Wednesday, 20 September 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: September 20, 1992

It was a pretty eclectic week on the ARIA top 50 this week in 1992, with a diverse range of songs making their debut - truly something for everyone. The biggest hit of all was a single which got its rather unusual title from the film in which it featured.

White Men Can't Jump spawned one of 1992's biggest R&B hits

I say "unusual" not only because it was kind of an odd thing to call a song, but because the vast majority of soundtrack hits aren't named directly after the movies from which they are taken. Can you imagine a tune called "Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves" or "Titanic" or "Four Weddings And A Funeral'? And yet "White Men Can't Jump" became a song.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 20, 1992

The reign of terror was almost over as "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)" spent its sixth and final week at number 1 this week in 1992. We'd get a brief respite before an even worse track lodged itself firmly on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "So What 'Cha Want" by Beastie Boys
Peak: number 64
The rap trio's first top 100 appearance since "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" established their early hit would not be indicative of the rest of their more credible output.

New Entries
Number 49 "Don't You Want Me" by Felix
Peak: number 17
Our smorgasbord of new entries begins with one of 1992's great dance tracks - the debut single by British DJ/producer Francis Wright. Taking its vocal hook from Jomanda's 1989 release "Don't You Want My Love", Felix's "Don't You Want Me" gave birth to a new more electronic sub-genre of house known as hardbag. And since it was one of those era-defining dance tunes, it's never really gone away since, with regular remixes, covers and samples (including in Snoop Dogg vs David Guetta's 2011 chart-topper, "Sweat"). For Felix, it'd be his only hit in Australia, although we'll see a couple of follow-ups make the top 100 in months to come.

Number 48 "Without You" by Girlfriend
Peak: number 18
So far, the Girlfriend explosion had left me unmoved, but with their third single, obligatory big ballad "Without You", my interest was piqued. Unlike their two hits to date, "Take It From Me" and "Girl's Life", the song wasn't a watered down version of new jack swing, but just a nice tune, sung well. And it gave the five-piece a third top 20 hit to coincide with the release of their debut album, Make It Come True, which debuted in the top 10 in early October.

Number 46 "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" by Def Leppard
Peak: number 44
At this point, Def Leppard and Bryan Adams really were kind of interchangeable - with this latest single from Adrenalize sounding like it could just as easily have been the next power ballad released from Waking Up The Neighbours. "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" didn't progress much further and we wouldn't see the British rock band on the top 50 until they had their next album out in late 1993.

Number 40 "Who Is It" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 34
After three straight Teddy Riley co-productions, Michael Jackson plucked another track co-produced with Bill Bottrell (who'd worked on "Black Or White") off Dangerous for the album's fifth single. The moody "Who Is It" is about wanting to know who your partner has been seeing on the side, and in the David Fincher-directed music video, Michael's lover had a double life as a high-class escort and therefore slept with quite a few different people behind his back.

Number 38 "Lead Me To Water" by Southern Sons
Peak: number 36
Uh-oh, looked like the band that'd taken over from 1927 as Australia's favourite FM-friendly pop/rock group a couple of years earlier were themselves going to stumble with their second album. This lead single from Nothing But The Truth could only have been a commercial disappointment for Southern Sons, who'd enjoyed three consecutive top 20 hits straight out of the gate. It probably didn't help that it was kind of forgettable. Things got even worse when the album itself was released in November - it spent just two weeks on the top 50, peaking at number 31 and its second single, "Can't Wait Any Longer", missed the top 100 completely. But the story for Southern Sons - and Nothing But The Truth - wasn't quite over, with a surprise turnaround in 1993.

Number 37 "Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home" by Sinéad O'Connor
Peak: number 37
Here's another artist following up one of 1990's biggest albums and making her first appearance on the singles top 50 since "The Emperor's New Clothes". But Sinéad O'Connor also came nowhere near matching the phenomenal success of "Nothing Compares 2 U" and I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. This was pretty much down to two reasons: 1) "Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home", a reworking of the 1962 Loretta Lynn song just called "Success", and her album of jazz standard covers, Am I Not Your Girl?, weren't as well received by fans or critics and 2) in a couple of weeks' time, Sinéad's controversial decision to tear up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live got a lot of people offside.

Number 36 "White Men Can't Jump" by Riff
Peak: number 6
It might've seemed like this five-piece were riding on Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd's coattails, but the truth of the matter was New Jersey's Riff had actually beaten their vocal harmony rivals onto the Billboard Hot 100 with their ballad debut single, "My Heart Is Failing Me" (incidentally, one of my favourite songs from 1991). They'd also featured as a doo-wop group in 1989 film Lean On Me. In Australia, it was another movie, Wesley Snipes/Woody Harrelson basketball comedy White Men Can't Jump, that provided Riff with their only top 50 hit: the film's title song. The lyrics of the Dallas Austin-produced track seem to reflect the premise for the film - Woody's ex-player character would hustle black guys playing ball who'd assume he was no good because of his race.

