Wednesday, 29 March 2017

This Week In 1992: March 29, 1992

Fifteen. That's how many songs we have ahead of us in this week's flashback to the ARIA singles chart from 1992. OK, 13 songs and two EPs if you want to get picky!

A number 2, a number 3, a number 4 and a number 5 - but which is which?

Not all of them were big hits, but four made the top 5. And although none reached the very top of the chart, one of the songs would out-sell all but one of 1992's number 1 singles...

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending March 29, 1992

...including the song that was spending its fourth and final week on top: "Saltwater" by Julian Lennon. Let's get on with all the new songs, shall we?

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Bitch School" by Spinal Tap
Peak: number 97
Spinal Tap were back in 1992 with all sorts of promotional activity around the Break Like The Wind album, but neither it nor this single fared very well in Australia.

Number 92 "Chic Mystique" by Chic
Peak: number 82
They'd defined disco in the late '70s and early '80s, but the band led by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers didn't have any more chart good times with comeback album Chic-ism

Number 84 "Tasty Fish" by The Other Two
Peak: number 84
While Bernard Sumner was making music with Electronic and Peter Hook was doing the same with Revenge, the other two members of New Order, husband and wife Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert, made sweet synthpop on their own. 

Number 81 Loose by Nick Barker & The Reptiles
Peak: number 81
Featuring lead track "Out In The Open", this EP marked the end of the road for Nick Barker & The Reptiles, who were dissolved the following year.

Number 77 "Hard To Handle" by The Commitments
Peak: number 77
Included on the movie's second soundtrack album, The Commitments' version of Otis Redding's 1968 posthumous single peaked two places higher than The Black Crowes' remake had in 1991.

Number 76 "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" by Naughty By Nature
Peak: number 76
Based around a sample from the Boney M version of "No Woman No Cry", this jaunty follow-up to "O.P.P." progressed no further than this debut position.

"Love Thing" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 62
In today's flashback to 1987, we saw Tina Turner rally after her previous ballad single had been a flop around Christmas 1986. Five years later, exactly the same thing happened. Released in December 1991, "Way Of The World" had completely missed the top 100, but Tina was back in the chart with the rockier "Love Thing", the third new song lifted from her Simply The Best retrospective. I have to say, "Love Thing" was no "What You Get Is What You See" - it was a fairly forgettable song that did well to get this high.

New Entries
Number 45 "Insanity" by Oceanic
Peak: number 31
Better late than never. The debut single by British dance act Oceanic had debuted on the UK chart back in August 1991 and finally found its way into our own top 50 some seven months later. A number 3 smash back home, "Insanity" just missed the ARIA top 30 but did hang around until June. None of Oceanic's subsequent singles, including UK hits "Wicked Love" and "Controlling Me", troubled our top 100. In any other week, I might have more to say about "Insanity", but given the big hits still to come, I best get on with it...

Number 42 Dream Alone by Killing Time
Peak: number 23
They might have been enjoying a top 50 hit for the first time, but Killing Time's days were numbered. Within months, they'd have changed their name to Mantissa due to conflict with overseas bands also called Killing Time. That issue aside, things were looking up for the Australian rock band as the Dream Alone EP took them into the top 30. Despite being the second song on the four-track EP and getting second billing on the front cover, "Dream Alone" got the most airplay and had a video that I no doubt fast forwarded through while watching the rage countdown. 

Number 40 "Baby Love" by Dannii
Peak: number 26
Remaking "Jump To The Beat" had turned out to be a good move for Dannii Minogue. The single turned things around for her on both the UK and, to a lesser extent, the Australian chart, so why not repeat the trick and raid the '80s for another dance/pop track? Originally released by Regina in 1986, "Baby Love" was co-written and produced by Madonna collaborator Stephen Bray - and almost sounded like it could've been recorded by Madge herself. Dannii gave the song a '90s spin - well, in-demand remixer Steve "Silk" Hurley" did - and it became her second biggest hit in Australia to date.

Number 39 "Coloured Kisses" by Martika
Peak: number 39
While Dannii was on the way back up, fellow pop star Martika was on the way out, with this third single from Martika's Kitchen proving to be her final top 50 appearance in Australia. It was also her least successful top 50 hit, although "Water" had tanked even harder, limping to number 98 in 1990. Produced by Clivillés & Cole, "Coloured Kisses" was a good pop tune, but after the career-changing "Love... Thy Will Be Done" and the novelty factor of "Martika's Kitchen", it lacked that certain something to make it stand out from the crowd. A fourth single, "Safe In The Arms Of Love", was released in Europe, but this was it for Martika as far as Australia was concerned.

