One January Evening....every #1 from EG's personal Top 40 (1984-2010) | Page 34 | 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. That UK Chart run in full:

    and then for w/e 28-feb-2009: 90

    btw Pet Shop Boys - Ultimate CD has been living in my car with "The best of The Police & Sting" for the last couple of months - a NE thing?
    Eric Generic likes this.
  2. Why the next didn't do better in Britain is something I still haven't figured out...

    Number ones: #122
    • GEORGE MICHAEL Father Figure (Epic)
    • Week Ending 30th January 1988
    • 2 Weeks At #1

    The third solo chart-topper for George Michael on my Top 40, from just five releases, was curiously his first (officially approved) UK single to fall short of the Top 10 since Wham! broke through in late 1982.

    Generally regarded as one of Faith‘s standout tracks as soon as the album landed, Father Figure had no trouble emulating the #1 peak of Faith‘s title track on the Billboard Hot 100, but in Britain it came as something of shock when a climb from #35 to #11 (the same week as Sign Your Name moved 29-8) was followed by an immediate downturn. What the…?!

    It’s fair to say that while Father Figure is a pretty sublime piece of work – all breathless, whispered vocals and a delicate, recurring melodic motif – it wasn’t really suited to the emerging chart trends of late 1987 and early 1988. Plastic pop was king, and subtlety was in short supply. Faith was an uneven, messy, and almost ugly album at times (I still cannot warm to the title song, which was fortunate to even make #9 on my chart), but Father Figure and Hand To Mouth felt like its key moments for me, and were the main reasons I decided to buy the CD a couple of weeks after release in November 1987 despite my misgivings about the other tracks I’d heard on the radio.

    Although far from rendering his UK career down the dumper – he’d immediately bounce back with the next single from Faith going to #8 – it did mark a sea-change in the way George Michael was viewed. No longer simply a one-man hit machine, churning out magnificent 4-minute pop thrills. No longer guaranteed a high chart entry simply because of who he was.

    His profile remained high, in some ways higher than ever thanks to the World Tour through 1988 and his remarkable Stateside success, but in Britain the focus shifted towards George Michael as an albums artist. There wouldn’t be another UK #1 (with an original, new studio recording) for almost a decade, but on my charts it was a different corner….I mean, story.
  3. Token new recording for a Greatest Hits coming up in one, two, three.....

    Number Ones: #123
    • Week Ending 13th February 1988
    • 1 Week At #1

    1987 had been a miserable time for OMD, and ended without them gracing the UK Top 40 during a calendar year for the first time since 1979. Even the Crush era of 1985 provided a #27 hit in the shape of So In Love. Their sole release, a re-recorded amble through the unremarkable mid-tempo blandola of Shame, peaked at #52. Its parent album, The Pacific Age, had permanently sunk without trace within 8 weeks of its release in September 1986.

    What to do?

    As it turned out, exactly what they needed to do, and what I would have also wanted them to do the most. Retrospective time!

    The Best Of OMD was a welcome reminder to everyone (mostly the public at large, as I needed very little prompting) just how many excellent singles they’d amassed since breaking through with Messages in early 1980. In fact, that run extended even further back, to the early 45s such as Electricity and Red Frame, White Light. The latter wasn’t included as Virgin deemed the 20 minutes or so of extra space on the CD format was better taken up with 12″ mixes of La Femme Accident and We Love You rather than a fuller compliment of actual singles (Never Turn Away and Shame also lost out, but at least Genetic Engineering snuck in, albeit out of sequence).

    Of course, something new was required to help flog this compilation; which is where we say hello to Dreaming. There isn’t an awful lot to say about it though. It’s a perfectly okay perky pop tune, sprightly and catchy but lacking any real depth or character. Basically, it’s We Love You (the worst single they ever made, in my opinion) but with a prettier tune. Q Magazine described it as OMD in the post-Rick Astley era, which was technically correct but Dreaming continues a slide into formulaic, chiming bubblegum pop that would ultimately give us the horrid Liberator album in 1993.