Number 35 "Digging In The Dirt" by Peter Gabriel
Peak: number 23
It'd been six years since Peter Gabriel's last studio album, So, and five-and-a-bit since he last visited the ARIA top 50 with "Big Time". For the lead single from his sixth studio album, Us, Peter chose a much darker song (inspired by a project of his delving into the minds of serial killers, as well as him dealing with his own personal issues) than people might've been expecting. I'd go as far as to suggest that it probably only did as well as it did on the chart because it'd been so long since he'd released anything. Also, for a touch of familiarity, he teamed "Digging In The Dirty" with another cutting edge animated music video, which went on to win a Grammy Award and probably helped the single's cause.

Next week: the debut of a UK number 1 hit by an artist who'd end up a one-hit wonder in Australia, plus a singer with quite a few number 1s under her belt released her first greatest hits collection.

Back to: Sep 13, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 27, 1992

Saturday, 16 September 2017

This Week In 1984: September 16, 1984

After a few busy weeks on the ARIA chart, things quietened down this week in 1984 with only two new entries to the top 50 - both by well-known artists and both reasonably big hits.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 16, 1984

There was, more excitingly, lots of movement up the top of the chart and a new number 1 record in Australia. After seven weeks at number 1 - spread out over eight weeks when it briefly stepped aside to let Prince have a go - "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham! fell from the top spot. In its place, Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It" jumped up to number 1, but George Michael wouldn't be denied for long...

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Sexy Girl" by Glenn Frey
Peak: number 76
He'd have a massive hit in about six months' time with a certain soundtrack song, but until then, this lead single from second solo album The Allnighter had few takers. And no, this song has nothing to do with the Sabrina tune from 1988.

Number 99 "Screaming Dreaming" by Allniters
Peak: number 84
It was as jaunty and brass-drenched as their big hit, "Montego Bay", but not even the fact that this was a previously unreleased song could help it up the chart.

Number 78 "Sharp Dressed Man" by ZZ Top
Peak: number 66
With "Legs" taking great strides up the top 50 (see what I did there?), this earlier single from Eliminator, with another storyline music video, joined it on the top 100.

New Entries
Number 48 "Passengers" by Elton John
Peak: number 9
Elton John racked up top 10 hits during the '80s with relative ease, but this second single from Breaking Hearts is probably my least favourite of the eight that did. There's something about it that's just too cutesy and kind of annoying. Nevertheless, it followed "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" into the upper reaches of the chart to give Elton back-to-back top 10 hits for a fifth and final time. Despite all that success, he never did manage three in a row.

Number 42 "Love Resurrection" by Alison Moyet
Peak: number 17
She'd been the voice of two of the best singles of 1982, and when Yazoo disbanded after a relatively short career, there was no doubt singer Alison Moyet would go on to a solo career. That got slightly delayed thanks to some record company wrangling, but in late 1984, she kicked things off with this lead single from debut album Alf (her nickname during her punk rock days in the late '70s and early '80s). Just as the synthpop sound of Yazoo was a departure from her career beginnings, so too was "Love Resurrection" another musical pivot, the slick pop track being co-written and produced by Jolley & Swain (also responsible for albums by Bananarama and Spandau Ballet). An undeniable hit from an unmistakable voice.

Next week: the song that turned a certain Irish band into true chart stars, plus two massive US hits that both peaked at number 10 locally.

Back to: Sep 9, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 23, 1984

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: September 13, 1992

Sometimes there's nothing better than a good ballad. Other music trends may come and go, but a heartfelt slow song can connect with people unlike anything else, stirring the emotions and setting the chart alight.

Wendy Matthews released her signature song in 1992

This week in 1992, a homegrown artist kicked off their second album with the biggest hit of their career - and one of the most successful ballads of the year. What I didn't know at the time was that it was a cover version, but what I did know was that it was a beautiful tune only blocked from the top spot by another of the year's monster ballads.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 13, 1992

For every good ballad, there's a bad one - and that song was still at number 1 this week in 1992. Yep, "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)" by José Carreras and Sarah Brightman stayed put for a fifth week.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Be My Downfall" by Del Amitri
Peak: number 86
This follow-up to fourth top 50 single "Always The Last To Know" didn't become the Scottish band's fifth hit - and in fact they'd never see the inside of the top 50 again.

Number 97 "Symphony Of Destruction" by Megadeath
Peak: number 58
Three years after they slipped into the top 50 with "No More Mr Nice Guy", American heavy metal band Megadeath just missed out on a second hit with this Countdown To Extinction single.

