Wednesday, 30 November 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: November 30, 1986

When a band takes a break, those that actually end up making a comeback are invariably changed when they return. That was never more the case than 30 years ago this week when one of Australia's favourite British groups was welcomed back onto the ARIA top 50.

A lot of things might've changed about Duran Duran, but they still had pop's best hair

Not only had they lost two of their members, but they didn't sound like the same band. How would Australia react to their comeback?

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending November 30, 1986

An artist who knew a thing or two about making a successful comeback was still on top of the singles chart this week in 1986. "You're The Voice" by John Farnham spent a fourth week at number 1.


Off The Chart
Number 97 "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel
Peak: number 97
This second single from So was surprisingly never a hit in Australia. In the US, it was successful twice over - once in 1986 and again in 1989 after it appeared in teen film Say Anything... in the much-imitated boombox held aloft scene.


Breaker
"Where Did Your Heart Go?" by Wham!
Peak: number 54
Back in July, we saw their final hit, but Wham! had one last single before they went their separate ways for good - and it became only the second release by the pop duo not to reach the ARIA top 10. Only a B-side to "The Edge Of Heaven" in the UK, "Where Did Your Heart Go?" was given a full release - complete with artful black and white music video - in Australia and a number of other countries. The song was a cover version of a 1981 single by Was (Not Was), who were still mostly unknown at this point but would rectify that with 1987's "Walk The Dinosaur". "Where Did Your Heart Go?" was a rather understated ending to Wham!'s chart career, but by peaking at number 54, it didn't suffer the ignominy of becoming their lowest charting single ever. That dubious honour remained with "Club Tropicana".




New Entries
Number 50 "I Wanna Wake Up With You" by Boris Gardiner
Peak: number 1
In my 25 Years Ago... posts this year, we've seen two singles that took more than 20 weeks to reach the number 1 position after their debut on the top 100. But before Tingles and "Rush" took their time, this cheesy ballad by one-hit wonder reggae singer Boris Gardiner held the record for the longest climb to the top of the ARIA chart. Venturing into the top 50 in its fourth week, "I Wanna Wake Up With You" would take another 15 weeks to finally reach its peak, eclipsing the 17-week record jointly held by "A Song Of Joy" by Miguel Rios (1970), "Jump In My Car" by Ted Mulry Gang (1976) and Belle Epoque's "Black Is Black" (1978). I was never a fan of "I Wanna Wake Up With You", with its karaoke backing track-style production and twee sentimentality, but clearly enough grandmothers made the effort to go out and buy it for it to go on to become the 15th biggest hit of 1987. It could've been worse - in the UK, it was 1986's third highest seller.




Number 42 "No Lies" by Noiseworks
Peak: number 31
This is more like it: the debut single by Sydney band Noiseworks, which felt like a bigger hit at the time but, like many future just-as-excellent releases by the band, didn't manage to make it into the top 30. An instantly catchy pop/rock track with room-filling production from Mark Opitz (INXS, Divinyls), "No Lies" may have ended up as a minor hit, but it did at least finally give singer Jon Stevens his first top 50 appearance in Australia - something he hadn't been able to do as a solo artist after relocating from New Zealand or with an earlier incarnation of Noiseworks called The Change. 




Number 39 "Notorious" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 17
With the exception of the release of soundtrack single "A View To A Kill", the five members of Duran Duran had spent the previous two years working on a number of different side projects - from Arcadia and The Power Station to solo efforts like John Taylor's "I Do What I Do" and "Take It Easy" by Andy Taylor
In 1986, only three of the five regrouped for the band's fourth album, Notorious. Well, Andy came back briefly under duress but was quickly released from recording sessions when it was obvious he and the other three could not longer work together. Roger Taylor, meanwhile, bowed out of the music industry for the time being due to exhaustion. 
That left Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor to carry on as Duran Duran, and they chose Nile Rodgers to produce Notorious. The former Chic guitarist may have previously co-produced "The Wild Boys", but the album's funk-influenced title track and lead single sounded like nothing the band had released before.
"Notorious" returned Duran Duran to the top 10 in the UK and the US, but in Australia, where the band had been especially popular in the first half of the decade, it became their first lead single from an album to miss the top 10. Unfortunately, the chart slip was a sign of things to come...




Number 35 "Let's Kiss" by Models
Peak: number 27
When we last saw Models on the chart - with previous single "Evolution" - I remarked that it wasn't a strong enough single to have progressed beyond its number 21 peak. In fact, it probably only did that well because it was the first single from an upcoming album. "Let's Kiss" was a much better single, but even so it lacked that certain something that'd made "Out Of Mind Out Of Sight" (which it most closely resembles) such a classic. Yes, it had that same big, punchy Australian pop/rock sound, once again courtesy of producer Mark Opitz (along with co-producer Julian Mendelsohn), but it probably peaked at about the right spot on the chart.




