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Chartography - contents

Here's the list of performers I'm going to feature over time. Will certainly add some over timešŸ˜ƒ When a new chartography is publis...

29/11/2021

Chartography - Soft Cell

Soft Cell reactivated recently for a new album. The duo seems to undergo a wave of reappraisal recently, spurred by the 40th anniversary of their influential debut "Non-stop erotic cabaret" (a very interesting article about the creation of which you can read here and less interesting but more upfront one here) and accompanying tour. So it seems a good time to cast an eye over the carriers of the duo itself and, as usual, of its members separately. And a good way to restart this blog after too long an absence!

Soft Cell

(Download and open in Microsoft Word for the bestest viewing experiencešŸ˜Š)

20/04/2021

Chartography - Falco

Only a third act from Europe on this blog (but thankfully not the last one). This time it's Falco - the original white rapper who took (most of the) the world by storm, and twice at that, in early-mid 1980s. Far from a one- or two-hit wonder, he's still fondly remembered. His autobiography, though, is a heartbreaking reading - story of an artist haunted by his inner demons, unable to get to grips with success, freewheeling soul unwilling to conform and do what's right. In some ways an archetypal "New Wave" guy - outsider who chanced upon worldwide success but wasn't ready and didn't know how to exploit and prolong it (and probably cared little). Still, for a guy from Austria to break so many barriers is unprecedented and he's deservedly a national hero of the country to this day.

A necessary note: there were so many posthumous releases under Falco's banner that charted only in Austria (compilations of various kinds) that I dispensed with those and only included the releases that at least charted in Germany and Switzerland too.

Falco

(Download and open in Microsoft Word for the bestest viewing experiencešŸ˜Š)


03/04/2021

Chartography - Men Without Hats

Now a band from the other side of the globe - Canada. Men Without Hats shone briefly but brightly, releasing one of the catchiest songs of the decade ("The safety dance") and one of the finest synthpop albums ever ("Rhythm of youth"). As with too many of the early MTV favourites they weren't able to capitalize on this sudden surge in popularity, yet unusually they didn't simply disappear, but gained considerable traction with their second biggest hit ("Pop goes the world") and album of the same name. And while worldwide they only had two hits, in their homeland they were more consistent throughout the 1980s. After a break two two decades they returned in 2012 with a new album "Love in the age of war", which easily rivaled their finest work. More of a live proposition nowadays, they are fondly remembered and consistently referenced in the media (like A Flock of Seagulls and some other distinctive 1980s bands). Not much of a word charts-busting machine, still it's interesting to check how they fared commercially.

Men Without Hats

(Download and open in Microsoft Word for the bestest viewing experiencešŸ˜Š)

22/02/2021

Chartography - Icehouse

Striving for geographical variety, here's a band from outside the world's main music markets of the 1980s - Icehouse from Australia. The country usually neglected, during the 1980s it became the source of constant stream of great music and definitely put itself on the music map. Many of those successes proved to be short-lived but quite a few artists endured. Icehouse were among them, having hits outside of their home base on a regular basis during the decade. And fine hits they were, too! The band usually described as a Roxy Music copy - but that's far from the truth and anyway, what a fine model to copy (or take inspiration from). Icehouse made some of the great music of the 1980s, excelling at ballads, but also doing superb mid-tempo atmospheric stuff and not shying away from engaging faster stuff. All-round professionals, in short, and their regular worldwide success was completely justified. Of course they faded at the dawn of the 1990s, like so many fine bands, but their legacy is still alive and invites a regular revisits. Here's what I've been able to find regarding their chart successes, of course the bulk of them is in Australasia, but quite a few songs had success, sometimes in rather surprising places. Let's see!

Icehouse

(Download and open in Microsoft Word for the bestest viewing experiencešŸ˜Š)

12/02/2021

Chartography - Grace Jones

Time to restart the blog. New chart file is for Grace Jones - one of the most outstanding and outrageous performers in a decade filled with colourful individuals. Starting out in music as a disco singer, she was able to reinvent herself for the new era and accomplish two not at all easy tasks at once - creating some groundbreaking work and gaining widespread success, including a couple of worldwide hits (apart from the US, where she was only a minor star on the market, eclipsed by her own celebrity status and acting successes). By the end of the 1980s it was over, of course, like with so many of her peers from late 1970s, but she remained an illustrious figure in show business and her comeback in late 2000s was met with both critical and commercial acclaim. And she's a figure of a massive influence to lots of modern-day female performers and pop culture is littered with references to her image(s).


(Download and open in Microsoft Word for the bestest viewing experiencešŸ˜Š)

31/08/2020

Chart collection - RAI Top Parade (Italy)

As a continuation of this post - a second part of the Italy's RAI chart collection. In July 1985 Hit Parade has been renamed Top Parade and stayed that way until October 1990, when the size of the chart scaled down from Top 20 to Top 10 for both singles and albums (probably because of the general slowing down of the sales, especially on singles market). Below is the link to almost all Top Parade charts (except for those that weren't published in the magazine).

