Wednesday, 27 May 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: May 27, 1990

Sometimes artists never do any better than their debut hit, but often, performers move on to a long and varied career - and the initial pop smash that launched their career becomes a source of embarrassment for them.

Tina Arena turned her back on "I Need Your Body" for years after

Twenty-five years ago this week, a single arrived on the ARIA chart that would be one of the year's biggest hits by an Australian artist - and one the singer in question ignored for decades after since it was quite different from the records she'd go on to make (and various other reasons).

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 27, 1990

Meanwhile, an artist who's always been very respectful of her early hits was still at number 1 this week in 1990. Madonna spent a fourth week on top with "Vogue/Keep It Together", but the song that would replace her at the summit was closing in fast.


Off The Chart
Number 96 "Pictures Of You" by The Cure
Peak: number 89
After the top 30 success of "Lullaby", The Cure didn't have any luck with subsequent singles from Disintegration despite "Lovesong" (number 82) being among their biggest international hits. This final single was another ARIA chart miss.

Number 90 "A Little Love" by Corey Hart
Peak: number 73
Earlier this year, we saw a long-forgotten top 40 hit by Corey Hart on my 30 Years Ago... posts - and here's another single that did much better overseas than in Australia. "A Little Love" was the lead single from the Canadian's fifth album, Bang!

Number 85 "Put Your Hands Together" by D Mob featuring Nuff Juice
Peak: number 71
"C'mon And Get My Love" would continue to float in and out of the top 50 until as late as July, but this follow-up, which sampled "Put Our Heads Together" by The O'Jays (from their 1983 album, When Will I See You Again), couldn't break into the top 70. 

Number 73 "911 Is A Joke" by Public Enemy
Peak: number 64
Progressing slightly higher than "Welcome To The Terrordome", the latest sample-heavy single from Fear Of A Black Planet was about the lack of emergency services attention given to African-American neighbourhoods. Surprisingly, the now iconic song just fell short of the Billboard Hot 100.


Breaker
"The BRITS 1990 (Dance Medley)" by Various Artists
Peak: number 56
The megamix craze continued with this British dance medley which not only combined modern songs but also used the original artists - something neither Jive Bunny nor Rococo had offered with their releases. Possibly due to the fact that only one of the songs featured - "Theme From S-Express" - had been a top 50 hit in Australia, this track (which was released to coincide with 1990's BRIT Awards) didn't find many takers locally. In order, the songs utilised are "Street Tuff" by Rebel MC & Double Trouble, "Voodoo Ray" by A Guy Called Gerald, "Theme From S-Express" by S-Express, "Hey DJ/I Can't Dance (To That Music You're Playing)" by Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo, "Eve Of The War (Ben Liebrand remix)" by Jeff Wayne, "Pacific 707" by 808 State, "We Call It Acieed" by D Mob featuring Gary Haisman and "Got To Keep On" by Cookie Crew.




New Entries
Number 49 "Freedom" by Noiseworks
Peak: number 30
After two albums of solid Aussie pub rock, Noiseworks shifted gears for their third album, Love Versus Money. That album was still over a year away, but psychedelically inclined lead single "Freedom" gave a taste of what to expect from the the more musically adventurous band. With production from future American Idol dog pound owner Randy Jackson, the new sound didn't go down that well with Australian fans. Yes, a number 30 placing was actually a lot higher than many of their earlier singles had managed - but "Touch", the lead single from their previous album of the same name, had climbed as high as number 12. At any rate, it would be interesting to see what they came up with next.




Number 45 "Club At The End Of The Street" by Elton John
Peak: number 19
"Healing Hands" and "Sacrifice" may not have been hits in the UK - yet! - but both songs had performed well in the US and Australia, and so a third single from Sleeping With The Past was released, but this time without a video featuring its performer. By now, Elton John was deep into his charity work to raise money for AIDS research and he was too busy with that to shoot anything, and so this animated clip was produced. It didn't make any difference to the single's chart performance - perhaps the novelty even helped - and by reaching number 19, it was the first time since 1983's hat-trick of "I'm Still Standing" (number 3), "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" (number 4) and "Crystal" (number 12) that Elton had enjoyed three consecutive top 20 hits in Australia.




Number 44 "All Or Nothing" by Milli Vanilli
Peak: number 44
And so, the Milli Vanilli phenomenon came to a crashing halt. After three of the country's biggest hit singles of the past 12 months, the lip-syncing duo bombed out with this title track from their debut album. Well, it was the title track of one of the many versions of that album - which was called Girl You Know It's True (and had a different tracklisting) for the American market, and was remixed and repackaged for other countries. In Australia, we got the wholly unsatisfying All Or Nothing: The US Remix Album, which only contained nine tracks, many in extended form - yet it still managed to spend five weeks at number one here in April/May. It was likely due to the success of the album, as well as the lengthy chart stays of "Baby Don't Forget My Number", "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" and "Blame It On The Rain", that "All Or Nothing" (a number 4 hit in the US) didn't perform in Australia - since the revelation that Rob and Fab hadn't performed any of the act's vocals had yet to fully break.




