Saturday, 29 July 2017

This Week In 1984: July 29, 1984

Not everyone can claim to have a song written about them; even fewer people have one that specifically names them - although if you're famous, the chances are probably higher. This week in 1984, a British girl group entered the ARIA top 50 with a song that name-checks a world-renowned American actor.

If someone writes a song about you, it's only polite to meet them

The song isn't actually about the actor per se, but he figures as a fantasy in the story told by the lyrics. Although not a massive success in Australia, the song gave the girl group their equal-biggest hit in the UK and is one of their best known singles.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 29, 1984

The biggest hit in Australia this week in 1984 was "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!, which held down the number 1 spot for a second week and would continue to do so for some time.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "I Feel Like Buddy Holly" by Alvin Stardust
Peak: number 64
More than a decade after he topped the Australian chart with "My Coo Ca Choo", the English singer born Bernard Jewry made one last top 100 appearance with this tune, written and produced by Mike Batt.

Number 97 "Big In Japan" by Alphaville
Peak: number 67
But not in Australia. The debut single by the German synthpop group was successful in Europe, while in Australia, they'd have a minor top 50 hit with their original version of "Forever Young" the following year.

Number 85 "Farewell My Summer Love" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 68
Taken from an album (with the same name) of previously lost but recently found recordings from 1973, this sweet ballad was another US top 40 and UK top 10 hit, but Australia kept their distance.

New Entries
Number 50 "I Can Dream About You" by Dan Hartman
Peak: number 3
Back in 1979, Dan Hartman had reached the Australian top 10 with disco track "Instant Replay" and then was not seen on the chart again for five years when he returned with an even bigger hit, "I Can Dream About You". The song was included in the film Streets Of Fire, but Dan did not perform the version heard in the film. Instead, session singer Winston Ford recorded the song for the movie and it was lip synced by actor Stoney Jackson, who played the frontman of the film's doo-wop group, The Sorels. Dan, however, ensured his version would appear on the soundtrack album and be released as a single. Fair enough - he did write the song. 
Just to confuse matters, footage of The Sorels performing the track is included in both of the single's music videos. In the version featuring Dan (below), the group can be seen on a TV in the background. But another version exists comprised wholly of clips from the movie and the performance by the fictional group. It's this alternate video that is responsible for me believing Dan Hartman looked like Stoney Jackson for many years. "I Can Dream About You" was Dan's only other successful single in Australia, making him a two-hit wonder, but the late singer/songwriter/producer also gave the world "Relight My Fire" (later covered by Take That) and "Love Sensation" by Loleatta Holloway (later sampled by Black Box). He passed away in 1994.

Number 49 "All Of You" by Julio Iglesias / Diana Ross
Peak: number 19
He'd just reached the top 5 (alongside Willie Nelson) with "To All The Girls I've Loved Before", while her most recent visit to the same chart heights had been (alongside Lionel Richie) on 1981's number 1 "Endless Love". Together, Latin crooner Julio Iglesias and superstar performer Diana Ross made sweet music on this schmaltzy ballad taken from Julio's crossover album, 1100 Bel Air Place. For him, "All Of You" continued his move into the English-language market, while for Diana, the duet was a return to chart success after nothing from her previous two albums, Silk Electric and Ross, had really worked. 

Number 46 "Robert De Niro's Waiting" by Bananarama
Peak: number 40
Finally entering the top 50 in its 11th week on the top 100 is one of three songs that reached number 3 in the UK for Bananarama (the other two are "Love In The First Degree" and "Help!"). In Australia, "Robert De Niro's Waiting" was only a minor hit, but its unusual title and even less typical subject matter made it more memorable than its chart peak would normally indicate. Although not as lyrically explicit as it apparently was to begin with, the song is about date rape, with the victim disappearing into a fantasy world in which the Hollywood star is her boyfriend. As the photo at the start of this post attests, the trio ended up meeting Robert De Niro after the song's success, famously steeling themselves with a few drinks before... going out for a drink with the actor.

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

Next week: four brilliant songs, including a hit by a fictional band and the debut of a male singer with a very high voice.

Back to: Jul 22, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 5, 1984

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

This Week In 1992: July 26, 1992

Girl groups, it would seem, are like buses - and after waiting for the flood of American girl groups in the late '80s and early '90s to make a connection in Australia, two hit the top 50 for the first time this week in 1992. (They both also happen to be among my favourite girl groups of all time).

