Wednesday, 11 September 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: September 11, 1994

From 1987 to 1992, she had dominated the pop music scene, both in Australia and the UK, registering three chart-toppers and 18 top 40 hits locally. So it was a pretty big deal when, after a year off from music in 1993, Kylie Minogue returned this week in 1994.

Kylie Minogue returned with a drastically different sound

But it was not just any comeback - Kylie released the lead single from her first album away from producers Stock Aitken Waterman, who had been responsible for all her hits from "I Should Be So Lucky" onwards. Would her new track return her to the chart highs she'd enjoyed in the past?

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 11, 1994

All-4-One enjoyed their final week high up atop the ARIA singles chart this week in 1994 as "I Swear" stayed at number 1 for a fifth week.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Bop Gun (One Nation)" by Ice Cube featuring George Clinton
Peak: number 93
This third and final top 100 single by the former N.W.A. rapper sampled a Funkadelic track and got its title from a song by Parliament - both groups fronted by George Clinton.

Number 98 "U Go Girl" by Tag Team
Peak: number 85
Following up "Whoomp! (There It Is)" was always going to be tough, but at least the hip-hop duo made the ARIA top 100 with this second single - something they couldn't manage in the US. 

Number 90 "Tree Frog" by Hope
Peak: number 83
As its title suggests, this otherwise fairly unremarkable trance track from David Hope featured the sound of a frog ribbiting throughout. 

Number 79 "Go On Move" by Reel 2 Real featuring The Mad Stuntman
Peak: number 79
Like Tag Team, Reel 2 Real had their work cut out for them living up to "I Like To Move It". Although "Go On Move", which actually pre-dated their big hit, made the UK top 10, Australia didn't come back for much more.

New Entries
Number 50 "My Enemy" by Culture Shock
Peak: number 40
It took its time to get there, but Australian dance group Culture Shock scored a second top 40 hit with this follow-up to "Satisfy The Groove" peaking at number 40 in early October. It would be the final time we'd see them on the chart, with the third single from their self-titled album, "Amor Serenade", missing the top 100. The same fate befell "Who's Gonna Cry For You", a single released by Culture Shock v2.0 in 1995, which by then had become a duo.

Number 49 "Wildflowers" by Things Of Stone And Wood
Peak: number 41
"Happy Birthday Helen" aside, Melbourne folk/rock band Things Of Stone And Wood had a habit of peaking in the 40s and 50s with their singles. Lo and behold, the same thing happened with this lead single from second album Junk Theatre. Despite its cheery sound, "Wildflowers" makes a comment on racism in Australia, asking the question, "Why do Nazis grow like wildflowers?" Why, indeed.

Number 43 "Ain't Nobody" by Jaki Graham
Peak: number 17
It is one of the most covered songs of all time, so it's not that surprising that there were two rival versions of "Ain't Nobody" on the ARIA chart in 1994. Easily the biggest - we'll see the second and less successful one in the coming weeks - was a cover by English singer Jaki Graham. A virtual unknown in Australia, Jaki had enjoyed a trio of top 10 hits in the UK in the mid-'80s, and it's likely this remake was an attempt to get her career back on track after a string of flops there. But while her rendition of the song first released by Rufus and Chaka Khan in 1983 made our top 20, it peaked outside the UK top 40. This new take on "Ain't Nobody" was one of my favourite songs of 1994, but that was down to the Love To Infinity remix, which took a good song and made it even better (as all remixes should).

Number 42 "Dreams" by The Cranberries
Peak: number 30
It had spent a handful of weeks in the lower reaches of the top 100 in late 1993 following the success of "Linger", but "Dreams" - which was actually The Cranberries' debut single - finally became a hit all these months later in the wake of its UK and US success. Although achieving only a relatively modest top 30 placement, the song about first love helped ensure the Irish band's debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, which had re-entered the albums top 50 in June, stayed there for a full year.

