One January Evening....every #1 from EG's personal Top 40 (1984-2010) | Page 32 | The Popjustice Forum

One January Evening....every #1 from EG's personal Top 40 (1984-2010)

Discussion in 'Charts, rates etc' started by Eric Generic, Dec 8, 2018.

  1. Who's next in the rundown....I'd love to know, wouldn't you?

    Number ones: #114
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    • EURYTHMICS Beethoven (I Love To Listen To) (RCA)
    • Week Ending 24th October 1987
    • 5 Weeks At #1

    “This is…..extraordinary. Have you played the B-side by mistake?”

    (Morrissey, guesting on Radio 1’s Singled Out/Round Table, October 1987).

    No Moz, it wasn’t the B-side. Eurythmics really had gone a bit bonkers. Well, completely bonkers actually.

    All that slick, guitar-driven AOR that began promisingly with Would I Lie To You? in April 1985 but descended into a creative cul-de-sac by the end of 1986 with the bland Revenge era, was consigned to the bin. Dave & Annie didn’t just go back to their spooky electronic soundscapes of Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), they torpedoed their carefully crafted transatlantic power pop and stood well back, laughing manically as it disintegrated.

    “Who knows what they’ll decide to do. Who knows what they’ll get up to!”.

    From its pounding, hypnotic intro that quickly begins to disorientate, the fractured bizarre refrain of “I Love To…Listen To” which turns into a mantra….and then the coup de grace…Annie Lennox as an unhinged housewife, conjuring up twisted scenarios in her bored mind….Beethoven is absolute, shocking genius.

    Where the hell did this come from? What happened to the band of Thorn In My Side and When Tomorrow Comes, the safe and radio-friendly, multi-platinum unit shifters?

    Nothing that happened in the 1980s, not Kevin Rowland returning as an Ivy League clothes-horse mumbling about newly wealthy peasants with home bars and hi-fis on Don’t Stand Me Down, not even Terence Trent D’Arby sabotaging his potential for pop domination with Neither Fish Nor Flesh, can match the sheer unexpected, jaw-dropping disbelief that greeted Beethoven. Although, in contrast to those other examples, mostly in a good way.

    We kind of suspected Kev was the sort of wayward maverick who might go off the rails one day, and TTD certainly never hid his eccentricities. Eurythmics, though, they’d become almost an industry byword for consistency and reliability. Suddenly we had a dowdy, disturbed Annie Lennox scrubbing down the bathroom while showing an unhealthy interest in what “a girl like that” and a boy “who’s looking for trouble” might possibly end up doing.

    “I’d love to know. Wouldn’t you?”.

    Now, if Morrissey – the man who subverted pop norms as a matter of routine – finds a record extraordinary, it must be pretty out-there. And it was.

    The levels of pent-up rage and bile being spewed by the central character was perfectly captured by Lennox; perhaps too much so as she’s seemed to spend the rest of her career avoiding anything as raw or powerful as the themes and lyrics of the parent album Savage. In interviews at the time, she alluded to the anger at having to helplessly watch her father dying a painful death from cancer being a trigger for Savage‘s dark and twisted menace; and the jolt from Revenge‘s comfortable AOR to this, was brutal.

    Autumn 1987 was a strange, unsettling time. Black Monday, the Storm, the King’s Cross disaster….I had also just entered into the worst phase of my own personal Hell….so I was primed to embrace this unfettered Eurythmics, laying waste to all expectations and letting their ambition and intelligence run free. The pop world was full of Rick Astley, T’Pau and Wet Wet Wet. No thanks. I was trapped in blacked-out rooms, struggling to hold on to some kind of sanity as my body went into a tailspin, so what better soundtrack than Savage? I needed something……….extreme.

    It was a sign of Eurythmics’ commercial standing that not even a deranged masterpiece such as Beethoven could totally derail their chart career. The single managed, somehow, to reach #25, but album sales did suffer for a while.
     
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  2. I was royally pissed off when this next single flopped...

    Number ones: #115

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    • ABC King Without A Crown (Mercury)
    • Week Ending 28th November 1987
    • 2 Weeks At #1
    Just like the proverbial London buses, ABC waited an age to get their first #1 on my Top 40 and then a second one followed shortly after. Well, with a #5 peak for The Night You Murdered Love in between, making it a pair of chart-toppers within 6 months.

    Frustratingly, the era which began with the joyous commercial success of When Smokey Sings in May, rather fizzled out with the surprise #44 failure of King Without A Crown. Anticipation had been high for the Alphabet City album, with the general opinion being it was a decent return to the lavish soundscapes and richly cinematic pop of The Lexicon Of Love.

    After five years of determinedly avoiding any comparison with their iconic debut LP, shedding their fanbase and veering off into a variety of challenging directions with 1983’s Beauty Stab and 1985’s How To Be A Zillionaire, messrs Fry and White finally gave the public what they’d been clamouring for. Alphabet City sounded appropriately lush, evoking cityscapes and an air of opulence; all it lacked was the presence of Trevor Horn in the production chair. Even that was not the hindrance it might have seemed.

