Tuesday, 3 March 2015

This Week In 1985: March 3, 1985

It's an important career move to get right - when should the singer of a successful band go solo? In the last few weeks, we've seen singles by Jimmy Barnes (Cold Chisel), Don Henley (Eagles), Jim Diamond (Ph.D) and John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), who all did very well with their solo efforts.

He might have had the moves, but Mick Jagger didn't have the hits

This week in 1985, the vocalist for one of the biggest groups of the rock era unleashed the first single from his debut solo album - and the reception was reasonably underwhelming. In fact, the singer in question never achieved anything like the success his band did in their heyday.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending March 3, 1985

A band whose singer would go on to his own solo career held down the number 1 spot. Yep, Foreigner were still on top with "I Want To Know What Love Is" - the third of five weeks at the summit.

Off The Chart
There's a bit of a theme with this week's top 100 entries that didn't make the top 50 - they're all flop singles by acts that'd achieved chart success with earlier releases.

Number 98 "I Would Die 4 U" by Prince & The Revolution
Peak: number 96
This fourth single from Purple Rain made only a fleeting appearance in the top 100 but was another US top 10 hit. In 2017, it was one of the first Prince videos made available on YouTube.

Number 96 "Valotte" by Julian Lennon
Peak: number 75
Another song that did way better in the US - also reaching the top 10 there - than in Australia is this second single from and title track of Julian's debut album. The piano ballad (which actually came out before "Too Late To Say Goodbyes" in the US) deserved better.

Number 92 "Edge Of A Dream" by Joe Cocker
Peak: number 70
His last top 50 appearance had been number 1 soundtrack hit "Up Where We Belong", but Joe Cocker was unable to repeat that feat with his latest movie song - the theme from black comedy Teachers.

Number 89 "Playing To Win" by Little River Band
Peak: number 59
I'd always thought this track - the first single from the album of the same name (which was the second LRB LP with John Farnham as vocalist) - was a bigger hit. It certainly should've been.

Number 75 "Mistake No.3" by Culture Club
Peak: number 61
This single - Culture Club's first flop in Australia since their breakthough - probably performed better than it deserved. The boring ballad was easily the worst thing they'd released up until this point.

Number 72 "The Wanderer" by Status Quo
Peak: number 54
The boogie rock exponents had been top 50 regulars in Australia in the '70s, but not so lucky in the '80s. This cover of the Dion classic from 1961 didn't change their chart fortunes.

Number 66 "20/20" by George Benson
Peak: number 57
The album of the same name made the top 20, but this lead single yoyoed outside the top 50, going 66-57-62-57-62-57-62-57-85. George's biggest single remained 1980's number 10 "Give Me The Night".

New Entries
Number 48 "Loverboy" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 7
After an eight-year gap, "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)" had put Billy Ocean back on the Australian chart - and this follow-up proved it was no fluke. In fact, Billy would have quite the string of '80s hits (including two chart-toppers) in Australia, which mirrored his success in the US and the UK. He wasn't quite "the greatest entertainer in history", to reference an Everybody Hates Chris joke, but he was doing pretty well.

Number 40 "Neutron Dance" by The Pointer Sisters
Peak: number 4
Here's another act that'd started out in the '70s, but unlike Billy, massive shoulder pads fans Anita, June and Ruth Pointer had regularly released smash hit singles over the years. In the mid-'80s, the trio were enjoying their most fertile period yet, with "Neutron Dance" following chart successes "Automatic" and "Jump (For My Love)". The fourth single from their Break Out album, "Neutron Dance" was heavily featured in the film Beverly Hills Cop and the cinema-set music video was the perfect forum for a bit of cross-promotion (and a cool dance routine with the girls' glowing usherette thingies). Fun fact: the song was co-written by Danny Sembello, whose brother Michael had performed "Maniac" from Flashdance

Number 39 "Just Another Night" by Mick Jagger
Peak: number 13
He'd previously tested the water with a couple of collaborations and guest appearances away from The Rolling Stones, but just over two decades after his band first hit the charts, frontman Mick Jagger launched his solo career proper with the She's The Boss album and this lead single. "Just Another Night" was a respectable hit in Australia and the US (where it reached number 12), but it was hardly the musical event of 1985 - and you might've thought that rock royalty like Mick would have commanded a bigger response. Then again, the Stones hadn't had a major hit in Australia since 1981's "Start Me Up" and "Just Another Night" is a pretty average song. Duet cover versions aside, it would be the biggest single of Mick's career - and also the subject of a lawsuit from Patrick Alley, who claimed Mick plagiarised his song of the same name.

Number 22 "Shout" by Tears For Fears
Peak: number 1
After missing the top 100 completely with the lead single from second album Songs From The Big Chair, "Mothers Talk", Curt and Roland got things back on track - and how! - with this follow-up. "Shout" not only got to number 1 in Australia, but it was one of two chart-toppers for the duo in the States in 1985 (although "Shout" came out there after the other, "Everybody Wants To Rule The World"). In a sign of things to come from the band, "Shout" was one of the year's lengthiest number 1 singles, clocking in at around six minutes in its 7" form. Clearly, Roland had a lot of anger to let out.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1985:

Next week: yet another singer from a huge rock band goes solo (when will it end?), plus a song that had spent the previous four months climbing the British chart on its way to number 1 debuts in Australia.

Back to: Feb 24, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 10, 1985


  1. Prince is one of those artists who takes down his videos that others upload on youtube, so it's not surprising 'I Would Die 4 U' isn't there.

    The Julian Lennon video seems to be on an official channel, but is still only 240p quality. I don't think I'd heard this track before.

    I didn't realise for many years that 'Playing To Win' was an LRB, and not a John Farnham, track. I was even more surprised when I learned of its low chart peak. It was a radio staple for many years thereafter, at least in Melbourne.

    'Mistake No.3' (which I hadn't heard before) is one of those ironic, tempting-fate song titles, going by its chart peak here.

    Interesting chart run for the George Benson single.

    That usherette thingie (as you put it) dance was cool!

    I liked 'Just Another Night'. Surprised to see it only peaked at #32 in the UK, and that his solo career there was generally less successful than here.

    'Shout' reminds me of moving back to Australia from NZ. I think it was #1 the week I got back. I'm always torn over whether it's "these are the things I can do without" or "these other things...". I'm pretty sure it's the former though.

  2. Surprisingly, Culture Club reached the Top 40 in the US with "Mistake #3" - even as a massive fan of the group, I couldn't find much to like about it. They really did fall from grace extremely quickly, but the fact that they've toured Australia three times in 18 months over 30 years later says a lot for their musical output and enduring appeal.

    Regarding "Shout", I think you'll find the 7" version is only 4 mins long (it's the album version that's 6.5 mins long). At least that's how long my 7" vinyl copy runs for.

    1. The US 7" version of Shout ran for 4 minutes. The European 7" version runs for just under 6 minutes. Online info suggests the Australian release mirrored the European one, but you're saying it was the US edit?