Number 41 "I Love The Nightlife (Disco 'Round)" by Alicia Bridges
Peak: number 11
It had reached the Australian top 10 in 1979 and, thanks to its use in The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, it almost repeated that feat 15 years later. The only hit for American singer Alicia Bridges, "I Love The Nightlife (Disco 'Round)" was given a remix for the occasion by Rapino Bros - the duo who'd also transformed Take That's "Could It Be Magic" and "The Rhythm Of The Night" by Corona, while one of the stars of the internationally successful Australian film about drag queens, Hugo Weaving, appeared in a new music video. 

Number 33 "That's The Thing About Football" by Greg Champion
Peak: number 31
One of those random football songs that found its way into the charts every now and then - especially at this time of year - this tune was one of many written by Greg Champion about his favourite sport. It has grown in stature over the years thanks to its use by Channel 7 in the years since.

Number 31 "Confide In Me" by Kylie Minogue
Peak: number 1
Over five years, Kylie Minogue had perfected the art of the cheery three-minute pop song. Although she sexed up her image with 1990's "Better The Devil You Know" and got a little musically adventurous on her final album for PWL, Let's Get To It, she'd pretty much stayed within familiar territory. After leaving the Stock Aitken Waterman stable, she made a bold move and signed with cool UK dance label Deconstruction, home to the likes of Felix, Usura and M-People. And her first single for her new record company was a huge sonic leap.
For one thing, Kylie didn't start singing on "Confide In Me" until about a minute-and-a-half into the almost-six-minute track. Musically, it sounded like nothing she had ever released before. Written and produced by dance duo Brothers In Rhythm, its orchestral-meets-Middle Eastern feel coupled with its trip-hop beat was nothing short of a revelation. It was the last thing most people would have expected from her, which was why it was exactly the type of song she needed to release at this crucial point in her career. 
Catchy enough to appeal to her pop-loving core fanbase, mature enough to show artistic growth and credible enough to win back those fickle members of the Australian public that had abandoned her throughout her SAW period, "Confide In Me" charged from this entry position straight to number 1, giving Kylie her first chart-topper since 1988's "Got To Be Certain". Way to make a comeback.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: it's mega ballad time with two massive downtempo hits - one of which was a cover of a song that had already been to number 1. Plus, the return of Australian rock royalty.

Back to: Sep 4, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 18, 1994

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: September 4, 1994

For some people (i.e. me), it was a major event - a remake of a disco classic that had been a landmark release in 1979, updated by two of the biggest voices in dance music and produced by a couple of hit-makers who'd been behind some of the best pop songs of the previous decade.

Kym and Jocelyn proved more than up to the challenge of remaking Barbra and Donna

But on the ARIA singles top 50 this week in 1994, the track was a one-week wonder - barely a blip on most people's radars at the time. In fact, all four of the new entries on the chart were fleeting hits, with none spending more than two weeks on the countdown.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 4, 1994

A song that was proving anything but fleeting was still at number 1 this week in 1994. "I Swear" by All-4-One spent its fourth week on top. 

Off The Chart
Number 75 "Feel The Pain" by Dinosaur Jr
Peak: number 61
The only top 100 appearance by the American rock band was the lead single from their sixth (and most commercially successful) album, Without A Sound

New Entries
Number 49 "You Mean The World To Me" by Toni Braxton
Peak: number 49
Previous single "Breathe Again" had been a more immediate hit, but this follow-up - another ballad from LA Reid, Babyface and Daryl Simmons - had a much slower trajectory, having first entered the top 100 in late June before bouncing around between the 50s and 70s ever since. This week, "You Mean The World To Me", which I thought was Toni Braxton's best release since debut "Love Shoulda Brought You Home", finally sneaked into the top 50 for a single week.

Number 48 "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" by Kym Mazelle / Jocelyn Brown
Peak: number 48
Back in 1979, divas (in the good sense of the word) Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer teamed up for the original version of what would now be described as a girl power anthem, reaching the Australian top 10 late that year with "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)". Fifteen years later, two more divas - albeit ones with slightly lower profiles - united for a cover version of the song. 
Since the late '80s, Kym Mazelle had released a number of club hits as a solo artist and featured vocalist on tracks by the likes of Soul II Soul and Rapination. Her partner in song on "No More Tears...", Jocelyn Brown, was another woman who was no stranger to a featured vocalist slot, having guested on hits by Right Said Fred and Incognito in the early '90s. Jocelyn's career dated back to around the time of the original version of "No More Tears...", at which point she performed with a number of different groups (Change, Musique, Cerrone, Inner Life), while her best known solo release was 1984's "Somebody Else's Guy".
It wasn't just "No More Tears..." that returned to the ARIA chart this week. Kym and Jocelyn's cover was produced by Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, who had recently reunited away from PWL. This was their first hit in Australia together since Kylie Minogue's "Shocked" in 1991. The production duo would also work on Kym and Jocelyn's next joint single - a remake of ZZ Top's "Gimme All Your Lovin'".

