Sunday, 30 October 2016

This Week In 1983: October 30, 1983

Our family didn't own a VCR until around 1986. I can't remember exactly when it was but we got a free copy of The Last Starfighter on video when we bought it, so whenever that was a new release in Australia. 

John Belushi had passed away by the time The Blues Brothers reached the top 10

Back in 1983, home video was really starting to take off in Australia. In fact, a movie that had been in cinemas in 1980 was released on video in 1983 - and, as a result, its soundtrack rose to a new chart high and a song taken from the film even dented the top 50.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 30, 1983

Also this week in 1983, Culture Club brought an end to Austen Tayshus's stranglehold on the number 1 spot. "Karma Chameleon" spent its first of five weeks on top.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Rock Of Ages" by Def Leppard
Peak: number 96
It'd take until the end of the decade for Australia to really get on board the Def Leppard train, but this single from Pyromania gave the British rockers their first top 100 appearance here if nothing else.

Number 92 "The First Picture Of You" by The Lotus Eaters
Peak: number 63
This British indie pop band were the subject of a bidding war following their appearance on one of BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel's Sessions. "The First Picture of You" would be their only UK hit (and ARIA chart appearance).

Number 90 "Popcorn Love" by New Edition
Peak: number 73
"Candy Girl" had been huge, but despite skipping over painful ballad "Is This The End", the similarly junk food themed "Popcorn Love" couldn't repeat the trick for New Edition.

Number 88 "Confusion" by New Order
Peak: number 72
Here's another act failing to follow up a big hit. Released on 12" single and limited edition cassette single, "Confusion" peaked 59 places lower than "Blue Monday".

New Entries
Number 50 "Everyday I Write The Book" by Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Peak: number 40
Sometimes it's best not to overthink things. At least, if you want a hit record, that is. Many of history's biggest singles have been (allegedly) written in 15 minutes - and that was the case with this playful tune, which Elvis dashed out to prove he could. The song which compares a relationship to a novel might not have taken as much effort as some of the singer/songwriter's other works, but it certainly had an impact. 
In Australia, it brought Elvis Costello back to the top 50 for the first time since "Good Year For The Roses" in early 1982, while in the US, "Everyday I Write The Book" was his first top 40 hit. Besides the Charles and Diana lookalikes in the music video, keep an eye out for backing singer Caron Wheeler - who achieved her first chart credit as vocalist for Soul II Soul in 1989, the same year Elvis had his next ARIA top 50 hit.

Number 47 "Shake Your Tailfeather" by Ray Charles with The Blues Brothers
Peak: number 47
This might be sacrilege, but I've never actually seen The Blues Brothers - and don't really have any desire to. I was five in 1980 when the movie came out and still fairly young when it was released on video in 1983. Over the years, I've seen bits and pieces of the comedy film, and I know some of its more iconic moments - like the scene at Ray's Music Exchange. 
Ray is, of course, Ray Charles, whose cover of "Shake A Tail Feather" by The Five Du-Tones was pushed as a single once the soundtrack belatedly took off in Australia. The album had first charted in February 1981 but only got to number 65, a position it reached again in November 1982. It re-entered the top 100 again in June 1983, finally venturing into the top 50 and going all the way to number 10, a position from which it fell one spot this week in 1983.

Number 43 "Forbidden Colours" by David Sylvian / Ryuichi Sakamoto
Peak: number 29
Our final new entry for the week is another soundtrack release - this time from a film that was actually in cinemas in 1983. Featuring Japan frontman David Sylvian, the haunting "Forbidden Colours" is the vocal version of the instrumental theme from World War II POW film Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, which starred David Bowie, Jack Thompson and the movie's composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. I wasn't sure I knew this song - the title certainly wasn't familiar - but I recognised the distinctive piano hook as soon as it kicked in. Ryuichi would briefly return to the albums top 100 in 1988 with his Oscar-winning score to The Last Emperor, but this was David's only singles chart appearance, despite Japan having released excellent synthpop tunes like "Life In Tokyo" and "Quiet Life"

Albums Chart

Given it was a pretty lousy singles chart this week in 1983, I thought I'd take a quick look at what was happening on the albums side of things...

As well as bagging their second chart-topping single, Culture Club debuted at number 1 with their second album, Colour By Numbers, which was a bit of an improvement on the number 12 peak of previous release Kissing To Be Clever. Like "Karma Chameleon", Colour By Numbers spent five weeks on top - but added another two weeks at number 1 to its total in mid-1984 as a result of the band's Australian tour.