Number 41 "This Beat Is Technotronic" by Technotronic featuring MC Eric
Peak: number 27
Here's another dance act that had lied about who provided their vocals, but in Technotronic's case, it was quickly realised that it was best to give credit where credit was due. And so, model Felly was dumped in favour of actual rapper Ya Kid K for the video to previous hit "Get Up! (Before The Night Is Over)", while Eric Martin, who rapped on this third single, was given a full featuring credit. I wasn't as big a fan of "This Beat Is Technotronic" as either of the Belgian dance group's previous hits - and it seems Australia as a whole felt the same way, with the single's peak significantly lower than those of "Pump Up The Jam" or "Get Up!". MC Eric (who now also goes by the alias Me One) and Ya Kid K, although not heard on the same track until the obligatory megamix, had a collaboration of a different kind - marrying and having a child together in the early '90s.




Number 40 "Dub Be Good To Me" by Beats International featuring Lindy Layton
Peak: number 12
A dance track that did connect with the Australian public was this mashup of a cover of The S.O.S. Band's "Just Be Good To Me" - a number 17 hit in 1984 - with the bassline from "Guns Of Brixton" by The Clash. Elements from "Man With A Harmonica" from the soundtrack to Once Upon A Time In The West by composer Ennio Morricone (the harmonica line) and "Jam Hot" by DJ Johnny Dynell (the intro and outro rap) also featured prominently in the song, which reached number 1 in the UK. Beats International was the musical vehicle for a post-Housemartins, pre-Fatboy Slim Norman Cook, while vocals were provided by Lindy Layton, whose post-Beats solo career never really took off.




Number 33 "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette
Peak: number 1
So busy with their sudden worldwide domination were Swedish duo Roxette that when the producers of Pretty Woman wanted a song from the pair for the rom-com's soundtrack, they recycled a Christmas single from 1987. Originally titled "It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted)", the ballad reached the top 10 in their homeland but was unknown in the rest of the world - making it perfect for resurrection. With all festive references removed, the otherwise unchanged song became a stand-alone single bridging the gap between Look Sharp! and 1991's Joyride - and another chart-topper around the globe. I bought the 7" single of "It Must Have Been Love", but I actually did so for the B-side, "Paint", my favourite song from Look Sharp! that never quite made it to single status. Since I didn't own that album at that point, it was my only way to own "Paint" - and it remains one of my all-time top 5 non-singles by any act.




Number 30 "I Need Your Body" by Tina Arena
Peak: number 3
Her Young Talent Time nickname might have been "Tiny", but there was nothing small about this debut top 50 hit from 22-year-old Tina Arena. "I Need Your Body" wasn't actually Tina's first-ever single - that honour belongs to 1985's "Turn Up The Beat", which reached number 92 in early 1986 and was released via a record deal she signed while still on YTT - but it was her first release to make a real impression on the chart. And it stormed all the way to number 3, beating the recent chart peak of her former cast-mate Dannii Minogue's debut single by one spot. 
For me, "I Need Your Body" was a far superior song to "Love And Kisses", so it's a shame it hasn't always received the acknowledgement it deserves. Without it, Tina might not have as easily moved on to her successful ballad-heavy career later in the decade. It's nice to see, though, that she performed it in concert last year and is finally embracing her pop past. Of course, given it came out in 1990, "I Need Your Body" was acknowledged at the time by the Fast Forward team, who gave it a typically outrageous send-up referencing the other parts of Tina that were no longer tiny.




Next week: three acts return to the chart - one, the world's biggest boy band; another, a female singer behind one of 1989's best ballads; and finally, the UK's premier club act with what would surprisingly end up as their biggest Australian hit.


Back to: May 20, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 3, 1990


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: May 26, 1985

Music talent often runs in families - and over the decades, several groups of siblings have taken on the charts. Some, like The Jacksons and The Osmonds, become global phenomena; others, like Five Star and The McClymonts, have more territory-specific success. 

Thin ties, thin moustaches... it can only be 80s family band DeBarge

Thirty years ago this week, a family band that'd had a handful of minor hits in the US hit the ARIA top 50 with the song that'd take them up charts all around the world.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 26, 1985

Still up on top of the Australian chart this week in 1985 - USA For Africa held strong with "We Are The World". Its tally of seven weeks now made it the longest-running number 1 since the eight-week stay of "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder, who appeared on "We Are The World" and whose tally would eventually be surpassed by the charity record.


Off the chart
Number 100 "Lucky In Love" by Mick Jagger
Peak: number 77
I don't think I've ever heard this second single from She's The Boss before - probably on account of its lowly chart peak - but I don't mind it, more so than most solo tracks by the Rolling Stone.

