Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Best Of 1987 - part 4

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

I've written about producers Stock Aitken Waterman on a number of occasions already, but 1987 really was the year they took over the charts - not only in the UK, but here in Australia as well. Many of my favourite songs from 1987 were produced by the trio and although I haven't been talking about most of them on this rundown (but linking instead to where I've previously covered the songs), they really did monopolise music.

Rick Astley danced his way to the top of charts around the world in 1987

Key to their success around the world in 1987 was a little record by the name of "Never Gonna Give You Up", which all these years later is still providing the producers and singer Rick Astley with a tidy income - and needless to say, the song appears in my top 25 favourite songs from the year. So, let's get on with the countdown...

Number 25 "The Slightest Touch" by Five Star
With another of their many singles from 1987, it's the criminally overlooked (in this country, anyway) Five Star. My favourite song of theirs, "The Slightest Touch", was remixed from the SIlk & Steel album, and shot to number 4 in the UK, where it would be their final top 10 hit. The siblings' career slowly dwindled until the start of the '90s - and ever since they've staged various comeback attempts and retro festival appearances.

Number 24 "A Trick Of The Night" by Bananarama
Bananarama aren't known for their slow songs, but this single - the final released from the True Confessions album - is among their best. Coming after "Venus" and "More Than Physical" and before the WOW! album, it was their only non-SAW-produced effort in the second half of the decade - but the track did receive a remix by the Hit Factory, which was basically a mash-up of this song and Princess' "Say I'm Your Number One".

Number 23 "I Heard A Rumour" by Bananarama
Previously featured here

Number 22 "Heartache" by Pepsi & Shirlie
Previously featured here

Number 21 "Heart And Soul" by T'Pau
Previously featured here

Number 20 "You Win Again" by Bee Gees
Previously featured here

Number 19 "Get Ready" by Carol Hitchcock
Previously featured here

Number 18 "Say It" by Kids In The Kitchen
Previously featured here

Number 17 "Shake Your Love" by Debbie Gibson
With her second single, Debbie would score another US top 5 hit, her first UK top 10 single and break into the Australian charts in 1988. Even bigger achievements were to come, with the teen star becoming the youngest artist ever to write, produce and perform a US chart-topper when fourth single "Foolish Beat" reached number 1 on the Billboard chart.

Number 16 "Sweet Little Mystery" by Wet Wet Wet
It took me a couple of singles to get into Wet Wet Wet, since I liked (but didn't love) their debut song, "Wishing I Was Lucky" - however, there was no denying the catchiness of this follow-up, which became a favourite of mine when it finally saw the light of day in Australia. Forever now associated with (and, by some, hated for) 1994 mega-hit "Love Is All Around", Wet Wet Wet's best songs came from the period of 1987 to 1992, long before the Four Weddings And A Funeral theme tune came around.

Number 15 "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" by George Michael / Aretha Franklin
Bridging the gap from Wham! to Faith, George teamed up with the Queen of Soul for this worldwide smash. Back in 1987, a duet like this was big news - unlike today, when collaborations are the rule rather than the exception. I also seem to remember it being reported that George had to travel to Aretha to shoot the music video since she has a fear of flying. While the song (co-written by one half of Climie Fisher) was another number 1 for George, it also continued the string of hits Aretha had been enjoying since her return to success in the mid-'80s with "Freeway Of Love".

Number 14 "Never Can Say Goodbye" by The Communards
Since "Don't Leave Me This Way" had been such a massive success, it made sense for Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles to record another high-energy cover version - and they chose this song, previously recorded by The Jackson 5 and Gloria Gaynor. While it did the trick (reaching number 4 in the UK and number 13 in Australia), it also highlighted that the duo's original songs weren't performing anywhere near as well, and the group went their separate ways in 1988, with Jimmy going on to a solo career.

Number 13 "Revolution Love" by Kids In The Kitchen
The second of two tracks in my top 20 for the year by the Aussie band, "Revolution Love" came out as the third single from Terrain in December 1987 but would only limp to number 44 nationally. It was a shame to see a band who'd had a pretty good run with their debut album struggle second time round. The video version of the song (which I assume is also the 7" mix) is different from the album version I have - and I hold out hope that it will one day turn up on iTunes.