Number 93 "All Shook Up" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 54
It'd be almost another year before Billy Joel's next studio album. In the meantime, his version of the Elvis Presley classic was one of many remakes on the Honeymoon In Vegas soundtrack.

Number 90 "Restless Heart" by Peter Cetera
Peak: number 89
He'd been a reasonably reliable hitmaker in the '70s and '80s - with and without Chicago - but there was little love for the MOR balladeer in the '90s with this lead single from World Falling Down.

Number 77 "Walking On Broken Glass" by Annie Lennox
Peak: number 58
These singles from Diva really weren't connecting, were they? The excellent third release did improve slightly on the peak of "Precious" and pushed the album back in the top 40 for a brief spell, so that's something.

New Entries
Number 49 "Ain't Love The Strangest Thing" by The Black Sorrows
Peak: number 46
The Black Sorrows had reached their commercial peak with 1990's Harley & Rose and probably thought their existing fanbase would go with them when they released this bluesy number as the lead single from Better Times. But it might have been safer to stick with what'd worked and gone with the album's more upbeat title track, which shared more in common musically with "Hold On To Me" and "Harley & Rose". Perhaps then, Better Times would've given the band their third top 10 album in a row when it debuted later in the month - as it was, they had to be satisfied with a number 13 placing.

Number 48 "Motor City (I Get Lost)" by Company Of Strangers
Peak: number 26
You might've thought a supergroup comprising Daryl Braithwaite and James Reyne, who'd both had an exceptionally successful few years as solo artists, would cause a bigger splash on the chart than this top 30 single. The singers were joined in Company Of Strangers by guitarist Jef Scott and producer/multi-instrumentalist Simon Hussey (formerly of Cats Under Pressure), who'd worked on Daryl and James's solo efforts since 1987. Despite the fact the band all clearly knew their way around a hit or several, the hook-laden "Motor City (I Get Lost)", which I actually quite like, wasn't the sensation they probably hoped it would be.

Number 45 "Breaking The Girl" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Peak: number 30
Just as Blood Sugar Sex Magik was beginning to slide down the chart, this fourth and final single from the album not only gave Red Hot Chili Peppers another hit to add to their rapidly growing tally, but pushed the album back into the top 30 for another couple of months. Written about singer Anthony Kiedis's breakup with model Carmen Hawk, "Breaking The Girl" had more in common musically with chart-topper "Under The Bridge" than its frenetic predecessor, "Suck My Kiss" - and I for one much preferred this more melodic side of the band.

Number 43 "The Day You Went Away" by Wendy Matthews
Peak: number 2
Originally recorded by British group Soul Family Sensation in 1991 - this is new information to me, too - "The Day You Went Away" is the type of song that creeps up on you. The first time you hear it, you think, "Oh yeah, that's nice enough." But the more you listen to it, the more it sinks in, its subtlety a huge part of its appeal. Performed by Wendy Matthews with remarkable restraint and backed by only the sparsest of accompaniments, the song feels like it was a bit of a risk - it could well have slipped under the radar since it's not as immediate as her previous biggest hits, "Let's Kiss (Like Angels Do)" or Absent Friends' "I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You". But it paid off - big time. The lead single from her second album, Lily, it became easily the biggest hit of her solo career and her only single to reach the top 10, where it spent 15 weeks. As a result, it won the ARIA Award for Highest Selling Single, as well as the one for Single Of The Year.

Number 42 "Proove" by Radio Freedom
Peak: number 30
Whatever its faults, I could at least clearly remember Radio Freedom's debut single, "I Can Feel It", all these years later. The same can't be said of follow-up "Proove", with only the vague lasting impression that it was a better song remaining in my mind. It's not, so I'm not sure where I got that idea from. Unlike the party starter that'd come before, "Proove" was a slinkier, groovier number with added brass and soulful backing vocals - and another cheesy rap from model frontman Pehl, who smouldered his way around a basketball court in the music video way before Jeremy Jordan.

It's also worth noting that "November Rain" by Guns n' Roses, which now had that flashy, lengthy music video, re-entered the top 50 this week for the first time since May and would quickly shoot past its earlier peak of number 21 to take up permanent residence in the top 10 until February 1993.

Next week: the artist behind 1990's highest-selling single returns, while the fifth hit from an album that had more than a few singles left in it and one of the best dance tracks of the year also arrive.

Back to: Sep 6, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 20, 1992

Saturday, 9 September 2017

This Week In 1984: September 9, 1984

Some big singles were released in 1984 - songs that would sell millions of copies around the world and come to define the decade as a whole. This week that year, two such singles debuted on the ARIA top 50.

Guilty feet provided George Michael with his first solo smash

One was the solo debut of a singer who also held down the number 1 spot that week as one-half of pop's biggest duo. The other was the theme tune to one of 1984's most successful movies.

