Wednesday, 5 August 2015

This Week In 1990: August 5, 1990

This week in 1985, the highest new entry on the ARIA top 50 singles chart was soundtrack hit "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" by Tina Turner. And five years later, the movie tie-in single was alive and well, with two of the week's newcomers appearing in films.

Turtle Power wasn't enough to send this soundtrack single into the top 10

Despite sharing that trait in common, the two records couldn't have been more different in all other respects - one was a subtle instrumental from a foreign film while the other was an ultra-commercial rap song from a cartoon-to-big screen adaptation.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending August 5, 1990

It was a good time for rap this week in 1990. As well as the aforementioned soundtrack release, a second hip-hop track debuted on the top 50 and would go all the way to number 1 - a position held this week by MC Hammer with "U Can't Touch This", which registered its third week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Jealous Again" by The Black Crowes
Peak: number 96
Their brand of Southern American rock would take a couple of years to catch on, with the debut single from the Georgia band getting no higher than this debut position.

Number 95 "Lately" by No Justice
Peak: number 91
Appearing in Pugwall's Summer, the second season of kids' TV series Pugwall, this was the only top 100 appearance from the Melbourne trio signed to Molly Meldrum's Melodian label. Still, that's one more than The Orange Organics managed.

Number 88 "The Other Side" by Aerosmith
Peak: number 73
This fourth single from Pump would have been otherwise unremarkable were it not for the fact that Motown hitmakers Holland-Dozier-Holland ended up with a songwriting credit since "The Other Side" sounds awfully similar to "Standing In The Shadows Of Love".

"Sittin' In The Lap Of Luxury" by Louie Louie
Peak: number 51
One of a handful of songs I still own on 7" single, having never found it on iTunes or CD single, "Sittin' In The Lap Of Luxury" was the only major US hit for the singer born Louis Cordero - and was one of many singles in 1990 that received a little help up the ARIA top 100 thanks to American Top 40, which had started broadcasting in Australia by this point. Like plenty of tracks to feature on AT40 that we'll see in the weeks and months to come, it faltered just short of the top 50, but would likely not even have got that far without that exposure - in Sydney, AT40 aired in the prime slot of Sunday afternoon/evening alongside our own Take 40 Australia. Things I didn't know about "Sittin'..." until now: 1) Michael Bay directed the video. 2) Louis played Madonna's pissed off boyfriend in the clip for "Borderline"

New Entries
Number 48 "Walk On Fire" by Shane Howard
Peak: number 48
His former band, Goanna, had struggled to ever release anything as big as classic Aussie song "Solid Rock", with their next best effort the number 36 placing of follow-up "Razor's Edge". So too would singer Shane Howard find the charts tough going with this lead single from second solo album The River peaking right here at number 48. Not an altogether terrible song, "Walk On Fire" was reasonably commercial in a Black Sorrows kind of way - but then it wasn't terribly memorable, either.

Number 47 "Bust A Move" by Young MC
Peak: number 1
Making its long-overdue appearance on the top 50 is this Grammy-winning single first released in the US in May 1989 and in Australia at some point that year. Re-promoted in the wake of follow-up "Principal's Office" making a fleeting visit to the top 50 back in May, "Bust A Move" made more of an impression this time around - slowly but surely jumping up the chart until it finally reached number 1 late in October. 
As you'd expect, the rap single was heavily sample-based, with the main hook taken from "Found A Child" by Ballin' Jack (listen out at the 1:46 mark) and drum patterns lifted from a variety of other tracks (including a Bette Midler song of all places). And yes, that is Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers playing bass in the video at the 2:00 mark. 
Those musical components were all - no pun intended - instrumental in the success of "Bust A Move". But probably the main reason the track became such a hit here in Australia, where there was pretty much zero hip-hop culture to speak of in 1990, was thanks to its incredibly quotable lyrics. To this day, I can recall whole chunks of the rap - and I imagine that's true for anyone who was a teenager in 1990.

Number 45 "Lily Was Here" by David A Stewart featuring Candy Dulfer
Peak: number 10
A couple of weeks ago on my 1985 recap when we saw the debut of Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F", I commented that there weren't very many truly instrumental chart hits - and here to prove my point is what I'm pretty sure was the next single without any vocals after "Axel F" to reach the top 10. I'm not including Yello's "Oh Yeah" or "Infinity..." by Guru Josh since they have some form of vocal - but someone let me know if I've forgotten anything. 
Anyway, this atmospheric guitar and saxaphone duet was also taken from a film - but unlike Beverly Hills Cop, it's not a movie very many Australians will have seen (myself included). Retitled Lily Was Here for the English-language market, Dutch drama De Kassiรจre featured a soundtrack by Dave Stewart, who went by his full name as a solo artist and had time for such enterprises with Eurythmics on hiatus.
On this title track, Dave employed the talents of hitherto unknown Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer, who used the appearance as a launchpad for an enduring career of her own - in recent years, she's served as a judge on the Dutch version of The X Factor. Not surprisingly, this was Candy's only ARIA top 50 appearance, but as it turned out, it would also be Dave's only hit single away from Eurythmics, making them both one-hit wonders.