Number 32 "Thorn In My Side" by Eurythmics
Peak: number 12
Next up, a band that could seemingly not put a foot wrong. The third single from Revenge (in Australia, anyway), "Thorn In My Side" only just missed out on matching the top 10 success of the album's two previous hits, "When Tomorrow Comes" and "Missionary Man". Despite its relatively cheery feel, "Thorn In My Side" is a pretty angry song, allegedly written about Annie Lennox's short-lived marriage to Radha Raman.




Next week: a girl group follow up their chart-topping remake of a previous number 1 and an Australian synthpop band repeat the trick of taking a former number 1 tune back to the top.


Back to: Nov 23, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 7, 1986


Sunday, 27 November 2016

This Week In 1983: November 27, 1983

As well as being a great 12 months for music, 1983 was an important year for developments in computers. Apple's Lisa desktop, Microsoft Windows, Belkin, the movie Wargames and the MIDI all emerged that year.

Dear Enemy logged on to the ARIA chart this week in 1983

With computers at such an exciting stage in their history, songs about them were also still relatively cutting edge - even though it had been four years since the release of "Computer Games" by early adopters Mi-Sex. This week in 1983, another band from our part of the world jumped on the tech bandwagon. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 27, 1983

On top of the ARIA singles chart this week in 1983, "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club spent a fifth week at number 1. But, in seven days' time, it'd make way for a revolving door of chart-toppers in coming weeks.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Come Live With Me" by Heaven 17
Peak: number 100
Just slipping in to the top 100 is this less memorable follow-up to the excellent "Temptation". Both "Come Live With Me" and B-side "Let's All Make A Bomb" were remixed from their respective albums.


New Entries
Number 46 "Staring At The Embers / Through The Years" by Tim Finn
Peak: number 34
The only explanation for this third solo single by the Split Enz member not doing any better can only be that Tim Finn's LP Escapade had been a fixture in the top half of the albums chart since July. As with "Made My Day", albums sales seem to have prevented Tim from scoring another big hit - and that was despite the fact he hedged his bets on this release by combining the upbeat Asian-influenced synthpop of "Staring At The Embers" with the more straightforward pop/rock of "Through The Years". Naturally, I prefer the former, but either track could've stood on its own and still deserved a better reception than this. This would be Tim's final top 100 appearance on his own for the time being, but new Split Enz music was imminent...




Number 41 "Computer One" by Dear Enemy
Peak: number 15
Big things were expected for Melbourne band Dear Enemy, who were signed to an American label and recorded their debut album, Ransom Note, in the US with Peter McIan, who'd produced Men At Work's Business As Usual and Cargo, and Nuovo Mondo for Mondo Rock. With its synthpop sound and lyrics in which the singer asks an all-knowing computer why his girlfriend left him, "Computer One" was right on trend and duly became a top 20 hit in Australia. Was it the beginning of a bright future for the band? Time would tell...




Number 39 "Come Back And Stay" by Paul Young
Peak: number 18
His career was finally off and running following the success of his third single, "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)", and Paul Young struck gold again with another cover version of a little known song. "Come Back And Stay" had been originally recorded by its writer, Jack Lee, on his album, Jack Lee's Greatest Hits Vol. 1, which also included his version of "Hangin' On The Telephone" (a tune first recorded by his band The Nerves and later covered by Blondie). 
Like Paul's remake of the Marvin Gaye track, it's unlikely many people would ever have heard of Jack's song - and so "Come Back And Stay" was effectively a brand new tune. In the UK, it gave Paul back-to-back top 5 hits, while in Australia, it became his second top 20 single. It was also his first proper hit in the US, reaching number 22 (compared to number 70 for "Wherever I..."). I suspect the video below was made for the American market - and it was during its filming that Paul met his future wife, model Stacey Smith. You can check out the song's earlier clip here.




Next week: another new single from Tim Finn - this time with Split Enz. Plus, the song that stops a male performer from being a one-hit wonder and a tune about having the snip.


Back to: Nov 20, 1983 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 4, 1983


Thursday, 24 November 2016

25 Years Ago This Week: November 24, 1991

In the 1980s, talking about sex in music had often resulted in songs and/or music videos being banned for being too risqué. To get away with it, artists had been forced to be more subtle or metaphorical in their approach.

Salt 'n' Pepa talked and Australia listened in 1991

Times had changed by 1991 when a single that literally talked about sex became one of the biggest hits of summer '91/'92. The track got to number 1 without anyone really batting an eyelid. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending November 24, 1991

A song about being sexy was at the top of the ARIA singles chart this week in 1991. "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred spent its third week at number 1.


