This Week In 1989: November 12, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
There's a lot to be said for going out on top - but unfortunately for two of the artists we'll see this week, their final ARIA singles chart appearances were more like whimpers than bangs.
In one case, it was the final top 50 appearance by a singer who first hit the Australian chart in 1968 with a cover of The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends". In the other, it was a last ditch effort to invigorate a months-old album, which resulted in a chart peak outside the top 50 for the band's last ever single.
At the other end of the chart, an artist with a tendency to say they're retiring at the top reclaimed the number 1 spot. Yep, perpetual farewell giver Cher kicked Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers' "Swing The Mood" off the singles chart summit with "If I Could Turn Back Time".
Off The Chart
Number 98 "Licence To Chill" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 76
A brand new song from Billy's Greatest Hits album, the title of "Licence To Chill" was a play on that year's Bond movie, Licence To Kill. I bought the 7" single of this one, but many of Billy's fans deserted him at this stage (or opted for the best of instead).
Number 78 "Landslide Of Love" by Transvision Vamp
Peak: number 70
Things were taking a rapid downward turn for the British band, with this Phil Spector-ish third single from Velveteen peaking exactly 40 places lower than "The Only One". The next, "Born To Be Sold", would miss the top 100 entirely.
Peak: number 57
Just when it seemed like Dragon's Bondi Road was done and dusted, a final single was lifted from the album, which had been released back in April. It was a good idea - issuing the track "Summer" just in time for the warmer months. With its feel-good vibe and seasonally appropriate lyrics, it could've been an anthem for the next few months. But given the four-month gap since previous single "Here Am I" (which also missed the top 50), any momentum Dragon had going in the wake of last big hit "Young Years" had long since evaporated - and "Summer" became a sad end to what had once been a decent chart legacy for the Australasian band.
Number 49 "Blame It On The Boogie" by Big Fun
Peak: number 37
Last week, Martika debuted with her latest single - and now here's another pop act that'd recorded a remake of "I Feel The Earth Move" in 1989. Although their version of the Carole King classic could have come out in the UK earlier than Martika's version, the boy band, who became the latest act in the Stock Aitken Waterman fold, went with another cover for their debut single instead: an update of "Blame It On The Boogie".
Interestingly, "Blame It On The Boogie" was itself recorded by two rival acts in the late '70s when one of the song's co-writers, Mick Jackson, found himself going head to head in the charts with The Jacksons (no relation), who'd rushed out their own version. As we all know, Michael and his brothers triumphed in the chart battle (although only just in the US, where their version's peak of number 54 was only seven places higher than Mick's) - and it's one of the definitive tracks by the sibling band.
A decade later, Big Fun had no competition with their remake of the song, which is a probably a good thing. In between their terribly weak vocals and one of SAW's less inspired productions, it had even me questioning what the Hit Factory was thinking. It became a top 5 hit in the UK, where Big Fun's single was the highest ever position for any version of "Blame It On The Boogie" - thankfully, it only managed to scrape into the top 40 here.
Number 48 "Leave A Light On" by Belinda Carlisle
Peak: number 5
By 1989, The Go-Go's singer Belinda Carlisle had landed two top 10 hits in Australia - each from a different album. 1986's "Mad About You" (number 9) was taken from debut release Belinda, while "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" (number 2), which hit the ARIA chart in 1988, came from second album Heaven On Earth. The closest any other single from either album came to being a hit was "I Get Weak", which stalled at number 34 in 1988.
Nothing if not consistent, Belinda returned to the top 10 with the lead single from her third solo album, Runaway Horses - a song which was once again produced by Rick Nowels, and co-written by him and Ellen Shipley (the team behind "Heaven Is A Place On Earth"). Throw in a bit of slide guitar action from George Harrison and it's easy to see why this was another big release for Belinda. The only thing in doubt was whether she'd be able to break her one-hit-per-album record this time around. Time would tell...
Number 39 "When The Night Comes" by Joe Cocker Peak: number 39
If ever there was a song destined to be a hit in 1989, it was this track, which was co-written by Diane Warren, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance (who co-wrote Bryan's "Heaven" and "Summer Of '69"). Pretty much the MOR dream team, right? The song - the lead single from husky-voiced Joe's One Night Of Sin album - was a sizable hit in America, where it reached number 11. In Australia, however, only 11 songs separated "When The Night Comes" from the bottom of the top 50 - and this was the single's only week on the chart. Like Dragon, it was a disappointing end to a chart career, which in Joe's case dated back to the late '60s.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: it's big ballad time, with downtempo hits by two of the best in the business. Plus, two infuriating records - one, a comedy release, and the other, an overtly sexual dance track.