Saturday, 25 March 2017

This Week In 1984: March 25, 1984

One song can change everything. There you'll be, plodding along releasing moderately successful records and then one of your singles explodes. Suddenly, you're one of the hottest properties in the world and everyone wants more of the same, thank you very much.

No twins, no Thompsons. This trio was named after a pair of comic book characters

That's what happened to the band that debuted with the first single from their fourth album this week in 1984. The song hit top 5s around the world, including in Australia. The pressure was soon on to repeat the trick.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending March 25, 1984

Cyndi Lauper had recently found herself as one of the world's biggest music stars thanks to the runaway success of debut single "Girls Just Want To Have Fun". This week, it started a two-week run at number 1 on the ARIA chart.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Think Of Laura" by Christopher Cross
Peak: number 100
It became associated with General Hospital supercouple Luke and Laura, but this gentle ballad from the Oscar-winning singer/songwriter was actually a tribute to a murdered student.

Number 98 "(Livin' In) Desperate Times" by Olivia Newton-John
Peak: number 81
Another dramatic synth-based tune taken from the Two Of A Kind soundtrack, "...Desperate Times" didn't get the reception "Twist Of Fate" had enjoyed, but it's not bad at all.

Number 95 "Speed Your Love To Me" by Simple Minds
Peak: number 76
Here's another act failing to follow a chart hit ("Waterfront") with another success. An extended version of this Sparkle In The Rain single has been used as the closing theme for rage since 1987.

Number 86 "This Woman" by Kenny Rogers
Peak: number 86
"Islands In The Stream" was still in the top 10, but this solo follow-up didn't perform anywhere near as well, despite the involvement once again of Barry and Maurice Gibb.

Number 74 "Too Low For Zero" by Elton John
Peak: number 52
It wasn't a great week for big-name acts, was it? Although, in the case of Elton John, he'd already enjoyed four hits from Too Low For Zero, so the title track was never going to do any better.

Number 69 "I Am What I Am" by Gloria Gaynor
Peak: number 69
1984 really was the year of the gay anthem. Two weeks after Miquel Brown and Eartha Kitt made the top 100, Gloria Gaynor's first chart appearance since "I Will Survive" did the same.

Number 64 "The Edge" by Flaming Hands
Peak: number 64
Releasing singles since 1980, Sydney's Flaming Hands reached the top 100 for the first - and last - time with this track featuring INXS's Garry Gary Beers and Andrew Farriss, who also co-produced it.

New Entries
Number 44 "Girl On The Wall" by Jane Clifton
Peak: number 13
This might be Jane Clifton's only chart single under her own name, but the multi-talented performer had no shortage of balls in the air as she juggled a career in acting, radio and music throughout the '70s and '80s. "Girl On The Wall" came out during Jane's final year playing Margo on Prisoner and was produced by Joe Camilleri, with whom she'd performed on her only other chart appearance - as featured vocalist on "Taxi Mary" by Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons (number 11 in 1982). Given the success of "Girl On The Wall", it's no surprise to discover Jane did release further solo singles. but follow-ups "My Machines" and "Turn To Dust" just weren't up to the same standard.

Number 40 "Beast Of Burden" by Bette Midler
Peak: number 12
Here's another female singer with a diversified career, but unlike Jane Clifton, singer/actress Bette Midler had already registered a number of hits in Australia. Although not recently. The Divine Miss M hadn't had a big single since 1980's "The Rose" and the previous two tracks lifted from her No Frills album, "All I Need To Know" and "Favorite Waste Of Time", would end up being way more successful when covered by other artists - the former as "Don't Know Much"
Funnily enough, it was a remake which turned things around for Bette. Her cover of The Rolling Stones' "Beast Of Burden" (a top 100 miss if it was released in Australia in 1978) spent four weeks at number 12. Having previously scored with a boogie-woogie number, two disco tracks and a big ballad, "Beast Of Burden" saw Bette in rock chick mode, starring alongside the song's original performer, Mick Jagger, in the memorable music video.

