It All Started This Week In 1987
This week in 1987, I picked up a copy of the latest ARIA chart from my local record store (remember those?) and studied it from top to bottom, before filing it away for safe keeping - something I would do for the next 11 years. Look, here it is:
I still have every chart from July 1987 to May 1998 (when I left Australia to go backpacking), and I would've kept the collection going, but the person I'd lined up to stockpile the charts in my absence turned out to be a bit crap, and by the time I got back in 2000, ARIA had moved online, so what can you do?
My interest in the chart stemmed from years of listening to Take 40 Australia on a Sunday afternoon, often in tennis court car parks in far-flung suburbs of Sydney. My sister played, my parents watched, I listened to Barry Bissell on the car radio. But in 1987, two things happened:
Firstly, Rage and Video Hits began. I'd never been able to wrangle control of the TV on a Sunday night to watch Countdown, so these shows and their weekend morning chart rundowns were appointment viewing for me. I'd write down the new Top 50 from Rage until I could get the official chart later in the week.
Secondly, I started high school and began to visit record stores on the way home from school and on weekends, which made the task of chart collection - not to mention record buying - that little bit easier.
Post-1998, I've continued to follow the ARIA chart and even turned my obsession with music into a career as an entertainment journalist. These days, I check the ARIA website at 6pm on a Sunday to see what's number one, but nothing compares to the excitement I used to get from holding a brand new ARIA chart in my hands. What colour would it be this week? What songs would be the Breakers (the hit predictions outside the top 50)? Would "Locomotion" still be number 1? Good times.
Now seemed like as good a time as any to look back on what was big in music the week my lifelong obsession with the charts kicked into gear. Which brings us back to the Top 50 for the week ending July 5, 1987. You can either check the rundown on the picture above, or journey with me from 50 to 1. Yep, I always wanted Barry Bissell's job.
(Adopts radio voice) And a new entry at number 50 for "Daughters Of Glory" by Black Sorrows. It was the debut chart appearance for the band who'd go on to score their biggest hit in 1989 with "Chained To The Wheel", but of course not the first time around the block for Joe Camilleri, who'd also enjoyed hits as Jo Jo Zep (with and without The Falcons) in the late '70s and early '80s.
At number 49: "Somewhere Out There" by Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram, the Grammy-winning theme to animated kids' film, An American Tail. Go on, belt it out - you know you want to.
Exiting the top 40 to land at number 48: "Leave Me" by Cattletruck. Despite the terrible band name, it was a song I liked at the time, but had completely forgotten about ever since.
At number 47, "One And One (Ain't I Good Enough)" by Wa Wa Nee, their fourth and final top 20 hit. They'd return late in 1988 with a second album, but by then, the best they could manage would be a number 31 peak for "Can't Control Myself".
Number 46 provides a little bit of controversy, in that it's "He's Gonna Step On You Again" by The Chantoozies. This new entry for the eight-piece combo (which featured Tottie Goldsmith and David Reyne among its members) fell some way short of the top 10 placing The Party Boys were enjoying with the same song (originally a 1971 hit for John Kongos). The Party Boys would go on to reach number 1 with their version. The Chantoozies only managed to limp to number 36.
At number 45: "Let It Be" by Ferry Aid, an all-star (well, some of them were) charity single to raise funds for the victims of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster. Featuring the likes of Boy George, Kate Bush, Paul McCartney, Mel & Kim, Nik Kershaw, Kim Wilde and, er, Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot from Curiosity Killed The Cat (OK, they were big in Britain), it was a rather plodding version of The Beatles classic. Produced by Stock Aitken Waterman, it got to number one in the UK and managed to scrape into the top 30 here.
Number 44: "Big Time" by Peter Gabriel, which boasted another impressive animated clip - but while that had worked a treat for "Sledgehammer" (a top 3 hit a year earlier), the novelty had clearly worn off, with this track only managing a number 37 peak the next week.
Arriving at its number 43 peak: "Running In The Family" by Level 42, a British band who were big back home, but never graced the Australian top 40 with their presence. It's a shame, really.
