Wednesday, 28 January 2015

This Week In 1990: January 28, 1990

What an odd collection of songs we have to talk about this week! Some pop, some dance, some Aussie rock and the debut of an artist who blended a whole range of genres.

Dreads, nose ring, celeb wife... there was no cooler rock star than Lenny Kravitz in 1990

But then, that was what was happening on the ARIA singles chart in 1990 - the floodgates had been opened and all sorts of music that never would have got anywhere near the top 50 in the past was finally making its presence felt.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 28, 1990

The B-52's continued to - yep, you guessed it - make their presence felt at number 1 this week in 1990 as "Love Shack" was once again the most popular song in the land.

Off The Chart
Number 95 "Scandalous!" by Prince
Peak: number 95
Another single from Batman, and one without much of a discernible melody and featuring a little too much screeching for my liking. It was also released as an EP, The Scandalous Sex Suite, featuring the film's star Kim Basinger.

New Entries
Number 49 "More Than You Know" by Martika
Peak: number 32
"Toy Soldiers" and "I Feel The Earth Move" had been so massive that a re-release of Martika's breakthrough US hit would be just as big, right? Wrong. Bringing her top 10 run to an end, "More Than You Know" did perform better than on its original release in 1989, but was still a bit of a disappointment - especially for me, since I'd bought this song just as "Toy Soldiers" was taking off and had waited patiently for it to hit the chart locally. A number 32 peak was somewhat of an anticlimax. 

Number 38 "Let The Night Roll On" by The Angels
Peak: number 17
1990 would turn out to be one of the most successful years in The Angels' lengthy career, with the band scoring their very first number 1 album, Beyond Salvation, in June. "Let The Night Roll On" was the lead single from the album - but both it and a version of Beyond Salvation had already been released overseas in 1989 under the name the band adopted internationally, The Angels From Angel City. 
Another fun fact I didn't know about The Angels until now is that two former members of the band ended up forming GANGgajang (who scored their first ARIA top 50 hit this week in 1985). Anyway, back to "Let The Night Roll One"... This may well be the first time I've ever listened to this single - and the chorus reminds me a little bit of "Highway To Hell", especially the way the song's title is sung. That's all I've got.

Number 37 "Let Love Rule" by Lenny Kravitz
Peak: number 36
His debut single may not have progressed much further up the ARIA chart but it was early days for Lenny Kravitz, who'd go on to become quite successful throughout the rest of the decade. Accompanied by a video both directed by and featuring his then-wife, former The Cosby Show star Lisa Bonet, "Let Love Rule" had the throwback sound and blend of psychedelic rock, soul and funk for which Lenny would become known firmly in place. Like Australia, I'd take a little while to warm up to his particular brand of music.

Number 30 "Italo House Mix" by Rococo
Peak: number 13
What do you get when you cross Jive Bunny with Black Box? This timely megamix of current dance hits with re-recorded vocals courtesy of twins Elaine and Evelyn (who don't seem to have a surname). Although, I actually wouldn't be surprised if the girls, who clearly subscribed to the Collette school of fashion, didn't actually sing on the record and just appeared in the video. That would have been very on-trend.
"Italo House Mix" is actually a bit of a misnomer, since only three of the seven songs were Italo house tracks - Black Box's "Ride On Time", "Numero Uno" by Starlight (which re-entered the top 50 this week) and "Sueño Latino" by the act of the same name. The other four - "Mantra For A State Of Mind" by S'Express, Lil Louis' "French Kiss", Technotronic's "Pump Up The Jam" and "Warning!" by Adeva - were from different parts of the world and different sub-genres of house. 
Regular readers will know of my disdain for Jive Bunny and the songs they mixed together, but despite the fact that I actually liked most of the tracks utilised in "Italo House Mix", I'd much rather listen to the original versions than this cheap-sounding cash-in.

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

Next week: two simultaneous new entries by the same artist - who probably had the Rococo record to thank for her sudden success. Plus, the arrival of the Forbidden Dance. 

Back to: Jan 21, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 4, 1990

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

This Week In 1985: January 27, 1985

One of the things that annoys me most about retro music television programming is that the same old hits get wheeled out over and over - usually the biggest single by any given act - and the rest of an artist's back catalogue is ignored. Do I really need to see "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" or "True" again when they could play "Everything She Wants" or "Communication"?

I'm Talking had as many top 10 hits as Kate Ceberano managed as a solo artist

I'm not just randomly venting. The reason I'm bringing this up is that the new entries on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1985 were all from acts that had bigger and/or better known hits - and as a result, many of this week's songs have faded into obscurity since they're rarely played anymore. In most of the cases, that's not a good thing.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending January 27, 1985

A song that has become anything but obscure over the past three decades was still at number 1 this week in 1985 - Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" held on to the top spot for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing)" by Romeo Void
Peak: number 74
Not long after this single gave them their first US top 40 hit, American new wave band Romeo Void split up. How's that for gratitude?