Number 47 "Standing Outside The Fire" by Garth Brooks
Peak: number 45
The only new entry to spend more than one week inside the top 50 (and then, only two weeks) was the first Australian hit for American country megastar Garth Brooks, who wrapped up his first tour of our country on September 5. No doubt receiving a boost from his concerts, "Standing Outside The Fire" also gained attention thanks to its music video, which told the story of a student with Down syndrome wanting to compete in his school's mainstream athletics carnival rather than an event modelled on the Paralympics. 

Number 43 "Alrabaiye (Take Me Up)" by Amadin featuring Swing
Peak: number 43
If this dance track, which was among my favourite songs for 1994, sounds like it could be a Dr Alban song, that's because the Swedish artist co-wrote, executive produced and featured on "Alrabaiye (Take Me Up)". One of the earliest hits for Cheiron - the Stock Aitken Waterman-style hit factory of the late '90s and early '00s - the song was released by duo Amadin, an alias for songwriters John Amatiello and Kristian Lundin, the latter of whom would go on to produce for Cheiron regulars like Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: the return of Australia's biggest pop star (and former recipient of Stock and Aitken's songwriting and production prowess), plus a disco classic makes a comeback and a new version of one of the most covered songs of all time.

Back to: Aug 28, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 11, 1994

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: August 28, 1994

If I could sum up my favourite mid-'90s music in one phrase it would be "Motiv8 remixes". And the song that got the ball rolling for producer Steve Rodway debuted on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1994.

The song that spawned dozens of galloping basslines

Funnily enough, the release was itself a remix, with the tune having originally come out the previous year. Soon enough, Motiv8's trademark Hi-NRG sound would be very much in demand.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 28, 1994

The most in-demand song in Australia this week in 1994 was still "I Swear" by All-4-One, which spent a third week at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Caution To The Wind" by Elastic
Peak: number 61
The brains behind Euphoria, Andrew Klippel, took things in a more laidback direction for his next musical project - but didn't have as much chart success under this name. 

Number 83 "Move Your Body" by Anticappella featuring MC Fixx It
Peak: number 80
As well as being similarly named, Anticappella and Cappella shared a few other things in common - their frenetic Eurodance sound; being formed by Gianfranco Bortolotti and missing the ARIA top 50.

Number 76 "I Ain't Movin'" by Des'ree
Peak: number 59
With "You Gotta Be" still firmly inside the top 20, Des'ree released her second album's title track as the follow-up, but found herself firmly outside the top 50 with this single.

New Entries
Number 48 "Afternoons & Coffeespoons" by Crash Test Dummies
Peak: number 40
Here it is - the song that stopped Crash Test Dummies becoming a one-hit wonder in Australia. So little did I enjoy the dirge that was "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" that I don't think I ever listened to "Afternoons & Coffeespoons" at the time. But it's actually a lot more up than I was expecting, but still with singer Brad Roberts' sonorous voice blasting out like a foghorn. In Canada, "Swimming In Your Ocean" had been released between "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" and "Afternoons & Coffeespoons".

Number 47 "Rain (Let The Children Play)" by Marcia Hines
Peak: number 47
This should have been a much bigger deal. This week marked the return of Australian (by way of America) music royalty - literally, she was TV Week's Queen Of Pop for three years running in the late '70s - with her first new album in over a decade. But the lead single from Marcia Hines' Right Here And Now barely made the top 50 - somewhere she hadn't visited since 1981 with "Your Love Still Brings Me To My Knees". Written and produced by Robyn Smith, who'd been responsible for Margaret Urlich's "Escaping" and "Only My Heart Calling", "Rain (Let The Children Play)" has aspirations of being an epic, uplifting anthem, but something about it falls short, despite there even being a key change at the end and Marcia giving it her all. 

