Tuesday, 3 February 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: February 3, 1985

Image was everything in the '80s and 30 years ago this week, an artist who'd previously been known for her squeaky clean, girl-next-door look (Exhibit A: below left) gave herself a sexy makeover (Exhibit B: below right). 



Just like Olivia Newton-John's Sandy in Grease, it was out with the demure and in with the raunchy - and that went for the music, too. Funnily enough, ONJ would vamp it up herself later in 1985, but with much less success.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 3, 1985

Still the most successful song in Australia this week three decades ago - even though Christmas was by now a distant memory - was Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?", which spent a third week at number 1. And yes, the chart above is a photocopy, so if anyone has a scan of the original chart, please get in touch - it's the only one for 1985 I don't have in colour.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "Hello Again" by The Cars
Peak: number 52
"You Might Think" and "Drive" had done well locally, and album Heartbeat City had been a consistent seller, but there was little love for this just as excellent fourth single - even with its Andy Warhol-directed clip.

Number 96 "Concealed Weapons" by J. Geils Band
Peak: number 67
Also not living up to previous chart glories were the band behind massive hits "Centrefold" and "Freeze Frame", who bombed with this only single from their final album, You're Gettin' Even While I'm Gettin' Old

Number 82 "Good Advice" by Mondo Rock
Peak: number 56
It's a hat-trick! This Aussie band had enjoyed a great first half of the '80s - and while this second new song from upcoming retrospective Up To The Moment did better than the first, "The Moment", it still missed the top 50. At least the album got to number 8.


New Entries
Number 50 "Born In The U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen
Peak: number 2
I'd have preferred any of the three previous songs to have made the top 50 in place of this title track from Bruce's unstoppable album of the same name. At 10 years of age, I missed the subtleties of "Born In The U.S.A.", and found it to be overbearing and obnoxious. Even now I know what it's about - returning Vietnam veterans - it's still not a song I'd choose to listen to, but that's pretty much true of The Boss' entire catalogue. I get the appeal of his music - it's just not for me. 
Although Born In The U.S.A. had already topped the albums chart and the first two singles had done well in Australia - especially "Dancing In The Dark" - "Born In The U.S.A." raced to number 2 here and the album returned to number 1 at the end of the month. In fact, all seven singles from the album would make the top 50 throughout the year, which just goes to show how loved he was outside (as well as in) the USA.




Number 47 "In My Life" by Divinyls
Peak: number 47
Spending just two weeks on the chart - both at this position - was the latest minor hit from Divinyls, who couldn't manage to follow up the success of their breakthrough album, Desperate, and singles "Boys In Town" and "Science Fiction". Both "In My Life" and previous release "Good Die Young" (number 32 in 1984) were good songs but lacked that certain something that screamed "hit single". Meanwhile, recording continued on the band's problematic next album which had stopped and started multiple times over the past couple of years. Within a few months, things would fall into place - the album would be completed and Divinyls re-emerged with another smash.




Number 46 "Strut" by Sheena Easton
Peak: number 13
She'd burst onto the scene in 1980 with cutesy pop ditties like "9 To 5 (Morning Train)" and "Modern Girl", and also scored in the following years with earnest ballads "For Your Eyes Only" and "We've Got Tonight" (with Kenny Rogers), but by 1985, the good girl image was getting a little tired. So Scottish singer Sheena Easton did what dozens of female singers have done in the years since and went from sweet to sexy. 
The lead single from her A Private Heaven album, "Strut" made it clear this was an all-new Sheena - from her skimpy outfit in the video to racy lyrics like "I said, 'Honey, I don't like this game/You make me feel like a girl for hire'". Her Australian and American fans were completely on board with the repurposed singer - but not so in the UK, where "Strut" flopped in spectacular style. Turns out, "Strut" was mild in comparison to what was coming next... 




Number 45 "That's The Way (I Like It)" by Dead Or Alive
Peak: number 45
Now it's time for a pre-SAW double play, with chart entries by two acts who'd go on to work with producers Stock Aitken Waterman. First, it's Dead Or Alive and a single that had been bouncing around the 50s and 60s for the previous two months, looking like it would never make the top 50. As it turned out, this cover of the KC & The Sunshine Band number 5 from 1975 dropped out again next week, but it was a start for the group fronted by gender-defying singer Pete Burns, who'd end up making a dozen top 50 appearances on the ARIA top 50.




