Tuesday, 4 August 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: August 4, 1985

Is it just me or are there not as many song titles as there used to be that make use of brackets? The '80s are littered with them - "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life", "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)", "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)"... and that's just 1987.

What's in a bracket? In this case: a plug for the movie that featured the song

Thirty years ago this week, three songs debuted on the ARIA singles top 50 with brackets in their titles, although all three appeared on the chart without that extra bit of their name intact - an error that would go uncorrected for their entire runs. As a bonus, each of the three songs used brackets slightly differently. I know, punctuation has rarely been so exciting!

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 4, 1985

At number 1 this week in 1985 was a song without brackets in its title - even in America, where the latest Madonna chart-topper may well have been listed as "Crazy For You (Theme From Vision Quest)" as was common practice on the Billboard Hot 100. In Australia, plain old "Crazy For You" held on to the top spot for a second week. 


Off The Chart
Number 90 "Danger" by AC/DC
Peak: number 69
A marginal gain on the number 73 peak of "Let's Get It Up" (the lead single from For Those About To Rock We Salute You), this first release from Fly On The Wall maintained AC/DC's new status as an albums rather than a singles act... for the time being.

Number 85 "Who's Holding Donna Now" by DeBarge
Peak: number 57
A real change of pace from "Rhythm Of The Night" was met with a real change in interest from the Australian record buying public towards the family musical group.

Number 69 "The Search Is Over" by Survivor
Peak: number 60
A slight improvement on the chart peak of their previous single, "I Can't Hold Back", but still another top 50 miss from the band finding it impossible to live up to "Eye Of The Tiger"


New Entries
Number 47 "Two Can Play" by Australian Crawl
Peak: number 44
Talk about a fall from grace. In the first half of the decade, Australian Crawl had been unstoppable - two number 1 albums and an EP that topped the singles chart thanks to bona fide Aussie classic "Reckless (Don't Be So)". But, after a live album and a best of collection, the fourth - and what would end up being final - studio album from the Crawl, Between A Rock And A Hard Place (which debuted this week at number 17), didn't even make the top 10 and spent just 10 weeks on the albums chart despite an enormous amount of cash having been poured into its production. This lead single, which reminds me a little of Nik Kershaw's "Don Quixote", was typical of the, er, atypical sound of the album. Fans clearly didn't take to the band's new direction, with "Two Can Play" barely getting any higher than this debut position. Not surprisingly, Australian Crawl's days were numbered. 




Number 46 "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 6
Here's our first single with brackets, which in this case contained a different part of the chorus lyrics than the main song title. That way, I'm assuming, if someone walked up to a record store counter and asked for "that Billy Joel song 'Second Wind'" they wouldn't be greeted with a blank expression from the sales assistant. At least, not for getting the title wrong. "You're Only Human..." was one of two new tracks taken from Billy's double album Greatest Hits - a two-LP set that received a hammering in our house and is wholly responsible for my enduring love for certain songs by the Piano Man (except the one that gave him that name). Despite its bouyant sound, the song is actually about teenage suicide, with the finger-snapping feel actually the point - to represent the idea that life ain't so bad after all.




Number 43 "There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)" by Eurythmics
Peak: number 3
Bracket use number two comes from Eurythmics, who were riding high after (and still at number 7 with) their Australian chart-topper, "Would I Lie To You?". In this case, the parentheses contained the remainder of the quite wordy main hook - which has to be the most common reason for employing brackets. The song itself was quite a shift in direction after the out-and-out rock of "Would I Lie To You?", with "There Must Be An Angel..." about as un-rock as you could get. From its gospel-influenced sound to a guest harmonica solo from Stevie Wonder to the 17th century France setting of the music video, "There Must Be An Angel..." was pop perfection. Another top 3 hit in Australia, the song restored the duo's chart fortunes in the UK, where it became Eurythmics' sole number 1.




