Tuesday, 3 July 2012

It all started this week in 1987: part 1

Twenty-five years ago this week, I picked up a copy of the latest ARIA chart from my local record store (remember those?) and studied it from top to bottom, before filing it away for safe keeping - something I would do for the next 11 years. Look, here it is:

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending July 5, 1987

I still have every chart from July 1987 to May 1998 (when I left Australia to go backpacking), and I would've kept the collection going, but the person I'd lined up to stockpile the charts in my absence turned out to be a bit crap, and by the time I got back in 2000, ARIA had moved online, so what can you do?

My interest in the chart stemmed from years of listening to Take 40 Australia on a Sunday afternoon, often in tennis court car parks in far-flung suburbs of Sydney. My sister played, my parents watched, I listened to Barry Bissell on the car radio. But in 1987, two things happened:
  • Firstly, Rage and Video Hits began. I'd never been able to wrangle control of the TV on a Sunday night to watch Countdown, so these shows and their weekend morning chart rundowns were appointment viewing for me. I'd write down the new Top 50 from Rage until I could get the official chart later in the week.
  • Secondly, I started high school and began to visit record stores on the way home from school and on weekends, which made the task of chart collection - not to mention record buying - that little bit easier.
Post-1998, I've continued to follow the ARIA chart and even turned my obsession with music into a career as an entertainment journalist. These days, I check the ARIA website at 6pm on a Sunday to see what's number one, but nothing compares to the excitement I used to get from holding a brand new ARIA chart in my hands. What colour would it be this week? What songs would be the Breakers (the hit predictions outside the top 50)? Would "Locomotion" still be number 1? Good times.

So, 25 years seemed like as good a time as any to look back on what was big in music the week my lifelong obsession with the charts kicked into gear. Which brings us back to the Top 50 for the week ending July 5, 1987. You can either check the rundown on the picture above, or journey with me from 50 to 1. Yep, I always wanted Barry Bissell's job.

(Adopts radio voice) And a new entry at number 50 for "Daughters Of Glory" by Black Sorrows. It was the debut chart appearance for the band who'd go on to score their biggest hit in 1989 with "Chained To The Wheel", but of course not the first time around the block for Joe Camilleri, who'd also enjoyed hits as Jo Jo Zep (with and without The Falcons) in the late '70s and early '80s.

At number 49: "Somewhere Out There" by Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram, the Grammy-winning theme to animated kids' film, An American Tail. Go on, belt it out - you know you want to.

Exiting the top 40 to land at number 48: "Leave Me" by Cattletruck. Despite the terrible band name, it was a song I liked at the time, but had completely forgotten about ever since.

At number 47, "One And One (Ain't I Good Enough)" by Wa Wa Nee, their fourth and final top 20 hit. They'd return late in 1988 with a second album, but by then, the best they could manage would be a number 31 peak for "Can't Control Myself".

Number 46 provides a little bit of controversy, in that it's "He's Gonna Step On You Again" by The Chantoozies. This new entry for the eight-piece combo (which featured Tottie Goldsmith and David Reyne among its members) fell some way short of the top 10 placing The Party Boys were enjoying with the same song (originally a 1971 hit for John Kongos). The Party Boys would go on to reach number 1 with their version. The Chantoozies only managed to limp to number 36.

At number 45: "Let It Be" by Ferry Aid, an all-star (well, some of them were) charity single to raise funds for the victims of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster. Featuring the likes of Boy George, Kate Bush, Paul McCartney, Mel & Kim, Nik Kershaw, Kim Wilde and, er, Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot from Curiosity Killed The Cat (OK, they were big in Britain), it was a rather plodding version of The Beatles classic. Produced by Stock Aitken Waterman, it got to number one in the UK and managed to scrape into the top 30 here.

Number 44: "Big Time" by Peter Gabriel, which boasted another impressive animated clip - but while that had worked a treat for "Sledgehammer" (a top 3 hit a year earlier), the novelty had clearly worn off, with this track only managing a number 37 peak the next week.