Number 83 "Love Like Blood" by Killing Joke
Peak: number 83
After years of placing singles in the 50s and 60s in the UK, this goth/new wave band cracked the top 20 there with this Night Time single. Locally, it was their only top 100 appearance but it's worth a listen for any fans of The Cult and The Damned unfamiliar with it.


New entries
Number 46 "We Will Together" by Eurogliders
Peak: number 7
Geez, get a room! Future husband and wife (and divorcees) Bernie Lynch and Grace Knight were clearly incredibly hot for each other at this point in time, with this video for the lead single from the Absolutely album featuring a cringeworthy public display of affection (and an unfortunate choice of swimwear). Also hot at this stage in 1985 was the Perth band's career - having hit number 2 (behind The Twelfth Man and Wham!) in 1984 with "Heaven (Must Be There)", a song that also made US top 70. "We Will Together" returned them to the top 10 and would be the first of a string of big singles from the album - one which made its way into my family's record collection at the time.




Number 45 "I Was Born To Love You" by Freddie Mercury
Peak: number 19
Last week, we saw the fourth and final single from Queen's The Works album miss the top 50, but singer Freddie Mercury had much better luck with the lead single from his debut solo album, Mr Bad Guy. "I Was Born To Love You" wasn't his first solo release - we saw "Love Kills" bomb back in February - and like that earlier single, this track featured more of a synthpop feel than the majority of Queen's output. Despite the fact that this is a really good song and Queen was one of the world's biggest band's, Freddie couldn't sustain a successful solo career. It'd take another seven years for him to return to the ARIA top 50 with a posthumous re-release of "Barcelona", his 1987 duet with opera singer Montserrat Caballé).




Number 41 "Rhythm Of The Night" by DeBarge
Peak: number 5
Despite all its success in the 1960s and '70s, Motown Records didn't manage to maintain such an impressive hit strike-rate in the 1980s, with established stars Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie providing the label's few chart-topping singles. One of the only new acts to be successfully launched by the former hit machine was family group DeBarge, which consisted of brothers Marty (real name: Mark), Randy (real name: William), El (real name: Eldra) and James (he got to keep his name), and sister Bunny (real name: Etterlene).
Despite the obvious comparisons to former Motown stars The Jacksons, DeBarge had been more of a ballads act up until this point, but it was this upbeat little number - one of the first hits penned by super-songwriter Diane Warren - that saw them extend their fanbase beyond the US. With nothing else like this in their repertoire, the group would ultimately be a one-hit wonder in Australia.
Infectious pop smash "Rhythm Of The Night" was taken from the soundtrack to the "martial arts musical" film Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon, which, as the name suggests, was produced by the Motown founder. Meanwhile, keeping it in the Motown family, James DeBarge is the man responsible for Janet Jackson's early annulled marriage, with the two crazy young kids having eloped a year earlier in 1984.




Number 36 "Would I Lie To You?" by Eurythmics
Peak: number 1
With the 1984 (For The Love Of Big Brother) soundtrack behind them, Eurythmics moved on to the Be Yourself Tonight album - and this first single was quite a change in musical direction for the normally more synth-based duo. The rock sound was matched by Annie Lennox's feisty performance in the heavily played music video, with the new attitude going down a storm in Australia (where it became their sole chart-topper) and the US (where it reached number 5). Not so convinced were the band's British fans, who only propelled the single to number 17 - granted, that was an improvement on the performance of 1984's second single, "Julia" (which tanked at number 44 in the UK), but "Would I Lie To You?" was the only non-soundtrack Eurythmics single to miss the British top 10 since before their breakthrough with "Love Is A Strager". Order would be restored with the follow-up, which showed yet another side to the band - and also featured Stevie Wonder (he's everywhere this week!).




Number 35 "50 Years" by Uncanny X-Men
Peak: number 4
All that partying (on the Beach Party EP and "The Party" single) must have worn Aussie rockers Uncanny X-Men out since "50 Years" saw them slow the tempo right down. The risk paid off - the rock ballad turned out to be by far the band's biggest single up until this point and would wind up being their only release to make the singles top 10. Of course, the music video showed the early morning aftermath of... a party.




Next week: one of the biggest bands in the world - especially among owners of CD players - and two new Australian bands that didn't manage to become the next big thing.


Back to: May 19, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 2, 1985


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: May 20, 1990

In my 30 Years Ago... post for this week, we saw a number of duos hit the ARIA chart. Five years later, one half of the biggest duo in the world at that point (and one of the biggest acts of any type) reached the top 50 with his debut solo single.

Andrew Ridgeley's bid for solo success found a receptive audience in Australia

In 1985, it was already expected that his partner in pop would go on to forge a successful career on his own, but few would have counted on the less famous member of the duo also landing his own hit single - but in Australia, at least, he did.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 20, 1990

An artist who had no trouble notching up hit singles was still at number 1 in Australia this week in 1990 - Madonna spent a third week on top with "Vogue/Keep It Together".