Number 44 "Cruel Summer" by Bananarama
Peak: number 32
Bananarama had already managed a significant hit without SAW - number 2 "Shy Boy" in 1982 - but "Cruel Summer" was their third single in a row to just creep into the top 40, following "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" and "Robert De Niro's Waiting". Actually, "Cruel Summer" predated "Robert...", initially reaching number 8 in the UK in 1983, but it received a second chance when it was featured in The Karate Kid in 1984 and hit the US top 10. Even in the UK and US, where "Cruel Summer" was successful, follow-ups floundered - and things were not looking great for the girl group in 1985. Luckily, a trip to the Hit Factory in 1986 would turn their luck around.




Number 42 "One Night In Bangkok" by Murray Head
Peak: number 1
Australia's love for all things ABBA is well documented, so it was hardly surprising when this single from the soundtrack album to the musical Chess, which was co-written by Benny and Bjรถrn, went all the way to the top of the chart here. Stylistically similar to Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" with its spoken verses and sung vocals by an uncredited guest vocalist (In this case: Anders Glenmark), the song was one of two big hits in Australia for Murray Head. Murray would go on to play the lead role in the West End production of Chess, which didn't debut until May 1986. Before then, a second, quite different song from the soundtrack album would also become a chart hit - and we'll see it in a few months.




Number 40 "Run To You" by Bryan Adams
Peak: number 24
He'd been releasing music since 1978 and having big hits in North America for the previous couple of years, but Australia had been resistant to the charms of Bryan Adams until this point - his best placing to date a number 55 position for "Cuts Like A Knife". That all changed with the Reckless album, which would spawn a string of hits throughout 1985. First up, "Run To You", which started off a run of 18 top 50 appearances by Bryan on the ARIA chart to date. I like "Run To You", but naturally I prefer the remake by Rage, which made my top 100 for 1992.




Next week: new entries (and long-forgotten singles) by two acts that everyone assumes were one-hit wonders. Plus, an interesting assortment of songs that missed the top 50.


Back to: Jan 27, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 10, 1985


2 comments:

  1. I didn't notice The Cars' 'Hello Again' peaked so low here. I don't know all of the flops (and even some of the hits) from this period, but I know this one. By contrast, it peaked at #12 in New Zealand, which is maybe why I know it.

    I like some Bruce Springsteen songs, but not this one.

    I didn't know the Divinyls track until picking up a best-of in the 00's.

    I thought Sheena was Scottish? 'Strut' was one of those songs I knew, but never knew who it was by until years later.

    I didn't know Dead or Alive had pre-'You Spin Me Round' stuff until the early 00's. The video for this one certainly reverses gender stereotypes. I'm sure most people would be surprised that Dead or Alive had 12 'hits' here.

    The catalogue no. (LS 1111) for the Australian pressing of 'Cruel Summer', when compared to the Oz pressing of Robert De Niro... (LS 1250) or the other current 'LS xxxx' single in the top 50 (Caribbean Queen), suggests that it was released here in 1983, but missed the top 100. I was surprised when I got hold of these 1985 charts and discovered that 'Cruel Summer' charted here a. after 'Robert...', and b. in 1985. It deserved to be a bigger hit than #32.

    Murray doesn't sing the chorus of 'One Night In Bangkok', so it's surprising the singer of those bits isn't credited, even as a featured artist. I don't think I know his second hit here, so will have to wait for that one.

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  2. I like all of the new entries this week (to varying degrees). "Born In The USA' is the worst of the many singles from the album of the same name, but 'Strut' and 'Run To You' are my favourite singles by Easton and Adams, being a bit more gutsy than their other efforts (though her later Australian flop "The Lover In Me' is awesome too).. "One Night In Bangkok" is amazing, and I didn't realise the ABBA connection when I first heard it back then. "Cruel Summer'. "In My Life' and "That's The Way (I Like it)' are great too. "Hello Again' is clearly the breaker that most deserved to be a hot. I think the only time I ever saw the video back then was on Beatbox, which must have been about 1986.

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