20 November 2020

Week commencing 20 November 1989

After a few quieter weeks with singles peaking outside the top 100, this week we have a whopping 12 new entries to take a look at.  Let's dive in!
 S'Express: This singer looks like she's being chased by... COVID-89?
Top 150 debuts:
Number 131 "Angel Dove" by Joe Camilleri
Peak: number 129
Peak date: 4 December 1989
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks
I must have heard this being played on FM radio at the time, when the target demographic seemed to be your parents - and music that teens, tweens and younger (or even 20-somethings, for that matter) enjoyed was all but ignored by the radio programmers of the day... but I have no recollection of this song, whatsoever.
Joe Camilleri racked up 12 top 100 singles under the guise of Jo Jo Zep, with or without The Falcons, between 1976 and 1983, with the biggest two of those being "Hit and Run" (number 12, September 1979) and "Taxi Mary" (number 11, November 1982).  More-recently, The Black Sorrows, fronted by Joe, scored a number 9 hit with "Chained to the Wheel" in May 1989.

"Angel Dove" was recorded to raise funds for Amnesty International - well, as many funds as can be raised with a number 129-peaking single (I'd love to know the actual figure).  From around the 2 minute mark in the video, there are profiles of several children who've become victims of war brutality.  Joe was back to releasing material as part of The Black Sorrows after this, and they will bubble under in 1993.

This track sadly (and I say that without the slightest hint of irony...) won't be the first charity single to completely bomb on the Aussie charts.

Number 137 "Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming" by Robert Palmer
Peak: number 117
Peak date: 4 December 1989
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks
Another song I never heard at the time is this one, by the perpetually-suited Mr. Palmer.   In Australia, "Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming" was the fifth and final single from Robert's 10-track Heavy Nova (number 2, February 1989) album, and the only one of the lot to miss the top 40.  The track was a cover version of Jermaine Jackson's 1984 single "Tell Me I'm Not Dreamin' (Too Good to Be True)", which also featured his more-famous brother, Michael Jackson.  Robert performed the track as a duet with B.J. Nelson, for whom he also produced her 1989 self-titled album.  Robert's version of "Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming" was only released as a commercial single in North America and Australia, and it peaked at number 60 in the US in August 1989.
Spoiler alert: in a Bubbling Down Under first, Robert Palmer had back-to-back debuts, and will be joining us again next week with a different track!

Number 143 "Mantra for a State of Mind" by S'Express
Peak: number 141
Peak date: 27 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 2 weeks
Weeks on chart: 5 weeks
S'Express, sometimes stylised as S-Express and S'Xpress, burst onto the chart in 1988 with "Theme from S-Express" (number 11, September 1988), and followed it up with "Superfly Guy" (number 35, October 1988) and "Hey Music Lover" (number 53, May 1989).  Released as the fourth and final single from their Original Soundtrack album (number 69, May 1989), the video for "Mantra for a State of Mind" featured some of the best use of vacuuming in a music video since Queen's "I Want to Break Free" in 1984, as well as some inflatable spiky balls that bear a loose resemblance to the COVID-19 virus.

I was an S'Express 'fan' of sorts (despite not actually buying any of their music until the album re-issue in the early 2010s), but I never heard "Mantra...", in full, at the time.  I say "in full", as that rather nifty vocal hook used during the intro and throughout was sampled/re-created as part of Rococo's "Italo House Mix" (even though this song is not really 'Italo'), which peaked at number 13 in February 1990.  I did, however, manage to finally hear/see the S'Express original when catching the video on rage a year after its release, randomly screened one week before the top 60 started in November or December 1990.  A lack of promotion locally therefore must have been a factor in the single's floppage down under. In contrast, "Mantra..." was a moderate hit in the UK, where it peaked at number 21 in October 1989, and also peaked at number 12 in Ireland a month prior.

S'Express will pay us another visit in 1992.