Number 96 "Closest Thing To Heaven" by Kane Gang
Peak: number 57
A nice example of the excellently named genre sophisti-pop, this single was Kane Gang's first hit in the UK. They'd have to wait until later in 1985 to achieve one in Australia.

Number 85 "Catch My Fall" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 61
There's a reason this fourth single from Rebel Yell has become all but forgotten in the past 30 years - it's a bit boring, really.

New Entries
Number 50 "Gimme Some Loving" by GANGgajang
Peak: number 46
Here's the debut single by a band that'd go on to release one of the best known Australiana rock songs of all time ("Sounds Of Then") before the end of the year. Formed by four musicians who'd worked on TV series Sweet And Sour, the members of GANGgajang had also all played for a bunch of different bands over the years - with Chris Bailey (not the guy from The Saints) and Graham "Buzz" Bidstrup both formerly of The Angels. "Gimme Some Loving" is an OK song - but a number 46 placement is about right.

Number 47 "Dancing On The Jetty" by INXS
Peak: number 39
Given The Swing had already spent 43 weeks on the top 50 albums chart - five of those at number 1 - getting a big hit from the LP's fourth single was always going to be a tall order. And so, after three consecutive top 3 hits ("Original Sin", "I Send A Message" and "Burn For You"), "Dancing On The Jetty" became INXS's worst performing single since 1982's "Night Of Rebellion" and least successful top 50 effort to date. None of that means it's not a good song - in fact, I quite like it - but it's probably not among the first dozen songs by the band most people would think of.

Number 42 "Trust Me" by I'm Talking
Peak: number 10
1985 was a big year for Kate Ceberano, but ask most people to hum this breakthrough single by her band I'm Talking and they'd probably struggle. The first of three top 10 hits by the funk group, "Trust Me" (and the rest of I'm Talking's material) hasn't had the longevity of Kate's later solo work, which is a shame since it was rare for an Australian band to produce funk music this good - let alone for it to chart so well. But even at the time, the song was a bit overshadowed by the two much bigger hits Kate and fellow I'm Talking singer Zan performed guest vocals on in 1985 - Models' "Barbados" and "Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight".

Number 38 "The Belle Of St. Mark" by Sheila E
Peak: number 16
"The Glamorous Life"? You still hear that every now and again. This follow-up isn't so lucky, despite being almost as big a hit in Australia. Once again written and co-produced by Prince, "The Belle Of St. Mark" was actually the third collaboration between the pair to feature's Sheila's vocals - she'd performed on his classic B-side "Erotic City" (the flip side to "Let's Go Crazy") in 1984. I'm sure even that gets more attention today than this excellent track.

Number 31 "The Riddle" by Nik Kershaw
Peak: number 6
It might have peaked one place lower than his biggest hit, "Wouldn't It Be Good" (and done the same in the UK, where his biggest hit was "I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"), but "The Riddle" will always be my favourite single by Nik Kershaw - nonsense lyrics and all. The song was the lead single from his second album, also called The Riddle, which came out just eight-and-a-half months after his debut release, Human Racing

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

Next week: a Canadian rocker and a flamboyant British pop act make their top 50 debuts, while one of my favourite songs by my all-time top girl group is a chart disappointment in Australia. Plus, a future number 1 from a two-hit wonder arrives.

Back to: Jan 20, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 3, 1985

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

This Week In 1990: January 21, 1990

I've always been more a fan of pop singers than rock chicks - and the divide between the two grew ever wider in the 1990s with less artists straddling both genres (as had often been the case in the 1980s). To prove the point, one of each type of singer made their ARIA top 50 debut this week in 1990.

Black leather-sporting Alannah Myles hit big with "Black Velvet"

On the one hand, we had the arrival of a Canadian rocker whose first two singles would soon be climbing the chart simultaneously, and on the other we had a British singer known for her work with house group Coldcut but whose solo work tended more towards pop and soul. Naturally, I preferred the latter.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 21, 1990

The new entry by each female performer was a number 1 single internationally, and although both did well in Australia, neither topped our top 50. Meanwhile, the song that once again was on top the Australian chart this week in 1990 was "Love Shack" by The B-52's.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Volare" by Gipsy Kings
Peak: number 90
One of music's most covered songs, the Italian standard was given a Spanish twist by the flamenco guitar-wielding troupe for their latest album Mosaïque.

