This Week In 1986: August 17, 1986
Whatever it was that had prompted ARIA to stop producing take-home printouts of the top 50 chart back in January 1986 (an effort to be more environmentally friendly, perhaps?), that decision was reversed this week that same year. Once again, a pile of charts (about half the size of the old ones) greeted shoppers in record shops around the country, with the top 50 singles on one side and the top 50 albums on the other.
And to herald a new era in the ARIA chart, one-fifth of the top 50 was comprised of new entries. One of the 10 debuts was the first hit for a synthpop duo who would go on to become one of my all-time favourite musical acts.
Another of my all-time favourite artists was at number 1 this week in 1986. "Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna stayed on top for a second week.
Off The Chart
Number 97 "Dangerous" by Innocent Bystanders
Peak: number 97
The second Australian band with this name, the Perth-based Innocent Bystanders featured a pre-fame Mark Lizotte (aka Johnny Diesel) in their line-up, although he'd left by this point.
Peak: number 55
Perth favourites V-Capri were nothing if not consistent, placing their second single in a row just outside the top 50. As usual, sales from Western Australia made up the bulk of their tally, with the band failing to catch on in the rest of the country. I don't mind "Nights And Days", although it sounds a bit unfinished, almost like a demo recording.
Peak: number 11
The first of our 10 debuts on the top 50 was the biggest hit for Joe Cocker in three-and-a-half years. Following a string of flops, power ballad "Don't You Love Me Anymore" gave him his best showing since his last big single, "Up Where We Belong". "Don't You Love Me Anymore" was written by two of the biggest names in power ballads - Diane Warren and Albert Hammond, who also wrote Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" together as well as countless other hits on their own or with other writers.
Peak: number 16
"Great Wall" had given Boom Crash Opera a great start to their career - and as the former top 5 hit spent its last week on the top 50, follow-up "Hands Up In The Air" proved there was more anthemic pop/rock where that came from. A better single than its chart position would suggest, "Hands Up..." made the top 20 nevertheless, although it would be another 10 months before the band would return with their third single, by which time they'd lost much of this early momentum.
Number 41 "Yankee Rose" by David Lee Roth
Peak: number 33
After a couple of tongue-in-cheek cover versions, it was time for David Lee Roth to get serious. The lead single from his first full-length solo album, Eat 'Em And Smile, "Yankee Rose" was more what you would've expected from the ex-Van Halen frontman than "California Girls" or "Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody". But while his former band enjoyed their 18th week in the top 50 with "Why Can't This Be Love", David only managed a brief five-week stay with "Yankee Rose". He wouldn't be back on the chart until 1988.
Number 40 "Oh L'amour" by Erasure
Peak: number 13
He'd scored top 10 hits in Australia as the songwriting force behind Depeche Mode's first album and Yazoo, so how would Vince Clarke's latest project fare? Well, a lot better than his last one, The Assembly, who'd peaked at number 95 in 1984 with "Never Never", which featured Feargal Sharkey on vocals. Partnered with singer Andy Bell, Vince had launched Erasure in 1985 with two flop singles, "Who Needs Love (Like That)" and "Heavenly Action". Things started to look up for the duo in 1986 as "Oh L'amour" became a hit in Australia and a number of other countries, even if not at home in the UK or in the US. It'd take a remake by Dollar in 1987 for the song to be a success in Britain. Erasure would eventually find their footing in the UK chart, scoring four consecutive number 1 albums and 17 top 10 hits during their career. In Australia, however, "Oh L'amour" was one of only three top 50 hits for the pair.
Peak: number 33
Any kid who grew up in the '80s probably has fond memories of Short Circuit, the movie this solo single by DeBarge member El (short for Eldra) is from. I haven't seen the robot comedy film since 1986 and I imagine it's held up about as well as Mannequin, which I caught a couple of years back on TV and was surprised how woeful it was since I'd loved it at the time. Short Circuit is no doubt just as terrible but "Who's Johnny" is still a great song. El's first release away from his siblings was co-written and produced by Peter Wolf (not the J. Geils Band singer), who worked on hits by Starship, Wang Chung and Go West. Much of the appeal of the track was down to the fun music video, which featured the movie's human stars, Ally Sheedy (in person) and Steve Guttenberg (as a cardboard cut-out), as well as Number 5 (aka Johnny 5) in a courtroom scenario.
Number 33 "Boys Don't Cry" by The Cure
Peak: number 26
It'd been their second ever single back in 1979 - and just made the Australian top 100 a year after its original release in mid-1980. Six years later, "Boys Don't Cry" received a new lease of life to coincide with the release of the band's first retrospective collection, Standing On A Beach - The Singles (which featured the original version of the song). This time, the re-recorded track reached the top 30, providing The Cure with their sixth top 40 hit locally.
Number 32 "Your Wildest Dreams" by The Moody Blues
Peak: number 20
Next up, a British band enjoying their seventh Australian top 40 hit - their first in five years. "Your Wildest Dreams" was also the first hit for the more synthesizer-led version of The Moody Blues, who'd made a name for themselves in the '60s and '70s as a prog rock band. I actually quite liked "Your Wildest Dreams" at the time - and still do, even if it sounds more dated than other synth-based songs from the time. The band's eighth and final top 40 hit would come two years later with a song that was conceived as a sequel to "Your Wildest Dreams".
Number 24 "Nasty" by Janet Jackson
Peak: number 17
Maintaining the mood established by "What Have You Done For Me Lately", Janet Jackson's second single since taking, er, control of her career was another fierce, empowered record with a hard pop/funk edge. Once again, "Nasty" proved she wasn't a woman to be messed around with by "nasty boys", summed up so succinctly by the line: "No, my first name ain't baby. It's Janet - Miss Jackson, if you're nasty." For me, "Nasty" is more positioning statement than song, and in that respect it worked perfectly and has now become an iconic part of Janet's career. A slightly smaller hit in Australia than "What Have You Done...", it was her second straight top 3 single in the US. But while more mega-hits followed in America, the reception Janet's next single received in Australia was a little unexpected...
Number 23 "Holy Word" by I'm Talking
Peak: number 9
Having charted with a steady stream of singles since January 1985, I'm Talking were finally ready to release their debut album, Bear Witness, and with it, their best single yet. Their third - and final - top 10 hit, "Holy Word" was a perfect slice of pop/funk. Funnily enough, it was also the band's first single to feature lead vocals from Zan Abeyratne. Few would have predicted what happened next, however. The follow-up single, sultry ballad "How Can It Be?" (with Kate Ceberano back on lead), missed the top 100 altogether and, in 1987, I'm Talking disintegrated.
Number 18 "The Dead Heart" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 4
While the arrival of Erasure was the most exciting thing for a pop fan like me, obviously the biggest release of the week was always going to be a brand new single from Midnight Oil, who'd made history by debuting at number 1 with the Species Deceases EP in late 1985. "The Dead Heart", which was listed as a 12" only release until September, didn't make quite as spectacular an arrival on the ARIA chart, but it did give the band the second biggest hit of their career by reaching the top 5. The song's message was very clear - it spoke out against the mistreatment of Australia's Indigenous population and, together with 1987's "Beds Are Burning" and Goanna's 1982 hit, "Solid Rock", did more to put the issue at the forefront of public consciousness that just about anything. "The Dead Heart" would end up on Diesel And Dust, but until that came out in a year's time, the single spent 25 weeks on the top 100, longer than any Midnight Oil single up until that point.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:
Next week: Bananarama meet Stock Aitken Waterman and take a chart-topping song from 1970 back to number 1, plus two awesome '80s soundtrack hits.