Number 144 "If Only I Could" by Sydney Youngblood
Peak: number 122 (original release); number 71 (1990 triple A-side re-issue)
Peak dates: 29 January 1990 (original release); 16 July 1990 (1990 triple A-side re-issue)
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks (original release); 17 weeks (original + 1990 re-issue chart runs combined)
Weeks on chart: 14 weeks (original release); 27 weeks (original + 1990 re-issue chart runs combined)

"If Only I Could" was American-based-in-Germany Sydney Youngblood's (real name: Sydney Ford) third single in Europe, following a cover version of "Ain't No Sunshine" (check out the music video with an annoying fly buzzing throughout!) and the rather Milli Vanilli-esque "Congratulations" in 1988.  In Australia, this was Sydney's debut single.  While it didn't have a lot of success locally, it registered in the top 10 in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Swizterland, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden.  Of course, you may recall that Canadian-but-claimed-by-Australia Wendy Matthews scored a number 41 'hit' with a cover version of this track in May 1993.
Sydney's version of "If Only I Could" would also get another go - of sorts - on the Australian chart in July 1990, when it was re-issued with subsequent singles "Sit and Wait" (number 59, April 1990) and "I'd Rather Go Blind" as a triple A-side release.  This 3-in-1 single peaked at number 71 in July 1990.  All three of these tracks appeared on Sydney's debut album, Feeling Free (number 59, March 1990).  On its initial release, "If Only I Could" took awhile to reach its peak of number 122, peaking towards the end of January 1990.  All four of its weeks in the top 150 were non-consecutive.

Sydney can still sing this song pretty well, going by this 2019 performance at Cologne Pride (it's the first song performed).

Sydney will next visit us in 1991.

Number 146 "All You Need Is a Friend" by Ice Tiger
Peak: number 146 
Peak date: 20 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
A mere six weeks after they first graced the top 150, Australian band Ice Tiger returned with their second and final top 150 singles chart 'hit'.  Like the previous single, "All I Need Is a Friend" performed much better on the Australian Music Report chart, where it peaked at number 98.  If you like rock ballads, this might be your thing.
Number 149 "Pet Sematary" by Ramones
Peak: number 149
Peak date: 20 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Despite having name (and image) recognition, Ramones (no The) surprisingly only ever scored one top 100 single down under - "Rock 'n' Roll High School" (number 41, September 1980).  "Pet Sematary" was written for the 1989 Stephen King film of the same name, and also appeared on the band's Brain Drain (number 130, November 1989) album.  The music video for this song - ironically in retrospect - shows the band being lowered into a grave towards the end.  Three of the four members of Ramones at this point died between 2001 and 2004, with only drummer Marcy Ramone surviving.  The band's original drummer, Tommy Ramone, who quit the group in 1978, died in 2014, meaning that all four of the founding members of Ramones are now deceased.  Yikes.

We shall see Ramones again in 1993.

Number 150 "Say No Go" De La Soul
Peak: number 143
Peak date: 12 February 1990
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
Weeks on chart: 8 weeks
The group's fourth single in their native US, "Say No Go" was De La Soul's first single to be released in Australia.  As I have previously mentioned, a few notable exceptions aside, rap generally didn't do well on the Australian singles chart during the 1980s.  De La Soul's breed of rap was a bit different, though - not that it mattered to the Australian record-buying public... yet.  Lifted from the album 3 Feet High and Rising (number 129, October 1989), "Say No Go" was a top 20 hit in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, and New Zealand.  On this side of the ditch, we weren't yet sold on the idea, and De La Soul would have to wait until 1991 to score their first (and really, only) decent-sized hit in Australia, with "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)" (number 4, July 1991).  "Say No Go" took its time to peak on the ARIA charts, reaching number 143 in February 1990.
On the state charts, "Say No Go" performed strongest in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory, where it reached number 111.

We will next see De La Soul in 1994.

Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 160 "Love Pains" by Hazell Dean
Peak: number 157
Peak date: 26 February 1990
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
Hazell Dean (real name Hazel, but she added the extra L after a numerologist told her it would bring her luck) is strongly associated with being part of the Stock Aitken Waterman stable, although her biggest hit in Australia, "Searchin' (I Gotta Find a Man)" (number 17, December 1984) was produced by Ian Anthony Stephens.  Hazell was, however, responsible for giving Stock Aitken Waterman their first top 10 hit in the UK, with "Whatever I Do (Whatever I Go)" in August 1984.  That single, in contrast, peaked at just number 74 in Australia in February 1985, and would become Hazell's final top 100 hit down under.

"Love Pains", a cover of a song originally recorded by Yvonne Elliman, was not produced by Stock Aitken Waterman, but instead by their 'B'-team, Phil Harding and Ian Curnow.  Coincidentally, Liza Minnelli also recorded a version of "Love Pains" for her Results (number 94, January 1990) album; and, although it was released as a single in Australia in April 1990, it failed to chart.

Hazell's version of "Love Pains" did not peak on the ARIA chart until late February 1990, and would be Hazell's final chart entry in Australia.

Since this will be the only occasion I have to write about Hazell in relation to the Australian charts, I may as well link a few of my favourite flop singles of hers, if you feel inclined to check them out - "They Say It's Gonna Rain" (a South African number 1 in 1985), "Stand Up" (UK number 79, September 1986), and "Always Doesn't Mean Forever" (UK number 91, June 1987).

Number 163 "Lethal Weapon" by Ice-T
Peak: number 161
Peak date: 4 December 1989
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks

"Lethal Weapon" was Ice-T's, real name Tracy Marrow, first single to chart in Australia, although he had earlier hit the ARIA albums chart with his second album Power (number 65, May 1989).
"Lethal Weapon" was the lead single from Ice-T's third studio album The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech... Just Watch What You Say! (number 81, February 1990).

Elsewhere, "Lethal Weapon" peaked at number 98 in the UK in September 1989, and number 22 in New Zealand (always ahead of the game it seems) in November 1989.

On the ARIA state charts, "Lethal Weapon" performed strongest in Queensland, where it reached number 135.

We will next see Ice-T in 1990.

Number 168 "Everybody's a Star" by Paul Simpson featuring Terri Jeffries
Peak: number 168
Peak date: 20 November 1989
Weeks on chart: 1 week
Unfortunately, I can't tell you much about this one, other than Paul scored a hit with Adeva earlier in 1989 in the UK - but I won't say too much about that, as it's a song I will be writing about in a couple of months' time.  I can tell you, however, that "Everybody's a Star" peaked at number 88 in the UK in October 1989.  Within Australia, this single performed strongest on the Western Australian state chart, where it peaked at number 125.  Paul will join us again, with another featured artist, in January 1990.

Number 170 "Let's Get It On" by James Freud
Peak: number 170
Peak date: 20 November 1989
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
Released as the third and final single from his Step into the Heat (number 26, June 1989) album, "Let's Get It On" peaked more than 100 places lower than the previous two singles, "Hurricane" (number 20, June 1989) and "One Fine Day" (number 68, July 1989).  To add insult to injury, James' Wikipedia article states that Step into the Heat was, up until that point, the most-expensive album to produce that Mushroom Records had released.  Oops.

James' next musical venture would be with Beatfish, whom we shall see in 1992.

Number 173 "Puss N' Boots/These Boots (Are Made for Walkin')" by Kon Kan
Peak: number 173 
Peak date: 20 November 1989
Weeks on chart: 1 week

We saw Kon Kan bubble WAY down under in August 1989, and here they are in the same region of the chart again, with the third single from their debut album Move to Move.

As you probably guessed from the song title (the slash does not indicate a double A-side), this track uses the chorus from Nancy Sinatra's classic "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", which topped the Australian chart in 1966.

"Puss N' Boots..." peaked at number 61 in Kon Kan's native Canada, and also reached number 58 in the US in September 1989, and number 11 in New Zealand in October 1989.

Kon Kan will join us once again in 1991.

Next week (27 November): five new top 150 debuts, and two bubbling WAY down under entries.  Among them, we have a top 30 hit from 1987 that curiously returns.  You can also follow my posts on instagram and facebook.
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