This Week In 1989: April 30, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
Every boy band needs a bad boy member — and this week in 1989, the man who set the standard for the likes of Donnie Wahlberg, Robbie Williams and Harry Styles hit the Australian top 50 as a solo performer.
The band that launched him, New Edition, were never as big in Australia as they were back home in the US — their sole top 50 hit here during the '80s was 1983's "Candy Girl" (which peaked at number 10). But, Bobby Brown soon made his presence felt in Australia, bringing with him a brand new genre: new jack swing. He'd even go on to hit number 1 here in a few years' time.
At number 1 this week in 1989 (despite the fact that the date appears to have dropped off the chart), Madonna pushed Fine Young Cannibals aside... again. "Like A Prayer" hit the top for a third week, equally the tally "She Drives Me Crazy" had managed. While FYC were done with the number 1 spot, Madonna wasn't quite finished yet.
Off The Chart
Number 92 "Heartbeat Away" by BB Steal
Peak: number 68
If you think this local rock band sound a little influenced by Def Leppard it may not surprise you to discover their one and only chart appearance was produced by DL's lead guitarist Phil Collen.
Number 91 "Everlasting Love" by Howard Jones
Peak: number 91
It'd been three years since his last album, but not much had changed for the British synthpop star — he still made the US top 20, but Australia and the UK had all but abandoned him, with this lead single from Cross The Line becoming his last solo top 100 appearance.
Number 87 "Let The River Run" by Carly Simon
Peak: number 83
Also charting for a final time under her own steam (although, like Howard Jones, she'd pop up in a featured artist capacity down the track) was the winner of the 1989 Best Original Song Oscar for this Working Girl theme.
Number 82 "Keeping The Dream Alive" by Freiheit
Peak: number 79
I bought the 7" of this Beatles-ish song that was originally recorded in German as "So lang' man Träume noch leben kann" by the band known there as Münchener Freiheit.
Number 81 "Sister Madly" by Crowded House
Peak: number 66
I wonder what might have happened had this jaunty little number — the second best track from Temple Of Low Men — been released following "Better Be Home Soon". I'm guessing it would have made the top 50 at least.
Peak: number 58
I blame PWL — who had been responsible for a spate of fairly awful remixes of classic tracks like "Reach Out I'll Be There" by Four Tops and "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5 in the first half of 1988. A generic late-'80s beat was whacked on the original recording and that was that. A similar trick was used to reinvigorate this Grammy Award-winning tune by the British songbird, which had first been released in 1964. Remix duties were handled by Dutch producer Peter Slaghuis (aka Hithouse, who'd been responsible for "Jack To The Sound Of The Underground") and, despite being fairly hideous, the song returned to the UK top 10 for the first time in 24 years.
Number 44 "My Prerogative" by Bobby Brown
Peak: number 40
Controversially expelled from New Edition in 1986, Bobby Brown was always going to be a star. At this point in 1989, he'd just turned 20 and was the first member of the boy band to enjoy solo success (something the other five members would also go on to achieve in the subsequent couple of years - albeit three of them together as Bell Biv Devoe).
Still, it took until his second album, Don't Be Cruel, for Bobby to live up to the ambitious title of his debut offering, King Of Stage. "My Prerogative" was the second of five singles lifted from Don't Be Cruel, and as well as becoming his debut Australian top 40 hit, the track topped the Billboard Hot 100 — his only song to do so (although he also featured on Glenn Medeiros' US chart-topper, "She Ain't Worth It", in 1990).
The song finally became a top 10 hit in Australia 15 years later when equally troubled star Britney Spears covered the track for her first best of collection — although nothing beats the original version by Bobby. One of the earliest new jack swing hits, it was produced by Guy's Teddy Riley — the man credited with creating the burgeoning genre, which blended R&B and hip-hop. A huge force in American music, Teddy is best known in Australia thanks to "No Diggity", his mega-hit as part of Blackstreet.
Peak: number 10
The last time we saw these guys, they were hitting the top 50 with their latest single in the same week as 1927 — and it happened again 25 years ago this week. Johnny and band returned with their first rock ballad, "Cry In Shame", and made it three top 10 hits on the trot. The two bands were also competing on the albums chart, with both ...ish and Johnny Diesel & The Injectors firmly ensconced in the top 10, having each peaked at number 3 in previous weeks. We'll pick this back up in a moment...
Number 35 "How'm I Gonna Sleep" by Tim Finn
Peak: number 27
His solo career had got off to a great start, with 1983's Escapade album and cheery hits "Fraction Too Much Friction" and "Made My Day", but six years and two albums later, the former Split Enz star only just crept into the top 30 with this dreary lead single from his self-titled LP. His next move? Joining his younger brother's internationally successful band, Crowded House, for one album. Ouch.
Number 34 "Compulsory Hero" by 1927
Peak: number 14
Right, back to the chart rivalry between the two Aussie bands with pretty boy singers. 1927's latest single was also a ballad, but of course, it wasn't their first slow song to hit the top 50. And although it debuted higher, "Compulsory Hero" (which is about conscription) would end up being overtaken by "Cry In Shame" on the singles chart. On the albums chart, however, 1927 would have the last laugh. This week, ...ish leapt over Johnny Diesel & The Injectors after having spent four weeks stuck one place below. Then, in May, 1927 would settle into the top spot for three weeks. As for Johnny, he'd have to made do with a peak of number 2... behind 1927.
Peak: number 19
Now, this is how to breathe life into a classic track from the '60s - and it's actually produced by PWL's Stock Aitken Waterman, rather than the B-list team they let loose on those other remixes I mentioned earlier. Originally released (as "I Only Want To Be With You") by Dusty Springfield in 1963, the perky pop ditty had last hit the Australian chart in 1980 in a rockier version by Eurythmics precursors The Tourists.
For former topless pin-up girl Sam Fox, it was actually the first time she'd released a cover version. In the cover-happy '80s, she should have been a prime candidate for remakes given she didn't write her own songs — but all of her 10 previous singles had been originals. But, many of those singles hadn't charted very well and "I Only Wanna Be With You" became her first Australian top 50 since 1987's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now". It would also be her final top 50 appearance locally.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: speaking of Stock Aitken Waterman, we'll see the arrival of the song they wrote and produced which in some ways was the beginning of the end for the production team. Before then, I'm hoping to have my 2003 countdown ready to roll.