Single Of The Week
"Why Believe In You" by Texas
Peak: number 73
It was second album time for Texas, but not even that fact could help this lead single from Mothers Heaven return them to the top 50. It wasn't just in Australia that the Scottish band were struggling - "Why Believe In You" peaked at a miserable number 66 in the UK. 




New Entries
Number 48 "Come To Me" by Diesel
Peak: number 8
A couple of weeks ago, we saw him pop up on guitar on Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham's duet, "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby", and here Johnny Diesel was again with his own retro soul track - although in this case, "Come To Me" was an original song and not a remake. It was also the first single credited to just Diesel, which did a neat job of differentiating the smooth track from his rockier releases with The Injectors as well as his previous solo single, "Love Junk" (although that'd pop up on his debut solo album anyway). With its more accessible sound, "Come To Me" took Diesel back into the top 10 for the first time since "Cry In Shame" and achieved his highest chart placing to date.




Number 39 "No Son Of Mine" by Genesis
Peak: number 29
Since Genesis's last album, Phil Collins had continued his solo success with the ...But Seriously album, while Mike Rutherford had squeeze in two albums with his side-project, Mike + The Mechanics. The trio (which also included Tony Banks) reconvened for another album together and kicked things off with this pretty intense lead single. Written about a family dealing with domestic violence, "No Son Of Mine" was more "Another Day In Paradise" than "Invisible Touch" and, as a result, a bit of a downer. Yes, it's an important issue that should be given attention, but the endless verses and angry chorus made for a pretty heavy song - something that might explain its lacklustre chart performance.




Number 34 "Ain't No Sunshine" by Rockmelons featuring Deni Hines
Peak: number 5
Now this was genius. What's a funk/pop group to do when it's been away from the top 50 for three-and-a-half years? How about remaking a song that was last a hit 20 years ago and bringing it right up to date? And what about recruiting as guest vocalist the daughter of Australian music royalty? Rockmelons, who'd never been able to break into the top 20 despite coming close twice, did just that and enjoyed their first top 5 hit. 
The song they covered was "Ain't No Sunshine", originally recorded by Bill Withers (number 17 in 1971) and also included by Michael Jackson on his debut solo album, Got To Be There, in 1972. It was a track many people were familiar with, but enough time had past for a new version to be more than welcome. Belting out the soul classic was Deni Hines, daughter of '70s pop sensation Marcia, who made her musical debut with the single. This was just the beginning for the combination of Rockmelons and Deni...




Number 28 "I'll Be Back" by Arnee And The Terminaters
Peak: number 20
From the sublime to... this horror. A top 5 hit in the UK, where it originated, "I'll Be Back" capitalised on the success of Terminator 2: Judgment Day earlier in the year, incorporating some of the best known catchphrases of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator character into a basic techno track. Presumably to avoid legal issues, the artist name was deliberately misspelt, although the credit blame really belongs to Richard Easter, the sidekick of British DJ Steve Wright, who apparently threw the song together in two hours. You can't half tell. As a novelty record, "I'll Be Back" is wholly unfunny and as a dance track, it's an abomination. A Top Of The Pops "performance" is below, while if you really want to, you can listen to a proper version of the song here.




Number 13 "Let's Talk About Sex" by Salt 'n' Pepa
Peak: number 1
With a title like this, it was always going to be massive, but interestingly, "Let's Talk About Sex" had been sitting on Salt 'n' Pepa's Blacks' Magic album for a year-and-a-half before it was issued as a single. The song, which tackled the issues of censorship and safe sex, was released in a variety of versions. In Australia, the main mix was the bouncy True Confessions edit by Ben Liebrand you can hear in the video below, while America went with an alternate version that stuck closer to the album mix. There was also a version that more specifcally focussed HIV/AIDS
Whatever the mix people preferred, "Let's Talk About Sex" became the biggest hit of Salt 'n' Pepa's career in Australia, surpassing the success of breakthrough single "Push It" and topping the chart for four weeks. In the US, since airplay was counted towards the Billboard Hot 100 (and because America hadn't become that liberal), the result was a number 13 peak for "Let's Talk About Sex", a position they'd better with a couple of their other massive '90s singles.




Next week: speaking of sex, Australia's favourite pop princess raunches up her image even more. Plus, a number 1 homegrown club hit, a politically motivated one-hit wonder and a new version of an old flop single by John Farnham all debut.


Back to: Nov 17, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 1, 1991


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: November 23, 1986

As great as it is when artists move with the times and develop their sound and/or image, it's sometimes nice to be able to rely on those acts that find their niche and stick with it.

