Saturday, 27 May 2017

This Week In 1984: May 27, 1984

I've always loved it when songs are remixed from their album versions for single release. Well, I say "always", but I actually prefer my favourite song of all time in its album incarnation than its single mix, so that's a pretty big exception to the rule.

Duran Duran were back on chart form with the remixed "The Reflex"

But more often than not, a single remix transforms a good song into a great one and/or gives new life to a track that's been kicking around for a while on an album. This week in 1984, a remix did both those things to the third song lifted from Duran Duran's Seven And The Ragged Tiger - and restored the band to the ARIA top 5.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 27, 1984

At the pinnacle of the top 5 this week in 1984, "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins spent a second week at number 1 and held off the comic onslaught from the two runners-up.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "State Of The Nation" by Industry
Peak: number 78
The first of three singles that were good enough to have done much better, "State Of The Nation" was an anti-war-themed song by American new wave band Industry, who broke up later in the year.

Number 98 "It's My Life" by Talk Talk
Peak: number 73
Turned into a hit almost two decades later by No Doubt, the original version of "It's My Life" is an overlooked classic by the band who'd reached the Australian top 40 with their eponymous hit.

Number 80 "The Caterpillar" by The Cure
Peak: number 51
After a trio of commercially successful stand-alone singles, the only track lifted from The Cure's fifth album, The Top, just missed out on a top 50 berth.

New Entries
Number 50 "Only For Love" by Limahl
Peak: number 50
Spending a couple of weeks at the very bottom of the top 50 was the debut single by Limahl following his ignominious dismissal from Kajagoogoo (although he'd released two songs as Christopher Hamill prior to joining the band). Not a bad pop tune, "Only For Love" didn't have the same impact as "Too Shy", the Nick Rhodes-produced top 10 hit that'd made Limahl and Kajagoogoo famous in the first place. Limahl would have much more success on the ARIA chart over the '84-'85 summer.

Number 46 "Ghost Ships" by The Saints
Peak: number 46
Seven years earlier, The Saints had sneaked to number 98 with their debut single, "(I'm) Stranded" - a song that's now regarded as one of the most influential records of the punk rock era. Over the ensuing years, the Brisbane band continued to operate outside the mainstream (in one line-up or another) but returned to the chart for the first time since 1977 with "Ghost Ships". The first single from sixth album A Little Madness To Be Free, it had only a brief stay in the top 50, but it was a key step towards the band's true commercial breakthrough a couple of years later.

Number 43 "Don't Answer Me" by The Alan Parsons Project
Peak: number 43
Sounding like an ABBA song produced by Phil Spector, "Don't Ask Me" was the second and final Australian top 50 hit for prog rock band The Alan Parsons Project. The British group, anchored by the duo of Alan and Eric Woolfson, had previously reached number 22 with the light and breezy-sounding "Eye In The Sky", but didn't make quite as much of an impression with this Wall Of Sound-inspired lead single from the Ammonia Avenue album.

Number 41 "The Reflex" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 4
The last time we'd seen Duran Duran on the top 50, it'd been with the under-performing second single from Seven And The Ragged Tiger, "New Moon On Monday". Thanks to a sparkling remix by Nile Rodgers, the album's third single, "The Reflex", put the band back at number 4, exactly where they'd peaked with the two singles before "New Moon...". Not that the album version was bad, but at five-and-a-half minutes, it certainly benefitted from the tightening up. Besides its Australian success, "The Reflex" topped the UK and the US charts, and was the beginning of a successful working relationship between Nile and the band that'd see him produce their next single and their post-hiatus album, Notorious

Number 35 "Strong Love" by Pat Wilson And Her Daddy O
Peak: number 26
Landing on the top 50 one place below the latest from Mondo Rock was the second single by the wife of the Australian band's lead singer, Ross Wilson. "Strong Love" was the follow-up to Pat Wilson's number 2 debut smash hit, "Bop Girl", and was actually a duet with Ross (aka "Her Daddy O"), who wrote and co-produced the song. He also performed the B-side, "Tacky Too", which I'm guessing was linked to "Tacky", the B-side to "Bop Girl". "Strong Love" was nowhere near as good as "Bop Girl" nor anywhere near as successful, and it ended up being Pat's final single release.

