This Week In 1989: June 18, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
Girl power was in full force on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1989, with the top three new entries all coming from female performers. And not just any women - all three recording artists were hugely influential in their respective genres and role models for different segments of the population.
Of course, one was a former drug addict, another would become more reliable for controversial quotes than hit singles and the third would go on to star in shonky schlock horror made-for-TV movies, but this week in 1989, they were all right at the top of their game.
It was more good news for women at the top of the singles chart with the entire top 6 comprised of female performers (or, in the case of Roxette, a female-fronted act). The news wasn't so great for The Bangles, who once again lost their hold on the number 1 spot as Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" returned to the summit for a second week.
Off The Chart
Number 88 "Where Has All The Love Gone" by Yazz
Peak: number 83
After slowing things down with "Fine Time", it was back onto the dancefloor with this fourth single, remixed from the Wanted version. Unfortunately, Yazz's early chart momentum was also lost.
Peak: number 67
It was one of the five Singles Of The Week on last week's chart and this third release from the house duo became the first (of the five) to register as a breaker on the ARIA chart. Of course, Inner City's two previous singles had already popped up as breakers so seeing them here was nothing new - even if the fact that some of the best house music around couldn't break through in Australia was getting a little bit old.
"Ain't Nobody Better" didn't perform quite as "well" as "Big Fun" or "Good Life", which had both stalled in the 50s - but since it's wasn't quite as good a song, its number 67 placing is relatively appropriate. If I'd had my way, all three songs would've hit the top 10, as they did in the UK - although in some ways it felt good to be in on a secret the majority of the country wasn't aware of.
Number 49 "Bed Of Nails" by Ross Wilson
Peak: number 25
Younger music fans may remember him from his stint on the most boring reality show judging panel of all time - he sat alongside Marina Prior and James Valentine on celebrity duet series It Takes Two - but those with longer memories will know Ross Wilson is an Australian music legend. A member of two classic bands, Daddy Cool and Mondo Rock, he was responsible for a good number of hit singles in his time. Unfortunately for Ross, his solo career wasn't as landmark - and this first single under his own steam since 1976's "Living In The Land Of Oz" (which reached number 46) would be his highest charting.
Number 48 "Can I Get A Witness" by Sam Brown
Peak: number 17
For her follow-up to "Stop!", Sam Brown chose a song that was originally released in the year before she was born. Written by the legendary songwriting trio of Holland, Dozier & Holland, "Can I Get A Witness?" was a single for Marvin Gaye in 1963. Interestingly, the song appeared on the soul legend's first greatest hits collection, which he released in 1964 after only three studio albums and despite having only managed one US top 10 hit by that stage. Obviously, Marvin would go on to rack up many big singles in his career, but one top 10 hit is all Sam Brown managed either here or in the UK, with this remake becoming her second highest-charting song after "Stop!".
Number 47 "In The Air Tonight '88" by Phil Collins
Peak: number 47
Australia really did take its time in the '80s. Just when you thought Petula Clark's "Downtown '88" was the last song we'd see from 1988 popping up in 1989, here we are halfway through June 1989, and an '88 remix just managed to sneak into the top 50.
This remix of Phil's debut solo single from 1981's Face Value album was actually released in the UK prior to his previous two singles in Australia, "A Groovy Kind Of Love" and "Two Hearts" - in fact, it hit the UK chart exactly a year before it reached our top 50, so we really were slow on the uptake with this one.
"In The Air Tonight" has a habit of revisiting charts around the world for one reason or another. I can't determine the reason for this particular remix (anyone know what prompted it?), but it returned the song to the UK top 5. Meanwhile, the song had also proved popular after its use in Miami Vice's first episode in 1984 and would have something of a renaissance after that drumming gorilla Cadbury ad in the mid-'00s - both times prompting chart action in different parts of the world. In fact, it's probably about due for another chart run soon.
Number 41 "Electric Youth" by Debbie Gibson
Peak: number 21
I was beyond excited when Debbie Gibson's second album, also titled Electric Youth, was released in 1989. My sister had brought me back the cassette of Debbie's debut, Out Of The Blue, from the US and she'd quickly become one of my favourite singers (Debbie, not my sister). While previous single "Lost In Your Eyes" had been a straightforward DG ballad, this second single from the album was the singer/songwriter's "Bohemian Rhapsody". A five-minute opus featuring a bridge, an instrumental break and various other elements, it was far from the three-minute pop ditties with which she'd made her name in 1987. I loved Debbie so much I even bought the sheet music for a selection of her songs - but "Electric Youth" didn't really lend itself to bashing out on the piano.
Number 40 "Baby I Don't Care" by Transvision Vamp
Peak: number 3
Making use of a guitar riff we'd be hearing a lot of in 1989 (thanks to similar sounding hits by Sam Kinison and Roxette), Wendy James et al stopped re-releasing songs from their first album and finally got around to unleashing this lead single from second album Velveteen. The Vamp couldn't have asked for a better positioning statement, with "Baby I Don't Care" summing up their post-punk, don't-give-a-damn attitude perfectly. The band would shortly have something to worry about, however, since nothing else from Velveteen would do anywhere near as well as this, their highest-charting single both here and in the UK.
Number 36 "Rooms On Fire" by Stevie Nicks
Peak: number 23
One of my favourite ever interviews was with Stevie Nicks a few years ago. I'd been warned ahead of time that if she was enjoying an interview, she'd tell the operator who connected the call and would break in to wind it up at the allocated time that she wanted to carry on. Obviously that knowledge came with some pressure - what if she didn't want to continue the interview? Did that mean I'd done a bad job? Well, the good news was that, true to form, Stevie did push our chat into extra time and, since there's obviously so much to discuss when it comes to the Fleetwood Mac lynchpin, I got to tick off all the topics I wanted to cover.
This lead single from her The Other Side Of The Mirror album wasn't one of those topics, purely because it's not one of her most noteworthy songs. At least, that's what I thought. Turns out it was inspired by her relationship with the album's producer, Rupert Hine (who'd landed a minor hit in Australia in 1981 with "Misplaced Love") - a romance that, by the sounds of it, was a typically tempestuous coupling for Stevie. Despite that, "Rooms On Fire" didn't, er, set the charts alight and felt like a bit of a disappointment after her brilliant pop/rock tracks of the mid-'80s like "I Can't Wait" and "Stand Back".
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: Greenies invade the ARIA chart (well, they try), plus my second-favourite Australian band of all time return and Stock Aitken Waterman win some, lose some. Before that, my top 100 for 2005 is ready to go so I'll (hopefully) start counting that down soon.