Wednesday, 21 February 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: February 21, 1993

A cappella singles don't come around that often, but when they do, they tend to have mixed fortunes on the Australian chart. For every "Caravan Of Love" or "Don't Worry Be Happy", there was a single like The Flying Pickets' remake of Yazoo's "Only You", which reached number 1 in the UK but flopped here.

Shai weren't shy about showing off their vocal prowess

This week in 1993, a brand new vocal harmony group landed themselves a big hit with a song that, in its best version, was entirely without accompanying music. It was huge in America, too - it spent eight weeks at number 2 stuck behind "I Will Always Love You".

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 21, 1993

Speaking of the Whitney Houston mega-ballad, which had its own a cappella introduction, it spent its 10th and final week at number 1 on the ARIA chart this week in 1993. 

Off The Chart
Number 94 "The Lumberjack" by Jackyl
Peak: number 92
Were it not for the chainsaw solo (yes, really) by singer Jesse James Dupree, I reckon this debut single by the Southern rock band would've made even less of an impression locally.

Number 93 "Shamrocks And Shenanigans" by House Of Pain
Peak: number 81
After 14 weeks on the top 50, "Jump Around" finally reached its peak just as the hip-hop group's second single debuted. The music video features a rapid-fire intro by Denis Leary.

Number 86 "Get Away" by Bobby Brown
Peak: number 54
"Good Enough" had been, well, good enough to reach the top 50, but this generic Teddy Riley-produced slice of new jack swing peaked just outside - and also broke Bobby's string of US top 10 singles.

Number 85 Sanctuary MCMXCIII by The Cult
Peak: number 51
The 1985 original was the goth-turned-hard rock band's first UK hit, but missed the top 100 here. This indie dance remix by Youth was issued to promote compilation album Pure Cult

Number 82 "NYC (Can You Believe This City?)" by Charles & Eddie
Peak: number 73
As "Would I Lie To You?" dropped out of the top 10 this week, the nowhere near as memorable Buffalo Springfield-sampling follow-up crept into the other end of the chart.

Number 74 "An Emotional Time" by Hothouse Flowers
Peak: number 57
The Irish folk rock band had been struggling on the ARIA chart for some time, and this difficult lead single from third album Songs From The Rain didn't help matters.

New Entries
Number 47 "Connected" by Stereo MCs
Peak: number 47
Before we get to this week's big singles, we have a couple of releases that just sneaked into the top 50. First up is the title track of British dance group Stereo MCs' third album. A top 20 hit in the UK and the US, "Connected" only made a small impact in Australia, but has enjoyed an incredibly lengthy shelf life, popping up in TV shows, movies and ads ever since. The song gets its riff from "Let Me (Let Me Be Your Lover)" by R&B singer Jimmy "Bo" Horne. And no, that's not the actual music video below.

Number 44 Whore's Moaning by Sonic Youth
Peak: number 44
They'd missed the top 50 with possibly their best known song, "100%", but it would've been pretty rude if Australia hadn't made this exclusively released EP a hit locally. Coming out to coincide with the band's Australasian tour, Whore's Moaning - the title a play on Hormoaning by Nirvana from the year before - featured "Sugar Kane" and had a slightly different tracklisting to the UK release of that single. This would be Sonic Youth's only ARIA top 50 appearance.

Number 43 "Sleeping Satellite" by Tasmin Archer
Peak: number 14
For some reason, I always think this debut single by British singer/songwriter Tasmin Archer was a bigger hit in Australia. Perhaps that's because it reached number 1 in the UK in October 1992 and was among my favourite songs for that year. Lyrically, "Sleeping Satellite" is about NASA's abandoned Moon exploration program - a fact someone has already neatly summarised here. Although Tasmin had just won a BRIT Award for Best Breakthrough Act in mid-February and continued releasing music for the next decade half, she never came anywhere near the success of "Sleeping Satellite" again, especially in Australia, where it was her only top 100 appearance. Like "Connected", the song has endured, partly thanks to a series of cover versions by everyone from Aurora featuring Naimee Coleman to Kim Wilde.

Number 34 "Sweet Thing" by Mick Jagger
Peak: number 18
I can't say I've ever been particularly interested in the music of The Rolling Stones or the solo projects of lead singer Mick Jagger, but it's a little surprising to me that I have no recollection of this song whatsoever. Most of what Mick and his band had released in the '80s caught my attention, but this lead single from his third solo album, Wandering Spirit, made no impression on me at all. And it was a reasonably sized hit - Mick's biggest since 1985's "Just Another Night". Produced by Rick Rubin, the funk-inflected "Sweet Thing" would be Mick's last Australian hit, with not even at attempt to do a Paul McCartney in 2011 enough to return him to the ARIA top 50.

