This Week In 1986: September 28, 1986
There's no denying Paul McCartney and Rod Stewart are music legends, but as well as both having decades-spanning careers that continue to this day, they share a couple of other things in common.
In 1971, they each enjoyed an Australian number 1 hit with their very first charting solo single — Paul with "Another Day" and Rod with "Maggie May / Reason To Believe". And 30 years ago this week, they both debuted on the ARIA top 50 with singles from their 14th studio albums (in Paul's case, that includes his work with Wings).
As impressive as all that is, I was much more interested in the song at number 1 this week in 1986. "Venus" by Bananarama spent a second week on top, once again keeping "Dancing On The Ceiling" by Lionel Richie in the runners-up spot.
Off The Chart
Number 98 "Love Zone" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 91
After two top 10 singles from the Love Zone album, its title track was a big old flop in Australia. The mediocre mid-tempo track managed a top 10 peak in the US, however.
Peak: number 78
After two top 50 singles from Human Frailty, Hunters & Collectors stumbled with this track that made all the right sounds but didn't have as killer a hook as "Say Goodbye" or "Throw Your Arms Around Me".
Number 49 "Press" by Paul McCartney
Peak: number 47
Thanks to a handful of high-profile duets, the start of the decade had been some of Paul McCartney's most successful years on the Australian chart as a solo artist — with five top 10 hits added to the 37 he'd previously notched up (31 with The Beatles and six in the '70s after the band split). But since "No More Lonely Nights" reached number 9 at the end of 1984, neither his festive release "We All Stand Together" (which missed the top 100) or soundtrack single "Spies Like Us" had performed well at all.
That trend continued with "Press", the lead single from Press To Play, which crept into the top 50, and missed the top 20 in the US and the UK. Despite enlisting Phil Collins producer Hugh Padgham to update his sound (and Phil himself playing drums on "Press"), the single and album were a resounding flop. Paul would eventually add more top 10 singles to his tally, but not until 2014/2015 when a couple of collaborations with Kanye West and Rihanna signalled a major comeback.
Peak: number 26
Rod Stewart had been just as prolific as Paul McCartney since 1971 but, similarly, hadn't had a top 10 hit in a while — not since 1983's "Baby Jane". However, Rod hadn't been relegated to pop's wilderness in the same way that Paul had, with "Every Beat Of My Heart" following up the moderately successful number 12 hit "Love Touch". The title track of his latest album, "Every Beat..." is one of those dirgy, funereal ballads I came to hate Rod for in the early '90s, but enough people liked it for it to become a middling hit on the ARIA chart — his last for over a year. Interestingly, one of the other songs released from Every Beat Of My Heart was Rod's version of The Beatles' "In My Life".
With only two new entries on the singles chart — neither of them very good — it's the perfect opportunity to flip the top 50 over and see what was happening on the albums side this week in 1986.
At the very top of the albums chart was the latest various artist release from Festival Records and EMI — but it's actually one of the weaker compilations to reach number 1 in the '80s. The first side has a number of minor and non-hits by Queen, Venetians, Culture Club, Suzanne Vega and Robert Palmer. Side 2 is better, with only one of the nine tracks not making the top 20. At number 16, the Mega-Mixes version of 1986... Just For Kicks made a leap up the chart. The double album featured 12" mixes of some of the songs from the main version alongside more club-friendly tracks by Lana Pellay, Pet Shop Boys and Kids In The Kitchen.
They both still had singles in the ARIA top 10, and this week in 1986, albums by Samantha Fox and Cyndi Lauper named after those hits debuted on the albums top 50 — one considerably higher than the other. That said, Cyndi's True Colors actually climbed 66-3, while Samantha's Touch Me made its first appearance in the top 100 at number 40. It would be the only chart feat Samantha would have over Cyndi, with True Colors starting a four-week stretch at number 1 the following week, while Touch Me peaked at number 20.
Two male artists also arrived on the chart with their latest albums. For Paul Kelly, the debut of Gossip, his first release with backing band The Coloured Girls, marked his return to the top 50 after a break of five years. Back in 1981, Talk, his first album with previous band The Dots, had reached number 44. Spurred on by hit single "Before Too Long", Gossip hit a much more respectable number 15 and spent three-quarters of a year on the top 100. An album that would spend well over a year on the top 100, including five weeks at number 1, was Graceland by Paul Simon, which entered at number 44 despite lead single "You Can Call Me Al" sitting at number 79. That song would also soon rocket up the chart and be inescapable all summer.
The longest-running album on the chart was, not surprisingly, Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits, but two other stayers were coming up to their top 50 anniversaries. Whitney Houston's debut self-titled LP was in its 51st week, while Scarecrow by John Cougar Mellencamp was one week behind. Whitney Houston would end up spending 96 weeks in the top 50 and be 1986's number 1 album; Scarecrow's tally was 65 weeks and the year's number 4.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:
Next week: a much more interesting singles chart thanks to six new entries, including Samantha Fox's follow-up to her chart-topper, the return of synthpop royalty and a song forever associated with Princess Diana.