Wednesday, 27 July 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: July 27, 1986

There's a lot to be said about going out while you're still on top. Just ask The Beatles. Or Take That (the first time around). Yes, I just compared The Beatles to Take That. Point is, rather than dragging things out and releasing decreasingly popular music, some acts know when to call it a day.

Wham!'s "final" single almost gave them a second Australian number 1

Acts like the duo behind the highest new entry on the ARIA singles chart 30 years ago this week. Wham!'s split had been announced some months earlier and anticipation for their final single was huge. As we'll see, the song didn't quite get to the very top of the chart (and it wasn't actually their final Australian chart entry), but it was a last triumph for a pop act that had dominated the singles chart in recent years.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending July 27, 1986

The song that would keep Wham! from landing a final number 1 moved back up to the top of the ARIA chart this week in 1986. After a week at number 2 thanks to Whitney Houston, Samantha Fox returned to the top with "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)".


Off The Chart
Number 95 "In The Shape Of A Heart" by Jackson Browne
Peak: number 95
Another top 50 miss from Jackson Browne's Live In The Balance, this track deals with the singer's relationship with his first wife and would be his final ARIA top 100 appearance.

Number 93 "Walking On Water" by Marguerite Ayshford
Peak: number 83
I can't find this one on YouTube, but Marguerite Ayshford is from Newcastle, NSW and this track is apparently a ballad.

Number 89 "Hyperactive" by Robert Palmer
Peak: number 72
Surprisingly, this follow-up to chart-topper "Addicted To Love" was a big old flop - and it's not actually that bad. Clearly, Robert needed those dancing models, who'd be back for his next single.

Number 85 "Vienna Calling" by Falco
Peak: number 75
Another song failing to live up to its predecessor, despite being quite a good track, is this follow-up to "Rock Me Amadeus". This would be the Austrian singer's final top 100 single.

Number 81 "If Somebody Loves You" by Venetians
Peak: number 67
Exactly three years after their debut single, Venetians had one major hit to their name: "So Much For Love" from earlier in 1986. This "Current Stand"-style ballad didn't give them a second.


Breaker
"Fireworks" by Choirboys
Peak: number 60
Here's another band we saw in this week's 1983 recap with their debut single, "Never Gonna Die". Unlike Venetians, though, Choirboys still hadn't landed a major hit by mid-1986. In fact, the number 30 peak for "Never Gonna Die" had been the Sydney rock band's only top 100 placing up until this point. The good news for Choirboys was that they finally managed a second charting single with new track "Fireworks", which would end up on their second album, Big Bad Noise, when it came out nearly two years later in 1988. By then, they'd finally have landed their long-awaited big hit. There's a link to a Countdown performance of "Fireworks" in the song title above and an audio clip below.




New Entries
Number 50 "God Thank You Woman" by Culture Club
Peak: number 48
As it would turn out, Wham! wasn't the only big pop act visiting the top 50 for the final time this week in 1986. But, the demise of Culture Club wasn't planned and came as a result of two main factors: a) the turmoil surrounding the band due to Boy George's drug habit and b) their songs just not being as good. 
Let's deal with point b) first. "God Thank You Woman" was the second single from From Luxury To Heartache and, while a pleasant enough tune, was nowhere near as good as Culture Club's big hits - or even their most recent top 10 single, "Move Away". Not even its fun music video, which featured footage of Hollywood sex symbols like Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren superimposed alongside the band's performance, could help disguise the fact that the once-great chart dominators were flagging. 
In terms of point a), news of Boy George's arrest for drug possession and the death of keyboard player Michael Rudetsky from a heroin overdose in the singer's apartment cast a dark shadow over the release of "God Thank You Woman". Those events also compounded the existing tensions within the band, who would split within a year. 
More than a decade later, Culture Club made a triumphant return to the UK top 10 with "I Just Wanna Be Loved", but that single missed the mark in Australia, peaking at number 84, leaving "God Thank You Woman" as their final ARIA top 50 appearance. Still, the band's recent Australian tour proved their local fanbase is as loyal as ever and recall a time when Culture Club were an unstoppable pop force, scoring five top 5 hits between 1982-84. Their chart career might not have ended so well, but that legacy remains.




Number 29 "Mr Big" by Icehouse
Peak: number 18
Like Culture Club, Icehouse ended their ARIA top 50 career with a whimper rather than a bang but have enjoyed a resurgence of interest in recent years thanks to some successful Australian tours and a decision to properly market their back catalogue. 1986 saw the band formerly known as Flowers enjoying top 20 success with "Baby, You're So Strange" and this just as upbeat follow-up - both taken from the Measure For Measure album. Despite such chart peaks being an improvement on what they'd managed in the previous couple of years, this period of Icehouse's career pales in comparison to their early string of hits and the massive success that was around the corner in 1987.




Number 10 "The Edge Of Heaven" by Wham!
Peak: number 2
With the exception of "Club Tropicana" (which surprisingly missed the top 50 locally) and the disavowed "Club Fantastic Megamix" (which I'm not sure was released here but, if it was, didn't make the top 100), every single Wham! had released up until this point had reached the Australian top 10. Together with "Careless Whisper" and "A Different Corner", that amounted to 10 top 10 hits in just over three years. 
With George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley having already announced their split and the release of "The Edge Of Heaven" as their final single, only a fool would've bet against the track becoming the 11th top 10 hit for the duo (either together or separately). And so it did, racing straight in to the ARIA chart at number 10. 
Despite its lyrics being about a relationship that wasn't what you'd call healthy, the upbeat nature of "The Edge Of Heaven" and the snippets of Wham's previous clips sprinkled throughout the black and white performance video gave the proceedings a celebratory feel. Combined with George and Andrew's monster farewell gig at Wembley Arena at the end of June, it was as well conceived and executed a breakup as anyone could ever hope for.
The footnote to all of this is that "The Edge Of Heaven" wasn't actually Wham!'s final appearance on the ARIA top 100. Like in the US, the duo's Australian record company turned the British B-side of "The Edge Of Heaven" into a separate single locally - and we'll see how that performed towards the end of the year.




Next week: the debut of one of the most internationally successful Australasian bands of the late '80s and early '90s, plus the return of a chart-topping group we hadn't seen in the top 50 since early 1983.


Back to: Jul 20, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 3, 1986


3 comments:

  1. I don't recall hearing 'Hyperactive' before, but it's a good song. It doesn't seem to have a video, oddly.

    I didn't know 'Vienna Calling' until someone sent me it on a disc 10 years ago. Another one that should have been a hit.

    I wasn't aware of 'God Thank You Woman' either, until catching it on a Countdown repeat a few years ago. It's definitely not one of their best.

    I didn't know 'Mr. Big' either at the time (where was I in 1986?).

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  2. We Austrians are very proud of "our" recording artist FALCO. "Vienna Calling" is a catchy song with an advert for tourism in Vienna. By the way I am looking for old ARIA-charts with FALCO (1983 & 1986). Who is able to help me out of my misery? Thx
    cheers
    Harry

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    Replies
    1. You can find all the charts for 1983 and 1986 for Jan to Aug on this blog already, and I'll be posting the rest of the weeks until the end of 2016.

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