I'm guessing Billy Idol got to be a lover pretty much whenever he wanted

Thirty years ago this week, a male singer returned to the ARIA top 50 with a song that he could have released at any stage in his career. The sound of the track, its subject matter, his look in the music video... it was everything we'd come to expect from him.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending November 23, 1986

Something many people didn't expect John Farnham to ever do again was to top the singles chart, but "You're The Voice" continued to prove the doubters wrong, remaining at number 1 for a third week this week in 1986.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "Nobody Knows" by Nik Kershaw
Peak: number 73
Things hadn't been going well for Nik Kershaw on the ARIA chart for over a year, and this return-to-form single, released along with third album Radio Musicola, would end up as his final top 100 showing.

Number 73 "A Girl Like You" by Geisha
Peak: number 62
Now a three-piece, Geisha only released this single on 12" and didn't include it on upcoming album Midnight To Dawn. I feel like it was catchy enough that it might've done better with a full release.


New Entries
Number 49 "I've Been Losing You" by a-ha
Peak: number 21
The last couple of singles from a-ha's debut album, Hunting High And Low, hadn't made that much impact on the ARIA chart, but the Norwegian trio experienced a lift with this lead single from second album Scoundrel Days. With its raw and rockier sound, "I've Been Losing You" showed a different side of the band than the synthpop of "Take On Me" and "The Sun Always Shines On TV", but the sweet melody of the chorus was undeniably a-ha. "I've Been Losing You" peaked two places lower than "The Sun Always...", but it would be the last time a-ha would get as high in Australia, coming closest with their 1987 Bond theme.




Number 47 "Don't Waste My Time" by The Angels
Peak: number 40
Having recapped over a dozen singles by The Angels so far while writing this blog, I've kind of run out of things to say about the Australian rock band - often it's been a variation of "another single by The Angels that didn't do that well on the chart", which is also the case here. It's curious the band chose to release "Don't Waste My Time" as the second single from Howling when they had their cover of "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" up their sleeve. Perhaps they believed that remake would be massive regardless and felt there was no rush to issue it as a single. Were they right? We'll see early next year when I start my recaps of the first half of 1987.




Number 39 "Amanda" by Boston
Peak: number 25
Now this is how you make a comeback. Boston had actually begun work on their third album in 1980 but songwriter/guitarist Tom Scholz's desire to make the record at his own pace, which led to legal troubles with label Epic Records, resulted in an eight-year gap between albums. 
Third Stage finally surfaced - on a new label - in 1986, and lead single "Amanda" became the band's biggest hit in the US, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks. The power ballad, which had been written early in the process, had actually leaked in 1984, with radio stations in a handful of markets playing a demo of the track... until they were issued with a cease and desist letter when Epic caught wind of what was going on. 
Two years later, the official release became the hit it was always destined to be, despite not being accompanied by a music video, which was standard for Boston singles. In Australia, "Amanda" wasn't as big as Boston's debut single, "More Than A Feeling" (number 11 in early 1977), and even peaked one place lower than the identically named single by Craig McLachlan & Check 1-2.




Number 38 "Hungry Town" by Big Pig
Peak: number 18
And now for something completely different - literally, since new Australian group Big Pig were unlike most other bands in that they didn't have any guitarists. Instead, they had multiple drummers, a harmonica player and aprons. Formed by singer/drummer Oleh Witer, Big Pig also boasted Sherine Abeyratne, the twin sister of I'm Talking's Zan, on vocals. Debut single "Hungry Town" - not "Hungry Now", as printed on this chart - sounded like nothing else being produced in Australia, but its stark, percussion-heavy sound was reminiscent of recent hits "Missionary Man" and "What's The Colour Of Money"




Number 37 "Don't Get Me Wrong" by The Pretenders
Peak: number 8
A lot can happen in two years. In the case of The Pretenders, there had been major line-up changes and a solo chart-topping single for singer Chrissie Hynde (as guest vocalist on UB40's "I Got You Babe"). Once again settled as a four-piece, The Pretenders released their fourth album, Get Close, with Chrissie's status as sole remaining original member and main decision maker (about who to fire and hire) solidified by her being the only person pictured on the album's cover. 
Despite the drama going on behind the scenes, lead single "Don't Get Me Wrong" was a jaunty, jangly number, with a fun music video inspired by British spy series The Avengers (not to be confused with the superhero franchise). The song became The Pretenders' second top 10 hit in Australia - the first since breakthrough single "Brass In Pocket" reached number 2 in 1980.




Number 24 "To Be A Lover" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 3
It'd also been a couple of years since we'd seen Billy Idol on the ARIA chart - his last top 50 appearance had been with "Flesh For Fantasy" (number 28 in November 1984). In Billy's case, not much had changed in two years. His snarling, sneering, leather-clad, platinum blond rock god image was intact, and musically, he continued to work with producer Keith Forsey and guitarist/songwriter Steve Stevens. 
The first taste of his third album, Whiplash Smile, was a remake of a song that'd been recorded twice previously - once as a soul ballad by co-writer William Bell and once as a reggae track by George Faith. Billy took "To Be A Lover" in a completely different direction again, turning it into a sexed up, gospel-tinged dance/rock anthem and putting in a frankly quite astonishing, floor-humping performance in the song's music video. The result: the biggest hit of his career, beating the peak of 1984's "Rebel Yell" by four spots.