Number 12 "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley
Here it is: the song that launched Rick Astley's very successful - albeit relatively brief - chart career. It's also a song that has gained a new lease of life in the last few years thanks to YouTube and "Rickrolling". I'm going to see Rick when he tours Australia in a matter of weeks and I'm looking forward to hearing this performed live. I've got my fingers crossed that he'll a) perform it faithfully and not try to strip it back or turn it into a ballad, and b) do his little shuffling dance from the music video.

Number 11 "La Isla Bonita" by Madonna
Previously featured here

Number 10 "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" by Whitney Houston
Previously featured here

Number 9 "Love In The First Degree" by Bananarama
My favourite song from the 'Rams for the year, "Love In The First Degree" would also be the last song the original trio would perform live together before Siobhan left the group shortly after their appearance at the BRIT Awards in 1988. The video - and BRITs performance - was pure camp, but Siobhan sought a more serious direction and decided to move on from the group. Although Bananarama went on to enjoy more hits (including my all-time favourite song of theirs in 1988) and still tour today (mostly as a duo, although Siobhan rejoined Sara and Keren for some dates in 2017), the group was never the same again.

Number 8 "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" by Bill Medley / Jennifer Warnes
It would be the biggest-selling single of the year in Australia in 1988, but I grabbed my 7" single of the theme from Dirty Dancing as soon as it was released in November 1987. I also saw the film by myself while my family was on holidays in Nelson Bay that summer since my older sisters weren't interested in seeing it. That's just the way I rolled. Buying 7" singles was something I'd only recently started doing since up until that point I'd only ever bought albums. "(I've Had) The Time..." wasn't my very first 7" purchase, though - that song is still to come!

Number 7 "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" by Belinda Carlisle
Proving that her solo success was no one-off, the former Go-Go stormed back with this lead track from her second album - and it would go to number one all over the world, except in Australia, where it would stall at number 2 in early 1988. Released in the dying weeks of 1987, "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" would also be the first of a consistent run of hits for Belinda until 1991. I don't know if I'm making this up (although this site would suggest I'm not), but at the time I seem to remember there being some discussion around this song's intro sounding an awful lot like the opening to Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name" - and, as you'd expect, mash-ups of the two tracks can now be found online.

Number 6 "True Faith" by New Order
Previously featured here

Number 5 "Bridge To Your Heart" by Wax
Here we are: the last song I'll talk about on this countdown and the first song I ever bought on 7" single. I'm quite pleased that my first single purchase was a relatively interesting one. Sure, "Bridge To Your Heart" was a hit in Australia (reaching number 17), but it's not like I bought "He's Gonna Step On You Again" or something, so I'm quite proud of my taste as a 12 year old. Wax were Andrew Gold and Graham Gouldman, and they'd previously released another song I liked, "Right Between The Eyes", in 1986 - but the "Oh-oh-oh" refrain of "Bridge To Your Heart" made this a must-have record for me. Sometimes it's the simplest things that are the most effective!

Number 4 "Respectable" by Mel & Kim
Previously featured here

Number 3 "Always On My Mind" by Pet Shop Boys
Previously featured here

Number 2 "It's A Sin" by Pet Shop Boys
Previously featured here and here

Number 1 "Locomotion" by Kylie Minogue
Previously featured here and here

My top 200 for 1987 in full:

1         LOCOMOTION Kylie Minogue
2         IT'S A SIN Pet Shop Boys
3         ALWAYS ON MY MIND Pet Shop Boys
4         RESPECTABLE Mel & Kim
6         TRUE FAITH New Order
7         HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH Belinda Carlisle
8         (I'VE HAD) THE TIME OF MY LIFE Bill Medley / Jennifer Warnes
9         LOVE IN THE FIRST DEGREE Bananarama
11        LA ISLA BONITA Madonna
12        NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP Rick Astley
13        REVOLUTION LOVE Kids In The Kitchen
14        NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE Communards
15        I KNEW YOU WERE WAITING (FOR ME) Aretha Franklin / George Michael
16        SWEET LITTLE MYSTERY Wet Wet Wet
17        SHAKE YOUR LOVE Debbie Gibson
18        SAY IT Kids In The Kitchen
19        GET READY Carol Hitchcock
20        YOU WIN AGAIN Bee Gees
21        HEART AND SOUL T'Pau
22        HEARTACHE Pepsi & Shirlie
23        I HEARD A RUMOUR Bananarama
25        THE SLIGHTEST TOUCH Five Star
26        ONLY IN MY DREAMS Debbie Gibson
28        BOOM BOOM (LET'S GO BACK TO MY ROOM) Paul Lekakis
29        GTO Sinitta
30        LET'S GO Wang Chung
31        TOY BOY Sinitta
32        LOVE AND DEVOTION Michael Bow
33        SO EMOTIONAL Whitney Houston
34        ALONE Heart
35        NOTHING'S GONNA STOP US NOW Starship
36        FLAMES OF PARADISE Jennifer Rush & Elton John
37        I THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW Tiffany
38        RIGHT ON TRACK Breakfast Club
39        DOWN TO EARTH Curiosity Killed The Cat
40        CALL ME Spagna
41        JUST LIKE HEAVEN The Cure
42        WE CONNECT Stacey Q
43        WHO'S THAT GIRL Madonna
44        F.L.M. Mel & Kim
45        WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS Pet Shop Boys / Dusty Springfield
46        ELECTRIC BLUE Icehouse
47        SUDDENLY Angry Anderson
48        SHATTERED DREAMS Johnny Hates Jazz
49        SOMETHING IN MY HOUSE Dead Or Alive
50        CRITICIZE Alexander O'Neal
51        SHATTERED GLASS Laura Branigan
52        FASCINATED Company B
53        LET ME BE THE ONE Exposé
54        NOTHING'S GONNA STOP ME NOW Samantha Fox
55        SLICE OF HEAVEN Dave Dobbyn with The Herbs
56        RUNNING IN THE FAMILY Level 42
57        I JUST CAN'T STOP LOVING YOU Michael Jackson / Siedah Garrett
58        WHY CAN'T I BE YOU? The Cure
59        I WANT YOUR SEX George Michael
60        HER CHARITY Boom Crash Opera
61        HYMN TO HER The Pretenders
63        HOLD ON Models
64        THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL Michael Jackson
65        NEVER LET ME DOWN AGAIN Depeche Mode
66        LEAN ON ME Club Nouveau
67        LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER Bon Jovi
68        MISFIT Curiosity Killed The Cat
69        FAITH George Michael
70        CAUSING A COMMOTION Madonna
71        SOMEWHERE OUT THERE Linda Ronstadt / James Ingram
72        SAY YOU WILL Foreigner
73        DON'T SHED A TEAR Paul Carrack
75        SPOTLIGHT Madonna
76        NEW GROOVE Rockmelons
78        IF YOU LET ME STAY Terence Trent D'Arby
79        WALKING DOWN YOUR STREET The Bangles
80        CRAZY Icehouse
82        VALERIE Steve Winwood
83        I'LL SAVE YOU ALL MY KISSES Dead Or Alive
84        PLEASE YOURSELF Big Supreme
85        DO TO YOU Machinations
87        WHENEVER YOU’RE READY Five Star
88        YOU I KNOW Jenny Morris
89        GOT MY MIND SET ON YOU George Harrison
90        CELEBRATION Dragon
92        THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE Janet Jackson
93        LOOKING FOR A NEW LOVE Jody Watley
94        STRANGELOVE Depeche Mode
95        ANOTHER STEP (CLOSER TO YOU) Kim Wilde / Junior
96        I FOUND SOMEONE Cher
97        DIDN'T WE ALMOST HAVE IT ALL Whitney Houston