Number 90 "I See Red" by Split Enz
Peak: number 75
In 1979, it peaked at number 15, and in 1990, "I See Red" was reissued to coincide with the release of History Never Repeats - The Best Of Split Enz. In this case, the first half of the album title was accurate.

Single Of The Week
"Fool For Your Loving" by Whitesnake
Peak: number 69
It'd worked a treat on their last album, but the decision to re-record another of their old singles wasn't as fruitful for Whitesnake second time around. Originally appearing on their third album, Ready An' Willing, in 1980, "Fool For Your Loving" was given a do-over for 1989's Slip Of The Tongue - and ended up being lifted as the lead single. But, unlike the reception that greeted the band's remake of "Here I Go Again" a couple of years earlier, this new version was a chart disappointment. 

New Entries
Number 48 "Sacrifice" by Elton John
Peak: number 7
It might have been a new decade, but it was business as usual for Elton John, who racked up yet another top 10 hit with this second single from Sleeping With The Past. His biggest record in Australia since 1986's "Heartache All Over The World" (which also peaked at number 7), "Sacrifice" would also form one half of Elton's first ever solo UK number 1 when it was re-released there along with "Healing Hands" later in 1990. For me, the song falls into the same category as "Nikita" and "Blue Eyes" - ballads that are pleasant enough but pale in comparison to the likes of "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" and "Your Song"

Number 42 "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles
Peak: number 3
Before there was Alanis Morissette and Avril Lavigne, there was original Canadian rocker Alannah Myles, who found herself with one of the world's biggest singles for 1990 in "Black Velvet", which reached number 1 in the US, number 2 in the UK and number 3 here. Although it was her first song to reach the ARIA top 50, it wasn't her debut single - that'd arrive on the chart in a few weeks' time. Aged 31 when "Black Velvet" took off, Alannah, whose real surname is Byles, had worked as an actress in the '80s while she tried to land a record deal. We'll pick up her story in early February.

Number 27 "All Around The World" by Lisa Stansfield
Peak: number 9

And, at the other end of the musical spectrum is this pop singer who already had a couple of big UK hits to her name (well, one was actually credited to Coldcut featuring Lisa Stansfield) and took the rest of the world by storm with this single. Less house and more soul, "All Around The World" was even a chart-topper on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart (now known as the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart), which was obviously a rarity for a non-African American artist at the time. 
The song was co-written and produced by Ian Devaney and Andy Morris, the two other members of Lisa's former group, Blue Zone. When Blue Zone failed to set the charts alight (despite releasing a great version of "Jackie" in 1988), Lisa stepped even further into the spotlight as a solo artist, while the other two carried on working in the background. Side note: Lisa and Ian entered into a different type of partnership in 1998 when they were married. 

Number 20 "Please Send Me Someone To Love" by Johnny Diesel & The Injectors
Peak: number 11

What do you get when you combine Australia's hottest young rock band with the soundtrack to the first feature film starring Kylie Minogue? A smash hit, that's what. A cover of the 1950 single by Percy Mayfield, "Please Send Me Someone To Love" was Johnny Diesel & The Injectors' first release not to have appeared on their debut self-titled album. It was also the band's second cover of a pre-rock'n'roll era blues song in a row (following "Since I Fell For You") - but there was a reason for revisiting that period of history. "Please Send Me..." was taken from The Delinquents, the 1950s romantic drama that marked Kylie's first foray onto the big screen. The rest of the soundtrack album consisted mostly of original songs from the period - although Kylie also remade a song from that decade, which we'll see hit the chart in a few weeks.

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

Next week: the Black Box effect takes hold of the chart, while an artist who'd be a major chart force throughout the decade makes a low-key debut.

Back to: Jan 14, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 28, 1990

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

This Week In 1985: January 20, 1985

A few years back, when music was in the throes of a major '80s revival (think La Roux, Goldfrapp's Head First, Little Boots, Fischerspooner), there was one trend from that decade that didn't really enjoy a resurgence: the power ballad. Sure, songs like "Someone Like You", "Wrecking Ball" and a fair few Ryan Tedder compositions have given it a shot over the past few years, but for me, they've all lacked that certain something that defined an '80s power ballad.

Future solo star Gloria Estefan made her ARIA debut in 1985

This week in 1985, the top two new entries on the ARIA singles chart were proper power ballads with big sing-along choruses, over-the-top emotion and the odd choir thrown in for good measure. Modern ballads tend to play it too cool - you really need to go all out with a power ballad, and these two songs did just that... all the way towards the top of the chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending January 20, 1985

At the top this week in 1985 - Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" dethroned "Like A Virgin" for the start of a four-week run at number 1. 