Number 42: "Nude School" by Painters & Dockers - I'd successfully blocked this video from memory... until now. Enjoy!
The number 41 song from July 5, 1987 was - after an impressive 18 weeks on the chart - "She's The One" by The Cockroaches. More from the eventual Wiggles later...
Moving on to number 40: "Male Stripper" by Man 2 Man Meet Man Parrish which was one of several big Euro dance hits on the chart that week. At the time, I thought it was a bit of an odd group name, but it was actually a collaboration between Man 2 Man (brothers Miki and Paul Zone) and producer Man Parrish. I also didn't get the gay overtones, but then I missed the innuendo of "Hit That Perfect Beat" and "Relax" as well. Enjoy the porn-lite clip...
At number 39: "The Final Countdown" by Europe, which was coming to the end of its long run in the top 40 and would soon be used to flag the demise of the ABC music show of the same name. Sniff.
Moving up at number 38 was "Dominoes" by Robbie Nevil, the follow-up to "C'est La Vie". I remember being disappointed by the song's lack of success and willed it to go higher. Unfortunately, it didn't. Luckily for Robbie, he got another top 5 hit in 1991 with "Just Like You".
Number 37 was "Big Love" by Fleetwood Mac, the first hit from their Tango In The Night album and a song I liked despite it being "old people's music". But back in 1987, it didn't matter if a song was by Stacey Q or Chris Rea - so long as it was good.
Falling five spots at number 36: "Midnight Blue" by Lou Gramm, the first solo hit from the big-haired Foreigner singer. I was going to say: "the only solo hit", but it turns out he reached number 31 with "Just Between You And Me" in 1990. Will have to refresh my memory on YouTube. In the meantime, here's "Midnight Blue"...
At number 35: "Rock The Night" by Europe, itself a great song, but one which suffered due to the all-conquering success of "The Final Countdown" and could only get to number 22.
The week's highest new entry came at number 34. "Crazy" by Icehouse was the first of a stream of singles from the massive Man Of Colours album. Yes, "Electric Blue" would be bigger, but the clip to that song didn't feature a bright red calf-length coat, now did it? Incidentally, the video below is one of two made for "Crazy". A link to the second clip is in the song title above.
As promised, more from the future Wiggles at number 33. "Some Kind Of Girl" by The Cockroaches ranks as their second biggest hit (it peaked the following week at number 32) and was followed, with increasingly less success, by "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" and "Hey What Now!". Things got so desperate for the group that they played a gig at my high school's 75th anniversary celebrations in 1988.
Number 32: "With Or Without You" by U2, a band I hated at the time but all my classmates worshipped. And I wondered why they made fun of my love for Mel & Kim.
At number 31, the long-forgotten "Sonic Boom Boy" by Westworld, which deserved much better than its number 27 peak. Fun video, too.
Number 30: "Why Can't I Be You?" by The Cure, a band whose poppier output, like this and follow-up "Just Like Heaven", I always preferred to more depressing tracks like "Lullaby". The song's jump from number 46 to number 30 was enough to earn it the chart's first bullet for a big move within the top 50. It'd jump again the following week to number 16, where it would stall. The Cure's highest chart placing wouldn't come until 1992, when "High" cracked the top 5.
At number 29, another bullet performer, another single from The Joshua Tree. Yep, it's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2. I still prefer The Chimes' cover version.
Number 28 is a shocker. "Holiday Rap" by MC Miker "G" & Deejay Sven. Wow, even their names are terrible. How this travesty charted so well (it got to number 11) is beyond me. Says more about the power of Madonna (the song sampled "Holiday", as well as Cliff Richard's "Summer Holiday") than anything. Watch the clip if you dare...
At number 27 was "Reet Petite" by Jackie Wilson, a song that would still be hanging around in September and which, of course, dated all the way back to 1957. Apart from it being 30 years since the tune's debut, its renewed success came thanks to a cute claymation video (between this, The Firm's "Star Trekkin'" and Peter Gabriel's clips, claymation was big in '87).