In doing so, they joined two local all-female groups to lend a bit of girl power to the ARIA singles chart, long before that became a thing. Both of the US groups would enjoy much bigger hits later in the decade, but they had to start somewhere, right?

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 26, 1992

The biggest hit in Australia this week in 1992 was "Hazard" by Richard Marx, which replaced "Save The Best For Last" at number 1 and stayed there for the next three weeks.

Off The Chart
Number 95 "100%" by Sonic Youth
Peak: number 67
A decade after they began releasing music, the American rock band started to get noticed in Australia. The Spike Jonze co-directed video features an appearance by skateboarder (and soon-to-be actor) Jason Lee.

Number 90 "I Hear You Knocking" by Craig McLachlan
Peak: number 90
His rock power ballads weren't really working, so Craig McLachlan injected some dance beats into this remake of the much-covered track... and still came up empty. Musical theatre beckoned.

"Gonna Get High" by The Dukes
Peak: number 60
With the Absent Friends project having run its course, Sean Kelly formed a new band with many of the same musicians and released this soul-influenced track as their debut single. Like his previous group - and Models, actually - chart success wouldn't come straight away, but it would come...

"Lithium" by Nirvana
Peak: number 53
Nevermind had gone double platinum and was still in the top 50 after 38 weeks, so it's not that surprising the album's third single didn't become Nirvana's third chart hit. Named after the drug used to treat some forms of depression, "Lithium" was about a man plagued by thoughts of suicide who finds religion.

New Entries
Number 50 "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" by En Vogue
Peak: number 36
They'd reached the US and the UK top 5 with debut single "Hold On", and repeated that feat with this lead single from second album Funky Divas. This time, however, female vocal harmony group En Vogue also infiltrated the ARIA top 50 with "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)". Underpinned by a James Brown sample, the track was a slinky, seductive-sounding R&B track with a lyrical sting in the tail - an access denied kiss-off to no-good men. Besides the "oooh bop" intro, the best bit of the song is clearly the breakdown, which was handily announced in the middle of the song. It'd be another couple of years before En Vogue really struck it big in Australia, but this was better than nothing.

Number 49 "Four Seasons In One Day" by Crowded House
Peak: number 47
Continuing the weather theme of their previous single, Crowded House achieved a fifth hit from Woodface - a much more impressive tally than they'd managed with the singles from Temple Of Low Men. That said, none of Woodface's singles had reached the top 10 (as one song had done from each of their previous albums) and "Four Seasons In One Day" only just crept in to the top 50. The band has never confirmed whether the song's lyrics about changeable weather were inspired by Auckland or Melbourne - or both.

Number 46 "Everything's Alright" by John Farnham / Kate Cebrano / Jon Stevens
Peak: number 6
Musical theatre had been around for decades, but it achieved a new resurgence in the early '90s with chart stars popping up in everything from The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The most successful of the stage show revivals was easily the update of Jesus Christ Superstar, performed more like a rock concert and featuring some of the biggest names in Australian music. Besides the trio featured on this single - Farnsey played Jesus (naturally), Kate was Mary Magdalene and the Noiseworks frontman portrayed Judas - the cast also featured Angry Anderson, John Waters and Russell Morris. The accompanying soundtrack album was even bigger, dominating the number 1 spot for 10 straight weeks.

Number 44 "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" by Guns n' Roses
Peak: number 12
Last week, I mentioned I would've chosen Madonna's "This Used To Be My Playground" as an end-of-year song for my graduating Year 12 class in 1992 - timely and lyrically relevant. Instead, we got this. Of course, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", written (and performed) by Bob Dylan about a dying character in the 1973 Western Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, was entirely inappropriate as a school leavers' song. But there was no denying the might of the Gunners, who notched up yet another hit from the Use Your Illusion albums (this one appeared on UYI II) and were easily one of the most popular bands in the country. 
The band had been playing the song live for years and already released it twice - a live version was a B-side in 1987, while an earlier studio version appeared on the Days Of Thunder soundtrack. Still, thanks no doubt to having performed it at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert a couple of months earlier, this single version gave Guns n' Roses a fifth top 15 hit from the combined UYI project and peaked just two places shy of Bob's original release.