New entries
Number 49 "Shake" by Andrew Ridgeley
Peak: number 15
Here he is - the other half of Wham!, whose contribution to that string of releases from "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)" to "Where Did Your Heart Go?" has long been debated. Andrew Ridgeley's musical input may not have been as great as George Michael's - he only received a co-writing credit on three out of 12 singles - but his part in the success of the pop duo shouldn't be underestimated. 
More than just making up numbers, Andrew was responsible for more behind-the-scenes machinations (grooming George and making decisions about the duo's image, speaking to the press, grounding his band-mate) than he's ever given credit for. Not only that, but he doubled the eye candy in the group - if you didn't fancy George, perhaps you liked the look of Andrew.
After Wham!'s breakup, Andrew tried his hand at car racing in Monaco and acting in Los Angeles, before returning to the UK, shacking up with Bananarama's Keren Woodward (his partner to this day) and, in 1990, getting around to releasing a solo album of his own. 
I think everyone associated with Son Of Albert knew it was no Faith, but lead single "Shake" received a surprisingly positive welcome in Australia, peaking 43 places higher than in the UK. A much rockier single than anything George or Wham! had ever released, "Shake" was also the public's first chance to hear what Andrew's singing voice was like. Unfortunately, like the song itself, it was on the weak side.




Number 46 "Love Will Lead You Back" by Taylor Dayne
Peak: number 11
While things had been going swimmingly for Taylor Dayne in the US, with six consecutive top 10 hits to her name so far, she hadn't managed a top 50 hit on the ARIA chart since "Prove Your Love" reached number 30 in mid-1988. That all changed with monster ballad and US chart-topper "Love Will Lead You Back", which came one place shy of equalling the peak of debut single "Tell It To My Heart" locally. The Diane Warren-penned track turned Taylor's fortunes around in Australia, prompting parent album Can't Fight Fate to return to the chart for a lengthy stay, after having slipped into the top 100 for a single week at number 97 in January. Even better news for Taylor - her biggest Australian hits were still to come.




Number 45 "I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You" by Absent Friends featuring Wendy Matthews
Peak: number 4
A ballad also did the trick for Aussie supergroup Absent Friends, who'd bombed out with their previous singles, "Hallelujah" and "Hullabaloo". Those songs had both been original compositions - written or co-written by Sean Kelly - but "I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You" was a cover version of an album track by soul singer Eddie Floyd. Originally titled "I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But My Baby", the song appeared on 1974's Soul Street. Absent Friends' remake spent three weeks at its number 4 peak and received the ARIA Award for Single Of The Year. Although featured vocalist Wendy Matthews had already enjoyed chart success, teaming up with Kate Ceberano for the top 10 album, You've Always Got The Blues, this song more than anything else paved the way for her to become one of the nation's favourite singers. Not bad for a Canadian.




Number 43 "Passion" by Bang The Drum
Peak: number 43
A few weeks ago, we saw Bang The Drum's debut single, "Only You", reach the top 40 and no time was wasted following it up with this next release. Unfortunately for the band produced by Charles Fisher (the man behind multi-platinum debut albums by 1927 and Savage Garden), "Passion" was even less successful than "Only You" - and that's despite the fact that the earlier single was included as a B-side here (in fact the release turns up as a double A-side in the Breakers section in June). 




Next week: another former Young Talent Time member hits the top 50, as does one of the year's biggest dance tracks, a number 1 hit from one of the year's top films and the final Milli Vanilli single to reach the chart (at least with Rob and Fab fronting the group).


Back to: May 13, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 27, 1990


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: May 19, 1985

Music history is littered with pop partnerships - duos whose skills perfectly complement each other. So far in our trip back in time to 1985, we've seen singles by Wham!, Tears For Fears and Eurythmics infiltrate the ARIA top 50 - and 30 years ago this week, three new duos hit the chart.

Go West scored at the two-for-one leather jacket sale

Well, one of the musical pairs weren't exactly new, having been an integral part of music history for a couple of decades - but this week in 1985 marked their debut chart appearance as performers in their own right. The other two duos were brand new - one would turn out to be among the year's biggest new acts, while the other would end up as a musical footnote.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 19, 1985

In its sixth week at number 1, "We Are The World" was showing no signs of going anywhere - even though it had already fallen off the top spot in both the US and the UK.


Off the chart
Number 97 "I Know What It Is To Be Young (But You Don't Know What It Is To Be Old)" by Orson Welles
Peak: number 68
Quite the musical oddity, this single features the 70-year-old actor reciting the song's lyrics over a vocal and orchestral accompaniment. Orson passed away in October 1985.