Number 29 "If I Ever Fall In Love" by Shai
Peak: number 4
With the return of vocal harmony groups in the early '90s, there was no greater proof that they really could sing than the a cappella rendition of one of their hits. Normally performed during TV appearances or radio station visits, the unaccompanied harmonisation would establish their credentials, but if they really wanted to show off their vocal chops, they'd release a song performed entirely without music. 
Boyz II Men had done it with their remake of "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday", which would skirt the bottom of the top 100 in Australia later in 1993, but spent five weeks at number 2 in the US in 1991-92. Fellow R&B quartet Shai did even better with their debut single, "If I Ever Fall In Love", which not only spent eight weeks in the runner-up spot on the Billboard Hot 100, but became a top 5 smash here.
As with the Boyz II Men track, there was a subtly accompanied version of "If I Ever Fall In Love", but not only was the a cappella version far superior, it was also the one favoured by music TV and radio. Three years later, a completely different version of the song, titled just "If You Ever", was released by East 17 featuring Gabrielle. After Shai's original had only just made the UK top 40, that duet remake went all the way to number 2 in Britain.

Number 22 "Bed Of Roses" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 10
Bon Jovi's ballads had traditionally not performed as well in Australia as their rockier songs, but that changed with this second single from Keep The Faith, which equalled the peak of the album's upbeat title track and gave the band their fourth top 10 single on the ARIA chart. In the US, where their power ballads had always done well, "Bed Of Roses" also returned them to the top 10 after the blip that had been "Keep The Faith". For me - and I liked "Wanted Dead Or Alive" and "Never Say Goodbye" - "Bed Of Roses" was just too slow and kind of boring. A sign of what was to come from Bon Jovi in the '90s (i.e. more of the same), it signalled their shift to a mature, adult contemporary rock sound.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: the arrival of my favourite song from 1993 and the return of the band who had my favourite song of 1982. Plus, as Whitney Houston lets go of the number 1 spot, she debuts with another Bodyguard hit.

Back to: Feb 14, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 28, 1993

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: February 14, 1993

Yep, here I go again. This week's ARIA top 50 from 1993 allows me to once again talk about my favourite chart topic: one-hit wonders. Both of the new entries on the chart are the second hits by acts frequently considered to have only been successful once.

The singles that prevented Billy Ray Cyrus and Sonia Dada from becoming one-hit wonders

In one case, I'll concede it's fair enough to disregard the relatively minor follow-up to 1992's highest-selling single, but in the other case, a second top 5 smash should not be written out of the history books.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 14, 1993

The song that made history for Whitney Houston in the US was still number 1 in Australia this week in 1993. "I Will Always Love You" spent its ninth straight week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "One More From The City" by Sound Unlimited
Peak: number 56
The Sydney rap outfit's second single in a row to peak in the 50s switched things up with a jazzy feel. It'd be their final single before they split in 1994, with two members going on to form Renegade Funktrain. 

Number 96 "Stand" by Poison
Peak: number 80
In the three years since their last studio album, grunge had taken and Poison's brand of hair metal - given a gospel twist on this lead single from Native Tongue - was on the outs.

Number 95 "Dogs Of Lust" by The The
Peak: number 70
Here's another under-performing lead single - this time from The The's fourth album, Dusk. Like the Poison track, it'd be the last appearance by the band on the ARIA top 100.

Number 89 Rain In Spain by Reckless Hearts
Peak: number 89
Featuring lead track "This Town", this EP was the first - and only - chart appearance by Tasmania's Reckless Hearts. It sounds like the kind of thing that might've done better a few years earlier.

Number 79 "I'm Raving" by L.A. Style
Peak: number 65
Ten months after "James Brown Is Dead" shot up the Australian chart, follow-up "I'm Raving", which I greatly preferred, had to settle for a much more modest peak.

Number 73 "Just Like A Man" by Del Amitri
Peak: number 73
Yet another once successful rock band registering its final top 100 single, Scotland's Del Amitri got no further with this third single from Change Everything

Number 72 "Phorever People" by The Shamen
Peak: number 63
The success of "Ebeneezer Goode" couldn't quite turn previous single "L.S.I." into a hit and it didn't help this follow-up, either. In the UK, "Phorever People" was the dance act's fifth top 10 single in a row - a tally including "Boss Drum", which Australia skipped for the time being.

