Thursday, 30 June 2016

25 Years Ago This Week: June 30, 1991

It's the oldest trick in the book - giving a song already readily available on an album a sprucing up for single release. Occasionally, a single remix is totally unnecessary and can do more harm than good, but for every song that should've been left alone, there are plenty more that benefit from being given a makeover.

I was shocked how different the single version of "Shocked" was

Twenty-five years ago this week, an artist known for her three-and-a-half minute pop gems released a single that in its album form was nearly five minutes and had a lengthy minute-and-a-half instrumental introduction. The 7" version not only cut the track right back but, thanks to some nifty remix work, completely transformed the song.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending June 30, 1991

This week in 1991, a track that transformed three songs into one medley was still on top of the ARIA singles chart. "The Grease Megamix" spent its fourth week at number 1.


Off the chart
Number 99 "Smoke On The Water" by King Kurlee featuring Blackmore Jr
Peak: number 89
What hell is this? Well, as the title suggests, it's a rap track based around the classic guitar riff, which is played by Jürgen Blackmore, the son of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.

Number 97 "Hold It Up To The Mirror" by The Black Sorrows
Peak: number 97
The fourth and final track lifted from Harley & Rose sounds like a bit of an odd choice for a single, but it did manage to peak exactly where "Angel Street" did two singles earlier.

Number 96 "Quadrophonia" by Quadrophonia
Peak: number 73
In 1991, the UK chart was full of techno tracks with big keyboard riffs like this self-titled release by the Dutch/Belgian act (see also: T99, Altern8). For now, Australia wasn't interested.


Breaker
"Call It What You Want" by New Kids On The Block
Peak: number 57
Before we get to the top 50, here's a group who were making full use of producers and remixers David Cole and Robert Clivillés (aka C+C Music Factory) to turn their so-so album tracks into much improved single releases. While I wasn't that convinced by the ploy on previous single "Games", the remix of "Call It What You Want" (which had first appeared on Step By Step) managed to sound fresh and exciting, but still like something you'd expect from New Kids On The Block. Alas, NKOTB's star was seriously fading at this point and not even the fact that this was their best single since "Step By Step" (and featured a rap from Freedom Williams) was enough to give them another top 50 hit.




New entries
Number 13 "Shocked" by Kylie Minogue featuring DNA
Peak: number 7
When I first heard "Shocked" was going to be the fourth single from Rhythm Of Love, I was... surprised. At nearly five minutes long and with that aforementioned lengthy intro, it didn't sound like a typical Kylie single. Little did I know that Pete Waterman was going to commission a remix by in-demand production team DNA and that their version of "Shocked" would become a fitting conclusion to arguably the most flawless run of singles from a pop album ever. 
Not only did the DNA remix (which was so substantial that they received a featuring credit) make the most of the track, but it incorporated a rap (from the otherwise unknown Jazzi P), an addition that was becoming de rigueur for pop songs at that point. The whole thing was topped off by the obligatory sexy music video - a package so perfect that "Shocked" actually improved on the chart peak of "What Do I Have To Do" (which shouldn't have been remixed for its single release) to return Kylie to the top 10 for the ninth time.




Number 11 "Hot Chilli Woman" by Noiseworks
Peak: number 7
Also returning to the top 10 was local band Noiseworks, who finally found a single that really connected with the public after chart disappointments "Freedom" and "Miles And Miles", which should really have done better given they weren't yet available on an album. Then again, as I've often remarked, Noiseworks weren't really a band that had a lot of hit singles and tended to do better on the albums chart. Indeed, "Hot Chilli Woman" became only their third single (of 12 up until that point) to venture into the top half of the top 50. I can see the appeal of "Hot Chilli Woman" with its "yeah, yeah" hook, bluesy rock sound and Jon Stevens strutting around in the music video like a (sweaty) rock god, but it was one of my least favourite singles by the band. Still, it performed well enough for their third album, Love Versus Money, to finally be released - and top the albums chart.




Next week: a song with one of the most quotable raps of the year debuts, a new jack swing classic sexes up the chart and a quintessentially '80s band finds the '90s a little tougher going.


Back to: Jun 23, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 7, 1991


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: June 29, 1986

What would the '80s have been without one-hit wonders? Some of the decade's best songs - and some of the worst - came from acts that only visited the top 50 once. Thirty years ago this week, three of the new entries on the ARIA single chart were the only hits for the artists concerned.

Boys Don't Cry were responsible for the only "country" single I like

One of the songs was a novelty pop track that reached the top 10 (and is therefore included in my list of ultimate '80s one-hit wonders), another was a song by a married duo that just fell short of the top 10 and the third track was a solo hit by a singer who'd also reached the top 50 once as a member of a band.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending June 29, 1986

A man who not only had more than one hit but more than one number 1 single was on top of the chart this week in 1986. "Addicted To Love" by Robert Palmer dethroned Cliff Richard & The Young Ones for the first of a two-week run at number 1. 