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Midnight Man" by Flash & The Pan
Peak: number 66
Who would ever have expected Vanda & Young of The Easybeats to end up in a synthpop band? Initially successful in Australia in the late '70s, interest in the new wave act had waned by 1985.

Number 97 "Centipede" by Rebbie Jackson
Peak: number 97
It was inevitable. Since every other member of the Jackson clan had released an album, eldest sibling Rebbie finally got around to hers. This lead single was written and produced by Michael. 

Number 96 "The Heart Of Rock & Roll" by Huey Lewis & The News
Peak: number 58
Australia had passed on this song first time around - it peaked outside the top 100 - but following the success of "If This Is It" (which was still in the top 30), "The Heart Of Rock & Roll" finally got a look-in.

Number 95 "Singing In The Shower" by Solid Citizens
Peak: number 59
More under-performing Australian synthpop from the Brisbane group whose debut single had previously featured on the soundtrack to ABC series Sweet & Sour before they released their own version.

Number 89 "Easy Lover" by Philip Bailey & Phil Collins
Peak: number 74
How did this single - a UK number 1 and a US number 2 - perform so badly in Australia? Well, it's complicated. Philip Bailey's label, CBS, initially released it here in late 1984, before being told that Phil Collins' label, WEA, had the single rights for Australia. CBS had to pull their copies from stores and then WEA refused to give it a full local release, since the song wasn't on Phil's album. And so, this minor top 100 entry for "Easy Lover" was due to those initial CBS copies and imports from New Zealand. A blight on Phil's otherwise impeccable chart record between 1983 and 1985.

New Entries
Number 49 "Skin Deep" by The Stranglers
Peak: number 11
Australia hadn't been interested in The Stranglers until they moved away from their punk roots for the sophisticated sound of 1982's "Golden Brown", rewarding that song with a number 10 peak. The lead single from eighth album Aural Sculpture, "Skin Deep" did almost as well, but it would be another two-year gap before the band landed their next hit. The Stranglers are still around today, with the core of Jet Black, Jean-Jacques Burnel and Dave Greenfield having been present since the mid-'70s, however this song's vocalist, Hugh Cornwell, left in 1990.

Number 48 "The NeverEnding Story" by Limahl
Peak: number 6
About as subtle as an overblown power ballad, this soundtrack single from the ex-Kajagoogoo singer has everything you want in an '80s hit - a curiously coiffed singer in what looks like double pleather, Giorgio Moroder production, random female vocals from an uncredited vocalist (who's not the woman in the clip), a key change. The theme to the movie of the same name, "The NeverEnding Story" equalled the peak reached by "Too Shy", the biggest single by Limahl's old band. The song would also have qualified him as a one-hit wonder in his own right were it not for the number 50 placing of prior single "Only For Love".

Number 47 "Life's A Gamble" by The Radiators
Peak: number 47
Elsewhere on this blog, I've mentioned my eldest sister's influence on my musical taste. Howard Jones, Madness, The Cure, The Style Council... her love of all those acts rubbed off on me. She was also a huge fan of The Radiators - or The Rads (as in "Rads Rule") - but for the most part I avoided anything to do with them. After all, one of their early songs was a charming track called "Gimme Head" and I was a kid who didn't even want to go and see an M-rated movie in case it was too rude. Anyway, this is the exception to the no-Radiators rule for me (I even borrowed said sister's best of CD to rip it into my iTunes collection) - and I'm kind of surprised it wasn't a bigger hit. But then, The Radiators were never that successful, peaking at a career-high of number 27 with 1983's "No Tragedy".  

Number 45 "Dr. Beat" by Miami Sound Machine
Peak: number 11
Between 1977 and 1984, Latin group Miami Sound Machine released seven albums before tackling the English-speaking world with Eyes Of Innocence - and interestingly, Australia and the UK showed interest way ahead of America, where the band would have to wait until later in 1985 for their first hit with "Conga". Their first international single, the infectious (pun intended) "Dr. Beat" hit number 6 in the UK and fell just short of the top 10 locally. Twenty years later, it'd return to the ARIA top 20 as part of Mylo's mashup hit "Doctor Pressure", which peaked one place lower.

Number 44 "Had A Dream (Sleeping With The Enemy)" by Roger Hodgson
Peak: number 21
I have to admit, I had never heard of this song or artist before putting this post together - something that surprised me given it was a decent-sized hit and while I might not have been collecting the ARIA chart by 1985, I was certainly following it on TV and radio. Turns out, even though I didn't recognise the name, I do know Roger Hodgson's voice from his time as one of the two main vocalists in Supertramp. "Had A Dream (Sleeping With The Enemy)" was Roger's debut solo single and performed considerably better in Australia than either the UK or the US. Think the six-minute music video below is lengthy? The song clocked in at even longer eight-and-a-half minutes on the album In The Eye Of The Storm. Seems you can take the guy out of the prog rock band, but you can't... well, you know.