Number 84 "Hammer To Fall" by Queen
Peak: number 69
Like the third single from The Works, "It's A Hard Life", this fourth release was a chart miss for the band that'd recently hit the top 10 with "Radio Ga Ga" (number 2) and "I Want To Break Free" (number 8).

Number 82 "Sex Symbol" by Flame Fortune
Peak: number 76
Born Heather Hogue and a child star under the name Heather Harrison in the late '60s/early '70s, Flame turned to music in the '80s - with this single produced by Michael Hutchence. In 1991, she was found murdered in Los Angeles.


New entries
Number 49 "Just A Gigolo / I Ain't Got Nobody" by David Lee Roth
Peak: number 13
Van Halen's larger-than-life singer continued his musical journey through eras past with this follow-up to his cover of "California Girls" - also taken from the Crazy From The Heat EP. Originally paired by jazz singer Louis Prima in 1945 (and recorded by him in 1956), the medley of "Just A Gigolo" (which dated back to 1929) and "I Ain't Got Nobody" (a 1915 song) had been popular for decades and remade as recently as 1978 when Village People included a version on their Macho Man album. David's take on the medley was fairly consistent with Louis' version - but where Mr Lee Roth made the song his own was in the cheeky music video, which featured parodies of Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Boy George and Billy Idol, and references to music censorship, aerobics and other '80s phenomenons.




Number 48 "Solid" by Ashford & Simpson
Peak: number 21
After decades of providing massive hit singles for the likes of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), Diana Ross ("Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)") and Chaka Khan ("I'm Every Woman"), the songwriting, production and performing partnership of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson finally registered a worldwide smash as artists themselves with "Solid". It made perfect sense for the pair to sing a song about a relationship that had stood the test of time - they'd been married since 1974, and remained husband and wife until Nickolas's death from throat cancer in 2011.




Number 47 "Take It Back" by The Pookah Makes 3
Peak: number 28
Like Thompson Twins, the name of this act was deceptive - there were two members in The Pookah Makes 3 (and three in the best known line-up of TT). Unfortunately for the duo of Martyn Wilson and the oddly named Mallett (actually Martin Allett), "Take It Back" was not a success in their British homeland, despite it being the sort of synthpop that did very well there. The song did make our top 30, but none of their other singles made any impact locally. As for that name, it has something to do with a Celtic fairy called the púca - perhaps that's the third member?




Number 45 "House Of Cards" by GANGgajang
Peak: number 45
Improving only slightly on the peak position of their debut single, "Gimme Some Loving", GANGgajang couldn't seem to get things off the ground - even though "House Of Cards" is a better song that their previous top 50 entry.




Number 40 "We Close Our Eyes" by Go West
Peak: number 8
Simon and Garfunkel. Hall and Oates. Cox and Drummie? Their surnames may not be so well known, but Go West joined the ranks of hit duos in 1985 with this debut single, a top 10 hit in Australia and the UK. And, unlike The Pookah Makes 3, they'd return to the top 50 another four times (another 11 times in the UK). The lead single from the pair's self-titled album, "We Close Our Eyes" came with a video directed by another duo: Godley & Creme, who were behind some of the era's most memorable clips - although this was the only one featuring the singer wielding a giant wrench.




Next week: a solo hit from the singer of one of this week's groups, the biggest hit by a family of musicians and Australia's biggest party band bring it down a notch with an epic ballad.


Back to: May 12, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 26, 1985


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: May 13, 1990

After last week's ballad-heavy slew of new singles, the ARIA chart perked up a little 25 years ago this week with six new entries that breathed a bit more life into the top 50. 

Billy Idol was (eventually) back to his pelvic thrusting best in 1990 

As was standard in 1990, half of the six songs were rock anthems while the other half were dance and hip-hop tracks - no prizes for guessing which songs interested me more. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 13, 1990

On top for a second week was Madonna's double A-side "Vogue/Keep It Together", while right at the other end of the top 50, mention should be made of Milli Vanilli's "Baby Don't Forget My Number", which spent its 38th and final week inside the top 50 despite never getting any higher than number 17.

EDIT: It's been brought to my attention by eagle-eyed Dannii Minogue fans that "Love And Kisses" seemingly dropped out of the top 50 from its number 9 position last week. Actually, Dannii's debut single was number 9 this week as well - but that position is curiously missing from the printed chart. 


Off The Chart
Number 94 "Quicksand" by Peter Blakeley
Peak: number 81
And just like that, Peter Blakeley's top 50 career came to an end, with this pleasant but unmemorable third single from Harry's Cafe De Wheels failing to follow its predecessors up the chart.


Breakers
For whatever reason (increased sales despite declining chart position? Record company priorities?), three of this week's breakers were songs that were in the top 50 last week - which is kind of unfair to the singles moving up the chart that could've got a look-in.


