06 November 2020

Week commencing 6 November 1989

Two of this week's four new top 150 entries are side projects or one-off collaborations - one is the sole release of the artist's discography, and the other is one of many releases from a group who majorly underperformed on the Australian charts.  Shall we take a look?
Steve Stevens: Atomic Playboys?  Or just boys who like to lick their fingers and stick them in power sockets?
Top 150 debuts:
Number 129 "Oh Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison and Friends
Peak: number 112
Peak date: 27 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 9 weeks 
Weeks on chart: 10 weeks
Roy Orbison's music - whether part of Traveling Wilburys (no The) or solo - was seemingly inescapable in 1989, following his untimely death in December 1988, and the success of his posthumous Mystery Girl album (number 1, February 1989).  "Oh Pretty Woman", a song I'm sure most people would assume was just titled "Pretty Woman" with no "Oh", was one of those songs you just absorbed through cultural osmosis, and was certainly one I knew from an early age, despite being born 14 years after it topped the chart in 1964.

Following the increased interest in Roy's music following his death, naturally it seemed logical to issue this live recording, from September 1987, that Roy performed together with 'friends' including Bruce Springsteen, k.d. lang, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Jennifer Warnes, and others.  An album of the live set, A Black & White Night Live (number 28, November 1989), was also released.  Despite peaking outside the top 100 in Australia, somehow this track made its way onto the various artists compilation album Hits of 1990 Volume 1.  That makes me wonder if these below number 100 charts - or at least, the relevant placings from them - were made available to record companies, at the time.
On the state charts, "Oh Pretty Woman" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 74.

Roy will bubble down under again in 1992.
Number 138 Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys "Atomic Playboys"
Peak: number 138
Peak date: 6 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 1 week 
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
Steve Stevens (real name Steven Bruce Schneider) was best known for being Billy Idol's guitarist and songwriting collaborator, with prominent roles in his music videos such as "Rebel Yell" (number 7, April 1984).  He also famously played guitar on Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana" (number 26, June 1988).  This track was Steve's first foray with his group, Atomic Playboys.  As far as I am aware, the single did not chart anywhere else, and the group's only album, Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys, peaked at number 67 in Australia in October 1989, and number 119 in the US.  When asked in a 2001 interview whether there was any possibility of the group reforming, Steve replied: "Absolutely not. That group was a very expensive hobby."
"Atomic Playboys" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 99.
We will see Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys again in February 1990.
Number 150 "Casanova Baby" by Dora D
Peak: number 150
Peak date: 6 November 1989
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Now here's one I had never heard of before.  Going by the artist name and song title, I assumed that Dora D might be Dora D-Cup, and the song might be a tacky but brilliant Sabrina-esque pastiche.  Listening to it now, while it doesn't quite live up to those expectations, it is fairly pleasant.  Dora D also appears to be an Australian artist, with the music video uploaded to the YouTube channel VisionlinkAustralia.  Having listened to this track twice now, I hear synths during the intro that are rather similar to those used during the intro of the single version of Kylie Minogue's "Shocked" - although that was out nearly two years after this.  Unfortunately, I cannot tell you anything else about Dora D, other than the track was mixed by Mike Duffy (who produced the original, pre-Stock Aitken Waterman version of Kylie's "Locomotion"), and this appears to have been her only release.  Shame about that.
Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 164 "Drama!" by Erasure
Peak: number 157
Peak date: 4 December 1989
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks
Things started out relatively promisingly for Erasure on the Australian singles chart, when "Oh L'amour" peaked at number 13 in September 1986, and became the 75th biggest hit of the year.  In contrast, "Oh L'amour" peaked at just number 85 in the group's native UK, in May 1986, where it was released as their third single.  Interestingly, Australia was the second country to give Erasure a top 40 hit, when "Oh L'amour" crept into the top 40 in August 1986, only being beaten by Sweden in June of that year.  In contrast, the group did not enter the top 40 in the UK until November 1986.

Despite this auspicious start, the group only ever scored one other top 40 single down under: 1992's ABBA-esque EP, which, led by "Take a Chance on Me", also peaked at number 13, in August 1992.  Their top 100 Australian singles chart tally wasn't much better, notching up a meagre five entries.  The group did, however, place a string of singles outside the top 100 in Australia, with this one being the first of 12 between 1989 and 2000.

Exclamation marks were obviously in vogue for the group, with "Drama!" being the first single lifted from the album Wild! (number 107, January 1990).  Within Australia, "Drama!" performed strongest on the Western Australia state chart, where it reached number 101.  In the UK, "Drama!" performed much better, peaking at number 4 in October 1989.
Erasure will next visit us in May 1990.

Number 168 "When I Looked at Him" by Exposé
Peak: number 168 
Peak date: 6 November 1989
Weeks on chart: 1 week

American Latin freestyle group Exposé scored their sole ARIA top 100 single earlier in the year with "What You Don't Know" (number 65, October 1989), and here they are, just over 100 places lower, with the follow-up release.  Both tracks are lifted from their What You Don't Know album (number 117, November 1989).

I can see why this single didn't perform as well as the last one, though it's not that bad.  "When I Looked at Him" performed much better in the US, becoming the sixth of eight Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits for the group.
Exposé scored another semi-'hit' in Australia with "Seasons Change", which was ranked seventh on the Australian Music Report's list of 'singles receiving significant sales reports beyond the top 100' for one week in March 1988.

One earlier single from the group I like that you should check out if you don't know it already is "Point of No Return", which was issued locally in August 1987 but failed to chart.  It peaked at number 5 in the US in July 1987, however.

We shall see Exposé again in 1990.

Next week (13 November): another three new top 150 debuts, including the original version of a track that would become a big hit in 1996, and two bubbling WAY down under entries.  You can also follow my posts on instagram and facebook.
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