While Culture Club scored their first number 1 album, the reverse was true for Moving Pictures, who'd hit the top last time around with 1981's Days Of Innocence. Their second album, Matinee, which included single "Back To The Streets", wouldn't get any higher than its debut position of number 16. Meanwhile, an album that'd been released a few weeks after Days Of Innocence was still on the top 50 this week in 1983. Thanks to the resurgence of "Down Under", Men At Work's Business As Usual spent its 63rd week in the top 50. INXS's Shabooh Shoobah was not far behind with 53 weeks.

Alongside old albums by new acts were some new albums by veteran performers, as Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole debuted with Australian-only compilations Through The Years and Unforgettable respectively. Both were released (with consecutive catalogue numbers) by Capitol Records and seem to have come out on CD as well as vinyl - no doubt the unique selling point of yet another compilation by the singers. Unforgettable would be the more successful, peaking at number 10, while Through The Years reached number 24.

No look back at an albums chart from the '80s would be complete without checking out the various artist compilations that feature - and spending its final week in the top 50 is a double album that couldn't be more '80s if it tried: Jane Fonda's Workout Record, which originally came out in late 1982 and had recently re-entered the top 100. Elsewhere on the top 50, there were descriptively named collections called Reggae and Dance Rap, and the requisite hits compilation, The Breakers '83, which had topped the chart for two weeks in September.

Listen to every top 50 hit (that's on Spotify) from the second half of 1983 on my playlist:

Next week: a brand new single from one massive British pop group bursts straight into the top 10, while the latest from another misses the top 50 completely. Plus, the first single from a brand new Australian pop act and the second duet from a pair of superstars both debut.

Back to: Oct 23, 1983 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 6, 1983

Thursday, 27 October 2016

This Week In 1991: October 27, 1991

Australia had taken its time getting into hip-hop music and, up until mid-1991, the big rap hits had pretty much been the obvious ones. From songs like "Walk This Way", "U Can't Touch This" and "Ice Ice Baby" that were based on well-known hooks to quotable anecdotal raps like "Bust A Move", "Wild Thing" and "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...", our taste in hip-hop had been fairly predictable. 

In 1991, I became a big PM Dawn fan

That started to change as 1991 drew to a close. This week that year, two entries on the ARIA singles chart were hip-hop songs that weren't your typical hits. Yes, one was still based around a very recognisable sample, but its laidback style wasn't something we were used to seeing in the top 50.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending October 27, 1991

For the second week in a row, "Rush" by Big Audio Dynamite II held down the number 1 spot, but with two big singles hurtling into the top 5, its day on top seemed numbered. As it turned out, the way it was knocked off number 1 wasn't what anyone was expecting.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Rock Your Heart Out" by AC/DC
Peak: number 76
After managing three top 30 singles from an album for only the second time in their career, it was pretty much inevitable that a fourth release from The Razors Edge would spoil AC/DC's run. 

Number 79 "Chorus" by Erasure
Peak: number 77
In the UK, this lead single from the album of the same name became the synthpop duo's sixth top 5 hit. In Australia, it was lucky to venture into the top 100, more's the pity.

"Something To Talk About" by Bonnie Raitt
Peak: number 57
Australia hadn't jumped on board the Bonnie Raitt bandwagon in 1989-1990 when Nick Of Time became a multiple Grammy Award-winning phenomenon. That album peaked at number 58 locally whereas in the US, it was a chart-topping multi-platinum success. The blues rock singer/songwriter made some headway on the ARIA chart with "Something To Talk About", which almost became a hit both in October 1991 and again in February 1992 when it returned to the top 100 for an extra 10 weeks (and a high of number 68) after she'd won another Grammy for it. There was better news for parent album Luck Of The Draw, which reached the Australian top 20 - still the best placing of her 45-year career.

"Can't Truss It" by Public Enemy
Peak: number 55
Next up, a hip-hop group who were having trouble making any further headway on the ARIA chart. Yep, once again, Public Enemy peaked just outside the top 50 with their latest release, the first single proper from Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Back. "Can't Truss It", which dealt with the topic of African American slavery, became Public Enemy's first hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 50 (although selling over half a million copies).

New Entries
Number 50 "Lovesick" by Gang Starr
Peak: number 13
Public Enemy were regulars in the bottom half of the top 100 by now, but hip-hop duo Gang Starr had also been releasing music since 1987 without any chart success whatsoever... until this week in 1991. Taken from their second album, Step In The Arena, "Love Sick" was about as different a rap song from the politically driven "Can't Truss It" as you could hope to hear. The more laidback album version of "Love Sick" was re-energised by John Waddell and it's the jazzy upbeat mix below - unimaginatively titled Upbeat Mix - that became a hit. With its blaring horns, tinkling piano and hypnotic bass line, "Love Sick" was one of the coolest songs of the year, and unlike any previous rap hit in Australia. It was also the only top 100 appearance for rapper Guru and DJ Premier.

