May 22 – What Was That Number Again?

The world’s most famous phone number became that on this day in 1982 – one hit wonders Tommy Tutone hit “867-5309/Jenny” rang up as #4 in the U.S.

The San Francisco area rockers included members of Clover (a band which morphed into Huey Lewis and the News) and is still going, forty or so years after they began. They actually recorded a new album in 2019, some 21 years after their previous one. According to Alex Call, the writer, “was just trying to write a four-chord rock song.” He explains “I actually came up with ‘Jenny’ and the telephone number and the music…just sitting in my backyard.” Despite rumors, the song wasn’t autobiographical. “There was no Jenny,” he says, adding that when guitarist Jim Keller dropped by, he suggested that the girl’s number should be up on a bathroom wall “we wrote the verses in 15 or 20 minutes.”

The song was from their second album, and although signed to Columbia and scraping onto the American charts a year earlier with a song called “Angel Say No”, no one had high expectations for Tommy Tutone 2. “It didn’t have a lot of promotion,” Call remembers. “It was just one of those songs that got a lot of requests…it was on the charts for 40 weeks.” It earned them a gold single and also rose to #2 in Canada, but they never found the winning number again, failing to have any major hits since.

It wasn’t necessarily a hit for those with the number- people with it (including the daughter of Buffalo’s police chief) were routinely inundated with callers looking for “Jenny” by the hundreds and often ended up changing the number. It also probably frustrated a lot of romeos who were trying to get girls numbers in later years. “A lot of women have told me they use the number as a brush-off…which I think is really great.” So, remember guys, if you see a hot girl who doesn’t seem to swoon at you and you ask for their number…if she writes “867-5309” on your hand, you’re probably never going to see them again. (Perhaps a little like Tommy Tutone itself!)

May 21 – Ziggy Danced To The Top

He’d been Ziggy Stardust and Alladin Sane, a wild innovator and one of rock’s more “out there” stars. But by 1983, David Bowie had perhaps grown tired of putting on masks and other-wordly personas and just wanted to be himself. And to take his career to the next level. On this day 39 years ago, he had succeeded, with his single “Let’s Dance” hitting #1 in the U.S. It was the first single and title track from his 15th studio album, which would go on to be the biggest of his career.

Bowie had, of course, some degree of success before in the 16 or so years he’d been recording prior to this. He’d even had a prior American #1 song, (“Fame”) and in his native Britain, he’d scored three. Nevertheless, he’d always been considered a bit of an oddity, a mid-level star known more for his wild appearance and alter-egos than his radio hits. He wanted to change all that. To do so, he had to step on a few toes. When preparing to record a new record, he’d originally penciled in his friend Tony Visconti to produce it, as he had his last four albums. He had a last-minute change of heart and brought in Nile Rodgers instead.

Rodgers was the American guitarist and co-leader of the band Chic, which had put out a string of disco-based hits at the tail end of the ’70s, and was also integral to producing and putting together the sound of Sister Sledge. Rodgers says when Bowie called him, “he told me that he wanted me to did what I do best – make hits.”

That he did, and he made Bowie’s sound a bit more danceable, a bit more smoothly pop-sounding than it had been in the past. This song for example, was (according to Bowie) rather a folksy-sounding guitar ballad before Rodgers got his hands – and session player pals – on it. Even when it was completed, Bowie didn’t think it sounded like a single. He was partial to “China Girl” (which would in time be released as a single and make #2 in the UK and #10 in the States) but both Rodgers and Bowie’s new record label, EMI , which he had just signed to, insisted otherwise. Wisely so, as it turns out, as it hit #1 in the UK, U.S., Canada, Ireland and elsewhere, quickly propelling the album to the top of the charts and platinum status.

