Tuesday, 5 May 2015

This Week In 1985: May 5, 1985

A band is much more than just its lead singer, but the departure of a vocalist usually has a more profound impact than that of any other member. Sometimes, a band can successfully make the transition to a new phase of their career when they change singers for whatever reason (Van Halen, Genesis, AC/DC); sometimes they can't (Mötley Crüe, Morcheeba, INXS). 

Commodores found success without their most famous member

This week in 1985, a group that'd been around since the late '60s landed their biggest hit in six years - and their first following the departure of their original singer, who'd moved onto a multi-platinum solo career. As a bonus, another of this week's new entries came from a singer who was the original vocalist for a band that found fame after he left.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 5, 1985

A group comprised almost exclusively of vocalists held on to the number 1 spot this week in 1985 - charity ensemble USA For Africa notched up another week on top, while Models moved into the runners-up spot with "Barbados"

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Forever Man" by Eric Clapton
Peak: number 92
The mid-'80s weren't particularly kind to Eric, with this lead single - which was remixed in 2000 - and the accompanying Behind The Sun album flopping. The two backing singers in the clip are apparently Marcella Detroit and Yvonne Elliman.

Number 98 "No Mercy" by The Stranglers
Peak: number 90
Their last chart hit, "Skin Deep", had landed 10 places away from the top of the chart at the start of the year - but this follow-up from the Aural Sculpture album wound up at the exact opposite end of the top 100.

Number 97 "Missing You" by Diana Ross
Peak: number 95
Written and co-produced by Lionel Richie, this was a tribute to the late Marvin Gaye, who'd been shot dead in April 1984. Reaching number 10 in the US, it remains Diana's final top 50 in America. 

Number 88 "My Place" by Guy McDonough
Peak: number 76
Another single with a link to a deceased musician - this time it's the artist himself who'd passed away. The Australian Crawl guitarist and sometime singer had died in June 1984 and this single was taken from his posthumous solo album.

Number 79 "It's Only A Movie" by V Capri
Peak: number 61
For every Real Life and Kids In The Kitchen (who we'll see shortly), there were plenty of other Australian synthpop/New Wave-influenced bands that failed to make the grade. Perth-based V Capri was one of those, with this debut single missing the top 50.

Number 78 "Girlfriend Is Better" by Talking Heads
Peak: number 59
Massive shoulder pads, ahoy! Originally appearing on 1983's Speaking In Tongues album, this release was a live version from the Stop Making Sense concert movie and album.

Number 74 "Don't Come Around Here No More" by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Peak: number 61
Even with the songwriting and production input of Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, and Stevie Nicks and Marilyn Martin on backing vocals, this lead single from Southern Accents was another Tom Petty single to miss the mark in Australia.

New Entries
Number 50 "Wide Boy" by Nik Kershaw
Peak: number 7
For some reason, I always lump Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones together. Well, here's a few reasons - they're both British New Wave artists, both released their debut single in 1983 and both had pretty ridiculous hair. But their ARIA chart careers were actually quite different. While Howard was still to land a top 10 single in Australia, "Wide Boy" became Nik's third, with its number 7 placing following a number 5 ("Wouldn't It Be Good") and a number 6 ("The Riddle") hit. Sadly, the song about an overnight success would also be his last big single locally.

Number 47 "Kiss Me" by Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy
Peak: number 16
Third time was the charm for this song, which Stephen Duffy had recorded twice previously with little success. First time around, "Kiss Me" had been the debut single for Tin Tin, the band he'd formed after leaving Duran Duran - he'd been one of a handful of vocalists before Simon Le Bon was settled upon. Keeping his short-lived band's name as part of his stage name, Stephen re-recorded "Kiss Me" twice - and it was the second of those versions that climbed to number 4 in the UK and made the top 20 in Australia. Two decades later, the song was given a new lease of life when it was covered by Robbie Williams for his Rudebox album - the follow-up to Intensive Care, which had been co-written and co-produced by... Stephen Duffy.

Number 46 "Welcome To The Pleasuredome" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Peak: number 46
After three straight ARIA top 5 singles, FGTH hit a major speed bump in their chart career when the title track of their debut album bombed here at number 46. Even the fact that the single was significantly edited down from the sprawling 13-minute album version wasn't enough for "Welcome To The Pleasuredome" to become the band's fourth consecutive UK number 1 - it was denied the top spot by "Easy Lover" - a sure sign that the British public's love affair with the controversial band was on the wane. On the upside, they did manage to get the word "erect" into a chart hit - thanks to the lyrics' borrowing of Coleridge poem Kubla Khan

Number 44 "Something That You Said" by Kids In The Kitchen
Peak: number 19
Their singles weren't doing quite as well as Frankie Goes to Hollywood's, but Australian synthpop band Kids In The Kitchen managed their own hat-trick with this latest release giving them three top 20 hits in a row. "Something That You Said" arrived a full year after their last chart hit, "Bitter Desire" - and in that time two-fifths of the line-up had changed. With their new guitarist and keyboard player in place, the group got their momentum back and debut album Shine was released a month later in June. 

Number 39 "Nightshift" by Commodores
Peak: number 8
Proving there was life after Lionel Richie, Motown stalwarts Commodores enjoyed their first big hit after their original lead singer went solo with this track - the second song this week dedicated to the late Marvin Gaye. The title track of the group's second album without Lionel, "Nightshift" was also dedicated to another recently deceased soul singer, Jackie Wilson (whose own "Reet Petite" would be re-released around the world in the next couple of years). With Lionel gone, vocals on "Nightshift" were handled by new member JD Nicholas and the band's drummer, Walter Orange, who'd previously performed lead on 1977's "Brick House". Although both single and album charted well globally, "Nightshift" wasn't the start of a new lease of life for the R&B group, who never returned to the ARIA top 100.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1985:

Next week: the British invasion continues with two massive singles from 1985 that still receive copious amounts of play today. Plus, a duet between singers from two Australian bands.

Back to: Apr 28, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 12, 1985


  1. Wow, I had no idea Marcella Detroit (it's definitely her) appeared in that Eric Clapton video.

    Surprised the Diana Ross track was such a flop locally, as it's one I know.

    A friend who is a Stevie Nicks fan recently informed me that 'Don't Come Around...' was written by Dave Stewart after a brief fling with Stevie Nicks. It's quite odd that she should sing back-up on it then, and that Tom, who dueted with her previously, should sing lead vocal.

    I didn't realise for years (some time into the 00's) that Nik Kershaw sang 'Wide Boy', or what it was called, but it's a song I like a lot.

    I didn't hear the Frankie track until tuning in to the on-board radio station on a flight to Hong Kong in '93, around the time when they were re-releasing singles. It's kind of a fitting song to hear for the first time in the sky... perhaps due to the helicopter scenes in the video.

  2. Always thought 'Forever Man' was too similar to 'Layla'.

    I liked the Guy McDonough single, thought it should have gone higher than #76. I always thought he was a better singer than James Reyne, just not as good-looking.

    Wide Boy is just about my favorite Nik Kershaw track. I wonder how semi-autobiographical he meant that song to be. Don't think he had many hits after this one that I recall.

    I liked 'Something That You Said', didn't realise it got to #19. Although their next single was KITK's masterpiece.

    It's not from my favourite genre of music, but Nightshift is a fine song. Didn't realise it got as high as #8, but it deserved to.

    Didn't expect Welcome To The Pleasure Dome to stall where it did given their run of hits they'd had, didn't think it was that bad a song.