Number 46 "Give It Away" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Peak: number 41
Their Stevie Wonder cover, "Higher Ground", had given them a taste of top 50 success and this original track edged them ever closer to the top 40. The first single lifted from future chart-topping album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, "Give It Away" was another genre-defying hybrid that, if nothing else, certainly made you sit up and take notice. The black and white video courtesy of director Stéphane Sednaoui was also an attention-grabber and although neither song nor clip were particularly up my alley, I could see why people were so excited by the musically adventurous band. Who knew they were about to really explode?

Number 41 "Nutbush City Limits (The 90s Version)" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 16
From a song that pushed music forward to a release that delved into the past - something Tina Turner was doing in general with the release of her first greatest hits collection, Simply The Best. One of the last singles by Tina and her former husband and music partner, Ike, "Nutbush City Limits" was written about Tina's home town and had charted at number 14 in 1973. The formation dancing favourite was given a rather soulless remix for inclusion on the album, which mostly side-stepped that earlier part of her career - "River Deep - Mountain High" the only other song from that era to be included. It's not surprising Tina had as little reference to Ike as possible on Simply The Best given the tumultuous nature of their relationship and the fact that in January 1991, she had declined to attend the ceremony inducting the two of them (among others) into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Number 40 "Sometimes It's A Bitch" by Stevie Nicks
Peak: number 18
Here's another female music veteran who was releasing her first greatest hits album, Timespace: The Best Of. You couldn't half tell it was coming up to Christmas, could you? Unlike Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks released one of the new songs included on the album as its first single. Co-written by Jon Bon Jovi, "Sometimes It's A Bitch" found Stevie in pop/rock rather than dance/pop mode, and as a result, it's not one of her solo efforts I'm that fond of. Like the video for the new version of "Nutbush City Limits", the clip for "Sometimes It's A Bitch" is worth a look for all the archive footage.

Number 39 "Hole Hearted" by Extreme
Peak: number 24
After 16 weeks, "More Than Words" was still in the upper half of the chart and it was joined on the top 50 this week by the follow-up. Acoustic sing-along "Hole Hearted" might've been significantly more spirited than its ballad predecessor, but it was still atypical of the rest of the Pornograffitti album - and was actually a cassette and CD bonus track not found on the vinyl version. Clearly Extreme's record company knew they had to keep the commercial releases coming before too many people cottoned on to the fact that these hits weren't what the rest of Extreme's material sounded like. 

Number 36 "Something Got Me Started" by Simply Red
Peak: number 29
If someone asked me whether I like Simply Red or not - admittedly not something that happens that often - I'd have to clarify which Simply Red they meant. You see, I'm not a fan of the biggest hits from Mick Hucknall and co., songs like "If You Don't Know Me By Now", "Holding Back The Years" and "Fairground". So if that's what they were referring to, I'd say no. But, I do like quite a lot of the band's less successful singles. Like this moody lead release from Stars, which felt like the natural successor to "A New Flame" and "The Right Thing". Like all the singles from Stars and the album itself, "Something Got Me Started" was way less successful here than in the UK, where the song reached number 11, and Stars was the highest-selling album in both 1991 and 1992.

Number 21 "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" by P.M. Dawn
Peak: number 7
The top 50 had already played host to a number of hip-hop songs that sampled previous hits to great effect - I mentioned three of them at the start of this post. So what made this breakthrough hit by hip-hop duo P.M. Dawn (brothers Attrell and Jarrett Cordes) any different? It may have been based around the instantly recognisable guitar hook from Spandau Ballet's "True", but for me, the style of "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" was completely different to the likes of "Pray" or "Ooops Up"
The under-stated rap by the late Attrell (aka Prince Be) was closer to Neil Tennant's spoken vocal in "West End Girls" than the in-your-face posturing of Vanilla Ice or Salt 'n' Pepa. And, the laidback feel of the song had more in common with non-hits by De La Soul (who'd scored instead with "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)" and its answering machine gimmick) and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's game-changer, "Summertime". There's no discounting the likelihood that "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" would not have been as big without that snippet of "True", but it really did feel like Australia had welcomed a completely new type of hip-hop hit.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:

Next week: new singles from some of the biggest acts in the world - a female singer following up her world-conquering debut album, a male artist whose latest album had blasted into the top 5 a couple of weeks earlier, a live release from the biggest band in Australia and the return of the biggest band in the world with a song that did something only two other singles had so far achieved.

