This Week In 1989: November 5, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
It was a good week for cover versions this week in 1989, with three (well, technically, two and a half) of the new entries on the ARIA top 50 singles chart coming from remakes of previous hits and another song making extensive use of an earlier track.
The three covers were of songs that had originated in the 1970s, while the sampled track dated back to the end of the disco era in 1980 - but all three new versions brought the songs right up to date.
There was more nostalgia at the summit of the chart as Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers' megamix of rock'n'roll classics, "Swing The Mood", retained the top spot for a third - and thankfully final - week.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 95
Just like the title track from Waltz Darling, this second single missed the top 50. Vocals were handled by model, actress and one-time Tim Burton fiancée Lisa Marie Smith.
Peak: number 79
After lifting four consecutive top 30 hits - the first three top 10 - from their debut album, Australia's favourite new rock band hit a snag with this remake of the blues classic written in 1945 by Buddy Johnson and since covered countless times.
Peak: number 54
This wasn't a cover version, but the breakthrough US hit for hair metal band Warrant sounded so much like all those other lighters-in-the-air rock ballads that it may as well have been. A number 2 hit in the States, "Heaven" followed in the steel-tipped boot-steps of Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and any number of Bon Jovi power ballads, but Australia didn't bite. It would take a far tastier dish from Warrant to tempt local fans in 1990.
Number 49 "Still Cruisin'" by The Beach Boys
Peak: number 28
They started the year by ascending to the number 1 spot in Australia, and now 11 months later, they finally, er, got around to following up "Kokomo". "Still Cruisin'" was the title track of an odds-and-ends album that featured recently released soundtrack songs, classic hits that'd also featured in films in the previous few years and a couple of other random inclusions (such as an obligatory Brian Wilson track). The song itself was used in the film Lethal Weapon 2 and sounded like the band's vintage material - but while nostalgia was in the air, The Beach Boys revival had clearly run its course and this would be the band's final top 50 chart appearance.
Peak: number 23
Hunters & Collectors are one of those bands whose chart positions don't really give an indication of their true popularity. And, although they've now achieved legendary status in Australia, at the time when their singles and albums were released, they struggled to get recognition. Things did improve for the band slightly in 1989, when they bested their previous singles chart record - by one position. By reaching number 23, "When The River Runs Dry" became the Hunters' highest-charting single up until then, beating 1986's "Say Goodbye", which peaked at number 24. Meanwhile, parent album Ghost Nation returned the band to the albums top 10 - equalling the number 10 peak of Human Frailty (also from 1986).
Number 46 "Ride On Time" by Black Box Peak: number 2
Here's the new entry that took an obscure disco record by Loleatta Holloway and turned it into the year's highest-selling single in the UK and a massive hit in Australia as well. Lifting vocals and musical elements from 1980's "Love Sensation", "Ride On Time" was the debut single released by the Italian production trio of Daniele Davoli, Mirko Limoni and Valerio Semplici as Black Box.
The three are credited with creating a new sound that became known as Italo house (a cross between Italo disco like Sabrina and house like Inner City), and were a bit of a hit factory, churning out club tracks with big piano chords under a number of aliases. But that's just the start of the story...
While the use of samples on "Ride On Time" had been cleared with Salsoul Records, the label that'd released "Love Sensation", Loleatta was not credited and received no fee for the use of her vocals. While everyone got dragged into court, a remixed version of "Ride On Time" featuring re-recorded vocals by a pre-fame Heather Small was released. That's the one you can hear below, but I prefer the version with Loleatta's original vocal, which I still have on 12" single (but constantly gets removed from YouTube).
Further complicating matters was the fact that Black Box was fronted by neither Loleatta nor Heather, but instead a lithe, young French model called Katrin Quinol who mimed in the song's music video and appeared on the single cover. We'd be seeing a lot of Black Box - and Katrin - in the months to come.
Number 45 "The Sensual World" by Kate Bush Peak: number 44
Wedged in between covers and samples, here's a song that was entirely original - the comeback single by a British female artist known for her quirkiness and left-of-centre releases. Having said that, "The Sensual World" is based on a literary work - Ulysses by James Joyce - but Kate didn't gain the rights to the actual text at the time and came up with her own lyrics rather than just nick what wasn't hers. Despite her rule-following, the chart performance of the title track from her sixth album would have been a bit of a disappointment, especially given her two previous appearances on the ARIA chart had been the top 10 hits "Running Up That Hill" and "Don't Give Up" (with Peter Gabriel).
Number 43 "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)" by Nick Barker & The Reptiles Peak: number 30
A UK number 1 hit in 1975 for Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)" has actually been covered by two of my all-time favourite British synth/New Wave bands - Duran Duran and Erasure - but this 1989 remake is the epitome of '80s Aussie rock and quite close to the drunken pub sing-along feel of the original. For Melbourne-based Nick Barker & The Reptiles, the cover was a good idea - giving the band its first hit following two singles, "Another Me" and "(Sure Beats) Going To Pieces", that'd missed the top 50 earlier in 1989.
Peak: number 15
For her third single from Brave, Kate Ceberano hedged her bets by teaming the album's ballad title track with the much funkier ode to toy boys - a song originally performed under the title "Young Girls Are My Weakness" by Commodores on their debut album, Machine Gun. The double A-side duly became her third top 15 hit since launching her solo pop career at the start of the year. Of the two, I much preferred "Brave" and, as I mentioned when we saw "Love Dimension" chart a few months ago, thought it would have been a more commercially successful follow-up to "Bedroom Eyes". As for "Young Boys...", it was an obvious single thanks to its racy icky song title (Kate was 22 going on 23, which meant she was probably singing about 18- and 19-year-olds), but was actually my least favourite track on the album.
Number 27 "I Feel The Earth Move" by Martika
Peak: number 2
Speaking of double A-side releases - the original version of this song was released by Carole King in 1971 alongside "It's Too Late" (another frequently covered song). In both Australia and the UK, Martika's version of "I Feel The Earth Move" became her second top 10 hit in a row but it was a different story in the States, where it only reached number 25 and was struck from radio playlists after a San Francisco earthquake in mid-October killed 63 people and injured thousands more. In a tragic coincidence, there was a similar situation during the song's release in Australia - the Newcastle earthquake struck in late December while the single was in the ARIA top 5. Bizarrely, though, "I Feel The Earth Move" went on to achieve its highest chart position here in the wake of the earthquake.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: the second sign of the Stock Aitken Waterman apocalypse thanks to a totally unnecessary cover version of a late '70s classic. Plus, everyone's favourite Go-Go was back with a new smash hit.