Number 42 "Ti Amo" by Laura Branigan
Peak: number 2
Here's the first of our two epic ballads - and it was yet another song originally recorded by Italian singer Umberto Tozzi that Laura Branigan transformed for the English-language market. The others? Australian chart-topper "Gloria", for one; Branigan 2 album track "Mama" for another. And like the latter, "Ti Amo" received a little help in translation from future A-list songwriter Diane Warren. A little histrionic for my liking, "Ti Amo" nevertheless became Laura's second-biggest hit in Australia - and one of four top 5 hits for her locally. Besides "Gloria", there was 1983's "Solitaire" (number 5) and 1984's "Self Control" (number 3).

Number 28 "I Want To Know What Love Is" by Foreigner
Peak: number 1
When you think of the biggest '80s power ballads, this has to be somewhere towards to the top of the list - and it did what five other Foreigner US top 5 hits couldn't by going all the way to number 1 in America. It also topped the chart in Australia and the UK, where Foreigner's only previous top 10 hit was warm-up ballad "Waiting For A Girl Like You". A massive song - thanks in no small part to the presence of the New Jersey Mass Choir - it ended 1985 as Australia's fifth-biggest single. In subsequent decades, "I Want To Know What Love Is" has been covered by two singers who know their way around a power ballad: Tina Arena and Mariah Carey, but nowhere near as effectively.

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

Next week: one of my favourite songs from 1985 arrives, as does the Australian funk act that'd launch a future ARIA Award-winning female singer on an unsuspecting public. Before then, I head to 1990 for 25 Years Ago This Week

Back to: Jan 13, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 27, 1985

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

This Week In 1990: January 14, 1990

One of the most exciting things about the Australian charts from 1990 onwards is that information about positions 51 to 100 is readily available. Well, exciting for chart geeks like me, that is. For some reason, when ARIA took the compilation of the charts in-house in mid-1988, they didn't reveal any positions outside the top 50 until the start of 1990 - although I've been able to find those out for the purposes of this blog.

Even Bros, Kylie and Jason couldn't help Band Aid II's chart fortunes in Australia

With all of the top 100 info at my fingertips from now on, I thought I'd add a section to my weekly post where I list the new entries that didn't make it as far as the top 50 - and didn't wind up as a Single Of The Week or a Breaker. I won't go into them too much, since they're mostly long-forgotten flops, but there will be the odd overlooked classic in there (maybe not this week, though).
EDIT: I've since been able to add this section for all my 1988 and 1989 posts.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 14, 1990

A song that could never be called overlooked is "Love Shack" by The B-52's, which held onto the number 1 spot and had established itself as the song of the summer by this stage. We'll see the song that ended up deposing it from the top make its debut this week.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Rock And A Hard Place" by The Rolling Stones
Peak: number 99
Lead single "Mixed Emotions" had been a top 30 hit in 1989, but this second release from Steel Wheels made the most fleeting of visits to the top 100.

Number 98 "Sister" by Bros
Peak: number 98
In the UK, this ballad was their eighth and final top 10 hit but the Australian public passed on Bros' latest, written about the death of Matt and Luke's 18-year-old stepsister, Carolyn, in a 1988 car accident.

Number 97 "Enemy The Sun" by Bad Boy Johnny & The Prophets Of Doom
Peak: number 78
Performed by future top 30 act Troy Newman (who took over the role from Russell Crowe), this was taken from the soundtrack to the stage musical written by Return To Eden villain Daniel Abineri.

"Oh Father" by Madonna
Peak: number 59
It had all been going so well! After three smash singles, which all made the year-end top 50 for 1989, the Like A Prayer campaign hit a snag when fourth single "Oh Father" bombed in spectacular style. By peaking at number 59, "Oh Father" became the lowest charting single of Madonna's career up until this point in Australia (side note: international singles "Everybody""The Look Of Love" and "Spotlight" were not released locally). 
It was a similar story in the US, where the ballad became her first single since "Holiday" not to make the top 10, peaking at number 20. In the UK, "Dear Jessie" was released instead at this point (and reached number 5), but the curse of "Oh Father" continued six years later when Madonna's British label issued the song to promote Something To Remember and it also became one of her only singles not to reach the top 10 there, getting no further than number 16. I, for one, quite like the song but no doubt most fans in Australia already had the album.