Back to: Oct 20, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 3, 1991

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

This Week In 1986: October 26, 1986

Between them, Elton John and Madonna released more than 60 singles during the '80s - 25 of which made the Australian top 10. It's only understandable that a few of those hits would have become overlooked in the ensuing decades.

Two of the most forgotten hits by two of the biggest acts of the '80s

This week in 1986, a future top 10 single by each prolific performer debuted on the ARIA singles chart, but I'd wager neither are among the singers' most popular - or most remembered - hits.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending October 26, 1986

A song that was easily the most popular and is now the most remembered hit by Bananarama in Australia was still on top of the chart. "Venus" spent its sixth week at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "I'm Your Man" by Barry Manilow
Peak: number 98
Perhaps he'd have been better off covering the Wham! song of the same name. Instead, this out-of-character synthpop ditty failed to connect for the man who used to write the songs the whole world sang.

Number 94 "Rumors" by The Social Club
Peak: number 94
This debut single by the funk band also known as Timex Social Club provided the template for new jack swing. "Rumors" was much more successful overseas, reaching number 8 in the US.

New Entries
Number 48 "Clap-Clap Sound" by The Klaxons
Peak: number 45
I have a theory that no song featuring an accordion is ever any good. "The Birdie Song". "Lambada". "You Promised Me (Tu Es Foutu)". Generally, they're European summer holiday records that people drunkenly dance to while on vacation then purchase back home in the mistaken belief that they'll want to listen to them sober. Thankfully, this hideous piece of accordion music from Belgium was only a minor hit in Australia and I've never had the misfortune of listening to it before now. I made it through 20 seconds.

Number 45 "True Blue" by Madonna
Peak: number 5
As early as 1986, we'd already gotten used to expecting the unexpected from Madonna. Thirty years ago this week, she followed up one of her edgiest singles yet with one of her most old-fashioned. The title track of her third album, the retro-styled "True Blue" was a sugar-coated blast of pure pop after the topical angst of "Papa Don't Preach". Yet another huge hit for the platinum blonde singer - her ninth consecutive (and 10th overall) top 10 single - "True Blue" stayed at its peak for four weeks and ended 1986 among the year's 50 biggest singles. 
The story was the same overseas, with the doo-wop-influenced love song reaching number 1 in the UK and number 3 in the US. Even so, it was later left off her first greatest hits release, The Immaculate Collection, and not performed in concert for nearly 30 years. Were it not also the name of one of her biggest albums - and, for me, the best pop album of all time - I'd say "True Blue" would've become even more forgotten about than it already is.

Number 43 "Calling" by Rose Tattoo
Peak: number 24
It was a time of change for Rose Tattoo in 1986. Having charted at the end of 1985 with their cover of "Born To Be Wild", the latest line-up of the hard rock group - a four-piece - released their first studio album through their new deal with Mushroom Records. "Calling" was the lead single from Beats From A Single Drum and it's a lot poppier than I remember the band ever being. Shock of all shocks, I actually quite like it. Following Angry Anderson's transition to a solo career - with a track that originally appeared on Beats From A Single Drum - "Calling" was released internationally in 1989 credited to him alone, while the album was rebranded as his solo debut.

Number 37 "Heartache All Over The World" by Elton John
Peak: number 7
Elton John, for one, is likely quite pleased this single is rarely heard these days - after all, it comes from an album he once described as the worst he's ever recorded. Released at the height of his drug-addicted, sexuality-denying '80s blowout, Leather Jackets is mostly forgettable, but lead single "Heartache All Over The World" remains a pretty catchy tune and is one of my favourites of Elton's from the decade (and one of my favourite songs from 1986). Australia seems to have shared my enthusiasm for the track, making it his biggest hit since "Nikita" and his final top 10 appearance of the decade. "Sacrifice", although released in late 1989, didn't reach number 7 until March 1990.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:

Next week: three one-hit wonders and one two-hit wonder, including a love theme from a daytime soap opera and a solo hit from the singer of the band that'd won the very first MTV Video Music Award for Video Of The Year.

Back to: Oct 19, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 2, 1986

Sunday, 23 October 2016

This Week In 1983: October 23, 1983

"Endless Love". "Up Where We Belong". "Save Your Love". The '80s had already provided some monster ballad duets - and two more arrived on the ARIA top 50 this week in 1983.