    King Without A Crown felt like the most obvious single on the album, and easily my favourite at first. Melodramatic, and peppered with the kind of regal-themed wordplay that you’d expect from Martin Fry, its gear-change for the chorus is pure bliss.

    Having debuted strongly at #7 in Mid-October, Alphabet City‘s sales quickly fell away without the aid of a third Top 40 hit, and couldn’t even cling on to a place in the UK Top 100 by the end of the year. Mercury Records could have plundered the album for a fourth single, but chose not to. Yet their sound was perfectly in tune with the pop of the moment; witness the second-hand Zillionaire-isms of Blue Mercedes and their Top 20 hit I Want To Be Your Property from January 1988. Quite why the public would prefer an inferior copy of the real thing always puzzled (and infuirated!) me.
     
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  3. Blocked. For life!!!!!!!!
     
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  4. Put the original 1987 CD on tonight (flop fan me didn't even know there was an expanded reissue a few years back!), and it still sounds luxurious. This was one of my most played albums between October 12th and December 31st 1987, and yet I've hardly listened to it much in the last 30 years. It all came back to me though.

    I really do think, with hindsight, that the label missed a trick in not trying again in early 1988 with a 4th single. The market was ripe for that sound...look at the way Aztec Camera finally got Love into the Top 10 with a couple of singles, Hue & Cry, Climie Fisher, even Danny Wilson. It was a good time for "sophisti-pop" and ABC just gave up. I could imagine Jealous Lover, Rage & Then Regret or Ark Angel all doing the Top 40 business in Jan/Feb 1988.
     
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  5. Maybe, just maybe, my favourite ABC track. Great shout re timing - I put together a sophistipop playlist the other month and this was one of the first I reached for.
     
  6. Alphabet City was another of my earliest straight-to-CD purchases...bought it the same day (evening) as Sting's Nothing Like The Sun. Two of my all-time favourite albums, as it turned out. I'd been eagerly awaiting the ABC album ever since the summer and it just came out in time for me to enjoy it for a week or two before my world caved in completely. I have memories of going up to Oxford Circus HMV at night, still quite warm for October, although I was in a wheelchair by that stage. It did mean I go could up to the counter myself, which I liked to do. The last time though for many, many years.
     
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  7. Yes, 'Beethoven' strangely seemed to echo the wildness and danger of that time in 1987 - the Great Storm happened the week it was released I think?

    Although it undoubtedly did turn off casual listeners from buying Savage, in hindsight it was a genius move in terms of reaffirming their artistic credentials and being *so* unexpected after Revenge. There was nothing even remotely like it in the charts at the time.

    Successful it may have been, but Revenge was savaged (comedy drum roll) by the critics (rightfully so in broad terms). Savage, while not a big seller, saved their critical reputation and legacy, both then and now. Without it, they could have been at risk of being written off as starting out well but then going all conventional and safe.

    And of course. Best. Video. Ever!
     
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  8. I remember SW London being laid to waste on the weekend that Springsteen's Tunnel Of Love debuted at #1, which would make the storm happening sometime on the 8th or 9th October. Beethoven was released Oct 12, but played/premiered the week before.

    Absolutely to all of this!
     
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  9. Back to bland on 'We too are one' though.
     
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  10. Sadly yes. We Too.. was the Annie of the future...forever weighed down by earnestness and boring musical ideas.
     
  11. Sometimes this pop music lark is child's play...

    Number ones: #116

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    • LEVEL 42 Children Say (Polydor)
    • Week Ending 12th December 1987
    • 1 Week At #1
    There may have been a changing of the guard taking place on the UK Top 40 during the second half of 1987; an odd mixture of brand-new names (Rick Astley, T’Pau), unexpected revivals in fortune for vintage acts (Bee Gees, George Harrison), and some familiar icons of recent times reasserting their dominance (Michael Jackson). Plus a host of left-field hit singles from films, television shows or adverts for jeans.

    For the most part, I was ignoring the trends and staying loyal to my favourites. Just as I had done in 1986. Why abandon an artist if they were still making music that you loved more than anything by newer acts?

    In the case of Level 42, it meant a second #1 on my charts in succession, and a triumphant end to the year during which their Running In The Family album had probably been the second-most-played CD during 1987 (after Tango In The Night and just ahead of Solitude Standing).

    Children Say might have been the fifth single lifted from the LP, but the track had always been a personal highlight along with It’s Over. In truth, it worked better as an album cut, and wasn’t really ideal single material. The fussy 7″ remix created for its release also didn’t help matters, taking the focus away from its soothing, spacious arrangement on the album. I was charting it as much on the strength of the original as the remixed version (a bit of a liberty, granted, but hey it’s my Top 40 and I make the rules!).

    Ostensibly serving as a promotional aid for Polydor’s relaunching of Running In The Family in a snazzy new “Platinum Edition” (single/extended mixes of all the hits replacing the album versions, plus seminal Shep Pettibone mixes of Something About You and World Machine from the previous record), Children Say in fact became the last Level 42 single to feature the definitive line-up. The single’s sleeve – and the accompanying video – tellingly shows just Mark King and Mike Lindup. The brothers Gould jumped ship together, exhausted and disillusioned with the increasingly commercial direction the band were heading in.