Number 37 "Close To You" by Maxi Priest
Peak: number 2
He'd made his name in the '80s with a couple of cover versions - reaching number 12 in the UK with a remake of "Some Guys Have All The Luck" in 1987, and hitting the UK and Australian top 10s with his take on Cat Stevens' "Wild World" the following year. But funnily enough, the biggest single by the reggae performer born Max Elliott was one he actually co-wrote. Sounding more than a little influenced by Soul II Soul, "Close To You" fell just short of topping the Australian chart, held at bay for three weeks by Jon Bon Jovi's "Blaze Of Glory", which we're yet to see debut. It was a different story in the US, where the song went all the way to number 1. We wouldn't see Maxi in the ARIA top 50 for another six years, but when we did, it would be with his third top 10 hit. If nothing else, he was consistent.

Number 24 "Turtle Power" by Partners In Kryme
Peak: number 15
Our second soundtrack hit and rap song to debut this week was always going to be big - and looking back, I'm actually surprised this song from the film adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn't do any better. Not because it's a good song - far from it - but because TMNT were so massive at this point that anything relating to the heroes in a half-shell was generally a must-have item for their legions of fans. 
A four-week number 1 single in the UK, "Turtle Power" was the handiwork of James Alpern and Richard Usher, who seemingly disappeared from the face of the Earth as quickly as they found fame. That said, it was always going to be difficult to establish a credible career after what is essentially a novelty record with lyrics explaining in some detail the plot of the movie. 

Number 23 "She Ain't Worth It" by Glenn Medeiros featuring Bobby Brown
Peak: number 8
This must've been the last thing anyone saw coming. Famed for his slush-fest cover of George Benson album track "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" from 1987 (which reached its number 10 peak in Australia in March 1988), Hawaiian teen star Glenn Medeiros was about as cheesy and clean cut as pop acts get. But when his debut self-titled album and its follow-up, Not Me, yielded no further hits, it was time for a career reinvention. 
Who better to add some much-needed cred to Glenn's squeaky clean image than the bad boy of R&B, Bobby Brown? With its new jack swing-lite production and a guest rap from Bobby, "She Ain't Worth It" made Glenn seem (relatively) cool - a perception that was maintained by showing as little of his dancing in the music video as possible. 
The overhaul worked and "She Ain't Worth It" went on to spend four straight weeks at number 8 in Australia and top the US chart. Sadly, Glenn's renewed success didn't last and the "Grease"-sounding follow-up, "All I'm Missing Is You" (which I also liked), bombed, making him a two-hit wonder in Australia.

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

Next week: the arrival of one of the '90s most successful female singers and the follow-up to the biggest hit of the year. Plus, three local acts disappoint with their latest releases.

Back to: Jul 29, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 12, 1990


  1. The No Justice track was a staple on the Summer Bay Diner jukebox for a while in 1990-1, and they even appeared on the first episode of 'Home and Away' in 1991 performing it. Of course, by then it was far too late for any spillover to the charts. The band contained 'Chook' from Countdown Revolution. I didn't know about (or had forgotten) the Pugwall tie-in. I was friends with the author of the series' nephew at high school, who told me that the Pugwall album sold something like only 90 copies in Victoria.

    I liked 'The Other Side', but don't think I ever saw the video.

    I first heard the Louie Louie track (and the Aerosmith & No Justice ones) on Triple M's Top 8 at 8. American Top 40 had been airing in Victoria since at least 1988 (when I first tuned in); though it aired on Sunday night from 6 or 7. I have wondered if the "gigolos, they get lonely too" (from memory) line was the male equivalent of naughty girls need love too?

    The Shane Howard single might've done better if it was released a year or two earlier.

    'Bust a Move' got at least a few spins on Countdown Revolution in 1989, and I thought it would have become a hit then. When it entered the top 50 this week in 1990, it seemed completely out of the blue - I don't think I was aware that it had been re-released until that point. Never heard the track it samples until now.

