Monday, 24 September 2012

The Best Of 1985 - part 2

JUMP TO: 40-31 II 30-21 II 20-11 II 10-1

Band Aid got the ball rolling in 1984, and in 1985, the music industry's charitable efforts to raise money for the famine in Africa culminated in the Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia. What Woodstock must have been for kids in the 1960s, Live Aid was for children of the 1980s - a heap of the music world's biggest acts all on the same bill (with Phil Collins twice for good measure).

Anything the UK can do... America chimed in with their
charity record, "We Are The World", in 1985

Australia even contributed to proceedings with the Oz For Africa concert, which I remember watching on TV while I waited for Live Aid to start. On the Sydney stage was a pretty impressive line-up: Mental As Anything, Australian Crawl, Dragon, Models, Mondo Rock, Little River Band and headliners INXS, to name just a few.

A band that played during the UK half of Live Aid is at number 30 - it's "Walls Come Tumbling Down!" by The Style Council, which, like many of their songs, received a good airing in my house. As a 10-year-old, the political meaning behind Style Council tunes like this passed me by - even with lyrics as blatant as "the public enemies No. 10". These days, you'd be arrested under suspicion of terrorism for anti-governmental sentiments like that.

From a song with serious lyrical content to one whose words are at times absurd, at number 29 is "We Built This City" by Starship. Like many songs that are absolutely massive, "We Built This City" has not been treated kindly in the years that have since passed. A regular entry in "Worst Songs of the '80s" lists, "We Built This City" was the first single the band released with their shortened moniker of Starship and a new ultra-commercial sound. In Australia, the song would reach number 1 in early 1986 and stay there for four weeks - and I, for one, still like it.

Speaking of ultra-commercial songs, there are few '80s tracks as feel-good as the one at number 28: "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina & The Waves. Fronted by Katrina Leskanich, the band would never have another hit in Australia and the band seemed doomed to be one-hit wonders forever until a strange thing happened in 1997: the American group represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest with "Love Shine A Light" - and won!

At number 27: "We Are The World" by USA For Africa, which topped charts around the world, including in Australia for a massive nine weeks. Featuring a who's who of the US music industry at the time (except for Madonna and Prince), it was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and produced by Quincy Jones - a dream team if ever there was one. The best bit, though, is when Cyndi Lauper lets loose just before the three-minute mark.

A soundtrack hit at number 26, it's "St Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" by John Parr from the movie of the same name. Well, the St Elmo's Fire part of the name, anyway. The Man In Motion part of the title is because of the fact that the song originally had nothing to do with the film, being written about wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen. One thing I didn't know until now: John is British.

At number 25: "Love & Pride" by King, the debut single by the group named after singer Paul King, a man with an impressive head of hair. "Love & Pride" reached number 8 in Australia, and that was pretty much that for the group here, despite a few more hits in the UK. Nevertheless, by 1987, Paul had gone solo, but with less success than he had with the group. A Top Of The Pops performance is below.

Making her first appearance in my top 40 for 1985, at number 24 it's "Material Girl" by Madonna, the second single released from Like A Virgin and by this point another guaranteed hit for the world's biggest music icon. My most enduring memory of this song is it being played on a school excursion to Warragamba Dam and as it blasted out of the bus' stereo, I bounced along in my seat to it despite universal ridicule from the other guys in my class. It wouldn't be the first time I'd be laughed at for liking pop.

A song that wasn't a big hit: at number 23 it's "They Say It's Gonna Rain" by Hazell Dean, who was having trouble following up the success of earlier singles "Searchin' (I Gotta Find A Man)" and "Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)". From 1985 to 1987, Hazell released a string of songs that were good enough to be hits but failed to connect. This song ended up in an extended version on her 1988 album, Always, and was always one of my favourites of hers.

From a flop produced by Stock Aitken Waterman to one of their most successful songs, at number 22 is "Say I'm Your Number One" by Princess, which went top 10 in the UK and Australia. But like Hazell, Princess would struggle to score another hit despite some decent tunes. Unlike the high-energy sound of Hazell, Dead Or Alive and Divine, "Say I'm Your Number One" showcased SAW's more soulful sound, which they would all but abandon in subsequent years.

At number 21"Don't Go" by Pseudo Echo, which became another hit for the Aussie synthpop exponents - in fact, its number 4 peak matched the position achieved by their debut single, "Listening". "Don't Go" was the first single from the group's second album, Love An Adventure - an era which saw the band undergoing a major transformation, with the Leigh brothers (Vince and James) replacing former members Tony Lugton and Anthony Argiro.

There we go - halfway through my favourite 40 songs from 1985. We'll take a short break on Thursday for my regular ARIA chart recap and carry on in Part 3 with the top 20 on the weekend.

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