Number 41 "Rockin' For Myself" by Motiv8
Peak: number 9
Originally released in 1993 (and featuring among my year-end favourites), "Rockin' For Myself" had missed the UK top 40. Re-energised with a raft of remixes in 1994, it reached the UK top 20 in May and did even better a few months later in Australia, finding its way into the top 10. An explosive dance track with vocals by Angie Brown, "Rockin' For Myself" became my second favourite song for 1994 - although I slightly favoured a different remix than the one in the music video below. British producer Steve Rodway (who was Motiv8) would quickly become one of the most popular remixers in pop and dance music, with a number of songs over the next couple of years receiving the trademark galloping bassline - many of which you can find in my year-end countdowns, since I pretty much snapped up anything Motiv8 touched over the next few years.

Number 40 "Regulate" by Warren G featuring Nate Dogg
Peak: number 16
I don't think anyone would argue that this is one of the best hip-hop tracks of all time. A collaboration between Warren Griffin III and Nathaniel Hale (and the debut hit for both), the Michael McDonald-sampling "Regulate" took the West Coast sound to a whole new level, reaching number 2 in the US and a more modest top 20 placing in Australia. The back-and-forth lyrics tell the story of a car-jacking and were recorded in Warren G's apartment, with Nate Dogg laying down his vocals in a cupboard. For a longer read on the song, try this Rolling Stone article.

Number 35 "Ballad Of Oz" by Daddy Cool / "Happy Hippy Hut" by Skyhooks
Peak: number 35
From one of the freshest sounds of 1994, we turn now to two Australian bands that were well past their used by date. Joining forces for a one-off single release featuring two songs by each band, Daddy Cool and Skyhooks had, of course, been instrumental in shaping the Australian music scene decades earlier. But while Skyhooks' reunion in 1990 had produced a number 1 single, by 1994, there were few takers for new music from both bands - and a planned joint stadium tour was abandoned.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: a disco duet is given a remake by two different duelling divas, plus the biggest American male country star of the '90s makes his presence felt in Australia.

Back to: Aug 21, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 4, 1994

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: August 21, 1994

It's no wonder dance music got a bad rap in the 1990s - so many successful acts from that genre made use of models as frontpeople rather than the actual singers. And it was still going on this week in 1994.

Olga Souza: to Corona what Katrin Quinol was to Black Box

Clearly learning nothing from the troubles faced by the likes of Milli Vanilli, Technotronic, Snap!, Black Box and C+C Music Factory earlier in the decade, a new Italian dance act debuted on the ARIA chart with a song that would be massive around the world, but the woman performing in the music video did not sing on the record.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 21, 1994

Meanwhile, at number 1 this week in 1994, All-4-One settled in for the long haul with their remake of "I Swear".

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Oblivion" by Terrorvision
Peak: number 65
They would go on to enjoy a handful of top 10 hits at home, but this was the only charting single for the British rock band locally, and was taken from second album How To Make Friends And Influence People

Number 92 "Away From Home" by Dr Alban
Peak: number 92
Having failed to ignite much interest in the two-year-old "It's My Life", Dr Alban's Australian record company moved on to this rather gloomy-sounding single from next album Look Who's Tallking

Number 88 "Come In Out Of The Rain" by Wendy Moten
Peak: number 52
I was a big fan of this OTT, key change-featuring power ballad in 1994, which was a UK top 10 hit for the American singer but fell just short of the ARIA top 50.

Number 85 "Everybody" by DJ BoBo
Peak: number 85
The Swiss Eurodance act was still lifting tracks from debut album Dance With Me, but not even the fact that this final single sounded like something Ace Of Base would release could push it up the chart.

New Entries
Number 47 "If You Go" by Jon Secada
Peak: number 47
Making a brief appearance in the top 50 was this first taste of Jon Secada's second album, Heart, Soul & A Voice - and the former backing singer served up a familiar musical dish, with "If You Go" sounding fairly similar to his two previous hits, "Just Another Day" and "Do You Believe In Us". That wasn't a bad thing per se - "If You Go" has another great chorus. The song was also made available in Spanish as "Si Te Vas".