The film's stars and other random celebs popped up in the "Ghostbusters" video

Only one of the two tracks would make it to number 1 in Australia, but both would end up among the year's top 5 biggest hits.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 9, 1984

Another song that would end up as one of 1984's top 5 biggest hits spent its seventh and final week at number 1. Yep, it wasn't long before "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham! would be gone-gone from the top spot.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young" by Fire Inc.
Peak: number 80
As "I Can Dream About You" moved up to number 3, this next single from Streets Of Fire debuted. One listen should be all you need to realise it was written by Jim Steinman, while Fire Inc. were a studio-based band put together for the film's soundtrack.

Number 76 "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" by Quiet Riot
Peak: number 59
Proving you can't always recreate chart magic, American rockers dipped into the Slade well for a second time with this remake of the 1972 song, but it fell some way short of the achievements of their cover of "Cum On Feel The Noize".

New Entries
Number 50 "Missing You" by John Waite
Peak: number 5
The week's first new entry may not have reached "Careless Whisper" or "Ghostbusters" levels of success in Australia, but it did pretty well for itself, staying at number 5 locally for five weeks, as well as reaching number 1 in the US and the top 10 in the UK. The lead single from his second album, No Brakes"Missing You" was the first solo hit for the former singer of The Babys (and future Bad English frontman) since nothing on his debut album had done very well. 
It was also a last-minute addition to No Brakes, with John writing the song in record time once he came up with the opening line (which was inspired by The Babys' hit, "Every Time I Think Of You"). I always associate "Missing You" with short-lived TV series Paper Dolls - not only did John perform the song in the primetime soap, but he also appeared as himself in a number of episodes and was the love interest for Nicollette Sheridan's character.

Number 48 "A Love Worth Waiting For" by Shakin' Stevens
Peak: number 44
He still had plenty of fans in Britain, with this latest single from The Bop Won't Stop reaching number 2 there, but this was Shakin' Stevens' last gasp of chart success in Australia with "A Love Worth Waiting For" proving to be his final top 50 hit. In the UK, the retro rocker still had a Christmas number 1 single (in 1985) up his sleeve and a top 5 hit as late as 1987, when his throwback sound was well and truly past its use by date.

Number 46 "I Wish" by Rose Tattoo
Peak: number 32
In 1984, a new-look Rose Tattoo returned with the Southern Stars album, three members having left and been replaced since we last saw them on the chart. Lead single "I Wish" saw Angry Anderson getting political, singing about his desire to do something more for people around the world (Ireland, Poland, Afghanistan and El Salvador are specifically mentioned) caught up in wars.

Number 44 "No Second Prize" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 12
While he was essentially absent from the music video for his former band Cold Chisel's "Flame Trees", which we saw debut last week, Jimmy Barnes was front and centre for this record: his debut solo single. The song, "No Second Prize", actually dated back to his days in Cold Chisel, who had recorded a demo of it in 1980 after Jimmy wrote it in tribute to two of the band's roadies who'd been killed in a car accident. Surprisingly, "No Second Prize" didn't make the top 10, peaking just outside, although perhaps his fans were saving their dollars for his debut album, Bodyswerve, which was released a few weeks after the single and made it to number 1 in mid-October.

Number 41 "Legs" by ZZ Top
Peak: number 6
They certainly took their time to release this song as a single, didn't they? The fifth single from Eliminator, which had come out 18 months earlier, "Legs" was far and away the biggest hit of ZZ Top's career to date (and of all time in Australia). Remixed from the more guitar-based album version, "Legs" was accompanied by the latest in the band's series of music videos featuring the Eliminator (the red car), the Eliminator girls (the trio of Playboy models who give the harried female protagonist a makeover) and ZZ Top's iconic fluffy guitars.

Number 26 "Careless Whisper" by George Michael
Peak: number 1
Wham! were at the height of their success - and would continue to be for a year or so - but that didn't stop the duo's singer and principal songwriter from launching his solo career with a song he'd written at the very start of the decade. It actually made complete sense for "Careless Whisper" to be released as a George Michael record instead of a Wham! one (except in the US and a couple of other countries, where it was credited to Wham! featuring George Michael). The moody ballad wasn't like anything Wham! had released before - both in terms of style and subject matter - but it did give a hint of the more serious and mature direction George Michael would take when he eventually went solo full-time.
Despite Andrew Ridgeley not having an artist credit on "Careless Whisper", he did receive a songwriting credit, with George explaining his band-mate contributed some lyrics and that the song was based on a chord pattern Andrew came up with. The song about a cheating partner was written when the pair were in their teens, and was one of the demos that landed them their original record and publishing deals. It had almost come out earlier, since it was recorded with legendary producer Jerry Wexler and Wham!'s original label, Innervision, wanted to release it. But that release was blocked and, after a new version was produced by George himself, it came out as the second single from the upcoming Make It Big album on Epic Records.
To say "Careless Whisper" was a big hit would be an understatement. A number 1 single in Australia, the UK (where it sold over 1.3 million copies), the US (where it sold over 2 million copies) and many other countries, the sax-driven schmaltz fest was massive. And I seem to be one of the only people in the world who doesn't really like it - too slow, too corny. Yes, the latter can also be said of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", but at least that has energy. But what do I know? As it would turn out, "Careless Whisper" would wind up one place above "Wake Me..." in the year-end chart, finishing 1984 as the year's fourth-biggest hit.

