anywhere near as well and it'd take another cover version for Kim to really make an impression.




Number 44 "Fly Like An Eagle" by The Neville Brothers
Peak: number 44
We'd seen Aaron Neville on the top 50 alongside Linda Ronstadt on ballad hit "Don't Know Much" and almost again with his version of "Everybody Plays The Fool", but this was the first time he and his three brothers scored a hit. They did so with a remake of the Steve Miller Band song from 1976, which was the lead single from their Family Groove album, and featured Steve on guest vocals and guitar. This remains the highest-charting version of the song in Australia, with the original not having made the top 100 and Seal's 1997 cover for the Space Jam soundtrack only reaching number 81.





Number 19 Living In England by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 19
And they were literally living in England, having decamped there to work on the follow-up to debut album All For One. That would come later in the year, but for the time being The Screaming Jets released this stop-gap EP, which, as well as the title track, included covers of songs originally recorded by Johnny Cash ("Folsom Prison Blues") and AC/DC ("Ain't No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire)"). Despite this impressive debut, Living In England slid quickly out of the top 50.




Number 11 "Even Better Than The Real Thing" by U2
Peak: number 11
The original version was just fine - another good single from Achtung Baby - but the dance remix of "Even Better Than The Real Thing" was something else. A pumping club anthem courtesy of DJ/producers Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne (aka Perfecto), it gave the song a whole new energy. With its keyboard stabs and wailing female vocals, it was not what you would've expected from U2, but by retaining the guitar riffs and Bono's entire vocal, it still sounded like them. Besides, we'd gotten used to expecting the unexpected from the Irish band over the previous couple of years - and there was more of that to come. No prizes for guessing which version I preferred. 




Next week: brand new singles from two music superstars - one as raunchy as you'd expect, the other, not so much.


Back to: Jul 5, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 19, 1992


Saturday, 8 July 2017

This Week In 1984: July 8, 1984

Good things come in threes - apparently - and this week a very good song debuted on the ARIA singles chart, giving its artist a trio of hits on the top 50 all at once.

Madonna settled in to chart domination mode this week in 1984

As well as being her third hit single in Australia, it's my third favourite song she's ever released - and she's released a lot of songs over the years!

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 8, 1984

Meanwhile, Australia still couldn't get enough of "It's Just Not Cricket". The Twelfth Man had the number 1 single in the country for the second week in a row.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Nicaragua" by Invisible Mendez
Peak: number 90
It might not sound like it, but this track (with a title that is rhymed with "Jaguar") is by an Australian band. From Adelaide, Invisible Mendez only managed this one single.

Number 91 "Twentieth Century / Only One" by Cold Chisel
Peak: number 91
Now their final album (for the time being) was out - and had been to number 1 - there was less incentive to buy this double A-side, which teamed the title track with the Jimmy Barnes-penned "Only One".

Number 75 "Break Dance Party" by Break Machine
Peak: number 73
"Street Dance" had been a decent-sized hit, but the craze for all things breakdance-related didn't extend to this not-quite-as-good follow-up, which featured another whistled hook.

Number 59 "Pokarekare Ana" by Richard Clayderman
Peak: number 51
Something I never knew: easy-listening pianist Richard Clayderman is French (real name: Philippe Pagès). This recording of the traditional New Zealand tune was his only singles chart appearance. Thank goodness.


New Entries
Number 48 "Up Rock" by Rock Steady Crew
Peak: number 9
Break Machine might've had no luck with their second single, but the opposite was true for Rock Steady Crew, who actually charted significantly higher with this follow-up to "(Hey You) Rock Steady Crew". Although that debut single was the much bigger worldwide hit (reaching the top 10 in a bunch of countries), I think Australia got it right with respect to the generally less successful "Up Rock". For me it's the better song and was Rock Steady Crew's only top 10 single locally.





Number 47 "Reilly" by The Olympic Orchestra
Peak: number 47
Seems every good breakdance single deserves a deathly slow instrumental track... This mournful little number was the theme tune to TV miniseries Reilly, Ace Of Spies, an ITV production starring Sam Neill as the titular spy. I don't recall the show at all - I'm assuming it aired on the ABC - but it was obviously popular enough to prompt this single's brief appearance in the top 50.