Two singles, four performers, one overdose of romantic sentiment

One of the ballads was performed by a pair of country superstars, while the other reunited two soul singers who'd previously collaborated on a live album in 1980. Both singles would be top 10 hits, one going all the way to the very top of the chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 23, 1983

There was no change again at the top of the ARIA singles chart this week in 1983 as "Australiana" by Austen Tayshus spent an eighth week at number 1. The good news: it was the comedy record's final week as the nation's highest-selling single.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Never Say Die (Give A Little Bit More)" by Cliff Richard
Peak: number 81
He may have been marking his 25th anniversary as a recording artist with the Silver album, but as the chart position of this lead single shows, not so many joined in the celebration.

Number 99 "Scatterlings Of Africa" by Juluka
Peak: number 93
This world music track by the South African band would later be re-recorded by singer Johnny Clegg's next group, Johnny Clegg & Savuka, in 1986 and included in Rain Man.

Number 98 "Decisions" by The Expression
Peak: number 91
Debut single "With Closed Eyes" had peaked inside the top 30 earlier in the year, but the Sydney synthpop band's follow-up was both less catchy and less successful.

New Entries
Number 49 "Soldier Of Fortune" by John Paul Young
Peak: number 17
Between 1972 and 1978, John Paul Young was one of the most successful singers in Australia, racking up nine top 20 singles, the penultimate of which was the world-conquering hit "Love Is In The Air". But, it's funny (although probably not to JPY) how quickly things can change. His 1979 album, Heaven Sent, was a commercial disaster, as was his 1981 covers collection, The Singer, which had been his first release after breaking away from songwriters and producers Vanda & Young. Just when it looked like it might've been all over for JPY, he returned in 1983 with his 10th top 20 hit, the on-trend "Soldier Of Fortune". The type of synthpop track you might've expected from Icehouse at this point in their career, the song's success seemed to suggest the former King Of Pop might just have salvaged his career. Time would tell...

Number 48 "Islands In The Stream" by Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton
Peak: number 1
How different things would have been if Marvin Gaye had recorded "Islands In The Stream" as originally intended. The brothers Gibb had written the song as an R&B track but when Barry Gibb began production work on Kenny Rogers' Eyes That See In The Dark album, the song was restyled for him. And, since collaborating with a female vocalist had worked so well earlier in the year on Kenny and Sheena Easton's cover of "We've Got Tonight", "Islands In The Stream" was turned into a duet featuring fellow country superstar Dolly Parton - a pairing that was long overdue. 
With its instantly hummable chorus and sweet (but not sickly) sentiment, "Islands In The Stream" was a huge hit, reaching number 1 both here in Australia and on the mainstream Hot 100 in America. It would be the first of a number of collaborations between the singers, and not the last time the song (or, at least, its melody) would be a hit, with Pras Michel making use of the hook for his 1998 single "Ghetto Superstar (That Is What You Are)".

Number 37 "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" by Peabo Bryson / Roberta Flack
Peak: number 10
By 1983, Roberta Flack already had two Australian chart-toppers ("The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song") to her name, but it had been almost a decade since she'd seen the inside of the top 50. Peabo Bryson, meanwhile, had been releasing music since the mid-'70s without ever having landed a hit locally. Brought together again after 1980's Live & More, the two recorded a whole album of duets, Born To Love, which was kicked off by this Love Song Dedication favourite. 
Also known to Days Of Our Lives viewers as Bo and Hope's theme song (back when daytime soaps could afford to license original pop songs), "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" was written by Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser - a pair who knew their way around a romantic tune. The songwriters were also responsible for "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)", "Saving All My Love For You" and "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You". The super-sweet ballad would be Roberta's final top 50 appearance in Australia, while Peabo would manage three more hits - two of them Disney movie duets in the early '90s.

Number 19 "Gold" by Spandau Ballet
Peak: number 9
Eclipsing those two love songs to be the week's highest new entry was the latest - and, for me, greatest - single by Spandau Ballet. We'd last heard from the British band with their own contribution to the list of classic '80s ballads, "True", but follow-up "Gold", while just as polished as its predecessor, was a dramatic and dynamic pop tune. Apparently conceived by the band's songwriter, Gary Kemp, as his spin on a Bond theme, "Gold" even came with a slick music video filmed in Spain that featured a young Sadie Frost spray-painted gold lying on a bed (a la Goldfinger). While not quite as big as "True", "Gold" provided Spandau Ballet with their second - and final - top 10 hit in Australia, and has been wheeled out ever since during Olympics coverage.

Listen to every top 50 hit (that's on Spotify) from the second half of 1983 on my playlist:

Next week: two soundtrack singles enter the top 50 - one three years after the film it was taken from was in cinemas. Plus, a closer look at the albums chart.