Number 34 "November Rain" by Guns n' Roses
Peak: number 5
The first of this week's four big hits was the latest from Guns n' Roses - a song that would go on to be considered as their magnum opus and wind up as the second highest-selling single of 1992 (and the 26th biggest of 1993) despite only reaching number 5. In fact, "November Rain" actually peaked at number 21 in its initial chart run, before disappearing for four months between May and September. When the nine-minute rock ballad returned, it quickly became a permanent fixture in the upper reaches of the chart, ultimately spending 24 weeks in the top 10. 
What brought it back? Oh, just one of the most expensive music videos ever made. The epic clip for "November Rain" featured singer Axl Rose getting married to his then-girlfriend, model Stephanie Seymour, and then attending her funeral. It was the second part of a trilogy of videos - starting with "Don't Cry" and ending with "Estranged". Fun facts: the song is the longest (in terms of running time) top 10 hit in the US (and presumably in Australia as well) and boasts the longest guitar solo.

Number 30 "Stay" by Shakespears Sister
Peak: number 3
Here's another song with an iconic video - one in which Marcella Detroit represented life and Siobhan Fahey played death as they tussled over a bed-ridden, shirtless hunk. Directed by Sophie Muller, the clip for "Stay" was a huge part of the song's success, especially the bit where a demented, Joker-like Siobhan comes strutting down the stairs as the song really kicks in. One of those songs that was so different to everything else on the chart, it was always going to be massive, "Stay" gave the duo their biggest hit. In the UK, Shakespears Sister also achieved something Bananarama never managed there: a number 1 (for eight weeks).

Number 28 "Way Out West" by James Blundell / James Reyne
Peak: number 2
In recent years, John Williamson had single handedly represented Australian country music on the top 50 - and won himself three ARIA awards in the process. In 1991, it was young whippersnapper James Blundell who won the ARIA for his second album, Hand It Down, but he only spent a single week on the albums top 50. Outside the country world, most people would've had no idea who he was. That all changed when he teamed up with another James: Australian Crawl singer James Reyne, who'd been doing quite nicely with his solo career. The pair recorded a version of "Way Out West", originally released in 1973 by The Dingoes as their debut single. Not only did it raise James Blundell's profile considerably, but it was actually the biggest hit James Reyne ever achieved away from his former band.

Number 4 "One" by U2
Peak: number 4
Having shown off their transformed sound with their previous two hits, U2 released a song more in-keeping with their '80s work as the third single from Achtung Baby. And "One" is cited as the song that kept the band intact when dissension about their new direction threatened to tear them apart during recording sessions for the album. A heartfelt ballad which Bono has said is a father-and-son story, "One" continued the band's streak of debuting in the top 5, although it would get no further than this first-week position. Three videos exist for the song - the initial running buffalo videothe actual Anton Corbjin video featuring the band members in drag, and the third and final version below, which is mis-labelled as the one shot by Anton.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:

Next week: the flood of new entries continues with another seven debuts, including the first solo single from the frontwoman of an incredibly successful '80s duo and two instant top 10 hits from bands that'd taken their time to get going in Australia.

Back to: Mar 22, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 5, 1992

This Week In 1987: March 29, 1987

It didn't have a proper music video. It was performed by a model discovered in a night club. It had some pretty dodgy lyrics. It was one of the biggest hits of 1987.

Paul's audition for Darth Maul didn't go as he'd hoped

This week in 1987, the song that would open the floodgates for a wave of Hi-NRG club hits debuted on the ARIA chart. In three weeks' time, it had catapulted up the top 50 to land at number 1, where it would stay for five weeks. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending March 29, 1987

Before that happened, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) by Aretha Franklin and George Michael wasn't quite finished with the number 1 spot. This week in 1987, the duet remained on top for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Someday" by Glass Tiger
Peak: number 97
I wonder if this song - the Canadian band's other US top 10 hit - would've done any better if released straight after "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)". I liked it, even if no one else did.

Number 97 "At First Sight" by The Stems
Peak: number 90
The Stems' first single through its deal with Mushroom Records made a slight improvement on the chart peak of "Tears Me In Two", but the Perth band still couldn't quite break through.