New Entries
Number 50 "Principal's Office" by Young MC
Peak: number 50
Having registered two big hits as the writer of Tone Lōc's "Wild Thing" and co-writer of follow-up "Funky Cold Medina", the rapper born Marvin Young stepped into the spotlight with his own records in 1989. Australia, naturally, was a little slow on the uptake and "Principal's Office" became a minor hit here in 1990 ahead of the chart-topping success of "Bust A Move", which had actually been released in the US way back in May 1989. Like Tone's singles, "Principal's Office" combined a storytelling lyric with a hooky sample (from "Who Could Want More", a track on Lee Michaels' 1969 self-titled album) and although it wasn't a massive success, it did set the stage for Young MC's earlier release to make its belated charge up the chart in the coming months.




Number 47 "Touch Me" by 49ers
Peak: number 18
You've got to give Dawn Mitchell credit for trying to sell herself as the vocalist behind this Italo house anthem - she does her best to wrap her mouth around the sampled lyrics in the clip below, but it's actually two different singers entirely who were responsible for the vocals. Anyone with even a passing interest in music will recognise the unmistakable voice of Aretha Franklin in the verses of "Touch Me", which were lifted from the Queen of Soul's 1986 single "Rock-A-Lott"while the chorus is taken from "Touch Me" by Alisha Warren, which had been released in 1989. Dawn did end up singing on 49ers' debut album before being replaced by Ann-Marie Smith for later releases. 




Number 42 "Forgotten Years" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 26
They'd sold truckloads of albums over the past decade, but most of those LPs only yielded one top 10 hit (if that). Even Diesel And Dust, which contained two top 10s in "The Dead Heart" and "Beds Are Burning", kind of fits the pattern since the earlier of those two singles predated the album by a full year. Keeping things consistent, this follow-up to number 8 single "Blue Sky Mine" was another mid-table hit for Midnight Oil. It was also another song with a message - what else would you expect from the Oils? - with the lyrics talking about the efforts of Australian soldiers fighting the Japanese in World War II.




Number 40 "Infinity (1990's: Time For The Guru)" by Guru Josh
Peak: number 4
More like "A Couple Of Months in 1990: Time For The Guru", as the man behind this saxaphone-featuring club track became one of the decade's first one-hit wonders. One of the only rave tracks of the early '90s to become a big hit in Australia, "Infinity" actually peaked one place higher here than in the UK. For a couple more months in 2008, Guru Josh (or Guru Josh Project, if we're being accurate) was a chart act once more when a remix of "Infinity" took the song back into the UK top 10.




Number 26 "Cradle Of Love" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 10
It'd been four years since leather-clad, sneer king Billy Idol had released a new album - and just as he prepared to unleash his latest offering, the unfortunately titled Charmed Life, he was involved in a motorbike accident that left him temporarily unable to walk, thrust or swivel his hips. As a result, Billy only appears in the David Fincher-directed video for "Cradle Of Love" from the waist up and on TV screens around the house where a Lolita-type teenager gets an older man all hot under the collar. In Australia and the US, "Rock The Cradle" put Billy back in the top 10 for what would turn out to be the last time.




Number 19 "Dogs Are Talking" by The Angels
Peak: number 11
In between recapping their 1985 output in my 30 Years Ago... posts and revisiting their later singles here, I always seem to be writing about The Angels and more or less saying the same thing - variations on "it wasn't a very big hit and I didn't like it". 
This time, the first part of that isn't true - "Dogs Are Talking" was the band's first major chart success since the live version of "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again" also reached number 11 in 1988. In fact "Dogs Are Talking" became one of the most successful singles of The Angels' lengthy career, with only "No Secrets" (number 8 in 1980) and "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" (number 7 in 1987) peaking higher. 
Interestingly, on the B-side to "Dogs Are Talking" wasn't another song by The Angels - instead, the band featured tracks by up-and-coming Australian bands, including The Baby Animals. In New Zealand, Shihad was one of the acts featured on the single's B-side. Despite having all that to say about "Dogs Are Talking", the second part of my normal summation is true - I didn't like the song at all. Way too raucous and headache-inducing for me.




Next week: he was one-half of a massive '80s duo, but no one ever expected him to have a solo career - but for five minutes in 1990, he did. Plus, the debut of the song which would go on to win the ARIA Award for Best Single. 


Back to: May 6, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 20, 1990


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

30 Years Ago This Week: May 12, 1985

Music can conjure up all sorts of memories and associations - a summer holiday, a first crush, a classic movie... But it takes a certain calibre of song to define an entire decade. Thirty years ago this week, two songs made their debut on the ARIA singles chart that have become quintessential '80s tunes in the years since.