98        HEAD TO TOE Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
99        WORLD WHERE YOU LIVE Crowded House
100      IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE Erasure
101      HOLD ME NOW Johnny Logan
102      SONIC BOOM BOY Westworld
105      LASER LIGHT Latin Lover
106      GIRLFRIEND Pebbles
107      EVER FALLEN IN LOVE Fine Young Cannibals
108      TURN IT UP Michael Davidson
109      LIVING IN A BOX Living In A Box
110      MARY’S PRAYER Danny Wilson
111      MY OBSESSION Icehouse
113      BIG LOVE Fleetwood Mac
114      LOVE SOMEBODY Noiseworks
115      SOMETHING SO STRONG Crowded House
116      LITTLE LIES Fleetwood Mac
120      ROCK THE NIGHT Europe
122      TAKE ME BACK Noiseworks
123      STRONG AS STEEL Five Star
124      HYPNOTISE ME Wang Chung
125      RHYMES Rockmelons
126      WHO FOUND WHO Jellybean featuring Elisa Fiorillo
127      CITY FLAT Boom Crash Opera
128      WISHING I WAS LUCKY Wet Wet Wet
129      ALWAYS Atlantic Starr
130      GOODBYE STRANGER Pepsi & Shirlie
131      DOMINOES Robbie Nevil
132      I LOVE MY RADIO Taffy
133      WHEN YOU WALK IN THE ROOM Paul Carrack
135      HOUSE ARREST Krush
136      LOOKING GOOD DIVING Morgan - McVey
137      SHIP OF FOOLS World Party
138      RUN TO PARADISE The Choirboys
139      SHAKEDOWN Bob Seger
140      THE RIGHT THING Simply Red
141      PAPER IN FIRE John Cougar Mellencamp
142      BODY AND SOUL Jenny Morris
143      BAD Michael Jackson
144      BEDS ARE BURNING Midnight Oil
145      ROCK STEADY The Whispers
146      SHOULD’VE KNOWN BETTER Richard Marx
147      WANTED The Style Council
148      EASY LADY Spagna
149      CALLING YOUR NAME Geisha
150      POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME Def Leppard        
152      I JUST CAN'T WAIT Mandy
153      FOOLED BY A SMILE Swing Out Sister
154      RENT Pet Shop Boys
155      WHAT A NIGHT (PARTY NIGHT) Dolly Dots
156      VICTIM OF LOVE Erasure
157      LET’S DANCE Chris Rea
158      COULD’VE BEEN Tiffany
159      WISHING WELL Terence Trent D'Arby
160      WONDERFUL LIFE Black
161      WILL YOU REMEMBER Eighth Wonder
162      BE THERE The Pointer Sisters
163      SOMEDAY Glass Tiger
164      WILD HORSES Gino Vannelli
165      HOURGLASS Squeeze
166      DON’T LET’S START They Might Be Giants
167      TO BE WITH YOU AGAIN Level 42
168      LABOUR OF LOVE Hue & Cry
169      DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE Hunters & Collectors
170      ANIMAL Def Leppard
171      IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY The Blow Monkeys
172      IT’S IN THE WAY THAT YOU USE IT Eric Clapton
173      WE ARE WHAT WE ARE The Other Ones
174      ONE FOR THE MOCKINGBIRD Cutting Crew
175      JACOB’S LADDER Huey Lewis & The News
176      SOME PEOPLE Cliff Richard
177      I DON’T MIND AT ALL Bourgeois Tagg
178      YOU GOT IT ALL The Jets
179      WALK THE DINOSAUR Was (Not Was)
180      RHYTHM IS GONNA GET YOU Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine
181      DIAMONDS Herb Alpert featuring Janet Jackson
182      FAKE Alexander O'Neal
183      U GOT THE LOOK Prince / Sheena Easton
184      CATCH The Cure
185      LET'S WAIT A WHILE Janet Jackson
186      DAUGHTERS OF GLORY Black Sorrows
187      SAY YOU REALLY WANT ME Kim Wilde
188      WELCOME TO THE WORLD Noiseworks
189      SALLY Carmel
190      SURRENDER Swing Out Sister
191      SERIOUS Donna Allen
192      HOOKED ON LOVE Dead Or Alive
193      I DON'T WANT TO BE A HERO Johnny Hates Jazz
194      BEHIND THE MASK Eric Clapton
195      HOLIDAY The Other Ones
196      WITCH QUEEN Chantoozies
197      THE LOOK OF LOVE Madonna
198      THE RIGHT STUFF Bryan Ferry
199      DIGNITY Deacon Blue
200      EVERY LITTLE KISS Bruce Hornsby & The Range