    1987 had already seen Lindsey Buckingham dramatically leave Fleetwood Mac on the eve of the Tango.. tour, and although nobody officially knew it yet, Marillion were also about to splinter. It wasn’t the best of years for bands I was really into!
     
  12. Oooo that sounds a great idea - care to share what you went for?
     
  13. Didn’t know that about platinum version... must fish out my original LP and see. Oddly I never ‘replaced’ it with a cd version so probably hadn’t been out of its sleeve since the early 90’s... I often used to copy vinyl to cassettes and then hardly play the originals again - should imagine it’s still in great condition
     
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  14. The CD came in a new, silver-tinged sleeve. The LP, I think, from memory had a vertical "sash" around it with the details on. I've never owned the album on vinyl so assume it's the same as the Platinum Edition CD in terms of content. Might have been a double LP actually.
     
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  15. I used to have "The platinum edition" on cassette and although surprised, was grateful that it contained remixes of "Something about you" and "World Machine"!
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
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  16. Eric Generic and ModeRed like this.
  17. We've got the inside information on our next chart-topper....

    Number ones: #117
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    • FOREIGNER Say You Will (Atlantic)
    • Week Ending 19th December 1987
    • 1 Week At #1

    Exactly three years on from Agent Provocateur, Foreigner returned with a new single and album. In Britain, it was a risky strategy to put anything out during late November and early December, since the chances were it would end up lost amid the deluge of seasonal and novelty records. Agent Provocateur itself got off to a slow start, debuting at #47 before the chart-topping success of I Want To Know What Love Is carried the album in its slipstream through the first weeks of 1985.

    The problem in 1987 was that Say You Will wasn’t another I Want To Know What Love Is. As a fan, I eagerly purchased it on release, and obviously liked it enough to topple Level 42 from their perch after only one week. Decent, solid Foreigner mid-tempo tracks are superior to a lot of other music, after all. There was a bit of that Agent Provocateur magic dust in the feel of the track, even if it could never be classed as anything truly special.

    It helped that I bought both the single and the Inside Information album at the same time, in the same Tower Records store in West London. It was already dark by late afternoon, and the whole experience created a little bit of much-needed solace and excitement. It felt like the perfect place to buy Foreigner music, other than actually in America.

    Inside Information was a fine album, home to several excellent tracks, and it topped my own personal chart, but predictably got lost in the pre-Christmas marketplace. Without a hit single of any note, it never managed to rise higher than #64 during two months in the lower reaches of the UK Top 100. Say You Will followed the pattern of all recent Foreigner singles that weren’t ballads, and never got near the Top 40.

    In the US, the story was more promising, with both Say You Will and designated big ballad I Don’t Want To Live Without You reaching the Billboard Top 10, and Inside Information consolidating a place in the Top 20. Yet the formula had probably run its course, while tensions between chief songwriter Mick Jones and lead singer Lou Gramm meant it would be the final Foreigner album with this line-up.
     
  18. The next #1 was a surprise flop on the UK charts.....such a shame...

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    • EURYTHMICS Shame (RCA)
    • Week Ending 26th December 1987
    • 1 Week At #1

    Barely a month had passed since the jaw-dropping lead single from Eurythmics’ Savage album had been in situ. Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)’s five week reign was the longest by any of the #1s on my chart during 1987, and the longest since a-ha’s The Sun Always Shines On T.V. spent 7 weeks at the summit in 1985/6.

    On the actual Top 40, Beethoven… had done alright in strictly numerical terms (#25) but there was clearly some concern amongst the folks at RCA that it might have frightened off too many of the punters who’d helped make Be Yourself Tonight and Revenge multi-platinum successes. That, and the possible presence of church-y bells on the intro to Shame, can perhaps explain why it was chosen ahead of the natural follow-up, I Need A Man.

    Because, frankly, very little else about the decision made sense. Shame is gorgeous (I seemed to unintentionally gravitate towards the future singles when buying albums at the time), but was it the kind of record to put the Savage campaign back on track, especially with the traditional Seasonal madness in full swing?

    Also, part of Beethoven’s power was the narrative of that demented, frustrated housewife finally flipping her wig (as it were), and marching off into the sunset, ready to unleash her alter-ego upon the world. Or, in terms of the album’s story, onto the stage to let rip with I Need A Man. After which, Shame‘s critique of the fashion world, the media, the whole “don’t you want to be famous?” culture, serves as a sobering final act of the trilogy. Ah well. What’s the loss of a little thematic chronology when there are heaps of unsold albums needing to be shifted over Christmas?

    The plan didn’t work, though. For only the second time since Eurythmics broke through with Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) in early 1983, one of their singles came up short of the Top 40. In January 1985, it was Julia (from the “1984” film soundtrack), and that did feel like a genuine jolt, ending an imperial phase that saw the duo notch up six consecutive Top 10 placings.

    Shame‘s failure, by comparison, was at a point in their career where genuine hits were no longer guaranteed although it was still regrettable that such a lovely track (and one of their finest singles, in fact) fell by the wayside due to bizarre scheduling.
     
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