Thirty years ago: A retrospective review of Jason Donovan’s debut album “Ten Good Reasons”.
Neighbours heartthrob Jason Donovan had released his debut single “Nothing Can Divide Us” in the Autumn of 1988 and followed this with his million selling duet “Especially For You” with co-star Kylie Minogue that Christmas. He started 1989 with the first number one of the year and quickly followed with with another chart topper “Too Many Broken Hearts”. With Kylie having claimed the biggest selling album of 1988 and her career already flying high, all eyes were on Jason to see if he could repeat that success in 1989.
Recording for his debut album spanned the early months of 1989 with expectation high following the enormous success of “Too Many Broken Hearts”. By the end of March the album was pressed and ready to hit the shops for an awaiting and eager audience as well as blood-thirsty critics to sink their teeth into the latest Stock Aitken Waterman long player! So what did they get…?
1. Too Many Broken Hearts
The album kicks of in fine style with Jason’s most recent chart topper and his second official solo single release. With its instantly recognisable guitar and drum opening, “Too Many Broken Hearts” was the song the truly sealed Jason’s place in pop music history. A two week chart topper in the UK, the song spend three months in the top 40, five of which were either at No.1 or No.2! It made No.7 in Australia as well as making the top ten throughout most of Europe, becoming one of the biggest selling singles of the year. Jason filmed the video in and around the town of Beechworth in Victoria and the shots of him on top of the mountain playing his guitar are now iconic, a feat that must of required one very long extension lead!
2. Nothing Can Divide Us
Jason made his debut in late August 1988 with this track, which we discussed in more detail in 2018 when we celebrated its thirtieth birthday. Click here to read all about the song!
3. Every Day (I Love You More)
“Oh everyday” exclaims Jason as we launch into yet more power pop. “And everyday and every way I love you more” he concludes. A simple yet effective message over a great, uplifting S/A/W backing track that cried out for release as a single. And come August 1989, we got it! The fifth (if you’re including “Especially“) and final track lifted from the album, a full year after the release of “Nothing Can Divide Us”. The song peaked at No.2 in the UK, giving Jason a run of four consecutive top two hits there in eight months! It fared less well ‘down under’ where it stopped at No.43, but it did go all the way in Ireland and charted high in both Finland and Germany.
4. You Can Depend On Me
Crank up the SAW/PWL volume now with this next track that could pass as “Hand On Your Heart-2″ or the future, forthcoming “Listen To Your Heart” – surely it hasn’t come from the same Hit Factory?(!) It’s joyous and seems to breeze in without a care in the world, and isn’t that how we like the sound of a new generation to be?
5. Time Heals
Try not to have a drink before you listen to “Time Heals”, it’s very quick! “People try to tell me that time heals, time heals” repeats Jason over and over and it sounds like the speed increases as this song progresses. Maybe I’ve drunk too much black coffee by now?! Let’s hope time has healed for Jason.
6. Sealed With A Kiss
Ok, the ‘big ballad’ of the album, and a cover of The Four Voices 1960 original, later covered by Brian Hyland (1962), Gary Lewis and the Playboys (1968) and Bobby Vinton (1972). Hyland had taken his version to number three in both the UK and the US, but it would be Jason who took his all the way to the top at the beginning of June 1989, giving him his third consecutive UK chart topper! The song also went top ten in Australia and throughout most of Europe, again outperforming all of the previous versions. Strangely it wasn’t released in America, and who knows, it could of beaten Hyland’s version there too!
7. Question Of Pride
More SAW power pop now with some pretty high and strong vocals from Jason. The backing track sounds very much like “Too Many Broken Hearts” with electric guitars and those stalwart PWL girls on backing vocals.
8. If I Don’t Have You
Slightly more down-tempo but still pop-y and jolly enough is “If I Don’t Have You”, although it feels too much like an unwanted B side more than an album track. Maybe “Wrap My Arms Around You” (B side to “Too Many Broken Hearts”) would of fitted in better as an album track instead of…?
9. Change Your Mind
This is more like it! “Change Your Mind” has a great 80’s vibe to it with lots superb vocal mixing particularly on the chorus where Jason and the backing singers ‘stutter’ into “ch-ch-ch-change your mind, ch-ch-ch-change your mind”. Great synth and keyboard programming throughout too. I can’t help feeling this would of been a great single to release and something a little bit different to the rest of the album.
10. Too Late To Say Goodbye
More down-tempo pop now, this time with a sad message but yet another infuriating catchy chorus and middle eight! Like almost all the songs on ‘side 2’, “Too Late To Say Goodbye” is short in length, probably due to the fact there are eleven songs on this PWL release, not the usual standard ten.
11. Especially For You
The album closes with a ‘bonus’ track and the big duet from Christmas 1988, and again we celebrated its thirtieth birthday in 2018 with a very special feature, so click here to learn all about the song and take a trip down memory lane with its video and subsequent live performances.
The album was titled “Ten Good Reasons”, taking its name from the line “I’ll give you one good reason to leave me, I’ll give you ten good reasons to stay” from “Too Many Broken Hearts” which also was to acknowledgment of the number of tracks on the album. However, at the last minute it was decided to include “Especially For You” for good measure. The track would not feature on Kylie’s second studio album that was delivered later the same year, which made its appearance on “Ten Good Reasons” even more highly prized. It ultimately took another three years before it showed up on Kylie’s 1992 “Greatest Hits” album.
“Ten Good Reasons” debuted on 1st May 1989 and became a surefire smash immediately and hardly surprisingly, it was the UK that was at the centre of this success. Entering the chart at No.2 (second only to Simple Minds “Street Fighting Years”), the following week saw it take pole position. “Ten Good Reasons” would go on to become the biggest seller of the year, the second year running a SAW produced album topped the end of year charts, being certified as five times Platinum for sales of over 1.5 million copies. The album would peak at No.5 in Jason’s home country as well as a top five placing in Germany and New Zealand. Whilst global sales failed to reach the huge success of “Kylie“, “Ten Good Reasons” was classified as a resounding hit and affirmed Stock Aitken Waterman as one of the decades most successful production teams and studios.
Jason would never again attain or better the success of “Ten Good Reasons” but for a moment in time was the most successful recording artist around, with three consecutive chart topping singles and a number one album to his name. Jason would close 1989 with a brand new recording, “When You Come Back To Me”, that would herald in both a new decade and a new album the following year. The challenges and expectations were therefore that much greater than before, but irrespective of whether either were met or exceeded, 1989 was truly Jason’s year, just as his Neighbours co-star had been crowned the biggest selling artist of 1988. If, like me, you’ve consigned “Ten Good Reasons” to the music cabinet for many years, unheard and unloved, spare some time will you and join me on a journey back thirty years to a time when music meant PWL and it didn’t get much better than “Ten Good Reasons”!