Next week: the debut of one of the most successful Australian recording artists of all time. Plus, another hit from one of the year's biggest movies and the song that'd end up in a legal dispute with another soundtrack hit.

Back to: May 20, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 3, 1984

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: May 24, 1992

Doing something different is a great way for a musician to get noticed - just ask Madonna. In the case of two of the new entries on the ARIA singles chart from this week in 1992, it resulted in the singers concerned winding up with number 1 hits.

Two of the 1992's number 1 singles were a change of pace for the singers behind them

One was a big ballad by a female artist whose previous dance/pop tracks (and one midtempo US top 10 hit) had done nothing locally. The other was a completely different type of release by a man who was no stranger to the top 50.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 24, 1992

There was nothing different happening at number 1 this week in 1992 as "To Be With You" by Mr Big held on to the top spot for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "The Life Of Riley" by The Lightning Seeds
Peak: number 98
The first of four new songs spending just one week inside the top 100 was the lead single from The Lightning Seeds' second album, Sense. The album's title track was one of my favourite songs for 1992.

Number 96 "Wicked Love" by Oceanic
Peak: number 96
Nowhere near as good as "Insanity" and consequently nowhere near as big a hit for the British dance act whose album was called That Album By Oceanic - or Cassette/Compact Disc, depending on the format.

Number 94 "Say A Prayer" by Devils In Heaven
Peak: number 94
If you watched the Australian version of Star Search in 1991, you might recall this Tasmanian band whose prize included a single released by Sony. This interview reveals more of the backstory, while here's what happened to their singer.

Number 91 Dixie Narco by Primal Scream
Peak: number 91
Featuring "Movin' On Up", which had appeared on the Screamadelica album, as well as the song "Screamadelica", which bizarrely hadn't, this EP gave the British band their first visit to the ARIA top 100.

"Welcome To The Cheap Seats" by The Wonder Stuff
Peak: number 64
Their collaboration with Vic Reeves, "Dizzy", was still inside the top 40 but the success of that remake wasn't sufficient to prompt extra interest in The Wonder Stuff's own music. "Welcome To The Cheap Seats" came from the British indie band's third album, Never Loved Elvis, and featured guest vocals from Kirsty MacColl.

New Entries
Number 48 "Joy" by Soul II Soul
Peak: number 41
Despite top 10 success in the UK and the US - and a stack of brilliant singles - Soul II Soul had never really taken off in Australia. Although back in the top 50 with this lead single from Volume III Just Right, the British R&B act had to settle for another minor chart hit for "Joy", which differed from their previous singles by featuring guest vocals from a male singer: Richie Stephens. "Joy" was also Soul II Soul's final top 10 hit in the UK, although they came close with 1995's excellent "Love Enuff".

Number 47 As Ugly As They Wanna Be by Ugly Kid Joe
Peak: number 4
Proving that not all early '90s rock hits were bitter and twisted, California's Ugly Kid Joe took the world by storm with their lighthearted celebration of negativity, "Everything About You". The song was initially the standout track on EP As Ugly As They Wanna Be, before being included on the band's late-1992 debut album, America's Least Wanted, by which time Ugly Kid Joe had established themselves as one of America's most wanted new bands. In Australia, they'd end up outdoing As Ugly... by reaching number 1 with another track featured on America's Least Wanted.

Number 43 "Hazard" by Richard Marx
Peak: number 1
Next up, a man who already had one Australian chart-topper under his belt and would add another with a song that couldn't be more different from the material we'd come to expect from him. Like previous single "Keep Coming Back", "Hazard" was neither a sentimental ballad nor an ultra-commercial pop/rock track. Instead, the second single from Rush Street was an ominous tune that doubled as a murder mystery - the song told the story of disappeared woman "Mary", who Richard's narrator character is accused of killing. 
Intriguingly - or frustratingly, depending on your need for closure - neither the song nor the music video which brought the tale to life resolved the case. That intrigue no doubt fuelled interest in the song, as did the fact that it showed Richard in a new light as an artist. As it turns out, he didn't think that much of the song and only included it on Rush Street to prove wife Cynthia Rhodes, who thought it was a hit, wrong. When it went to number 1 in Australia and was indeed a hit around the world, she had the last laugh.

