Saturday, 28 October 2017

This Week In 1984: October 28, 1984

Some singers have the worst luck - and the female vocalist behind the highest new entry on the ARIA top 50 this week in 1984 is a case in point. Her name is Hazell Dean and, Stock Aitken Waterman devotees aside, you probably only vaguely remember her (or don't recall her at all).

Hazell Dean was always searchin' for another hit

Due to her performance on my personal year-end charts, Hazell ranks as one of my top 10 favourite acts of the '80s. But in Australia, the British performer only ever had one hit and in the UK, many of her best songs failed for a variety of reasons.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 28, 1984

A song that did anything but fail remained at number 1 in Australia this week in 1984. "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder was on top for a second week.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Heaven's On Fire" by KISS
Peak: number 62
A slight improvement chart-wise on the lead single from their previous album, but this first track lifted from Animalize (co-written by Desmond Child) didn't put KISS back inside the top 50.

Number 99 "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger
Peak: number 99
More hard rock now and the biggest single - a US top 5 smash - from San Francisco's Night Ranger. The power ballad was written about drummer Kelly Keagy's sister called Christy, but his band-mates misheard what he was singing and the alternate name stuck.

Number 98 "Cold Shot" by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Peak: number 98
He had a number of top 50 albums throughout his career, but this single from Couldn't Stand The Weather was the only singles chart appearance for the blues guitarist/singer.

Number 86 "On The Wings Of A Nightingale" by The Everly Brothers
Peak: number 78
They'd have hoped to have done better with their first new music in 11 years and first top 100 appearance since 1968, but the duo that racked up eight top 5 hits between 1957 and 1961 couldn't score in 1984 with this Paul McCartney-penned tune.

Number 76 "Love Kills" by Freddie Mercury
Peak: number 56
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.


New Entries
Number 50 "Rock Me Tonite" by Billy Squier
Peak: number 50
"The Stroke" had been a top 5 success in 1981, but American rocker Billy Squier hadn't been able to return to the Australian top 50 ever since... until now. Although, by spending a single week at number 50 with this lead single from fourth album Signs Of Life, he barely avoids qualifying for my definition of a one-hit wonder. "Rock Me Tonite" was actually Billy's biggest hit in the US, where it reached number 15, but it's credited with bringing about the rapid demise of his career thanks to a music video which is now widely viewed as among the decade's worst. I'd never seen the clip before, but it does contain some of the most terrible dancing ever put to film.




Number 48 "The Warrior" by Scandal featuring Patty Smyth
Peak: number 6
Speaking of dodgy '80s music videos, the promo for "The Warrior" has been described by singer Patty Smyth as looking like "an off-Broadway production of Cats". In recent weeks, we've seen singer Patty's post-Scandal hit, "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough", debut in my flashbacks to 1992. "The Warrior" was the other song she took into the ARIA top 10, back when she was the frontwoman for American rock band Scandal - a role for which she received featuring billing (possibly to distinguish Scandal from the late '70s Australian band of the same name). Scandal didn't have any further hits and had disintegrated by 1985, leading Patty to pursue her solo career. Fun fact: in 1997, Patty married '80s tennis legend John McEnroe, who coincidentally enjoyed his best season in 1984.




Number 46 "Lights Out" by Peter Wolf
Peak: number 46
From a band whose singer would soon go solo we move now to the solo debut for ex-J Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf, who'd parted ways with his former band following a difference of opinion about their musical direction. The title track of his first album on his own, "Lights Out" was fairly consistent with the pop/rock style of tracks like "Centrefold" and "Freeze Frame", while J Geils Band went with a more new wave sound for their only album without Peter (and missed the top 50 with its lead single in early 1985). In the US, Peter did much better with his solo career than in Australia, with both "Lights Out" and 1987 single "Come As You Are" reaching the top 20. 




Number 42 "I'll Fly For You" by Spandau Ballet
Peak: number 38
After three consecutive top 12 hits, it was a bit of a comedown for Spandau Ballet with this second single from Parade. Two things would've worked against "I'll Fly For You": 1) Parade hadn't left the top 30 since debuting on the albums chart in late July and 2) as a song, "I'll Fly For You" takes a while to get going - the verses are a bit dull and it's nearly two minutes before the (excellent) chorus comes in. If it had been me choosing singles from the album, I would've picked "Round And Round" at this point instead of leaving it until fourth.