Number 42 "Tunnel" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 39
I'm sure there's a reason why this fifth and final single from The Screaming Jets' almost two-year-old Tear Of Thought album was given a release, especially since "Tunnel" had also appeared on 1992's Living In England EP. Clearly enough people either a) didn't own either of those two releases or b) liked the song enough to want the shorter single version of it. As far as the band's songs go, this was one of their catchier hits.

Number 32 "Letitgo" by Prince
Peak: number 22
This was where Prince lost me - and, I'd suggest, quite a lot of people. To be fair, it wasn't entirely his fault that he had to resort to pulling stuff out of the Paisley Park vault just to satisfy the terms of his contract with Warner Bros. But even though this lead single from the cobbled together album Come was actually newly recorded for the release, it certainly didn't feel like Prince at his best - and we'd only recently seen what he was capable of at full capacity with chart-topping single "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World"

Number 27 "The Rhythm Of The Night" by Corona
Peak: number 8
You have to wonder why Corona mastermind Francesco Bontempi (aka Lee Marrow) decided it would be a good idea to have Brazilian model Olga Souza appear in the music video for "The Rhythm Of The Night" and not the song's actual vocalist, Jenny B, given all the flak faced by groups like Black Box and Milli Vanilli earlier in the decade. But despite what seemed like a very bad idea, no one seemed to care that Olga didn't sing the insanely catchy slice of Eurodance, with "The Rhythm Of The Night" becoming a huge hit around the world, including in the US who were probably the least accepting of such shenanigans. In Australia, the original Italian mix of the song was the hit version, while in the UK, they went with the superior, in my opinion, Rapino remix. Fun fact: the verses of "The Rhythm Of The Night" are taken from an obscure 1987 song called "Save Me" by Dutch duo Say When! (one half of whom is the mother of Eva Simons).

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: one of the most iconic rap tracks of the '90s, a dance act that were responsible for some of my favourite songs and remixes of all time and the return of two veteran Australian bands.

Back to: Aug 14, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 28, 1994

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: August 14, 1994

I liked a lot of dance music in 1994 - from techno to Eurodance, dance-pop to hi-NRG, synthpop to trance. But there was one massive club track that year I couldn't stand.

Just what dance music needed: banjos

Debuting on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1994, the song gained more attention than your average dance track by virtue of it featuring a banjo. As a result of the added exposure and interest, it was among the year's 20 biggest hits in Australia.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 14, 1994

A song that was the second-biggest single of 1994 in Australia moved up to number 1 this week. "I Swear" by All-4-One deposed the year's top seller, "Love Is All Around", starting a five-week run at the top.

Off The Chart
Number 94 "Sometimes Always" by The Jesus & Mary Chain
Peak: number 62
This single from Stoned & Dethroned was a duet between Jesus & Mary Chain frontman Jim Reid and Mazzy Star's singer, Hope Sandoval. It was also the highest the Scottish indie band ever reached in Australia.

New Entries
Number 46 "Speed" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 33
Although the 1990s had started off pretty well for Billy Idol, with top 10 hit "Cradle Of Love", his music career took a major downturn with the release of 1993's Cyberpunk, leading to tensions with his record label. Away from music, the rock star was dealing with drug-related issues, brought to a head by his collapse outside an LA nightclub in early August. Could a one-off single for one of the biggest films of the year, Speed starring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and Dennis Hopper, turn things around? It would seem not. Written and produced with long-time collaborator Steve Stevens, "Speed" just wasn't up to standard, despite apparently being modelled on "Rebel Yell". Due to those record comapny problems, it would be Billy's last release for seven years - and remains his final hit in Australia.