Back to: Oct 16, 1983 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 30, 1983

Thursday, 20 October 2016

This Week In 1991: October 20, 1991

There have been plenty of successful partnerships between songwriters and female singers over the years. Bacharach & David and Dionne WarwickJimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Janet Jackson. Stock Aitken Waterman and Kylie Minogue.

Belinda Carlisle stuck with her winning formula in 1991

This week in 1991, a partnership between a songwriting duo and a female artist who'd scored her biggest hits with their songs bore fruit again.

Meanwhile, at number 1 this week in 1991, Big Audio Dynamite II's "Rush" finally ascended to the top in its 24th week in the top 100, dislodging "Love... Thy Will Be Done" by Martika in the process.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Satisfaction" by Vanilla Ice
Peak: number 97
In less than a year, it was all over for Vanilla Ice, who could only limp into the very bottom of the top 100 with this cheesy spin on The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction".

Number 96 "God Only Knows" by Troy Newman
Peak: number 85
I don't think I ever heard this follow-up to "Love Gets Rough" at the time, but it reminds me a little of Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet". Unfortunately for Troy, it was nowhere near as big, 

Number 93 "6 Minutes Of Pleasure" by LL Cool J
Peak: number 93
Actually only four-and-a-half minutes long, the final single from Mama Said Knock You Out sampled James Brown, Doug E Fresh and an Isaac Hayes piano hook also heard in Daniel Merriweather's "Change".

Number 79 "Stand By Love" by Simple Minds
Peak: number 70
The rockiest single from Real Life so far did better than previous release "See The Lights", but it was really beginning to feel like Simple Minds' best days were behind them.

"Try A Little Tenderness" by The Commitments
Peak: number 52
I don't have box office stats, but I feel like The Commitments was one of 1991's most successful movies in Australia. The two soundtracks released from the film about an Irish soul band were certainly huge - the first album reached number 2 and spent one week shy of a year on the top 50; the second volume peaked at number 6. The Commitments' version of the frequently covered 1930s tune first recorded by the Ray Noble Orchestra appeared on the original album and just missed the top 50, but another remake would succeed where "Try A Little Tenderness" failed in the coming months.

New Entries
Number 48 "Jump To The Beat" by Dannii
Peak: number 48
It was just typical. Having suffered through Dannii Minogue's early so-so singles, "Love And Kisses", "Success" and "I Don't Wanna Take This Pain"Australia had to go and lose interest just as her music started to get good. "Jump To The Beat" was the first of two cover versions Dannii added to her drastically revised debut album for its UK release. 
Originally recorded by teen star Stacy Lattisaw in 1980, "Jump To The Beat" moved away from the new jack swing-lite of Dannii's first few Australian singles for more of a pop/dance feel, complete with rap by Technotronic's Einstein. Her earlier musical style had already been scrubbed off "Love And Kisses" and "Success" for their UK releases, while a remixed version of "I Don't Wanna Take This Pain" would end up as her fifth single in Britain. 
Quite why "Jump To The Beat" failed so badly in Australia is beyond me, especially given the fact that similarly styled singles by Melissa were doing quite well. The good news was that Dannii's second remake would receive a better reception in early 1992.

Number 46 "Stand By My Woman" by Lenny Kravitz
Peak: number 46
He'd finally scored a big hit with "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" but it was back to the lower end of the top 50 for Lenny Kravitz with this latest single from top 10 album Mama Said. It'd be nearly a year-and-a-half before we'd see Lenny on the chart again - but when he returned, he'd do so with the biggest hit of his entire career.

Number 45 "Live Your Life Be Free" by Belinda Carlisle
Peak: number 13
Picking up where she left off, Belinda Carlisle returned to the chart with another pop tune with a massive sing-along chorus courtesy of songwriters Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley, who'd written previous top 50 hits "Heaven Is A Place On Earth", "Leave A Light On", "Runaway Horses" and "La Luna", among other songs, for her. True to form, "Live Your Life Be Free" was another big single for Belinda. In the US, it was passed over for "Do You Feel Like I Feel?", which peaked at a dismal number 73 - the worst performance by one of her lead singles. All her previous lead singles had got to number 11 or higher on the Billboard Hot 100. Unfortunately for Belinda, chart struggles were something she was going to have to get used to...

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:

Next week: a hit from the '70s is given a remix, while a hit from the '80s is sampled for another new single. Plus, debuts from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Simply Red, Extreme and Stevie Nicks.