The BBC applauded the song’s “loud stadium-ized drum and bass sound” while journalist Johnny Law noted with it, “Bowie became for the first time. a global pop brand.” That would be helped along by the following singles, the aforementioned “China Girl” and “Modern Love.” “Let’s Dance” would have a second-life, unfortunately precipitated by Bowie’s death in 2016. After that it quickly rose to #23 again in the UK and was the #6 most-streamed song in the U.S.

Bowie wasn’t the only one to benefit from the great single. The striking guitar work on it is courtesy Texan bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan, whom Bowie had seen at Montreaux the previous summer and been impressed enough to want him on the record. Vaughan had been a popular bar performer in Texas but was not widely known in 1982. After the Bowie single, he put out his debut album, Texas Flood, later in ’83 and it hit #38 in the U.S. and spawned his first hit song, “Pride and Joy.”

May 20 – New Wave Supergroup Were Getting Away With It

Yesterday we looked at the breakup of The Smiths, and noted singer Morrissey was quick out of the gates with a solo record not long after. Today we look at one of the first things the Smiths guitar ace, Johnny Marr did after their end. Marr had also played with the idea of a solo record, but he had a lot of friends in music, so he soon paired up with Bernard Sumner, multi-talented singer of New Order to form a band called Electronic. They were about as hot as they’d be this day in 1990, with their first single, “Getting Away With It” making it into the U.S. top 40.

Sumner had been thinking of doing a solo record as well at the time. He was still in New Order and they were doing well, but he was feeling a bit crowded or under-appreciated; that his song ideas weren’t given as much consideration as those of the others. So he started working on one, but found he got bored quickly. So he turned to Marr and they collaborated, bringing in some other big name new wave talent as well – drummer David Palmer of ABC and Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, who actually co-wrote this one.

Marr was a little bitter at Morrissey and how the Smiths ended, so this song was clearly a parody of “Moz” lyrics… the opening line of “I’ve been walking in the rain just to get wet on purpose” gives you a clue to that; Tennant called the idea “miserablism.” Musically though, the sound probably owed more to New Order, with Sumner doing the lead vocals and playing keyboards. Yet another Brit 80s star, Anne Dudley of Art of Noise was called in and arranged and added in the string section. It was somehow reminiscent of The Smiths as well in as much as it had a lively, breezily upbeat feel despite the deliberately morose-leaning lyrics. The NME hit the mark describing it as “A lovely airy melody” with “obtuse lovelorn one-liners” that end up making “the record be much more than the sum of its parts.”

It came out on New Order’s Factory Records, and they gave it a good push, releasing it as a single on 7” and 12” vinyl as well as a cassette single and CD one; with various mixes of the song ranging from about 4:23” in length to 7:30”. It would later be included on their debut, self-titled album.

The song never reached the heights, sonically or commercially of the best of the works of Marr and Sumner’s previous bands, but was a good start to a career – particularly as both of them made a point of Electronic being a side-project, not their life’s main work. “Getting Away With It” hit #12 in their UK (they’d actually have a couple of bigger hits there, including “Get the Message” which hit #8 about a year later) but hit #38 in the States, their only noteworthy success there. On alt rock charts, it reached #4. The album itself went gold in Britain.

Electronic recorded sporadically through the ’90s, at times involving members of Kraftwerk as well, but failed to have a major breakthrough beyond the first record…which is probably OK with them. A gold record and international hit from essentially a weekend side project? That’s “getting away with it”!

May 19 – When Stevie Really Began To Shine

Some cute child prodigies seem to enter the stage with a flourish then disappear before puberty sets in. Once in awhile though, they just keep getting better and making more of a mark for themselves. Such was the case for Stevie Wonder, as we were reminded this day in 1973. That was when he scored his second #1 song of the year, and third overall, with “You Are the Sunshine Of My Life.” It was the second single off his Talking Book album, 15th (besides compilations) of his career…even though he was just 22 when it came out!

