Thursday, December 08, 2005

The only Christmas chart that counts (2/6)

Continuing our look back at fifty glorious years, or so, of Christmas charts, let's head back to 1987, a tight year full of circumstance, surprise and, frankly, covers:

1 Pet Shop Boys - Always On My Mind
Nowadays ITV covers specials feature Liberty X, Darius and five actresses from Emmerdale, but in 1987 a special commemorating the tenth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death debuted their Elvis goes Trevor Horn-house with a black heart version, which received so raptorous a welcome they recorded it and watch it climb three places this week to surprise the pack. If someone had thought to comission Rufus Wainwright to cover Lennon's Just Like Starting Over we might all be the better now.

2 Rick Astley - When I Fall In Love
A restrained SAW effort for this chocolate-voiced fireside festive cover, post-Whenever You Need Somebody but before Casio preset melody favourite Together Forever. Had an album out recently, which you may have noticed from the welter of publicity about his long-awaited return, a press release that is hauled out every 18 months for each new album of his.

3 Michael Jackson - The Way You Make Me Feel
Bad was still the defining long player of the day, this shuffling dance thing relatively early in its singles lifespan. Broke all known records for vocal whooing on record.

4 Alison Moyet - Love Letters
Baritone even by her standards, one of Alf's actual hits in a career that's veered wildly between getting nowhere and going big. With a certain inevitability, she's currently rehearsing for a play with Dawn French.

5 T'Pau - China In Your Hand
No Secret Garden, and frankly far too big a ballad. Their percussionist - ah, this is 1987 alright - was called Tim Burgess, it says here.

6 Mel Smith & Kim Wilde - Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
"Pumpkin pie, anyone?" The actual Mel & Kim were at their height at the time, so the Comic Relief spinoff could only go in one direction. There's going to be a BBC1 Smith & Jones Sketchbook next year, which we hope will feature Kim coming on for an encore.

7 Shakin' Stevens - What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For
Sid Waddell's mate clearly not too quick to shake off those 50s comparisons, featuring a uniquely cheap and cheerful video in which Shaky loons around post boxes and policemen while interacting with growing crowds, including a bequiffed Vic Reeves.

8 The Pogues featuring Kirsty Maccoll - Fairytale Of New York
Since you ask it only made number two on the following week's chart, which counted sales up to the 26th. The Best Christmas Album In The World...Ever substitutes it for Ronan Keating's cleaned up version, which will not do. It's being re-released on the 19th to raise funds for the Justice For Kirsty Campaign, and in a moral world would be the festive chart topper. Come on, where's the campaign?

9 Madonna - The Look Of Love
"Though my friends just might ask me, they say Madge, maybe one day
you'll find true love." It's not that. It's from the Who's That Girl soundtrack and only one of her first 32 top 40 singles, covering nine years, charted lower.

10 Jellybean - Who Found Who
And here's Mr Benitez' supposed kiss off/piss off to Madonna featuring singer Elisa Fiorillo, who even by the standards of early house was a featured vocalist who went into immediate obscurity.

11 Alexander O'Neal - Criticize
We're not doing it in this run, but we did have a look at the 1989 chart, headed by Band Aid II, in our research, and at 24 was O'Neal with that most turn of the decade phenomenon, the megamix. Hitmix, to give it its proper title, would have been the most out of place thing there were it not for Jeff Wayne's Eve Of The War (in 1989?) and Smoke On The Water by Rock Aid Armenia.

12 The Proclaimers - Letter From America
We've got this on mp3, and we're proud to admit it in polite company. Who needs a Highlands A-Z?

13 George Harrison - Got My Mind Set On You
14 Paul McCartney - Once Upon A Long Ago
This must have provoked comment from Bruno on the chart rundown. George was on his way back from number 2 with its syncopated stately home video, while Paul was promoting a greatest hits with that most alien of concepts then, a new track on a Best Of. It opens with the couplet "picking up scales and broken chords/puppy dog tails in the house of Lords", and now you can see why the critical renaissance was so far off.

15 Johnny Hates Jazz - Turn Back The Clock
Hello, Mrs Datchler, is your Clark about?

16 Whitney Houston - So Emotional
We're sure this fits an air raid siren of a shriek into the final chorus, back when people were actively impressed by that sort of thing.

17 Simply Red - Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
This is on their new album Simplified, which is a recasting of some of their best loved songs into an acoustic setting to highlight their craft and the development of Hucknall's voice. Yes. And not at all an attempt to get the rights back into Mick's hands after his falling out with EMI.

