30 October 2020

Week commencing 30 October 1989

Although I can't identify a thread linking all nine of the songs I write about this week, I can tell you that four of them are by Australian artists, which is something.   Er, let's take a look at them.

Gipsy Kings: Gracias por la música
Top 150 debuts:
Number 117 "Careless" by Paul Kelly and The Messengers
Peak: number 116
Peak date: 20 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Weeks on chart: 10 weeks

Paul Kelly and The Messengers, who we formerly The Coloured Girls, were a favourite on FM radio playlists in Australia throughout the mid-late 80s.  So it comes as a bit of a surprise that - two notable hits aside, "Before Too Long" (number 15, September 1986) and "To Her Door" (number 14, December 1987) - this did not translate into much chart success.  In fact, Paul has only ever notched up 7 top 40 singles in Australia, including with The Dots, The Coloured Girls, and solo.  To add insult to injury, all but the aforementioned two and "Darling It Hurts" (number 25, November 1986) peaked between numbers 36 and 40.  Paul's tenure with The Messengers (who were really just The Coloured Girls re-branded with a more palatable name for the US market) produced precisely zero top 50 hits.  The biggest hit Paul scored with The Messengers was "Sweet Guy" (number 53, August 1989).  But did any of this really matter when your albums still did OK?  Probably not a whole lot.
"Careless" was the second single lifted from So Much Water So Close to Home (number 10, August 1989).  This release would start a trend of Paul Kelly singles peaking outside the top 100, although his 1988 single with The Coloured Girls, "Don't Stand So Close to the Window" also missed the top 100.  I am unable to give you a chart position for that one, as it is from the period where the ARIA chart stopped at number 100.  "Careless" fared better on the Australian Music Report singles chart, where it peaked at number 92.
"Careless" peaked within the top 100 on four of the five ARIA state charts, only falling short in Victoria/Tasmania.  The single performed strongest in Queensland, reaching number 75.

Paul will visit us on numerous occasions over the coming years - the next time being in August 1990.

Number 119 "Picture" by Janz
Peak: number 119
Peak date: 30 October 1989
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks
I really wasn't expecting to find a video (even though it's just the audio) for this track on YouTube... but I was pleasantly surprised to see that one exists!  I remember seeing the music video for "Crime" (number 70, May 1989) a few times on TV, but not this one.

Janz were an Australian band hailing from Melbourne, fronted by David Janz (real name David Fernandez).  Going by a comment posted on YouTube by a band member, the group disintegrated shortly after the release of this single.

Number 122 "Get Smart" by Bachelors from Prague
Peak: number 118
Peak date: 6 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks
The group name Bachelors from Prague sounds vaguely familiar to me, but I don't recall hearing any of their music before.  Their Wikipedia article mentions they promoted their music on Hey Hey It's Saturday - that's probably where I heard of/saw them.  An eight-piece Australian group hailing from Melbourne, the jazzy "Get Smart" was the lead single from the band's second album, Birth of the Fool (number 61, October 1989).  We shall see Bachelors from Prague again at the end of 1991.

Number 131 "Tokyo Nights" by Bee Gees
Peak: number 124
Peak date: 27 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Weeks on chart: 7 weeks
The fourth Australian (depending on your definition) act in a row this week, Bee Gees returned to the top 150 for the third time in 1989, with this track, the third single released from their One album (number 29, January 1990).  It follows earlier flop singles "Ordinary Lives" and "One".   This single performed strongest on the South Australia/Northern Territory state chart, where it peaked at number 84.  We will next see Bee Gees (no The) in 1991.

Number  135 "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Randy Crawford featuring Eric Clapton and David Sanborn
Peak: number 116
Peak date: 4 December 1989
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks
Weeks on chart: 11 weeks
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door", written and originally recorded by Bob Dylan in 1973, was covered by Randy Crawford, together with Eric Clapton and David Sanborn, for the soundtrack to the 1989 movie Lethal Weapon 2.  Unfortunately, that exact version does not appear to be on YouTube... so, instead, we'll make do with this live rendition by Randy below, to give you the general gist.  Randy (real name Veronica Crawford) placed three singles in the Australian top 100, with the biggest of those being "One Day I'll Fly Away" (number 29, April 1981).  This track also appeared on Randy's album Rich and Poor (number 107, December 1989).
On the state chats, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" performed strongest in Western Australia, where it reached number 61.

We'll next see Randy in 1992.