Single Of The Week
"Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" by Genesis
Peak: number 93
Before they went all pop, this is the sort of song Genesis used to make - long, overblown and ultra-serious. On the Invisible Touch album, "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" clocked in at just under nine minutes. For its release as the fourth single, the track was edited right back to four-and-a-half-minutes, but it didn't lose any of its heavy tone, which might explain why it didn't do so well in Australia. That and the fact the album had only just dropped out of the top 25 after nine months on sale.

New Entries
Number 49 "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" by Paul Lekakis
Peak: number 1
1987 just wouldn't have been the same without "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)", a cheeky Hi-NRG floor-filler that seemed to come from nowhere and hog the number 1 spot for just over a month. The track was the debut single for American model Paul Lekakis, who was spotted in an Italian nightclub, no doubt thrusting and showing off his, er, assets like he did in the TV performance that served as a de facto music video. Subtle, it was not, but its audacity - along with its simplicity and catchiness - was part of the appeal. 
Sadly for Paul, the runaway success of "Boom Boom..." didn't lead to more chart success and he became the very definition of a one-hit wonder, despite subsequently working with Stock Aitken Waterman on the unreleased-for-decades "Fruit Machine". In the '90s, things became quite dire as Paul turned to prostitution, and battled drug and alcohol problems. These days, however, he's got it together and still wheels out "Boom Boom...", including on a visit to Australia last year as part of the Totally 80s tour.

Number 48 "It Didn't Matter" by The Style Council
Peak: number 48
Sometimes diverging from a proven formula pays off for a band (see: U2, Depeche Mode); sometimes it doesn't. For The Style Council, who were known for their soul-influenced sound, the shift to encompass more of a dance and '80s R&B vibe was jarring for some. Clearly taking a leaf out of the Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis playbook, "It Didn't Matter" did return the band to the UK top 10 but only just sneaked into the ARIA top 50 - the last time they'd be seen there.

Number 42 "What You Get Is What You See" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 15
We'd last seen Tina Turner on the chart with "Typical Male", the lead single from Break Every Rule, but there'd been another song released between that and "What You Get Is What You See". Seemingly lost in the Christmas period, ballad "Two People" had missed the ARIA top 100 completely. Tina got things back on track with "What You Get Is What You See", a rollicking good time of a song that featured Eric Clapton on guitar. Her biggest hit since topping the chart in 1985 with "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)", "What You Get..." would almost become a hit all over again in 1989 when it was used to advertise rugby league.

Number 41 "Somewhere Out There" by Linda Ronstadt / James Ingram
Peak: number 31
Singers had been teaming up to perform big ballads from live-action movies all decade, but this duet from An American Tail was the first (that I can remember) of a long line of cartoon collaborations. The heartfelt ballad was performed by Linda Ronstadt (biggest hit to date: "Blue Bayou", number 3 in 1978) and James Ingram (biggest hit to date: "Baby, Come To Me" with Patti Austin, number 38 in 1983), and written by future Titanic score composer James Horner with legendary songwriting team Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Even all these years later, I still get all emotional listening to the song, which won two Grammys and reached number 2 in the US - especially at the pre-chorus bit where Linda belts out, "It helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky." I'm still surprised this didn't do better in Australia.

Number 33 "It's In The Way That You Use It" by Eric Clapton
Peak: number 24
A very different soundtrack hit now from a man who hadn't been seen on the top 50 in eight years. Taken from the Paul Newman/Tom Cruise pool hustler film, The Color Of Money, "It's In The Way That You Use It" was also included on August, Eric's most successful album in years. Surprisingly, the song wasn't a hit in the US or the UK, but in general, things were looking up for Eric after a troubled - musically and personally - start to the decade. The '90s would bring even more success.

Number 29 "Don't Need A Gun" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 22
Next up, a male performer who'd had no shortage of success so far in the '80s. The follow-up to his biggest hit, "To Be A Lover", "Don't Need A Gun" is a song I rarely listen to (despite owning a Billy Idol greatest hits album) but it pretty much ticks all the boxes. Snarly, raspy vocals from Billy? Tick. Synth-rock production courtesy of Keith Forsey? Tick. Steve Stevens on guitar? Tick. It also contains the lyric that provided Billy's then-current album, Whiplash Smile, with its title and, overall, has actually aged pretty well.