Number 17 "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr
Peak: number 2
Next up, the song that ended 1984 as the year's third-biggest hit in Australia despite never reaching number 1. The theme tune to the film of the same name, "Ghostbusters" would, however, spend 21 weeks in the top 10 - including at least one week at every position between numbers 2 and 10 (including five straight weeks at number 3). 
The song was written and produced by Ray Parker Jr, who had previously reached the top of the singles chart in Australia with his debut solo single, 1982's "The Other Woman", and had landed two top 10 hits in the late '70s with his former group, Raydio. When given the assignment of coming up with the theme tune, Ray was instructed that it had to be called "Ghostbusters" to match the movie and struggled at first to get the word into the song. Once he came up with the late-night infomercial concept of the track, it quickly fell into place.
Problem was: musically, "Ghostbusters" sounded a little too similar to "I Want A New Drug" by Huey Lewis & The News. Huey, who'd actually been approached to write the theme for Ghostbusters but was already committed to working on Back To The Future, sued Ray for plagiarism and the case was settled out of court with a non-disclosure agreement. When Huey discussed the matter in 2001, revealing he'd been paid a settlement by Columbia Pictures, Ray sued for breach of the NDA. Given "Ghostbusters" was such a massive hit, I'm sure there was plenty of money to go around.

Next week: the debut solo single from one half of a hit-making synthpop duo, plus the second half of a duo of top 10 hits from a male singer's latest album.

Back to: Sep 2, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 16, 1984

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: September 6, 1992

It was theoretically a superstar collaboration in an era before such things happened all the time. But in Australia, the two main singers on the most successful new entry from this week in 1992 weren't quite at superstar level. 

Four different artists landed their biggest hit to date with one song

One performer had two top 10 hits to her credit - nothing like the string of 12 in the US - while the other had never troubled the top 100 before. As for the two featured acts on the song, neither had entered the top 50, at least not in their current guise. Still, the combined might of all the artists on one of the year's catchiest tracks almost went all the way to number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 6, 1992

Another duet by two performers with little previous chart action continued to dominate the number 1 spot this week in 1992. "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)" stayed on top for a fourth week.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "I Want Tomorrow" by Enya
Peak: number 100
This re-release of Enya's debut single from 1987 coincided with the repromotion of her first self-titled album as The Celts (although it didn't chart with that new title in Australia until 1995).

Number 99 "A Small Victory" by Faith No More
Peak: number 84
"Small" was right, "victory" not so much, with this second single from Angel Dust (and follow-up to "Midlife Crisis") only making a minor impression on the top 100.

Number 98 "You're Invited But You're Friend Can't Come" by Vince Neil
Peak: number 74
With Mӧtley Crüe having summed things up with Decade Of Decadence 81-91, it was the perfect time for singer Vince Neil to embark on a solo career. The fact he'd either been fired from or quit the band kind of forced his hand, of course.

Number 94 "Take Me" by Dream Frequency featuring Debbie Sharp
Peak: number 62
Previous single "Feel So Real" was one of my favourite songs of 1992, and this follow-up was another rave/piano house classic with a huge wailing vocal from Debbie Sharp.

Number 88 "Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II - Returning To The Womb)" by David Sylvian / Ryuichi Sakamoto featuring Ingrid Chavez
Peak: number 69
Their previous collaboration "Forbidden Colours" had been a top 30 hit in 1983, but this musical reunion between the former Japan vocalist and the Japanese composer wasn't as successful.

Number 86 "There Goes The Neighborhood" by Body Count
Peak: number 86
From their controversial (for the song "Cop Killer") self-titled debut album, this was the first of three top 100 entries for the heavy metal band fronted by rapper Ice-T.

Number 75 "Think" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 60
Expectations were high for the the Newcastle rock band's second album, but this lead single didn't get things off to a great start. It'd take Tear Of Thought (which came out in October) until 1994 to reach its full potential.

New Entries
Number 50 "Just Another Day" by Jon Secada
Peak: number 12
He'd tried to launch his solo career with three previous singles, but this time around, Jon (formerly Juan) Secada had the additional selling point of having been one of Gloria Estefan's backing singers and the co-writer of her US number 1 single "Coming Out Of The Dark". Gloria returned the favour, popping up on backing vocals and appearing the video for the lead single from Jon's self-titled album. Easily Jon's biggest hit in Australia, he'd make a couple more minor top 50 appearances over the next couple of years. 

