Wednesday, 11 February 2015

This Week In 1990: February 11, 1990

Just when the ARIA chart was starting to look diverse, along comes a big old rock week. Yep, there's not a house synth or rap beat among this week's songs, with rock of all varieties either entering the top 50 or charting lower down the top 100.

Midnight Oil addressed new social issues in 1990

So, spare a thought for me (since I only like three of the 11 songs up for comment this week) as I wade through more guitar-based music than ever before. Of course, it might be a little surprising which of the three songs are the ones that find my favour. Or maybe not.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending February 11, 1990

Finding favour with the Australian record buying public for an eighth and final week was "Love Shack" by The B-52's, which was about to surrender the number 1 spot to... a rock song. 

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Big Bad Moon" by Joe Satriani
Peak: number 100
There's nothing more rock than a guitar solo, and naturally this second single from Flying In A Blue Dream has plenty of those - but it also features vocals and harmonica playing, too.

Number 99 "Too Late To Say Goodbye" by Richard Marx
Peak: number 99
This fourth and long-forgotten single from Repeat Offender was a return to a rockier sound after two ballads. In the US, it was Richard's first single to miss the top 10 (it reached number 12).

Number 93 "I Feel Possessed" by Crowded House
Peak: number 93
Well over a year since the hits from Temple Of Low Men had dried up, Crowded House were still trying to make up for releasing "When You Come" as the album's second single. "I Feel Possessed" is a good song, but it was too little, too late.

Number 86 "House Of Fire" by Alice Cooper
Peak: number 80
It was third time unlucky for comeback kid Alice Cooper, who couldn't follow up "Poison" and "Bed Of Nails" with a third hit from Trash, not even with this track co-written by Joan Jett.

Single Of The Week
"She Bangs The Drums" by The Stone Roses
Peak: number 128
Although I was much more interested in all the dance music hitting the UK chart around the turn of the decade, I did like the odd British indie track as well - and this is one of those songs. The single that turned The Stone Roses into a top 40 act in the UK, "She Bangs The Drums" fell some way short of the mark in Australia but I still think it's the best thing they've ever released. One of the key acts in the burgeoning Madchester scene, the band would eventually make Australia sit up and take notice. 

New Entries
Number 49 "The Love We Make" by Girl Overboard
Peak: number 23
We saw their debut single, "I Can't Believe", sneak into the top 50 in the final chart for 1989, and Girl Overboard did even better with this follow-up. I wasn't particularly a fan of either track - I found the Australian pop/rock band's sound a little dated - but if I had to choose, I'd probably select this song as my favourite. Whether it played a factor in its success or not, the liberal use of the accordion in "The Love We Make" coincided with a resurgence in the presence of that instrument on the chart thanks to Kaoma's "Lambada". Thankfully, the trend didn't last long.

Number 48 "I Go To Extremes" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 48
The third and final of this week's songs that I like is the follow-up to one of my least favourite songs of 1989, "We Didn't Start The Fire". A return to the form he showed in the mid-'80s with the An Innocent Man and The Bridge albums, "I Go To Extremes" sounds possibly a little bit too slick and glossy (in part, thanks to production by Billy and Foreigner's Mick Jones) to adequately reflect the personality shifts the lyrics suggest, but I'll take this over a song as fraught as "Pressure" any day.

Number 47 "Downtown Train" by Rod Stewart
Peak: number 29 
He counts as pop/rock, right? Maybe only just - especially with this MOR cover version of the 1985 Tom Waits singleOne of two new songs on Rod's first best of collection in a decade, "Downtown Train" was a top 10 hit in the UK and the US, but in Australia, it was the latest in a seven-year run of singles to fall short of that achievement. Not being a fan of this single, I was glad to see it get no further than it did - but little did I know, Rod would enjoy a career resurgence in the next 12 months, with songs I found even more objectionable. 

Number 46 "I'm An Adult Now" by The Pursuit Of Happiness
Peak: number 39
In 1986, an independently released version of this song led to Canadian rock band The Pursuit Of Happiness signing a major label record deal. Re-recorded for their debut album, Love Junk, with legendary rock producer Todd Rundgren, "I'm An Adult Now" became their only song to cross over in Australia. For some reason, I always associate this with D.A.D.'s "Sleeping My Day Away", which we'll see in a few weeks' time - maybe because both have a reasonably catchy chorus tucked away in there somewhere. But not catchy enough for me to like this track.