Not only were they both massive, inescapable hits, but their bold, stadium-ready sound perfectly sums up the decade where bigger was better. Listening to just the opening bars of either song instantly takes you back to a time of huge hair, OTT fashion and double cassette ghetto blasters (with high-speed dubbing). 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending May 12, 1985

An era-defining song of a different kind was still at number 1 this week in 1985. "We Are The World" by USA For Africa spent its fifth week on top 


Off the chart
Number 100 "The Last Kiss" by David Cassidy
Peak: number 60
If you think this sounds like a Cliff Richard track, then that's because it's a reworking of "Young Love", a track from Cliff's Wired For Sound album. Taken from David's only album during the '80s, "The Last Kiss" was a UK top 10 hit and features George Michael on backing vocals.

Number 96 "Radioactive" by The Firm
Peak: number 96
Not the same act as the one behind "Star Trekkin'", this The Firm was a rock supergroup comprised of members from Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and Uriah Heep - and "Radioactive" was their short and to-the-point debut single. 

Number 93 "Treat Her Like A Lady" by The Temptations
Peak: number 82
Last week, we saw Commodores bounce back with a song featuring a new lead singer, but fellow Motown legends The Temptations didn't have as much luck with theirs, despite it being quite a good tune.

Number 91 "Shine The Light" by Venetians
Peak: number 91
A couple of under-the-radar Australian bands now - although Venetians would break through in a big way later in the year. For now, "Shine The Light" was another single that didn't quite connect.

Number 87 "Fool's Way" by Geisha
Peak: number 53
Next up, the debut single from Melbourne's Geisha, who put an Aussie twist on the New Romantic sound. "Fool's Way" really deserved to be a bigger hit, but fell agonisingly short of the top 50.


New entries
Number 50 "Say It Again" by Santana
Peak: number 39
Who knew Santana ever went all synthpop? Well, I didn't - since I don't recall this single at all. But given it was only a minor hit here and in the US, it's not surprising it's faded into obscurity. I couldn't even find a YouTube clip of the song, so you'll have to make do with this video featuring a 12" dance mix - the beat's heavier but it's not that different from the single version. The only single lifted from the Beyond Appearances album, "Say It Again" features the vocals of Greg Walker, who'd last recorded with Santana in the late '70s and, like everyone else in this line-up, was brought on board by Carlos Santana after ditching the band that'd played on his last album.




Number 47 "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds
Peak: number 6
Here's the first of our era-defining singles - and it's a song that Simple Minds almost didn't record. In fact, the band turned down the track, which had also been offered to Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol, more than once before finally relenting and transforming the demo they didn't think much of into the rousing barnstorming anthem beloved by millions. Featured on the soundtrack to classic '80s film The Breakfast Club, "Don't You (Forget About Me)" not only gave the Scottish band another hit in the UK and Australia, but it topped the US chart, taking their career to a whole new level.




Number 46 "R-O-C-K Rock" by Lin Buckfield / James Reyne
Peak: number 44
On paper, this should have been a much bigger hit. He, of course, was the lead singer of Australian Crawl, who were still one of Australia's biggest rock bands at this point, coming off a number 2 chart placing for their best of album, Crawl File, that'd been released in time for Christmas 1984. She was the vocalist for up-and-coming local band Electric Pandas, whose debut single, "Big Girls" had been a top 20 hit a year earlier. But the song itself is just terrible, with both singers' tuneless screeching making Jimmy Barnes sound like Mariah Carey - especially on the monotonous chorus. A thoroughly deserved chart flop.




Number 44 "Rock And Roll Girls" by John Fogerty
Peak: number 26
A couple of months ago, we saw the ARIA top 10 hit that I'd completely forgotten about ("The Old Man Down The Road") from the former Creedence Clearwater Revival singer. This was the follow-up - and my recollection of this song is even hazier. In fact, I'm not even 100 percent certain I'm remembering this single and not some other '70s-style American rock song since it sounds like so many others of that genre. 




Number 41 "Every Time You Go Away" by Paul Young
Peak: number 20
He'd previously turned obscure soul songs "I'm Gonna Tear your Playhouse Down" and "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" into hits, and for his next trick, Paul Young took a Hall & Oates album track all the way to the top of the US chart. Paul's version of the tune, which bore the slightly revised title "Every Time You Go Away", was also the lead single from The Secret Of Association in America, while in Australia and the UK, it was the third and most successful single from the album.




Number 35 "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" by Tears For Fears
Peak: number 2
Our second classic '80s track was another number 1 in the US, where it was released ahead of "Shout" to launch Songs From The Big Chair. Whether or not it's because the video features Curt Smith (who took lead vocals on this single) driving across America in a convertible, I always think of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" as the ultimate road trip song - the musical equivalent of driving down the highway with the wind blowing through your hair. A year later, the song was re-released in the UK as "Everybody Wants To Run The World" in support of Sport Aid - and it once again hit the top 5 there.




Next week: another couple of era-defining tracks from a pair of duos - including the husband and wife act that achieved their biggest hit as singers although not as songwriters and producers.