Number 38 "Man Alive" by Diesel
Peak: number 20
Another male artist breaking with tradition was Diesel - although in his case, it wasn't so much that he'd changed his sound but had finally released something I liked. And even went out and bought! Naturally, just as I got on board the Diesel train - sorry - "Man Alive" became his least successful single since 1989's "Since I Fell For You". Of course, the fact that "Man Alive" was released just after he'd spent four weeks at number 1 with his Hepfidelity album probably had something to do with the bluesy rock jam failing to match the top 10 status of his previous two singles. Still, an eventual number 20 placing is not so shabby.

Number 37 "Save The Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams
Peak: number 1
In America, she was a household name thanks to her historical crowning as the first African-American Miss America in 1983 - and the nude photos scandal that resulted in her resignation shortly before her year with the title was up. Since then, Vanessa Williams moved from beauty pageants to acting and singing, landing two US top 20 hits (including the excellent "Running Back To You") prior to 1992. 
Then came "Save The Best For Last", a sweet, string-soaked ballad that made Australia sit up and take notice. The song, which had done the rounds of numerous singers before it was offered to Vanessa, was unlike the dance/pop and R&B tracks she was mostly known for, and topped the chart in Australia and the US (for five weeks). Not surprisingly, the style of song was mirrored in the three other ARIA top 50 hits Vanessa would have over the next few years.

Number 29 "Father's Day" by Weddings Parties Anything
Peak: number 29
Australian record label rooArt was really on a hot streak in the early '90s. Following huge successes with Ratcat, Absent Friends, The Hummingbirds and The Screaming Jets, the independent label added Weddings Parties Anything to its roster and they too became the proud owners of a hit single. The first release from the Difficult Loves album, "Father's Day" actually came out around the same time as Mother's Day - deliberate? - and told the story of a divorced dad who sees his son every Saturday. The winner of the 1993 ARIA Award for Song Of The Year, "Father's Day" was easily the biggest hit of WPA's career and, beyond its chart success, joined the catalogue of classic Australian folk/rock songs.

Number 18 "(Simply) The Best / River Deep, Mountain High" by Tina Turner / Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 14
As if having to endure "The Best" in the top 20 once wasn't enough, one of my least favourite hits of the '80s returned almost three years later. In a duet with one of my least favourite Australian singers. Coupled with another of Jimmy Barnes's torturous remakes of an old soul classic (originally performed by Tina Turner). The slightly retitled "(Simply) The Best" was revamped and used in ads for the 1992 rugby league season. Unlike the last time a Tina song was appropriated by the NRL, the new version of "The Best" was a hit all over again. 

Next week: the latest Aussie pop sensation from the stable that'd brought us Melissa and Teen Queens, a top 5 cover version by one of John Farnham's backing singers and a chart-topping rap duo who liked to wear their clothes back to front.

Back to: May 17, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 31, 1992

30 Years Ago This Week: May 24, 1987

V Capri. Cattletruck. Bang The Drum. In our trips back to the ARIA charts of decades past, we've seen plenty of homegrown bands that never quite made it. But for every pub rock also-ran or radio-friendly pop/rock wannabes, there were others that broke through with a big hit single and, in some cases, managed to maintain their success.

The song that took Noiseworks into the ARIA top 10 for the first time

This week in 1987, a Sydney band fronted by a New Zealand expat debuted on the top 50 with the song that'd take them into the top 10 and turn them from minor hit-makers to major players on the local music scene.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 24, 1987

Another Kiwi performer was the biggest player on the chart 30 years ago this week. Dave Dobbyn stepped into the top spot with "Slice Of Heaven" - and would stay there for four weeks.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Come As You Are" by Peter Wolf
Peak: number 72
The title track of the J.Geils Band singer's first solo album just dented the ARIA top 50 in 1984, but despite having the bounciest music video ever made, this lead single from Come As You Are couldn't do the same. Also disappointing: "Come As You Are" is not on iTunes.

New Entries
Number 48 "Take Me Back" by Noiseworks
Peak: number 7
Musical burst of energy "No Lies" had been a great introduction to Noiseworks in late 1986, but the vast majority of Australia's record-buying public didn't share my enthusiasm for the power pop/rock track and it faltered just outside the top 30. Looked like it was time for a different strategy - and a different style of song. Brooding mid-tempo tune "Take Me Back" did the trick, sending the band into the top 10 for the first of only two times, while its smouldering music video established singer Jon Stevens as the new heartthrob of Aussie rock. I wouldn't be surprised if the one-two hit of "No Lies" and "Take Me Back" had gone exactly to plan - soften them up with a taster before delivering the knockout punch. Either way, Noiseworks had certainly arrived.