Off the chart
Number 98 "Fourth Rendez-Vous" by Jean Michel Jarre
Peak: number 79
The fourth track on the new age instrumentalist's Rendez-Vous album - the others were called "First Rendez-Vous", "Second Rendez-Vous", etc. - was his final ARIA chart visit.


Breakers
"Drive, She Said" by Stan Ridgway
Peak: number 60
Back in April, we saw his former band return to the top 50 with "Far Side Of Crazy", but ex-Wall Of Voodoo vocalist Stan Ridgway didn't have as much luck with his solo offerings. "Drive, She Said" was the first - and biggest - of three singles to make the ARIA top 100 from Stan's debut album, The Big Heat




"Shelter Me" by Joe Cocker
Peak: number 57
A number 1 single is often followed by continued chart success, but in the wake of "Up Where We Belong", Joe Cocker couldn't quite manage to get back into the top 50 - with this lead single from the Cocker album faring no better than "Civilised Man" and "Edge Of A Dream". The good news for Joe was that Cocker contained a couple of singles that would change all that, including one that would become one of his signature tunes.




New entries
Number 50 "I Wanna Be A Cowboy" by Boys Don't Cry
Peak: number 4
Here's our first one-hit wonder - a tongue-in-cheek pop ditty about the appeals of life on the wild frontier. With its spoken vocal, synthpop sound and camp music video, it can only have come out during the '80s and, naturally, was a big hit - at least in Australia and the US. Despite being the sort of record you'd think would do quite well in the UK, where Boys Don't Cry were actually from, "I Wanna Be A Cowboy" surprisingly failed to chart there. With a novelty hit like this on their hands, the band found it impossible to follow its success with any more chart action and quickly faded into obscurity, only to surface a decade later to take legal action against this remix of Paula Cole's "Where Have Al The Cowboys Gone?".




Number 49 "Throw Your Arms Around Me" by Hunters & Collectors
Peak: number 49
With "Say Goodbye" having finally given Hunters & Collectors their first real hit single, it made sense for the band to have another crack at turning this song into a chart success. Initially released in 1984, "Throw Your Arms Around Me" had completely missed the top 100. Could this re-recorded version, which was included on the recently released Human Frailty album, do better? Well, it did make the top 50 - just - but its number 49 peak is still shockingly low when you consider how much of an Aussie classic its become. As we saw earlier this year, not even a 1991 remix improved the song's chart fortunes that much and it remains one of those tunes that has become massively popular without ever having sold very many copies.




Number 48 "Bop" by Dan Seals
Peak: number 41
As I write these posts, every so often a former top 50 entry crops up of which I have no memory. Here's a case in point, although it's not that surprising I've never heard "Bop" before since a) it wasn't that big a hit and b) it's a country song. Formerly one half of England Dan & John Ford Coley (biggest hit: "I'd Really Like To See You Tonight", number 25 in 1976), Dan Seals is also the brother of Jim Seals from Seals & Croft (biggest hit: "Summer Breeze", number 16 in 1973). The second of nine consecutive number 1s on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, "Bop" was the only one poppy enough to crossover to the mainstream Hot 100 there. Similarly, the cheery little tune gave Dan his only solo success in Australia (although a peak of number 41 doesn't really qualify him as a one-hit wonder).




Number 46 "Rain On The Scarecrow" by John Cougar Mellencamp
Peak: number 34
So far, only the less weighty singles ("Lonely Ol' Night", "R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.") from Scarecrow had found their way into the top 50, but that changed with the song that gave the album its title - and John Cougar Mellencamp's sociopolitical message couldn't have been clearer on "Rain On The Scarecrow". Written about the financial hardships faced by American farmers at the time, the track's more serious subject matter and sombre sound didn't deter the Australian public from sending it into the top 40. The issue was one of some importance to JCM, who appeared at the first five Farm Aid benefit concerts (and several more over the years since then).




Number 41 "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz
Peak: number 11
Back to the one-hit wonders with this freestyle classic from husband-and-wife team John Smith and Valerie Day. First released as their debut single in 1985, it was the remixed version of "I Can't Wait" that became a top 10 hit for Nu Shooz in the US and the UK, and just missed the ARIA top 10. Despite two more top 50 hits in America - "Point Of No Return" and "Should I Say Yes" - this was the only time the duo charted in Australia.




Number 39 "Miss This Tonight" by Matt Moffitt
Peak: number 27
When I talk about one-hit wonders, I'm usually referring to an act that reached the top 10 (or, in the case of Nu Shooz, practically did), but I'm going to bestow honorary 1HW status on Matt Moffitt in his guise as solo artist since "Miss This Tonight" really should have been a much bigger hit (and is one of my favourite songs from 1986). Already established as the vocalist of Matt Finish (who themselves only paid one visit to the top 50 with 1981's "Short Note"), Matt released his solo album, As Little As I Look, and "Miss This Tonight" as its lead single in 1986. Despite what I seem to recall as being high rotation airplay, "Miss This Tonight" stalled just inside the top 30 and, as we'll see in coming months, the follow-up missed the top 50.




