This Week In 1986: December 28, 1986
Before Big Day Out, there was Australian Made. This week in 1986, some of the biggest homegrown acts were making their way around the country as part of the one-off tour.
The concert series even came with a theme song - a collaboration between one of the biggest bands and one of the most popular male singers in the country. Naturally, when it was released as a single, it was a massive hit.
Not, however, massive enough to reach number 1 - it was blocked by the single which spent its first week on top of the ARIA chart this week in 1986: "Funky Town". Pseudo Echo also brought an end to John Farnham's seven-week run at number 1, although as we'll see, he already had a new single flying up the chart...
Off The Chart
Peak: number 90
A surprisingly poor performance locally for this US number 1 mega-ballad, especially since it followed Peter's ARIA top 10 placing with the theme from The Karate Kid Part II.
Number 78 "Ghostdancing" by Simple Minds
Peak: number 72
Given their last two excellent singles ("Sanctify Yourself" and "All The Things She Said") had both peaked at number 46 in Australia, there was little hope for this latest release from Once Upon A Time.
Number 45 "Like Flames" by Berlin
Peak: number 18
"Take My Breath Away" had changed everything for Berlin - their sound, the level of chart success they enjoyed and internal relations between band members. The already-high tension within the group was exacerbated by this follow-up, which took Berlin in another new direction. More synthrock than synthpop, "Like Flames" added crunching guitars to the mix - a shift that didn't sit well with half the members. Outside Australia, the song failed and the band's days were numbered. Locally, "Like Flames" actually performed pretty well, becoming Berlin's second highest-charting single (beating the number 23 peak of "No More Words"). I've always really liked the song and was disappointed the reformed band didn't perform it when they toured Australia earlier this year, but perhaps it's still a sore point.
Number 27 "Pressure Down" by John Farnham
Peak: number 4
As "You're The Voice" stepped down from number 1, follow-up "Pressure Down" raced in to the top 50 and before long was enjoying a 10-week stay inside the top 10. A much lighter song than its earnest predecessor, "Pressure Down" even came with a peppy extended mix and music video. In fact, that extended video is the only one available on YouTube (and possible the only one that was ever screened?), although you can hear the 7" version here. "Pressure Down" and "You're The Voice" would remain on the top 50 simultaneously into March, and were largely responsible for the Whispering Jack album staying at number 1 for much of that time. The album's run as the top between November 1986 and April 1987 was only interrupted for two weeks in January by compilation Summer '87, which featured "You're The Voice" anyway. Now that's what I call chart domination.
Number 25 "Sugar Free" by Wa Wa Nee
Peak: number 10
They weren't quite as massive as John Farnham, but Wa Wa Nee had enjoyed a pretty impressive first few months on the chart nonetheless. Following "Stimulation" and "I Could Make You Love Me" was third single "Sugar Free", which is actually my least favourite of all the band's singles. As these things so often go, it was the song that gave Wa Wa Nee international success, peaking at number 35 in America, where this alternate video was aired. Despite all their singles success, Wa Wa Nee weren't able to sell as many albums in Australia, with their self-titled debut falling from its highest position of number 29 this week in 1986. It'd return to that peak in February before plummeting out of the chart.
Number 3 "Good Times" by INXS / Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 2
Take the most successful local male singer of the previous few years (whose popularity was only rivalled by John Farnham's), add arguably the biggest homegrown band of the time (although Midnight Oil might also qualify for that honour) and have them record a classic single by Australia's answer to The Beatles. Yep, it was pretty much a licence to print money.
Jimmy Barnes and INXS teamed up for a rollicking take on The Easybeats' "Good Times", which had originally been only a modest number 18 hit as a double A-side with "Land Of Make Believe" in 1968. The remake promoted the Australian Made series of concerts which took place around the country between Boxing Day 1986 and Australia Day 1987. Obviously, Jimmy and INXS were on the bill, as were Mental As Anything, Models, I'm Talking, The Triffids, The Saints and Divinyls.
The cover version was an instant smash, entering the top 100 at number 3, beating the number 5 debut of "Living Doll" to become the year's highest first-week position. It would spend 10 weeks in the top 10 - five of them at number 3 - and came closest to the top of the chart when it spent one week at number 2 behind "Funky Town".
Like "Sugar Free", "Good Times" also went on to become a hit in America in 1987, reaching the top 50 after it featured in the film The Lost Boys. When the vampire movie was released on video in the UK, the song became a belated top 20 hit there as well.
End-of-year printouts were still a couple of years away, but here's the list of 1986's top 100 singles for your enjoyment:
1. “Chain Reaction” by Diana Ross
2. “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” by Billy Ocean
3. “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)” by Samantha Fox
4. “Venus” by Bananarama
5. “Stimulation” by Wa Wa Nee
6. “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin
7. “Living Doll” by Cliff Richard & The Young Ones
8. “A Good Heart” by Feargal Sharkey
9. “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna
10. “Addicted To Love” by Robert Palmer
11. “We Built This City” by Starship
12. “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick & Friends
13. “Stuck With You” by Huey Lewis And The News
14. “You’re The Voice” by John Farnham
15. “Dancing On The Ceiling” by Lionel Richie
16. “Manic Monday” by The Bangles
17. “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Communards
18. “A Matter Of Trust” by Billy Joel
19. “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper
20. “Hit That Perfect Beat” by Bronski Beat
21. “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon
22. “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston
23. “Concrete And Clay” by Martin Plaza
24. “Lady In Red” by Chris de Burgh
25. “Kiss” by Prince & The Revolution
26. “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys
27. “Greatest Love Of All” by Whitney Houston
28. “Spirit In The Sky” by Dr. & The Medics
29. “I Wanna Be A Cowboy” by Boys Don’t Cry
30. “The Dead Heart” by Midnight Oil
31. “Invisible Touch” by Genesis
32. “I’m Your Man” by Wham!
