This Week In 1987: October 18, 1987
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2012. Updated in 2017.
Aussie music was alive and well this week in 1987, with 19 songs on the top 50 coming from Australian or Australian-identifying (i.e. New Zealanders who'd moved over) acts. In recent weeks, we've seen Midnight Oil and Icehouse make major debuts on the chart, but this week, the most successful band of them all unleashed the first single from what would be one of the biggest albums of the next two years.
Yep, I'm talking about INXS. We'll get onto the single that made its mark this week in due course. But, interestingly, parent album Kick would never reach number 1 on the ARIA chart. It would spend six frustrating weeks at number 2 behind Icehouse's Man Of Colours in November and December, and then, almost a year after its release, it would begin a renewed charge for the top spot in October 1988 but would spend another five weeks at number 2 behind U2's Rattle And Hum in November and December 1988. There was a silver lining. Kick ended up as 1988's highest-selling album, so at least that's something.
Even in 2014, when Kick returned to the chart in the wake of TV miniseries INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, it was unable to take that final step to number 1. Once again, the album reached number 2, although this time it was the band's own The Very Best that held Kick off the top.
Back in 1987, Los Lobos weren't showing any signs of giving up the top spot on the singles chart. "La Bamba" stayed at number 1 for a third week.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 60
With the anniversary of Whispering Jack's debut one week away, there probably wasn't anyone left in the country who didn't own Farnsey's comeback album by this point. As a result, this fourth single, a double A-side comprised of two tracks from the LP, did well to get as high as it did.
Peak: number 36
It only seems like a couple of weeks ago that I was talking about the Mentals. In fact, it was 12 weeks ago, when we remembered "He's Just No Good For You" (which is one place lower at number 48 this week) entering the chart. The follow-up, this time with Martin Plaza providing lead vocals instead of Greedy Smith, was a jaunty little number — but given its less than stellar chart performance, it isn't included on the best of CD I own (although somehow a track called "Surf & Mull & Sex & Fun" made it on). As a result, I haven't listened to "Don't Tell Me Now" since 1987 — and in retrospect, it's not a bad song.
Number 45 "Hammerhead" by James Reyne
Peak: number 8
Another Australian artist with two songs on the top 50 — the former Australian Crawl singer followed up the incomprehensible "Fall Of Rome" (which was still at number 8 this week), with this rock ballad. Even someone as lyrically ignorant as I often was in 1987 (and still am to this day) knew that "Hammerhead" was about heroin use, which is always a cheery topic for a pop song.
Peak: number 17
Speaking of cheery... OK, maybe not. The Boss's first single from Tunnel Of Love, the follow-up to the all-conquering Born In The U.S.A. album, was pretty understated compared to previous singles like "Glory Days" and "Dancing In The Dark". I never got the whole Bruce Springsteen thing — and I like a fair bit of mainstream US rock from the '80s. Van Halen, Journey, REO Speedwagon, John Cougar Mellencamp... love them all, but I just never found Bruce Springsteen's music that appealing. "Brilliant Disguise" would be his last top 20 single in Australia until 1992.
Number 21 "Causing A Commotion" by Madonna
Peak: number 7
A second single from the Who's That Girl soundtrack, "Causing A Commotion" is, like "Gambler", a Madonna top 10 hit that is now completely overlooked. What's more, it reached number 7 without even having a proper video. Instead, the clip below is the live version from the Who's That Girl tour (in which each member of Madonna's band gets a turn in the spotlight towards the end) that was played on music TV at the time. A third single from the film soundtrack, "The Look Of Love", was released — but it didn't come out in Australia or the US at the time and its success was therefore limited to Europe.
Number 13 "Need You Tonight" by INXS
Peak: number 3
INXS had started off 1987 riding high with their cover of "Good Times" (in collaboration with Jimmy Barnes), but it had been a good two years since the group had released a new studio album. So by the time "Need You Tonight" and, two weeks later, Kick were released, Australia was more than ready for fresh music from the six-piece.
Debuting just shy of the top 10, "Need You Tonight" would quickly climb to its peak position and be the song that would really break them internationally, reaching number 1 in the US and, eventually, number 2 in the UK when it was re-released in 1988.
Backed by "Mediate", which had its own music video featuring the band holding up song lyrics on pieces of cardboard (in an homage to the Bob Dylan clip for "Subterranean Homesick Blues"), "Need You Tonight" was on constant rotation on radio and music TV in late 1987 and, for the time being, the band could do no wrong.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1987:
Next week: even more Aussie rock with three new entries from local bands (and another new entry by a group sometimes claimed by Australia). Before then... I've been counting down my favourite songs from each year of the '80s for the past few months and have reached 1987. How similar will my favourite songs for the year be to the songs that have appeared in my weekly ARIA recaps? There's only one way to find out!