Next week: another male solo artist with a should've-been-bigger song from 1986 returns with the follow-up, one of Australia's best synthpop bands moves on to their second album and the theory of relativity inspires a chart hit.


Back to: Jun 22, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 6, 1986


Thursday, 23 June 2016

25 Years Ago This Week: June 23, 1991

If we're to take a lesson away from the new entries on the ARIA chart this week in 1991 it's this: if you leave a successful band for a solo career, it's helpful if the band bore your name (or the pseudonym you use as a musician).

The Injectors ended up on the junk heap as Johnny went solo

Twenty-five years ago this week, two male artists debuted with their first singles away from their former groups - and the one with better name recognition was significantly more successful than the other.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending June 23, 1991

Speaking of significant success, "The Grease Megamix" was still at number 1 this week in 1991, with the medley well on its way to becoming a wedding reception and 21st birthday party staple.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "This Beat Is Hot" by B.G. The Prince Of Rap
Peak: number 93
There are a bunch of versions of this song, but the one I've linked to above, which sounds like a cross between Snap! and C+C Music Factory, is the one I recall from the time. 

Number 98 "Christchurch Bells" by Hothouse Flowers
Peak: number 98
The first of four songs in a row that spent a single week in the 90s, "Christchurch Bells" was the fourth of five singles from Home, which had topped the albums chart back in March.

Number 97 "RSVP" by Jason Donovan
Peak: number 97
A sign of just how far both he and producers Stock Aitken Waterman had fallen from favour, this brand new song was a chart disaster, despite it being Jason's best effort since "Too Many Broken Hearts".

Number 96 "The Other Side Of Summer" by Elvis Costello
Peak: number 96
Elvis channels The Beach Boys on this lead single from his Mighty Like A Rose album. It might sound bright and bouncy, but it contains some biting lyrics, including a swipe at "Imagine".

Number 95 "Unfinished Sympathy" by Massive Attack
Peak: number 95
Our final brief stayer is one of the most acclaimed singles of the '90s - and the breakthrough international hit for trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack. Shame on us for overlooking it.

Number 93 "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" by Dramarama
Peak: number 85
Just as the American indie rock band gained the support of a major label for the release of their 1991 album, Vinyl, this 1985 single made a belated appearance in the ARIA top 100.


Breaker
"Daddy's Little Girl" by Nikki D
Peak: number 59
In many ways, this almost-hit by Nichelle Strong (aka Nikki D) was basically just a remix of the DNA featuring Suzanne Vega version of "Tom's Diner" since it borrowed so heavily from that track. Besides Nikki's rap, other elements thrown into the mix were a sample of the "ba" from "Buffalo Girls" by Malcolm McLaren as well as elements of tracks by LL Cool J, Joe Tex and Whodini.




New Entries
Number 50 "Sarah (I Miss You)" by Richard Pleasance
Peak: number 49
I wonder what would've happened if Boom Crash Opera guitarist and key songwriter Richard Pleasance hadn't been diagnosed with tinnitus in 1990. Would he even have taken a break from the band? If not, this under-rated pop/rock tune might never have come into existence, so I guess there's a silver lining to Richard developing the ear-ringing condition. Unfortunately, "Sarah (I Miss You)", which sounded like a slightly more chilled version of Boom Crash Opera, didn't progress very far on the top 50, but the Galleon album is well worth checking out. Richard would appear on Boom Crash Opera's next release, which we'll see towards the end of the year, but would quit the band for good in 1992.




Number 46 "Trippin'" by Push Push
Peak: number 25
Time for some Kiwi rock now - and this debut single from the Auckland band had been a chart-topper in New Zealand for the long-haired five-piece. It performed more modestly in Australia and would be Push Push's only top 50 appearance locally (as opposed to their three top 10 hits back home) before they parted ways in 1993. I never really paid much attention to "Trippin'" at the time, but listening to it now, it seems to neatly combine elements of late '70s/early '80s pub rock with the harder sound we'd be hearing a lot more of as grunge took a grip on music.




Number 41 "Love Junk" by Johnny Diesel
Peak: number 19
Along with The Injectors, Johnny Diesel (aka Mark Lizotte) had enjoyed a pretty spectacular start to his chart career, with three top 10 hits (and a top 30 single) from the band's debut album, which peaked at number 2. They added to that in 1990 with number 11 soundtrack hit "Please Send Me Someone To Love" and then Johnny moved on (although given most people wouldn't have been able to name a single Injector, it didn't feel like that big a change). 
Nevertheless, "Love Junk" was his first solo hit - and his only single credited to Johnny Diesel, since he would soon drop back to just being called Diesel. Despite sporting a new image that I still don't quite know what to make of (those stripy trousers! that hat a member of Girlfriend would be proud of!), Johnny maintained his bluesy rock sound on "Love Junk" and duly landed back in the top 20. Better songs were to come from this period of his career, but the track certainly reconfirmed his position as one of Australia's favourite male artists.




Next week: Kylie goes hip-hop... kind of. Plus, one of my favourite Australian bands takes a musical turn for the worse.