New Entries
Number 46 "Could've Been Me" by Billy Ray Cyrus
Peak: number 43
I know I'm fussy about one-hit wonders and that not everyone agrees with my rule that any performer who sneaks into the top 50 with a second single is automatically disqualified from being one, but hey, go write your own blog and make up whatever rules you like. As much as I would like for it not to be the case, the man behind the blight that was "Achy Breaky Heart" did manage a second top 50 appearance with this pretty straightforward country tune. Written from the perspective of a man whose former girlfriend is getting married, "Could've Been Me" likely would've come nowhere near the top 50 had it not followed 1992's highest-selling single - and its stay was brief, spending four weeks in the 40s.

Number 17 "You Ain't Thinking (About Me)" by Sonia Dada
Peak: number 3
On the other end of the spectrum, the second single by Sonia Dada, who were only ever popular here and in New Zealand, was a major hit. But, of course, many people only remember "You Don't Treat Me No Good". That debut single still hadn't reached number 1 yet, but it was joined on the chart this week in 1993 by "You Ain't Thinking (About Me)", with the two songs soon to become simultaneous top 5 hits. 
Part of the appeal of this follow-up was that one of its bonus tracks was the dance remix of "You Don't Treat..." that had been on high rotation on the radio, but "You Ain't Thinking..." was a strong enough song in its own right, with a catchy hook and a soulful blues feel that was unlike anything else on the chart. Sonia Dada's singles chart double-up also pushed their self-titled album to a seven-week stay inside the ARIA albums top 5, but then just as quickly as they'd risen to prominence, they disappeared from view, never to return to either top 50 again.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: six new entries, including an a cappella hit, a former UK chart-topper and the only top 50 single from a seminal American alternative rock band.

Back to: Feb 7, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 21, 1993

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: February 7, 1993

What do "High" by The Cure, "Metropolis" by The Church and Duran Duran's "The Wild Boys" have in common? They're all, somewhat surprisingly, the highest charting single by the bands in question in Australia.

Unexpectedly, this would become Hunters & Collectors' highest charting single

But that sometimes happens. For whatever reason, a band doesn't score biggest with their most famous or best song - and it's something we saw with one of the new entries on the ARIA singles chart from this week in 1993.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 7, 1993

The best charting single of Whitney Houston's career was still at number 1 this week in 1993. "I Will Always Love You" had now spent eight weeks on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "All I Want" by Toad The Wet Sprocket
Peak: number 99
They took their name from a Monty Python sketch and this song from their third album provided Toad The Wet Sprocket with their US breakthrough, reaching number 15. 

Number 89 Directions In Groove by DIG
Peak: number 89
This local acid jazz band's music was inescapable in inner city cafes and shops during the mid-'90s - and this was the independently released EP that started it all off. 

New Entries
Number 47 "Steam" by Peter Gabriel
Peak: number 29
I can see why Peter Gabriel didn't kick off the Us campaign with this single. Musically and visually, it's pretty much where he left off in 1987 with "Big Time" and earlier hit "Sledgehammer", and so it might have seemed like he hadn't made any artistic progression in the intervening years. Coming as it did after the more subdued "Digging In The Dirt", however, "Steam" felt like a throwback rather than a repetition. Naturally, the busy music video, again directed by Stephen R Johnson, was a Grammy Award and MTV VMA winner. 

Number 36 "Shivers / Starting Out (live version)" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 19
"Think", the first single from The Screaming Jets' second album, Tear Of Thought, had missed the top 50 entirely in late 1992, but the Newcastle band got things back on track with this remake of a song originally sung by Nick Cave. Released in 1979, "Shivers" had been the second single by post-punk band The Boys Next Door, who would change their name the following year to The Birthday Party (and feature future members of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds in their line-up). One of The Jets' softer offerings, the cover version matched the peak of their last top 20 hit, the Living In England EP, but fell some way short of their biggest single, "Better". "Shivers" was backed by a live version of All For One album track "Starting Out", although the link above is to the original version, not the live recording (which I can't find online).

Number 33 "Hope Of Deliverance" by Paul McCartney
Peak: number 29
A decade earlier, Paul McCartney had still been a major chart force, racking up five top 10 hits in the first half of the '80s (with and without Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder). By 1993, new music from the ex-Beatle was no longer the event it once was, and this Latin-tinged lead single from Paul's ninth solo studio album, Off The Ground, did no better than 1989's "My Brave Face" in reaching the top 30. The album, at least, returned him to the top 10 for the first time since 1987 compilation All The Best!, but this would be Paul's last top 50 singles appearance for more than two decades.