Number 41 "Indio" by Indecent Obsession
Peak: number 41
This title track from Indecent Obsession's second album was the end of the road as far as the band's chart success went in Australia. It was a shame, because despite it not being obvious just what "Indio" was about, the song was another slightly more mature pop/rock track that showed the band could've grown with their fans and left their teen pop roots behind. On the upside, Indecent Obsession were gaining quite a following in different parts of the world - South Africa and Asia, in particular - a fact the band was able to take advantage of with new lead singer Richard Hennassey in the years to come.

Number 39 "The Best Things In Life Are Free" by Luther Vandross / Janet Jackson with special guests BBD and Ralph Tresvant
Peak: number 2
In the US, the pairing of soul star Luther Vandross, who'd really begun to hit his mainstream stride in the past couple of years, and unstoppable hit machine Janet Jackson was a big deal. The combination of two reliable hit-makers on a song that also featured Bell Biv DeVoe and fellow New Edition-er Ralph Tresvant, who'd both enjoyed a number of recent big singles in America, was a major music event. 
In Australia, only Janet was a big name, with her best chart showing being her two number 6 hits, "What Have You Done For Me Lately" and "Black Cat"Nevertheless, we couldn't get enough of "The Best Things In Life Are Free", the hit featuring all four which was taken from the film Mo' Money. The lead single from the soundtrack masterminded by Janet's producers, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, spent five weeks at number 2, stuck behind Billy Ray Cyrus.
Despite the artists not being massive stars (or appearing in the music video) and the film not being a box office success locally, the joyous pop of "The Best Things In Life Are Free" was enough to ensure its popularity - especially since Australia went with the far superior David Morales remix over the original US mix as the main single version.
Janet, of course, would go on to have many more hits - and even beat the number 2 peak of this song, while Luther would return to the runners-up spot with another superstar duet in a couple of years' time.

Number 32 "Love Is In The Air (Ballroom Mix)" by John Paul Young
Peak: number 3
In 1978, it'd been one of John Paul Young's biggest hits when it reached number 3, as well as making the UK and the US top 10s. Fourteen years later, a revamped version of "Love Is In The Air", which featured additional production by David Hirschfelder, featured prominently in Baz Luhrmann's directorial debut, Strictly Ballroom. Re-released to promote the movie and soundtrack, the song returned to the number 3 spot, providing JPY with one final chart hit - his first since 1983's "Soldier Of Fortune". A remixed version of another of his '70s hits, "Standing In The Rain", which also appeared on the soundtrack, was not as successful, missing the top 100 later in the year.

Next week: a new band featuring two of Australia's most popular male solo artists, plus the debut of the song that'd go on to win the 1993 ARIA Award for Single Of The Year.

Back to: Aug 30, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 13, 1992

Saturday, 2 September 2017

This Week In 1984: September 2, 1984

There were some big names behind the new entries on the ARIA singles top 50 this week in 1984. You had a male artist who'd topped the chart twice in the previous 12 months, an Australian rock group whose previous three albums had all reached number 1, another popular local band with a couple of big hits to their name... and so on.

Well known acts, not so well known hits

But as it would turn out, none of the singles entering the chart this week in 1984 would be very big - the highest any of them would reach was number 24. And a few of them have become long forgotten in the decades since.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 2, 1984

A song that could never be forgotten (and I'm sure some people have tried) moved back up to the number 1 spot this week. After making way for Prince's "When Doves Cry" for seven days, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham! reclaimed the top position for a sixth week.

And yes, I realise the chart above is dated September 3, 1984, but I'm assuming it's a typo given the ones before and after were dated August 26 and September 9.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Magic" by The Cars
Peak: number 96
The singles either side did well, but for some reason this jaunty second release from Heartbeat City tanked. A change of pace would provide The Cars with a huge hit in a few short weeks.

Number 95 "The Heart Of It" by Richard Clapton
Peak: number 87
His last studio album yielded his biggest hit since 1975's "Girls On The Avenue", but Richard Clapton wasn't so fortunate with this lead single from Solidarity and wouldn't return to the top 50 until 1987.

Number 94 "Don't Let Go" by Wang Chung
Peak: number 94
Their three other top 100 entries all peaked higher than number 15, but this follow-up to "Dance Hall Days" made a more modest impression. Not a bad song, but not great either.

Number 93 "Leave A Tender Moment Alone" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 76
An Innocent Man had enjoyed a great run, so it's no surprise this video-less fifth single didn't fare so well. There was a sixth hit, "Keeping The Faith", in the US, but if it was released locally, it didn't make the top 100.