New Entries
Number 48 "Kickstart My Heart" by Mötley Crüe
Peak: number 34
"Dr. Feelgood" had given them their biggest chart hit in Australia in 1989, but Mötley Crüe didn't do quite as well with this frenetic follow-up - and it was the same story in the US where the number 27 peak of "Kickstart My Heart" paled in comparison to the top 10 hits either side of it. Written by bassist Nikki Sixx about his near-death experience following - what else - a drug overdose in 1987, the track is probably my favourite song by the decadent band, although that's not saying much.

Number 45 "Come Back To Me" by Indecent Obsession
Peak: number 40
After two upbeat pop hits, it was time for the obligatory big ballad - complete with kiddy choir and key change - for Indecent Obsession. If this were the UK, the school hymn-like "Come Back To Me" would've been released slightly earlier and been in the running for the Christmas number 1 spot - it certainly sounds like a third-rate "Stay Another Day" by East 17. In Australia, the song only just slipped into the top 40 and was pretty much the death knell for the band's career locally, even though they'd bravely soldier on for a few more years.

Number 42 "La Luna" by Belinda Carlisle
Peak: number 21

It was an improvement on the performance of the second singles from her previous two albums, but "La Luna" still fell some way short of living up to the top 10 success of "Leave A Light On" (just as "I Feel The Magic" and "I Get Weak" disappointed after "Mad About You" and "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" respectively). The Latin-flavoured "La Luna" wasn't actually lifted from Runaway Horses in the States - instead "Summer Rain" was chosen as single number two there. And, even though "Summer Rain" would eventually be released here, I can't help but think the Americans got it right with their pick and "La Luna" should probably have been left to later. 

Number 39 "Don't Know Much" by Linda Ronstadt / Aaron Neville
Peak: number 2

A quintessentially '80s ballad, "Don't Know Much" had indeed been around for the entire decade, first recorded by co-writer Barry Mann for his self-titled album in 1980. Covered over the years by artists like Bill Medley (who released it as a single in 1981) and Bette Midler (whose 1983 version was re-titled "All I Need To Know"), it had never been a big hit. Turned into a duet by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, and given a more rousing feel, the song finally connected - and how, reaching number 2 in the Australia, the US and the UK. Easily the best version recorded of "Don't Know Much" thanks to Linda and Aaron's effortless vocals, the duet became an instant wedding dance and love song dedication favourite.

Number 38 "Janie's Got A Gun" by Aerosmith
Peak: number 1

They were known more for good-time tracks like "Walk This Way" and "Love In An Elevator", but it was this significantly more serious song about an abused child growing up to take revenge on the father who molested her that gave Aerosmith their first substantial hit in Australia. It even spent a week at number 1. Not sure what that says about us, although it's probably fair to say "Janie's Got A Gun" was always going to get a lot of attention regardless of who performed it, thanks to that subject matter and the dark music video directed by David Fincher.

Number 30 "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid II
Peak: number 30
On my first 1985 recap, we saw the original version of "Do They Know It's Christmas" debut on the Australian chart - and exactly five years later, a new version produced by Stock Aitken Waterman arrived. Featuring most of the Hit Factory's stable of artists (Kylie, Jason, Bananarama, Sonia, Big Fun) as well as big pop acts of the day like Wet Wet Wet, Bros and Lisa Stansfield, it once again raised money for famine in Africa. All but written out of Band Aid history in the wake of the "more credible" versions released in 2004 and 2014, the charity song was as popular as it's ever been in 1989, taking out the UK Christmas number 1 spot and staying there for three weeks. In Australia, this belated entry position was as good as it got - and it remains the only version of the song not to make the top 10 locally.

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

Next week: the arrival of two new female vocalists who'd take the world by storm in 1990 - one of whom you can see in the YouTube screenshot just above. Plus, a song taken from the film debut of another Band Aid II contributor. Before that, I'll pop back to 1985 on Tuesday to see what was happening on the ARIA singles chart 30 years ago.

Back to: Jan 7, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 21, 1990

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

This Week In 1985: January 13, 1985

For the past couple of years, I've been taking a look back 25 years to what was happening on the ARIA top 50 singles chart - and I've reached 1990 with those posts. But, 2015 marks three decades since one of the most important times in music history. Spurred on by the overwhelming success of the highest new entry on the chart this week in 1985, the music industry pulled together like never before in the name of charity.

Band Aid changed the face of music as 1985 began

So it only seemed right to revisit 1985 with a new weekly update. I wasn't collecting the ARIA chart myself at that stage (that wouldn't happen until 1987), but I have managed to get my hands on every top 50 from that year. If you want to know what I was doing and listening to that year, you can check out my favourite songs from 1985 here 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - three weeks ending January 13, 1985

Before we get on with our first look back at what songs Australia was buying in 1985, it's worth noting that this first ARIA top 50 is for the three weeks ending January 13, 1985 and reflects record sales prior to December 23, 1984 - which explains some of the festive tunes in the upper reaches of the chart. It also means "Like A Virgin" by Madonna notched up its third, fourth and fifth weeks at number 1 during that time.