Number 37 "Hold Me Now" by Thompson Twins
Peak: number 3
In Australia, Thompson Twins had only ventured into the top 50 once so far, reaching number 27 with 1983's "Lies", a shouty, kind of annoying synthpop track. Follow-ups "Love On Your Side" and "We Are Detective", although unsuccessful locally, had both reached the UK top 10, suggesting the trio were a band on the rise, even if they still sounded fairly niche musically. Then along came "Hold Me Now", which arose out of an argument between band members (and lovers) Tom and Alannah Currie. 
The crowd-pleasing love song almost felt like it came from a different band altogether, except for the presence of lead singer Tom Bailey's plaintive vocal. With its lush production and sing-along chorus, "Hold Me Now" was only ever going to be massive, and it not only took Thompson Twins into the UK top 5 for the first time, but also reached number 3 in Australia and the US. Did the trio, who were named after the detective characters in The Adventures Of Tin Tin and were at one time a seven-piece band, have more international mega-hits up their sleeve? Time would tell...

Number 36 "Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 7
The UK might have been right on board with Thompson Twins for ages, but they were still to embrace Billy Idol in the way Australia had. Except for the chart blip that was the re-release of "Dancing With Myself", Billy had done pretty well locally - and "Rebel Yell" became his third big hit here. In keeping with his rock'n'roll form, the song and the identically titled album were inspired by an event Billy attended at which members of The Rolling Stones were drinking Rebel Yell bourbon whiskey. "Rebel Yell" was written by Billy with guitarist Steve Stevens, who debuted a ray gun sound effect during his solo on the track. The song would eventually become a hit in the UK, but not until September 1985, when it was reissued following a re-release of "White Wedding". Talk about slow on the uptake.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:

Next week: a big debut from a foreign-language song that was released with a re-recorded English version. Plus, a huge Australian band follow up their recent chart-topper, while a former chart-topping band from New Zealand score one last hit single.

Back to: Mar 18, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 1, 1984


  1. Love the Thompson Twins, they created awesome synthpop style music. This has a very pleasent vibe to it & it's extremely melodic. I can listen to this song all day & never get sick of it. Doctor Doctor is also one of my favs & King for a day is also an excellent song.

    Not a huge Billy Idol fan & this song doesn't really float my boat. Mony Mony would be the only song I enjoy listening from Billy.

  2. Part of the Simple Minds track is used in the rage closing theme.

    I remember hearing the Elton John song a lot on the radio in '84, and it's one from him that I don't actually mind. At the time I thought he was singing "Toula for Zera".

    The Flaming Hands singer sounds familiar, though I can't put my finger on where I know her voice from.

    I never watched Prisoner, other than catching a few minutes here and there. But Jane definitely doesn't like being reminded of her Margo days. Someone I know who was a fan made an innocuous comment about, or posted a link to a video of, Margo on Jane's facebook page and copped a nasty response from her, including expletives. In this person's words, "She's now dead to me."

    'Beast of Burden' and 'Hold Me Now' were 2 of my favourite songs in 1984, and probably the first examples of songs I hoped they would play on Countdown. Tom Bailey has a great 80s hair-do in the 'Hold Me Now' video.

    Surprisingly, Billy Idol was another of my favourite artists in 1984; though my favourite track of his would be released later in the year.

    1. The name of the singer of The Flaming Hands is Julie Mostyn. Don't think she did anything else, though?

      And yep, mentioned the rage connection with SM.

  3. "Doreen" from Prisoner looking hilariously eighties in the Jane Clifton video. Great song, interesting to hear she didn't like being reminded of her Prisoner days.

    Classics from Thompson Twins, Billy Idol and Bette Midler, a camp classic from Gloria Gaynor, good solid mid-range entries by Olivia, Elton & Kenny... in all it was a very good week.

    1. Actually, after re-checking with this person, Jane posted a new picture and commented how angry/mean she looked in it. This person then commented that it reminded him of her Margo days; that's what she took offence to.