Back to: Oct 13, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 27, 1991

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

This Week In 1986: October 19, 1986

Some weeks in music are bigger than others. For every chart with only a couple of minor hits debuting, there are ones like the ARIA top 50 from this week in 1986. Two singles that would have a huge impact on music for years to come quickly made their presence felt.

John Farnham: proving not all songs with bagpipes have to be awful

One song was a major comeback by a singer whose first hit was way back in 1967. His latest chart-topping single would not only kick-start his career, but provide encouragement for other former stars to revive their careers.

Run-DMC: proving rap and rock could coexist without anyone getting hurt

The other was a landmark hip-hop single that helped the genre cross over like never before. Around the world, it opened the door to rap music in a way that previous hits hadn't managed and brought Australia one step closer to its first rap number 1

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending October 19, 1986

At number 1 this week in 1986, Bananarama still held strong with "Venus". The cover version spent its fifth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent" by Gwen Guthrie
Peak: number 75
In countries where this was a hit, the biggest single by funk singer/songwriter Gwen Guthrie and its "you got to have a J-O-B if you wanna be with me" message became a catchcry for female empowerment.

Number 99 "Imperial Hotel" by Stevie Nicks
Peak: number 99
Previous single "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You?" missed the top 100 - a fate that almost befell this Australia-only release, presumably not named after the pub in The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert.

Number 98 "Candybar Express" by Love And Money
Peak: number 96
Produced by Duran Duran's Andy Taylor, "Candybar Express" was the debut single for Love And Money, whose more polished offering "Halleluiah Man" was a minor top 50 entry in 1989.

Number 97 "Poison Pen" by Hoodoo Gurus
Peak: number 76
Given the chart placement of "Death Defying" back in March, a fourth single from Mars Needs Guitars! was always going to struggle - which is exactly what "Poison Pen" did on the chart. 

Number 94 "The Other Side Of Life" by The Moody Blues
Peak: number 80
Not even an expensive-looking storyline music video featuring actors that look familiar (although I'm not sure they are) could help this follow-up to "Your Wildest Dreams".

Number 88 "Don't You Want My Love" by Nicole
Peak: number 84
Not to be confused with German singer Nicole (Seibert), who won Eurovision in 1982 with "A Little Peace", American Nicole (McCloud) featured on the Ruthless People soundtrack.

Number 84 "That Was Then, This Is Now" by The Monkees
Peak: number 69
The Monkees were back - well, two of them anyway - with their first new music since 1971. This appropriately named song was included on a new best of, while variations of the original lineup toured over the next few years.

Single Of The Week
"Think Of Me" by Koo De Tah
Peak: number 69
Their first two singles had been flawless pieces of sophisticated synthpop, and while this Eastern-influenced third single from Koo De Tah wasn't quite as good as "Too Young For Promises" or the under-appreciated "Body Talk", it still deserved better than to miss the top 50. The Australasian act's debut self-titled album also faltered, peaking at number 54, which is probably why it's still not on iTunes. This would be the last we'd see of Koo De Tah on the top 100 - fourth single "Missed You All Along" flopped completely - but keyboardist/producer Leon Berger would work on Melissa's early singles. Meanwhile, singer Tina Cross moved back to New Zealand in the '90s and worked extensively in musical theatre there.

New Entries
Number 49 "We Don't Have To..." by Jermaine Stewart
Peak: number 37
This week is full of dance/pop songs that should've done better on the chart. Unlike Gwen Guthrie, Nicole and Koo De Tah, this breakthrough single for American singer Jermaine Stewart at least made the top 40. In the US, where it was released with its full title of "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off", and the UK, however, it was a top 5 smash. Jermaine would manage a few more hits over the next few years in both those countries, with the PWL team remixing and producing a number of his singles. In Australia, he didn't breach the top 100 again, but "We Don't Have To..." did provide the hook for Gym Class Heroes' "Clothes Off!!!", a number 11 hit in 2007.

Number 48 "Stay" by Oingo Boingo
Peak: number 30
Stay is the operative word for this second and final hit for new wave band Oingo Boingo. The final single from Dead Man's Party, "Stay" entered the top 50 in its 14th week in the top 100, having registered as a breaker for nine of those weeks. Although it never got any higher than number 30, "Stay" remained in the top 50 for 20 more weeks. We'd never see them on the ARIA chart again, but Oingo Boingo continued to record until the mid-'90s, when singer Danny Elfman transitioned into pursuing soundtrack work full-time.