Number 43 "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" by TLC
Peak: number 28
Formation dancing, matching outfits, pretty harmonies... those are the things you most often associate with girl groups. New trio TLC threw those rules out the window and did things their way. Loud and rambunctious, they sang about wanting (safe) sex and had a unique, streetwise style: comedy hats! Condoms as apparel!
By the time their debut single, "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" was released, they comprised singers Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, and rapper Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes. Original vocalist Crystal Jones had been replaced by Rozonda, and the nicknames were created so they could still use TLC and have each letter correspond to a different member.
Not a remake of the similarly titled song by The Temptations, "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" was written by producer Dallas Austin, with Lisa penning her rap, but lists more than a dozen other songwriters thanks to its liberal use of samples from tracks by funk and R&B acts like Average White Band, Kool & The Gang and Sly & The Family Stone.
At the very end of the music video, TLC's then-manager, Pebbles, who got them signed to her husband's LaFace Records, makes a brief appearance as the girls are counting money - a scene that would end up proving pretty ironic given the legal disputes and bankruptcy the trio would go through later in the decade.

Number 40 "Life Is A Highway" by Tom Cochrane
Peak: number 2
Despite all the great singles making their debuts this week, the highest-charting of them all was this old school rock track from Canadian musician Tom Cochrane. Previously the frontman for Red Rider (biggest hit: "Lunatic Fringe", number 52 in 1982), Tom reignited his solo career for the first time since the early '70s and hit paydirt with this lead single from Mad Mad World, with the song reaching the Australian and US top 10. A huge star (with and without Red Rider) in Canada, this was easily Tom's greatest success locally. Think he was a one-hit wonder? Not quite - we'll see another top 30 appearance by him later in the year.

Number 33 "Girl's Life" by Girlfriend
Peak: number 15
Out-performing the best girl groups America had to offer - both in terms of its entry position and its eventual peak - was the follow-up to chart-topping single "Take It From Me", which exited the top 10 this week. More new jack swing-lite fare, "Girl's Life" contained a rap towards the end of the song and featured some serious choreography in the accompanying music video. Most interestingly, it even utilised the phrase "girl power" in the chorus - something that's been made a lot of in news reports about a possible 25th reunion performance by the group. At the time, though, the fact that the girls' second single didn't reach the top 10 must have been somewhat of a disappointment. Yep, the anti-pop backlash had already begun.

Number 32 "Warm It Up" by Kris Kross
Peak: number 21
Here's another follow-up to a number 1 single that fell some way short of matching its predecessor's success - and it's easy to see why. Despite another shouted hook that gets stuck in your head, "Warm It Up" just isn't as good as "Jump". The song, which samples Parliament, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and more, was Kris Kross's final appearance on the ARIA top 50. They'd manage one more US top 20 hit from each of their second and third albums, but never did end up releasing a fourth. In 2013, Kris Kross were back in the news due to the death of Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly from a drug overdose.

Number 26 "Rhythm Is A Dancer" by Snap!
Peak: number 3
The '90s were full of one-album wonder Eurodance acts like La Bouche, Culture Beat and Black Box - groups that churned out hit after hit from one album and then... nothing. And it looked like Germany's Snap! would fall into that group after the lead single from second album The Madman's Return, "Colour Of Love", missed the top 50 earlier in 1992. Then came "Rhythm Is A Dancer", which was easily the best song the dance act, now comprised of rapper Turbo B and singer Thea Austin, ever released (despite that "serious as cancer" line). Not only did it put them back in the top 50 but it eclipsed all their previous hits and remains one of the best dance tracks of the decade. 

Number 11 "Jam" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 11
The hits just kept coming from Dangerous, with this fourth single just missing out on giving Michael Jackson four straight top 10 hits from his latest album. Another collaboration with Teddy Riley (among others), the new jack swing track benefitted from Jacko's latest event music video that saw him and basketballer Michael Jordan trading the tricks of their respective trades. The song also boasted a rap by Heavy D, who'd previously helped out Michael's sister Janet on the single version of "Alright".

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

Next week: things quieten back down on the top 50 with a couple of new entries - one of which was the third hit by a supposed one-hit wonder.

Back to: Jul 19, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 2, 1992

Saturday, 22 July 2017

This Week In 1984: July 22, 1984

Already on this blog, we've seen the solo debuts of locally based former backing singers Kate Ceberano, Jenny Morris and Wendy Matthews. Before any of those women hit the ARIA top 50 with their own releases, one of the most recognisable female voices in '80s pop stepped out from behind the band she performed with.

Helen Terry and Boy George made beautiful music together

She had the full support of the band she'd backed - they even helped write and perform her first single. Question was: would her solo record be as big as the chart-toppers she'd already performed on?