Arriving at its number 43 peak: "Running In The Family" by Level 42, a British band who were big back home, but never graced the Australian top 40 with their presence. It's a shame, really.

Number 42: "Nude School" by Painters & Dockers - I'd successfully blocked this video from memory... until now. Enjoy!

The number 41 song from July 5, 1987 was - after an impressive 18 weeks on the chart - "She's The One" by The Cockroaches. More from the eventual Wiggles later...

Moving on to number 40"Male Stripper" by Man 2 Man Meet Man Parrish which was one of several big Euro dance hits on the chart that week. At the time, I thought it was a bit of an odd group name, but it was actually a collaboration between Man 2 Man (brothers Miki and Paul Zone) and producer Man Parrish. I also didn't get the gay overtones, but then I missed the innuendo of "Hit That Perfect Beat" and "Relax" as well. Enjoy the porn-lite clip...

At number 39"The Final Countdown" by Europe, which was coming to the end of its long run in the top 40 and would soon be used to flag the demise of the ABC music show of the same name. Sniff.

Moving up at number 38 was "Dominoes" by Robbie Nevil, the follow-up to "C'est La Vie". I remember being disappointed by the song's lack of success and willed it to go higher. Unfortunately, it didn't. Luckily for Robbie, he got another top 5 hit in 1991 with "Just Like You".

Number 37 was "Big Love" by Fleetwood Mac, the first hit from their Tango In The Night album and a song I liked despite it being "old people's music". But back in 1987, it didn't matter if a song was by Stacey Q or Chris Rea - so long as it was good.

Falling five spots at number 36"Midnight Blue" by Lou Gramm, the first solo hit from the big-haired Foreigner singer. I was going to say: "the only solo hit", but it turns out he reached number 31 with "Just Between You And Me" in 1990. Will have to refresh my memory on YouTube. In the meantime, here's "Midnight Blue"...

At number 35"Rock The Night" by Europe, itself a great song, but one which suffered due to the all-conquering success of "The Final Countdown" and could only get to number 22.

The week's highest new entry came at number 34"Crazy" by Icehouse was the first of a stream of singles from the massive Man Of Colours album. Yes, "Electric Blue" would be bigger, but the clip to that song didn't feature a bright red calf-length coat, now did it? Incidentally, the video below is one of two made for "Crazy". A link to the second clip is in the song title above.

As promised, more from the future Wiggles at number 33"Some Kind Of Girl" by The Cockroaches ranks as their second biggest hit (it peaked the following week at number 32) and was followed, with increasingly less success, by "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" and "Hey What Now!". Things got so desperate for the group that they played a gig at my high school's 75th anniversary celebrations in 1988.

Number 32"With Or Without You" by U2, a band I hated at the time but all my classmates worshipped. And I wondered why they made fun of my love for Mel & Kim.

At number 31, the long-forgotten "Sonic Boom Boy" by Westworld, which deserved much better than its number 27 peak. Fun video, too.

Number 30"Why Can't I Be You?" by The Cure, a band whose poppier output, like this and follow-up "Just Like Heaven", I always preferred to more depressing tracks like "Lullaby". The song's jump from number 46 to number 30 was enough to earn it the chart's first bullet for a big move within the top 50. It'd jump again the following week to number 16, where it would stall. The Cure's highest chart placing wouldn't come until 1992, when "High" cracked the top 5. 

At number 29, another bullet performer, another single from The Joshua Tree. Yep, it's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2. I still prefer The Chimes' cover version.

Number 28 is a shocker. "Holiday Rap" by MC Miker "G" & Deejay Sven. Wow, even their names are terrible. How this travesty charted so well (it got to number 11) is beyond me. Says more about the power of Madonna (the song sampled "Holiday", as well as Cliff Richard's "Summer Holiday") than anything. Watch the clip if you dare...

At number 27 was "Reet Petite" by Jackie Wilson, a song that would still be hanging around in September and which, of course, dated all the way back to 1957. Apart from it being 30 years since the tune's debut, its renewed success came thanks to a cute claymation video (between this, The Firm's "Star Trekkin'" and Peter Gabriel's clips, claymation was big in '87).

