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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1989: August 27, 1989

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.

Back in 1989, the concept of the B-side was still alive and well. At that stage, I was buying all my singles on 7" (with the rare 12" purchase), so I'd listen to what was on the other side of the vinyl record and occasionally be pleasantly surprised. Mostly, however, I'd understand why the song in question had been relegated to B-side status.

A bonus remake turned this U2 single into an even bigger hit

This week in 1989, a song entered the ARIA top 50 that owed at least some of its chart success to a B-side. And not just any B-side - a cover version of a well-known song that wasn't actually included on every format released.

At number 1 this week in 1989, New Kids On The Block made it three weeks in a row as chart champs, but it looked like their time on top was about to come to an end with Prince jumping into second place with "Batdance". Meanwhile, Simply Red, who had been steadily moving towards the summit, were pushed back to number 4 with "If You Don't Know Me By Now" - their effort to reach number 1 seemingly over. But, appearances can be deceiving, as we'll discover in a week's time. 

Off The Chart

Number 91 "Knocked Out" by Paula Abdul

Peak: number 82

In 1988, it had been her debut single in the US, but this LA Reid and Babyface-produced track was issued here between "Forever Your Girl" and "Cold Hearted", and given another shot in 1990 with the remixed version from Shut Up And Dance put out as a single. 


"Closer To Fine" by Indigo Girls

Peak: number 57

Last week, we saw as Milli Vanilli made their ARIA top 50 debut - and as we all know, the lip-syncing duo would go on to win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1990. Here is one of the other nominees they beat - another duo, but one with a very different sound. Comprised of childhood friends Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, folk act Indigo Girls fit right into the trend for women with guitars in the late '80s (see also: Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega, Melissa Etheridge). Their biggest chart hit until a collaboration with Pink on "Dear Mr President" some 17 years later, "Closer To Fine" featured Irish band Hothouse Flowers and peaked in Australia five places lower than in the US.

New Entries

Number 49 "Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)" by Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler

Peak: number 45

Their breakthrough hit, "Keep On Movin'", had done very little in Australia, so it was hardly surprising when this follow-up - a UK number 1 - didn't do much better. Soul II Soul did, at least, manage to break into the top 50 with what was one of the defining dance records of 1989.

"Back To Life" had started out as an a cappella track on the Club Classics Vol. One album before being remixed for the single release. The "However Do You Want Me" subtitle applied to the mix which had that lyrical hook added to it - and it was that mix which got all the attention. The a cappella version, meanwhile, would go on to be sampled for years to come in dance tracks from 1991's "Anthem" by N-Joi to 2013's "What's Going On?" by Monsieur Adi featuring A*M*E.

Typically, Australia didn't get it. In fact, I didn't quite get it - and I even bought the 7" single of "Back To Life" on a whim, but it took me a couple of years to fully appreciate the song. Still as fresh today as it was 25 years ago, the track should've been Soul II Soul's biggest hit here as it was in Britain - instead that title went to 1990's "A Dream's A Dream".

Number 46 "Miss You Like Crazy" by Natalie Cole

Peak: number 34

We'd last seen Natalie Cole the year earlier with her top 5 cover version of "Pink Cadillac", and while this big ballad made the US and UK top 10, Australia was relatively unmoved. The lead single from Natalie's Good To Be Back album was written by three heavyweight songwriters - Gerry Goffin, Michael Masser and Preston Glass, who between them had composed such classics as "Saving All My Love For You", "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off" and "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You".

Number 45 "Breakthru" by Queen Peak: number 45

Previous single "I Want It All" had returned Queen to the Australian top 10 but this follow-up could only manage a single week at this peak position in the top 50. More remarkable is the music video for "Breakthru", which was actually filmed on a moving train. These days, it'd just be done with CGI, but in 1989, the four members of Queen were insured in case injury arose from the relatively risky shoot.

Number 17 "All I Want Is You" by U2 Peak: number 2

You wouldn't think U2 would need to rely on a B-side to score a big hit - and chances are "All I Want Is You" would still have performed well without the Irish band's version of "Everlasting Love". The Rattle And Hum ballad is, after all, one of their signature tunes. Then again, it was the fourth and final single from an already successful album - and we've seen many times before how singles that'd been big in other parts of the world faltered here since an artist's fans already had the album.

So without a doubt, U2's spin on "Everlasting Love" had some impact. It received copious amounts of airplay at the time and, when fans wanting to buy it realised it wasn't the B-side to the 7" version of "All I Want Is You", the record company was forced to repackage the record with a bonus cassette containing the remake, which was found instead on the 12" and CD single versions.

For me, it was a great version of a song I'd discovered the previous year when German pop star Sandra put out her own take on the track, which had originally been released in 1967 by Robert Knight and remade multiple times ever since.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:

Next week: an influx of new entries, including one of the year's drippiest ballads, an Australian spin on British indie guitar pop, another song about drugs and the latest Batman-related release.

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