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 22, 1984

Another British band whose backing singers would eventually strike out on their own scored their very first Australian chart-topper this week in 1984. Wham! brought an end to The Twelfth Man's run at the top by climbing to number 1 with "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" for the first of seven (non-consecutive) weeks.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Please Don't Fall In Love" by Cliff Richard
Peak: number 95
It had been the second - and most successful - single from Silver in the UK in late 1983, but this drippy ballad ended up as the third - and least successful - one locally.

Number 95 "Sweetest Sweetest" by Jermaine Jackson
Peak: number 57
As "State Of Shock" inched up just one place from last week's high-flying debut, this lead single from Jermaine Jackson's self-titled album was a more under-the-radar release.   

Number 85 "Dancing Until Midnight" by Pseudo Echo
Peak: number 53
After a couple of smash hits, Pseudo Echo's dream run hit a speed bump with this third single flopping. Parent album Autumnal Park had debuted (and peaked) at number 11 in mid-June, however.

New Entries
Number 49 "Love Lies Lost" by Helen Terry
Peak: number 34
She wasn't an official member of Culture Club, but can you imagine songs like "Church Of The Poison Mind" or "Victims" without the input of backing singer Helen Terry? By 1984, Culture Club's label, Virgin Records, obviously thought her profile was high enough to give her a shot in the spotlight and released her debut solo single, "Love Lies Lost". 
Keeping things in the musical family, Helen co-wrote the track with Boy George and Culture Club's guitarist/keyboard player, Roy Hay, who both performed on the song, as did drummer Jon Moss. Although the bouncy, soulful pop tune perfectly showcased her powerhouse vocals, it ended up not being as big a hit as anything Culture Club had so far charted with. The story was the same in the UK, where it also peaked at number 34.
Despite continuing to release music until the end of the decade, Helen only made this one appearance on the ARIA chart. These days, she works in TV, most recently as executive producer of the BRIT Awards broadcast.

Number 46 "Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us" by Ollie & Jerry
Peak: number 25
Joining "Street Dance", "Up Rock" and "Breakdance" on the top 50 was yet another breakdance-related track - in fact it was the theme tune to the movie also called Breakin', which is really only notable now for being the first film Ice-T ever acted in and also featuring an early uncredited appearance by Jean-Claude Van Damme. The duo of drummer Ollie E Brown and singer/bass player Jerry Knight had previously worked together on the debut album by Raydio - the group fronted by Ray Parker Jr. A top 10 hit in both the US and the UK, "Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us" performed surprisingly averagely in Australia. The pair released a follow-up, "Electric Boogaloo", which was, as you probably guessed, taken from the film's sequel Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, but that single didn't chart at all locally.

Number 42 "Only When You Leave" by Spandau Ballet
Peak: number 12
Following up the international juggernaut that was the True album was always going to be difficult, but Spandau Ballet didn't do too badly with this lead single from Parade, which just fell short of the top 10. Not as classic a song as "True" or "Gold" (which had immediately preceded it), "Only When You Leave" was nevertheless another sophisticated blend of pop and soul that was just made for radio. Of course, whether or not Australian radio played Spandau Ballet at the time is another issue entirely.

Number 41 "To Sir With Love" by Vicki Sue Robinson
Peak: number 7
Here's another female performer whose earliest appearances on record were as a backing singer. Better known as a theatre actress, Vicki Sue Robinson had found solo success with her 1976 US top 10 single, "Turn The Beat Around" (a number 28 hit in Australia). Then followed years of flop singles until this dance cover of the soundtrack tune by Lulu (an Australian number 14 and US chart-topper in 1967) unexpectedly reached the ARIA top 10. The upbeat arrangement works reasonably well compared to the slower Lulu original - although "To Sir With Love" is such a great tune that it'd be pretty hard to completely destroy it.

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

Next week: a superstar duet from a pair of singers who know a thing or two about superstar duets. Plus, a song named after an actor that's not about what you might think.

Back to: Jul 15, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 29, 1984

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

This Week In 1992: July 19, 1992

A brand new single by a megastar performer was always a cause for excitement. What would they do this time? Could they possibly top what they'd done already?