    Though it does an alright job of signing off the first phase of OMD’s career without embarrassing itself too much or leaving a nasty mess on the carpet, Dreaming alone was not the reason the single topped my own charts. A 4-track CD single (at the “bargain” price of 5.99 in the Virgin Megastore) offered up two frankly superb bonus tracks; one – Satellite, the official B-side – evoked the typical OMD fare of 1981-83, with a contemporary twist. Even better was Gravity Never Failed, which actually was a track recorded between 1981 and 1983, but never included on either Architecture & Morality or Dazzle Ships. It would have been a highlight of both albums.

    Possibly sensing the writing was on the wall for the type of thoughtful, experimental electronic music they used to be known for, and possibly due to “creative differences” with Andy McCluskey, Dreaming and The Best Of OMD would mark the end (temporarily, at least) of Paul Humphreys’ involvement with Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. He, and the horn/rhythm section of the Cooper brothers, split to form The Listening Pool – their debut single, Oil For The Lamps Of China, was a beautiful little record with a charm and melodic invention sorely lacking in most of the 90s-era OMD.
    Cotton Park and Hairycub1969 like this.
  4. After another long break, we're on a mission to catch up....

    Number ones: #124

    • THE MISSION Tower Of Strength (Mercury)
    • Week Ending 20th February 1988
    • 1 Week At #1

    The genesis of Wayne Hussey’s band had proven a protracted and messy affair, in the wake of The Sisters Of Mercy’s break-up in 1985. Hussey himself wasn’t a founding member of the Sisters, only joining in early 1984, but had ended up one of the trio who fulfilled concert and promotional duties for the First, Last And Always campaign.

    There then followed a very public spat with mainman Andrew Eldritch over the name, and an attempt to record new material as The Sisterhood which Eldritch nixed by releasing an album called The Gift under that name before Hussey and co. got around to it first. This was only part of the drama, with legal proceedings and record label contract breaches all added into the toxic mix, but by 1986 the new Hussey-led project had a name – The Mission – and a record label (Chapter 22).

    At this point it was a all a bit Indie, with the videos for their Chapter 22 releases Serpent’s Kiss and Garden Of Delight being on the budget side (viewers of The Chart Show on Channel 4 became quite well acquainted with them during the summer of 1986, on the Indie Top 10 rundowns), but then major label status arrived courtesy of Phonogram and The Mission’s assault on the pop charts really began.

    Momentum built slowly but steadily, as Stay With Me went to #30 and the album managed a #14 debut towards the end of the year. I only began to take notice with the following single, Wasteland, a knowingly epic and bombastic slice of gothic pop/rock that almost reached the UK Top 10 in January 1987. It made #3 on my own charts, while shortly after I took a punt on the album – God’s Own Medicine – in an Our Price “bargain bin” for about 2.99 on cassette. It was pretty good.

    The record label took a further single off the LP – Severina, replete with a notable cameo from All About Eve’s Julianne Reagan – but for the rest of 1987 there was nothing else released. By the time The Mission returned almost a year later, Eldritch had stormed back into the charts with his revamped Sisters Of Mercy and had huge success with the acclaimed Floodland album.

    Your move, Wayne.

    Tower Of Strength comes on like a monolithic, Led Zeppelin-esque anthem, rising to a crescendo and full of exotic touches. Almost exactly like Kashmir, in fact. Which was no great surprise, given the track was produced by John Paul Jones, the former Led Zep bassist. Shameless? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.

    Issued in the grim days of late January/early February 1988, the track obviously struck a chord with me as it flew to #1, something none of the Floodland singles had managed (even though, paradoxically, I would say those are superior records…Dominion, in particular).

    Still, that’s the way the Personal Chart Cookie crumbles sometimes.
    Remorque and Hairycub1969 like this.
  5. I've had to Tagg this post on our next chart-topper...

    Number ones: #125

    • BOURGEOIS TAGG I Don’t Mind At All (Island)
    • Week Ending 27th February 1988
    • 1 Week At #1

    The single which dethroned Tower Of Strength went back even further in rock’s illustrious history for its, um, inspiration. I Don’t Mind At All felt like it wanted to be on The White Album, a gentle rumination lasting less than three minutes that Lennon/McCartney (mainly McCartney) might have been reasonably proud of.

    So yes, it sounds a lot like The Beatles. A good few years before Oasis swaggered into view. Though of course it would have been Noel on lead vocals. But we digress.