Number 82 "Absolute" by Scritti Politti
Peak: number 77
Alas, the top 30 success of "Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)" would prove to be a one-off, with this and all subsequent excellent singles by Scritti Politti flopping locally.

New Entries
Number 50 "Romancing The Stone" by Eddy Grant
Peak: number 50
Eddy Grant had an excellent 1983, with his number 2 hit, "Electric Avenue", proving so popular it helped prior single "I Don't Wanna Dance" back up the chart to peak at number 21. 1984 hadn't got off to a great start, with the lead single from Going For Broke flopping, but things improved slightly when this song returned him to the top 50. It possibly would've done even better if it had actually been used, as intended, as the theme tune of the film baring the same name, which had been out for a couple of months in Australia. 
Some sort of dispute between Eddy and the movie's producers led to all but a guitar solo from the track being dropped from the film and "Romancing The Stone" not being included on the soundtrack album. Oddly, the original music video for the song featured footage from Romancing The Stone, although a second clip without any reference to the movie was also released.

Number 49 "Flame Trees" by Cold Chisel
Peak: number 26
The failure of the title track from Twentieth Century had suggested it was as over for Cold Chisel on the chart as it was in real life. But they still had this track up their sleeve - a song that would turn out to be one of their most popular, in terms of enduring appeal if not chart position. Had the band known it would turn into a modern classic, I wonder if they might have put their differences aside to at least let singer Jimmy Barnes make a proper appearance in the music video... although, as we'll see next week, he had other things with which to concern himself by this stage.

Number 48 "Beat Street Breakdown" by Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five
Peak: number 48
"White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)" had been a top 30 success earlier in the year, but despite Melle Mel getting full credit this time around, "Beat Street Breakdown" would only end up as a minor top 50 entry. The song was taken from yet another rap/breakdancing movie, Beat Street, which featured the group performing the song as well as appearances by a veritable who's who of the hip-hop world: Doug E Fresh, Afrika Bambaataa, Rock Steady Crew, DJ Kool Herc and more.

Number 46 "Locomotion" by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Peak: number 30
By this stage of their career, OMD were onto their fifth UK top 10 single, but the synthpop band had never really taken off in Australia. And although they wouldn't land any really big hits for another couple of years, "Locomotion" actually did pretty well considering it only made number 30. Debuting here in its 11th week in the top 100, it would end up spending just shy of half a year on the chart. Easily OMD's most commercial single to date, it wasn't so well received by some British fans who liked their more artistic efforts.

Number 45 "This One" by QED
Peak: number 45
I had completely forgotten about this follow-up to "Everywhere I Go" until a couple of years ago when I saw it on a Countdown repeat during rage Goes Retro month - and although not as good a song, it showed pop band QED definitely had promise. Unfortunately, neither subsequent single "Solo And More", which peaked just outside the top 100 in December 1984, nor album Animal Magic made the chart and the band soon parted ways, leaving singer Jenny Morris to pursue more lucrative endeavours.

Number 40 "Stuck On You" by Lionel Richie
Peak: number 24
Chart-topper "All Night Long (All Night)" had been followed by the number 24 single "Running With The Night", and so after another number 1 with "Hello", it was only fitting that Lionel Richie found himself peaking once more at number 24 with this latest single from Can't Slow Down. As well as being a big mainstream success in the US - it reached number 3 - "Stuck On You" also took Lionel onto the Billboard country chart for the first (but not the last) time. Although this would bring and end to Lionel's top 50 singles from Can't Slow Down in Australia, the album's chart career was far from over - it didn't drop out of the top 50 until November 1985.

Number 32 "Good Die Young" by Divinyls
Peak: number 32
And so began the long, drawn-out process of Divinyls' second studio album, What A Life!, which wouldn't end up seeing the light of day until late 1985 after multiple recording sessions and producers. "Good Die Young" was the first single released from this period of the band's career, and while it put them back in the top 50 after the failure of "Casual Encounter", it didn't recapture the glory days of their first couple of hits. Like a number of other Divinyls singles - including "Sleeping Beauty", "Back To The Wall" and "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" - "Good Die Young" is a song that has tended to fly under the radar in the decades since, but it's one that deserves more attention. After all, do we always need to hear "Pleasure & Pain" and "I Touch Myself"?

Next week: the third and fourth biggest singles of the year debut - one, a soundtrack smash and the other, the solo debut of a singer who already knew a thing or two about massive hits. Plus, another group's frontman charts with his first solo hit.

Back to: Aug 26, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 9, 1984

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: August 30, 1992

Like reggae music, country isn't a genre you find on the ARIA top 50 singles chart that often - but when a country (or reggae) song does appear, it's inevitably massive. Think singles like "Islands In The Stream", "How Do I Live" or any number of Shania Twain hits.