Number 40 "Better Be Good To Me" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 28
As former chart-topper "What's Love Got To Do With It" fell out of the top 10 this week, it was joined on the top 50 by the next single from Private Dancer - a song that would do nowhere near as well here or in the UK (although it made the US top 5). A rockier track than its predecessor, "Better Be Good To Me" had first been recorded in 1981 by Spider, which featured co-writer Holly Knight in its line-up. Tina Turner's hit was one of two songs co-written by Holly that entered the top 50 this week. The other? "The Warrior".




Number 35 "Like To Get To Know You Well" by Howard Jones
Peak: number 16
After the singles from his first album spectacularly under-performed locally, Australia was finally getting to know Howard Jones well as he reached the top 20 for the first time. "Like To Get To Know You Well" was the lead single from second album "Dream Into Action" and came with two music videos you can see below - one for the UK market and one for the US.




Number 28 "Searchin' (I Gotta Find A Man)" by Hazell Dean
Peak: number 17
Hazell Dean had been putting music out since the mid-'70s without any UK chart success. Her first foray into Hi-NRG, "Searchin' (I Gotta Find A Man)", had been released there in mid-1983 but also flopped. In April 1984, after months of being played in gay clubs, the song was re-released, making the UK top 10 and, several months later, the ARIA top 20. 
Hazell went one better with the follow-up, teaming up with on-the-rise producers Stock Aitken Waterman for "Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)", which reached number 4 in Britain. The reworked version of "Dance Your Love Away" by Michael Prince became the first SAW-produced single to land inside the UK top 10, but would not be the last time the Hit Factory would offer Hazell a track previously recorded by someone else.
Things hit the skids when "Back In My Arms (Once Again)" and "No Fool (For Love)" both peaked at an unlucky number 41 in the UK. And between 1985 and 1987, a string of excellent singles - including the SAW-produced "They Say It's Gonna Rain", "Stand Up" and "Always Doesn't Mean Forever" - went completely overlooked. A cover of Anne Murray's "Who's Leaving Who" took her back into the UK top 5 and she scored one final UK top 20 hit with "Maybe (We Should Call It A Day)", rivalling Samantha Fox for her love of bracketed song titles.
After that, Hazell released her version of Kylie Minogue album track "Turn It Into Love", a cover version of "Love Pains" released at the same time as a remake by Liza Minnelli and her version of Lonnie Gordon album track "Better Off Without You" - each with diminishing returns. All great songs, but it was beginning to feel like a career forged out of covers and cast-offs.
Twenty-three years after it gave Hazell her only Australian hit, "Searchin..." returned to the ARIA chart thanks to a remake by Young Divas. Unlike their two top 10 SAW remakes, "This Time I Know It's For Real" and "Happenin' All Over Again", it scraped the bottom of the top 40. And if you've got this far without your eyes glazing over, it's also worth checking out Hazell's own 1997 remix of "Searchin'...".




Next week: one of the biggest bands in the world returns with what some consider to be their worst single. Plus, a former member of the band that used to be the biggest in the world lands the final solo top 10 hit of his career.


Back to: Oct 21, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 4, 1984


Wednesday, 25 October 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: October 25, 1992

Ever since the days of Elvis Presley, pop music and sex have been inextricably linked. But by 1992, we'd come a long way from gyrating hips being deemed offensive. This week that year, an artist who'd become known for pushing the envelope on notions of decency debuted with a song that made no secret of its sexual agenda.

Madonna's boldest image change yet went down (sorry!) a storm

The sexually charged track debuted in a week that saw two more music superstars who'd broken through in the '80s continue to dominate the ARIA chart. All three made the top 10 with their latest hits and would top the album chart with their accompanying albums.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 25, 1992

On top of the singles chart this week in 1992, "Achy Breaky Heart" continued its stranglehold on the ARIA chart as Billy Ray Cyrus spent his fourth week at number 1.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "Let It Be (live)" by Noiseworks
Peak: number 99
The band had ceased to exist since ending their final tour earlier in the year, but a greatest hits album was released in time for Christmas. This live recording of The Beatles' final single (during their existence) served as Noiseworks' last-ever single release.

Number 89 "Everglade" by L7
Peak: number 85
The follow-up to "Pretend We're Dead" was a less commercial offering - and therefore a smaller hit on the ARIA chart. The band would return to the top 100 one last time in 1994.

Number 84 "Rusty Cage" by Soundgarden
Peak: number 80
Badmotorfinger had failed to give the Seattle band their mainstream breakthrough, with this third single also missing the top 50. Things would change with next album Superunknown, however.