Talking Book was considered by many the beginning of the run of truly great albums he made through the ’70s. Not that his earlier work was chopped liver; he’d already delivered such memorable hits as “For Once In My Life” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.” But little by little he’d been getting better, and taking more control over his music. While most of his early songs were written by others, some covers of well-known hits, others written specifically for him by Motown staff, by Talking Book he was the main writer of all the songs. Not to mention that his expertise on the keyboards kept increasing, and his range of instruments expanding. On this hit, he played the electric piano and drums, he added a range of synthesizers and the clavinet (best heard on his other single from the record, “Superstition”) to the mix. Loni Groves and Gloria Barley add background vocals on this, with Jim Gilstrap singing the first two lines. The reasoning for that was seemingly known only to Wonder, but it worked!

At under three minutes it was the shortest song on the album (the album and single are the same length but the single had the tasteful horns added in) and also the first one recorded. It was recorded in one night at the Electric Lady Studios in New York City during the sessions for his previous album, but he decided to hold it back. Undeniably a happy little love song, one is left to surmise what his inspiration was. He’s said “the feeling of the melody is happy because I wrote in when I was in New York in late spring, early summer. Good things were happening!” Which is nice to hear, albeit suprising as that was right around the time Wonder was divorcing his first wife, fellow Motown singer Syreeta Wright.

You Are the Sunshine of My Life” is one of those ’70s songs that seems to raise spirits right away. Rolling Stone would call it a “pop tour de force” while Billboard predicted it would be a hit, noting its “outstanding production.” Years later, the former would rank it among the 200 best songs of all-time.

It didn’t let anybody down commercially, being the hit predicted. It got to #1 in the U.S. by knocking Tony Orlando’s massive “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” out of the top spot. It was a top 10 in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a few other lands and won Stevie one of four Grammys he’d collect in 1974, it winning Best Pop Performance by a Male. Amazingly though, most agree his best work was still to come, later in the decade, proving again that Stevie lives up to his last name.

May 18 – Sailors Weren’t The Only Ones Who Loved Brandy

If you’re a One Hit Wonder that is still widely remembered after five decades, that one hit must’ve done something right. Which it surely did in the case of Looking Glass. Their smash “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” came out as a single – * – 50 years ago today in 1972. We’ll get to that asterisk in a bit.

Looking Glass was a four man rock band (and yes, by and large they were rock & roll even though this hit had them dubbed “New Jersey’s Beach Boys” by some) formed at the tail end of the ’60s at Rutgers University. It was largely led by Elliot Lurie, the lead guitarist and singer, with him and bassist Piet Sweval more or less splitting the songwriting duties. Lurie got the gold star for writing “Brandy.”

The song is of course, a sprightly and elegant early example of what would go on to be considered “yacht rock”, marked as much by Larry Gonsky’s keyboards and horns brought in by Larry Fallon (who says he was the producer of the record although he wasn’t credited as such) as they do to the guitars and bass. It tells of that fine waitress Brandy, whose name was very close to Lurie’s high school girlfriend’s, Randi. Brandy worked at a bar in a port, making all the sailors swoon, but she rejected all their advances because her heart went with a mysterious one who loved her but loved sailing the seas more, leaving her with nothing more than a locket to remember him by.

It was one of the eight tracks on their self-titled debut. They were signed to Epic Records by Clive Davis who saw them playing in a club, and they recorded it near Columbia/Epic’s offices in New York after a session with Steve Cropper (of Otis Redding records fame) in Memphis didn’t pan out well. They put out the first single from it at the beginning of ’72…technically that was “Don’t It Make You Feel Good”, a song written by Sweval. Apparently it didn’t make people feel good; it was widely ignored all over. Here’s where that earlier asterisk comes in. “Don’t It…” didn’t pan out. However, some clever DJ/manager at Washington DC’s most popular station at the time, WPGC, flipped the single over and gave a listen to the b-side : “Brandy.”