18 Communards - Never Can Say Goodbye
We can never hear their name in anything but Roland Rat's voice. They were on his The Series doing Don't Leave Me This Way, see, and he pronounced it very specifically.

19 Belinda Carlisle - Heaven Is A Place On Earth
Started as drummer for The Germs, you know. This was her solo debut, cleaned up (in many ways) and having germs juggled around her in the Diane Keaton-directed video. She did Playboy in 2001, you may be aware.

20 Nat King Cole - When I Fall In Love
Rip-off.

21 Wet Wet Wet - Angel Eyes (Home And Away)
No idea where that extraneous bracketed title comes from, and we're fairly sure this is the track which features a rogue belch within the first ten seconds. In retrospect this may have been Marti's cleanest habit at the time.

22 Level 42 - Children Say
If you're at all bothered Rock Aid Armenia, which was for an earthquake fund, featured Ian Gillan, Bruce Dickinson, Paul Rodgers, Brian May, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Keith Emerson, Geoff Downes, Bryan Adams, Chris Squire and Roger Taylor. Mark King must have got stuck in traffic.

23 Anthrax - I'm The Man
Tiresome metallers attempt to leap on the Beastie Boys bandwagon and accidentally invent nu-metal in the process.

24 Hooters - Satellite
Man alive, we were mad about this soft rock with folk chords quasi-satire at the time. Not sure why this and not Huey Lewis And The News in retrospect, but there you go.

25 New Order - Touched By The Hand Of God
Not about wanking, Barney reckons. Heavy on the Hook, near-PSB synths and comedy video.

26 Five Star - Somewhere Somebody
27 Maxi Priest - Some Guys Have All The Luck
28 Cutting Crew - I've Been In Love Before

29 Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes - (I've Had) The Time Of My Life
The reason why we never go to wedding receptions any more.

30 Jellybean - Jingo
He's back, and with a proper funk house corker too. Theme for a Gladiator, which didn't quite suit.

31 Housemartins - Build

32 Whitesnake - Here I Go Again
We were born without the modern affectation of an irony-aided hair metal appreciation, so this could always fuck off.

33 Nina Simone - My Baby Just Cares For Me
As represented by a plasticine cat in the video. They probably wouldn't have taken the same line if Strange Fruit was re-released.

34 Smiths - Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
In the Guardian Weekend this week Pete Waterman is quoted as saying he was driven to make SAW a chart monolith organisation because the Smiths were "blocking up the charts for records kids actually want". Anyone who lived through the mid-80s will of course have grown heartily sick of one Smiths song following another to number one for 12 weeks without a break, of course.

35 Rick Astley - Whenever You Need Somebody
See?

36 Wally Jump Jr And The Criminal Element - Tighten Up (I Just Can't Stop Dancin')

37 Sinitta - GTO
When Ms Malone was on Through The Keyhole Loyd's clues at the end were a model toy GTO, a toy pair of dumbbells (So Macho) and an Action Man (Toy Boy). God knows what the rest of the house was like if they had to go to those tenuous lengths.

38 Boy George - To Be Reborn

39 Christians - Ideal World
Henry Priestman - the British Frank Beard.

40 Kiss - Reason To Live
The follow-up to inexplicable Mark Radcliffe favourite Crazy Crazy Nights. Is there a message in how five of their six UK top 40 singles came during their Robbie Williams-baiting makeupless era?

6 comments:

Matt said...

I recall an episode of the radio version of Room 101 where Nick Hancock refused to let Shakey's Merry Christmas Everyone in on the grounds that What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For was worse. (Can't remember who wanted to put it in now.) I believe the suggested retitling was "What Do You Want To Point That Gun At Me For". It was very funny in context, honestly.

I still can't believe you've never heard One Night In Bangkok. I've got a copy of it and everything. I was 8 at the time.

Simon said...

I think you've misread the Murray Head bit - if you leave out the brackets it reads "If there is another song that namechecks Somerset Maugham, we've yet to hear - no, experience it." Of course I know One Night In Bangkok - in fact, with a little hypnosis I could probably remember the video more than it including geisha girls and a large chessboard motif.

No, Shaky didn't help himself much around that time, denying he was a rock'n'roll revivalist while releasing xeroxed rockabilly and Johnny Ray-styled big band ballads. You wouldn't get it now, and that's probably a good thing.

Matt said...

Ah. Still, just as well I don't have to read and understand things for a living or anything.

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