Single Of The Week
"Groovin' In The Midnight" by Maxi Priest
Peak: number 120
With its shuffling Soul II Soul-style beat, this song wouldn't have sounded out of place on Maxi Priest's last album, Bonafide, which featured his biggest hit single, "Close To You". But as the lead release from follow-up album Fe Real, it was a bit underwhelming, both in terms of not being a step forward musically and in terms of it chart performance here, as well as in the UK and the US, where it missed the top 40.




New Entries
Number 50 "Drive" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 34
With their previous album Out Of Time, R.E.M. had well and truly broken out of the alternative scene and into the mainstream, earning consecutive top 20 hits with "Losing My Religion" and "Shiny Happy People". Follow-up album Automatic For The People would be an even bigger success, having debuted at number 2 the previous week, but its dark and sombre lead single ended up about as big a hit as it sounded. More commercial singles and bigger hits were to come from the album, which would end up spending a year's worth of weeks on the top 50.




Number 49 "Too Much Love Will Kill You" by Brian May
Peak: number 18
Originally recorded by Queen during the sessions for 1989 album The Miracle, this song's co-writer Brian May turned it into a solo track following the death of Freddie Mercury and, after performing it at the tribute concert to his former band-mate in April 1992, released it as the second single from his debut album, Back To The Light. Naturally, everyone thinks "Too Much Love Will Kill You" is about Freddie, but it was actually written about the breakdown of Brian's first marriage, which makes me feel better about calling it overwrought.




Number 41 "The Magic Friend / Megamix" by 2 Unlimited
Peak: number 16
They lost me (and much of Australia) with "Workaholic", but 2 Unlimited were back on form (and in the top 20) with fourth single "The Magic Friend". Tucked away on the flip side/as a bonus track was the dance duo's obligatory megamix, combining all four of their techno anthems to date. Unless I'm mistaken, though, there was no neat radio edit of "Megamix" but just two extended mixes: Murphy's Megamix (which you can hear by following the link above) and Automatic Megamix




Number 16 "Erotica" by Madonna
Peak: number 4
The lowest of our big-name new entries would end up being the largest of the three as Madonna landed her 14th top 5 with a song that pushed the boundaries like never before. The spiritual sequel to "Justify My Love", the similarly half-spoken, half-sung "Erotica" saw Madonna take on the character of Dita, an S&M mistress, in the closest music has ever come to sounding like sex. 
Although the notion of sex had never been far from Madonna's music and image previously, "Erotica", the album of the same name and the accompanying coffee table book, Sex, combined to deliver a controversial cocktail of sexually charged material. Varying from suggestive to explicit, titillating to artistic, the work signalled a bold step away from crowd-pleasing pop. 
As a song, "Erotica", with its dark and dingy bassline, moaned vocals and edgy production, was the sound of a singer completely throwing caution to the wind. What might have killed the career of a less established artist was just the latest reinvention of a musical chameleon whose audience would follow wherever she led them.




Number 11 "Keep The Faith" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 10
For a band that's so strongly associated with the late '80s, it's easy to forget how big Bon Jovi still were in the early '90s. This week in 1992, they were welcomed back to the ARIA chart with their first single in three years and their biggest hit since "Bad Medicine" reached the top 5 at the same time of year in 1988. 
In the years since their previous top 50 single, "Lay Your Hands On Me", lead singer Jon Bon Jovi had done something his band would never do - topped the chart with solo single "Blaze Of Glory". And although "Keep The Faith", the title track of their fifth album, just scraped the bottom of the top 10, it established the band were as popular as ever.
Written by the dream team of Jon, guitarist Richie Sambora and frequent collaborator Desmond Child (who'd also released a solo record in the previous few years), "Keep The Faith" is one of my favourite Bon Jovi songs. With its almost dance-like beat - I always thought an "Even Better Than The Real Thing"-style remix would've been great - and rousing chorus, it felt like a step forward from the hair metal sound they'd perfected six years earlier, while still feeling like a Bon Jovi track.
Interestingly, it was about this time that Bon Jovi's success in the US started to be eclipsed by their performance in the UK. "Keep The Faith" was the first of 14 consecutive UK top 20 hits taking them all the way up to 1996, while in the US, the song peaked at number 29. In Australia, it was the first of three back-to-back number 10 hits.




