01/01/2021

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 published I'll add a link to it here.

a-ha / ABC / Marc Almond / Alphaville / Adam Ant / Art of Noise // The B-52's / Bangles / Blancmange / Blondie / Laura Branigan / Bronski Beat // Belinda Carlisle / The Cars / China Crisis // Dead or Alive / Chris De Burgh / Depeche Mode // Enigma / Erasure / Eurythmics // Falco / A Flock of Seagulls / Frankie Goes to Hollywood // Eddy Grant // Heaven 17 / Human League // Icehouse / Billy Idol / INXS // Jean Michel Jarre / Johnny Hates Jazz / Grace Jones / Howard Jones // Kajagoogoo / Katrina & The Waves / Nik Kershaw / Kraftwerk // Level 42 / Living in a Box // Madness / Men at Work / Alison Moyet // Nena / New Order // Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark // Pretenders / Propaganda // Roxy Music // Sandra / Simple Minds / Spandau Ballet / Stranglers // Talk Talk / Tears for Fears / Thompson Twins // Ultravox / Midge Ure // Vangelis // Wang Chung / Kim Wilde // Yazoo / Yello

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)

05/04/2020

Chartography - ABC

Interesting how many (if not most) of the big successes of the "New Wave" era fall on debut albums. And usually the bands and artists were unable to built on those foundations, spending their whole carriers trying to recapture the spirit of their first full-format outing. One of the bands to whom this applies the most is ABC. They really did a perfect pop album with "The Lexicon of love" - and were rewarded with worldwide success almost instantly. But they didn't want to repeat themselves and strayed from this style - with immediate (and disastrous) commercial results. So on many of their later albums they tried to write "The lexicon of love part II", to bridge the gap and recapture the audience. And predictably failed. Still, along the way they did manage some notable successes, especially building a fan base in the USA - which many of their contemporaries failed to do. They actually did write "The lexicon of love part II", though of course it wasn't a patch on "part I". Anyway, let's check their way through the world charts.

ABC

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

30/03/2020

Chartography - Dead or Alive

If there's a band whose overall output is completely dwarfed by the one hit song it surely must be Dead or Alive. "You spin me round" has such longevity and popularity it rivals "Take on me" as the ultimate 1980s song in the eyes (ears) of millions. So far it had been a hit in three successive decades (1980s, 1990s and 2000s - twice!), while in 2010s it's inescapable in video mash-ups and so on. It really is a part of a cultural landscape - which is a great achievement. But while it's a good song, not only it's by no means the only one the band recorded, in some countries it's not even their biggest hit (chart-wise). Actually they had quite a protracted carrier, spanning the 1980s and, to lesser extent, 1990s, having success all over the world - USA, Japan, Australia all guaranteed them audiences for years. I personally never could quite warm to them - too one-dimensional musically and the vocals are an acquired taste, - but plenty of people have found them very much their cup of tea. It all came to a halt eventually, and in a new century DOA's front-man Pete Burns became more famous for his non-musical exploits and problems, while music too a very distant second place. Now both mainstays of the band - Burns and his trusty sidekick Steve Coy - are no longer with us, but the legacy of that one song lives on. So let's check what they achieved commercially.

Dead or Alive

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16/02/2020

Chartography - Bronski Beat

The early 1980s were a truly peculiar time in pop when everything seemed possible. Just to imagine a pop band singing openly about gay issues and having widespread, worldwide success - it was unbelievable before that and seldom happened since. Yet here we are with such a band simply owning the charts between 1984 and 1986, having hit after hit with very sharp statements. Of course it didn't boil down to only "gay stuff" - they wrote about the variety of sociopolitical topics, setting them to uptemto synthpop with sometimes very catchy melodies. "Smalltown boy" is the obvious masterpiece, of course - a complete package of song and presentation (video, first of all). Their time in the spotlight proved to be limited, though - a classic case of the band struggling almost as soon as their distinctive member (a singer in this - and so many other cases, some of which we'll meet along the way) leaves. BB practically serves as a springboard for Jimmy Somerville's carrier - and yet they managed to find their own sound and leave their own mark. So here they are:

Bronski Beat

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24/01/2020

Chartography - Nik Kershaw

So, finally, another installment - a chartography of Nik Kershaw. One of the biggest teen sensations of 1984, and not just in his homeland - all of Europe and most of the countries abroad fell to his appeal. And yet, very little appreciation in the USA, something even his record label couldn't comprehend. A bit too Stevie Wonder-y in the vocal department, maybe. Anyway, massive hits for year and a half, ones that are pop classics to this day - "Wouldn't it be good?", "I won't let the sun go down on me", "The riddle". All of this - with songs of substance and unusual subjects, barely a straight love song among them all. "Only in the 1980s". Unfortunately the plug was pulled rather harshly: having started in early 1984, by the end of 1985 Nik started faltering and then disappeared as a commercial force in the space of a year. Another mystery, though he never felt comfortable as a teen pop star and perhaps started to write less catchy, more grown-up songs in no small part to escape the image and adulation. In the 1990s he had another carrier as a pop hit writer, quite successful at that, but then started to perform again, of course on a much smaller scale, but still writing, releasing and playing live. Still, he's an important part of the 1980s culture (especially mid-decade), and had his fair share of hits to warrant a list.

Nik Kershaw

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