Number 28 "A Touch Of Paradise" by John Farnham
Peak: number 24
Given Whispering Jack had been firmly ensconced in the top 5 since October - mostly at number 1 - it's pretty impressive that third single "A Touch Of Paradise" did as well as it did on the ARIA chart. A change of pace after "You're The Voice" and "Pressure Down", "A Touch Of Paradise" had first appeared on Mondo Rock's 1982 album, Nuovo Mondo, but not been released as a single. Chosen for inclusion on Whispering Jack, John's remake was a clear choice for single release. As a bonus, the B-side of the single was a live version of "Help!", The Beatles' classic that John had previously covered and taken into the top 10 in 1980.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1987:

Next week: "Boom Boom..." is joined on the chart by another sleazy dance smash, while the lead singers of two chart-topping bands make their solo debuts.

Back to: Mar 22, 1987 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 5, 1987

Saturday, 25 March 2017

This Week In 1984: March 25, 1984

One song can change everything. There you'll be, plodding along releasing moderately successful records and then one of your singles explodes. Suddenly, you're one of the hottest properties in the world and everyone wants more of the same, thank you very much.

No twins, no Thompsons. This trio was named after a pair of comic book characters

That's what happened to the band that debuted with the first single from their fourth album this week in 1984. The song hit top 5s around the world, including in Australia. The pressure was soon on to repeat the trick.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending March 25, 1984

Cyndi Lauper had recently found herself as one of the world's biggest music stars thanks to the runaway success of debut single "Girls Just Want To Have Fun". This week, it started a two-week run at number 1 on the ARIA chart.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Think Of Laura" by Christopher Cross
Peak: number 100
It became associated with General Hospital supercouple Luke and Laura, but this gentle ballad from the Oscar-winning singer/songwriter was actually a tribute to a murdered student.

Number 98 "(Livin' In) Desperate Times" by Olivia Newton-John
Peak: number 81
Another dramatic synth-based tune taken from the Two Of A Kind soundtrack, "...Desperate Times" didn't get the reception "Twist Of Fate" had enjoyed, but it's not bad at all.

Number 95 "Speed Your Love To Me" by Simple Minds
Peak: number 76
Here's another act failing to follow a chart hit ("Waterfront") with another success. An extended version of this Sparkle In The Rain single has been used as the closing theme for rage since 1987.

Number 86 "This Woman" by Kenny Rogers
Peak: number 86
"Islands In The Stream" was still in the top 10, but this solo follow-up didn't perform anywhere near as well, despite the involvement once again of Barry and Maurice Gibb.

Number 74 "Too Low For Zero" by Elton John
Peak: number 52
It wasn't a great week for big-name acts, was it? Although, in the case of Elton John, he'd already enjoyed four hits from Too Low For Zero, so the title track was never going to do any better.

Number 69 "I Am What I Am" by Gloria Gaynor
Peak: number 69
1984 really was the year of the gay anthem. Two weeks after Miquel Brown and Eartha Kitt made the top 100, Gloria Gaynor's first chart appearance since "I Will Survive" did the same.

Number 64 "The Edge" by Flaming Hands
Peak: number 64
Releasing singles since 1980, Sydney's Flaming Hands reached the top 100 for the first - and last - time with this track featuring INXS's Garry Gary Beers and Andrew Farriss, who also co-produced it.

New Entries
Number 44 "Girl On The Wall" by Jane Clifton
Peak: number 13
This might be Jane Clifton's only chart single under her own name, but the multi-talented performer had no shortage of balls in the air as she juggled a career in acting, radio and music throughout the '70s and '80s. "Girl On The Wall" came out during Jane's final year playing Margo on Prisoner and was produced by Joe Camilleri, with whom she'd performed on her only other chart appearance - as featured vocalist on "Taxi Mary" by Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons (number 11 in 1982). Given the success of "Girl On The Wall", it's no surprise to discover Jane did release further solo singles. but follow-ups "My Machines" and "Turn To Dust" just weren't up to the same standard.

Number 40 "Beast Of Burden" by Bette Midler
Peak: number 12
Here's another female singer with a diversified career, but unlike Jane Clifton, singer/actress Bette Midler had already registered a number of hits in Australia. Although not recently. The Divine Miss M hadn't had a big single since 1980's "The Rose" and the previous two tracks lifted from her No Frills album, "All I Need To Know" and "Favorite Waste Of Time", would end up being way more successful when covered by other artists - the former as "Don't Know Much"
Funnily enough, it was a remake which turned things around for Bette. Her cover of The Rolling Stones' "Beast Of Burden" (a top 100 miss if it was released in Australia in 1978) spent four weeks at number 12. Having previously scored with a boogie-woogie number, two disco tracks and a big ballad, "Beast Of Burden" saw Bette in rock chick mode, starring alongside the song's original performer, Mick Jagger, in the memorable music video.

