|Comeback or not, "Freeway Of Love" put Aretha back in the driver's seat|
Naturally, there's a lot to discuss this week, so I'll get on with it rather than blathering on about some overarching theme or a milestone in chart history. But, if I had to pick a topic to focus on this week it would be comebacks.
|ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 25, 1985|
A singer who'd made a major comeback a couple of years earlier continued her renewed chart success by climbing to the top of the chart 30 years ago this week. "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" by Tina Turner brought an end to Madonna's eight-week dominance of the number spot.
Off the chart
Number 99 "Imagination" by Belouis Some
Peak: number 90
Also a flop in the UK in 1985, this single by the performer born Neville Keighley would end up reaching the top 20 there in 1986, no doubt aided by its nudity-riddled music video.
Number 98 "Made In Heaven" by Freddie Mercury
Peak: number 98
A downturn in chart fortunes after "I Was Born To Love You", this solo ballad ended up becoming the (reworked) title track of Queen's first album released after Freddie's death.
Number 87 "Injustice" by V. Spy V. Spy
Peak: number 87
A second top 100 appearance from the Aussie band. The YouTube clip says the particular injustice being sung about is the "plight of Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples".
Number 85 "My Toot Toot" by Jean Knight
Peak: number 62
We saw Denise LaSalle's version enter the top 100 last week, and hot on its heels (and outperforming it) came this cover by a female singer with just as lengthy a recording career. In fact, this was taken from Jean's first album in - comeback alert! - 14 years.
Number 48 "Tomb Of Memories" by Paul Young
Peak: number 44
I didn't even know this single existed until it popped up earlier this year on one of those Countdown re-runs that Rage airs every January. Not a massive hit in Australia, it was also the first single by Paul to miss the UK top 10 and, no doubt as a result, was left off his first best of release, From Time To Time - The Singles Collection (which is the only album of his I own). I actually prefer "Tomb Of Memories", the fourth and final single from The Secret Of Association, to some of Paul's bigger hits - and even though it is one of his lesser-known singles, the song title has just been revived as the name of a four-CD box-set released last week.
Number 47 "Forever Young" by Alphaville
Peak: number 47
Next up, we have a song that's had more comebacks than Cher, John Farnham and Dame Nellie Melba combined. Originally released in late 1984, "Forever Young" became a top 5 hit in Alphaville's home country of Germany and did well across Europe. Elsewhere, the song missed the mark, while another single, "Big In Japan", became big in the UK instead.
Re-released in 1985 following Laura Branigan's remake on her Hold Me album, "Forever Young" broke into the US top 100 and, 30 years ago this week, made a brief appearance in the ARIA top 50. But that's not the end of the story - not by a long shot.
Another re-release in 1988 did slightly better for the synthpop band in America, while in Australia, a happy hardcore cover by Interactive in 1995 finally took the song into the ARIA top 20. But it was in 2006 that "Forever Young" finally achieved its full potential - topping the Australian chart in an indie rock version by Youth Group. In the wake of Youth Group's success, a new remix of the Alphaville version climbed as high as number 31 locally.
Number 46 "Icing On The Cake" by Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy
Peak: number 46
After finally turning "Kiss Me" into a hit, Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy released his next single from debut solo album The Ups And Downs. A modest top 20 hit in the UK, "Icing On The Cake" only spent this one week in the ARIA top 50 - and while it's not as good a song as "Kiss Me", its sweet bridge and catchy chorus should have seen it do better than that.
Number 45 "Crazy In The Night (Barking At Airplanes)" by Kim Carnes
Peak: number 21
Time for another comeback - this time by the singer who hit number 1 in 1981 with "Bette Davis Eyes" and had last been on the Australian top 50 as a solo artist in 1982 with the title track from her Voyeur album. Three years on and fresh from appearances on "What About Me?" by Kenny Rogers and "We Are The World", Kim Carnes was back with what would be her final (and second biggest) solo chart hit. If you're wondering where the "Barking At Airplanes" bit of the title fits in - since it's not part of the lyrics - it just happened to be the name of Kim's accompanying album.