Rounding out the first half of the top 50 is the song at number 26: "Let's Wait Awhile" by Janet Jackson, the penultimate hit from the Control album. "The Pleasure Principle" would creep to number 50 in August.
Jumping 13 places at number 25 was "Something So Strong" by Crowded House, the fifth and final single from the band's self-titled debut album. It would reach number 18 and be the album's second most successful single (after the worldwide hit, "Don't Dream It's Over"). Although I generally favoured pop and dance music (still do), I always liked a good bit of pop/rock - and Crowded House and Boom Crash Opera were my two favourites of that genre in 1987.
Holding at number 24, the a cappella former UK number one, "Caravan Of Love" by The Housemartins. The official video - worth watching to see Fatboy Slim, complete with crucifix shaved into his head, join in the cheesy dance moves - is continually taken down from YouTube. Instead, here's a Top Of The Pops performance.
At number 23:"What's My Scene" by Hoodoo Gurus, a song I used to like until it was turned into a footy anthem and became more jingle than rock classic. Its number 3 peak earlier in the year made it far and away the band's biggest hit.
Climbing to number 22: "Breakout" by Swing Out Sister, a group who don't deserve the term "one hit wonder", but alas, in Australia this was their only top 50 appearance. But what a song it was. Just try not to smile...
Number 21: "Let's Go" by Wang Chung, the last of three big hits (the others were "Dance Hall Days" and "Everybody Have Fun Tonight") in Australia for the English duo. For some reason, I always thought they were American.
Number 20 was a drop for "Looking For A New Love" by Jody Watley, the debut hit for the former Shalamar ("A Night To Remember") singer which had peaked at number 13 the previous week. Jody had many more hits in the US and even picked up a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, but "Looking For A New Love" - complete with its pre-Terminator use of "hasta la vista, baby" - was her sole Australian top 50 placing.
Number 19: "La Isla Bonita" by Madonna, the final single from True Blue, which just happens to be my favourite album of all time. It followed "Live To Tell", "Papa Don't Preach" and "True Blue" into the top 10, but my favourite track of them all (and favourite Madonna single ever released) is "Open Your Heart", which had stalled at number 16. Anyway, enough about me... here's "La Isla Bonita":
At number 18 is "Sweet 16" by Billy Idol, which was on its way up to number 9 to become one of the biggest hits by the sneering peroxide fan. It was a nice enough rock ballad, but give me "White Wedding" or "Rebel Yell" any day.
Still hanging around at number 17 after four months was "Livin' On A Prayer" by Bon Jovi. It was the first of two entries for the New Jersey rockers, who also had the number 2 album that week with Slippery When Wet. What's not to love about "Livin' On A Prayer"? The bit where the video goes from black and white into colour, the key change where Jon flies above the crowd, the fact that it makes me go hoarse if I try it at karaoke...
At number 16: "Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)" by Mel & Kim, another act with two songs on the chart, and although this was the London duo's debut single, it was still moving up, spurred on by the runaway success of their other single, which we'll get to later.
Falling out of the top 10 and down to number 15 was former chart-topper "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" by Paul Lekakis. Rude lyrics are always a sure-fire way to have a hit (see also: Nine Inch Nails, Eamon), but "Boom Boom" was also a great dance record. Who didn't admire Paul's moves from the unofficial music video?
At number 14: the excellent "Hymn To Her" by The Pretenders, one of the band's regular big hits throughout the '80s. This was second only to "Brass In Pocket" in terms of chart performance, but was my favourite.
Here they are again: at number 13, "Wanted Dead Or Alive" by Bon Jovi. After two raucous rock anthems, it was ballad o'clock for the guys (a trend they continued with next single "Never Say Goodbye"). But 13 would prove to be an unlucky number for "Wanted..." which peaked there this week and, again, a few weeks later. Watch the clip and try not to join in on "I'm a cowboy..."
