Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Best Of 1989 - part 3

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

So, where were we... A couple of weeks ago I started my countdown of my top 100 songs from 1989. Now, let's carry on remembering some of the best tracks from the final year of what was, let's face it, music's best decade.

1989 was a good year for Lisa Stansfield (and her kiss curl)

In 1989, I was in Year 9 at high school, which was towards the end of my years buying the Australian version of Smash Hits as I looked increasingly to the music from the US and UK. I do remember having my room covered in posters from Smash Hits and other pop magazines, and even my subject dividers in my school folder didn't escape being plastered with the faces of Kylie, Sonia, Debbie and Whitney. And I wondered why the jocks made fun of me... Actually, I didn't - I just thought they had appalling taste in music.

Number 50 "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode
At the start of the '80s, Depeche Mode had one of my favourite songs of 1981 with "Just Can't Get Enough", and here they are again at decade's end with the first single from their most succesful album, Violator. The cheery synth pop had made way for a more stadium rock-ish sound, which went down a treat in the US. The synths were still there, but the darker, more brooding sound the group had developed since Vince Clarke quit the group was now perfected. Depeche Mode have long had their riffs sampled, and the guitar line in "Personal Jesus" is no exception, providing the basis for "Beware Of The Dog" by Jamelia and "Reach Out" by Hilary Duff, among other songs.

Number 49 "Can't Forget You" by Sonia
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 48 "Help!" by Bananarama
Another act who'd been releasing records since 1981 (although it took them a couple of years to hit their stride), Bananarama were between albums in 1989. Together with piss-take group Lananeeneenoonoo (French & Saunders and Kathy Burke), they recorded the third ever Comic Relief single, a cover of The Beatles' "Help!", to coincide with the second ever Red Nose Day, which had become a major charitable enterprise by then. The single had two versions - one, like the video (below), which had amusing interjections from the trio of comediennes, and the other, which was a straight rendition of the song (in the link above) performed by Keren, Sarah and Jacquie. I preferred the latter, since there's a limit to how funny people singing off-key can be.

Number 47 "Ain't Nobody Better" by Inner City
The singles kept coming from the duo of Kevin Saunderson and Paris Grey, who'd debuted strongly in 1988 with "Big Fun" and "Good Life". This was the third release from the Paradise album, which continued the Chicago house vibe, as did fourth single "Do You Love What You Feel" (number 118 on this list). The group's final release for the year was a cover of "Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin'" (previously recorded by Stephanie Mills), which appeared on the Paradise Remixed album and was a slower paced song than anything they'd recorded up to that point (and ended up at number 92 on this list). "Ain't Nobody Better" was their last UK top 10 hit for 10 years, although I liked quite a lot of their '90s releases, even if not as many other people did.

Number 46 "Never Too Late" by Kylie Minogue
Previously featured here

Number 45 "When You Come Back To Me" by Jason Donovan
By late 1989, when this first single from Jason's second album, Between The Lines, was released, Australia had lost all interest in Kylie's boyfriend as a recording artist. Earlier in the year, songs like "Too Many Broken Hearts" (number 12 on this list) and "Sealed With A Kiss" did pretty well locally, but "Everyday (I Love You More)" (number 56 on this list) and the Christmas-themed "When You Come Back To Me" tanked, with the latter only managing a peak of number 40 on the ARIA chart - Jason's last top 40 appearance.

Number 44 "Tell Him I Called" by Sequal
Previously featured here

Number 43 "Affair" by Cherrelle
Like Janet Jackson, Cherrelle was a regular visitor to the Jam & Lewis hit machine - but while she had plenty of hits on the Billboard R&B chart (such as the original version of "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On" and her two duets with Alexander O'Neal), she was nowhere near as successful an artist as Janet or any of the other big female R&B singers of the time, like Pebbles (who was actually Cherrelle's cousin) and Karyn White. "Affair" was a great R&B track - and another song I discovered thanks to Rage's pre-top 50 new release hour.