Number 9 "My Name Is Prince" by Prince
Peak: number 9
The third '80s superstar who was still doing incredibly well in the '90s blasted straight into the top 10 with "My Name Is Prince", not that anyone actually needed any reminding since a) the song could only have been released by him and b) his name still was Prince at this stage. The track was the second single from what has become known as his Love Symbol Album - the actual title being an unpronounceable symbol that he'd take as his stage name in 1993 following contractual and artistic disputes with Warner Bros.
Conversely to the last time Prince and Madonna simultaneously debuted on the chart with brand new songs (the racy "Sexy MF" and the subdued "This Used To Be My Playground" respectively), this week saw something of a reversal with Madonna's "Erotica" contrasting with the non-sexual "My Name Is Prince". Instead, Prince's tune was about how funky he was - a fact that was pretty well established by this point.




Next week: two former chart-topping bands return to the top 50. One, for the first time in a decade as their back catalogue received renewed interest, and the other, with their biggest hit since their only number 1 single.


Back to: Oct 18, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 1, 1992


Saturday, 21 October 2017

This Week In 1984: October 21, 1984

We all have those songs we can't stand. Sometimes it's an irrational, inexplicable hatred - it just rubs you up the wrong way. Sometimes, it's "Agadoo". And as much as I love music from the '80s, that decade was also responsible for some horrors, like "Don't Worry Be Happy" and "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)".

I have a very different type of feeling when I hear this song

This week in 1984, one of my least favourite songs by an Australian act debuted on the ARIA singles chart. A future top 5 hit, it's always been a track that gets under my skin - and not in a good way. Given its success, however, I may well be alone in my hatred for it.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 21, 1984

A song a lot of people grew to despise moved into the number 1 position this week in 1984. "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder started an eight-week stretch at the top.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "Glam To Wham" by The Takeaways
Peak: number 85
"Singing In The Shower" would clearly have been a better single choice (and ended up being covered by Solid Citizens), but I have a feeling this moody track performed by alternate singer Christine (portrayed by Sandra Lillingston, singing voice provided by Deckchairs Overboard's Cathy McQuade) was more plot relevant in Sweet And Sour.

Number 96 "Bravo Bravo (Whaling)" by DD Smash
Peak: number 70
This single by the New Zealand band was a top 10 hit back home, but lead singer Dave Dobbyn would have to wait until his solo career for that kind of success in Australia.

Number 93 "Everlasting Love" by Vicki Sue Robinson
Peak: number 83
Her disco remake of "To Sir With Love" was an unexpected top 10 hit, but Vicki Sue Robinson's take on this much-covered gem didn't fare anywhere near as well.

Number 76 "There Goes My Baby" by Donna Summer
Peak: number 52
Speaking of disco stars under-performing with covers, Donna Summer's version of The Drifters song just missed the ARIA top 50. In the US, the lead single from Cats Without Claws reached number 21.


New Entries
Number 50 "The Lucky One" by Laura Branigan
Peak: number 48
Or, the unlucky one, as it would turn out. Wedged in between two top 3 singles, "The Lucky One" became Laura Branigan's least successful single since her breakthrough with "Gloria". The follow-up to "Self Control" and second single from the album of the same name, "The Lucky One" came with a rags-to-riches music video in which Laura played a service station worker given the Pygmalion treatment and treated to a taste of the glamorous life.




Number 49 "The Glamorous Life" by Sheila E
Peak: number 11
Speaking of... here's a song called "The Glamorous Life" - the debut single by Prince percussionist and singer Sheila E (short for Escovedo). Written and co-produced by his Purpleness, the lead single from the album of the same name turned her from band member to solo star, reaching the US top 10 and just missing the ARIA one. "The Glamorous Life" had originally been intended for Apollonia 6 to record, but Prince changed his mind and instead gave it to Sheila, who had made her vocal debut on classic Prince B-side "Erotic City" and would go on to be the support act for his Purple Rain tour. 




Number 42 "Soul Kind Of Feeling" by Dynamic Hepnotics
Peak: number 5
So here's the song I couldn't stand - the breakthrough hit for Sydney band Dynamic Hepnotics. Their second single for Mushroom Records, "Soul Kind Of Feeling" had a throwback, rock'n'roll-era vibe, while still managing not to sound out of place in 1984. So what was my problem with it? At the risk of sounding inarticulate, something about it just irked me and I've always found it a little too smug. But as I said at the start, it was a top 5 hit, so I may be out of my own on this one.




Number 35 "Madame Butterfly" by Malcolm McLaren
Peak: number 16
We finish off with another song with which I wasn't that enamoured. Fresh from merging record scratching, skipping and world music with pop, British all-rounder Malcolm McLaren turned his attention to opera. "Madame Butterfly" incorporated the best-known aria, "Un bel dì veldremo", from the Puccini opera of the same name. Experimental and interesting, yes, but not exactly a sing-along pop hit. Still, it gave Malcolm a third top 20 hit.




