Saturday, 19 August 2017

This Week In 1984: August 19, 1984

You wouldn't get away with it today. If a new band wanted to call themselves The Avengers or Justice League, I'm sure lawyers would descend faster than The Flash with injunctions at the ready.

The Australian music scene just wouldn't have been the same without the X-Men

But this week in 1984, comic book heroes weren't as hot property as they are today and an Australian band named after a band of Marvel mutants not only got to continue using the moniker, but became one of the most popular acts in the country.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 19, 1984

The most popular song in the country this week in 1984 was still "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!, which spent its fifth week on top. But Prince had already claimed the number 1 spot in two states - could he make it to the top nationally?

Off The Chart
Number 97 "5:01 (The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking)" by Roger Waters
Peak: number 74
A track from his second concept album would make the top 50 in 1987, but not the Pink Floyd member's debut solo single, which was taken from an album about a road trip.

New Entries
Number 48 Beach Party by Uncanny X-Men
Peak: number 32
For the past few years, Uncanny X-Men had been making a name for themselves on the pub rock circuit and frontman Brian Mannix had been making a name for himself as one of the music scene's biggest larrikins. But major success had eluded them up until this point, with their debut EP, 'Salive One, peaking at number 40 on the albums chart and two subsequent singles, "How Do You Get Your Kicks?" and "Time Goes So Fast" missing the top 50. 
Their breakthrough came with second EP Beach Party and its lead track "Everybody Wants To Work", which couldn't have summed up Brian's devil-may-care personality any better. A smaller hit than I remember it being, the record coincided with a much higher profile for the band - one that would only grow in 1985 as the band truly took off, adding a top 5 single and album to their (not legally challenged) name.

Number 47 "I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" by Nik Kershaw
Peak: number 17
It'd been his debut single in 1983, when it missed the UK top 40 and, if it came out in Australia, didn't chart here at all. But with the success of "Wouldn't It Be Good" under his belt, "I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" was given a second shot. In Britain, it reached number 2 and would end up as his highest charting single. Locally, the deceptively bouncy but actually quite political tune - it's about nuclear war - gave Nik a second top 20 hit. Two other singles were lifted from debut album Human Racing ("Dancing Girls" and the title track), but neither made any impact in Australia, and we'd next see Nik on the top 50 with the lead release from his second album.

Number 46 "Gymnasium" by Stephen Cummings
Peak: number 27
Things were looking up for former The Sports vocalist Stephen Cummings, who'd landed his first top 40 hit at the start of the year and now ventured into the top 30 with this single from his newly released debut album, Senso. A song that could only have come out in 1984, "Gymnasium" sounded like a cross between Thomas Dolby and all those breakdancing hits that came out that year - and came with a really catchy chorus. It was also accompanied by a racy, gratuitous nudity-filled music video, although the clip below seems to be for the 12" mix, so I'm not sure if the single edit came with a clean version. "Gymnasium" would wind up as Stephen's best performing single in Australia - in fact, he would only return to the top 50 once more in early 1991.

Number 41 "Revolution" by The Radiators
Peak: number 41
Released between their Scream Of The Real and Life's A Gamble albums, this cover of The Beatles' number 1 single (as a double A-side with "Hey Jude") from 1968 almost put The Radiators back in the top 40 for a third time. Unfortunately for the heavily gigging band, things only got worse from here, with all their subsequent singles peaking lower down the chart. 

Number 34 "Don't Believe Anymore" by Icehouse
Peak: number 31
The first single from Sidewalk had been the energetic but commercially disappointing "Taking The Town", so it made sense for Icehouse to try a song that was stylistically completely different as the album's second release. Brooding and dramatic, "Don't Believe Anymore" was yet another solid single from the band, but for whatever reason, Australia was only moderately interested and the song peaked two places lower than its predecessor. Almost two decades later, The Whitlams would release a remake of the song as the third single from their 2002 album, Torch The Moon, but it would also under-perform on the ARIA chart, reaching number 47.

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

Next week: a song that flopped earlier in the year takes a big jump into the top 50 second time around, while the writer of another bulleting single doesn't fare as well with her own release. Plus, the latest hit by another band who'd release their version of "Revolution" in 1985. 

Back to: Aug 12, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 26, 1984

1 comment:

  1. Stephen Cummings is like 'our' version of Peter Gabriel - looks, and to some extent, voice-wise too. 'Gymnasium' sounds a bit like Wham!'s 'Young Guns' to me during the lead-in to the chorus.

    'I Won't Let the Sun Go Down On Me' reminds me of when I was living in New Zealand. A classic pop song. I much prefer the original 1983 video for it, which I've uploaded a better quality copy of here - . Not too sure about the highlights though...

    It's puzzling that 'Don't Believe Anymore' climbed no higher than #31. It received a lot of airplay in Vic. I consider it a classic, and one of my, if not the, favourite Icehouse tracks. Though I guess maybe they were more of an 'album' act at this point. Moving video too.