Number 42 "All Around The World" by Lisa Stansfield
She'd already been a children's TV host and lead singer for Blue Zone, whose single "Jackie" would be covered years later and turned into a massive Australian hit by BZ featuring Joanne - but in 1989, Lisa Stansfield finally became a singing star in her own right. Her first success was as guest vocalist on Coldcut's "People Hold On" (number 85 on this list), before solo hits "This Is The Right Time" (number 67) and this monster kept her in the charts for months. "All Around The World" was her biggest Australian and US hit, but as we moved into the '90s, her sound became increasingly adult contemporary and less edgy.

Number 41 "Leave A Light On" by Belinda Carlisle
The Heaven On Earth album had been a great success for Belinda, and her roll continued with Runaway Horses, from which this was the lead single. Whereas Heaven On Earth is her biggest solo album worldwide, in Australia, Runaway Horses was more successful thanks to this and fellow top 10 hit "Summer Rain". "Leave A Light On" was another song written by the team of Rick Nowels (also Belinda's producer) and Ellen Shipley, who'd been responsible for "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" and "Circle In The Sand". The track also featured George Harrison on guitar.

Number 40 "Be There" by Clive Griffin
Here's another song I saw played on Saturday morning music TV then snapped up on 7" single shortly after. I can't help but think that Clive was signed by a UK record company looking for their own Rick Astley. Unfortunately for them (and Clive), he never rose to the level of the red-haired chart conqueror. Like Rick, Clive had a nice soulful voice - and perhaps his most famous performance was a duet of "When I Fall In Love" with Celine Dion in 1993 for the soundtrack of Sleepless In Seattle.

Number 39 "Drama!" by Erasure
They'd been responsible for my favourite song of 1988, so, really, the only way was down in 1989 when Erasure returned with the first single from Wild! Of course, I rushed out and bought "Drama!" on 7" single and here it is among my favourite 40 songs for the year, but I did feel a little bit let down by the track at the time. Still, Erasure had many more great songs up their sleeve, including "Blue Savannah", which they saved up for Wild!'s third single. 

Number 38 "Come Home With Me Baby" by Dead Or Alive
Managing only one single per year in 1988 and 1989, what Dead Or Alive lacked in quantity they made up for in quality. I liked "Come Home With Me Baby" even more than previous release "Turn Around And Count 2 Ten" and it seemed that the group would be notching up hits for some time. As it turned out, that wouldn't be the case at all - and this would be their final top 50 appearance with an original song. Pete Burns and co carried on making music, but he became more famous for his outrageous plastic surgery and reality TV appearances than his records.

Number 37 "Requiem" by London Boys
Mentioned below

Number 36 "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals
Three years after their impressive debut album, which included the hits "Johnny Come Home" and a cover of Elvis' "Suspicious Minds", Fine Young Cannibals went through the roof with this first track from The Raw & The Cooked. It got to number 1 in Australia and the US, and was followed by more hits, including "Good Thing" (number 76 on this list) and "Don't Look Back" (number 149). Once the album was completely bled dry of singles, that was pretty much it for the group, with a final new song ("The Flame") being released from their greatest hits (yep, after only two albums) collection years later in 1996.

Number 35 "Can't Shake The Feeling" by Big Fun
If it wasn't for the input of Stock Aitken Waterman, there'd be no way this blond trio would be anywhere near my list of favourite songs for 1989, since their take on "Blame It On The Boogie" failed to impress me. But, once given a SAW original composition, Big Fun piqued my interest. Yes, the vocals are pretty terrible, but SAW could do very little wrong at this stage.

Number 34 "London Nights" by London Boys
From one cheesy pop group to another, London Boys were duo Edem Ephraim and Dennis Fuller, whose all-singing, all-dancing brand of Eurodisco took off in the UK in 1989. Both "Requiem" (back at number 37) and this song were big successes, but the hits dried up just as quickly as they began. Tragically, the guys passed away in a car accident in 1996 - a story I'd always assumed was a celebrity myth, but internet research suggests otherwise.