Number 41 Living Daylight by Hunters & Collectors
Peak: number 41
Next up, a local band that might not have achieved a major hit yet - and wouldn't really ever do so. But, Hunters & Collectors had made up for their lack of a top 10 single with the success of their 1986 album, Human Frailty, which peaked at number 10 and ended up as the 29th biggest LP of the year. Despite the appearances of the YouTube clip below, "Inside A Fireball" was not taken from Human Frailty (although it would be included on a 1991 CD re-release). Instead it was the lead track from the Living Daylight EP, which was released to tide fans over until the band's fifth album, What's A Few Men?, came out later in the year. Neither it nor the EP's title track were the Hunters' best efforts, but they'd be back on form when they returned to the top 50 in November.

Number 39 "One And One (Ain't I Good Enough)" by Wa Wa Nee
Peak: number 19
Certainly more of a singles act than an albums one, Wa Wa Nee had notched up three top 10 singles in just over half a year. And the fact that their debut self-titled LP hadn't done so well perhaps explains why they also made the top 20 with its fourth single. For me, "One And One (Ain't I Good Enough)" is the synthpop band's second best song (after "Stimulation", obv) and it seems their international success with "Sugar Free" had convinced their record company to splash out on a pricey location video, complete with helicopter shots. After a start to their career like this, surely the sky was the limit for Wa Wa Nee? Not so much, with an 18-month wait for new music killing the momentum they had.

Next week: an upbeat return for the big ballad queen and an all-star remake of a Beatles song in the wake of a tragedy off the coast of Belgium. Plus, the first chart appearance by a future superstar DJ.

Back to: May 17, 1987 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 31, 1987

Saturday, 20 May 2017

This Week In 1984: May 20, 1984

Thanks to the gender-bending of Boy George and Marilyn, and the androgyny of Annie Lennox, we'd become used to seeing pop stars exploring all types of gender identity in the mid-'80s. This week in 1984, that continued as one of the world's most enduringly popular bands - comprised of four men - frocked up in the video for their latest single.

What a drag! America wasn't so impressed with Queen playing dress-up

The music video, which parodied a long-running British soap opera, helped the song become another top 10 hit for the band around the world... except in North America. Seems a bit of tongue-in-cheek drag action was too much for those conservatives in the US.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 20, 1984

A song from a movie set in a typically conservative US town became the new number 1 song in Australia this week in 1984. "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins started a three-week run on top.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "God Bless America" by Models
Peak: number 86
Their immediate follow-up to "I Hear Motion", "No Shoulders, No Head" had missed the top 100 completely - and this latest single from The Pleasure Of Your Company didn't do much better.

Number 98 "Body Work" by Hot Streak
Peak: number 59
Unlike other breakdance-related releases - including another one taken from the Breakin' soundtrack we'll see in July - this one and only single for Hot Streak didn't quite make the grade.

Number 93 "Let The Music Play" by Shannon
Peak: number 62
I guess it's to be expected that the song that launched freestyle - a genre that never took off here - wasn't a hit in Australia. Alongside Madonna's "Holiday", the US top 10 hit also helped establish the post-disco genre of dance-pop.

New Entries
Number 43 "Wonderland" by Big Country
Peak: number 43
Scotland's Big Country found themselves back in the top 50 with this brand new stand-alone song released between their first and second albums. In the UK, "Wonderland" became the band's biggest hit up until this point, reaching number 8. In Australia, it progressed no further than this debut position - which was probably better than it warranted.