He liked it and decided to play it regularly for a few days. “The switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree” each time the station spun it, he recalls. Soon a few other northeastern stations got word of it and played it too. By the time Epic Records took note and started rushing out copies of the single with the “A” and “B” sides reversed, “Brandy” had already hit #1 in D.C. based solely on requests to the pop stations. In late summer, it hit the #1 spot nationally, displacing Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again Naturally” for a week (it was sandwiched between runs on top for that song.) As allmusic note, it was “one of those timeless and very special #1s that come from out of the blue”. Sadly for Looking Glass, they also point out “nothing (else by the band) comes close to the heights of ‘Brandy.’”

Indeed that was true. “Brandy” hit #1 in Canada as well as the U.S., got them a gold single and was the 12th biggest hit of a year chockfull of smash singles. But they’d only squeak into the top 40 once more, with the largely forgettable and forgotten “Jimmy Loves Mary Ann” before breaking up in 1974. Since then, Lurie’s gotten together a new version of Looking Glass to play some oldies festivals and Yacht Rock shows and has a decent career as an entertainment manager in Hollywood. Sweval, sadly died of AIDS in 1992 after being a moderately-popular session musician through the disco era.

As for “Brandy”, it’s retained its popularity every bit as much as the whisky Brandy used to serve the sailors. That’s in no small part due to being used in a plethora of movies and TV shows including A Night at the Roxbury, Charlie’s Angels (each member or their estates, received $30 000 for its use in that), Blackkklansman, the Wire and King of Queens. The Red Hot Chili Peppers at times play it in their shows and Kiss apparently were inspired to write “Hard Luck Woman” by it, with their hard luck woman apparently being that fine barmaid Brandy. Conversely, it inspired Barry Manilow to change a song name. His smash “Mandy” was written and first recorded by Scott English as “Brandy”, but he changed the name because he was worried people would automatically assume it was the Looking Glass song if he kept that name.

One final measure of its popularity : in 1971, Brandy was the 353rd most popular name given to baby girls in the U.S. By 1973, just after the single was a hit, Brandy was the 82nd most popular. Probably more than Billie Jean can say!

May 17 – People Began Drink Juice Up In ’81

It was a good time to be a female singer around this time in 1981. This week 41 years back, Sheena Easton had just dropped out of the top spot on the Billboard singles chart with “Morning Train” and had been replaced by what would go on to be the biggest-seller of the year in the States, “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes. Sitting between them, at a high position of #4 was the tasty Juice Newton‘s “Angel of the Morning.” It was an auspicious entry to the main stage for the New Jersey-born, California raised singer.

Juice had grown up singing and playing guitar, and got good at it playing folk music in cafes around California while she went to college there in the ’60s. Judy Kay Newton took the nickname “Juice” when she signed to RCA with a country band in the mid-’70s,but they didn’t do a great deal commercially. Patience paid off both for her and Capitol Records, who signed her individually after that. Her first two albums went almost unnoticed, but her third, the eponymously-titled Juice, changed all that. The key was that while it sounded in a country vein, it was good enough, and pop enough to hit mainstream radio. When all was said and done, the album went platinum in the U.S., three times that in Canada and launched four hit singles.

Angel of the Morning” was the first, and internationally, biggest of them. The song was written by Chip Taylor in the ’60s. Taylor also wrote the quite different “Wild Thing”, a hit for the Troggs. He says he wrote it right after hearing “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones. “I wanted to capture that kind of passion,” he recalls. The song was offered to Connie Francis, but she found it too risque, so it went to Merrilee Rush. She recorded it and had a top 10 hit in 1968 with it, and others have recorded it including Olivia Newton John, Nina Simone and even Tom Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson, but no one did as well with it or “owned” it like Juice.

She sang and played the acoustic guitar on it, and had some talented studio help to fill out the sound including Dan Dugmore (a member of both James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt’s backing bands) on aching slide guitar. Newton says she was vaguely aware of Rush’s version, but didn’t emulate it since “when it was popular, I was listening to folk music and R&B, and it was pop.”