Number 37 "Hold Me Now" by Thompson Twins
Peak: number 3
In Australia, Thompson Twins had only ventured into the top 50 once so far, reaching number 27 with 1983's "Lies", a shouty, kind of annoying synthpop track. Follow-ups "Love On Your Side" and "We Are Detective", although unsuccessful locally, had both reached the UK top 10, suggesting the trio were a band on the rise, even if they still sounded fairly niche musically. Then along came "Hold Me Now", which arose out of an argument between band members (and lovers) Tom and Alannah Currie. 
The crowd-pleasing love song almost felt like it came from a different band altogether, except for the presence of lead singer Tom Bailey's plaintive vocal. With its lush production and sing-along chorus, "Hold Me Now" was only ever going to be massive, and it not only took Thompson Twins into the UK top 5 for the first time, but also reached number 3 in Australia and the US. Did the trio, who were named after the detective characters in The Adventures Of Tin Tin and were at one time a seven-piece band, have more international mega-hits up their sleeve? Time would tell...

Number 36 "Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 7
The UK might have been right on board with Thompson Twins for ages, but they were still to embrace Billy Idol in the way Australia had. Except for the chart blip that was the re-release of "Dancing With Myself", Billy had done pretty well locally - and "Rebel Yell" became his third big hit here. In keeping with his rock'n'roll form, the song and the identically titled album were inspired by an event Billy attended at which members of The Rolling Stones were drinking Rebel Yell bourbon whiskey. "Rebel Yell" was written by Billy with guitarist Steve Stevens, who debuted a ray gun sound effect during his solo on the track. The song would eventually become a hit in the UK, but not until September 1985, when it was reissued following a re-release of "White Wedding". Talk about slow on the uptake.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:

Next week: a big debut from a foreign-language song that was released with a re-recorded English version. Plus, a huge Australian band follow up their recent chart-topper, while a former chart-topping band from New Zealand score one last hit single.

Back to: Mar 18, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 1, 1984

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

This Week In 1992: March 22, 1992

The ARIA chart loved a makeover. Since its debut in 1983, the top 50 printout had been through four major format changes, with a few tweaks here and there along the way. This week in 1992, a fifth look made it national debut, having been trialled in at least one state already.

So. Much. Hair.

The singles and albums top 50s were back on the same side of the chart for the first time since mid-1986, and the respective state listings could be found on the other side - the first time a full regional top 50 had been included. Big news, huh? Meanwhile, a new Aussie male singer with a mane of hair debuted with what would turn out to be a big hit song.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending March 22, 1992

The biggest hit song in the country this week in 1992 was still Julian Lennon's "Saltwater", which enjoyed a third week at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Heart Of Soul" by The Cult
Peak: number 92
"Wild Hearted Son" had returned them to the top 30, but the next single from Ceremony, while boasting another big chorus, made a more modest impact for Brit rockers The Cult.

Number 95 "Get The Funk Out" by Extreme
Peak: number 95
Would Australia's enthusiasm for Extreme extend to a single that actually pre-dated "More Than Words" and "Hole Hearted"? In short: no. Although it made sense to give it a try. 

Number 94 "Visions Of You" by Jah Wobble's Invaders Of The Heart
Peak: number 94
The first UK top 40 hit for the artist otherwise known as John Wardle no doubt received a boost from the appearance of Sinéad O'Connor on guest vocals.

Number 87 "Cruel" by Public Image Ltd.
Peak: number 87
The band Jah Wobble was once the bass player for returned to the top 100 for the first time in six years with this lead single from That What Is Not. It would be PiL's last album for 20 years.

Number 80 "Friendship" by Sabrina Johnston
Peak: number 64
"Peace", "Friendship"... Sabrina Johnston was all about positivity, wasn't she? I'm more shocked by her bike shorts in the video three years after Yazz and Collette than this song's chart failure.