Number 42 "I Want To Break Free" by Queen
Peak: number 8
For the previous decade, Queen had been one of the most consistently successful bands in the world. In Australia, they'd managed two number 1 singles ("Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love") as well as four further top 10 hits. Queen were coming off one of those hits, almost chart-topper "Radio Ga Ga", when they released the second single from The Works, "I Want To Break Free". 
Given singer Freddie Mercury's penchant for the flamboyant, the fact that he appeared in drag in the music video wasn't that out of character. But the idea for him - and indeed the whole band - to dress up as parodies of characters from iconic UK soap Coronation Street actually came from Roger Taylor's then-girlfriend. For a band known for earnest anthems like "We Are The Champions" and "Somebody To Love", the video for "I Want To Break Free" was a bit of fun - and most people got the joke.
Most people, except the Americans. Deemed too controversial, the clip was banned by MTV and the single only reached number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100. Coincidence? Besides the Coronation Street pastiche, the video also featured a second sequence in which Freddie performed with The Royal Ballet - a segment for which he shaved off his trademark moustache, despite having kept it for the drag scenes.
Whether or not "I Want To Break Free" would've been as big in Australia with a less attention-grabbing video, we'll never know - it certainly was a strong enough song - but it duly became Queen's seventh top 10 hit. Their eighth wouldn't come for another five years.

Number 34 "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell
Peak: number 12
The Tori Spelling of the music world, Rockwell is the singer otherwise known as Kennedy Gordy, son of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr (and half-brother of Redfoo, but don't hold that against him). Like the story of Tori auditioning for Beverly Hills, 90210 under an alias to dispel assumptions of nepotism, Rockwell's rise to fame wasn't due to him being given any preferential treatment by dear old Dad - in fact, Berry had no clue his son had even been signed to Motown at first.
You can read the full story of "Somebody's Watching Me", which features Rockwell's childhood friend Michael Jackson on uncredited guest vocals and half-brother-in-law Jermaine Jackson on backing vocals, here. Released without publicising his A-list connections (although the Jacko vocal was kind of apparent), the song reached number 2 in the US and peaked just outside the top 10 here. Despite such a solid start, follow-ups like US top 40 single "Obscene Phone Caller" were less successful and Rockwell's career petered out after three albums.

Number 26 "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 6
I wonder what would've happened if Cyndi Lauper's record company had got their way and released "Time After Time" as the lead single from She's So Unusual. We certainly would've received a very different first impression of the flame-haired singer, that's for sure. In the end, "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" became Cyndi's debut and she quickly showed her range by going from kooky to serious with emotional ballad "Time After Time". 

The last track written for the album at the behest of producer Rick Cherotff, who wanted "one more song", "Time After Time" was turned around incredibly quickly by Cyndi and co-writer Rob Hyman (of The Hooters). It was then chosen as her second single and, accompanied by a music video once again featuring wrestler Lou Albano and her ever-sweeping real-life mother, it became another top 10 hit in Australia and Cyndi's first US chart-topper.

Next week: new singles by two British acts with shared musical history. The first is a singer who was fired by his band-mates and was now making his solo debut. The other is a hugely successful group storming back towards the top 5. The link? The keyboardist for the second act co-produced the big hit by the first act's former band.

Back to: May 13, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 27, 1984

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: May 17, 1992

Child sex accusations. A secret marriage. A rap saga that spanned seven years and 33 chapters. Who knew what lay ahead in the life and career of the R&B artist who made his debut on the ARIA singles chart 25 years ago this week?

Nothing like making it crystal clear how important your backing group is

Back in 1992, R. Kelly was just another up-and-coming new jack swing performer (backed by Public Announcement) with a bouncy little debut single. All the controversy and musical innovation was still to come.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 17, 1992

There was nothing at all controversial about the song ascending to number 1 this week in 1992. Sing and clap-along ditty "To Be With You" by Mr Big climbed to the top for the first of three weeks.

Off The Chart
Number 94 "Feels Like Forever" by Joe Cocker
Peak: number 74
Titled "(All I Know) Feels Like Forever" in some countries, this Bryan Adams and Diane Warren-penned ballad featured in ice-skating rom-com The Cutting Edge and was included on a repackaged version of Joe's Night Calls album. 

Number 86 "Bang Bang Bang" by Tracy Chapman
Peak: number 84
It's normally second albums that are difficult, but Tracy Chapman hit a wall with her third, Matters Of The Heart. This lead single flopped and the album peaked about 20 places lower than her first two.

Single Of The Week
"Never Look Back" by Maybe Dolls
Peak: number 114
When Maybe Dolls' first two singles had both peaked just outside the top 30 and debut album Propaganda had spent just five weeks in the top 50, they could have taken heart from the slow start fellow female-fronted Australian rock band Baby Animals had experienced. It'd taken Baby Animals four singles to breach the top 20 and their album didn't reach number 1 until months after its release. But the fact that Maybe Dolls' third single, "Never Look Back", didn't even register inside the top 100 (despite a big plug on this week's ARIA chart and not being that bad a song) was probably a pretty clear indication they weren't going to experience a similar delayed surge.