Number 47 "Heartbeat" by Don Johnson
Peak: number 26
Music had played a major part in the success of Miami Vice, and so it was kind of inevitable that star Don Johnson would branch out and release an album of his own. As it turned out, he could actually hold a tune and "Heartbeat" (a remake of a Helen Reddy album track from 1983) was exactly the kind of power-pop/rock that featured on the soundtrack of the hit crime series. Naturally, Don couldn't resist the chance to go all out with the song's music video, with scenes that seem like they're taken from a movie featuring Don as a cameraman interspersed throughout. A US top 5 hit, "Heartbeat" performed more modestly here, but wouldn't be the actor's only chart appearance.

Number 46 "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On" by Robert Palmer
Peak: number 26
When all else fails, as previous single "Hyperactive" had, why not go with something that had worked in the past? And so, Robert Palmer wheeled out his all-female faux-backing band once again and, hey presto, he had another hit on his hands. Written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and originally recorded by Cherrelle, "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On" is yet another song that reached both the US and UK top 10, but was a mid-table hit in Australia. The song would later be covered by Mariah Carey for her ill-fated movie debut, Glitter

Number 45 "Rage Hard" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Peak: number 45
They'd started their career with a number 5 and two number 4s on the ARIA chart, and so expectations must have been higher than this for Frankie Goes To Hollywood's comeback after a year-and-a-half away. Unfortunately, "Rage Hard" did no better (well, one place) than "Welcome To The Pleasuredome". Superficially, the lead single from second album Liverpool was in the same vein as the band's previous singles, but "Rage Hard" lacked that certain something (a stronger hook, perhaps?) than the likes of "Relax" and "Two Tribes". This was the end of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood story in Australia, where Liverpool bombed out at number 72, while in the UK, a couple more decreasingly successful singles reached the top 40 before singer Holly Johnson abandoned ship for a delayed-by-legal-wrangling solo career.

Number 40 "You're The Voice" by John Farnham
Peak: number 1
Speaking of solo careers, here's an Australian singer who got his one back on track. John Farnham had last staged a musical comeback in 1980, but despite hitting the top 10 with his radical reworking of The Beatles' "Help!", it didn't lead to a renewed string of chart hits such as he'd enjoyed in his late '60s/early '70s heyday. Then followed a stint fronting Little River Band that was less successful than you would've thought given his chart pedigree and the strength of songs like "Playing To Win"
Having completed his commitment to LRB, John began work on another solo album, with manager Glenn Wheatley famously mortgaging his house to fund it. At first, it looked like the gamble might not pay off, with radio reluctant to play lead single "You're The Voice". Public pressure prevailed and the song quickly became a hit, debuting on the top 100 at number 40 and reaching number 1 within three weeks. Suddenly, you couldn't escape hearing John Farnham on the radio - a situation that would continue for years to come.
"You're The Voice", which featured then-husband and wife Derryn Hinch and Jacki Weaver as a squabbling couple in the music video, stayed at number 1 for seven weeks and was the first of a stream of hits over the next decade. As for the album, Whispering Jack also dominated the top spot - spending 25 weeks at number 1 and selling well over a million copies, second only on the all-time sales list to Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell

Number 37 "Walk This Way" by Run-DMC
Peak: number 9
Like hip-hop itself, Run-DMC had been very much a niche concern so far in their career, having never reached the Australian or US top 100 with any of the singles from their first two albums. That changed when the rap trio took on one of Aerosmith's best known singles. 
With a little (uncredited) help from the band's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (who did feature in the iconic wall-bursting music video), Run-DMC turned "Walk This Way" into a rap anthem. Championed by MTV, it became the first hip-hop track to reach the US top 5. By fusing rock and rap, the group showed how well hip-hop worked with other genres - something that'd become commonplace before long. 
In Australia, a number of rap songs had previously reached the top 10, but many of them had come from pop groups like Blondie and Wham! making use of the genre or been one-off oddities like "To Be Or Not To Be (The Hitler Rap)", "One Night In Bangkok" and "Rock Me Amadeus". When it came to actual hip-hop acts, Run-DMC became the second to reach the top 10, following "Up Rock" by Rock Steady Crew from 1984.
Run-DMC did manage a first in Australia - turning "Walk This Way" into a hit for the first time. Aerosmith's original recording had progressed no further than number 85 in early 1977. Run-DMC's success in Australia was short-lived, however. Were it not for a chart-topping remix of their debut single, "It's Like That", in 1997, the group would've been a one-hit wonder on the ARIA chart. Rap music, on the other hand, was just getting started.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:

Next week: two music superstars debut with singles that, although top 10 hits, are among their most over-looked releases of the '80s.

Back to: Oct 12, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 26, 1986