Next week: the solo debut of a male singer who'd topped the chart three years earlier with his former band. Plus, a second top 50 single by another male artist whose only other hit had also come in 1981.


Back to: Oct 14, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 28, 1984


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: October 18, 1992

Welcome to another instalment of Once Were Hitmakers. That's right, our flashback to the ARIA chart from this week in 1992 features a bunch of artists who'd all previously reached the top 10 but stumbled with their latest singles.

From two female performers who were massive in 1990 to two acts that had much more recently almost topped the chart to two local male singers whose top 10 days were behind them, it's a cavalcade of under-performers.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 18, 1992

An artists who would soon - but not soon enough - be joining the ranks of former hitmakers was at number 1 this week in 1992. "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus stayed on top for a third week.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "When We Were Young" by Paul Norton
Peak: number 99
Two years after he was last seen in the top 40 and three-and-a-half after number 3 hit "Stuck On You", Paul Norton returned with this taste of second album Let It Fly.  

Number 97 "Let Me Take You There" by Betty Boo
Peak: number 97
Landing pretty much where she last peaked in mid-1991, Betty Boo didn't find the Australian public any more receptive to this dreamy cut from second album GRRR! It's Betty Boo

Number 95 "We Can Dream" by Mark Williams
Peak: number 95
Like Paul Norton, Mark Williams had last featured in the top 40 in 1990, but this lead single from the Mind Over Matter album didn't send him back to the heights "Show No Mercy" had scaled.

Number 93 "Crying" by Roy Orbison and kd Lang
Peak: number 71
Both the late singer and this song - a number 1 for him in 1961 - had done better on the Australian chart before, but at least this duet remake from King Of Hearts achieved more than the album's first single, Roy's cover of "I Drove All Night", which missed the top 100.

Number 88 "Start The Car" by Jude Cole
Peak: number 59
The only act who hadn't previously scored on the ARIA chart was American singer/songwriter Jude Cole. This title track from his third album was his only top 100 appearance.


Single Of The Week
"Song Instead Of A Kiss" by Alannah Myles
Peak: number 152
The biggest fall from grace this week belongs to Canadian singer Alannah Myles, who, like Betty Boo, had shot to success locally in 1990, albeit with a very different style of music. The first single from second album Rockinghorseunderstated ballad "Song Instead Of A Kiss", was also pretty different from the two hits Alannah had enjoyed simultaneously in Australia, "Love Is" and "Black Velvet". Apparently, Alannah had been in favour of releasing "Our World, Our Times" (which ended up as the third single) instead, since it was more in line with what people would expect from her, but her label insisted on going with "Song Instead...". While their choice did well in Canada, it came nowhere near the ARIA top 100.




New Entries
Number 48 "Sad But True" by Metallica
Peak: number 48
It was fair enough that this latest Metallica track didn't progress any further than this entry position - it was, after all, the fourth release from Metallica in Australia and the previous three singles had all peaked inside the top 10. Written about the hold religion has on some people, "Sad But True" crept into the top 50 to become the least successful single from the album locally, including a fifth single that was still to come.




Number 47 "Pressure Drop" by Izzy Stradlin And The Ju Ju Hounds
Peak: number 47
He'd been responsible for co-writing some of Guns n' Roses biggest hits, like "Sweet Child O' Mine", "Patience", "You Could Be Mine" and "Don't Cry", but as his former band continued to lift singles from their Use Your Illusion albums, guitarist Izzy Stradlin embarked on a new musical journey. With his new band, The Ju Ju Hounds, he released an eponymous album, which contained this blistering remake of a song originally recorded by reggae band The Maytals in 1970. It would end up as Izzy's only solo top 50 appearance. 




Number 46 "No Regrets" by Tom Cochrane
Peak: number 26
"Life Is A Highway" was still inside the top 10 and it was joined on the top 50 by this far less memorable follow-up. In fact, not only could I not remember this at all from 1992, but I've just listened to it now and I still couldn't sing it for you. A much more modest hit, "No Regrets" would be the last time we'd see the Canadian singer on the chart.




Number 45 "Rock Your Baby" by KWS
Peak: number 38
British dance trio KWS had reached number 2 with their cover of KC & The Sunshine Band's "Please Don't Go", which spent its final week inside the top 20 this week, and they didn't venture too far with their follow-up. Another remake of a disco classic, "Rock Your Baby" was originally recorded by George McCrae (and taken to number 2 in Australia in 1974), and was written and produced by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch of... KC & The Sunshine Band. Lightning didn't strike twice for KWS, however, with their take on the tune barely making the top 40, probably because it was nowhere near as good as "Please Don't Go". The group would make one final visit to the top 40 with another cover in two years' time.