"It's A Fine Day" by Opus III
Peak: number 54
Providing respite from all the rock I have to recap this week is this rave classic - a top 5 hit in the UK for dance four-piece Opus III (three producers and buzz-cut-sporting singer Kirsty Hawkshaw). Naturally, Australia was only vaguely interested in the track, which was actually a cover version of an a cappella record from 1983. Recorded by Jane, "It's A Fine Day" had been written by her poet/musician boyfriend, Edward Barton - and besides being remade by Opus III, the song would be incorporated into Kylie Minogue's first post-SAW single, "Confide In Me". This would be Opus III's only visit to the ARIA top 100, but their 1994 single "When You Made The Mountain", from second album Guru Mother, is also worth a listen.

New Entries
Number 50 "She's Got That Vibe" by R. Kelly & Public Announcement
Peak: number 28
By 1992, new jack swing had made its presence felt on the ARIA chart. Not to the same degree as in the US, but thanks to pop acts like Michael Jackson and even Kylie Minogue incorporating the R&B sound into their songs, it had certainly found its way into the mainstream. 
And so the debut single by former talent show winner Robert Kelly with three-piece back-up singers/dancers Public Announcement received a warmer reception than if it had been released a couple of years earlier (when classic new jack swing tracks by Johnny Kemp, Al B Sure! and Johnny Gill had flopped locally). In fact, "She's Got That Vibe"  performed better in Australia than in the US (number 59) or the UK (number 57, although a re-release two years later resulted in a number 3 peak there). 
It wasn't immediately apparent that R. Kelly would go on to be one of the biggest names in R&B over the next couple of decades - or one of music's most controversial figures thanks to his alleged extra-curricular activities. Although, the fact he wrote and produced "She's Got That Vibe", and directed its music video should've been some clue that he wasn't just some frontman for a team of studio masterminds. 
One of the most memorable parts of the song, of course, was the bit towards the end where Mr Kelly name-checked all the girls who "got it" - a list that includes (in the longer album version) a reference to "little cute Aaliyah", aka the future (illegal) Mrs Kelly. None of the other R. Kelly & Public Announcement singles charted in Australia and we'd next see him on the top 100 as a solo artist in 1994 - the same year of that ill-fated marriage.

Number 47 "Tears In Heaven" by Eric Clapton
Peak: number 37
I knew this single, which is taken from Eric Clapton's soundtrack for crime drama Rush, had a sad story behind it - but I wasn't aware just how tragic the events that inspired "Tears In Heaven" were. In March 1991, Eric's four-year-old son, Conor, was killed when he fell out the window of a 53rd-floor apartment. As well as appearing in child safety commercials, he began writing "Tears In Heaven" during his grieving process. The tender ballad was eventually finished with the assistance of co-writer Will Jennings, who initially baulked at the idea of collaborating on something so personal. Eric convinced him and the resulting song ended up being awarded three Grammy Awards, including Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year. Although not a huge hit in its original form in Australia, "Tears In Heaven" would end up reaching the ARIA top 10, along with "Layla", in its MTV Unplugged version in 1993.

Number 37 "Sister's Crazy" by Candy Harlots
Peak: number 37
Like the Foreplay EP, this latest effort from Sydney's Candy Harlots once again peaked where it debuted - just 20 places lower. I don't really have anything else to add about "Sister's Crazy", which to my ears sounds like it was about four years out of date. I have, however, just noticed something rather hilarious about the aforementioned Foreplay that I really should've spotted when I had to recap that release - the second track on that EP is titled "Backstreet Boys". 

Number 25 "Suck My Kiss" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Peak: number 8
It had taken the uncharacteristically sombre "Under The Bridge" to provide Red Hot Chili Peppers with their commercial breakthrough, but it was back to their funk/rock hybrid for the follow-up. Succeeding where "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away" hadn't, "Suck My Kiss" gave the band a second straight top 10 hit - the only time in their career they'd achieve that. Much of the footage in the music video came from Funky Monks, a documentary about the making of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which is what a major label deal gets you.

