Wednesday, 15 January 2014

25 Years Ago This Week: January 15, 1989

Christmas 2013 might already seem like a distant memory for us in the present day, but in early 1989, people were clearly clinging on to the Yuletide spirit. This week 25 years ago, the two highest debuts on the ARIA top 50 were by festive singles - despite it being the middle of January.

Merry, er, January from Cliff Richard

One of those new entries was a double A-side release which included a modern spin on a classic carol that Mariah Carey would be proud of. The other track was the UK's Christmas number 1 for 1988, which had delayed our Kylie and Jason from reaching their rightful place atop the British top 40.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 15, 1989

Speaking of the "Especially For You" hitmakers - in Australia, they were still stuck at number 2 behind The Beach Boys' "Kokomo", which notched up its third week at number 1.


Breakers
"Into Temptation" by Crowded House
Peak: number 59
Before we get to the new entries, let's look at two under-performing ballads from big name artists with hit albums.
Exhibit A: the latest release from Temple Of Low Men, which continued the downward trend Crowded House experienced with the album's first two singles: number 2 smash "Better Be Home Soon" followed by minor number 27 hit "When You Come". "Into Temptation" did even worse, missing the top 50 completely - their first song to do so since 1986's "Now We're Getting Somewhere"
A nice enough song, "Into Temptation" didn't really scream hit single and although the more upbeat "Sister Madly" was released next, the damage had been done - with both that and "I Feel Possessed" maintaining the slide down the top 100. Crowded House wouldn't recover until early 1991 - with the lead single from the Woodface album returning them to the top 20 (despite the fact that it's possibly their worst single).




"Kissing A Fool" by George Michael
Peak: number 55
Exhibit B: Yet another single - the sixth - from Faith, but this was one ballad I actually really liked and thought should have made more of a connection with the singles-buying public. Australia wasn't the only country that didn't warm to "Kissing A Fool" - in the US, it broke a string of four consecutive number 1 hits for George, while in the UK, it became his lowest-charting solo single up until that point. Perhaps realising that he shouldn't push his luck further, George didn't release any more tracks from Faith and resurfaced in 1990 with his second solo album.




New Entries
Number 50 "As Long As You Follow" by Fleetwood Mac
Peak: number 35
Following Fleetwood Mac's triumphant return in 1987 after a five-year absence, it was little surprise that their record company released a career retrospective from the band in late 1988. After all, who knew when there'd be another studio album ready for release? "As Long As You Follow" was one of two new tracks included on Greatest Hits, which only featured post-1975 singles by the Mac - they had, after all, been releasing music since 1968.




Number 47 "Hippy Hippy Shake" by The Georgia Satellites
Peak: number 37
Cocktail strikes again - with what was easily the shortest song on the countdown that week. Clocking in at around a minute and three-quarters, this remake of the 1959 rock'n'roll classic from Chan Romero was included on the soundtrack to the Tom Cruise film and returned the song to the Australian charts for the first time in decades (it had also been covered in the early '60s by The Swinging Blue Jeans). For the Atlanta band (well, where did you think they were from?), it was a return to the ARIA top 50 following their 1987 debut single, "Keep Your Hands To Yourself", which had reached number 20.




Number 41 "Till I Loved You" by Barbra Streisand / Don Johnson
Peak: number 34
An artist we hadn't seen on the singles chart for an even longer period (1984's "Left In The Dark" was her most recent hit), Barbra Sreisand teamed up with the Miami Vice star for this old fashioned ballad. Don was no stranger to the charts, either - having scored a top 5 hit in the US (and a rather more modest number 26 position here) with "Heartbeat" - and also just happened to be dating the music legend by the time this single came out. Yep, they were the blue rinse crowd's Kylie and Jason.
The song itself came from Goya: A Life In Song, which was a musical that never actually made it onto the stage starring Placido Domingo. Three versions of "Till I Loved You" featuring Placido exist: one with Dionne Warwick (on the Goya album), an alternate duet for the Japanese release (featuring Seiko of "The Right Combination" fame) and a single version with Jennifer Rush - but the Babs and Don version was released before any of them.