Number 40 "Borderline" by Madonna
Peak: number 12
Back to a breakdance song? Not quite, but the video for Madonna's third hit does featuring some head spinning and high kicks. While the clip for "Borderline" was on trend in that sense, it was also quite ahead of its time due to featuring an inter-racial romance - not something that received a lot of airtime in 1984. It was a classic tale - girl dances with and dates boy, girl gets famous (and strays) thanks to some fashion photos taken by a sleazy photographer, boyfriend gets jealous, girl realises photographer is a bit of a creep and sorts it out with boyfriend.
The song itself was one of two tracks on Madonna's debut album written by producer Reggie Lucas (the other: "Physical Attraction") and speaks of the singer's frustration in her relationship. After party tunes "Everybody" and "Holiday", and the more sexual "Burning Up", the relative simplicity of the song gave "Borderline" quite broad appeal. It became her first top 10 hit in the US and remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for 30 weeks - a tally she wouldn't equal until 1994's "Take A Bow". In Australia, it gave her a third top 15 hit in a row (all of which were on this week's top 50 simultaneously) and, for me, remains the third best song she's ever released.




Next week: more music megastars, with debuts by The Jacksons, Culture Club and Prince. Plus, the lead singer of a big American band that never really took off in Australia and the second highest-selling single of 1984 in the UK (by the group that also had the highest-selling one).


Back to: Jul 1, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 15, 1984


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: July 5, 1992

With great success can come great backlash. In November 1982, ABBA made their final appearance on the Australian top 50 after eight years in which they'd dominated the chart and reached the number 1 spot six times. In the decade following "The Day Before You Came", which sputtered out at number 48, the Swedish foursome became synonymous with the words "daggy" and "uncool".

Without these two, the ABBA revival might never have happened 

By 1992, the time was right for another look at the ABBA legacy - and leading the charge was an EP of cover versions that debuted on the ARIA chart 25 years ago this week. Following its success, the world went ABBA crazy once again.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 5, 1992

Also this week in 1992, the number 1 single in Australia was "Jump" by Kris Kross. The rap duo stayed on top for a second week.


Off The Chart
Number 85 "Precious" by Annie Lennox
Peak: number 83
Well this was unexpected. As part of Eurythmics, she'd never been far away from the top 50, but Annie Lennox stumbled with just her second solo single, which I preferred to "Why".


Breakers
"Good Stuff" by The B-52's
Peak: number 56
Here's another act you would've expected more from, especially following their triumphant return with 1989's Cosmic Thing and singer Kate Pierson's guest vocal double duties in 1991. Unfortunately, the title track of The B-52's sixth album just didn't have enough oomph to become the "Love Shack"-style party tune it felt designed to be. I like the song's chorus, but the verses kind of drag and it takes to long to get to, well, the good stuff.




"Finer Feelings" by Kylie Minogue
Peak: number 60
Who saw this coming? After having never missed the top 30 with her first 16 singles, Kylie Minogue's chart career hit a massive speed bump with the fourth single from fourth album Let's Get To It. Realistically, "Finer Feelings" was always going to be a hard sell in Australia, even with a Brothers In Rhythm remix and an artsy black and white music video shot in France. The sophisticated ballad was a mile away from the type of pop tracks Kylie was known for and even the presence of another previously unreleased dancefloor-friendly bonus track couldn't help it muster enough interest to break into the top 50. 




New Entries
Number 49 "Always The Last To Know" by Del Amitri
Peak: number 39
They already had three hits to their name - a couple of which had showed remarkable tenacity and hung around the top 100 for ages. And unlike the acts we've seen so far, Scotland's Del Amitri were welcomed back to the top 50 with this lead single from their third album, Change Everything. Despite the album's title, however, "Always The Last To Know" was pretty much what we'd become accustomed to from the band.




Number 48 "I'll Be There" by Mariah Carey
Peak: number 9
It had been airing without much in the way of fanfare since 1989, but with Mariah Carey's appearance on the show, everyone suddenly knew about MTV Unplugged. Since she hadn't undertaken a major concert tour up until this point, Mariah and her people thought it would be a good way to demonstrate she could, in fact, cut it live - and what better way to demonstrate that than with an intimate, stripped back set? 
As well as tracks from her first two albums, Mariah performed a cover of The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There", which had only reached number 31 in Australia in 1970. Featuring a prominent role from backing vocalist Trey Lorenz, whose use of melisma and whistle register rivalled the diva herself, the remake was lifted from the seven-track MTV Unplugged album and returned Mariah to both the ARIA top 10 and the Billboard number 1 spot (for a sixth time). 