Back to: Jun 16, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 30, 1991


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: June 22, 1986

So far, 1986 hadn't let the side down when it came to big soundtrack hits - with singles like "When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going", "Live To Tell" and "Absolute Beginners" all reaching the top 10 in the first half of the year. Thirty years ago this week, two songs from an essential '80s film debuted on the ARIA top 50 to add to that tally.

The film's ending might've been problematic, but there was no faulting its soundtrack

Although neither single reached the top 10, they were both decent-sized hits. In fact, one was the biggest hit the act behind it would ever enjoy in Australia, while the other was the best chart placement for the band in question in three years.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending June 22, 1986
The song with the best chart placement of all this week in 1986 was still "Living Doll" by Cliff Richard & The Young Ones. The good news: it was the comedy record's sixth and final week on top.


Off The Chart
Number 97 "Funny How Love Is" by Fine Young Cannibals
Peak: number 97
After three straight top 15 hits, it looked like FYC had peaked for the time being, with this final single from their self-titled album paying only a cursory visit to the top 100.

Number 64 "Experience" by Diana Ross
Peak: number 64
While "Chain Reaction" spent its 10th week inside the top 3, this ballad follow-up peaked where it debuted. "Experience" was written by all four Gibb brothers and featured future Knots Landing star Joseph Gian in the video as Ms Ross's love interest.


New Entries
Number 48 "If You Leave" by Orchestal Manoeuvres In The Dark
Peak: number 15
I'm not sure what type of idiotic test audience didn't like seeing Andie (Molly Ringwald) and Duckie (Jon Cryer) end up together in Pretty In Pink - as writer John Hughes had originally intended. But the silver lining of those morons' negative feedback, which prompted a rewrite and the film's ending we now know, is this single. 
In the original version of the movie, OMD's "Goddess Of Love" was used, but the band was approached to submit a new song more in keeping with the revamped conclusion. Twenty-four hours later, they delivered "If You Leave" - a perfect slice of '80s synthpop that sounds as great today as it did back when Duckie had to make do with Kristy Swanson. Despite becoming OMD's biggest hit in Australia and the US (where it reached number 4), "If You Leave" flopped in the UK, not even reaching the top 40.




Number 42 "Listen Like Thieves / Different World" by INXS
Peak: number 28
One spot under the Pretty In Pink soundtrack on this week's albums chart was Listen Like Thieves by INXS, which spent its 36th week on the top 50. And so to offer some incentive to fans to go out and buy the fourth single from an album they no doubt already owned, the band included their own soundtrack song as a double A-side to title track "Listen Like Thieves". 
"Different World" had featured in recent comedy smash Crocodile Dundee, but since the only album released from the film was the Peter Best score, this was the only way to buy the song. Who knows whether "Listen Like Thieves", which is an excellent song, was at all assisted by the presence of "Different World", a kind of average song, on the flip side - but I'm sure it did account for some sales. 
As it turns out, INXS also appeared on the Pretty In Pink soundtrack with another track that didn't feature on Listen Like Thieves"Do Wot You Do"




Number 39 "Who Made Who" by AC/DC
Peak: number 9
It'd been five years since AC/DC had last enjoyed a hit single - and it took a soundtrack release for the Australian rock band to score one again. "Who Made Who" was a newly recorded song taken from the album of the same name - a compilation of mostly previously released music by the band that was used as the soundtrack to Maximum Overdrive, a sci-fi film written and directed by Stephen King. The movie might have been a massive dud, but "Who Made Who" restored AC/DC to the top 10 for the first time since "Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution / Hells Bells" (which reached number 7 in 1981) and kicked off a new era of singles chart success for them.




Number 38 "There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 10
Here's a singer who'd had no trouble landing hit singles over the past couple of years, including the aforementioned number 1, "When The Going Gets Tough...", earlier in 1986. Billy Ocean followed up that mouthful of a title with another wordily named track, "There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)" - a slushy ballad of the "Suddenly" variety. As it turns out, "Suddenly" actually inspired "There'll Be Sad Songs...", with songwriter Barry Eastmond coming up with the latter's title after hearing how "Suddenly" had driven a friend to tears since it reminded her of an ex. This would be the last we'd hear from Billy on the top 50 until he landed another chart-topper in 1988.




Number 36 "Invisible Touch" by Genesis
Peak: number 3
In between Phil Collins' chart-hogging series of hits in 1984-85 and Mike Rutherford's more recent couple with Mike + The Mechanics, it was easy to forget that Genesis had never had a top 10 single in Australia and had only reached our top 20 once - with 1978's number 16 hit "Follow You Follow Me". In 1986, the British band released a single that matched the solo efforts of their individual members (well, except Tony Banks). The title track of their 13th album, "Invisible Touch" was the poppiest Genesis had ever sounded - and the song was massive in Australia and the US, where it topped the chart. Surprisingly, the single didn't do so well in the UK, peaking at number 15 - it would take the release of a live version of the track in 1992 for it to venture in the British top 10. 




