Wednesday, 10 September 2014

This Week In 1989: September 10, 1989

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.

Some weeks, the new entries on the ARIA singles chart from 1989 read less like a who's who of '80s music and more just like a list of "who?". This week, there's no such problem - all six of the debuting artists are bona fide superstars.

Michael Hutchence got political as part of Max Q in 1989

From acts with decades of hits behind them to performers who'd found fame more recently, each of the six was a big-name music star. Of course, some of the songs that entered the chart weren't the best-known hits by the artists in question, but you can't have everything.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending September 10, 1989

At the top of the ARIA chart this week in 1989 was possibly the best-known song by Richard Marx, who catapulted from number 11 to number 1 with "Right Here Waiting". The song was the fifth ballad to hold down the top spot in 1989, following chart-toppers by Mike + The MechanicsThe Bangles, Bette Midler and Simply Red.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Dark Side Of The Man" by Ross Wilson
Peak: number 80
The title track of Ross Wilson's first solo album, which had come out in July, didn't follow "Bed Of Nails" into the top 50. The Australian music legend wouldn't release more music for over a decade.

"Thrill Has Gone" by Texas
Peak: number 60
Before we get to those music megastars, here's the Scottish band that'd got off to a great start with "I Don't Want A Lover" but fell some way short of that with this second single from the Southside album. "Thrill Has Gone" peaked at exactly the same position in Australia and the UK, and Texas wouldn't have another major hit in either country for another eight years, despite continued efforts.

"Runnin' Down A Dream" by Tom Petty
Peak: number 68
Also missing the mark was a man who wouldn't have been out of place among our big-name new entrants below. And, it's another follow-up to a more successful single - "Runnin' Down A Dream" faltered in the wake of "I Won't Back Down". I can't help thinking that "Free Fallin'" would've been a better choice for second single. Instead, that ended up as the third release from Full Moon Fever and became the biggest hit for Tom (with or without The Heartbreakers) in the US. In Australia, "Runnin' Down A Dream" pretty much killed the album and "Free Fallin'" didn't even register in the top 100.

New Entries
Number 50 "Liberian Girl" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 50
It may not have gone on to be one of the most successful singles of his illustrious career, but you've got to hand it to Michael Jackson for managing to land nine songs from one album (Bad, obviously) inside the ARIA top 50. "Liberian Girl" was the final track to be lifted as a single and were it not for the star-studded music video, it probably would've struggled to perform as well as it did, since the celeb-fest was about the only cause to be excited about a two-year-old song that was, if truth be told, otherwise unremarkable. A-listers featured in the clip include Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, Paula Abdul, Steven Spielberg, Corey Feldman and even a young Mayim Bialik.

Number 49 "Poison" by Alice Cooper
Peak: number 3
He'd been absent from the Australian top 50 for nine years, but '70s shock rocker Alice Cooper (real name: Vincent Furnier) made up for lost time with one almighty chart comeback. The lead single from Trash, "Poison" fell one place shy of becoming Alice's biggest hit in Australia - that honour went to 1977's "You And Me". Of course, Alice had continued to record throughout the '80s without any real success, but it wasn't until he teamed up with songwriter and producer Desmond Child, who'd been behind Bon Jovi's biggest hits, that he again struck gold (and even platinum in some countries). A music video featuring scantily clad - and, in the R-rated version, topless - women didn't hurt, either.

Number 39 "Healing Hands" by Elton John
Peak: number 14

Like "Liberian Girl", "Healing Hands" is not one of the songs for which its artist is best known - but in my opinion it's an underrated Elton John track. The first single from Sleeping With The Past, it performed reasonably well in Australia but missed the top 40 in the UK in 1989. However, together with follow-up "Sacrifice", it would be resurrected in 1990 as a double A-side release and give Elton his first solo chart-topper at home (he'd previously reached the top there with the Kiki Dee duet, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"). In Australia, the appearance of "Healing Hands" on the chart meant Elton had reached the top 50 with at least one song in every year of the '80s.

Number 27 "The Best" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 4
Before it became the theme to a rugby league promotional campaign, "The Best" was the lead single from Foreign Affair, Tina's first album since 1986's Break Ever Rules. And, before it became the lead single from Foreign Affair, "The Best" was recorded by Bonnie Tyler and released as the first single from her 1988 album, Hide Your Heart. Interesting side point #1: Bonnie's version of "The Best" was produced by Desmond Child.
Bonnie's flop became Tina's smash hit, with "The Best" delivering the latter's highest chart position since 1985's "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)"Interesting side point #2: Bonnie Tyler actually covered a Tina Turner song on Hide Your Heart - remaking Tina's B-side "Don't Turn Around", which was turned into a hit by both Aswad and Ace Of Base. 
Personally, I couldn't stand "The Best" and although I'd like some of Tina's earlier '80s hits, it completely turned me off her as an artist. Still, Australia in particular seemed to love it, sending it back into the ARIA top 15 in re-recorded from (as "(Simply) The Best", a duet with Jimmy Barnes) in 1992. 