Next week: a completely different kind of chart week, with three new hits from some of the world's biggest names that all burst straight into the top 20.


Back to: Oct 11, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 25, 1992


Saturday, 14 October 2017

This Week In 1984: October 14, 1984

It must suck to be a celebrity with a sibling who's more famous than you are. No matter what you do, it's always going to be overshadowed by what your brother or sister does.

Jermaine Jackson: the Dannii Minogue of the Jackson brothers

This week in 1984, one of the new entries on the ARIA chart came from a performer who was constantly compared to one of his (many) brothers - a singer who just happened to be responsible for the world's most successful album of all time. Tough act to follow.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 14, 1984

Speaking of musical competition, the top 3 singles this week in 1984 were all among the decade's biggest hits. At number 1, George Michael's "Careless Whisper" held on for a fourth and final week, while "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder jumped up into second place. Funnily enough, last week's runner-up and this week's number 3, "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr, would end up higher on the year-end chart than those other two songs despite not reaching the top.


Off The Chart
Number 95 "I Love You, Suzanne" by Lou Reed
Peak: number 71
Eleven years after "Walk On The Wild Side" scraped the absolute bottom of the top 100 in Australia, Lou Reed made only his second appearance on our chart with this single from New Sensations

Number 84 "Ballet Dancer" by The Twins
Peak: number 84
"Not The Loving Kind" had been a hit here, but not in The Twins' home country of Germany. This follow-up did the reverse - flopping here but giving the duo their first German hit.

This week also saw the debut of "Hole In My Shoe" by neil, which spent two weeks at number 94. It would achieve much more success when re-released in a year's time.


New Entries
Number 50 "Dynamite" by Jermaine Jackson
Peak: number 28
Ever since The Jackson Five burst on to the music scene, Jermaine Jackson had played second fiddle to brother Michael. Both were co-lead singers of the family group and began their solo careers around the same time (1971-72), but Michael had always received more attention and enjoyed greater success. 
By 1984, Jermaine, who'd quit The Jackson Five when they left Motown Records in 1975, had visited the Australian top 50 on two occasions - in 1973 with number 27 single "Daddy's Home" and in 1980 with "Let's Get Serious", which peaked at number 24. Michael, meanwhile, was coming off the Thriller juggernaut.
For his self-titled 10th studio album, Jermaine also finally left Motown Records (for Arista), but so far, Jermaine Jackson had been overshadowed by Victory, The Jacksons album to which he - and Michael - contributed (but, as we saw a couple of weeks ago, both had been too busy to appear in the music video for "Torture"). 
The two albums had entered the ARIA top 100 in the same week in late July - Victory at number 29; Jermaine Jackson at number 96 - and Jermaine's lead single, "Sweetest Sweetest", had done nowhere near as well as "State Of Shock". Finally, Jermaine turned things around with the album's second single, "Dynamite", and its memorable, dancing on tables, prison-set music video, returning to the 20s for a third and final time. It deserved much better - wonder how well it would've done if Michael had recorded it...




Number 49 "Boys Do Fall In Love" by Robin Gibb
Peak: number 48
Here's another singer best known as one member of a band comprised of him and his brothers - in this case, a group that'd long been absent from the top 50. Of course, that was because between 1981 and 1987, Bee Gees only broke their recording hiatus once to release 1983's "The Woman In You". That's not to say they weren't making their presence felt - most notably as songwriters of hits by other acts, like "Heartbreaker" and "Islands In The Stream". And, occasionally, with solo efforts like this synthy track by Robin Gibb, which he wrote and produced with brother Maurice, who also released a single in 1984. The lead single of Robin's third solo album, Secret Agent, "Boys Do Fall In Love" didn't venture very high up the chart, but it did stay on the top 100 for half a year.




Number 48 "I Walk Away" by Split Enz
Peak: number 45
They'd been a regular presence on the chart for the past half a decade, but Split Enz were winding down with the release of their final album, See Ya 'Round - their first without founding member Tim Finn. Despite lead single "I Walk Away" being, in my opinion, one of the band's best ever songs, it barely made the top 50, suggesting they were wise to call it a day. What I didn't know until just now is that Neil Finn revived "I Walk Away" with his next band, Crowded House, and included it on the North American release of their self-titled debut album. This version is better. Split Enz released one further single from See Ya 'Round, but "One Mouth Is Fed" failed to chart.