Number 35 "Shellshock" by New Order
Peak: number 23
Next up is the week's other Pretty In Pink-related release - the second top 50 appearance by a band I saw live just a few weeks ago (although, disappointingly, they didn't include this track in their set list). New Order's first soundtrack single, "Shellshock" didn't appear on one of their studio albums - a trait it shared with eight of their previous 10 singles. Most of those singles had flown under the radar in Australia, but "Shellshock", which is based on "One More Shot" by C-Bank, finally gave the band another hit - even if it did fall 10 places short of 1983's "Blue Monday"




Number 33 "On My Own" by Patti LaBelle / Michael McDonald
Peak: number 12
Between them, they'd visited the Australian chart on numerous occasions - both as solo artists and as members of groups. But neither Patti LaBelle (who'd fronted the girl group that bore her surname) nor former Doobie Brothers vocalist Michael McDonald had ever experienced a top 10 single locally. Unlike Genesis, that didn't change with this big ballad duet - although it came close. "On My Own" was written by the hit-making team of Burt Bacharach and then-wife Carole Bayer Sager, and had been offered to Dionne Warwick first. Dionne recorded the song but didn't end up releasing it, although she was happy enough to sing it on Solid Gold when Patti and Michael's version hit number 1 in the US. Patti had also recorded a version on her own, but called on Michael when she felt it needed something extra. 




Next week: two of my favourite one-hit wonders from 1986 - and another one-hit wonder that did particularly well in Australia. Plus, the first chart appearance of an Australian classic.


Back to: Jun 15, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 29, 1986


Thursday, 16 June 2016

25 Years Ago This Week: June 16, 1991

After the deluge of new entries over the previous two weeks - 16 in total! - it was inevitable that the ARIA top 50 singles chart would slow down again. This week in 1991, only four songs made their debut (and in subsequent weeks, that would drop to three and then two).

It was indeed a case of all aboard for The KLF

Luckily, there were some big singles among those few debuts. Among the four new tracks arriving 25 years ago this week was the second top 10 hit for the duo who'd end 1991 as the best-selling singles act in the world.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending June 16, 1991

The best-selling single in Australia this week in 1991 was still "The Grease Megamix" by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, who were once again making themselves very comfortable at the top.


Off The Chart
Number 94 "Sailing On The Seven Seas" by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Peak: number 77
Last seen on the top 50 with 1988's "Dreaming", OMD - which at this point was just singer Andy McCluskey - returned with this lead single (and future WA top 5 hit) from Sugar Tax.


Single Of The Week
"This House" by Tracie Spencer
Peak: number 87
Like so many American pop and R&B singles in 1990-91, "This House" had been a big hit at home (number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100) but fell between numbers 51 and 100 in Australia as a result of exposure on syndicated radio show American Top 40. Not that you could tell by looking at her, but former Star Search contestant Tracie Spencer was only 14 when she released "This House", although she'd actually been a recording artist since the age of 11. The pop/dance track that sounded like it could've been produced by C+C Music Factory (as so much else was in 1991) was Tracie's most successful single.




New Entries
Number 49 "You Don't Have To Go Home Tonight" by The Triplets
Peak: number 45
Here's another song that charted highly in the US (and was therefore first heard locally via American Top 40), but didn't perform so well here. Like a cross between Wilson Phillips and Nelson, The Triplets was comprised of, well, triplets - sisters Diana, Sylvia and Vicky Villegas. Their music was just as middle of the road and over-produced as either of those other groups, and I'm actually surprised "You Don't Have To Go Home Tonight" didn't do better here since it's the sort of safe pop/rock track that FM radio loved in the '90s. But I can't say I'm disappointed about it.




Number 47 "Last Train To Trancentral" by The KLF
Peak: number 5
With "3 A.M. Eternal" firmly ensconced in the top 5, The KLF continued their assault on the ARIA chart with the just-as-exciting follow-up, "Last Train To Trancentral", the latest in their series of stadium house classics. Once again, the 1991 single version, subtitled "Live From The Lost Continent", was a reworking of the original Pure Trance version and was also quite different from the album mix, which featured much more rapping from Ricardo Da Force. Result: a second consecutive top 5 smash. Full of references to The KLF's bonkers mythological world and, obviously, to the group themselves, "Last Train To Trancentral" actually got its name from the duo's studio, Trancentral, which was in the basement of the terrace house where Jimmy Cauty lived. 




Number 39 "Higher Than Hope" by Daryl Braithwaite
Peak: number 28
Our next two new entries are under-performing follow-ups to massive hits by local artists. First up, it's the third single from Rise, which failed to get anywhere near as high on the chart as its chart-topping predecessor "The Horses". Possibly working against the rousing "Higher Than Hope" was the fact that people were finally starting to pick up the album, with Rise having just peaked at number 3 as part of a five-month stay inside the top 10 that resulted in it winding up as the year's highest-selling album (even if it never actually reached number 1). The song did, however, give Daryl his one and only appearance on the Billboard chart with "Higher Than Hope" reaching number 47 in the US. Fun fact: the man who likely inspired Daryl's comeback supplied backing vocals for "Higher Than Hope". Yep, that's John Farnham you can hear in the background.