Number 43 "Swamp Thing" by The Grid
Peak: number 3
I had actually liked some of The Grid's earlier releases - tracks like "A Beat Called Love" from 1990 and 1993's "Crystal Clear" - but I could not stand the one and only hit for the duo comprised of ex-Soft Cell member David Ball and Richard Norris in Australia. Featuring an irritating banjo line, "Swamp Thing" was so unique that it was only ever going to be a huge success, which meant it was inescapable in the second half of the year - especially in clubs, where I would always take a toilet break when it came on. For me, it felt like a novelty record but obviously enough other people liked it to send it number 3 and for it to end up as the year's 17th highest-selling single locally. Naturally, it also inspired a string of imitators, like "Everybody Gonfi-Gon" by 2 Cowboys, which we showed enough sense not to also turn into a hit (unlike in the UK). 

Number 39 "Heaven 'n Hell" by Salt 'n' Pepa
Peak: number 21
Their last two singles - which had both just missed out on topping the ARIA chart - had been playful and sexy, but rap trio Salt 'n' Pepa got political on this third hit from Very Necessary, tackling social issues like gun crime, drug abuse and poverty in the song's lyrics. One thing "Heaven 'n Hell" did share with its two predecessors, "Shoop" and "Whatta Man", was its throwback funk feel, courtesy of a handful of samples from the late '60s and '70s.

Number 37 "Give It Up" by Public Enemy
Peak: number 16
While Salt 'n' Pepa were up to the eighth hit, hip-hop legends Public Enemy had never quite been able to crack the top 50 despite coming close a couple of times. Until now. They not only entered the top 50 but made it all the way to the top 20 with this single from fifth album Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (say it quickly). Also their biggest hit in the US, "Give It Up" delved into the '60s and '70s for its multiple samples, with the song easily one of their most mainstream releases (thus its chart success, I guess).

Number 34 "Jessie" by Joshua Kadison
Peak: number 15
Let's shift gears totally for some adult contemporary soft rock and this debut single from singer/pianist Joshua Kadison. The definition of a slow burn, "Jessie" was released in the US in May 1993, entered the Billboard Hot 100 in October that year and did not reach its peak there until February 1994. In Australia, it had been slowly working its way up the top 100 since early June. Originally recorded with a full band by producers Rod Argent (of Argent fame) and Peter Van Hooke (from Mike + The Mechanics), they ended up opting for this more minimal sound. Joshua had been dating Sarah Jessica Parker before recording the song, with unconfirmed rumours that it is about her - a topic Joshua refuses to be drawn on.

Number 31 "Do You Wanna Get Funky" by C+C Music Factory
Peak: number 11
And it's back to the dancefloor for the week's final new entry, although this lead single from C+C Music Factory's second album, Anything Goes!, had more of a laidback R&B vibe than house-influenced party-starters like "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" and "Just A Touch Of Love". Featuring vocals by Martha Wash, Zelma Davis and Trilogy (who all appeared in the music video performing their relevant bits), "Do You Wanna Get Funky" almost gave the dance act a third top 10 hit - and would end up being their final chart appearance in Australia.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: one of 1994's best dance tracks, plus the turning point in the career of a major music star.

Back to: Aug 7, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 21, 1994

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: August 7, 1994

These days, unexpected musical collaborations are pretty common, so much so that it's more unexpected when an artist doesn't have one or two random featuring credits in their discography. But back in 1994, it was a big deal when two acts you wouldn't automatically put together made beautiful music.

Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry made an unexpected match 

This week in 1994, a singer-songwriter from Senegal and a Swedish hip-hop star who came to fame while she was living in London debuted on the ARIA top 50 with a duet that would end up as one of the year's biggest hits.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 7, 1994

The actual biggest hit of 1994, "Love Is All Around" by Wet Wet Wet, spent its sixth and final week at number 1 this week. 

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Save Our Love" by Eternal
Peak: number 70
"Stay" was living up to its name by remaining near the top of the chart, but this follow-up was the first of five more UK top 15 singles from Always And Forever that did nothing here.

Number 99 "Low" by Cracker
Peak: number 63
This was the only top 100 hit - here and in the US, where it peaked one place lower - for the American rock band. The video features Roseanne star Sandra Bernhard in a boxing ring with Cracker's singer, David Lowery.

Number 96 "Andres" by L7
Peak: number 86
They'd just grazed the top 50 with their previous album, Bricks Are Heavy, and single "Pretend We're Dead", but this lead single from follow-up Hungry For Stink (and the album itself) fell short.