On Thursday, I'll carry on my other 1987 recap with a look at the the ARIA chart from 25 years ago this week. Until then...

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Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Best Of 1987 - part 3

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

One interesting shift in music trends in 1987 was the return of the teen singer. For years, the majority of the artists that had scaled the charts had been in their 20s and 30s (or older), but in 1987, three teenage female singers arrived on the scene. In Australia, we had Kylie Minogue, who was 19 when "Locomotion" debuted, while over in the States there were Debbie Gibson (17) and Tiffany (16).

Debbie Gibson helped change the face of music in 1987

Of course, there had been teenage (and pre-teen) megastars before - Michael Jackson, Donny Osmond, Stevie Wonder, the boys from Musical Youth and New Edition - but they tended to be one-offs, and, more often than not, male. In the wake of Debbie, Tiffany and Kylie's success, the charts would see a more consistent stream of teen or teen-oriented artists in the next few years (Glenn Medeiros, Tracie Spencer, New Kids On The Block, Martika and Sonia, to name a few).

We'll see a couple of pop princesses in this portion of my list, and, as in the first two parts, I'l be discussing the songs I haven't already mentioned elsewhere and providing links for the ones I have.

Number 50 "Criticize" by Alexander O'Neal
Another artist who would have received a good airing on Night Tracks is this soul/funk singer from the US, who was produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the team behind Janet Jackson's Control album (and most of her subsequent ones). Alexander had been in The Time with Jam & Lewis before departing for a solo career and released a string of singles that were surprisingly much more successful in the UK than the US. In fact, the album this single was from, Hearsay, was a multi-platinum smash in Britain, yielding other hits like "Fake", "Never Knew Love Like This" (with Cherrelle) and the title track. In Australia, he pretty much went completely unnoticed.

Number 49 "Something In My House" by Dead Or Alive
Another great song from Pete Burns and co from the Mad Bad And Dangerous To Know album, "Something In My House" has something you can't say for that many songs produced by Stock Aitken Waterman: memorable lyrics. That could be because the producers had no hand in writing them, since the band composed all their music themselves. This song (unliked the last three I've talked about) was actually a hit in Australia, reaching number 19.

Number 48 "Shattered Dreams" by Johnny Hates Jazz
Previously featured here

Number 47 "Suddenly" by Angry Anderson
Previously featured here

Number 46 "Electric Blue" by Icehouse
Previously featured here

Number 45 "What Have I Done To Deserve This" by Pet Shop Boys / Dusty Springfield
Previously featured here

Number 44 "F.L.M." by Mel & Kim
Previously featured here and here

Number 43 "Who's That Girl" by Madonna
Previously featured here

Number 42 "We Connect" by Stacey Q
The second of two awesome dance/pop singles (and the second of two number 7 hits here in Australia), "We Connect" was incredibly catchy. Cutesy lyrics and a relatively weak vocal aside, it's a damn good song that could be given a 2012 overhaul and fit right in with the club-based sound dominating the charts at the moment. Interestingly, Stacey was nearly 30 when "We Connect" was a hit - I'd always assumed she was much younger.

Number 41 "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure
I've talked in other posts about the gradual commercialisation of The Cure. In 1987, the band reached a major turning point in their career when they became a top 40 act in the US. In fact, "Just Like Heaven" was the song that saw them break through, and just two years later they'd have a number 2 hit Stateside with "Lovesong".
Both "Just Like Heaven" and "Why Can't I Be You?" were taken from the Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me album (along with another classic, "Catch"), but despite it clearly being a hit-laden album, I don't think I've heard any of the non-singles from it. I've always been a Cure singles fan - and the only two albums of theirs I own are singles collections Standing On A Beach and Galore. I'm sure that means I'm missing out on some undiscovered gems, but with singles this good, I'm more than satisfied.