    808 State's 'Pacific 707' was another instrumental that charted in between 'Axel F' and 'Lily Was Here'; albeit not within the top 10 (or 50). I like 'Lily Was Here', and wanted to see the movie from which several clips appear in the video, but haven't to date. I think I saw it announced on SBS around that time, but missed it. 'Lily Was Here' seemed to take an awfully long time to crack the top 50; I think I first heard it back in May.

    Maxi Priest was one of those artists who either had a massive hit or a flop in Australia, with nothing in between. There was a second (or maybe it was the first) video made for 'Close To You', too, I discovered a year or two ago: .

    I was really surprised that 'Turtle Power' made it to #1 in the UK. As the singer from Grinspoon pointed out when programming rage a couple of years ago, the lyrics mistakenly credit Raphael as the leader of the group when it was actually Leonardo.

    The Glenn Medeiros single was curiously missing from the ARIA top 100 highest-selling singles of 1990, if I remember correctly; despite charting similarly or higher most weeks than the single I won't name from the female artist arriving next week (which made it).

    1. Well, I'm glad you haven't come up with a really obvious top 10 instrumental track from during the five years between Axel F and Lily Was Here. I haven't had time to go through every chart but I genuinely can't think of anything I might have missed.

      Yes, I nearly mentioned the Leonardo/Raphael thing - but since I was never a fan of TMNT, I was only aware of it from reading it on Wikipedia and didn't just want to copy the entire entry! Funny for the guy from Grinspoon to reference it.

  2. The only other instrumental that I know of to reach the top 50 between Axel F and Lily was Here was Kenny G's Songbird. I can remember listening to it on Take 40 Australia back in 1987. The Australian Music Report has it's highest position around the 70 mark though.

    David A Stewart did have another minor hit here in Australia, but not until 1991 with his song 'Jack Talking' that he did with his Spiritual Cowboys. It only got as high as 57 though.


    1. Aah yes, Kenny G - I had forgotten that, but as you say not a top 10 hit.

      And yeah, I mentioned "Jack Talking" on my one-hit wonders post as his next best effort. Since it's outside the top 50 I'm not counting it as a "hit", though.

    2. M/A/R/R/S's 'Pump Up the Volume' was kind of an 'instrumental' top 10 hit... well, if you ignore the spoken word samples.

    3. Finn - I didn't start listening to Take 40 Australia until April/May 1988, but they definitely used a different chart to ARIA (and AMR... I'm not sure what it was based on) in 1988, and from your posts, in 1987 too by the sounds of it.

    4. Nah, "Pump Up The Volume" doesn't count.

    5. I've worked out over the years that Take 40 Australia used a different chart altogether. Being the nerd I am, I used to listen to the whole chart and write all the songs down. Of course sometimes I wouldn't quite get the titles or the artists name correct and as I couldn't rewind the radio, so now I get a laugh at some of my attempts. I had Kenny G's song enter the Take 40 countdown at position 39, and had the artist name as 'Jenny Jean'. The date was 13/12/1987 and that was the only week it was in the chart according to my records. I had started recording the chart in this way only a month or two earlier.

      On the subject of instrumentals, I've often wondered if the song 'Aria on Air' by the World Famous Supreme Team (Malcolm McLaren) would be classified as instrumental or not. It wasn't in the charts until 1991 and was part of a double a side single which had 'Operaa House' as the main song. Couldn't stand 'Operaa House', but always loved 'Aria on Air'. The song did have an opera singer sampled in the song, but as the sample didn't have words in it but just the singers voice, could that be categorised as an instrumental. Thoughts anyone??


    6. Of course it could simply me being ignorant and not hearing words from the opera singer sample as I'm not well versed in opera type music.


    7. I wouldn't count "Aria On Air" as an instrumental - there's definitely a vocal in there, even if I also have no idea what the lyrics are.

    8. Finn, I could be wrong (or just a naive then-12 year-old), but I thought the woman on the 'Operaa House' track, Mona Lisa Young, did both the rap *and* the operatic stuff. The lyrics of the song certainly suggest it (with her rapping to the 'kid' about how difficult it is to sing opera.. "you're from the ghetto, I sing librettos wearing stilettos"). I also remember an article (maybe a review) on it in either Smash Hits or Hit Songwriters where the writer said that Mona Lisa Young must have one of the most diverse voices, doing both the rap and the opera.

  3. Gavin, you may be aware there is a western Sydney community station that plays an 80's AT40 (Casey Kasem only) every Saturday arvo. Anyway, last weekend when Casey was reading out some of the stations that took the show, he mentioned 2UW Sydney Australia.The show was from 1980, so AT40 has been heard on Australian radio on & off going back to at least 1980.


    1. I didn't know that - very interesting, I wonder whether it was off air for long before it shifted to 2Day FM in the late 80s/early 90s,