Number 41 "Memory" by Elaine Paige
Peak: number 19
There were a couple of reasons why this four-year-old single from the Cats soundtrack suddenly became a top 20 hit in Australia. Firstly, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical opened in Sydney in 1985 following its West End and Broadway debuts earlier in the decade. Secondly, Elaine Paige had just recently been in the chart (alongside Barbara Dickson) with "I Know Him So Well", so her name recognition was higher than in 1981 when she'd yet to reach the top 50.
Having said that, even Barbra Streisand didn't manage to get further than number 59 in 1982 with her version of "Memory", so maybe it was more because Australians were starting to see the show and wanted to relive the play's most memorable musical moment at home than anything else than resulted in this belated chart hit. 
Side note: Elaine nearly didn't play the character of Grizabella in the original West End production - Judi Dench had the part but snapped her Achilles tendon and Elaine took over the role late in the rehearsal period. Second side note: in Australia, former Young Talent Time star Debbie (not yet Debra) Byrne played Grizabella.




Number 39 "Bittersweet" by Hoodoo Gurus
Peak: number 16
As one iconic Australian rock band (the aforementioned Australian Crawl) faded, another was starting to pick up momentum, with this lead single from Hoodoo Gurus' second album, Mars Needs Guitars!, becoming their first top 20 hit. A step in the right direction chart-wise after their previous single, "I Want You Back", peaked at a criminally low number 68, "Bittersweet" was closer in style to the band's only other top 50 hit to date, "My Girl", which reached number 35 in early 1984. With their paisley shirts and hippy long hair, Hoodoo Gurus were something of an oddity in the highly stylised mid-'80s, when even Australian rock bands were starting to leave behind the footy jerseys for more fashionable outfits - but their distinct retro look, coupled with their incredibly catchy songs, no doubt worked in their favour.




Number 10 "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 1
Speaking of distinct looks - one of the year's most iconic outfits was sported by Tina Turner in the video for this future number 1 single. The metallic gown and headpiece is also her costume from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome - in which she stars as Aunty Entity and from which this song is taken. 
One of those soundtrack songs that does its best to have its lyrics relate to the plot of the movie, "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" is also our third and final bracketed title. In one sense, tacking on "Thunderdome" to the end of the song name is the same idea Billy Joel had - it's a subtitle taken from the lyrics in case people can't actually remember the main name of the song. In this case, it also serves as a reminder of the single's connection to the movie. 
Written by the team behind "What's Love Got To Do With It", Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, "We Don't Need..." is a classic overblown '80s soundtrack song, with a sax break and kiddy choir thrown in for good measure. And, despite not being a massive Tina Turner fan, I like it a lot, although I was shocked just how vehemently some of my friends hate the track - a fact I discovered when I posted it on Facebook a few years back.




Next week: one of many duets recorded by Elton John during the '80s (but probably one of the most forgotten) and a third hit from one of 1985's biggest duos.


Back to: Jul 28, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 11, 1985


1 comment:

  1. I was thinking myself that there doesn't seem to be as many song titles with brackets these days; well, based on the limited amount of current music I know. Surely featuring has taken their place.

    I didn't know the AC/DC track. While I'm inclined to think all of their music sounds the same, this one was slightly different, with the vocals in a lower register.

    The Survivor song sounds very 'love songs and dedications' sappy; I never knew they had this side to them.

    Didn't know the Australian Crawl track, which also sounds nothing like their usual stuff.

    I don't think I'd ever seen the 'You're Only Human (Second Wind)' video before. The 'view from a bridge' elements surely wouldn't get past the censors today.

    It's quite strange that 'There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)' was Eurythmics' only UK #1; and that their sole #1 hit in each of the UK, Australia, and the US was a different single. Quite the masters of brackets, they were (though soon to be facing stiff competition from Samantha Fox).

    'Memory' is a song I'm mainly familiar with through having to learn it for piano lessons in my teens. Don't think I've actually heard this version before though, and I had no idea that it charted here.

    Don't think I knew that 'Bittersweet' wasn't called 'Don't Cry' until now... a song that maybe could have benefited from brackets!

    'We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)' is probably my favourite Tina Turner song. It's a classic, and I love how it gradually builds up throughout to the middle-8 climax; except I don't really care for it from the sax solo or children's choir. But I could listen to the song up to that point over and over. The bridge and key change leading into the chorus is prone to giving me chills.

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