Soon everyone was listening to her take on it. The song went gold in the States and in Canada where it hit #1. She’d have nearly as much success with the follow-up single, “Queen of Hearts” and then did well at home with “The Sweetest Thing” from it, and three years later, “Ride Em Cowboy”, re-released as a single from the album to promote a best of compilation. Soon after, she’d disappear from the mainstream pop and rock charts, but she remained a viable entity on country radio, having three #1 hits on their charts in the second-half of the decade.

Obviously a country girl at heart, Juice has voiced two audiobooks, both Westerns, and keeps herself busy keeping and trading horses in California these days.

May 16 – Forgotten Gems : Jane Siberry

Well, the Texas heatwave is supposed to spread right the way to the Atlantic this week baking places from Lubbock to Long Island, nature’s impromptu way of saying “summer’s here!”. And with high schools getting out around this time, we can bet that a lot of people will be heading to whatever beach they can find, which brings us to this month’s Forgotten Gem : “Mimi On the Beach.” The odd song was the masses introduction to the equally unusual Jane Siberry back in 1984.

With changeable hair styles and colors that seemed to originate from a base of Annie-style red, an eclectic style of dress that was the antithesis of the likes of Madonna and an obvious sense of humor, at the time some made an obvious comparison to another newcomer and called her “the Canadian Cyndi Lauper.” Soon though, it would become obvious that if comparisons were to be made, experimental femmes like Kate Bush or Laurie Anderson were more appropriate, although really Siberry was her own unique artist. As the Smith Center billed her, Jane is nothing if not “quirky, mysterious, spiritually inquisitive and fashionably avante garde.”

She grew up in the Toronto area, learning to play piano, then guitar by ear as a child. When she got to university, she says “I started out in music, but switched to science when I realized how much more interesting it was to study.” She got a degree in micro-biology, but sang her own brand of quirky folk music in cafes around the area on the side.

A 1981 indie release got her noticed, barely, in Canada and had her sign to the smallish but nationally-distributed Duke St. Records and the prestigious Wyndham Hill in the States. Her first release with them was No Borders Here, from which Mimi surfed in. Generally upbeat pop-new wave tunes, with Jane playing guitar and keyboards and a host of Toronto session musicians backing her (including her then boyfriend John Switzer who co-produced it with her on bass) , the tunes were catchy but what really made them stand out was her lyrics (as well as her multi-octave voice delivering them). Instead of “I love you so much” or “You went away, I’m sad” sorts of thoughts, she mused about things like self-important Yuppies (“Extra Executives”), or the lot of an actress-cum-waitress (“and I’d probably be famous now if I wasn’t such a good waitress!”) . She says “creativity is just inspiration, and I’m inspired everywhere I walk.”

Presumably she took a stroll down along her city’s lakeshore for this one, seeing the tanned jocks and bikini gals showing off for each other. “(It was) the first song where I had more to say than I could actually put in a song,” she told an interviewer recently, “so I put in two monologues, like bursts of color.”

The song runs over seven and a half minutes, so it’s doubtful she could have put in too much more; the label shortened it to about half that for the single and video. The latter became one of Much Music’s first homegrown Canadian hit videos as soon as it took to the cable listings, the single only hit #68 in her homeland but did get massive airplay on some alt rock or college stations. It also made her known enough for her next album, The Speckless Sky to be instantly popular and generate a legitimate hit single for her in “One More Colour.

Although that perhaps opened the door for her to international stardom, Siberry’s always marched to the beat of her own drums (one of the few instruments she hasn’t tackled on her records) and despite a reasonably popular duet with k.d. lang (“Calling All Angels”) in the ’90s, has seemingly steadfastly eschewed star status, so much so that in 2006 she changed her name to Issa, sold off most of her belongings and traveled.Of late, she’s back to Jane and puts out indie records periodically.

