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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1986: August 31, 1986

It's inevitable that whenever a music artist releases a new album after even a relatively short period of time, it's classed as a comeback. This week in 1986, three acts that'd previously experienced success on the Australian charts debuted with the lead singles from their latest albums - all comebacks to one extent or another.

Cyndi Lauper's second album proved her initial success was no fluke

For one female singer, it was the first single from the follow-up to an extraordinarily successful debut album. For a new romantic band, it was a taste of what to expect from their first album in two years - and their first under a new record deal. And for a male singer, it was the lead release from his first LP in four years, which would become his first hit single in six.

A pop star who had barely paused for breath, let alone a comeback, in the past two-and-a-half years was still on top of the ARIA single chart this week in 1986. "Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna was number 1 for a fourth week.

Off The Chart

Number 98 "On The Beach" by Chris Rea

Peak: number 88

Thanks to its memorable guitar riff, it's one of his best known songs - but the original version of "On The Beach" wasn't a hit here or in the UK, where it peaked at number 57. The 1988 remix did slightly better.

Number 97 "Sheep" by The Housemartins

Peak: number 97

This second single from The Housemartins peaked one place higher than "On The Beach" in the UK. In Australia, "Sheep" is the indie pop band's only other top 100 entry besides "Caravan Of Love".

Number 94 "Rumbleseat" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Peak: number 84

It sounds like the sort of JCM song that would've been a hit in Australia, but "Rumbleseat" was also the fifth single from Scarecrow, which was spending its 46th week on the top 50 albums chart.

Number 91 "So Tough" by Eurogliders

Peak: number 91

Here's another fifth single from an album - this time Eurogliders' Absolutely. The excellent "So Tough" was the first track lifted from the album to miss the top 30 and it did so by some margin.


"Paranoimia" by Art Of Noise featuring Max Headroom

Peak: number 52

Their reworking of the theme tune from detective series Peter Gunn had almost made the top 10 and Art Of Noise continued the TV connection for their follow-up. Originally a mostly instrumental track on their In Visible Silence album, the single version of "Paranoimia" (a mix of paranoia and insomnia) featured animated character Max Headroom. Both the 7" and 12" versions contained a different monologue by Max (aka actor Matt Frewer), whose sampled electronic voice suited the avant garde group's quirky style perfectly.

"Flash King Cadillac" by John Justin

Peak: number 51

Despite the labelling on the YouTube clip below, "Flash King Cadillac" would seem to be one of John Justin's solo releases as opposed to one credited to him and backing band The Thunderwings. In either guise, the Melbourne glam rocker didn't have much luck on the ARIA chart. His biggest hit would come a year later when he peaked just one place higher with his cover of "Rock On". 

New Entries

Number 45 "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper

Peak: number 3

All five singles from Cyndi Lauper's debut album, She's So Unusual, had peaked inside the ARIA top 20, as had soundtrack hit "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough". Needless to say, the flame-haired singer had a lot to live up to as she launched album number two, True Colors. A massive hit waiting to happen, the album's title track was chosen as its lead release and it duly became Cyndi's second US chart-topper (following another of her emotional ballads, "Time After Time") and her second-biggest hit in Australia behind debut single "Girls Just Want To Have Fun". 

Interestingly, songwriters Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg (who'd also written "Like A Virgin") had offered a very differently arranged "True Colors" to Anne Murray first. Anne's reject became Cyndi's gain and the success of her hit version helped push the accompanying album to the number 1 spot in Australia - something She's So Unusual hadn't managed (although it spent almost four times as long in the top 100). "True Colors" has been covered numerous times over the years, most notably (and horrifically) by Kasey Chambers, whose screeched version peaked just one place lower than Cyndi's in 2003.

Number 44 "Fight For Ourselves" by Spandau Ballet

Peak: number 16

The last time we'd seen Spandau Ballet on the ARIA chart was with the number 16 hit "Round And Round". That single had been lifted from their second album of glossy soulful pop, Parade. Prior to Parade and its predecessor, True, the British band had released two albums of more synth-based new wave music, Journeys To Glory and Diamond - and so they were about due for another shift in sound. As evidenced by lead single "Fight For Ourselves", their first album in two years, Through The Barricades, had more of a pop/rock feel. Given this single equalled the peak of "Round And Round", it would seem Spandau Ballet's fans were right on board with their new style. But appearances can be deceiving. "Fight For Ourselves" didn't hang around the chart that long, especially considering it was a brand new song - and it would be the band's final significant chart appearance in Australia. Take from that what you will.

Number 42 "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood

Peak: number 8

Steve Winwood's last album, 1982's Talking Back To The Night, and its singles had done little on the charts (although "Valerie" would resurface in remixed form in 1988). And so it had been five-and-a-half long years since Steve Winwood's only hit single so far in Australia, "While You See A Chance" (from the Arc Of A Diver album). "Higher Love" was, therefore, the epitome of a comeback - a top 10 hit in Australia and a number 1 single in the US. The catchy pop track featured Chaka Khan on backing vocals and Nile Rodgers on guitar - and both of them in the music video. Three more top 20 hits would follow from Back In The High Life in America, but in Australia, that remix of "Valerie" would provide Steve with his next top 50 appearance.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:

Next week: a girl band's lead singer goes solo, a synthpop group tackles a big ballad and the follow-up to the biggest Australian single of the year debuts.

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