Wednesday, 20 May 2015

This Week In 1990: May 20, 1990

In my flashback to 1985 for this week, we saw a number of duos hit the ARIA chart. Five years later, one half of the biggest duo in the world at that point (and one of the biggest acts of any type) reached the top 50 with his debut solo single.

Andrew Ridgeley's bid for solo success found a receptive audience in Australia

In 1985, it was already expected that his partner in pop would go on to forge a successful career on his own, but few would have counted on the less famous member of the duo also landing his own hit single - but in Australia, at least, he did.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 20, 1990

An artist who had no trouble notching up hit singles was still at number 1 in Australia this week in 1990 - Madonna spent a third week on top with "Vogue/Keep It Together".

New Entries
Number 49 "Shake" by Andrew Ridgeley
Peak: number 15
Here he is - the other half of Wham!, whose contribution to that string of releases from "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)" to "Where Did Your Heart Go?" has long been debated. Andrew Ridgeley's musical input may not have been as great as George Michael's - he only received a co-writing credit on three out of 12 singles - but his part in the success of the pop duo shouldn't be underestimated. 
More than just making up numbers, Andrew was responsible for more behind-the-scenes machinations (grooming George and making decisions about the duo's image, speaking to the press, grounding his band-mate) than he's ever given credit for. Not only that, but he doubled the eye candy in the group - if you didn't fancy George, perhaps you liked the look of Andrew.
After Wham!'s breakup, Andrew tried his hand at car racing in Monaco and acting in Los Angeles, before returning to the UK, shacking up with Bananarama's Keren Woodward (his partner to this day) and, in 1990, getting around to releasing a solo album of his own. 
I think everyone associated with Son Of Albert knew it was no Faith, but lead single "Shake" received a surprisingly positive welcome in Australia, peaking 43 places higher than in the UK. A much rockier single than anything George or Wham! had ever released, "Shake" was also the public's first chance to hear what Andrew's singing voice was like. Unfortunately, like the song itself, it was on the weak side.

Number 46 "Love Will Lead You Back" by Taylor Dayne
Peak: number 11
While things had been going swimmingly for Taylor Dayne in the US, with six consecutive top 10 hits to her name so far, she hadn't managed a top 50 hit on the ARIA chart since "Prove Your Love" reached number 30 in mid-1988. That all changed with monster ballad and US chart-topper "Love Will Lead You Back", which came one place shy of equalling the peak of debut single "Tell It To My Heart" locally. The Diane Warren-penned track turned Taylor's fortunes around in Australia, prompting parent album Can't Fight Fate to return to the chart for a lengthy stay, after having slipped into the top 100 for a single week at number 97 in January. Even better news for Taylor - her biggest Australian hits were still to come.

Number 45 "I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You" by Absent Friends featuring Wendy Matthews
Peak: number 4
A ballad also did the trick for Aussie supergroup Absent Friends, who'd bombed out with their previous singles, "Hallelujah" and "Hullabaloo". Those songs had both been original compositions - written or co-written by Sean Kelly - but "I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You" was a cover version of an album track by soul singer Eddie Floyd. Originally titled "I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But My Baby", the song appeared on 1974's Soul Street. Absent Friends' remake spent three weeks at its number 4 peak and received the ARIA Award for Single Of The Year. Although featured vocalist Wendy Matthews had already enjoyed chart success, teaming up with Kate Ceberano for the top 10 album, You've Always Got The Blues, this song more than anything else paved the way for her to become one of the nation's favourite singers. Not bad for a Canadian.

Number 43 "Passion" by Bang The Drum
Peak: number 43
A few weeks ago, we saw Bang The Drum's debut single, "Only You", reach the top 40 and no time was wasted following it up with this next release. Unfortunately for the band produced by Charles Fisher (the man behind multi-platinum debut albums by 1927 and Savage Garden), "Passion" was even less successful than "Only You" - and that's despite the fact that the earlier single was included as a B-side here (in fact the release turns up as a double A-side in the Breakers section in June). 

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1990:

Next week: another former Young Talent Time member hits the top 50, as does one of the year's biggest dance tracks, a number 1 hit from one of the year's top films and the final Milli Vanilli single to reach the chart (at least with Rob and Fab fronting the group).

Back to: May 13, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 27, 1990


  1. I never understood why 'Careless Whisper' was credited to George Michael only (other than the US), given that Andrew co-wrote it. I liked 'Shake' at the time, but the vocal is pretty bad listening to it now. I suspect that part of the reason Keren & Sara from Bananarama didn't need to get 'real' jobs after Bananarama's success fizzled out (given they'd never really been huge album-sellers, and their biggest hit was a cover) was due to Keren at least living off Andrew's Wham! royalties still coming in.

    I generally preferred the flop (locally) singles from 'Can't Fight Fight' to 'Love Will Lead You Back'.

    I hated the Absent Friends track, which seemed inescapable, back then. But think it's OK - though nothing special - now.

    I didn't care for 'Passion' much, and thought 'Only You' was much better.

  2. Because George Michael wrote Careless Whisper without Ridgely but gave him a share of the royalties so he wouldn't have to worry about money. This came out after Michael died.

  3. Anonymous, are you sure about that? The story has always been that George and Andrew wrote the song together before Wham! were successful (when they were 17). Why would George give Andrew a writer's credit on a song that was never recorded by them as a group, yet not give him credit for early Wham! singles like "Young Guns" and "Bad Boys"? Nathan, it was released as a George Michael solo single because it didn't fit in with Wham's image at the time. The only reason it was released as "Wham! Featuring George Michael" in the US was because their US record company didn't want to confuse the public, since Wham! had only had one hit single in the US by that stage, and George Michael wasn't well known enough for people to accept him as a solo artist back then.

    As for Keren Woodward, Bananarama's global success shouldn't be underestimated. "WOW!" was actually a major success here in Australia (we gave them their only #1 album anywhere in the world) and they managed to score several US Top 10 hit singles (one of which they co-wrote), so the royalties from that would have been decent. They also insisted on co-writing with SAW, instead of simply recording tracks that were given to them (which led to tension with the producers and their eventual decision to move on). They've released six albums of original material since WOW!, although they haven't had any sizeable hits since 2005 (check out "Look On The Floor" - it's a banger, as the young 'uns say these days! ;-). They also continue to be a popular live act (they toured here last year to sold out crowds in venues of around 1500 to 2000).

    1. Actually, the Bananas co-wrote two of their 2 US top 10 hits. But even so, the writing credit is split 6 ways on one, and 5 on the other. That probably doth not feed a hungry Banana without a back-up 'real' job for 2+ decades.

      Although I am a fan, many if not most of the credit-all-3 writing credits are questionable (and not just the Pete Waterman ones). A bit over 10 years ago, Siobhan Fahey had her own website forum, and there I asked her about whether each Banana contributed equally to the songwriting. She replied that she and Sara did most of the writing, but all 3 received a credit as they believed in socialism. Interestingly, the credit-all-3 approach stops as soon as Siobhan left (because they didn't want to credit Jacquie?) - and Keren is also not credited for many of the 'Pop Life' album tracks.

      'Wham! featuring George Michael' was a silly credit.