Wednesday, 12 November 2014

This Week In 1989: November 12, 1989

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.

There's a lot to be said for going out on top - but unfortunately for two of the artists we'll see this week, their final ARIA singles chart appearances were more like whimpers than bangs.

Also this week: new SAW act Big Fun covered a Jacksons classic

In one case, it was the final top 50 appearance by a singer who first hit the Australian chart in 1968 with a cover of The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends". In the other, it was a last ditch effort to invigorate a months-old album, which resulted in a chart peak outside the top 50 for the band's last ever single.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending November 12, 1989

At the other end of the chart, an artist with a tendency to say they're retiring at the top reclaimed the number 1 spot. Yep, perpetual farewell giver Cher kicked Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers' "Swing The Mood" off the singles chart summit with "If I Could Turn Back Time".

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Licence To Chill" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 76
A brand new song from Billy's Greatest Hits album, the title of "Licence To Chill" was a play on that year's Bond movie, Licence To Kill. I bought the 7" single of this one, but many of Billy's fans deserted him at this stage (or opted for the best of instead).

Number 78 "Landslide Of Love" by Transvision Vamp
Peak: number 70
Things were taking a rapid downward turn for the British band, with this Phil Spector-ish third single from Velveteen peaking exactly 40 places lower than "The Only One". The next, "Born To Be Sold", would miss the top 100 entirely.

"Summer" by Dragon
Peak: number 57
Just when it seemed like Dragon's Bondi Road was done and dusted, a final single was lifted from the album, which had been released back in April. It was a good idea - issuing the track "Summer" just in time for the warmer months. With its feel-good vibe and seasonally appropriate lyrics, it could've been an anthem for the next few months. But given the four-month gap since previous single "Here Am I" (which also missed the top 50), any momentum Dragon had going in the wake of last big hit "Young Years" had long since evaporated - and "Summer" became a sad end to what had once been a decent chart legacy for the Australasian band.

New Entries
Number 49 "Blame It On The Boogie" by Big Fun
Peak: number 37
Last week, Martika debuted with her latest single - and now here's another pop act that'd recorded a remake of "I Feel The Earth Move" in 1989. Although their version of the Carole King classic could have come out in the UK earlier than Martika's version, the boy band, who became the latest act in the Stock Aitken Waterman fold, went with another cover for their debut single instead: an update of "Blame It On The Boogie". 
Interestingly, "Blame It On The Boogie" was itself recorded by two rival acts in the late '70s when one of the song's co-writers, Mick Jackson, found himself going head to head in the charts with The Jacksons (no relation), who'd rushed out their own version. As we all know, Michael and his brothers triumphed in the chart battle (although only just in the US, where their version's peak of number 54 was only seven places higher than Mick's) - and it's one of the definitive tracks by the sibling band.
A decade later, Big Fun had no competition with their remake of the song, which is a probably a good thing. In between their terribly weak vocals and one of SAW's less inspired productions, it had even me questioning what the Hit Factory was thinking. It became a top 5 hit in the UK, where Big Fun's single was the highest ever position for any version of "Blame It On The Boogie" - thankfully, it only managed to scrape into the top 40 here.

Number 48 "Leave A Light On" by Belinda Carlisle
Peak: number 5
By 1989, The Go-Go's singer Belinda Carlisle had landed two top 10 hits in Australia - each from a different album. 1986's "Mad About You" (number 9) was taken from debut release Belinda, while "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" (number 2), which hit the ARIA chart in 1988, came from second album Heaven On Earth. The closest any other single from either album came to being a hit was "I Get Weak", which stalled at number 34 in 1988. 
Nothing if not consistent, Belinda returned to the top 10 with the lead single from her third solo album, Runaway Horses - a song which was once again produced by Rick Nowels, and co-written by him and Ellen Shipley (the team behind "Heaven Is A Place On Earth"). Throw in a bit of slide guitar action from George Harrison and it's easy to see why this was another big release for Belinda. The only thing in doubt was whether she'd be able to break her one-hit-per-album record this time around. Time would tell...