Rounding out the first half of the top 50 is the song at number 26"Let's Wait Awhile" by Janet Jackson, the penultimate hit from the Control album. "The Pleasure Principle" would creep to number 50 in August.

I'll continue the countdown with the top 25 from July 5, 1987 in Part 2 - and it's a corker of a chart!

                                                                    GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: July 12, 1987


  1. Nice one Gav. Looking forward to reliving my high school years in the next few months.
    You should include some photos of yourself during those awesome 80s and 90s.

  2. Um, not sure about photos. But yeah, it's going to be fun digging through the music archives!

  3. Noice blog Gavin. It's a shame that "Big Time" wasn't a hit. It's much better than "Sledgehammer" I reckon. I just assumed that you were simply not enjoying the man flesh in "Nude School" until I watched the video myself. I see what you mean now. Grotty!

    1. Grotty is the best word for it. Those poor pigs! I remember P&D had another minor hit called "Die Yuppie Die", which, because I briefly studied German in Year 7, I pronounced as if it was in German. I don't think I knew what a yuppie was.

    2. That said, I'd still love to find that video as a HD rip to add to my music videos collection for the lulz of course. ;)

    3. I'm sure it's only a matter of time! It was a top 30 hit, after all.

  4. Thanks Gavin; I enjoyed listening to 'Holiday Rap' (never seen the video before); I had this song on a 'Right on Track 87' compilation cassette .. brought back memories.

    I also used to walk down the street from school and pick up the weekly music chart after picking one up fluttering in the playground at school. I also collected them for a few years until getting rid of them when doing a clean out.

    1. I'd also forgotten they had another single, "Celebration Rap", which I can only assume did the same trick but with "Celebration" (I've successfully blocked it from my memory).

      87 Right On Track was awesome and actually debuted on the albums chart this week as well.

      I'm glad I kept all my charts. There's been other music-related stuff I've thrown out over the years only to regret it. Thanks for reading!

  5. I didn't discover the (printed) ARIA chart until March 1989, but indirectly discovered the chart through its fortnightly publication in Smash Hits from about a year earlier (when ARIA & AMR used the same chart). I didn't collect it weekly though until around early 1992, as I made do with writing down the top 50/60 songs from watching Rage every Saturday morning. My favourite songs were nearly always those in the lower regions of the chart (or those missing it altogether) from about 1990 onwards, ha ha.

    I too used to listen to Take 40 Australia with Barry Bissell from around when '(I've Had) The Time of My Life' was #1, and then later watched the top 50 on Rage. It took me a little while to notice that the take 40 chart was different to the ARIA chart pre-1989, and that it was a week behind the chart aired on Rage.

    1. The whole AMR/ARIA thing is kind of annoying. I envy the likes of the UK and US where it's been the one chart (even if it's undergone development)continuously since the dawn of the rock era.

  6. Sounds like I have a similar story to those above with my love of the charts and following music. My journey started towards the end of 1987 though with the Bob Segers song 'Breakdown' which I heard on the radio, and then kept listening. I haven't looked back since. Which is funny because I clearly remember a year or two earlier saying to my mother one evening as we walked up our driveway (we lived on a 10 acre hobby farm in North East Victoria) and hearing the next door neighbours stereo (they lived a good 500m away) up load, and me turning to my mother and saying I will never become like that disturbing the neighbourhood with loud music. She simply said "That will change!", and change it did. Finn

  7. My national chart collection started with the very first printed ARIA endorsed chart back in 1983, but I'd been collecting the Brisbane Radio 10 charts for six months before that.

    1. Do you happen to still have all your charts? Did you collect the large-format charts during 1986? If so, can you drop me a line at gavinscott75@gmail.com

  8. Would it possible to have the weekly album charts alongside the singles charts please?

    1. When it's singles on one side and albums on the other, I have only scanned in the singles at this stage. Sorry!