Number 25 "True Tears Of Joy" by Hunters & Collectors
Peak: number 14
All of this week's debuts are less remembered singles by the artists responsible, but in the other three cases, the acts had much bigger hits. For Hunters & Collectors, this ballad fourth single from Cut ranks as their highest charting song of all time. Yep, higher than "Say Goodbye", "Do You See What I See", any of the releases of "Throw Your Arms Around Me" or the song that would follow as Cut's fifth single. Contributing to the success of "True Tears Of Joy" - and its rapid rise this week after struggling in the 80s for a few weeks - was the fact that the CD single was another of those massively discounted releases, retailing for as little as $1. That's possibly why the song, despite taking the band into the top 15 for the only time in their career, hasn't ended up as an Aussie rock classic like those other H&C tracks.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: two acts often wrongly described as one-hit wonders debut with their second top 50 singles - one much bigger than the other.

Back to: Jan 31, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 14, 1993

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: January 31, 1993

It seemed like the perfect recipe for TV success - pretty twentysomethings + angsty pop/rock + primetime drama = ratings gold. But for some reason, TV series The Heights didn't connect in the way Beverly Hills, 90210 had at the start of the decade or movie Reality Bites would the following year.

The Heights lived up to their name in terms of chart position if not TV ratings

The theme tune from the series, however, was a huge hit - and it made its impressive debut on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1993 in the wake of its chart-topping performance in the US.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending January 31, 1993

The song that had knocked the TV theme from the top of the American chart was still number 1 in Australia this week in 1993. "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston showed no sign of going anywhere as it spent its seventh week locked in position.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Forever" by John Stamos with The Beach Boys
Peak: number 100
Four years after "Kokomo" had a stranglehold on number 1, The Beach Boys' now-famous occasional drummer took this new version of 1970 song "Forever" to the other end of the chart.

Number 92 "Mega Mix" by Boney M
Peak: number 70
Nowhere near as successful as the ABBA revival, this new medley (there'd been a different one in 1988) comprised "Rivers Of Babylon", "Sunny", "Ma Baker", "Daddy Cool" and "Rasputin".

Number 71 "The Devil You Know" by Jesus Jones
Peak: number 54
Previous album Doubt had yielded great international success, but the British techno rockers' less commercial sound on follow-up Perverse resulted in the chart peaks you'd expect.

New Entries
Number 50 "Behind The Sun" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Peak: number 37
With Red Hot Chili Peppers having achieved huge worldwide success in 1992, their former record company, EMI, was quick to cash in, releasing compilation album What Hits!? in time for the Christmas market. Oddly, the song chosen to promote the album, which consisted mostly of tracks taken from the band's first four studio albums (as well as Warner Bros hit "Under The Bridge"), didn't reach the top 50 until after Christmas. The sing-song "Behind The Sun" had originally appeared on 1987's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan and was passed over as a single when that album was out for being too catchy.

Number 46 "Love U More" by Sunscreem
Peak: number 30
They released three awesome singles in 1992 - all of which made my end-of-year top 20 - and British dance act Sunscreem finally gained some traction in Australia with the second of those as 1993 got going. A hit in the UK in mid-1992 and soon to be their only US success, "Love U More" was the perfect combination of dance beats, trance synths and singer Lucia Holm's crystal clear vocal. Unfortunately, it would be their only appearance on the ARIA top 50, although it's worth checking out those other two singles, "Perfect Motion" and "Pressure", the latter of which we'll see off the chart in an alternate version later in the year.

Number 37 "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" by Spin Doctors
Peak: number 16
Released in August 1991, it looked for a long time like nothing would happen with Pocket Full Of Kryptonite, the debut album for New York's Spin Doctors. Eventually, thanks to exposure in one part of the States, "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" started to catch on and had become a US top 20 hit over a year after the album was released. Australian followed suit, sending the song many assumed was about singer Chris Barron's ex-girlfriend into the top 20. The track was actually inspired by his stepmother, who told him he'd never amount to anything. Seems she could be wrong, after all.

Number 21 "Friday's Child / La Jour Ou Tu Est Partis" by Wendy Matthews
Peak: number 15
As "The Day You Went Away" fell out of the top 10 in its 21st week on the top 50, Wendy Matthews' latest single shot straight in at number 21, given a helping hand by a French version of her hugely popular ballad as a bonus track. I'm not sure just how many people rushed out to buy the single because of the foreign language version of "The Day You Went Away", but I'd suggest "Friday's Child" wouldn't have done anywhere near as well if it didn't follow the biggest hit of Wendy's career. It's a nice enough song, but kind of forgettable.