Where The Wild Things Are by Hard-Ons & The Celibate Rifles
Peak: number 51
Hard-Ons' previous top 100 appearance had been in collaboration with Henry Rollins and here they were again on the chart alongside another act. The difference was that instead of performing on the same track with The Celibate Rifles, the two bands contributed two songs each to EP Where The Wild Things Are. From Hard-Ons, we got the minute-and-a-half blast of punk pop "Sorry" and "Lose It"; from The Celibate Rifles, it was the slightly longer and grungier "5 Lamps" as well as "Electric Flowers". This was the closest either band would come to a hit single.

New Entries
Number 41 "Not A Day Goes By" by Rick Price
Peak: number 5
This might have been the debut single by Rick Price, but we'd already been hearing his voice for a number of years. In 1988, he performed the official bicentennial theme song, "Celebration Of A Nation" (a duet with future Euphora vocalist Keren Minshull), and also appeared as part of the ensemble on charity single "You're Not Alone". A year later, he provided vocals for a Home And Away storyline that involved characters Lance, Martin and Marilyn recording a single. 
Having finally landed his own record deal, Rick was the latest addition to the John Farnham/Southern Sons school of long haired soft rock balladeers. "Not A Day Goes By" quickly became an FM radio staple, sending the track into the top 5 and establishing Rick as one of 1992's biggest new local artists. And as we'll see, it didn't end there...

Number 34 "You Showed Me" by Salt 'n' Pepa
Peak: number 24
The last time Salt 'n' Pepa reinterpreted a song from the '60s - The Beatles' "Twist And Shout" - it hadn't taken off here. But the rap trio were coming off a number 1 hit single and a somewhat premature (but pretty successful) greatest hits album when their version of The Turtles' "You Showed Me" was released. Having first appeared on their Black's Magic album, the song was radically remixed by Ben Liebrand, who'd transformed their previous two hits, although an alternate mix closer in sound to the album version also did the rounds.

Number 19 "Human Touch" by Bruce Springsteen
Peak: number 17
With Guns 'n Roses proving it was possible to release two albums at once and have them both do well, it opened the door for other acts to do the same thing. Enter Bruce Springsteen with Human Touch and Lucky Town, which, like the Use Your Illusions albums, were released on the same day and would both enter the top 10 in a few weeks' time. It hadn't been his intention to release two albums, but he ended up with another album's worth of songs while he was trying to complete Human TouchThe first single released from the pair was the title track of Human Touch and despite another five songs being lifted from the albums, it was the only one to reach the top 50.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:

Next week: four massive downtempo top 10 hits - the latest from the biggest band in the world, a long-running UK chart-topper, a duet between two guys with the same first name and the song that'd wind up as 1992's second highest-selling single. Joining them were another four new entries!

Back to: Mar 15, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 29, 1992

This Week In 1987: March 22, 1987

As well as being a big year in music, 1987 saw significant developments in music TV in Australia. While Countdown was just months away from airing its final episode, Video Hits had recently started on Channel 10, and rage and MTV were about to launch.

The song that would define three decades of late-night music TV viewing

This week in 1987, a song that would end up being used as the theme song for one of the new music shows made its debut on the ARIA singles chart. It was also the first major hit for an artist who'd only recently broken into the top 50 for the first time in his lengthy career.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending March 22, 1987

Two artists who'd had no shortage of hits in their careers were together at number 1 this week in 1987. Aretha Franklin and George Michael jumped to the top with "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)", which would spend four weeks there.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Over The Hills And Far Away" by Gary Moore
Peak: number 94
The Wild Frontier album would finally provide Gary Moore with his long-awaited solo hit in Australia, but it wasn't with this Celtic-sounding lead single.

Number 98 "Don't Walk" by Big Supreme
Peak: number 79
British band Big Supreme never really got off the ground here or at home despite releasing great pop singles like this and follow-up "Please Yourself".

Number 89 "Victory" by Kool & The Gang
Peak: number 89
After a decade-and-a-half of releasing fantastic funk singles, Kool & The Gang finally landed a big hit in 1985... with a ballad. It was back to the chart doldrums with this lead single from Victory

Also this week, "Blue Monday" by New Order returned to the top 100, no doubt thanks to the runaway success of "Bizarre Love Triangle". It added nine more weeks to its tally, but didn't get any higher than number 69 this time around.

"My Baby" by The Pretenders
Peak: number 56
Over the years, Australian record companies have often found themselves with a choice of what to release locally - the US single or the UK single. In the case of The Pretenders, there was a choice between "My Baby", which reached number 64 at the start of the month in America, and UK top 10 hit "Hymn To Her". Australia went with the former, which sounded like the type of radio-friendly song that would do well here. Unfortunately, "My Baby" would prove to be a disappointing follow-up to "Don't Get Me Wrong", placing The Pretenders outside the top 50 once again. As for "Hymn To Her", well, it would get a much better reception in a few months' time.