New Entries
Number 49 "What About Me?" by Kenny Rogers with Kim Carnes & James Ingram
Peak: number 49
In 2015, a collaboration like this would be nothing new - but in 1985, it was pretty unusual for three singers to perform on a track together. The lead single from country crossover star Kenny Rogers' album of the same name, "What About Me?" saw him reunite with Kim Carnes (with whom he'd duetted on 1980's number 38 "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer") and also team up with soul star James Ingram - the third choice after Lionel Richie and Jeffrey Osborne pulled out. Kim, meanwhile, became involved after Barbra Streisand and Olivia Newton-John were unavailable. A love story told from three perspectives, the song was written by Kenny with hitmaker David Foster and a then-unknown Richard Marx. Not a massive hit in Australia - it'd fall out of the top 50 the following week - "What About Me?" performed better in the States, where it reached number 15.

Number 48 "I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister
Peak: number 43
It was always going to be hard following up "We're Not Gonna Take It" (which was making its way down the chart from its top 10 peak), but "I Wanna Rock" was a valiant effort by Twisted Sister to avoid becoming a novelty one-hit wonder and is a better song (if you like that sort of thing) than its lowly chart peak suggests. Again, much of the appeal of the single came from its music video, which featured two of the stars of National Lampoon's Animal House and felt like the climax of a teen comedy film. Despite the effort, "I Wanna Rock" ended up a minor hit both here and in the US, and Twisted Sister puttered out a couple of years later with only one further Billboard Hot 100 entry - a cover of The Shangri-Las' "Leader Of The Pack" - to their name.

Number 44 "Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)" by Eurythmics
Peak: number 5
Sneaking into the top 50 just as the year after it is named came to an end, this brand-new single by Eurythmics was taken from the soundtrack to Nineteen Eighty-Four, the film adaptation of the George Orwell novel (in which the concept of Big Brother was created). Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart recorded the entire soundtrack album, which was only a modest hit (it reached number 22) after two consecutive top 5 albums. But, there was nothing modest about the success of "Sexcrime...", which became the duo's biggest hit in Australia up until that point, beating the number 6 peak of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" by one spot. An even bigger song was just around the corner for the pair - and no, I'm not talking about "Julia", the second single from the soundtrack, which may not even have been released in Australia.

Number 43 "Moonlight Lady" by Julio Iglesias
Peak: number 43
Decades before his son told listeners in no uncertain terms what he was going to do to them, Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias took a more subtle approach to wooing the fairer sex. The smooth-as-silk "Moonlight Lady" was the latest single from Julio's smash album 1100 Bel Air Place, which was firmly ensconced in the albums top 10 and featured previous hits "To All The Girls I've Loved Before" (with Willie Nelson) and "All Of You" (with Diana Ross). Written by the songwriting team of Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager (who'd also penned Leo Sayer's "When I Need You"), "Moonlight Lady" was, like the Kenny Rogers song, another brief chart hit and would be Julio's last appearance on the top 50 for over three years.

Number 2 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid
Peak: number 1
Recorded on November 24, 1984 and in record stores in the UK by December 3 (and Australia shortly after), "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was a rapid-fire response to a serious problem: the famine in Ethiopia. The story behind the single is well known, with The Boomtown Rats' Bob Geldof and Ultravox's Midge Ure scrambling to write the song and assemble a group of (mostly) British musicians to perform it. 
The result was an instant number 1 in the UK - and for many years the highest-selling single of all time in Britain, with over three million copies sold by this point in 1985. In Australia, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" wouldn't reach number 1 for another week (reflecting sales from across the festive season) - and would stay there well after Christmas was a distant memory, registering four weeks at the top.

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

Next week: two of the biggest ballad hits of the year debut, as does the theme to a classic '80s movie - I know, that doesn't really narrow it down given it's 1985 we're talking about. And tomorrow, it's back to 1990 as I look back at the ARIA top 50 from this week 25 years ago.

Back to: Dec 23, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 20, 1985

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

This Week In 1990: January 7, 1990

Happy New Year, chart fans. This week in 1990, it was not only a new year but also the dawn of a new decade on the ARIA chart. Of course, music didn't change dramatically overnight - or even in the three weeks it had been since the last chart. But big developments were just around the corner - I'm thinking grunge, techno and MC Hammer.

