This Week In 1986: August 24, 1986
For a song to reach number 1 once is pretty good going. For it do so twice is an even more impressive feat - and something that has only happened six times in Australian music history (seven, if you include "You're The One That I Want" and "The Grease Megamix").
This week in 1986, a tune that had topped the Australian chart for two weeks in 1970 returned to the top 50 thanks to a new cover version and became one of the year's biggest hits, spending seven weeks at number 1.
Another of 1986's biggest hits spent its third week on top of the ARIA chart 30 years ago this week. "Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna would wind up as the year's ninth biggest single.
Off The Chart
Number 83 "Touch And Go" by Emerson, Lake & Powell
Peak: number 83
Palmer was busy with his other band, Asia, and so prog rockers Keith Emerson and Greg Lake found another drummer with a surname starting with P for their reunion album.
Number 76 "Sing Our Own Song" by UB40
Peak: number 76
This anti-apartheid song was the reggae band's 10th top 10 hit in the UK, but Australians generally preferred it when UB40 didn't sing their own songs but recorded cover versions instead.
Single Of The Week
As I've done with singles of the week from mid-1987 to August 1991, I'll only be covering songs that don't end up featuring on the ARIA chart as breakers or top 50 entries. This song didn't even crack the top 100. Sydney band Non Stop Dancers had managed a number 44 hit with 1984's "Shake This City" but subsequent singles from debut album Surprise Surprise had failed to chart. Come 1986, "Lost & Found" was one last ditch effort by the genre-defying band and their record company to reignite interest, but when that didn't work, the band split shortly after.
Peak: number 65
Hands up who thought Peter Blakeley's debut single was "Crying In The Chapel"? I must admit I did until relatively recently, but that was far from the case. This Marvin Gaye cover was one of a couple of singles Peter released in 1986 through his first record deal with True Tone Records, home to Rockmelons (on whose debut single he'd provided vocals). A minor hit, the track features the unmistakable vocals of another Rockmelons guest singer, Wendy Matthews.
Number 44 "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins
Peak: number 14
Film soundtracks were good to Kenny Loggins in the '80s. As well as hits from Footloose and Caddyshack, he released this memorable track that played during the opening moments of Top Gun. Turns out Kenny was far from the first choice to record the track co-written and produced by Giorgio Moroder. Numerous other acts - Bryan Adams, REO Speedwagon, Toto, Corey Hart - were considered to perform "Danger Zone" but for one reason or another didn't end up with the song, which went to Kenny instead. Surprisingly for such an iconic '80s song, "Danger Zone" wasn't a top 10 hit in Australia, stalling at its peak for three weeks.
Number 36 "Glory Of Love" by Peter Cetera
Peak: number 9
Next up a soundtrack hit that did make the ARIA top 10. Just as Kenny Loggins wasn't the first choice for "Danger Zone", The Karate Kid Part II wasn't the movie "Glory Of Love" was originally composed for. Peter Cetera had submitted the mega ballad for Rocky IV, but when it wasn't chosen, it ended up in the martial arts sequel and became his first post-Chicago hit. For me, The Karate Kid Part IIis every bit as iconic as Top Gun, but that may be because I saw it at the time, whereas I didn't see Top Gun until many years later. Watching the Peter Cetera music video now and seeing those pivotal scenes from The Karate Kid Part II (the typhoon! the fan dance! that bit with everyone playing those little handheld drums!) makes me want to go and watch it again.
Number 16 "Venus" by Bananarama
Peak: number 1
In 1970, Shocking Blue took "Venus" to number 1 in Australia. Sixteen years later, girl group Bananarama did the same - for five weeks longer. The cover version was the first collaboration between the pop trio and producers Stock Aitken Waterman, who Bananarama approached because they liked Dead Or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" and wanted their version of "Venus" to have a similar high-energy sound.
Bananarama had actually been performing the song for years before recording it, but the remake and the new producers couldn't have come at a better time, providing a much-needed shot in the arm after a series of moody and ultra-serious singles flopped in the UK and missed the Australian top 100 altogether. Bananarama had their sense of fun back and "Venus" saw them back in the top 5 locally for the first time since "Shy Boy".
As we'll see in coming months, subsequent singles didn't follow "Venus" into the upper reaches of the ARIA chart, but when Bananarama and SAW reunited for a full album together, it would give the threesome their most consistent run of hits here. For the time being, Australia was gripped by "Venus" fever as the remake became one of the biggest hits of 1986 and one of my personal favourites of the year (and all-time).
The other five songs that have hit number 1 in Australia twice? "Unchained Melody" (jointly credited to Al Hibbler and Les Baxter in 1955, and for The Righteous Brothers in 1990), "In The Summertime" (versions by Mungo Jerry and The Mixtures hit the top back-to-back in 1970), "Stayin' Alive" (for Bee Gees in 1978 and N-Trance featuring Ricardo Da Force in 1995), "What About Me?" (for Moving Pictures in 1982 and Shannon Noll in 2004) and one more song we'll see before the end of the year.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:
Next week: the return of the unusual singer who'd just wanted to have fun a couple of years earlier, plus the biggest solo hit for a male artist who'd first established himself as a member of a number of different groups.