Number 148 "Sold Me Down the River" by The Alarm
Peak: number 148
Peak date: 30 October 1989
Weeks in top 150: 1 week 
Weeks on chart: 7 weeks
The Alarm were a Welsh group, formed in 1981.  In their native UK, the group notched up seven top 40 singles and five top 40 albums between 1983 and 1991.  In Australia, it was a different story, with their sole top 100 appearance being the album Eye of the Hurricane (number 91, March 1988).  After that, a solitary week in the top 150 with "Sold Me Down the River" was as good as it got.  "Sold Me Down the River" fared better in the band's homeland, where it peaked at number 43 for two weeks in September 1989.  The track was lifted from the album Change (number 155, December 1989).
This one performed much stronger in South Australia/Northern Territory than anywhere else, where it reached number 71 on the state chart.
The Alarm will join us again in May 1990.
Number 150 "Djobi, Djoba" by Gipsy Kings
Peak: number 131
Peak date: 27 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks
Gipsy Kings burst onto the Australian charts with "Bamboleo" (number 19, September 1989), and  "Bem Bem Maria" (number 71, September 1989) followed it up in quick succession.  Their third Australian single, "Djobi, Djoba" continued the act of diminishing chart returns, landing outside the top 100, but did it really matter when parent album Gipsy Kings (number 2, September 1989) went double platinum?  Probably not.  Striking while the iron was hot, the French group (although they sung in Spanish) released another album locally (Gipsy Kings was released in Europe in 1987) on 1 January 1990, Mosaique (number 23, January 1990).  My dad bought both albums on cassette, and had it not been for that exposure, I may not have heard "Djobi, Djoba" before, though I do remember a snippet of it being used in a TV commercial for the album.

Although Gipsy Kings will not make another top 150-peaking appearance in their own right, they will accompany an unlikely act, Bananarama (!), on a single that bubbles WAY down under in 1991.
Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 161 "Sugar Daddy" by Thompson Twins
Peak:  number 155 
Peak date: 6 November 1989
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks 

Between 1983 and 1986, Thompson Twins (no The) placed eight singles in the Australian top 100 singles chart, with the biggest of those being "Hold Me Now" (number 3, April 1984).  Their last hit in Australia was "King for a Day" (number 17, February 1986), and nothing from their 1987 album Close to the Bone, nor the album itself, charted (when the chart stopped at number 100).  Roll on to 1989, and "Sugar Daddy" was the lead single from their sixth studio album, Big Trash (number 135, October 1989).  I remember seeing "Sugar Daddy" probably twice on Countdown Revolution, but couldn't remember how it went.  The group were perhaps too closely-tied to the early-mid 1980s (big hair and a zany look, a la Cyndi Lauper) to sustain commercial success throughout the latter part of the decade, when music and fashion styles had changed.  Nevertheless, we shall see the group on two more occasions, with the next one being in February 1990.

Number 163 "If You Asked Me To" by Patti LaBelle
Peak: number 163
Peak date: 30 October 1989
Weeks on chart: 1 week
One thing I noticed when trawling through the liner notes (as you do) of my parents' copy of Céline Dion's 1996 album Falling into You is how many of the songs were cover versions.  And I'm not talking about covers of obscure flops or deep cut album tracks that Céline's people brought to her as they were good songs that needed a wider audience; I'm talking about covered-a-zillion-times tracks you never need to hear again, like "River Deep, Mountain High".  The kind of thing that might be tacked onto an album by a new and upcoming artist as Plan B to salvage the album's commercial success should the original tracks fail to connect with an audience.  Quite why Céline's people (because, let's face it, I doubt she was the one making these decisions) felt a need to include such beyond basic covers on a new album by an established artist with three hit albums under her belt was a choice.  But, I digress...

The reason for all of that Céline rambling above is that here we have the original version of a track that would be later recorded by Céline, for her 1992 self-titled album.  Written by beige songwriter extraodinaire Diane Warren, Céline's version peaked at number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in July 1992, and number 52 in Australia in September 1992.
Patti first came to notice on the Australian chart as part of the group LaBelle, who scored a number 13 hit (their only charting single) in 1975 with "Lady Marmalade".  As a solo artist, she scored two top 100 hits down under, with the biggest by far of those being her duet with Doobie Brothers singer Michael McDonald, "On My Own" (number 12, June 1986).  Patti's version of "If You Asked Me To" didn't fare nearly as well as Céline's, peaking at number 79 on the Hot 100 in October 1989.  Not even the inclusion of the song on the soundtrack to the 1989 Bond movie Licence to Kill helped.  This was Patti's final appearance on the Australian singles chart.
Finally, on the topic of Céline, we will see the original version of another song she later turned into a hit in a mere fortnight's time!
Next week (6 November): A quieter week, with three top 150 debuts and two bubbling WAY down under entries.  You can also follow my posts on instagram and facebook.
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  1. The stories behind the songs are always interesting, but the way you say it sometimes makes it even better:
    "beige songwriter extraordinaire Diane Warren"....LOL. Love it.

    1. Ha ha, glad someone appreciated that. I was trying to channel my inner sarcastic Smash Hits wannabe-writer, as I usually do when writing the caption for the picture representing the week's chart recap.

      I've noticed when looking at earlier posts I have made that I tried to remain more concise, neutral and 'professional' in comparison to more-recent posts.


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