Number 46 "You Won't See Me Cry" by Wilson Phillips
Peak: number 31
In the US, they'd rivalled Mariah for the number of chart-toppers they squeezed out of one album in 1990, but Wilson Phillips had only ever managed the one hit in Australia: debut single "Hold On". Back with the first taste of second album Shadows And Light, the harmonising trio made a reasonably surprising return to the top 50, especially given ballad "You Won't See Me Cry" was less "Hold On" and more "Release Me". In the US, the song barely made the top 20 - a sure sign that even in the couple of years since their debut, music tastes had moved dramatically on.




Number 42 "The Disappointed" by XTC
Peak: number 32
Like ABBA, XTC hadn't been seen on the Australian top 50 since 1982 (with number 12 hit "Senses Working Overtime"), but had been releasing music the entire time. For whatever reason - possibly the fact "The Disappointed" was quite a catchy song? - the British band broke their decade-long drought with this single from their 12th album, Nonsuch




Number 37 "Midlife Crisis" by Faith No More
Peak: number 31
They'd made a huge splash with 1990's "Epic", but in the couple of years after that, genre-blending band Faith No More failed to live up to that chart-storming performance, with even this lead single from Angel Dust (the follow-up to The Real Thing) landing in the middle of the top 50. Inspired by Madonna, "Midlife Crisis" may well be the only chart hit with the word "menstruating" in the lyrics (I always thought it was "menstruating hard", but it's "menstruating heart"). They were selling albums, but if Faith No More wanted another chart hit, perhaps it was worth revisiting a song from the '70s, like these next two acts...




Number 35 "Please Don't Go" by K.W.S.
Peak: number 2
ABBA wasn't the only act from the '70s whose music was revived this week in 1992. Chart-topper "Please Don't Go" by KC & The Sunshine Band (which reached number 1 here in early 1980) was given a '90s dance update by British outfit KWS (named after the surnames of its members Chris King, Winston Williams and Delroy St Joseph). The song almost topped the Australian chart again and did so in the UK for five weeks - but not without controversy. Turns out KWS had modelled their version of "Please Don't Go" on a recent remake by Italian act Double You, who sued, claiming copyright in an arrangement - something that was found to exist in the lengthy legal proceedings. So even though KWS's hit did well, including in the US, where I'm assuming this alternate video aired, they likely made no money from it.




Number 31 ABBA-esque by Erasure
Peak: number 13
Here's the record that knocked KWS's "Please Don't Go" off the number 1 spot in the UK, giving Erasure their first British chart-topper after two near misses. And it was another cover version of a '70s song - actually, it was four covers of four different ABBA tunes bundled together as the ABBA-esque EP. 
The track that got all the attention was the MC Kinky-featuring remake of "Take A Chance On Me", which featured Andy Bell and Vince Clarke donning drag as Frida and Agnetha respectively in the music video. But clips were made for the other three songs, with my favourite a toss-up between "S.O.S." and "Lay All Your Love On Me". 
It was Erasure's first chart hit in Australia since 1986's "Sometimes" reached the dizzy heights of number 45 - and effectively kick-started the worldwide ABBA revival, with the hugely successful compilation album ABBA Gold released later in the year. Another by-product of ABBA-esque was the decision by ABBA tribute band Björn Again to release the Erasure-ish EP, featuring version of the duo's UK hits "A Little Respect" and "Stop!".




Number 17 "Heaven Knows" by Rick Price
Peak: number 6
Making it two top 10 hits in a row, Rick Price returned with the title track of his soon-to-be-released debut album and peaked just one place shy of "Not A Day Goes By". I always found "Heaven Knows" to be a little bit wimpy for my liking, but he quickly accumulated plenty of fans, with the album blasting into the chart at number 3 at the end of the month.




Number 13 "Heaven Sent" by INXS
Peak: number 13
I started this post talking about backlashes against hugely successful acts - and here's a band that knows a thing or two about that. By 1992, much of the Australian public had turned their back on INXS, with this lead single from eighth album Welcome To Wherever You Are starting well but rapidly dropping out of the chart, ultimately only spending seven weeks in the top 50. A similar fate awaited the album, which debuted strongly at number 2 in August but just as quickly tumbled down the listings. I don't mind the distorted rock sound of "Heaven Sent" - it seemed to blend the band's trademark sound with a rawer feel - and it was certainly a good song to choose to kick off the album, but at the same time it was no "What You Need", "Need You Tonight" or "Suicide Blonde".




Next week: the return of one of my favourite female singers of all time, plus a rock band jumps on board the dance remix bandwagon.


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