Next week: when five became three - one of the biggest bands of the early '80s returns as a trio. Plus, a future chart-topper that took its time working its way up to number 1.


Back to: Nov 16, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 30, 1986


Sunday, 20 November 2016

This Week In 1983: November 20, 1983

Every summer needs a party anthem. A song like "Love Shack", "Funky Town" and "Ice Ice Baby" that dominates the number 1 spot, and provides the soundtrack to long evenings and beach holidays. This week in 1983, the party anthem for the summer of '83/'84 debuted on the ARIA singles chart.

Super-tight pants? Tick. Gaudy shirt? Tick. Grinning back-up dancers? Tick. Lionel Richie's party was good to go 

The singer behind the tune had good reason to party. His solo career had got off to a good start, and soon went into overdrive as his new single and album both went to number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 20, 1983

This week in 1983, another act enjoyed both a number 1 single and album - in this case, simultaneously. "Karma Chameleon" and Colour By Numbers remained on top of their respective charts for a fourth week.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "Where They Belong" by Moving Pictures
Peak: number 80
Moving Pictures really couldn't win at this point - even epic ballad "Where They Belong", which featured Nicole Kidman in the video, couldn't recapture chart glory for the Sydney band.

Number 98 "Human Nature" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 64
His duet with Paul McCartney moved into the top 10 this week, but the latest single from Thriller became the first to miss the top 50 for Michael Jackson. "Human Nature" would be memorably sampled by SWV in 1993.

Number 95 "Human Touch" by Rick Springfield
Peak: number 92
Rick Springfield would continue to have decent-sized hits in America for some time, but this second single from Living In Oz (a number 18 in the US) kicked off a string of flops locally.

Number 93 "Funny Situation" by The Frames
Peak: number 84
The second top 100 appearance by The Frames - the first, "Please Listen To Me", reached number 90 in 1981. It would seem the Perth band are still active... even if they haven't put their songs on YouTube.

Number 89 "High Wire" by Men At Work
Peak: number 89
As "Down Under" fell back out of the top 20, the latest single from Cargo made a fleeting visit to the top 100. For some reason, "High Wire" was only released on 12" in Australia.

Number 88 "Danger" by Sharon O'Neill
Peak: number 78
"Maxine" had provided Sharon O'Neill with her highest ever chart position in Australia, but she had no such luck with this third single from Foreign Affairs. A nice enough tune, but kind of forgettable.

Number 74 "Wings Of A Dove" by Madness
Peak: number 72
Yet another in their run of UK top 10 hits (13 since 1979), this stand-along single featuring a steel drum band and gospel choir didn't impress Madness's Australian fans.


New Entries
Number 50 "Suddenly Last Summer" by The Motels
Peak: number 34
I've always thought The Motels should've been more successful than they were - and this lead single from fourth album Little Robbers is another song that deserved better, not even managing to place inside the top 30 like 1982's "Only The Lonely" and "Take The L". Could it have been a problem of timing? The Motels' singer, Martha Davis, was inspired by the end of summer to write "Suddenly Last Summer" and Australia was just head into its warmer months. In the US, where it had been released as summer turned to autumn, the song reached number 9, equalling the peak of "Only The Lonely" to become the band's equal-highest charting song there. In Australia, that honour went to breakthrough hit "Total Control" (number 7 in 1980).




Number 48 "Mama" by Genesis
Peak: number 45
Here's another song that was the highest-charting for the band in question in their home country. By reaching number 4 in the UK, this lead single from Genesis's self-titled album out-performed all other releases before and after it. "Mama" didn't do so well in Australia, but the track about a young man's infatuation with an older prostitute did return the band to the top 50 for the first time since 1981's "Abacab". Even though the trio had continued to shift away from their prog rock roots on Genesis, old habits died hard and the album version of "Mama" ran to almost seven minutes. It was cut down to just over five for the video and radio edit.




Number 47 "Swear" by Tim Scott
Peak: number 44
These days, Tim Scott goes by his full name, Tim Scott McConnell, or musical alter ego Ledfoot, and seems to have distanced himself from this new wave-ish track. "Swear", which reminds me of the type of thing Oingo Boingo would've released, appeared on Tim's debut album of the same name. A year later, Sheena Easton recorded a cover of the song for her A Private Heaven album, and it became a minor hit in the US following "Strut" and "Sugar Walls".