Number 36 "Stop The World" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 33
Possibly also suffering from the fact that people were buying its parent album was this follow-up to number 4 hit "Better". Unlike Daryl's album, The Screaming Jets' debut offering, All For One, had been an instant smash, debuting at number 3 - and by this point had dropped no lower than number 13. The other reason "Stop The World" might not have done so well on the chart was that it didn't have the crossover appeal of "Better", which even a non-rock fan like me didn't hate. It was just as noisy and hard-edged, but didn't have as strong a hook. Still, it was early days for the band.




Next week: we're down to three new entries - and it's an all-Australasian trio, featuring singles by two male vocalists who were stepping away from the bands with whom they'd found fame.


Back to: Jun 9, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 23, 1991


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: June 15, 1986

Music videos really were inventive in the 1980s - and a key component of many clips that are now considered classics was the use of then-revolutionary animation techniques. With such innovative videos assured high rotation on music television, the accompanying singles were almost always massive hits.

A landmark music video helped "Sledgehammer" become Peter Gabriel's greatest success

Thirty years ago this week, a song that came with one of the most acclaimed and visually amazing music videos of all time made its debut on the ARIA singles chart. True to form, the single it supported shot into the top 3, easily becoming the singer's biggest hit.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending June 15, 1986

The only amazing thing about the song at number 1 this week in 1986 was that people were still buying "Living Doll" by Cliff Richard & The Young Ones, which took its tally to five weeks on top.


Off The Chart
Number 74 "Right And Wrong" by Joe Jackson
Peak: number 64
You wouldn't know it to listen to it, but this single was the first from a live album. Big World was recorded in front of an audience who were told to keep quiet until after each song was finished.

Number 83 "Stars" by Hear 'n' Aid
Peak: number 65
Recorded back in May 1985, this was the heavy metal fraternity's version of USA For Africa, with members of Dio, W.A.S.P., Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and more involved.

Number 89 "Seventy Times Seven" by David Meece
Peak: number 77
Here's the only ARIA top 100 appearance by Christian music performer David Meece. This single from Chronology was co-written with Gino Vannelli of "Wild Horses" fame.

Number 90 "Lonely Dreamer" by Itchy Feet
Peak: number 90
Before there was The Whitlams, there was Itchy Feet, a ska band fronted by Tim Freedman that'd competed on the Australian version of talent quest Star Search.

Number 97 "Language Is A Virus" by Laurie Anderson
Peak: number 93
"O Superman" had been a top 30 hit for the future Mrs Lou Reed, but this Nile Rodgers-produced single from Home Of The Brave wasn't infectious enough for Australian listeners.


New Entries
Number 47 "Train Of Thought" by a-ha
Peak: number 47
Here's a band who'd found fame thanks to the animated genius that was "Take On Me", and two singles later, a-ha were still combining live action footage with pencil-drawn animation to great effect. As it turns out, "Train Of Thought" actually features older animation that had served as the inspiration for the memorable "Take On Me" artwork. The "Train Of Thought" single also took something old and made it new, with the album version given a remix - but despite boasting quite a good chorus, it was still significantly less catchy than either of a-ha's big hits to date and barely made the top 50.




Number 41 "You Are Soul" by Doug Mulray & The Rude Band
Peak: number 34
He'd released a couple of Rude albums earlier in the decade, but this was Doug Mulray's first foray into the singles chart (under his own name, as opposed to the Tremble Ms record) - and naturally, it was also rude. So rude, that it was banned. Why the fuss? Say the name of the single quickly or listen to the clip below and it should all become clear. I'm not sure who the Triple M DJ is calling out (Prince, perhaps? Anyone who wasn't a traditionally minded Aussie bloke like Rex Mossop, John Laws, Richie Benaud and Ross Symonds, who all make cameos in the video?). Whoever was the target, enough people were amused to turn "You Are Soul" into a top 40 hit even without airplay.




Number 31 "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel
Peak: number 3
This song got plenty of airplay, especially from MTV in America, where it's the most played music video of all time - a record that's unlikely to be broken now the channel doesn't actually play music anymore. The high rotation was justified - the video for "Sledgehammer" was a revelation and is still pretty damn impressive. 
Featuring all sorts of animation and special effects, the clip was painstakingly filmed frame by frame over a period of 16 hours, much of which Peter spent laying under a sheet of glass and having a huge variety of things (including dancing chickens, bumper cars and, of course, sledgehammers being swung) happen around and to him.
"Sledgehammer" was the first single from Peter's fifth solo album, So (which was his first LP not to be self-titled), and its big brassy sound came courtesy of the Memphis Horns. It was also his most mainstream release to date, with his previous ARIA top 100 entries, like "Shock The Monkey" (number 25 in early 1983), having a much more experimental sound. By reaching number 3 in Australia and number 1 in the US, the single easily eclipsed everything he'd released before.
Then, there were the awards - notably, nine wins from 10 nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards (a record that still stands) and a BRIT Award. Go on, you know you want to watch it again... 