The renaming went with the revision of the charts' presentation - concurrent lists from UK's Music Week and USA's Billboard were added for both singles and albums. The look was quite messy until November 1987, when it became more defined, but the inclusion of the foreign info meant that the chart info spread out on two pages - one for albums and one for singles. Oh, and all scans are in black & white, instead of original full colour, which makes the initial years rather tiresome to look through. Still, a great bit of chart history!

I have a thread on UKMix dedicated to foreign entries on the RAI singles chart during Top 20 years. Soon I'll start updating it with Top Parade info, please have a look☺

RAI Top Parade (1985-1990)

29/07/2020

Chartography - Johnny Hates Jazz

Johnny Hates Jazz seem to be seen as one of the better (if not the best) bands that sprung from "sophisti-pop" movement of mid to late 1980s. They certainly were the most commercially successful - the string of successes for their first singles is practically unparalleled, encompassing numerous countries, and the first album became a big seller worldwide. They were poised for superstardom, but the pressures of success were too much for their vocalist and main writer Clark Datchler, and his leaving practically stopped their progress. The remaining members tried to soldier on with a new singer, a noted producer Phil Thornalley, but all their effort resulted in very little. Not that Datchler's carrier took off in any way, though. The name has been briefly resurrected in early 2010s and the band seems to be ready to get back on track once again, but of course no one expects them to better their excellent results of 1987-1988.

Johnny Hates Jazz

(Download and open in Microsoft Word for the bestest viewing experiencešŸ˜Š)

26/06/2020

Chartography - Adam Ant

Adam Ant became the UK's biggest pop sensation of the early 1980s. Yet it's interesting how a man with such a counter-cultural background, playing a rather strange kind of music, and in unenviable circumstances (sneered at by the press, dumped by the manager and band-mates etc), could become a teen idol with such a strong impact on the pop culture. What's more, he actually managed to transfer his homeland success outside, resulting in several years of full-on international stardom - including the USA, usually resistant to the UK's latest fads. It didn't last, of course, and the decline was rather rapid, not helped by the artists's attentions wandering elsewhere (not to mention his too-well-publicized mental health struggles). But unusually he managed a couple of comebacks (with varying, but decent success) and is still on the scene. A truly unique figure that stood out in an era full of unique figures and remains a source of inspiration and respect.

Adam Ant

(Download and open in Microsoft Word for the bestest viewing experiencešŸ˜Š)

07/05/2020

Chartography - The Stranglers

Sad news of The Stranglers' keyboardist Dave Greenfield passing prompted me to finish and publish the chart file on his band. I had a hard time with them, to be honest, and to me they started to be consistently listenable only as the 1980s progressed, from about 1982 onward. I know this is not a very popular opinion and not going to dispute their input in the punk/post-punk movement, which is considerable, to say the least. What's more interesting in the context of this blog is how they actually started their recording carrier with biggest impact and success (albeit mostly limited to their homeland). Progressively their stature in the UK declined - but by lightening their sound they were able to break into some important international markets, so their overall chart count in the 1980s is much bigger then in the 1970s. Of course the 1990s weren't very kind to them, but still they survived and are now seen as an important heritage act. Greenfield's keyboard sound and playing prowess were always an important, indispensable part of the band's music so it's a big loss to them and the world of music. To his memory I dedicate this entry.

The Stranglers

(Download and open in Microsoft Word for the bestest viewing experiencešŸ˜Š)

12/04/2020

Chart collection - RAI Hit Parade (Italy)

Time for another chart collection. This time it's Italy - which didn't have an official chart until 1995! So three charts battled for domination (the story is covered in my chart guide). Books on album and single charts from "Musica e Dischi" and "TV Sorrisi e Canzoni" are published by Italian researcher Guido Racca and are available through Lulu.com. However the third important chart, RAI Hit/Top Parade, is still mostly obscure (Guido did a book on singles chart, but that included info only for Top 10, whereas during 1979-1990 the chart has been Top 20). Happily, the scans of RAI magazine, "Radiocorriere TV", are available on the net, so I managed to copy the charts from them.

So here goes the first post on them. It covers a time when the chart was called RAI Hit Parade and presented a Top 20s for singles and albums (from February 1979 to July 1985). These charts were also basis for a famous and influential Italian TV show "Discoring" - and Mr Racca told me that what was broadcasted and the published lists sometimes differed. You'll be able to see that for yourself in the scans, how songs appear with the "previous week" date when the previous chart doesn't feature them (not many such instances, though). But the magazine's issues are all I have, so... Note also that the names of the files cover a whole week, not one definite date - but that's how it was on the covers. Finally, there are a couple of gaps for 1983 and 1984, but that's because the charts simply weren't published. That's all for now, enjoy!

RAI Hit Parade (1979-1985)