Next week: one of my least favourite songs from 1989 returns as a duet with one of my least favourite singers. Meanwhile, a singer I hadn't liked at all so far finally releases a song I enjoy and a disgraced beauty queen has the last laugh.

Back to: May 10, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 24, 1992

30 Years Ago This Week: May 17, 1987

This week in 1987, there were only two new entries on the ARIA singles top 50, but they would both go on to be top 10 hits. They also share another thing in common: they were both performed by artists who'd never return to the top 50.

Two acts + one hit each = two one-hit wonders

That's right, we have a couple of one-hit wonders on our hands. One, is a singer no one seems to know very much about at all, while the other was a band who was really just a singer.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 17, 1987

It's only fitting that the number 1 single 30 years ago this week was by another one-hit wonder. "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" by Paul Lekakis stayed on top for a fifth and final week.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Mandolin Rain" by Bruce Hornsby & The Range
Peak: number 84
If "Every Little Kiss" couldn't give Bruce Hornsby a second hit in Australia, it's hardly surprising this less memorably track - a US top 5 hit - didn't work here, either.

Number 95 "Baby Grand" by Billy Joel with Ray Charles
Peak: number 78
More MOR adult contemporary music now and the latest from Billy Joel's The Bridge. The duet with his fellow piano man (and personal hero) Ray Charles was a song about - what else? - a piano.

Number 72 "I Lied" by The Pony
Peak: number 60
The first and only top 100 appearance by Melbourne-based, '60s-influenced rock band The Pony came with this debut single. Following "I Lied", the band were signed to White Label Records (through Mushroom), but without further success.

New Entries
Number 50 "Ship Of Fools" by World Party
Peak: number 4
Karl Wallinger - who basically was World Party - is actually a one-hit wonder twice over in Australia. He was a member of The Waterboys, whose single "The Whole Of The Moon", reached number 12 in early 1986 - their only top 50 appearance. Following the album that single was taken from, he left that band to form his own and had another success straight out of the gate. 
Debut single "Ship Of Fools" had more of a bluesy feel and socially conscious message than "The Whole Of The Moon", but it boasted another huge, sing-along chorus. Despite being accompanied by a band in the music video, World Party was very much just Karl, who hired session musicians and used pseudonyms for himself in the credits for album Private Revolution. World Party released several more critically beloved albums, but never returned to the Australian top 50, coming closest with 1993's "Is It Like Today?".

Number 43 "Love And Devotion" by Michael Bow
Peak: number 9
Where Paul Lekakis and Man 2 Man Meet Man Parrish led, fellow Eurodance act Michael Bow followed - into the top 10, that is. His single "Love And Devotion" was another Hi-NRG track that jumped from the clubs to the chart, but I've never been able to find out much about the singer who released a handful of records in the late '80s produced by Belgian Fonny De Wulf (who was himself a recording artist as half of Rofo). Who knows whatever became of Michael Bow, but at least he left us this cowbell-heavy dance track to practise our Italian counting with.

Next week: the song that gave an up-and-coming Australian band their first big hit, as well as the fourth top 20 single in a row for another local group.

Back to: May 10, 1987 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 24, 1987

Saturday, 13 May 2017

This Week In 1984: May 13, 1984

I've always been more of a fan of upbeat pop hits, but I tell you what - when a ballad is done right, it can be sensational. And, like most things in music, ballads weren't done any better than in the '80s.

"Hello, it doesn't even look like me!"

This week in 1984, three of the year's biggest slow songs debuted on the ARIA singles chart. Two of the new ballads were stirring, emotional tunes that earned their places in music history. One was a duet between Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 13, 1984

The chart also underwent a slight design change this week in 1984. All reference to Countdown was removed and it was rebranded as the Australian Top 50 ARIA Chart. A new look deserved a new number 1, and it got one as "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Eat It" replaced Nena at the top.

Off The Chart
Number 93 "Juno And Me" by The Dugites
Peak: number 60
Like previous single "Cut The Talking", this pop gem didn't progress very far but it did have longevity, sticking around on the top 100 for 16 weeks.