"Leaps And Bounds / Bradman" by Paul Kelly And The Coloured Girls
Peak: number 51
Here's another single you'd expect to have done better on the chart - if not for one reason then certainly for another. Like "Before Too Long" and "Darling It Hurts", "Leaps And Bounds" is one of those songs you only have to hear once before you're singing along. A classic Paul Kelly composition, it dated back to his days with The Dots alongside co-writer Chris Langman. Years later, it wound up on the Gossip album, which had been a top 50 fixture since September - a fact that possibly explains why the single didn't do so well.
The other reason why the single peaked surprisingly low is because it featured a previously unreleased double A-side - and it was a song about an Australian sports legend to boot. Yes, with its spoken verses and lengthy running time, "Bradman" didn't have hit written all over it in the way that "Leaps And Bounds" did. But surely it was unpatriotic of Australians not to have bought it in droves.

New Entries
Number 50 "Sometimes" by Erasure
Peak: number 45
Australia may have been one of the countries to give Erasure their first hit with "Oh L'amour" in 1986, but just as the synthpop duo finally started having some success at home in the UK, we lost interest. "Oh L'amour" and the other two singles from debut album Wonderland had flopped in Britain, but Vince Clarke and Andy Bell completely turned things around with "Sometimes", which almost topped the UK chart. Locally, the pop gem - which was one of my favourite songs for 1986 - scraped into the top 50, somewhere Erasure wouldn't return until they helped bring about the ABBA revival in 1992. 

Number 49 "Real Wild Child (Wild One)" by Iggy Pop
Peak: number 11
He'd recently skirted the very bottom of the top 50 with "Cry For Love", but Iggy Pop really made his presence felt on the chart with the second single from Blah-Blah-Blah. A synth-rock cover of "Wild One", the 1958 song by Johnny O'Keefe that became the first Australian rock'n'roll hit, "Real Wild Child (Wild One)" was always going to have special resonance locally. But when the track was used in the theme for ABC's all-night music program, rage, it became a permanent part of Aussie pop culture. Thirty years later and not only is rage still on air, but "Real Wild Child (Wild One)" continues to be heard mixed in with someone screaming "Rage!" every Friday and Saturday night. 

Number 48 "Words Get In The Way" by Miami Sound Machine
Peak: number 44
From an artist who took ages to land his first big hit single, we come now to a song that took its sweet time to reach the top 50. The first ballad hit by Miami Sound Machine, "Words Get In The Way" had debuted in the top 100 in mid-October, spent a couple of weeks on the chart then disappeared until mid-January. Nine weeks later, it enjoyed a three-week run in the top 50 before just as slowly making its way out of the top 100. Unlike in the US, where it reached the top 5, "Words Get In The Way" may not have done as well as "Dr Beat" and "Conga" in Australia, but its ultimate tally of 27 weeks on the top 100 was not too shabby. 

Number 47 "Hold Me" by Colin James Hay
Peak: number 40
With the dramatic decline in success for Men At Work's third album, Two Hearts, it was little surprise the world-conquering band went their separate ways at the end of 1985. For singer Colin Hay, that meant embarking on a solo career. Released under his full name, Colin James Hay, debut single "Hold Me" certainly sounded like a hit waiting to happen, with its busy production courtesy of Robin Millar (Fine Young Cannibals and Sade's Diamond Life) and on-trend world music backing vocals. Alas, it was not meant to be, with "Hold Me" scraping the bottom of the top 40 and accompanying album Looking For Jack missing the top 50 altogether. The song remains Colin's only top 50 single despite a solo output that continues until this day.