Number 39 "When The Night Comes" by Joe Cocker
Peak: number 39

If ever there was a song destined to be a hit in 1989, it was this track, which was co-written by Diane Warren, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance (who co-wrote Bryan's "Heaven" and "Summer Of '69"). Pretty much the MOR dream team, right? The song - the lead single from husky-voiced Joe's One Night Of Sin album - was a sizable hit in America, where it reached number 11. In Australia, however, only 11 songs separated "When The Night Comes" from the bottom of the top 50 - and this was the single's only week on the chart. Like Dragon, it was a disappointing end to a chart career, which in Joe's case dated back to the late '60s.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:

Next week: it's big ballad time, with downtempo hits by two of the best in the business. Plus, two infuriating records - one, a comedy release, and the other, an overtly sexual dance track.

Back to: Nov 5, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 19, 1989


  1. Strange to see 'The Sensual World' as a breaker this week after falling out of the top 50. Maybe it sold more copies this week than last, despite the lower chart position?

    This was another week that my VCR timer failed (or I forgot to set my alarm) to watch rage, after staying up late on my birthday. I didn't get hold of the printed chart either for this week, but got next week's, so missed a few tracks that fell out. I had to get the lower end of the top 40 from Take 40 Australia the following week, and was surprised to see Joe Cocker at #39 for one week only.

    I don't remember the Dragon track, other than by name.

    I hadn't heard (or even heard of, I think) Big Fun until seeing the video in the rage top 50 next week. I didn't know the Jacksons' version at the time, so took an instant liking to the song. Though yes, it looked pretty silly the 3 of them miming to what was obviously just one vocal: Mark singing in falsetto (at least during the verses). Actually, if I remember correctly, Michael who comments here grew up next door to Mark when he lived in Canberra! It's a small world... I'm sure the real reason they scrapped the Harding/Curnow-produced 'I Feel the Earth Move' for the S/A/W-produced 'Blame It On the Boogie', since the Martika single wasn't out until a few months later, was that Pete Waterman wanted S/A/W to produce their first PWL single after seeing the positive reaction the group received on the Hitman Roadshow. I don't think I knew about the Mick Jackson version - will have to check it out.

    I forgot that George Harrison played guitar on 'Leave a Light On'. It's strange that 'Runaway Horses' was her only album with more than one real hit here; especially when it didn't do so (relatively) well in the US.

    I don't think I've heard the Joe Cocker track since '89. I hadn't seen the video until now, since I missed its sole appearance in the rage top 50.

  2. PS Max Q's 'Sometimes' was #62 this week, noted down from Countdown Revolution.

  3. Thanks Nathan, yes I can lay claim to fame saying that Mark's parents are my god parents. My parents lived next door to his parents back in the 60's in Richmond, Melbourne before either had kids. So we spent a bit of time with Mark and his twin brothers growing up. Haven't seen them for about 30 years or so, although my Mum still keeps in touch with Mark's Mum. She still resides in Melbourne. Anyway, our family had a good laugh when 'Blame It On The Boogie' graced our screens around this time. We couldn't believe it. I don't think I even knew he went to the UK chasing a pop career. The song was bad and then they disappeared here as quickly as they came. I see they were pretty big in the UK in 1989 and 1990.

    Belinda Carlisle was my first crush. She was just so hot and a 12 year old watching her in 'Mad About You' well that did it for me! She looks stunning on her debut album 'Belinda' and comes close on the cover of 'Runaway Horses'. She had big success in the states with 'Heaven and Earth' and the singles off it. The UK is her biggest fan base. Surely, we must come second, well with all the touring she's been doing her over the last couple of years. Also, on 'Runaway Horses' Bryan Adams does backing/assisted vocals on one of the tracks.

    Never saw or heard the Joe Cocker single until now. Hey, at least it made a Top 40 appearance.

    1. Wow, Michael, I didn't know the connection to Mark was that close (sort of)! 'Blame It On the Boogie' was another single that I was almost going to buy, but didn't. I got the reissue of their album though from a couple of years ago.

    2. Wow that's really cool Michael - do you know what Mark is up to now? He seems to have completely vanished, Phil and Jason are still able to be tracked via FB and current photos of Jason have surfaced but Mark is a mystery!