Number Ones: #61


  • PHIL COLLINS & MARILYN MARTIN Separate Lives (Virgin)
  • Week Ending 21st December 1985
  • 1 Week At #1


For someone who’s never been a great lover of ballads, the penultimate #1 on my Top 40 in 1985 was a rare exception.

Phil Collins’ year already had included one of the biggest-selling, most ubiquitous albums of the decade so far (No Jacket Required), a transatlantic chart-topper with Phillip Bailey (Easy Lover), and several guest appearances on other people’s records in either a performing or producing capacity. There was time for one last assault on the charts, before he returned to the business of a new Genesis album.

Separate Lives was ostensibly taken from the soundtrack of White Nights, a film about Russian ballet dancers defecting to the West (which I have never seen), and curiously wasn’t even the most high-profile song from the project; that honour falling to Lionel Richie’s banal Say You, Say Me. So, unlike 1984’s Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), this didn’t have quite the same “big blockbusting ballad from a movie” status, yet it proved almost as successful. Top 5 in Britain, and (yet another) No.1 in America.

No real surprises there, perhaps, but its ascent to the summit of my own Top 40 was less expected. Besides not being a fan of ballads in general, One More Night – the big slowie from No Jacket Required – had struck me as especially uninspired, and I charted it accordingly. Of course, it was (yet another) No.1 in America.

Usually I can explain away some of the choices I made, and find reasons for why I put a particular record at #1 at the expense of others. Well, I’m kind of struggling to do so in this case!

Separate Lives is perfectly okay, and Marilyn Martin definitely had an appeal (see sleeve for details). The inclusion of No Jacket… standout Only You And I Know on the B-side of the single definitely encouraged me to part with my pocket money as well. However, quite what possessed me to put it at #1 when The Whole Of The Moon by The Waterboys had climbed to #2 the previous week and looked set for the summit, is unclear.

Still, its reign would prove to be brief, blown away by the best thing I’d heard since the giddy days of Two Tribes in May 1984….

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