Number 42 "I Can Hear Your Heartbeat" by Chris Rea
Peak: number 42
Our third minor hit to peak in the 40s comes from an artist who didn't actually have that much chart success in Australia, but whose songs I'm disproportionately familiar with for some reason. "I Can Hear Your Heartbeat" was the only single by Chris Rea to make the top 50 in between his two big hits, 1979's "Diamonds" and 1987's "Let's Dance". Like "Josephine" and "On The Beach", it's also one of those songs you know as soon as you hear it (although you'd probably never remember it otherwise).




Number 36 "All Night Long (All Night)" by Lionel Richie
Peak: number 1
If you were grading Lionel Richie's post-Commodores solo chart career, you'd probably give it a B. Solid work (a number 1 duet with Diana Ross on "Endless Love", a top 10 single with "Truly", and a top 20 single with "You Are" and album with Lionel Richie) but room for improvement. 
Lionel rose to the challenge admirably. "All Night Long (All Night)", the lead single from his second album, spent six weeks at number 1. The accompanying album, Can't Slow Down, not only topped the chart for three weeks, but ended 1984 as the year's biggest album and ended up spending almost two years in the top 50.
Chart stats aside, "All Night Long (All Night)" saw Lionel develop as an artist as well, with the singer moving away from his trademark syrupy love songs to release a feel-good party tune. Apparently, his record company were against the calypso-flavoured track, but Lionel insisted the song had "the rhythm the whole world dances to on vacation". Well, those who holiday in the Caribbean anyway. 
Adding to the international feel of the song, Lionel added in some African-style phrases he'd invented. Yep, "tambo liteh sette mo-jah" is meaningless. He had attempted to include some authentic African lines but ran out of time, especially when it was explained to him just how many different dialects there are. In the end, Lionel was onto something and "All Night Long (All Night)" became a global smash, paving the way for an A+ few years for him.




Next week: a song I never knew was a cover version, plus the latest technology-themed hit reaches the top 50.


Back to: Nov 13, 1983 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 27, 1983


Thursday, 17 November 2016

25 Years Ago This Week: November 17, 1991

By November 1991, it'd been more than four years since Michael Jackson had released his last album. Of course, given the fact he lifted practically every track from Bad as a single up until August 1989, it didn't seem quite so long.

Michael dressed in black and white for the occasion

Twenty-five years ago this week, the first single from his eighth studio album crashed into the ARIA singles top 5. Unlike his previous two lead singles, it wasn't a ballad duet without a music video - far from it. Also unlike "The Girl Is Mine" and "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", the new hit went all the way to number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending November 17, 1991

At number 1 this week in 1991, Right Said Fred weren't too sexy for the top spot as "I'm Too Sexy" stayed at the chart summit for a second week.


Off The Chart
Number 100 "Love Of A Lifetime" by FireHouse
Peak: number 97
Obligatory power ballad (with key change!) time for the group behind top 50 near miss "Don't Treat Me Bad". Naturally, "Love Of A Lifetime" was a US top 5 smash.

Number 97 "Faith In Love" by Among Thieves
Peak: number 72
I don't recall hearing this rousing debut single from the Melbourne band previously known as Anzac Day at the time. Perhaps the lack of exposure explains its lowly chart peak. 

Number 91 "Baby, I Believe In You" by New Kids On The Block
Peak: number 91
Speaking of lowly chart peaks, this was the lowest yet for NKOTB. Originally on Step By Step, a slightly remixed version of "Baby, I Believe In You" was the third single from No More Games.

Number 88 "Caribbean Blue" by Enya
Peak: number 74
Both her breakthrough album, Watermark, and its hit single, "Orinoco Flow", had reached the top 10. While 1991's Shepherd Moons also got to number 8, lead single "Caribbean Blue" let the side down.


Breaker
"Some Of That Love" by The Angels
Peak: number 53
1990's Beyond Salvation had been a massive release for The Angels - it topped the albums chart and contained three singles that peaked inside the top 25. Even fifth single "Bleeding With The Times" had managed to drag itself up to number 54 earlier in 1991. Surprisingly, "Some Of That Love", which was the lead single from follow-up Red Back Fever, didn't even crack the top 50, peaking just one place higher than "Bleeding...". Sure, The Angels were never the most consistent of singles chart performers, but even Red Back Fever got no higher than number 14 - the worst performance of any of the band's studio albums since their 1978 debut, Face To Face.




New Entries
Number 50 "Painless" by Baby Animals
Peak: number 49
Another Australian rock band having trouble selling singles were Perth's Baby Animals, who could console themselves with the fact that their recently released debut album had enjoyed a healthy nine-week run in the top 20 and this week, sat at number 21. A change of pace after the two raucous singles that had come before, "Painless" was probably never going to be massive, but it did enough to keep interest in Baby Animals alive into the new year when the album would race back up the chart and the band would achieve their biggest hit with the fourth single.