No strangers to controversy, only one of Madonna and Prince caused any this time

This week in 1992, two of the biggest musical acts in the world debuted on the ARIA singles chart with completely new songs. For one, it was the type of raunchy funk for which the artist was known, while for the other, its subdued tone contrasted quite dramatically in style with their releases either side of it. Both would naturally become big hits.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 19, 1992

The biggest hit in Australia this week in 1992 was "Save The Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams, which moved up into the top spot vacated by Kris Kross - and would move back down in seven days' time.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Your Love" by Girl Overboard
Peak: number 70
Almost a year after we last saw them, Girl Overboard were back with this first taste of their Charles Fisher-produced second album, Go. Despite being quite good, it didn't improve matters for them on the chart. 

Single Of The Week
"Move Me No Mountain" by Soul II Soul
Peak: number 96
By this point, I'd pretty much given up hope that Soul II Soul would ever have anything resembling a decent-sized hit in Australia - an assumption that was backed up by the failure of their latest single to get even close to the top 50. A cover version of a song first recorded by Love Unlimited in 1974, and later covered by Dionne Warwick and Chaka Khan, "Move Me No Mountain" was another slide of sophisticated UK R&B from the British band. Lead vocals on the track were handled by Kofi (aka Carol Simms), who was once in a group called Brown Sugar with fellow Soul II Soul featured performer Caron Wheeler. 

"Walk The Dinosaur" by The Tin Lids
Peak: number 64
I guess I should be thankful for small mercies - that this atrocity, which somehow had the blessing of The Flintstones producers Hanna Barbera, didn't give Jimmy Barnes's offspring a second top 50 single. Nevertheless, this kiddie version of "Walk The Dinosaur" effectively ruined the Was (Not Was) classic from 1987 and is Exhibit A in the case against children being allowed to record music. It took a while longer for the "brains" behind The Tin Lids to get the hint and desist with the project, but we were, however, spared any further top 100 entries.

New Entries
Number 50 "This Used To Be My Playground" by Madonna
Peak: number 9
In between "Justify My Love" and the upcoming Erotica album, the early '90s were a sexually charged time for Madonna - even more so than usual. But in the midst of all that she released this sentimental ballad from A League Of Their Own, the latest film in which she had a role. After being asked for a song to include in the movie, Madonna and Erotica producer Shep Pettibone got to work and came up with "This Used To Be My Playground" in a couple of days. 
The result: a US chart-topper (her 10th) and an ARIA top 10 hit (her 20th), although the song has tended to be swept under the carpet a bit since then. At the time, I thought it would be the perfect song to play at my Year 12 class's final assembly at the end of 1992. Instead, we got to graduate to the strains of a rock song we'll see debut on the top 50 next week.

Number 42 "I Can't Help Myself" by Teen Queens
Peak: number 28
For some reason, people had been quite receptive to Teen Queens' debut effort, "Be My Baby", sending it all the way into the top 10. So the female trio did what any other manufactured pop group would do - released more of the same. Kind of. "I Can't Help Myself" was yet another cover of a well-known '60s song - originally released in 1965 by The Four Tops - but the production and styling was decidedly more 1992 than last time. Regardless, it was still horrible.

Number 31 "Perfect Place" by Voice Of The Beehive
Peak: number 31
Over the past few months, we've seen a number of top 50 entries that owed their presence on the chart to some pretty hefty price discounting. Songs like "Innocence" and "Love Is Holy". I'm pretty sure this latest single from Voice Of The Beehive was another one. It was, I'm reliably informed, also aided by a promo visit by the band around the time. Problem was: once those initial factors wore off, "Perfect Place" dropped like a stone back out of the chart. Still, it was another lovely original single from the band whose biggest hit remained their remake of "I Think I Love You".

Number 25 "Sexy MF" by Prince & The New Power Generation
Peak: number 5
Even though he'd launched his previous album with the sexed up double whammy of "Gett Off" and "Cream", and had been known to get particularly ribald on the odd B-side, I don't think anything quite prepared the world for "Sexy MF", the lead single from the Love Symbol Album. A brazen appreciation of the object of Prince's desire, the funk/R&B track caused exactly the amount of controversy you'd expect a song with the line "you sexy motherfucker" would. It was also also exactly as big a hit as those types of songs always are - except in America, of course.

