This week, each of the debuting singles is from a veteran artist. All but one of the new entries is from an artist who first charted in Australia prior to 1980! The 'newest' act of the lot is a band that formed in 1976, and scored their first charting single in Australia in 1982. Let's take a look at them.
Grace Jones: Killer kiss and a killer stare.
Number 121 "Love on Top of Love (Killer Kiss)" by Grace Jones
Peak: number 121
Peak date: 27 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 9 weeks
Weeks on chart: 9 weeks
Between 1981 and 1986, Grace Jones placed four singles in the top 100 Australian singles chart. Only two of those dented the top 40: "Nipple to the Bottle" (number 33, February 1983) and "Slave to the Rhythm" (number 20, January 1986). "Pull Up to the Bumper", probably her best-known song, was surprisingly not one of them, peaking at number 67 in September 1981. Grace had greater success on the Australian albums chart, where she scored eight charting albums between 1978 and 1986, with the biggest of those being the compilation Island Life (number 9, March 1986). Grace last nudged the top 100 down under when "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect for You)" appeared on the Kent Music Report list of 'singles receiving significant sales reports beyond the top 100' for four non-consecutive weeks between December 1986 and February 1987, reaching the top of this 'bubbling under' list for one week in January 1987.
Roll on to 1989, and Grace would again 'bubble under' with this track, the lead single from her Bulletproof Heart album (number 108, January 1990). Despite Grace's relative lack of chart success in Australia, the only other national chart I am able to verify this single charted on is in the Netherlands, where it peaked at number 47 in November 1989.
The opening lines of this song always remind me of the Christmas carol "O Come All Ye Faithful". Does anyone else hear that?
While Grace would release the occasional one-off single in the interim years, Bulletproof Heart was her last studio album until 2008's Hurricane, which remains her last album to date.
Grace will 'grace' us with her presence again in 1994.
Number 127 "The Last Worthless Evening" by Don Henley
Peak: number 120
Peak date: 4 December 1989
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks
Weeks on chart: 13 weeks
For some ridiculous reason, at the time of writing this, the studio version for "The Last Worthless Evening" appears to be blocked on YouTube. So, instead, I've had to resort to embedding a live version below...
Don Henley's solo career separate from The Eagles had spawned five top 100 singles in Australia to date, with the biggest of those being "The Boys of Summer" (number 3, March 1985). "The Last Worthless Evening" was the second single lifted from Don's The End of the Innocence album (number 40, August 1989); the title track peaked at number 54 in August 1989. "The Last Worthless Evening" garnered greater success in North America, where it peaked at number 21 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in September 1989, and number 5 in Canada.
On the ARIA state charts, "The Last Worthless Evening" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 76.
Don will pay us another visit in 1990.
Number 138 "Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2
Peak: number 138 (in 1989); number 27 in 1987
Peak dates: 27 November 1989 (1989 chart run); 26 October 1987 (1987 chart run)
Weeks in top 150: 1 week (in 1989); 13 weeks in the top 100 in 1987
"Where the Streets Have No Name" was released as a single in Australia in September 1987, and peaked at number 27 the following month. Quite why it randomly re-charted in the top 150 for one week more than two years later, I have no idea. However, it is listed as a double A-side single, with non-album B-side "Sweetest Thing" (the same song they would later re-record and score a number 6 hit with in November 1998) receiving top billing, on the Australian Music Report singles chart, where it peaked at number 70 in December 1989. I cannot find any evidence of there being a special 1989 pressing of this single in Australia online.
Are you a U2 fan? Do you know why this single re-entered the Australian chart in 1989? Please let me know if so.
Number 148 "Planes" by Jefferson Airplane
Peak: number 148
Peak date: 27 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
When I saw Jefferson Airplane on these charts, I expected it to be an old song that had charted perhaps due to its use in a move or something. But no, this was a new track from the veteran 60s act, who had evolved (or devolved, depending on your musical preferences) into Jefferson Starship in 1974, and Starship in 1984. The latter formation, of course, had three top 10 singles in Australia between 1985 and 1987, with "We Built This City" going all the way to number 1 in January 1986. Only a few short months ago, we saw Starship bubble WAY down under.
Grace Slick, the female vocalist, left Starship in 1988 and joined the 1966-1970 line-up of Jefferson Airplane, minus drummer Spencer Drydon, for a reunion tour and a new album, the imaginatively-titled Jefferson Airplane - the band's eighth and final studio album, from which this is lifted. As Wikipedia puts it, the album achieved "modest sales but the accompanying tour was considered a success," providing the blueprint for current heritage acts such as Madonna and Kylie with their latest releases (OK, that last bit I added myself). To be more-precise, the album peaked at number 85 on the US Billboard 200 albums chart in September 1989, while this single failed to chart in the band's native US (no, the Mainstream Rock Songs chart does not count)... or anywhere else.
Number 150 "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)" by Robert Palmer
Peak: number 106
Peak date: 4 December 1989
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
Weeks on chart: 7 weeks
Another old song returning this week is this one, which originally peaked at number 13 in October 1979. This release, however, was a remixed version, released to promote Robert's Addictions Volume 1 compilation album (number 10, December 1989), and also changes the title slightly from the original "Bad Case of Lovin' You (Doctor, Doctor)" (pedants, take note!). The remix is similarly subtle, and seems to have a new drum track with some extra, beefed-up guitars, a couple of additional synths and not much more. The video, embedded below, adds footage from Robert's other videos.
The kids I lived next door to at the time's dad owned the Addictions Volume 1 CD, but I don't remember it, or this track, gaining much traction, despite the big success of Robert's most-recent studio album Heavy Nova (number 2, February 1989). It seemed to me, at the time, that it was a mistake to release this best of album this soon after the Heavy Nova era; we saw Robert only last week with the final single from that album. I guess the record company rush-released this, in time for the Christmas market. Releasing a greatest hits compilation often seems to spell the end of an artist's hit-making era, and Robert would only score one major hit single in Australia after this.
Interestingly, "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)" made the top 100 on four of the five state charts, but couldn't reach this milestone nationally, due to the state chart peaks occurring at different times. The single performed best on the Western Australian state chart, where it reached number 68 in this, its opening week.
We will next see Robert Palmer in 1991.
Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 158 "Scandal" by Queen
Peak: number 158
Peak date: 27 November 1989
Weeks on chart: 1 week
Like previous single "The Invisible Man", I remember seeing this one in the shops, but have never heard it or seen the video until writing it about it now. Released as the fourth of five singles from The Miracle (number 4, June 1989), "Scandal" peaked at number 25 in the group's native UK in October 1989. It seems that there was next to zero promotion or airplay for Queen's singles from the album in Australia, after second single "Breakthru" (number 45, August 1989).
As stated on the Wikipedia page for this song, the video is notable for lead singer Freddie Mercury's "gaunt" appearance - I'm glad it's not just me who noticed it. Clearly, in retrospect, Freddie's health was deteriorating by this point, but he still manages to give an energetic performance in the video - it seems, for the last time, as future videos from the band featuring Freddie in them would be more-sedate affairs.
Queen will join us again in 1990.
Next week (4 December): Another bumper week, with seven new top 150 debuts, and three bubbling WAY down under entries. Among them is a song that would have greater success on the Australian singles chart following the singer's death almost 30 years later, and another flop charity single. You can also follow my posts on instagram and facebook.