This Week In 1984: January 29, 1984
I have mixed feelings about posthumous releases. On the one hand, a song or album completed after an artist has passed away may not necessarily be what they would ever have released if still living. On the other hand, it does give fans a chance to hear projects that, in many cases, were close to completion.
This week in 1984, a singer who'd already appeared on the Australian chart several times since his death returned yet again. The difference this time was that he charted with a song that hadn't been released while he was alive - and it became one of his highest-charting solo singles.
Lionel Richie was still enjoying his highest-charting solo single as "All Night Long (All Night)" clung on to number 1 for a sixth - and final - week.
Number 49 "Favorite Waste Of Time" by Bette Midler
Peak: number 44
It'd been almost four years since Bette Midler had enjoyed a big hit in Australia. And although her version of the song written and first recorded by Marshall Crenshaw wasn't that successful a single, it did put her back on the top 50 for the first time since 1980's "The Rose". Bette would have more luck with the next track she released from her No Frills album, while Owen Paul would turn "My Favourite Waste Of Time" (as he called it) into the hit it deserved to be in 1986.
Number 48 "One Thing Leads To Another" by The Fixx
Peak: number 38
In Thursday's flashback to 1992, I mentioned that Blue Train was one of those British bands I always thought were American since they a) sounded American and b) had their greatest success there. Here's another - London's The Fixx, with their US top 5 single, "One Thing Leads To Another". The song about deceitful politicians was the band's biggest hit in America, but in Australia, it fell five places short of the position achieved by 1982's "Stand Or Fall".
Number 47 "Everywhere I Go" by QED
Peak: number 19
Jenny Morris hadn't had a great start to her solo career, with her first two singles flopping on the Australian chart in 1982. And so while that was put onto the backburner for the time being, she continued her work as a session singer and formed QED instead. A song originally recorded by her former band, The Crocodiles, on their album Looking At Ourselves, "Everywhere I Go" succeeded where "Puberty Blues" and "Little By Little" hadn't. One of those songs that skilfully combined elements of new wave and synthpop with Aussie rock, "Everywhere I Go" probably deserved to do even better than number 19 - but it was a start.
Peak: number 25
In mid-1982, Huey Lewis And The News kicked off their Australian chart career with number 18 single "Do You Believe In Love" but had been unable to lift another hit from the Picture This album. Fair enough, follow-ups "Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do" and "Workin' For A Living" had only been minor hits in the US. But this week in 1984, the MOR rockers returned with the first of three singles they'd place in the 20s throughout the year from Sports. Unlike the two singles that were to come, "Heart And Soul" was actually a cover version of a song first released by Exile in 1981 and also recorded by The BusBoys the following year. Even though Huey and band's version wasn't that different from Exile's, they still managed to make it sound, in the words of every reality show judge ever, completely their own.
Number 35 "Nobody Told Me" by John Lennon
Peak: number 6
Following John Lennon's murder on December 8, 1980, his then-current single, "(Just Like) Starting Over", which looked like it might've peaked at number 6, shot back up the chart and spent four weeks at number 1 in early 1981. It was followed by two more top 50 hits from his and wife Yoko Ono's recently released album, Double Fantasy. Various other tracks by or featuring John also ventured into the top 100 up until January 1983 when old album track "Love" reached number 93 as part of the promotion for The John Lennon Collection.
A year later, the ex-Beatle was back again, only this time it was with a brand new release rather than a re-release of a former hit or a track from an album that came out during his lifetime. The Milk And Honey album contained material John had worked on during and following the sessions for Double Fantasy, while Yoko's portion of the album was mostly recorded during 1983. The track "Nobody Told Me" was actually intended for Ringo Starr, but he decided not to record it in the wake of his former band-mate's death. And so John's rough demo version was scrubbed up, included on Milk And Honey and released as its lead single, becoming his sixth and final Australian top 10 hit.
Number 29 "Victims" by Culture Club
Peak: number 4
After back-to-back party starters "Church Of The Poison Mind" and "Karma Chameleon", Culture Club brought the tempo right down for this third single from Colour By Numbers. In fact, "Victims" was such a change of pace that the band's American record company decided not to release it there. Australia followed Europe's lead and went with the song about - what else? - Boy George and Jon Moss's clandestine relationship. Turned out to be a good move, with the emotional ballad becoming Culture Club's third consecutive top 5 single locally.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:
Next week: a British band known for its gloominess shows it can be just as poppy as anyone else. Plus, a New Zealand group recaptures its more commercial side.