Number 47 "Heavy Fuel" by Dire Straits
Peak: number 26
I can't help but think this second single from On Every Street only did as well as it did because Dire Straits just happened to be in Australia for the entire month of November (and a few dates either side) as part of their mammoth 1991-92 world tour. "Heavy Fuel" would end up being the band's final hit single (although a live EP would reach the top 50 in 1993).




Number 45 "Someone's Singing New York New York" by Ghostwriters
Peak: number 29
It's incredibly common for band members to go off and release a solo record between albums, but it's less often the case that they'll go and start a new band as a side project. Ghostwriters is one of those instances - a group formed by Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst and Richard Grossman, the bassist for Hoodoo Gurus, along with other temporary members and session musicians. The band's first single, the Midnight Oil-ish "Someone's Singing New York New York", is the only Ghostwriters song to have reached the top 50, and I must admit I wasn't actually aware the band had issued three other albums after their self-titled debut at reasonably regular intervals between 1991 and 2007.




Number 40 "Kingston Town" by UB40
Peak: number 17
Spurred on by the success of a re-released "Here I Am (Come And Take Me)", UB40's Australian record company next turned to Labour Of Love II's third single, "Kingston Town", which had missed the top 100 altogether first time around. Upon reissue, the cover of the reggae song originally recorded by Lord Creator (real name: Kentrick Patrick), made it all the way to the top 20. In 2007, the owners of the copyright in "Kingston Town" (i.e. not UB40) sued the writers of Paris Hilton's "Stars Are Blind", alleging her debut single plagiarised their song. I haven't been able to track down an outcome for the case.




Number 5 "Black Or White" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 1
It didn't happen often, so when Michael Jackson released a new album, it was a major event. In November 1991, the occasion was heralded by the debut of the music video for "Black Or White", the lead single from Dangerous, in a prime-time special. Directed by John Landis, who'd helmed the "Thriller" clip, the video for "Black Or White" contained everything but the kitchen sink - face morphing! Macaulay Culkin and George Wendt! native tribesmen! Asian dancers! Russian dancers! lions! The Simpsons! a bizarre post-song sequence in which Michael turned into a panther then back into himself and went on a violent dancing spree! Controversy erupted over those last few minutes (which you can watch by clicking the link in the song title above), which quickly got edited out when the song was played on TV.
Music video aside, "Black Or White" was also a great song, which suggested Michael hadn't lost his touch and augured well for Dangerous. As it would turn out, the pure pop of "Black Or White" wasn't indicative of the album as a whole, which ventured into new jack swing territory courtesy of album co-producer Teddy Riley. That would become apparent when the album was released at the end of the month, but for now, Michael more or less picked up where he left off - just with producer Bill Bottrell filling in for Quincy Jones, who'd parted musical ways with Michael following Bad. Lyrically, "Black Or White" was about racial tolerance, and so strongly did Michael feel about the message of the song that he apparently asked "Weird" Al Yankovic not to parody this track, after having approved of the comedian's songs "Eat It" and "Fat".




Next week: a rap trio get a saucy conversation started, a novelty single pays tribute to an iconic film character and the daughter of Australian (via America) music royalty becomes the new guest vocalist for a local pop act.


Back to: Nov 10, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 24, 1991


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

30 Years Ago This Week: November 16, 1986

I've talked before about songs that become inextricably linked to the movie scenes they play during. If ever there was a case of song and scene going hand in hand then it was the soundtrack single which was the highest entry on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1986.

Kim Basinger wasn't even wearing a hat...

It was the perfect pairing of song lyric and performance with a key scene in one of the year's most talked about movies. As a result, the combination became an iconic moment in film history.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending November 16, 1986 

An iconic moment in Australian music history was continuing to play out at the top of the ARIA chart as "You're The Voice" by John Farnham spent a second week at number 1 as "You Can Call Me Al" and "Don't Leave Me This Way" vied for the runner-up spot (and would continue to do so for the next couple of weeks).


Off The Chart
Number 96 "Something About You" by Niki Phillips
Peak: number 65
This was the only chart visit for the singer/songwriter who also hosted a Brisbane-only music show called Saturday Juke Box. He's still working as a musician, but now just goes by Nik.

Number 95 "Hold On Tight" by Samantha Fox
Peak: number 81
The model-turned-singer traded in the dance/pop sound of her first two hits for a rockabilly third single - and as a result, swapped the top 20 for the bottom 20 of the chart. 

Number 92 "All I Want" by Howard Jones
Peak: number 83
After a flawless run of singles, including six ARIA top 40 hits, Howard Jones bombed out with the first proper release from One To One. It was also his lowest-charting and final UK top 40 hit.