    Bourgeois Tagg were a band of contradictions, misnomers and red herrings. The name sounded as though they ought to be a duo. They weren’t. This single gives the impression they specialise in acoustic, minor-chord gems a la the Fab Four. They don’t. In fact they don’t even have two distinct styles, more like half-a-dozen. And that’s just on the Yo-Yo album from which I Don’t Mind At All was lifted.

    (There’s a detailed look at Yo-Yo elsewhere on the blog, which to my surprise has proved to be one of the most popular features on AFDPJ so far. Sometimes you just write about certain obscure music for the love of it, not imagining the reaction it might get).
    Cotton Park and Remorque like this.
  6. Now and zen, you get a record that just blows you away...

    Number ones: #126

    • ROBERT PLANT Heaven Knows (Atlantic/Es Paranza)
    • Week Ending 5th March 1988
    • 2 Weeks At #1

    As evidenced by the likes of Whitesnake and The Mission, aping the classic Led Zeppelin sound was coming back into vogue. So who could blame Robert Plant for thinking to himself, “hey I’d like a bit of this, thanksverymuch”, and emerging from a solo career slump with his best record in years.

    The studio technology had been tamed, and now served the material rather than dictating its style. Plant hired some young guns to bring a bit of zip and zest to proceedings, while the glossy widescreen synth textures sounded genuinely impressive rather than trend-chasing.

    Heaven Knows was essentially a bit of clever wordplay set to a chiming, martial beat, with some razor-sharp guitar licks splashed liberally over it. State-of-the-art stuff. It may not sound like a real, live band and all that authentic nonsense, but this is 1988. Everyone (well, almost everyone) wanted their records to sound pristine, rather than pretend it was still 1973.

    Aided by an enthusiastic Johnnie Walker on Radio 1, not to mention a glowing album review in Q magazine, Now & Zen – and this single – turned me on to Robert Plant’s music in a major way. It even managed to hit the UK Top 40 for a week or two, his first flirtation with the charts since Big Log made #11 in the summer of 1983.
  7. Still another 480 or so #1s to cover, but it doesn't frighten me...

    Number ones: #127
    • EIGHTH WONDER I’m Not Scared (Epic)
    • Week Ending 19th March 1988
    • 2 Weeks At #1

    Credited to her band Eighth Wonder, the absolute pop classic that is I’m Not Scared was, of course, really a Pet Shop Boys record fronted by Patsy Kensit. Epic Records had been trying for an age to get Eighth Wonder a hit, any kind of hit, but without any success whatsoever.

    Step forward messrs Tennant and Lowe, with one of their finest compositions. A song they would go on and “cover” themselves later in 1988, on their Introspective album. Pet Shop Boys were in the middle of their Imperial Phase, with a pair of recent UK chart-toppers about to be joined by a third in the shape of Heart. Stars collide, planets align, and pop genius meets pop wannabe, with sublime results. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

    La Kensit’s breathy intonations and sex-kitten routine suddenly works a treat in this environment, the try-hard irritations of the usual Eighth Wonder fare are avoided by the PSB’s involvement and the song’s utter perfection. Could they have combined for a whole album, or even half of one? Ultimately we’ll never know, as I’m Not Scared proved a glorious one-off.

    The Boys went back to their own devices, before teaming up with some genuinely iconic female singers in 1989. Patsy and her band managed to score another Top 20 UK single with Cross My Heart (the same song recorded by Martika) and an okay-in-places album Fearless. None of its other tracks were even in the same orbit of brilliance as I’m Not Scared, obviously.
  8. Phew! Dame Patsy and PSB save the day! It is absolutely one of, if not the best PSB song ever.
  9. Yes, all that male rock...ugh!
  10. My 1988 does start to get a little more poptastic from this point on, with a couple of outliers thrown in.
  11. Take these dogs away from me!
  12. Maybe Joe le Taxi can give them a lift out of here?
  13. All the way to Alberquerque perhaps....
  14. Let's hope that they don't stay on these roads...
    Remorque and Eric Generic like this.
  15. A-ha! I see what you did there.
    Hairycub1969 likes this.
  16. Trying not to veer off-course....