Number 24 "Way Of The World" by Max Q
Peak: number 8
Who? OK, Max Q aren't a superstar act, but the lead singer of the one-album project was INXS's Michael Hutchence - and he definitely counts as a big name in music. "Way Of The World" was Michael's latest musical activity away from INXS and his second to reach the top 50, following 1987's solo single "Rooms For The Memory" from the film Dogs In Space. Max Q was a collaboration between Michael and songwriter/producer Ollie Olsen, who'd worked on the soundtrack to Dogs In Space. The resulting album, Max Q, was more electronic than anything INXS had ever released - but despite the new sound and more of a political focus than most INXS tracks, "Way Of The World" easily hit the ARIA top 10.

Number 10 "Wouldn't Change A Thing" by Kylie Minogue
Peak: number 6

Rounding out our list of music stars is the ex-soap actress who was turning into quite a reliable hit-maker. "Wouldn't Change A Thing" became Kylie's seventh straight top 15 single and was the second release from upcoming album Enjoy Yourself. The song's video was Kylie's first clip filmed in the UK, which pretty much made it official that she'd set up shop in London - hardly surprising given the treatment she was receiving from the media at home.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:

Next week: more megastars, including two female singers who are still recording today (even if one insists on continually bidding her fans farewell). Plus, a UK number 1 hit from a new artist to record with Stock Aitken Waterman. Before then, I should be making a start on my 2008 countdown.

Back to: Sep 3, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 17, 1989


  1. In retrospect I'm surprised that the post-'I Don't Want a Lover' singles from Texas from the 'Southside' album failed to crack the top 50. 'Thrill Has Gone' and 'Everyday Now' both got some decent airplay in Melbourne from memory, though I don't think the 4th single (whose name I had to look up, 'Prayer For You') did. I was really surprised when they scored another hit with 'Say What You Want' in '97. I think I didn't believe at first that it was the same band, given the change in image and sound. Even lead singer Sharlene's voice sounded a bit different to my ears.

    I don't remember hearing the Tom Petty track until it aired on rage a couple of years ago. 'Free Fallin'' was a much better track, got some airplay, and I'm surprised it didn't at least out-chart 'Runnin' Down a Dream'.

    I really didn't like the Alice Cooper song initially, but eventually it grew on me and I came to love it.

    I generally don't like Elton John's music except when it's covered by other artists. 'Healing Hands' is tolerable though... just.

    I don't mind 'The Best', but it's hardly my favourite either. I much preferred Tina's 'Private Dancer' singles. It also re-entered the top 50 in '93, much to my surprise (or was that the Jimmy Barnes duet re-charting to coincide with the NRL grand final? Rage aired the original video). Fast Forward parodied the duet as 'A Screaming Contest' (louder than all the rest), which I'd love to see again.

    I loved the Max Q track, and to a lesser extent, the follow-up. I thought the 3rd single was OK, but not spectacular. I bought the CD album for just under $10 in '93, but didn't care for any of the non-single album tracks, other than 'Ghost of the Year'. Not being familiar with the physics concept at the time, I initially thought 'Max' was a pseudonym for Michael Hutchence, with 'Q' being his surname... a bit like Stacey Q. With the composite face in the video and on the album sleeve, I also thought that 'Hutch' didn't want to be recognised for this project, hence the alternative name.

    I was surprised by the short chart run of 'Wouldn't Change a Thing', which was clearly a sign that Kylie's popularity was on the decline in Oz. I think that this video is where she started 'taking control' of her image, rather than BTDYK which is always credited for such. She seems much more 'relaxed' and at ease in this video than her previous ones, I thought, and was starting to take some risks with her image.

  2. Alice Cooper's 'Poison' took about a month to grow on me when it was released. I did enjoy watching the 'R' rated version on MTV. Boy, did that topless model have the perkiest boobs.

    MaxQ - this was so different to INXS when it was released. Very dark and powerful. I loved it. The video for 'Monday Night By Satellite' is very trippy. I still find it puzzling why you can't get any MaxQ tracks on itunes?

    Tina's 'The Best' was a great track back in its day, but I think it has been so flogged to death with NRL, that I find it hard to listen to, even though I'm an NRL fan. You know she will be 75 this year. I did like the follow up singles 'Steamy Windows' & 'I Don't Wanna Lose You' from the 'Foreign Affairs' album.

    That was an interesting fact there Gavin, that 'Wouldn't Change A Thing' was Kylie's first UK made video. So were the rest done on home soil?

    'Healing Hands' is my fave Elton John single, well after 'Little Jeannie'. Funny how this didn't make a dent on the UK charts with its initial release, a bit like when 'Heartache All Over The World' was a Top 10 hit here and only went Top 50 or 60 in the UK.

    1. When Richard Lowenstein guest programmed rage in 2009, he said something about how the Max Q album couldn't be reissued because it was tied up in some wrangle in Michael Hutchence's estate. That probably explains why it's not on iTunes.

  3. I'm sure Ollie's pissed off about that!