Number 36 "Love Is" by Alannah Myles
Peak: number 12
"Black Velvet" jumped into the top 10 this week in 1990, and after bouncing around the bottom half of the top 100 since November 1989, Alannah Myles' debut single, "Love Is", finally joined it in the top 50. Spurred on by the success of "Black Velvet", this track probably became a much bigger hit than it would ordinarily have done on its own, since it lacks the killer chorus of its follow-up. Alannah became an FM radio staple throughout the year with the two singles on high rotation - and even made one more fleeting appearance in the top 50 in the months to come.

Number 10 "Blue Sky Mine" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 8
In the two-and-a-half years since the release of Diesel And Dust, Midnight Oil had been busy touring the world as a result of their new-found international success, and continuing to devote their time and energy to the issues that concerned them at home. In between all that, they recorded a new album, Blue Sky Mining, which followed their two previous LPs to the number 1 spot and won the ARIA Award for Album Of The Year. 
Naturally, the release of this lead single was incredibly well received by the band's legion of Australian fans, becoming their fifth top 10 hit. Written about asbestos mining in Wittenoom, Western Australia, "Blue Sky Mine" was as politically charged as any of Midnight Oil's songs - and despite its very local focus, it even made the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100.

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

Next week: pop's sweet revenge, with two Stock Aitken Waterman-produced new entries and another megamix hitting the top 50. Plus, the arrival of what would end up as 1990's highest-selling single.

Back to: Feb 4, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 18, 1990


  1. Great to see the Stone Roses peak here; another I wanted to ask ARIA about. 1990's charts may not have as much 'excitement' for me as seeing Breakers with previously-unknown peaks from 1989, but these occasional singles of the week that missed the top 100 (it does often seem that these SOTW end up flopping) are a good substitute. It's also probably my favourite Stone Roses track.

    I remember seeing the Joe Satriani video, but couldn't recall the song... and after playing it here, I see why.

    I was surprised the Richard Marx track peaked so low. I think it’s better than ‘Angelia’.

    I don't recall hearing the Crowded House track at the time, which seems odd as their singles were usually radio staples. It's odd how all of the post-'When You Come' singles flopped. It seems like 'I Feel Possesed' was released a long time after 'Sister Madly' (which was out around May '89 from memory), too.

    Never knew 'House of Love' was co-written by Joan Jett.

    I thought 'I Can't Believe' was much better than 'The Love We Make', but obviously the buying public didn't think so.

    A strange connection, but I'll forever associate 'I Go To Extremes' with Kakko's 'We Should Be Dancing', as it was the following track on the VHS compilation I sourced the latter video from, and also the first time I saw the IGTE video. Rage played one of their interludes in place of the video for the sole week it spent in the top 50.

    Patty Smyth did a solo cover of 'Downtown Train' (I think from 1987, so preceding Rod's) that I heard for the first time a few years ago, and much prefer to Rod's or Tom's versions.

    I never knew until a couple of years ago that there was an earlier-recorded version/video for 'I'm an Adult Now'. I didn't really understand the lyrics at the time, but now they make sense ;-)

    As in similar situations where a sleeper single starts climbing due to a more immediately-successful follow-up, I wonder whether 'Love Is' was propelled into the top 40 by people thinking they were buying 'Black Velvet' instead? 'Love Is' was more of a grower, and in the end I liked it best out of the two. There's also a second video for 'Love Is' featuring emus and kangaroos - perhaps she filmed it due to its Australian success (and the original video being a bit boring)? But rage didn't air it during its top 50 run, but would instead when it dented the top 60 of 1990 aired at the end of the year. It doesn’t seem to be on youtube… probably blocked by the record company, as I had one of her other videos (‘Song Instead of a Kiss’) blocked.

    I can't really appreciate Midnight Oil's 'political' songs as much since Peter Garrett's foray into politics, but 'Blue Sky Mine' still holds up as a decent, though probably not as good as 'Beds are Burning' (though 'The Dead Heart' is probably my fave of theirs), track.

  2. This week in 1990 John Farnham’s You’re The Voice debuted in The Hot 100 at No 97 & peaked at No 80. I wonder what the delay was maybe he was on a promotional tour between the Age Of Reason & Chain Reaction albums? Anyway I guarantee You’re The Voice was better than just about every M.O.R. song in the Hot 100. Downtown Train was No 3 so that’s a travesty & indicator of how many ordinary songs were in the Top 100 at the time.