Number 42 "Flesh For Fantasy" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 28
For an artist who'd made his name with party starters like "White Wedding" and "Rebel Yell", it was a little surprising that Billy Idol would've followed "Eyes Without A Face" with another pretty subdued track like "Flesh For Fantasy". I actually prefer it to "Eyes Without A Face", but "Flesh For Fantasy" charted significantly worse than its predecessor, not only in Australia, but in the UK and the US as well.




Number 35 "No Say In It" by Machinations
Peak: number 14
Proving "Pressure Sway" was no fluke, Machinations rallied after top 50 miss "Jumping The Gap" to land their biggest hit with this irresistible piece of synthpop. The first single from their upcoming second album, Big Music"No Say In It" was produced by Julian Mendelsohn, whose name I know from his later work for Pet Shop Boys, Level 42 and Tasmin Archer, but who I never realised was Australian. Rather than striking while the iron was hot, it would be another seven months before Machinations would be back on the chart with "My Heart's On Fire" in mid-1985.




Next week: the latest genre-blending concoction from Malcolm McLaren, plus one of my least favourite Australian singles of the '80s.


Back to: Oct 7, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 21, 1984


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: October 11, 1992

1992 really was a year for big ballads - and they didn't come much bigger than the song making its debut on the ARIA chart 25 years ago this week. 

It was actually only the start of really big things for Boyz II Men

An emotional ballad written and produced by one of the biggest teams in the business, it made itself at home at number 1 in Australia for a month, which was actually a fraction of the time it spent on top in the US, where it broke the record for the longest chart-topper.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 11, 1992

In Australia, our new entry would also go on to have the honour of dethroning Billy Ray Cyrus from the number 1 spot. This week in 1992, "Achy Breaky Heart" spent its second week on top. 


Off The Chart
Number 95 "I Missed The Bus" by Kris Kross
Peak: number 95
They'd been chart-toppers themselves just four months earlier, but rap duo Kris Kross scraped the bottom of the top 100 with their Sammy Davis Jr-sampling third single.

Number 91 "Mary Mary" by Mantissa
Peak: number 55
They changed their name (from Killing Time) and their chart fortunes (previous release Dream Alone made the top 30) with this single released contemporaneously with debut album Mossy God.

Number 90 "Rest In Piece" by Extreme
Peak: number 76
Don't let the string quartet intro fool you, Extreme were back to their hard rocking ways with this lead single from third album III Sides To Every Story.

Number 80 "Iron Lion Zion" by Bob Marley
Peak: number 71
Just as "One Love/People Get Ready" had promoted Legend eight years earlier, so too was this early-'70s song issued as a single in support of the Songs Of Freedom box set.


New Entries
Number 50 "Keep It Comin' (Dance Till You Can't Dance No More)" by C+C Music Factory featuring Q-Unique & Deborah Cooper
Peak: number 46
I didn't see this coming. After four hits from debut album Gonna Make You Sweat - including two top 10 singles - and another top 20 placing with a release as Clivillés & Cole, I would've thought it'd be a given that a brand new song from C+C Music Factory would do well on the chart. But despite being another catchy rap-sung concoction, this single from the soundtrack to the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie tanked. Vocals for "Keep It Comin'..." were handled by Deborah Cooper, who'd performed on C&C's remake of "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" and "A Deeper Love", and rapper Q-Unique filling the position previously held by Freedom Williams.




Number 40 "End Of The Road" by Boyz II Men
Peak: number 1
While Australia had previously taken to C+C Music Factory with almost as much enthusiasm as America, Boyz II Men hadn't received the same sort of warm reception locally. To date, only one of their four Billboard top 50 hits, "Motownphilly", had made the same section of the chart here - and then only at number 32. But the vocal harmony group made up for lost time with a song that was also a brand new recording taken from a film.
Written and produced by LA Reid, Babyface and Daryl Simmons, "End Of The Road" was included on the LaFace soundtrack to Eddie Murphy's Boomerang. The heartfelt song about the conclusion of a relationship was originally going to be performed by Babyface himself, but Boyz II Men were approached when it was decided it'd suit them better. Indeed, it's hard to imagine the ballad being sung by anyone but the four-piece, who wailed all over the track in what would become their trademark style.
A four-week number 1 in Australia, "End Of The Road" stayed on top for 13 weeks in the US, beating the record long held by Elvis Presley's 11-week chart-topper, "Don't Be Cruel / Hound Dog". For me, who'd been a big fan of Boyz II Men's debut album, Cooleyhighharmony, to which "End Of The Road" was added, the song was too plodding and depressing. I can see why it was massive, especially at this time of year, but it just felt so overwrought compared to their earlier releases.