Number 20 "I Don't Care" by Shakespears Sister
Peak: number 18
Another single benefitting from a reduced recommended retail price was this follow-up to top 5 smash "Stay", which blasted straight in to the top 20 (higher than either Prince or Madonna). A cost of around $1 or $2 (depending on the format) compared to anywhere from $5 to $9 will help on that front. Price aside, "I Don't Care" is also a great song, which explains why it didn't immediately exit as quickly as it arrived. 
As different to previous hits "Stay", "You're History" and "Run Silent" as they all were from each other, the jangly, upbeat "I Don't Care" was remixed significantly from the album version, but retained the portion of poetry ("Hornpipe" by Edith Sitwell) that Siobhan Fahey recites in the middle. This was the last time the duo would be seen on the ARIA top 50, but then again, Shakespears Sister's days as a two-piece were numbered anyway, with tension between Siobhan and Marcella Detroit as high as the music video for "I Don't Care" (lightheartedly) suggested.

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

Next week: brace yourselves - it's another of those weeks. Ten new entries in the top 50, including two of the hottest American girl groups, Australia's other girl group, one of the biggest dance anthems of all time and three of the country's most popular singers uniting for a spot of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Back to: Jul 12, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 26, 1992

Saturday, 15 July 2017

This Week In 1984: July 15, 1984

When does a music star become a superstar? In the case of Madonna, it was with the release of Like A Virgin and her chart-dominating run of hits in 1985; with Michael Jackson, it was "Billie Jean" and his debut of the moonwalk. In other words, it's when an already successful artist makes an even greater impression, going from being just a popular performer to a pop culture icon.

Prince's career went from warm to scalding in 1984

This week in 1984, a singer/multi-instrumentalist with a couple of top 10 hits to his name debuted on the ARIA singles chart with the lead single from an album (and movie) that would take him to that next level and give him his first number 1 hit locally.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 15, 1984

For a third and final week, the number 1 single in Australia was still "It's Just Not Cricket" by The Twelfth Man, but even the cricket parody couldn't withstand the might of the rapidly ascending Wham!

Off The Chart
Number 99 "(I've Really Got To Use My) Imagination" by The Coup
Peak: number 99
The original by Gladys Knight & The Pips had been a US top 5 hit following its release in late 1973, but this slightly renamed remake didn't enjoy the same chart trajectory.

Number 97 "See You In Spain" by The Cockroaches
Peak: number 97
Their commercial breakthrough was still a couple of years away, but live favourites The Cockroaches finally poked their heads into the top 100 with their sixth single. 

Number 96 "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" by Ultravox
Peak: number 58
Despite having plenty of singles as good as "Vienna" (a list that also includes "The Voice" and "Hymn"), nothing else Ultravox released ventured into the ARIA top 50 - although this UK number 3 hit came closest.

Number 95 "High On Emotion" by Chris De Burgh
Peak: number 91
His albums either side each yielded an ARIA top 5 hit, but the best effort from Man On The Line was this lead single, which veers more towards "Don't Pay The Ferryman" than "The Lady In Red".

Number 88 "God Is A Shield" by Spaniards
Peak: number 54
I've already covered their subsequent two top 100 appearances here and here, but this was the first - and highest charting - single they released and was apparently produced by Molly Meldrum.

Number 74 "You Don't Love Me" by Marilyn
Peak: number 57
Well that was over quickly! Less than six months after causing a major stir with debut single "Calling Your Name", Marilyn had already struck out. Of course, it wasn't quite over...

New Entries
Number 49 "People Are People" by Depeche Mode
Peak: number 25
It was welcome back to the Australian chart to a band who hadn't been seen on the top 100 since "Just Can't Get Enough" reached the top 5 in early 1982. Since then, Depeche Mode had lost their main songwriter (Vince Clarke, who'd gone off to form Yazoo then The Assembly), found a new one in Martin Gore and released the song that remains their best ever single
But it was actually this lead single from fourth album Some Great Reward that would finally give them another hit locally - probably because it was the poppiest thing they'd done since "Just Can't Get Enough". The fact "People Are People" is so catchy would also explain why it became their highest charting single in the UK (equalled twice but never beaten over the decades) and their first hit in the US. Naturally, the band hate it and haven't played it live in nearly 30 years.

Number 44 "Oh Sherrie" by Steve Perry
Peak: number 5
Depeche Mode might not have had many hits in Australia, but they'd done better than this guy's band, 2017 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees Journey, who didn't get any higher than number 43 with 1982's "Open Arms" (a US number 2). Steve Perry more than made up for that with his solo debut - one of the best power ballads of the decade. Released in between Journey albums, "Oh Sherrie" replicated its US top 5 performance here in Australia. It was a one-off though, with Steve never returning to the top 50. I don't think I've ever watched the music video all the way through before - the behind-the-scenes premise is quite fun. And, of course, it features Steve's then-girlfriend, Sherrie Swafford, about whom the song was written.