May 15 – Fab Three Remembered John

Tragedy can put things in perspective. Not exactly a consolation, but a fact and an explanation for a great song that came out this day in 1981. George Harrison gave us his first single off the Somewhere in England album, “All Those Years Ago” , not only a tribute to John Lennon, but the closest thing we’d get to a Beatles reunion.

Harrison had remained friends with Ringo Starr, and was in 1980, both working, slowly, on his own album, and helping Ringo put together his Stop & Smell the Roses album. Harrison added some guitar work to the record and wrote a song for it, “Wrack My Brain.” He also wrote a version of “All Those Years Ago”, and they did the preliminaries, with Ringo doing the drumming of course. However, Starr didn’t really love the song, and turned it down.

Meanwhile, through rather good fortune that seemed anything but to Harrison originally, Warner Bros. – who distributed his own Dark Horse Records – refused to put out the version of Somewhere in England he turned in late in ’80. They noticed that George had only had one minor hit (the under-rated “Blow Away”) in years and thought the album he finished was rather bland and totally lacking commercial appeal. They even rejected the cover photo.

Harrison was upset, but grudgingly agreed to go back, rework a track or two and add a couple of new songs. Then, of course, John Lennon was murdered. Harrison remembered the old song he’d written for Ringo, and quickly rewrote the lyrics as a love song to John, with lyrics like “we’re living in a bad dream” and “you point to the truth when you say ‘All You Need Is Love’.” He kept the recording of Ringo doing the drums – session superstar Herbie Flowers did the bass by the way – and then, in an act of generosity, called up Paul McCartney. McCartney, along with his Wings bandmates (at that point just his wife Linda and Denny Laine) came by and recorded backing vocals, making it the first time the three had been together on a record since they finished Let It Be some 11 years earlier. Harrison finished it off with a touching video, a slideshow of pictures highlighting John.

It was a good song, and a timely one, and it helped put George back on the musical map, briefly at least. In his UK, it only got to #13 surprisingly, but elsewhere it was very well-received. In Canada it got to #3, in Ireland, #4; it also made the top 10 in Australia and several European lands. In the all-important U.S. market, it was a chart-topper on Adult Contemporary stations (an indication of the aging of the Beatles fans perhaps) and got to #2 on the singles chart, only kept from the top by Kim Carnes mega-selling “Bette Davis Eyes.”

It didn’t help the album out that much though; Somewhere in England peaked in the teens (#11-19) almost worldwide and quickly disappeared, it became George’s first post-Beatles album to not get a gold record (or better) in the U.S. Harrison would be almost invisible in the music world until his big comeback in 1987, Cloud Nine, which had another look back at the Beatles, “When We Were Fab.”

May 15 – Boo Was A Popular Lobo

You just won’t undertand those times unless you lived them.” The sentiment may well be one we will have when telling younger ones about the 2020s in years to come, but the quote was about the Vietnam-era 1960s, and the speaker was a singer who captured the feel of the times very nicely. Lobo‘s “Me and You And A Dog Named Boo” peaked at #5 on this day in 1971.

Lobo” is singer/songwriter Kent Lavoie. The Floridian apparently grew up in a somewhat talented musical neighborhood. He began to play guitar when a neighbor bought a new guitar and threw his old one (a Dobro, a prime find these days for collectors) out on the curb for garbage. Young Lavoie picked it up and learned to play. In high school, he was in a band called The Rumours. Others in the band included Gram Parsons and Jim Stafford, a friend who back in the early-’60s “opened his mouth for anything.” Lavoie seems surprised Stafford went on to be a singer, and a bit of a comedian as well.

After they went their own way, he signed to Big Tree Records, a smallish label which also had April Wine and England Dan & John Ford Colley on the roster. (Big Tree soon was bought out by Bell Records, which actually resulted in one Lobo album being discarded.) He had one single out under his own name in ’69; few noticed. Which brings us to this one, the first “Lobo” single.

