This Week In 1987: August 23, 1987
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2012. Updated in 2017.
1987 really was a banner year for the Australian music scene. I've already discussed some of the big developments in music television that year (goodbye Countdown, hello Rage and Video Hits), but I have yet to mention MTV, which launched on Channel 9 in 1987 as well.
My enduring memories of the Richard Wilkins-hosted late night show was that it always showed the R-rated version of clips that you'd obviously never see in daytime or primetime. I seem to remember a "rude" version of Alice Cooper's "Poison" being on high rotation in 1989. Nice one, Dickie.
Another first in 1987: the inaugural ARIA Awards, which were held back in March. The big winner of the night was John Farnham, who took home six trophies, but one of the other winners entered the top 50 with a new single this week that year.
A singer who would win her first ARIA Award in 1988 for Highest Selling Single was at number 1 with that song this week in 1987. "Locomotion" by Kylie Minogue spent its second week on top.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 72 (original peak: number 1)
The original version of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" had spent six weeks at number 1 in December 1960-January 1961. This "laughing" live recording, which initially reached number 41 in 1982, was re-released to coincide with the 10th anniversary of The King's death. Compilation album Words & Music did better, reaching the top 10.
Single Of The Week
Peak: number 65
Her cautionary tale about the Kennedys had finally put her on the radar in Australia after a lengthy career in New Zealand, but that success would prove to be fleeting for Shona Lainge, despite this follow-up being, in my opinion, a much better song than "(Glad I'm) Not A Kennedy". Title quirk: the Single Of The Week ad has brackets in the song name despite it not being listed as "Drive (Baby Drive)" on the actual single release (or album South). Although, the front cover of the single does just have the word "Drive" and the full title on the back, which might explain the error.
Peak: number 57
Here's an Aussie band whose name I'm completely familiar with - I seem to remember them being written about a lot - but whose music I don't think I've ever listened to, and certainly not this track. And I should have, since this is exactly the type of local pop/rock I was a fan of at the time. In fact, I'm going to download this now (since, miraculously, it's actually available in the Australian iTunes store). Geisha were always much bigger in Melbourne than any other part of the country and unfortunately "Calling Your Name" couldn't manage to break into the top 50.
Peak: number 50
Popping into the bottom of the chart for its only week in the top 50 was this sixth single from Janet's breakthrough album, Control - and if I used the word "jam", I'd say it was another great jam. But I don't. It wasn't the final single released, but it was the last to register on the chart since "Funny How Time Flies (When You're Having Fun)" would miss the top 100 altogether.
Janet actually hasn't had as many major hits on the Australian chart as you'd think, especially considering Control alone gave her five top 10 singles in the US and Rhythm Nation 1814 gave her another seven. Her biggest hit from Control in Australia was "What Have You Done For Me Lately", which got to number 6 here and is one of nine top 10 singles she's had in this country.
Number 49 "I Heard A Rumour" by Bananarama
Peak: number 32
On their previous album, True Confessions, Bananarama had only worked with producers Stock Aitken Waterman on two tracks. However, one of those was the Australian and US number 1 "Venus", so it made sense that the girls recorded the whole of their follow-up album, WOW!, with the in-demand producers - even if the move would ultimately result in the departure of Siobhan Fahey, who was reportedly unhappy with the direction the group was taking.
"I Heard A Rumour" was the first single from WOW!, and although it would only reach number 32 in Australia, it would spend exactly the same number of weeks in the top 100. For much of September and October it would bounce around the 30s, and be a steady seller until the end of the year. Much bigger hits were to come from WOW!, which would even spend a single week atop the albums chart in 1988.
Number 46 "Fall Of Rome" by James Reyne
Peak: number 5
Wasting no time launching his solo career, the former Australian Crawl singer appeared on the chart with his debut single less than a year after his band's final album was released. Despite a rather modest entry position, "Fall Of Rome" would rapidly make its way up to the top 5, despite the fact most of us had no idea what he was singing. James's indecipherable lyrics got the ultimate tribute a couple of years later on The D-Generation's "Five In A Row" single.
Number 28 "You I Know" by Jenny Morris
Peak: number 13
That ARIA Award winner I mentioned? Here she is. Yep, despite the fact that Jenny is actually from New Zealand, she won the Best Female Artist award at the first ever ARIA Awards. Ever since, artists from other countries who happen to be based in Australia and/or are signed to Australian record labels have qualified for nomination. Even Brian McFadden.
Written by Neil Finn, "You I Know" was the biggest hit from Jenny's debut album, Body And Soul, and it still sounds fantastic all these years later. Jenny would continue to have hit singles and albums until her greatest hits collection in 1992, when her success would come to a rather abrupt end.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1987:
Next week: a particularly busy chart with some really good tracks and one really terrible song arriving on the top 50.