33. “Why Can’t This Be Love” by Van Halen
34. “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel
35. “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie
36. “Who Made Who” by AC/DC
37. “All I Need Is A Miracle” by Mike + The Mechanics
38. Species Deceases by Midnight Oil
39. “Great Wall” by Boom Crash Opera
40. “Absolute Beginners” by David Bowie
41. “You Little Thief” by Feargal Sharkey
42. “Sun City” by Artists United Against Apartheid
43. “I Could Make You Love Me” by Wa Wa Nee
44. “Broken Wings” by Mr Mister
45. “True Blue” by Madonna
46. “Mad About You” by Belinda Carlisle
47. “The Power Of Love” by Jennifer Rush
48. “Love An Adventure” by Pseudo Echo
49. “Harlem Shuffle” by The Rolling Stones
50. “R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.” by John Cougar Mellencamp
51. “When Tomorrow Comes” by Eurythmics
52. “See The Day” by Dee C Lee
53. “Russians” by Sting
54. “Say I’m Your Number One” by Princess
55. “You’re A Friend Of Mine” by Clarence Clemons / Jackson Browne
56. “Close To Me” by The Cure
57. “The Edge Of Heaven” by Wham!
58. “A Different Corner” by George Michael
59. “Live To Tell” by Madonna
60. “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” by Billy Ocean
61. “What Have You Done For Me Lately” by Janet Jackson
62. “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins
63. “No One Is To Blame” by Howard Jones
64. “Glory Of Love” by Peter Cetera
65. “Peter Gunn” by Art Of Noise featuring Duane Eddy
66. “I Can’t Wait” by Nu Shooz
67. “Sara” by Starship
68. “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood
69. “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco
70. “If You Leave” by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
71. “Face The Face” by Pete Townshend
72. “Two Of Hearts” by Stacey Q
73. “Do You Wanna Be?” by I’m Talking
74. “So Much For Love” by Venetians
75. “Oh L’amour” by Erasure
76. “Heartache All Over The World” by Elton John
77. “Suspicious Minds” by Fine Young Cannibals
78. “Eloise” by The Damned
79. “To Be A Lover” by Billy Idol
80. “Kyrie” by Mr Mister
81. “Move Away” by Culture Club
82. “Walk This Way” by Run-DMC
83. “Baby You’re So Strange” by Icehouse
84. “Let’s Go All The Way” by Sly Fox
85. “Bad Moon Rising” by The Reels
86. “Don’t You Love Me Anymore” by Joe Cocker
87. “Holy Word” by I’m Talking
88. “On My Own” by Patti LaBelle / Michael McDonald
89. “Holding Back The Years” by Simply Red
90. “And She Was” by Talking Heads
91. “So Macho” by Sinitta
92. “Wild Wild Life” by Talking Heads
93. “Funky Town” by Pseudo Echo
94. “(I Just Died) In Your Arms” by Cutting Crew
95. “Emotion In Motion” by Ric Ocasek
96. “Love Theme From St Elmo’s Fire” by David Foster
97. “Walk Of Life” by Dire Straits
98. “Before Too Long” by Paul Kelly And The Coloured Girls
99. “The Whole Of The Moon” by The Waterboys
100. “Friends And Lovers” by Gloria Loring / Carl Anderson
With a couple of exceptions, that's a pretty perfect snapshot of one of the best years in music.
Like all year-end charts up until 1988, the ARIA top 100 for 1986 was calculated based on singles' chart runs (highest position, number of weeks at its peak, number of weeks on the chart, etc.) rather than total sales.
I'd be very interested to know if "Chain Reaction" was, in fact, the year's highest-selling single despite only spending three weeks at number 1 or whether one of the songs that spent six or seven weeks on top, including the recently deposed "You're The Voice", sold the most copies.
Speaking of "You're The Voice", it was one of a surprisingly low 16 songs on the top 100 from local acts - a tally which included two each from Australian pop groups Pseudo Echo, Wa Wa Nee and I'm Talking. Homegrown rock was represented by Midnight Oil (twice), Paul Kelly And The Coloured Girls, Boom Crash Opera and AC/DC, with Icehouse, Venetians and The Reels falling somewhere between the two.
There were quite a lot of repeat performers on the top 100, with Wham!, Talking Heads, Starship, Billy Ocean, Lionel Richie, Whitney Houston, and two-hit wonders Feargal Sharkey and Mr Mister all also appearing twice on the countdown.
Unsurprisingly, Madonna's on there three times, as is the late George Michael - twice with Wham! and once with solo hit "A Different Corner". Special mention also to Mike Rutherford, who appeared on singles by both Genesis and his side project, Mike + The Mechanics.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:
Next time: we head back to 1987 to cover off the first six months of the year - and things get off to a flying start with a solo smash hit from a blonde bombshell, the song that put a local band firmly on the world stage and the best single the Queen Of Pop has ever released.