Back to: May 5, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 19, 1985


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

25 Years Ago This Week: May 6, 1990

Rock ballads, power ballads, electro ballads, piano ballads... sometimes nothing beats an emotive downtempo number - and 25 years ago this week, ballads of all varieties descended on the ARIA singles chart.

All Heart want to do is never perform their number 1 hit again

Not all the ballads were big hits, however, with some going all the way to the top 10 while others floundered much lower down the rankings. Many of them were also horrible, horrible songs.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 6, 1990

Meanwhile, blasting from its number 19 debut last week straight to number 1 was Madonna's "Vogue/Keep It Together", which benefited from a full week on sale right around the country. It would be the first of five weeks on top in total for the track.


Off the chart
Number 95 "Forever" by KISS
Peak: number 73
I mentioned this song last week - the second single from Hot In The Shade was one of many rock ballads to hit the US top 10 in 1990 that failed to connect in Australia. Fun fact: "Forever" was co-written by power ballad king Michael Bolton

Number 76 "The Way You Live" by Hunters & Collectors
Peak: number 75
It's got a little too much kick to technically be a ballad, but this more downbeat single didn't find as many takers as the band's rockier fare like "Do You See What I See" and "Say Goodbye".


Breakers
"Dirty Deeds" by Joan Jett
Peak: number 59
This one's definitely not a ballad - a cover of the 1976 single by AC/DC (which had reached number 29) lifted from an album of rock covers by a Blackheart-less Joan. I'm not a fan of Acca Dacca at the best of times, and I find "Dirty Deeds" a bit monotonous - so nothing about this remake appealed to me. Joan's versions of "Love Hurts" and "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" were also released as singles, but neither troubled the top 100.




"All My Life" by Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville
Peak: number 57
As "Don't Know Much" spent its final week inside the top 10, Linda followed it up with an identikit middle-of-the-road ballad, once again featuring Aaron Neville as her duet partner. Lightning didn't strike twice in this case - at least not in Australia, although in the States, "All My Life" narrowly missed the top 10, peaking at number 11.




New entries
Number 48 "Run Silent" by Shakespear's Sister
Peak: number 47
Previous single "You're History" was a musical revelation, and former Bananarama member Siobhan Fahey and new band-mate Marcella Detroit continued to defy expectations with this electro-ballad follow-up. A chart disappointment here and in the UK, where it stiffed at number 54, "Run Silent" sounds like a song in need of a stronger chorus.




Number 47 "Only My Heart Talkin'" by Alice Cooper
Peak: number 47
Like KISS, Alice Cooper was a relic from the '70s enjoying something of a resurgence in the early '90s - but he really should have stuck to the likes of "Poison" or "Bed Of Nails" where his voice was smothered by layers of guitars and production, instead of tackling a rock ballad like "Only My Heart Talkin'". Whereas KISS frontman Paul Stanley has the vocal chops to handle a song like this, Alice's performance is strangled at best, unlistenable at worst. And being a serious and sensitive artist isn't what Alice Cooper was ever about, so who knows what anyone was thinking with this.




Number 46 "Without You" by Mötley Crüe
Peak: number 46
Sticking with the turgid rock ballads, the Crüe took some time out from hell-raisers like "Kickstart My Heart" and "Dr. Feelgood" to release this slowie, which sounded like it could have been performed by any number of generic hard rock bands. Written by bassist Nikki Sixx and guitarist Mick Mars about drummer Tommy Lee's relationship with serial rock star dater Heather Locklear, the song gave the band the second and final top 10 hit of their career in the States when it reached number 8.




Number 36 "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" by Heart
Peak: number 1
Ugh, it just gets worse. I can understand Heart's disdain for this song - I can't stand it, either. But I didn't record it and see my bank balance increase when it sold a stack of copies around the world, so the band's refusal to play it live stinks. Written by the future Mr Shania Twain, Robert "Mutt" Lange, "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" is one of those rock ballads that tells a story - in this case, the intriguing/disturbing tale of a woman initiating a one-night stand in order to fall pregnant. Since this seemed to be the year of dreary ballads spending an interminable amount of time at number 1, I had to put up with "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" atop the chart for four weeks.




Number 18 "How Can We Be Lovers?" by Michael Bolton
Peak: number 3
Now, this is how you do it. 1) Enlist the biggest power ballad songwriters of the time, namely Michael, Diane Warren and Desmond Child. 2) Give the song a bit of oomph, with rocking production and an impassioned vocal by Mr Mullet himself. 3) Build in some whoh-whohs in the lead-up to the sing-along chorus. 4) Throw in a key change and some nah-nah-nahs at the end. Genius. 




Next week: Like rock? The Angels, Midnight Oil and Billy Idol have you covered. Meanwhile, my tastes were catered for with some new Italo house, hip-hop and a piano house anthem that made a big claim.


Back to: Apr 29, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 13, 1990