Number 84 "It's Me" by Alice Cooper
Peak: number 77
This power ballad second single from The Last Temptation was another flop for Alice Cooper, who would never return to the top 100 again.

Number 83 "Send A Message" by Robertson Brothers
Peak: number 68
Their debut single had ventured into the top 50; follow-up "Winter In America" had missed the top 100. This third single, released around the same time as debut album Symmetry, split the difference.

New Entries
Number 48 "American Life In The Summertime" by Francis Dunnery
Peak: number 18
You learn something new every day. Having never really been across It Bites or their UK top 10 hit from 1986, "Calling All The Heroes", I didn't realise until now that their former frontman, Francis Dunnery, was British and not American, as the title of his one and only solo hit would suggest. And is it just me, or is the genre-blurring "American Life In The Summertime" reminiscent of Beck's "Loser" (another reason why I didn't pay it or Francis's backstory too much attention)?

Number 43 "Find Me (Odyssey To Anyoona)" by Jam & Spoon featuring Plavka
Peak: number 22
I know people really like this song, and some even prefer it to the mammoth "Right In The Night (Fall In Love With Music)", which was in its 17th week on the top 50, but I've always found "Find Me (Odyssey To Anyoona)" kind of meh. It's a serviceable enough trance track, I guess, but I doubt it would've been anywhere near as big if it wasn't following the German duo's previous hit. Once again, vocals were provided by Plavka Lonich, who became a fixture in Jam & Spoon until the mid-2000s when member Markus Löffel died of a heart attack.

Number 39 "Stay (I Missed You)" by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
Peak: number 6
So far, the Reality Bites soundtrack had been responsible for Big Mountain's hit remake of "Baby, I Love Your Way" and "My Sharona" by The Knack re-entering the top 100, and also featured Crowded House's "Locked Out". The second top 10 hit from the album came from a singer who didn't even have a record deal when her song was selected for use in the film. A friend of Ethan Hawke (who starred in Reality Bites), Lisa Loeb and her song "Stay (I Missed You)" were brought to the attention of director Ben Stiller and a (fleeting) music star was born. A number 1 hit in the US, "Stay..." was written about a breakup with her boyfriend, who was also her co-producer. Although Lisa has continued to release music (and star in the odd reality show) ever since, she's never recaptured the chart heights climbed by this debut single.

Number 30 "7 Seconds" by Youssou N'Dour / Neneh Cherry
Peak: number 3
As a fan of Neneh Cherry's two studio albums up until this point, I have to admit to being a little suprised in 1994 when she returned with this elegant duet with renowned Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour. Co-written by Neneh and without a rap to be heard, "7 Seconds" is about the immediate aftermath of a baby being born, when they are unaware of the problems in the world. As well as the collaboration being unexpected, the song was novel thanks to it featuring three different languages: English, French and Wolof. Easily the biggest hit of Neneh Cherry's career in Australia, "7 Seconds" would end up being included on her 1996 album, Man, as well as appearing on Youssou's The Guide (Wommat) from 1994.

Number 24 "Vasoline" by Stone Temple Pilots
Peak: number 24
They'd charted a handful of songs lower down the top 100, but this second single from Purple finally gave Stone Temple Pilots a hit to call their own (even if it got no further than this entry position). Singer Scott Weiland has said he got the line "flies in the vasoline" when he misheard the title of "Life In The Fast Lane" by Eagles, while the song itself deals with his descent into drug addiction. Sub-editor's note: the title of "Vasoline" is spelt differently than Vaseline petroleum jelly.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: one of the most annoying dance hits of the year, the not-so-big theme to one of the year's biggest movies and a legendary hip-hop group finally reaches the top 50.

Back to: Jul 31, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 14, 1994

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: July 31, 1994

They would come to be two of the most influential and acclaimed bands of the decade (and beyond), but this week in 1994, a British dance act and an American pop/punk band made rather understated debuts on the ARIA top 50.