I guess this was better than "Amigos Para Siempre" being the year's number 1 song... just

In 1992, the world was subjected to a country song that gave new meaning to the word "hit". An absolute monster of a record (in every sense of the word), it made its singer an instant star and dominated the number 1 spot for weeks and became the year's overall biggest seller.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 30, 1992

Another hideous song was the highest-selling single in the country again this week in 1992. "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)" held on to the number 1 spot for a third week.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Looking For A Place" by Tall Tales & True
Peak: number 96
After two songs that narrowly missed the top 50, the fourth single from the recently released Revenge! album made a more understated showing - and would be the trio's final chart appearance.

Number 96 Caligula by Caligula
Peak: number 96
Meanwhile, another local band gained their first foothold on the top 100 with this self-titled EP, which was led by jangly, indie/dance track "The Bluff". 

Number 89 "Television, The Drug Of The Nation" by The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy
Peak: number 89
This hip-hop rant about the negative impact of TV (previously recorded by frontman Michael Franti's previous group, The Beatnigs) was TDHOH's only top 100 single. Michael would have more success in a decade's time with his next act. 

Number 81 "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam
Peak: number 68
It's the only Pearl Jam song I like, so naturally the grunge band's third single missed the top 50. "Jeremy" was inspired by the tragic story of a high schooler who shot himself in class, an event that was depicted in the MTV VMA-winning music video.

Number 59 "Sting Me" by The Black Crowes
Peak: number 59
"Remedy" had proved to be the breakthrough single for the Southern rock band, but chart success was short-lived with this distortion-heavy follow-up placing them back outside the top 40.

New Entries
Number 44 "Candyman" by Ratcat
Peak: number 38
Ratcat had an amazing 1991, topping the singles chart twice - once with EP Tingles and again with single "Don't Go Now" - and also reaching number 1 on the albums chart with Blind Love. Following that up was going to be tough, and I'm not convinced "Candyman" was the song to try and do it with. Yes, Ratcat's indie guitar sound was present and accounted for, and the song had a fun lyrical nod to "The Candy Man", but it just felt a bit under-cooked. Seems Australia agreed, with the lead single from the forthcoming Insideout barely making the top 40.

Number 31 "Sesame's Treet" by Smart E's
Peak: number 6
Here's another song with a link to a childhood favourite. In fact, as its title made obvious, this rave track sampled the theme tune to enduring kids' series Sesame Street. In the UK, "Sesame's Treet" was one of countless dance releases that sampled children's shows and computer games - everything from The Magic Roundabout to Tetris. In Australia, we were spared all those, but given the popularity of the ABC favourite, there was no way this wasn't going to be huge. Basically a novelty record, it also pretty much guaranteed Smart E's would never be taken seriously afterwards and they wound up as a one-hit wonder.

Number 30 "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus
Peak: number 1
Next up, a man generally considered to be a one-hit wonder, although he doesn't meet my strict criteria. And what a hit it was - 1992's biggest, as it would turn out. Not because it was a good song, mind you, but because it was another almost novelty record. In this case, it was one that tapped in to the growing line dancing craze. 
The debut single by country newcomer Billy Ray Cyrus, "Achy Breaky Heart" was actually a cover version. First recorded as "Don't Tell My Heart" by The Marcy Brothers, who sang "my achy, breakin' heart" instead, the song was renamed and its original lyrics as intended by songwriter Don Von Tress restored.
As well as being dance routine-ready, the song gained much of its appeal by being part of what's been termed "new country" - a poppier, more polished style of song than the country music of decades past. New country had mainstream appeal, with "Achy Breaky Heart" spending seven insufferable weeks at number 1 in Australia and becoming one of the first singles to achieve triple platinum accreditation locally.
As for the mulleted wonder himself, Billy Ray Cyrus may have only had one more minor hit in Australia, but "Achy Breaky Heart" and his debut album, Some Gave All, which spent 17 consecutive weeks at number 1 in the US, were so massive he was set for life... or until his offspring - Miley was born later in 1992 - were old enough to help him enjoy a resurgence in interest.

Number 22 "Take This Heart / Hazard" by Richard Marx
Peak: number 11
From one mullet to another, now, and if "Hazard" had been the type of song no one expected from Richard Marx, then follow-up "Take This Heart" was exactly the type of sing-along pop/rock anthem he'd made a name for himself with originally. On the ARIA chart, it appeared as a double A-side with his recent chart-topper, although it would seem this wasn't because "Hazard" was featured as a bonus track on this new single. Instead, both singles were packaged up in a two-for-one offer than can only have helped boost "Take This Heart" towards (but ultimately just short of) the top 10 and brought about the quick demise of "Hazard", which fell swiftly down the chart.

Next week: a massive hit from the '70s returns thanks to a massive movie from 1992, plus another film spawns a huge duet and a former backing singer becomes a solo star.

Back to: Aug 23, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 6, 1992