Number 40 "Born To Be My Baby" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 30
Single number two from New Jersey was a bit of a comedown after the top 5 success of "Bad Medicine" - and it's not really obvious why. Sure, it's not as good as the band's other anthems like "You Give Love A Bad Name", "Livin' On A Prayer" and the aforementioned "Bad Medicine", but it's got a decent chorus and that unmistakable Bon Jovi energy which took it all the way to number 3 in the US. I guess all the band's Australian fans received the album for Christmas.




Number 30 "Mistletoe & Wine" by Cliff Richard
Peak: number 30
Another song taken from a little-known musical, "Mistletoe & Wine" was written for a stage show called Scraps, which was based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Little Match Girl. Cliff gave the tune a religious makeover and took it all the way to the top of the UK singles chart - his second of three Christmas number 1s there (although he's released many more festive singles). Quite why anyone was buying it in Australia at the start of January is unclear, but it swiftly exited the top 50 over the next couple of weeks. Besides its seasonal import, the song was a landmark for Cliff for two other reasons - 1) it was his 99th single in the UK and 2) it was his only solo chart-topper of the '80s there (he also hit the top alongside The Young Ones on the 1986 remake of his first ever number 1 single, "Living Doll"). Despite all that, it's still a fairly awful song.




Number 15 "Cat Among The Pigeons / Silent Night" by Bros
Peak: number 15
This week's second seasonal release was Bros' fifth straight top 20 hit - a double A-side of Push ballad "Cat Among The Pigeons" and Christmas carol "Silent Night", which had originally been written in Austria in 1818 but was given a very modern update thanks to Matt Goss' distinctive ad-libs and melisma-tastic vocal style.
I much prefer "Cat Among The Pigeons" - a song, like East 17's "Stay Another Day", which manages to sound quite festive without actually being about Christmas. Meanwhile, I haven't heard Bros' take on "Silent Night" in quite a while and listening to it now, I can almost hear my mother lamenting how she "hates it when they ruin Christmas carols like that", something she says every Christmas Eve at least once during Carols By Candlelight.
Links to both music videos are above (and "Silent Night" is also below), with the story continuing from one to the other.




Next week: the debut top 50 appearance of a band who'd go on to become one of the biggest groups of the '90s and the return of a singer who hadn't landed a hit in 12 years. Plus, either this week or next week, I'll venture into the 2000s, and count down my top 100 songs from the year 2000.


Back to: Jan 8, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 22, 1989


4 comments:

  1. Sometimes there were large discrepancies between Take 40 Australia (just before they started to use the ARIA chart) and ARIA. I remember 'Till I Loved You' debuted on Take 40 at #19 during the first week of 1989, before falling out of the charts (the first week they used the ARIA chart).

    If I remember correctly, the original 'Do They Know It's Christmas' didn't debut in Australia until the first chart of 1985 (or at least didn't make it to #1 until then), and a similar thing happened with Band Aid II (which obviously didn't make #1).

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    1. Yeah, those rush-released charity records took a bit of time reaching Australia in the pre-digital age, but it really shouldn't have been a problem with Cliff.

      Mistletoe & Wine entered the UK chart in the week dated December 3 (and so came out late November there) and it's not like it would have been a last-minute decision to release it, so promotion in Australia could have started just as early. Guess it just took some time to connect locally.

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  2. I must admit, albums do get a bit ridiculous when they are up to the 6th+ single. Janet, Michael, Pink are all guilty of this too.

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    1. I used to like it when a quality album was milked for singles - it meant all the songs qualified for my charts. Obviously, it had to be an album that had plenty of single-worth songs on it. And yeah, Michael Jackson took it to new lengths.

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