Me and You And a Dog Named Boo” is a fine, wistful story of a couple living off the land, just traveling around with a dog in an old creaky car, doing a day job here and there for food or gas, and enjoy the sights of Georgia, Minnesota, California along the way. Lobo notes he’d only been to Georgia out of those at the time, but he could daydream.

He related in an old interview that he had the idea in his head but it was coming easily when he was trying to write lyrics about “You and Me.” Eventually he was sitting in his Florida home, with the big sliding glass doors open, and he wondered if “Me and You” might work better. Right then, “my big German Shepherd, Boo, came running in and looked at me, and I said ‘well! Now, that’s kinda freaky. How about putting a dog named ‘Boo’ in this story.” Evidently, his Boo didn’t make the cover; the 45 came in a record sleeve with a happy-looking Sheepdog on it. The rest was history. Except Kent’s name.

The record company and producer liked the song, but thought it might be seen as a novelty record and didn’t want Lavoie to be unable to be taken seriously in the future, so they suggested a nickname. Lobo, Spanish name for a wolf, came to mind and they ran with it. Today he says “I answer to whatever people call me…unless you’re sending me a check!” Lobo stuck, and so did the song.

It hit #5 in the U.S. and scored him a gold record and it went to #1 in New Zealand and the top 10 in Australia, Canada and the UK. In his home country, he’d follow it up with two more top 10s in the early-’70s, “I’d Love You To Want Me” and “Don’t Expect Me To Be Your Friend”. He was still putting out records as recently as 2010 but hasn’t been exactly a current star since the ’70s. One might gather though that’s an OK thing for Kent who seems to have carried the laid back ’60s attitudes with him through the years.

May 14 – International Success The One Thing For INXS

A gamble paid off well for Australian band INXS this day in 1983. That’s when their single “The One Thing” became their first to make the top 40 charts (or any really) in the U.S. Which is doubtless what they hoped to accomplish and were so confident of, they paid to make it themselves.

By that time INXS were quite well-established in their homeland, having a small record deal, and two albums out that each went gold there and garnered them a trio of charting singles. But they felt they were destined for bigger and better, and weren’t sure their small label, Deluxe, was designed to accommodate that. So they rented a studio and recorded this song themselves. They liked the result so they kept the producer, Mark Opitz, around to do three more. These they used as a demo to shop themselves around to international companies, soon getting signed by Warner Bros. for much of the globe, and Polygram for Europe.

They kept “The One Thing” for their international debut album, Shabooh Shoobah – a title allmusic note is “one of the most annoying…ever” and supposedly derived from the sound of the rhythm of one of the songs on it. Thankfully, most agreed the music was better than the name of the record. Allmusic called it “a talented bunch of performers still finding their identity” but loved this song, “a strutting number that gives (Michael) Hutchence a real chance to shine as a singer” with “synth/guitar/sax hooks” that made it “instantly memorable.”

Hutchence wrote the lyrics about the guy obsessed with a girl who has lots of suitors (and provided his girlfriend as one of the many models for the video) , and though it was short of words, Andrew Farriss thought that a plus. Andrew, one of three Farriss brothers in the group, wrote the music and said of Hutchence “when he felt he had nothing more to say, he wouldn’t say anything more…he wouldn’t try to justify his lyric, and I think there’s a strength to that.”

Seems he said enough, the song became a hit…helped along by their extensive touring of North America that spring and summer. At various times they opened for the Go Gos, Kinks and Hall & Oates and they were on the big stage at the US Festival. It all helped push Shabooh Shoobah to gold status in the States, and “The One Thing” all the way to #2 on the then-new Mainstream Rock chart. Overall, it got to #30, first of nine top 30 hits they’d eventually have Stateside, and #31 in Canada. At home, it helped their career along too, hitting #14, their high mark to that point, although one they’d eclipse many times in the following eight or nine years, particularly with the multi-platinum Kick. So, seemingly having confidence might be “the one thing”. At least it was for INXS.