New Entries
Number 46 "You Might Think" by The Cars
Peak: number 24
Was the music video for this lead single from Heartbeat City better than "Thriller"? MTV thought so, making it the inaugural winner of the Video Of The Year award at the first MTV VMAs in September 1984. It was certainly cutting edge for the time, with then-revolutionary animation effects used to insert singer Ric Ocasek and the rest of the band into scenes featuring model Susan Gallagher. A surprisingly modest hit in Australia, the US top 10 single did at least return The Cars to the chart for the first time since the similarly jaunty "Shake It Up", which had reached our top 10 in 1981. Like the rest of the album, "You Might Think" was co-produced by the band with "Mutt" Lange, who was between Def Leppard albums at the time.

Number 44 "Burning Up" by Madonna
Peak: number 13
It'd visited the top 100 briefly at the end of 1983, but thanks to the runaway success of "Holiday", which was still climbing the top 10, Madonna's second single was given a second chance. The fact that "Burning Up" actually had a proper music video worked in its favour, with Countdown play of the clip contributing in no small part to renewed interest in the song. The video, directed by Steve Barron ("Billie Jean", "Don't You Want Me", "Promised You A Miracle"), was also the first demonstration of the part sexuality would play in Madonna's career as she writhed around suggestively on the road. The twist at the end of the clip, however, established from the outset that she literally wouldn't be playing the part of victim and was a woman who was firmly in charge. Nothing like starting how you intend to go on.

Number 29 "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" by Phil Collins
Peak: number 3
Sometimes a song benefits from being featured in a hit movie - the enjoyment of the film prompting people to go out and buy the theme tune. In the case of this mega ballad by Phil Collins, its popularity actually helped the box office cause of the film it was specifically written for: Against All Odds. Well, rewritten for. 
"Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" was actually based on an earlier song, "How Can You Sit There", which dealt with Phil's first divorce and didn't make it onto 1981's Face Value. When he was approached to contribute something to the movie's soundtrack, he revisited the track, tweaking it so it was appropriate. That said, he did mostly sing "against the odds", instead of "against all odds".
After a string of flop singles from second album Hello, I Must Be Going!, "Against All Odds..." put Phil back near the top of the chart. In the US, it was the first of his seven number 1 hits between 1984 and 1989. Despite horrendous cover versions over the years - like the shriek-fest between Mariah Carey and Westlife in 2000, and its use as winner's single for inaugural X Factor UK champ Steve Brookstein in 2004 - the tune has stood the test of time and remains one of music's greatest ballads.

Number 19 "To All The Girls I've Loved Before" by Julio Iglesias / Willie Nelson
Peak: number 4
Next up, a ballad that hasn't dated quite as well. "To All The Girls I've Loved Before" was originally recorded by its co-writer Albert Hammond, who was partially responsible for, among many other hits, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" (which we saw in this week's 30 Years Ago... flashback) and "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" (the Diana Ross song that also got turned into a vocal battle with Westlife). 
A pretty unlikely combination, Latin superstar Julio Iglesias and country legend Willie Nelson teamed up to remake the song for Julio's incredibly successful 1100 Bel Air Place album, which established him on the English-language music scene. The song also gave each of the pair their first - and only - top 10 hit in Australia.

Number 18 "Hello" by Lionel Richie
Peak: number 1
It's a tale as old as time. A theatre teacher/creepy stalker falls in love with one of his students, a blind girl he thinks has no idea of his feelings until she, through the medium of pottery, demonstrates she also cares for him. "Hello", the biggest of this week's three big ballads was also a song that, like "You Might Think" and "Burning Up", made an impression because of its iconic music video. Not necessarily a great impression, with the clip derided by some (including, memorably, Hey Hey It's Saturday) as one of the worst of all time. 
Although "Hello" appeared on Can't Slow Down and was lifted as its third single, like "Against All Odds...", the song dated back to an earlier project. The ballad had been written for Lionel's self-titled debut solo album but was left off. Apparently it was Lionel's then-wife, Brenda, who encouraged him to include it on his second LP. Good thing she did - not only was the song a worldwide chart-topper, but it also sold a million copies in both the US and the UK. And, to this day, it has continued to crop up everywhere from Pushing Daisies to Trolls to that viral Adele mash-up.

Next week: He may have had no more singles to squeeze out of Thriller, but that didn't stop Michael Jackson returning to the chart once more. Plus, the follow-up to 1984's funnest number 1 hit.

Back to: May 6, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 20, 1984