Number 43 "Miss Me Blind" by Culture Club
Peak: number 26
While his on-off friend Marilyn was languishing outside the top 50, Boy George and Culture Club not only racked up yet another hit, but did so with the fifth single from Colour By Numbers. Released instead of "Victims" in the US, the upbeat "Miss Me Blind" didn't come out in the UK, but the band's Australian record company clearly believed they could squeeze out one more hit from the album. And they were right - even if it did become Culture Club's first single since their breakthrough to miss the top 20.

Number 42 "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Peak: number 4
Whatever fuss there'd once been surrounding Culture Club had long since died down with Frankie Goes To Hollywood assuming the mantle of Britain's most controversial band. For their second single, they traded sexual innuendo for political satire, with "Two Tribes" tapping in to the simmering tensions caused by the Cold War and the fear of nuclear war. Musically and visually, the song exploited the conflict between the USA and the USSR - in the song, elements of Russian classical music sat alongside modern American styles, while in the music video, actors made up to look like Ronald Reagan and Konstantin Chernenko engaged in an all-out brawl. 
The topical track was another huge hit for FGTH - in the UK, it spent nine weeks at number 1, selling over 1.5 million copies in the process; in Australia, it was the 20th biggest single of the year despite only reaching number 4. In both countries, the success of "Two Tribes" resulted in "Relax" climbing back up the chart, with the earlier single returning to the ARIA top 50 in late August.

Number 39 "Self Control" by Laura Branigan
Peak: number 3
Laura Branigan had done very well for herself by covering an old Italian song and changing the lyrics to English, with "Gloria" becoming a major worldwide hit in 1982-83 (and she'd repeat the trick with "Ti Amo" in a couple of singles' time). With "Self Control", she did very well by remaking yet another song by an Italian singer - but this time it was one that was already in English. The original version by Raf was also released in 1984 and in some countries the two recordings charted contemporaneously. In Australia, however, Laura had the top 50 all to herself and her take on "Self Control" (which I have to say I prefer) took her back into the top 5 for a third time.

Number 36 "When Doves Cry" by Prince
Peak: number 1
You know you're a new kind of famous when you star in a movie based on your life, which is exactly what Prince did with 1984's Purple Rain. Taken from the film's soundtrack album, "When Doves Cry" eclipsed all his previous singles, reaching number 1 in Australia and also in the US, where it was the biggest song of the year. Unlike his later movie projects, Purple Rain was also a commercial and critical success, and a steady stream of hits were issued from the project. For the time being, Prince could do no wrong.
Although the Purple Rain album was credited to Prince & The Revolution - his first release with his new backing band - "When Doves Cry" was credited solely to Prince, who performed everything on the track and made the decision to leave out the bass line for a more minimalist effect. The song has returned to the ARIA chart on two occasions since 1984 - in 1997, Quindon Tarver's remake from Romeo + Juliet reached number 3, while Prince's original shot back to number 11 shortly after his death.
On a side note, it's nice to finally be able to embed a music video to go with one of my write-ups of a Prince single, since his clips are starting to surface on YouTube.

Number 14 "State Of Shock" by The Jacksons (with Mick Jagger)
Peak: number 10
While Prince ascended to superstar status, Michael Jackson was basking in the glory of what would end up being the world's highest-selling album of all time. Before he began work on a follow-up to Thriller, he reunited with his brothers - all five of them - for his final album as part of The Jacksons, Victory. As well as being the only album to feature the six Jackson brothers, it would be the group's best-selling release, boosted by the success of this lead single. Originally recorded (but not released) as a duet between Michael and Freddie Mercury, "State Of Shock" ended up as a collaboration with Mick Jagger instead - and their combined star power resulted in it hurtling into the chart at number 14. It only progressed a few more positions, becoming The Jacksons' final single to make the top 10.

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

Next week: can you believe - another breakdance song? Plus, a dance remake of a song that'd first appeared in a film in 1967.

Back to: Jul 8, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 22, 1984

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

This Week In 1992: July 12, 1992

Extended versions and dance mixes had been around for years, but as we saw when a separate single of remixes of Michael Jackson's "Black Or White" charted, they were literally coming into their own in 1992.