Number 40 "Call Me" by Spagna
It's usually the other way round - singers find success in their home country in their native tongue before crossing over to the English-speaking market by recording in English. However, Ivana Spagna sang in English from the start (originally being involved in Fun Fun, whose track "Colour My Love" was a minor hit in Australia) and only later recorded in Italian. Europop classic "Call Me" would be her biggest hit, a number 2 in the UK and a somewhat disappointing number 98 in Australia.

Number 39 "Down To Earth" by Curiosity Killed The Cat
We saw them in Part 2 with "Misfit", but "Down To Earth" would be the biggest hit for the group led by beret-wearing Ben. In the UK, it reached number 3 and in Australia, once again, it only got to a somewhat disappointing number 88. The band scored a couple more hits back home before the end of the '80s and then, in 1992, they returned simply as Curiosity (new line-up, new record label) and had a top 3 smash with a cover of "Hang On In There Baby" before swiftly disappearing down the dumper.

Number 38 "Right On Track" by Breakfast Club
Previously featured here

Number 37 "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany
Here's our first teen queen: Tiffany Darwish, with her cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells song from 1967. November 1987 was a great time for the Tommy James back catalogue with this track and Billy Idol's version of "Mony Mony" (also originally recorded by the group) swapping places at number 1 on the Billboard chart.
Back to Tiffany, who famously toured the shopping malls of the US throughout 1987 until "I Think We're Alone Now" climbed the chart and she became an "overnight" sensation. Subsequent hits "Could've Been" and another remake, "I Saw Him Standing There" (a slightly altered version of The Beatles song), kept her chart fortunes alive, but by 1989 it would all be over, with the singles from second album Hold An Old Friend's Hand failing to match the highs of her earlier releases.
Throughout the '90s and '00s, Tiffany popped up every now and then with new music, acting roles, reality TV appearances and even a Playboy shoot - and recently starred alongside (and sparred with) '80s rival Debbie Gibson in Syfy flick Mega Python vs Gatoroid.

Number 36 "Flames Of Paradise" by Elton John / Jennifer Rush
Previously featured here

Number 35 "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship
Previously featured here

Number 34 "Alone" by Heart
Previously featured here

Number 33 "So Emotional" by Whitney Houston
In 1987, Whitney could do no wrong. Everything she released went straight to the top of the charts in the US, including this uptempo track, which came out between mega-ballads "Didn't We Almost Have It All" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go". As good as those ballads were, I preferred the upbeat singles from the Whitney album - and so did Australia, with the number 26 peak of this track making it the second most successful single from the album locally. The biggest hit from Whitney is still to come on my list - but I'm sure you can work out what it is.

Number 32 "Love And Devotion" by Michael Bow
Previously featured here

Number 31 "Toy Boy" by Sinitta
In recent years, Sinitta has popped up regularly on the UK version of The X Factor thanks to her friendship with Simon Cowell - a relationship that stems back to the mid '80s, when the aspiring record company mogul guided the singer to UK top 5 success with "So Macho" (in 1986) and again with this song in 1987. The first fruits of Sinitta's work with producers Stock Aitken Waterman, "Toy Boy" would only reach number 49 in Australia, with her biggest hit here a couple of years away.

Number 30 "Let's Go" by Wang Chung
Previously featured here

Number 29 "GTO" by Sinitta
Previously featured here

Number 28 "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" by Paul Lekakis
Previously featured here

Number 27 "Positive Reaction" by Mandy
Previously featured here

Number 26 "Only In My Dreams" by Debbie Gibson
Here she is, America's other sweetheart, who, unlike Tiffany, wrote all her own songs. In Australia, Tiffany's success came first (with Debbie not hitting our charts until 1988), but in the US, Debbie's top 100 debut pre-dated Tiffany's by three months - with this, her debut single, going on to reach number 4 over there. We'll see Debbie again before this list is over - and in fact, she was one of my favourite singers for the rest of the decade.

That just leaves my favourite 25 songs from 1987, which I'll unveil in the next few days in Part 4...

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