Number 85 "Cross The Border" by Icehouse
Peak: number 65
The Australian campaign for Measure For Measure ended with an unfortunately low placing for this under-rated single. We'd next hear from Icehouse in mid-1987, when there'd be nothing under-rated about the reception they received.


Breaker
"When I Think Of You" by Janet Jackson
Peak: number 53
What was Australia thinking? After awarding Michael's little sister with two big hits, we went and abandoned her as she released her best song to date. "When I Think Of You" moved away from the attitude-ridden styling of "What Have You Done For Me Lately" and "Nasty" for something more poppy and playful. The decision to mix things up worked in the US, where "When I Think Of You" became her first number 1 hit (making the Jacksons the first siblings to each top the chart there with solo releases). The song once again came with a music video choreographed by Paula Abdul, which was shot to look like one long continuous take (although it was actually made up of five shorter segments).




New Entries
Number 48 "Take Me Home Tonight" by Eddie Money
Peak: number 46
It'd been eight years since American singer Eddie Money had seen the inside of the Australian top 40, having reached number 19 with debut single "Baby Hold On" in 1978. His chart fortunes had also started to flag back home, so his record company convinced him to sing this track, even though he wasn't completely sold on it. What got him over the line was the lyric referencing "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes
Having originally asked The Motels vocalist Martha Davis to sing that line, Eddie eventually persuaded Ronnie Spector herself to re-record the hook from her former group's best known song. A top 5 hit in the US, "Take Me Home Tonight" was not only the biggest single of Eddie's career but encouraged a long retired Ronnie (who also featured in the music video) to give singing another shot.




Number 43 "You're Gonna Get Hurt" by Jenny Morris
Peak: number 24
Since I started this blog by covering the ARIA charts from mid-1987 and on, we've already seen Jenny Morris's first big hit, her first top 10 and her highest-charting single as part of my 25 Years Ago... posts. But it was this week in 1986 that her solo chart career finally got off and running. Jenny's first solo releases had been in 1982, but neither of her two singles ("Puberty Blues" and "Little By Little") from that year reached the top 50. 
With her stint in QED behind her, Jenny resumed her solo career in late 1985, but was back where she'd started when "Get Some Humour" undeservedly flopped at the beginning of 1986. It was clearly time to call in the big guns. Written and produced by INXS's Andrew Farriss, and featuring Andrew, his band-mates Garry Gary Beers and Jon Farriss, and Ian Moss playing on it, "You're Gonna Get Hurt" gave Jenny the hit that had eluded her for so long.




Number 42 "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" by Glass Tiger
Peak: number 9
Next up, a song that reached number 1 in their native Canada earlier in the year (with a different video) and was kept from the top spot in America by "When I Think Of You". The debut single by Glass Tiger, "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" was written by the band with Bryan Adams' songwriting partner, Jim Vallance, who also produced the track and even got Bryan to sing backing vocals. It was Glass Tiger's only hit locally, but back at home they had a number of hit singles (including their other US top 10, "Someday") up until 1993 when they started what would turn out to be a decade-long hiatus.




Number 38 "Brand New Lover" by Dead Or Alive
Peak: number 21
Since they'd rocketed into the top 5 with "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)", Dead Or Alive had gradually slipped back down the chart with each successive release, narrowly missing the top 40 with "My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor)". They reversed the downward trend with this first taste of third album Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know - at least in Australia and the US. 
In the UK, "Brand New Lover" charted lower than the four singles lifted from previous album Youthquake. Like Youthquake, Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know saw Dead Or Alive continue their working relationship with producers Stock Aitken Waterman - an experience that by all accounts was fraught. As a result, the late Pete Burns forever after referred to SAW as "the sausage factory". For now, though, the musical partnership continued to pay off.




Number 23 "You Can Leave Your Hat On" by Joe Cocker
Peak: number 23
Decades before there was Fifty Shades Of Grey, there was 9½ Weeks, the erotic film starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke when he was still hot. Joe Cocker's raunchy cover of a song written and originally recorded by Randy Newman was used in the iconic striptease scene in the movie and flew into the top 50 this week in 1986 as the highest new entry. Surprisingly, it never got any higher. It may not have cracked the top 20, but "You Can Leave Your Hat On" made enough of an impact to forever after be the go-to song for strip scenes in movies, on TV and, no doubt, by enthusiastic couples at home. Just over a decade later, another remake by Tom Jones was included on the soundtrack to blokes-turned-strippers movie The Full Monty.




Next week: the debut of an apron-loving Australian group, plus the return of an all-sneering, all-strutting bleach blond rock star and a British band whose singer was last seen on the chart duetting with a reggae outfit.


Back to: Nov 9, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 23, 1986