Number 44 "In Too Deep" by Dead Or Alive
Peak: number 31
A change of pace for hi-NRG pop act Dead Or Alive now, who slowed things down slightly with this third single from the Youthquake album. In both Australia and the UK, "In Too Deep" was a smaller hit than either "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" or "Lover Come Back To Me", which might explain why the group never released another single this subdued during their time with producers Stock Aitken Waterman.
Number 41 "Like A Surgeon" by "Weird Al" Yankovic
Peak: number 19
He'd been releasing parody versions of big hit singles since 1979 when the original version of "My Bologna" poked fun at The Knack's "My Sharona", but Australia hadn't welcomed any of "Weird Al" Yankovic's records onto the chart until he took on Michael Jackson's "Beat It" in 1984. And what a welcome it was. "Eat It" managed to achieve what "Beat It" (a number 2 hit in Australia) hadn't, spending a single week at number 1.
Follow-up singles that took a shot at The Police ("King Of Suede") and The Greg Kihn Band ("I Lost On Jeopardy") didn't follow "Eat It" onto the chart, but if there was one artist who could guarantee the American comedian some traction, it was Madonna. And so this piss-take of "Like A Virgin" - a song and video that was just asking to be parodied - became the second ARIA chart hit for "Weird Al".
"Like A Surgeon" might not have matched the highs of Madonna's chart-topper, but it did reconfirm Al's razor-sharp comic talents. Even I was amused by his recreation of Madonna's gondola routine in a hospital corridor, his use of a random lion, and the nods to the videos for "Burning Up" and "Lucky Star" - and this is coming from someone who hates novelty records.
Number 40 "Freeway Of Love" by Aretha Franklin
Peak: number 6
It wasn't really a comeback, since she hadn't stopped releasing albums over the past two-and-a-half decades, but both "Freeway Of Love" and the Who's Zoomin' Who? album saw a major turnaround in Aretha Franklin's chart fortunes. In Australia, the Queen of Soul hadn't cracked the top 50 since 1971, when "Spanish Harlem" reached number 16, and in the US it was a similar story, with "Freeway Of Love" becoming her first top 10 hit since 1973's "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)".
So what changed? For one thing, Who's Zoomin' Who? was a more straight-out pop album than the soul/R&B LPs Aretha had been releasing in recent years. Mostly produced by Narada Michael Walden - who was also behind Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know" as well as the majority of her second album, Whitney - it was packed with upbeat, radio-friendly singles. Featuring Clarence Clemons on saxophone, "Freeway Of Love" is the quintessential mid-'80s hit.
Number 36 "Goodbye Bad Times" by Giorgio Moroder / Phil Oakey
Peak: number 26
Aside from having the honour of being my favourite single from 1984, "Together In Electric Dreams" had been a top 5 smash in Australia and the UK - and so The Human League vocalist Phil Oakey and producer Giorgio Moroder continued their collaboration for an entire album, the imaginatively titled Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder. But despite second single "Goodbye Bad Times" being another brilliant synthpop single (and having a lot of money thrown at its music video), the song came nowhere near achieving the same level of success as its predecessor. In the UK, the track missed the top 40 entirely and a third release, "Be My Lover Now", performed even worse (although in that case, its chart failure was probably justified). While Phil dutifully returned to The Human League - who went on to score a second US chart-topper in 1986 - Giorgio didn't release another studio album until June 2015.
Number 29 "Frankie" by Sister Sledge
Peak: number 10
Like Aretha Franklin, Sister Sledge had continued to make music since their disco-era breakthrough - but gone were the days of chart hits like "We Are Family" (number 19) or "He's The Greatest Dancer" (number 22). This week in 1985, three years after reaching number 50 with a remake of "My Guy", Debbie, Joni, Kathy and Kim Sledge debuted with what would turn out to be their biggest Australian and UK single. The lead track from When The Boys Meet The Girls, "Frankie" was a chart-topper in Britain and the sisters' only top 10 hit in Australia. Written by future tax haven maven Denise Rich, the song has always been a bit cutesy for my liking - although I do like enough other singles by Sister Sledge for them to rank among my top 20 girl groups of all time.
Next week: the theme song from one of the year's best movies powers onto the chart, plus Phyllis Nelson, V Capri and The Motels.
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