Whether you liked your U2 traditional or remixed, there was a CD single for you

This week in 1992, the biggest band in the world got in on the act, with their latest single coming with a stand-alone remix CD single. In the UK, the remixes charted higher than the standard release, while in Australia, they no doubt contributed to the song's overall chart performance.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 12, 1992

For a third and final week, "Jump" by Kris Kross was the number 1 single in Australia, with two ballads waiting patiently below for their turn at the top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Come A Long Way" by Michelle Shocked
Peak: number 100
She'd almost reached the top 50 with debut single "Anchorage", but Michelle Shocked came nowhere near it with this lead single from Arkansas Traveler.

Number 98 "Nothin' But The Radio On" by Dave Koz
Peak: number 98
Because the world needed another Kenny G... The pop/jazz saxophonist, who used to play in Richard Marx's band, got a little help from vocalist Joey Diggs on this smooth single.

Single Of The Week
"Thrill Me" by Simply Red
Peak: number 109
Its singles hadn't achieved anywhere near the success they had in the UK, but Simply Red's Stars album had enjoyed a healthy stay in the ARIA top 20. And so it wasn't really a huge surprise that this fourth single, which I never really liked that much, didn't even break into the top 100. What was interesting was that the appearance of "Thrill Me" here as Single Of The Week also didn't seem to help the album's fortunes, with it dropping down the chart the following week.

"Someday?" by Concrete Blonde
Peak: number 72
"Ghost Of A Texas Ladies Man" had put them back in the top 50, but Concrete Blonde were going to have to do better than this tepid follow-up if they wanted to stay there (or ever hope to rival the success of breakthrough single "Joey").

New Entries
Number 50 "Workaholic" by 2 Unlimited
Peak: number 35
OK, even I didn't really like this one very much. After two of the year's best dance hits (and it was only July), 2 Unlimited stumbled with their third single. A cacophony of techno beats and annoying synth sounds, it lacked the subtlety of "Get Ready For This" and "Twilight Zone" (and neither was particularly subtle), and opted instead for an angry sounding aural attack. "Workaholic" charted accordingly.

Number 45 "Love Is Holy" by Kim Wilde
Peak: number 29
After releasing seventh album Love Moves to general disinterest in 1990, despite it featuring a number of great singles, Kim Wilde had a bit of a rethink for follow-up Love Is. Instead of relying wholly on the production skills of brother Ricky, she enlisted the help of the hitmakers behind some of Belinda Carlisle's biggest songs: Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley. The pair wrote this lead single, which certainly sounded like it could've slotted in to any of Belinda's recent albums, and Rick co-wrote and produced another two tracks on the album. 
The move worked - to an extent - with "Love Is Holy" giving Kim her biggest hit since chart-topper "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and her first top 20 single in the UK since 1988's "Four Letter Word". Unfortunately, despite the album again featuring some quality singles, nothing else did anywhere near as well and it'd take another cover version for Kim to really make an impression.

Number 44 "Fly Like An Eagle" by The Neville Brothers
Peak: number 44
We'd seen Aaron Neville on the top 50 alongside Linda Ronstadt on ballad hit "Don't Know Much" and almost again with his version of "Everybody Plays The Fool", but this was the first time he and his three brothers scored a hit. They did so with a remake of the Steve Miller Band song from 1976, which was the lead single from their Family Groove album, and featured Steve on guest vocals and guitar. This remains the highest-charting version of the song in Australia, with the original not having made the top 100 and Seal's 1997 cover for the Space Jam soundtrack only reaching number 81.

Number 19 Living In England by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 19
And they were literally living in England, having decamped there to work on the follow-up to debut album All For One. That would come later in the year, but for the time being The Screaming Jets released this stop-gap EP, which, as well as the title track, included covers of songs originally recorded by Johnny Cash ("Folsom Prison Blues") and AC/DC ("Ain't No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire)"). Despite this impressive debut, Living In England slid quickly out of the top 50.

Number 11 "Even Better Than The Real Thing" by U2
Peak: number 11
The original version was just fine - another good single from Achtung Baby - but the dance remix of "Even Better Than The Real Thing" was something else. A pumping club anthem courtesy of DJ/producers Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne (aka Perfecto), it gave the song a whole new energy. With its keyboard stabs and wailing female vocals, it was not what you would've expected from U2, but by retaining the guitar riffs and Bono's entire vocal, it still sounded like them. Besides, we'd gotten used to expecting the unexpected from the Irish band over the previous couple of years - and there was more of that to come. No prizes for guessing which version I preferred. 

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

Next week: brand new singles from two music superstars - one as raunchy as you'd expect, the other, not so much.

Back to: Jul 5, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 19, 1992