Number 33 "Miss You Much" by Janet Jackson
It'd been two years since Janet stopped milking Control for singles and finally released some new music - and this would be the first of eight (if you include "State Of The World") singles from Rhythm Nation 1814, the album that would turn Michael's sister into a superstar in her own right. Together with the similar almost-title track (number 89 on this list), the sound was tougher and tighter, with a military look that matched the concert outfits often sported by her brother. 

Number 32 "Right Back Where We Started From" by Sinitta
Her 1988 single, "I Don't Believe In Miracles", hadn't set the charts alight, so Sinitta Malone resorted to a cover version to get her career back on track. The ploy worked like a charm, with the singer's take on the 1975 Maxine Nightingale hit becoming another UK top 5 for her and her biggest Australian hit ever (it reached number 7). It would, however, be her last major hit - something a string of subsequent cover versions couldn't remedy.

Number 31 "Bedroom Eyes" by Kate Ceberano
It was only a matter of time until the I'm Talking frontwoman embarked on a solo career, and in 1989, Kate Ceberano got off to a flying start with this massive Australian hit. "Bedroom Eyes" was the first single from the Brave album and it would kick off a pretty successful couple of years for her. I was a big fan of Kate's first two solo albums, and I was quite disappointed the second, Think About It, wasn't as big as Brave and that she didn't live up to this early potential. She should have been Australia's biggest pop star, but by the early 1990s, she was struggling to make the top 40 without resorting to musical theatre tracks.

Number 30 "Secret Rendezvous" by Karyn White
Rivalling Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis in the US super-producer stakes were LA Reid & Babyface, who scored big hits with songs by Pebbles, Bobby Brown, Paula Abdul, The Mac Band and Babyface himself in the late '80s. Karyn was another of their successful artists, with this song, "The Way You Love Me" (number 87 on this list) and "Superwoman" (number 193) all going top 10 in the US. Karyn would jump camp for her second album, Ritual Of Love, and work with Jam & Lewis, the latter of whom she'd go on to marry.

Number 29 "The Look" by Roxette
I don't know what it is they put in the water in Sweden, but they really do know their way around a pop song up there in Scandinavia. "The Look" was the international breakthrough hit for Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, but it was actually the third single from Look Sharp! in Sweden - "Dressed For Success" (number 177 on this list) and "Listen To Your Heart" (number 64) came first. A huge number 1 hit here in Australia, "The Look" was the start of a string of 11 top 20 hits here that would continue until 1993. Look Sharp! is one of my top 10 albums of all time (yes, really) and pretty much every song on it could have been released as a single (and many should have over "Dressed For Success").

Number 28 "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid II
Previously featured here

Number 27 "Express Yourself" by Madonna
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 26 "Getting Away With It" by Electronic
In 1988, The Travelling Wilburys became the latest in a long line of rock supergroups, but in 1989, the first (to my knowledge) synthpop supergroup was born. Essentially a collaboration between New Order's Bernard Sumner and The Smiths' Johnny Marr, but with occasional input from Neil and Chris from Pet Shop Boys, and Kraftwerk's Karl Bartos, Electronic were responsible for two of my favourite albums of all time. "Getting Away With It" would precede the first of those albums by two years, but this was a great taste of things to come.

In my top 25 for 1989, the highest-selling single from the UK for the year, a fruitful collaboration between the Queen of Disco and the Hit Factory, and the return of the Queen of Pop.

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1 comment:

  1. I only discovered Clive Griffin (other than the Celine duet which I'd heard at the time, but didn't care for) last year, and had no idea until recently that he had anything other than that duet released in Australia. As I was still primarily focused on the top 50 in 1989, I didn't routinely watch other segments of rage/other music video shows (besides Countdown Revolution), so never caught the 'Be There' video... but it's one I hope to get hold of at some point. I have a contact in the Ukraine who has the video, but I'm waiting for our next trade to eventuate.