    Number ones: #128

    • a-ha Stay On These Roads (Warner Bros)
    • Week Ending 2nd April 1988
    • 2 Weeks At #1

    The 6th Number One for a-ha on my charts was their first release in almost 12 months, since the theme from The Living Daylights the previous summer. Its success meant the band had also achieved a chart-topper in four consecutive calendar years; Take On Me and The Sun Always Shines On TV in 1985, Hunting High & Low in 1986, and Manhattan Skyline as well as The Living Daylights in 1987.

    So, would the 1988 model bring any major developments to the table? Would their third album see the same kind of creative risks as Scoundrel Days, which wasted no time in moving their style on from the Hunting High & Low formula and branching out into darker waters. Well, at the time it didn’t seem like it; from the return of their classic a-ha logo, to the artful, blurry photo on the single’s cover…it was all very much as per the debut. And the record itself?

    Umm, probably a similar tale; Stay On These Roads chugs along on a lovely Alan Tarney synth line, evoking the more electronic textures of Hunting High & Low, while lyrically and vocally recalling the likes of Living A Boy’s Adventure Tale and the title track itself.

    Morten swoops and soars and carries the brittle melody with typical aplomb. The feel is very wintery and melancholic. So far, so a-ha. And that’s the main takeaway from this single, a familiarity that’s comforting and felt even moreso during the most turbulent period of my life and a year when a lot of my favourite artists and bands were on hiatus, going through significant line-up changes, or not sounding like their old selves anymore.

    The album of the same name which appeared about a month later, in May 1988, met with mixed reviews and moderate sales. Among its 10 tracks was a reworked B-side from 1987, a re-recorded version of The Living Daylights, and a couple of slightly odd songs that barely lasted 2 minutes each. With hindsight, it was a pivotal record in their career. They were leaving the chart synth-pop behind, searching for greater depth in their writing and a more orthodox, rock-oriented sound.

    This process was rather rudely interrupted – and obscured – by the failure of Stay On These Roads‘ second single, The Blood That Moves The Body, which stiffed at #25. Warners’ response was to issue the album’s two lightweight ditties, Touchy! (an old song, dating from their pre-fame days) and You Are The One (a sort of Take On Me II), in an attempt to rescue the campaign from complete oblivion. It worked, with both singles coming close to the UK Top 10, but created the impression that a-ha had not really evolved since 1985 and were treading water, still courting the Smash Hits crowd.

    Touchy! is quite good fun in its daft and dreamy way, and I was fine with it helping to prevent one of my favourite bands going down the dumper prematurely. I was less enamoured with You Are The One perpetuating the throwaway pop angle, when the album was home to the ethereal and sophisticated likes of Out Of Blue Comes Green and There’s Never A Forever Thing. Still, it managed to make #8 on my charts, being a-ha and everything, but that finally ended their unbroken run of Top 5 hits on my Top 40.

    The short-term gains of pushing the likes of You Are The One arguably came back to bite when a-ha returned in late 1990, long of hair and (even more) serious of tone. And without any synths or drum machines! The organic textures of East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon were a logical progression from where the ambitious Stay On These Roads tracks had attempted to venture within the pop framework of 1988, yet the transition might have been more seamless, commercially, if the public’s last memory of a-ha hadn’t been a frothy slice of dinky europop.
  17. I've just realised the album cover uses the same photo as the single sleeve, just tainted blue and with a couple of effects added. They really were pushing the boat out!
    Hairycub1969 likes this.
  18. The thing about A-ha's the time for me it was pleasant pop with some dark lyrics - but now in the last 10 years (2010-2020) my friends/partner and I have discovered and watched so much Nordic Noir TV on BBC4 Saturdays really is the prefect soundtrack to Scan Nordic Noir TV!
    It was one of my ex-Swedish boyfriend's in January 2008 who introduced me to Wallander et al when I was stuck in his apartment on a very cold, snowy weekend in Stockholm!
    Eric Generic likes this.
  19. I've just always loved a-ha right from Take On Me, but it was the darker songs which really made me a fan. I never saw something like The Sun Always Shines On TV coming - hearing that as a new single release in Dec 1985 was one of those "completely floored" moments.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.