Number 12 is an interesting one. "At This Moment" by Billy Vera & The Beaters, which memory tells me had a Family Ties link. A quick check online, and yep, the 1981 song was used on the Michael J Fox sitcom, prompting a re-release in the US, where it hit number 1. It got to number 11 here. For some reason, I always associate this song with Jim Diamond's "I Should Have Known Better". Not sure why.
Another Euro dance hit at number 11: "Love And Devotion" by Michael Bow, which, unlike "Boom Boom" didn't even have a cheesy TV performance clip to play and Countdown used to just show footage of audience members dancing around when they played it. Like the Paul Lekakis song, as well as Man 2 Man, it was a 12" single release - but, for a radio edit fan like me, appeared on the best compilation of the '80s, 87 Right On Track, in 7" form. That's not online, but here's the extended mix:
Which brings us to the top 10 and at number 10: "He's Gonna Step On You Again" by The Party Boys, which you might remember back at number 46 was also performed by The Chantoozies. Just how the cover version double-up happened, I'm not sure, but despite The Party Boys only ever having had a number 100 single in 1983, they won the battle, with their version shooting up from number 28 this week on its way to the top. I never loved either track, but this was probably the better of the two.
And now, at number 9, the only song in the top 25 that I really hated: "(Glad I'm) Not A Kennedy" by Shona Laing. To me, it seemed like a really odd choice of topic for a pop song and listening to it now for the first time in 25 years, I'm pleased I showed such good taste as a 12-year-old. Others may beg to differ...
At number 8, another one-hit wonder: "Lean On Me" by Club Nouveau, which had peaked at number 5. Who didn't love this funkified take on the soul classic?
Some Aussie rock at number 7 with "Take Me Back" by Noiseworks giving the guys the first of their three top 10 hits (the others were "Touch" and the terrible "Hot Chilli Woman"). I liked a lot of Noiseworks songs and had in mind that they'd done better on the charts - well, they had, but on the albums charts, with all four of their releases going top 10.
At number 6, "Right On Track" by Breakfast Club, who rode their association with Madonna (she used to be their drummer) as far as it would take them. In the case of this song, to number 4 a couple of weeks later. Sure, the fun music video and the fact that this was a fantastic pop song helped. Unfortunately, they never charted again.
Kicking off the top 5, at number 5: "Ship Of Fools" by World Party, the solo project for ex-Waterboys ("The Whole Of The Moon") member Karl Wallinger which did way better here than back in the UK.
On the rise at number 4: "Respectable" by Mel & Kim (it would get to number 1 three weeks later). As well as being my favourite song from this entire top 50 and featuring some nifty dance moves and cool hats in the clip (click the link in the song title), it was probably the record which clued me into the production team of Stock Aitken Waterman. I'd liked Dead Or Alive, Princess, Bananarama's "Venus" and, yes, even Divine's "You Think You're A Man" without ever really connecting the dots. And so, a new fandom was created.
Number 3: "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship. A brilliant song from a terrible movie - although to be fair, I probably enjoyed Mannequin at the time, but when I saw it recently on TV, I couldn't get past the first 15 minutes. Luckily, the theme song holds up much better.
Another movie song at number 2: "Slice Of Heaven" by Dave Dobbyn with Herbs (which always sounded like he was about to be cooked). From the Footrot Flats animated film, this Aussie chart-topper has never really gone away, being used in ads and remixed over the years. It still sounds great.
And finally, in its third of five weeks at number 1: "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) by Whitney Houston. I was a massive Whitney fan - her self-titled debut album was the first record I ever bought for myself and this first single from the imaginatively-titled follow-up, Whitney, was her best single to date. It was also the second of her three Australian number 1s. One's obvious ("I Will Always Love You"), but can you recall the third?
So there we have it, the top 50 singles 25 years ago this week. If you enjoyed this trip back in time, watch this space. I'm on a bit of a roll now so I'll be keeping this up as long as people care to read (it won't always be a top 50, mind you). And feel free to let me know below what you'd like to see/be reminded of. Thanks for reading!
GO >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: July 12, 1987