Number 20 "Greatest Love Of All" by Whitney Houston
Peak: number 1
As huge a single as "Sledgehammer" was, it wasn't the biggest of this week's new entries. That honour goes to the first chart-topper for Whitney Houston - although she wasn't the first person to record "Greatest Love Of All" (and it wasn't actually the first time she'd released it, either). The big ballad was originally recorded by George Benson and released (with a "The" at the start of the title) in 1977 as the theme to Muhammad Ali autobiopic The Greatest.
Almost a decade later, Whitney Houston recorded the track for her debut album and it was initially relegated to the B-side of early single "You Give Good Love" in both the US and Australia. But with her career going from strength to strength and more singles needed, "Greatest Love Of All" wound up as a hit in its own right, even in the US, where "You Give Good Love" had already reached number 3.
Although songs like "You Give Good Love" and "Saving All My Love For You" had demonstrated Whitney's ability to handle a ballad, "Greatest Love Of All" really allowed her to let rip and establish her diva credentials. Interestingly, despite releasing a series of just as emotive ballads over the next few years, Whitney wouldn't score another substantial hit with one in Australia until 1992.
If you feel like part of the song sounds familiar, you're not alone - Gordon Lightfoot believed a section of "Greatest Love Of All" bore too close a resemblance to his track "If You Could Read My Mind" and started legal proceedings against co-writer Michael Masser (who'd composed the music) in 1987 - but later dropped them. Tragically, the other writer of "Greatest Love Of All", Linda Creed (who'd penned the lyrics), passed away in April 1986, just as Whitney's version was becoming a hit.




Next week: two songs from the soundtrack of an essential '80s movie, plus the return of the band Peter Gabriel used to front with the song that "Sledgehammer" knocked off the US number 1 spot.


Back to: Jun 8, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 22, 1986


Thursday, 9 June 2016

25 Years Ago This Week: June 9, 1991

Having observed the success that cast members from Neighbours and Home And Away had enjoyed on the ARIA singles chart over the past few years, the producers of new soap on the box E Street wanted in on the pop action.

Melissa Tkautz in 1991: detonator not pictured

Twenty-five years ago this week, their dreams came true when the first star from the Network Ten series debuted on the top 50. It was one of a massive nine new entries this week in 1991, but the only one to go all the way to number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending June 9, 1991

At the top of the chart 25 years ago this week, "The Grease Megamix" made another big leap up the top 50 to dethrone Ratcat's "Don't Go Now". The soundtrack medley would remain at number 1 for five weeks, until the E Street star managed to oust it.


Off The Chart
Number 97 "Break On Through" by The Doors
Peak: number 97
Thanks to the Oliver Stone-directed biopic, the band's debut single from 1967 finally reached the Australian top 100. Their biggest hit remained "Love Her Madly" (number 4 in 1971).


Breaker
"I Believe" by EMF
Peak: number 54
Yes, "Unbelievable" had been the right song to kick off their career, but for my money - and I did buy the Schubert Dip album (and the later best of) - "I Believe" is the best thing EMF ever released. A frenetic synthrock track, it sounded not too dissimilar to all those piano house tracks I loved at the time. Unfortunately, despite reaching the UK top 10, it bombed in Australia and the US (where it was released third, following "Lies"). 




New Entries
Number 50 "Right Here, Right Now" by Jesus Jones
Peak: number 35
The first of our nine top 50 debuts came from a band that shared quite a few things in common with EMF. Hailing from the neighbouring county in Britain, Jesus Jones also blended dance and rock elements, and found themselves with a massive US hit in the form of "Right Here, Right Now". The band couldn't quite reach number 1 like EMF, having to settle for second place behind Bryan Adams (who didn't?), but they did manage a second US top 5 entry with "Real Real Real". The band's reaction to world events in the previous couple of years, "Right Here, Right Now" actually dated back to September 1990, when it was first released in the UK.




Number 49 "Always On The Run" by Lenny Kravitz
Peak: number 43
He'd poked his head into the top 40 with the lead single and title track from his debut album, and Lenny Kravitz made a similarly understated appearance with the first release from second album Mama Said. Co-written with Slash from Guns n' Roses, "Always On The Run" wasn't the song to turn Lenny into a chart star in Australia, but with continued rave reviews for his music, it was only a matter of time until that changed. Five weeks (and the release of a much more commercial single), to be precise.




Number 46 "Shiny Happy People" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 19
Rock singles didn't get much more commercial than this - which is exactly why R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe has gone on the record as hating this follow-up to "Losing My Religion". Featuring guest vocals from Kate Pierson, and sounding not unlike "Roam" by her band, The B-52's, "Shiny Happy People" has been shunned by the band, despite it giving them their first UK top 10 hit and following "Losing My Religion" into the US top 10. 
Also not a million miles removed from previous hit "Stand", "Shiny Happy People" is one of those songs in an act's back catalogue that can go one of two ways - either, they own the song and its popular appeal (see also: "I Should Be So Lucky", "Just Can't Enough"), or they pretend it never existed (see also: "Genie In A Bottle", "Creep", nearly every reality show winner's debut single). R.E.M. have mostly gone with the latter approach, not playing "Shiny..." live and leaving it off their best of album, In Time - although they did perform a version of it on Sesame Street




Number 45 "1000 Miles Away" by Hoodoo Gurus
Peak: number 37
After the retro stylings of "Miss Freelove '69", Hoodoo Gurus returned to the present with as straightforward an early '90s rock song as you could hope for. Starting off sounding like something you might hear from Paul Kelly, "1000 Miles Away" kicks in at around the 1:20 mark and becomes the type of rousing tune you'd expect from the Hoodoos. Nice, but kind of forgettable as well.