John Waite transformed himself from a mid-'80s pop star into...
...the lead singer of '90s soft rock band Bad English 

Fittingly, the highest new entry this week in 1990 came from a man who'd looked very different on his last top 50 outing but whose transformation hadn't happened overnight, either. Indeed, it'd been more than five years since he'd last had a hit single.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - three weeks ending January 7, 1990

The first chart for the year came with a brand new number 1, "Love Shack" by The B-52's, which benefitted from ARIA's summer shutdown by registering three weeks at the top in one go. Not that the song needed any help staying at number 1 - it'd be there for a good while longer.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "1-2-3" by The Chimes
Peak: number 73
The first of two excellent singles by the UK soul group fronted by Pauline Henry that peaked outside the top 50 before an adventurous remake gave them a hit later in the year.

"Living In Sin" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 64
Was it really such a big deal for unmarried couples to have sex or live together in 1990 - or 1988, when parent album New Jersey was first released? I guess it was or it might've seemed a bit quaint for Bon Jovi to get so dramatic about it. And "Living In Sin" was fairly angsty - even the video was uncharacteristically OTT. 
Despite starting off sounding like a rock "Father Figure", this fifth single from New Jersey was, for me, the hair metal band's worst single since their breakthrough with "You Give Love A Bad Name" - and it justifiably became their first to miss the top 50 since then. They lapped it up in the States, however, where "Living In Sin" became the fifth straight top 10 hit from the album.

"Body Heat" by Roxus
Peak: number 60
Next up, it's Australia's answer to Bon Jovi, who were still waiting for their big breakthrough hit, having briefly visited the top 50 late in 1989. Listening to "Body Heat" now, I'm kind of surprised it wasn't more successful. Yes, it's a little dated and mid-'80s sounding, but it's actually pretty catchy. 

"Street Of Love" by Jenny Morris
Peak: number 51
It only makes sense for someone with a chart career as yoyo-ing as Jenny Morris to go from landing the biggest hit of her career (1989's number 5 "She Has To Be Loved") to missing the top 50 with the follow-up. The only song on Shiver not composed by Jenny or the album's producer, Andrew Farriss, "Street Of Love" was written by Paul Kelly. He also released the track - as "Beggar On The Street Of Love" - in 1990. A live version was the B-side to his single "Most Wanted Man In The World".

New Entries
Number 48 "Woman In Chains" by Tears For Fears
Peak: number 39
After the Beatle-ish "Sowing The Seeds Of Love", Tears For Fears shifted gear again for the follow-up, this duet with lounge singer Oleta Adams. The story of Curt and Roland from TFF discovering Oleta while she performed in a hotel bar in Missouri during their American tour is well known, but what I didn't realise is that she's not the only guest artist on this track - Phil Collins plays drums on "Woman In Chains" as well. The song was probably too subtle to be a massive hit, and duly became the band's least successful top 50 appearance in Australia up until that point.

Number 37 "Cover Girl" by New Kids On The Block
Peak: number 22
Before Christmas, we saw NKOTB's festive single, "This One's For The Children", enter the chart and this week in 1990, it reached its peak position of number 40. Three spots higher, the boy band charted again with this latest release from Hangin' Tough. "Cover Girl" would do much better than "This One's...", but still fall some way short of the lofty chart heights scaled by New Kids' 1989 trio of hits. Had the bubble burst already? 
Not quite, as we'd discover later in the year. But, even NKOTB fans (of whom there was only a finite number in Australia judging by this track's performance compared to its number 2 placing in the US) had to admit the release of "Cover Girl" was a halfhearted effort. The song didn't even get a proper music video, with live footage taken from the same concert that was seen in the clip for "Hangin' Tough" used instead.

Number 31 "When I See You Smile" by Bad English
Peak: number 4

In 1984, John Waite, the former vocalist for The Babys (biggest hit: 1978's number 1 "Isn't It Time"), reached number 5 in Australia and number 1 in the US with "Missing You", the lead single from his second solo album, No Brakes. Nothing he released after that essential '80s track performed anywhere near as well and after a few years of slogging away on his own, John got back in the band business.
He teamed up with some ex-Babys bandmates and a few other musos to form Bad English. To ensure they looked the part, the five-piece sported the obligatory teased up big hair but with this breakthrough hit, which was written by power ballad queen Diane Warren, they sounded less Bon Jovi and more 1927. "When I See You Smile" was another chart-topper in the States and did pretty well in Australia, too, ending up as the year's 21st biggest seller locally.

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

Next week: A belated entry from a sequel Christmas single plus a classic '80s ballad duet finally makes the ARIA top 50. And, I'll add an exciting (for some) new section to my recaps.

Plus, I'll go further back into music history as I take a look at what was happening on the singles chart in 1985.

Back to: Dec 17, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 14, 1990