Number 44 "Livin' On A Prayer" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 3
As we saw a few weeks ago, "You Give Love A Bad Name" nudged open the door for Bon Jovi in Australia (and this week sat at its peak of number 32). Well, follow-up "Livin' On A Prayer" kicked the door off its hinges, zooming into the top 10 by the end of April, spending eight weeks among the 10 highest selling singles in Australia and winding up as the year's 17th biggest record.
Once again, the track was co-written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora with Desmond Child, who brought some of his life history to the table. Tommy and Gina, the working class couple described in the song's lyrics, were partly based on his pre-success experience with his girlfriend at the time, Maria Vidal (of "Body Rock" fame). The characters were also representative of the band's fans - hard working people trying to make ends meet. With a subject matter as relatable as that, it unsurprisingly became Bon Jovi's second US number 1 on the trot.
Musically, "Livin' On A Prayer" upped the ante set by "You Give Love A Bad Name". From its dramatic opening featuring Richie Sambora on talkbox, the song built and built until that key change at the end - a climax represented visually by Jon flying through the air in the music video, reaching notes it's best not to try at karaoke (yep, I've had a hoarse voice the next day after attempting it, too). Rock rarely gets more pop than this.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1987:

Next week: the year's sleaziest number 1 single arrives, as well as another single from the unstoppable Whispering Jack and two soundtrack hits.

Back to: Mar 15, 1987 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 29, 1987

Saturday, 18 March 2017

This Week In 1984: March 18, 1984

The ARIA singles chart was a bit of a funny one this week in 1984. Three of the songs that entered lower down the top 100 would re-enter later - two going on to much greater success next time around. The other two top 50 misses were minor hits by male singers who'd seen much better days on the chart and would do so again.

As for the debuts in the top 50 - I've never heard any of the three songs until now, and I don't feel like I was missing out on too much. But hey, not every chart features a flood of future top 10 singles.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending March 18, 1984

There wasn't even a new number 1 single this week in 1984, with "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar holding firm for a fifth and final week.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "I Still Can't Get Over Loving You" by Ray Parker Jr
Peak: number 89
1984 would be a big year for the man behind 1982 chart-topper "The Other Woman" - but it wasn't because of this synth ballad, the lead single from his Woman Out Of Control album.

Number 99 "My Oh My" by Slade
Peak: number 65
It'd been almost a decade since Slade's last top 100 visit with "Far Far Away" (number 17 in 1975). Ballad "My Oh My" returned for seven weeks in September, but didn't beat this initial peak.

Number 98 "Old Time Rock And Roll" by Bob Seger
Peak: number 53
This 1979 single by Bob Seger finally charted in Australia thanks to its use in Risky Business, but it'd really take off three years later, climbing all the way to number 3.

Number 91 "Pink Houses" by John Cougar Mellencamp
Peak: number 69
Like "Crumblin' Down", this second single from Uh-huh was a US top 10 hit that didn't connect locally. It was inspired by a literal pink house and was another of JCM's comments on the state of the US.

Also this week, "Jump (For My Love)" by The Pointer Sisters debuted for a six-week run, peaking at number 79. But, we'll look at it when it re-enters the chart in August.

New Entries
Number 49 "Baby I Lied" by Deborah Allen
Peak: number 31
When I saw this listed as a new entry on this week's chart, I got excited. "I didn't realise Lydia from Fame had a chart hit," I said to myself. Well, Debbie Allen didn't. Country singer Deborah Allen did - and performed especially well in South Australia, where it was the week's number 1. "Baby I Lied" was also Deborah's only mainstream hit in the US, where it peaked five places higher. The ballad is pretty unremarkable - the start of the chorus reminds kind of reminds me of "Don't Turn Around", but that's about all I've got.

Number 47 "The Curly Shuffle" by The Knuckleheads
Peak: number 43
I warned you a couple of weeks ago there'd be another version of this novelty song coming and here it is. Canada's The Knuckleheads took on the original by Jump 'n The Saddle (which rose to number 34 this week) and came off second best - although music was the real loser here.

Number 46 "Love In A Box" by Sunnyboys
Peak: number 46
We started with Ray Parker Jr, who'd have a huge 1984, and we finish with a band for whom it would also be a significant year - but for all the wrong reasons. "Love In A Box" was released just ahead of Sunnyboys' third album, Get Some Fun, which had been recorded in the UK. Unfortunately, the single peaked two places lower than 1983's "Show Me Some Discipline", which was also included on the album, and the album only reached number 36. The downturn in their chart fortunes can only have exacerbated the conflict already present in the band and that, together with singer Jeremy Oxley's personal problems, led Sunnyboys to break up in the middle of the year. Of course, they'd be back in 1988 and every so often ever since, including for a series of shows last month.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:

Next week: after a couple of weeks of pretty average new entries, four big hits make their debut - including a cover version that featured the original performer in the video, the biggest hit by a misleadingly named new wave band and a local one-hit wonder.

Back to: Mar 11, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 25, 1984