Chains (T Arena/P Reswick/S Werfel) 1994 and Sorrento Moon (I Remember) (T Arena/D Tyson/C Ward) and Wasn’t It Good (T Arena/H Field/R Parde) 1995 Tina Arena
Tina Arena (real name Filippina Arena) got her start in Young Talent Time during the 1970’s and enjoyed early success in 1990 when she took the disco dance-pop of I Need Your Body to #2 and her debut album, Strong as Steel to #22 nationally. Tina was still trying to shake off her Young Talent Time image by projecting a sexy dance diva persona in the Paula Abdul/Taylor Dane style.
Subsequently she emerged with a more mature, sophisticated, soul-tinged style and convincing soprano voice that was evident on her Don’t Ask album for which she co-wrote 10 of the 11 tracks in 1994.
Chains was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Canadian David Tyson (Alannah Myles, Hall and Oates, Peter Cetera), it is a classic power ballad with new jack swing production techniques and grooves – hip hop and dance-pop hybrid styles, merged within a contemporary rhythm and blues structure.
Arena’s mellifluous soulful vocals over rhythms and beats kept you guessing where the song was going, this is the intriguing enigma at the heart of this song which was inventive and firmly established Tina as an assured adult performer, her vocals are impassioned, and the arrangement and orchestration was dramatic.
The song intros with percussive finger snaps and handclaps, keening vocals and subtle percussion create a sparse, brooding almost menacing aura, strings, backing vocals and the swell of guitars and orchestration take us to the dramatic finale, the diva had delivered.
Written by Tina with Steve Werfel and Pam Reswick who had also written songs for Rick Price, Vanessa Amorosi and Natalie Cole, Chains charted nationally at #4 and internationally it was also a hit, #20 Canada, #7 NZ, #6 UK, #38 USA, and top ten on the European Hot 100 singles.
The second single lifted from the album was Sorrento Moon (I Remember), a nostalgic reflection by Arena of her childhood summer holidays with her family on the Mornington Peninsula at Sorrento (Vic). The predominantly acoustic guitar riffs over subtle keyboards and piano lend a wistful and shimmering back beach sensibility to the song, the string arrangement was delightful and the harmony backing vocals were perfect.
Arena, with her producer David Tyson and Christopher Ward (Alannah Myles, Diana Ross, Wynona Judd, Anne Murray), wrote the song, and it was a hit charting #7 locally, #16 in NZ, and #22 in the UK.
After Heaven Help My Heart climbed to #22 in June ’95, Wasn’t It Good was the fourth single taken off the album, it is a piano-based ballad, with subtle strings and a sensitive, reflective reading of the lyrics by Arena, about the push and pull of an idealistic but ultimately doomed love affair, when reality crashes in “Wouldn’t you know it/ I’ve lost my courage/ Isn’t it funny me lost for words/ Not that it really matters/ ‘Cause I know you know.” The orchestration swells with guitars at the outro to complete a classy record which ARIA deemed to be the Song of the Year in 1996.
Written by Arena with Heather Field and Robert Parde (Rick Price, Vanessa Amorosi, Sophie Monk) the song charted #16 locally and the album Don’t Ask was an international hit, #2 nationally selling 700,000 copies and stayed on the top 50 charts for 92 weeks! It also charted #12 in NZ, #11 in UK, and top forty throughout Europe, sold 1.3 million copies globally, and picked up the ARIA Award for Album of the Year in 1995.
Tina’s next album, In Deep became her first #1 hit in Australia and the first single lifted from it was Burn which climbed to #4, over her career thus far Tina Arena has sold over 7 million records around the world, including an amazing 3 million in France alone, where she lives, and is considered a superstar, Tina was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2015.