Next week: follow-ups to two number 2 hits, plus the first post-Guns n' Roses chart appearance by a former member of the band.


Back to: Oct 4, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 18, 1992


Saturday, 7 October 2017

This Week In 1984: October 7, 1984

This time last week, we were reminiscing about a major hit from a man in full make-up and an eye-catching outfit. This week, we look back at another, albeit a very different type of song (and performer).

Twisted Sister's Dee Snider

Also this week in 1984, the ARIA singles chart welcomed the single that would go on to spend the longest stretch at number 1 for the year from a man who'd come very close to reaching the top on two previous occasions.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 7, 1984

A man who was no stranger to the number 1 spot, especially in 1984, remained there this week in 1984. "Careless Whisper" by George Michael spent a third week on top.


Off The Chart
Number 94 "Heart To Sell" by The Promise
Peak: number 94
Not to be confused with the identically named British band of a couple of years later, this The Promise were from Brisbane and this under-rated slice of synthpop was their first single for Festival Records.


New Entries
Number 45 "Cover Me" by Bruce Springsteen
Peak: number 17
Despite the fact that "Dancing In The Dark" fell from its peak position of number 5 this week, its chart run was far from over and would continue long after this follow-up dropped out of the top 50. The second single from Born In The U.S.A., "Cover Me" had actually been written by Bruce Springsteen with Donna Summer in mind, but he was persuaded to keep it for himself. Interestingly, no music video was made for the song - and I wonder if it might have been a bigger hit had there been one, although it sure got a belting on radio.




Number 42 "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister
Peak: number 6
Before Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Poison, Warrant and the rest of the glam metal brigade made any sort of impression in Australia, there was Twisted Sister. Fronted by the frankly quite hideous Dee Snider, the band had come together in the '70s and released its first album in 1982 before being catapulted to the big time on the strength of the lead single from their third album, Stay Hungry
With its non-specific lyrics of defiance and rebellion, "We're Not Gonna Take It" was a classic rock anthem that spoke to kids everywhere, firing them up against whatever or whoever stood in their way. That sentiment was brought to cartoon-ish life in the music video, which featured Animal House star Mark Metcalf as a tyrannical dad whose kids transform into the band's members and take their revenge.
Like last week's new entry "She Bop", "We're Not Gonna Take It" was part of the Filthy 15 - a list of songs to which the Parents Music Resource Center objected. In this case, it was deemed too violent, however in his testimony before a Senate hearing, Dee pointed out that the lyrics aren't violent at all and that the action in the music video was inspired by the type seen in Road Runner cartoons.
This was Twisted Sister's only major hit in Australia, but as we'll see in coming months, they managed one further top 50 appearance, which prevented them from becoming legitimate one-hit wonders.




Number 7 "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder
Peak: number 1
We'd last seen Stevie Wonder in the top 10 in mid-1982 (along with Paul McCartney) on number 2 hit "Ebony And Ivory" and his previous solo top 10 single had been 1980's "Master Blaster (Jammin')", another chart runner-up. In 1984, he finally went one better with "I Just Called To Say I Love You", which stormed into the top 10 (up from number 51 last week) and would quickly plant itself at number 1 for eight weeks - longer than any chart-topper all year. 
The sickly sweet ballad was taken from the film The Woman In Red, for which Stevie recorded the soundtrack album (with a little help from Dionne Warwick). While the Gene Wilder/Kelly Le Brock rom-com wasn't one of the year's more successful movies, "I Just Called..." was massive, even if some of Stevie's fans felt its ultra-commercial sound strayed too far from his earlier more soul and funk-based efforts. As well as topping the chart in Australia, the US, the UK and pretty much everywhere else in the world, the song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, beating four other US number 1 hits - the only time all five nominees have been chart-toppers.
There was some question about the eligibility of "I Just Called..." for the Oscar when it came out Stevie had written the music for the song in 1976. That fact was revealed during legal proceedings for plagiarism, with a pair of songwriters alleging Stevie had borrowed from a song they played him later that year. In the end, Stevie won the case and, given the lyrics to "I Just Called..." had been added to the tune for its inclusion on the soundtrack, that was clearly sufficient for the song to be considered as having been written specifically for the movie.




Next week: the biggest hit by an Australian synthpop band and the final hit by a New Zealand new wave band.


Back to: Sep 30, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 14, 1984