The Prodigy's debut top 50 appearance was, actually, pretty good

In the case of the former, it was their first hit after a couple of years of much greater success in the UK, while for the latter, it was their first commercially released single from their first major label album.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 31, 1994

Speaking of firsts, Wet Wet Wet showed no signs of going anywhere with their first number 1 single. "Love Is All Around" remained on top for a fifth week.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Trust Me" by Pandora
Peak: number 82
I was a big fan of this debut single by the Swedish Eurodance singer born Anneli Magnusson, but she wouldn't have a hit in Australia until 1998.

Number 92 "Everything Changes" by Take That
Peak: number 58
For the time being, the top 10 success of "Pray" was the exception rather than the rule as the title track from the boy band's second album took them back outside the top 50.

Number 88 "Many Rivers" by 3 The Hard Way
Peak: number 88
As "Hip Hop Holiday" fell out of the top 20 for good this week, the New Zealand act tried their luck with another update - this time of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers To Cross" - but without the same success.

Number 74 "Sweetness And Light" by Itch-E & Scratch-E
Peak: number 65
The debut offering from the duo comprised of Paul Mac and Andy Rantzen, this trance classic won the ARIA Award for Best Dance Release, with Paul famously thanking Sydney's ecstasy dealers in his acceptance speech.

New Entries
Number 48 "Snake Skin Shoes" by The Black Sorrows
Peak: number 16
I can honestly say I have no recollection of this song at all, which is a little surprising given it's the second highest-charting song of The Black Sorrows' career. In my defence, the lead single from the band's eighth album, Lucky Charm, did have a fairly fleeting top 50 appearance, rocketing up to its top 20 peak within three weeks before dropping straight back out of the chart in another four weeks. Still, it's pretty surprising that out of The Black Sorrows' many singles, only "Chained To The Wheel" (which I do quite like) peaked higher.

Number 46 "You Got Me Floatin'" by P.M. Dawn
Peak: number 43
Here's a song I do remember, mostly because I still own it on CD single (granted, that's as a bonus track on upcoming P.M. Dawn single "Sometimes I Miss You So Much"). Lifted from the multi-artist album Stone Free: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix, this radical reworking of a track from The Jimi Hendrix Experience's second album, Axis: Bold As Love, brought the Cordes brothers back to the top 50 for the first time since "Looking Through Patient Eyes", despite having released a string of excellent singles from The Bliss Album...?, including a collaboration with Boy George and a Beatles cover.

Number 45 "No Good (Start The Dance)" by The Prodigy
Peak: number 45
Since the rave scene had never been as big a thing in Australia as it had in the UK, the first batch of singles by dance act The Prodigy had failed to connect locally. Apart from debut single "Charly", which spawned a host of sound-alikes (including ARIA top 10 single "Sesame's Treet"), I had actually been quite a fan of their output up until this point, with "Out Of Space" and "Wind It Up (Rewound)" particular favourites (thanks, UK Chart Attack). 
On second album Music For The Jilted Generation, The Prodigy started to tweak their sound, heading towards the genre-mashing feel of "Firestarter" and "Breathe". The album's first single, "One Love", had once again missed our chart, but follow-up "No Good (Start The Dance)" finally cracked not only the top 100 but the top 50 as well. Based around a sample of club track "You're No Good For Me" by Kelly Charles, "No Good..." was easily The Prodigy's most accessible track to date, while still retaining the edge that distinguished them from the plethora of Eurodance and he-raps, she-sings techno groups on the chart.

Number 44 "Longview" by Green Day
Peak: number 33
While The Prodigy would be pivotal in the evolution of electronic music in the 1990s, Green Day would open the door for countless pop punk bands that followed where they led with major label debut Dookie. But it was also a slow build for the American trio. Their third album overall, Dookie, would end up as the 10th highest-selling album of 1995 in Australia, but in 1994, it didn't get higher than number 26. And debut single "Longview" was the bigger of two singles released that year. Written about being bored, taking drugs and wanking, the song connected easily with the young disaffected youth of America and Australia, its raucous energy an antidote to the woe is me angst of grunge.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: another Reality Bites-associated hit arrives, plus the follow-up to one of the year's biggest number 2 hits and a world music star joins forces with a hip-hop singer.

Back to: Jul 24, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 7, 1994