Number 44 "Touch Me (All Night Long)" by Cathy Dennis
Peak: number 16
With "Just Another Dream" having finally become a hit for her in Australia and the US (but not yet in the UK), Cathy Dennis struck while the iron was hot and took her slightly amended version of the song originally performed by Wish featuring Fonda Rae in 1984 onto charts around the world (including the UK). Titled "All Night Long (Touch Me)" on Cathy's album, Move To This, the track was remixed and re-titled for single release, reaching number 2 in the US and number 5 in the UK - her best ever chart performances in either country. In Australia, she had to settle for a peak two places lower than "Just Another Dream".




Number 43 "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)" by De La Soul
Peak: number 4
They'd released classic hip-hop tracks "Me Myself And I", "Say No Go" and "Eye Know" from debut album 3 Feet High And Rising, but trust Australia to wait for the novelty song before climbing on board the De La Soul train. OK, calling "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)" a novelty record might be a bit harsh, but we are talking about a song with an answering machine message as its main hook. That hook was based on the chorus of Curiosity Killed The Cat's "Name And Number", while a bunch of other samples (most notably a riff from "Help Is On Its Way" by The Whatnauts) were used in "Ring Ring Ring..." by the trio, who killed off their previous hippie image on second album De La Soul Is Dead




Number 41 "Read My Lips" by Melissa
Peak: number 1
Seventeen-year-old Melissa Tkautz had only been on E Street since September 1990, but she'd already amassed enough of a following to be propelled by the show's producers into a spin-off music career. Melissa was signed to Westside Records, which was run by E Street creator Forrest Redlich, and her character, Nikki Spencer, sang on air in a nice bit of synergy that hadn't been utilised by other soap star-turned-singers. 
Naturally, all those machinations would have been for nothing if Melissa's debut single had been a dud - and "Read My Lips" was pop gold. As brazen and sexually aggressive as Samantha Fox's "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)" (which we saw in yesterday's 30 Years Ago... post), "Read My Lips" even boasted its own lyrical masterpiece to rival Sam's "like a tramp in the night..." line. Yep, I'm referring to Melissa's unforgettable rhyming couplet: "if you want to wait till later/hands off my detonator". Of course, there was a Fast Forward send-up
"Read My Lips" was produced by Leon Berger, who'd been half of mid-'80s synthpop act Koo De Tah, and featured then-unknowns Simon Baker (Denny) and Tom Williams flaunting their buff bods in the music video. It also wound up as 1991's sixth-biggest single in Australia - but could Melissa sustain this early success? Time would tell.




Number 32 "Chocolate Cake" by Crowded House
Peak: number 20
Here's a band who were still waiting for an Australian number 1 single - something they'd never achieve, with "Better Be Home Soon" (number 2 in 1988) from the Temple Of Low Men album proving untoppable. Last time we saw Crowded House on the top 100 was in 1990, when they milked Temple... for one last single, "I Feel Possessed", despite the fact that "Into Temptation" and "Sister Madly" had both missed the top 50. 
Suffice it to say, we were long overdue for some new music from the band. Unfortunately, that came in the form of "Chocolate Cake", which inexplicably ended up as the lead single from third album Woodface instead of the song originally earmarked: "It's Only Natural"
A comment on American excess - which was a bit like biting the hand that fed - "Chocolate Cake" was, like most of Woodface, written by Neil and Tim Finn. The brotherly collaboration, which had been intended to form the basis of a joint album by the two, resulted in Tim instead joining Crowded House, who recorded the songs. Thankfully, there were better songs to come from Woodface




Number 29 "Love Rears Its Ugly Head" by Living Colour
Peak: number 10
Our final new entry for the week was the breakthrough hit for the multi-genre band Living Colour, who'd just missed the top 50 with debut single "Cult Of Personality" in 1989. A much mellower track (albeit with an angsty undertone), "Love Rears Its Ugly Head" combined rock, funk and blues elements in an irresistible concoction, resulting in the band reaching the ARIA top 10. Their cause was aided somewhat by the more radio-friendly Soulpower remix, which is the version I prefer and may explain why none of Living Colour's other songs (which didn't come with as commercial a revamp) set foot inside the top 50.




Next week: three follow-ups of big hit singles - but only one comes closing to matching its predecessor. Plus, 1991's version of Wilson Phillips hit the top 50.


Back to: Jun 2, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 16, 1991