Number 3 "How Do You Talk To An Angel" by The Heights
Peak: number 3
Exactly two years earlier, a song from the soon-to-be-massive The Simpsons had made a  modest debut on the top 50 as the new TV ratings year was about to start. Before long, "Do The Bartman" had climbed to number 1. In 1993, Channel 10 had another spin-off hit from one of their shows, but while the theme song from musical drama The Heights became an instant top 3 smash, it climbed no higher. And the series itself had already been axed in the US after just 12 episodes had gone to air. 
Infinitely more successful than the Aaron Spelling-produced show it came from, "How Do You Talk To An Angel" had reached number 1 in America and wound up as the 24th biggest hit of 1993 in Australia. As for the fictional band themselves, two of The Heights wound up on another Spelling show, Beverly Hills, 90210 - lead singer Jamie Walters infamously pushed Donna down a flight of stairs as abusive muso Ray Pruitt, while Zachary Throne featured as Howard, who ran the campus radio station in season four.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: the highest-charting single by a major Australian rock band - and it's not the song you might expect. Plus, one of the year's best music videos.

Back to: Jan 24, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 7, 1993

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: January 24, 1993

Having seen what New Kids On The Block had achieved around the world as the '80s became the '90s, British record companies wanted in on the boy band action. In their threes, fours and fives, the boy bands came thick and fast - and some even had success in Australia as well.

Pop's new bad boys East 17 couldn't quite pull off the Marky Mark look

Like the group that debuted on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1993. One of the two biggest boy bands out of the UK during the '90s, they were everything NKOTB wanted to be when they overhauled their image in 1991: streetwise, cool and just the right amount of bad.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending January 24, 1993

Speaking of streetwise, cool... OK, I'm joking. The number 1 single this week in 1993 was still "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, which registered its sixth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day" by The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. introducing Michelle Visage
Peak: number 90
Another song from The Bodyguard was the first of four soundtrack singles to miss the top 50 this week. This cover of the Bill Withers tune was produced by Clivillés & Cole and featured vocals from the ex-Seduction member and future RuPaul's Drag Race judge.

Number 93 "Money Can't Buy You Love" by Ralph Tresvant
Peak: number 93
Taken from Mo' Money (the same movie that'd featured "The Best Things In Life Are Free"), this track completed a trio of top 50 misses for the New Edition lead singer.

Number 91 "Forever Love" by Color Me Badd
Peak: number 91
Also from Mo' Money, this ballad brought vocal harmony group Color Me Badd back to the top 100 - something previous singles "Heartbreaker" and "Slow Motion" couldn't manage.

Number 71 "I Will Follow Him" by Sister Act
Peak: number 53
The original film was a box office sensation in 1992, but this cover of Little Peggy March's 1963 chart-topper by the singing nuns wasn't a hit this time around. The soundtrack album reached the top 10 this week, however.

Single Of The Week
"I Love You Period" by Dan Baird
Peak: number 83
As lead singer of The Georgia Satellites, he'd made two appearances on the ARIA top 50 - with "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" in 1987 and the following year's cover of "Hippy Hippy Shake" for Cocktail. In 1990, Dan Baird left the Southern rock band to strike out on his own and saw this punctuation-driven lead single from debut solo album Love Songs For The Hearing Impaired reach the US top 30. Maybe if it was called "I Love You Full Stop" in Australia, it would've done better here?

New Entries
Number 50 "House Of Love" by East 17
Peak: number 5
Their rivals for the boy band throne in the UK, Take That, had yet to make any kind of impact in Australia (although their first local hit wasn't far away), but the bad boys of British pop, East 17, struck gold (literally) with debut single "House Of Love". Named after the postcode for Walthamstow, the area of London from which they originated and the title of their debut album, East 17 were comprised of Tony Mortimer, Brian Harvey, Terry Coldwell and John Hendy. 
Like Take That's Gary Barlow, Tony was the musical brains of the group - the writer of all their hits and one of their two lead singers. He was also the one who initially attracted the interest of London Records, with A&R exec Tom Watkins (who'd guided Pet Shop Boys and Bros to fame) suggesting he go down the boy band route. And so, he teamed up with the other three members and together they were signed.
A blend of rave music and hip-hop, "House Of Love" showcased not only Tony's rapping but also Brian's singing, with the latter emerging as a joint frontman. As for the other two? Well, John and Terry became infamous for, in Tony's words, being "known as the two that don't do anything", but in true boy band-style, they made up numbers and contributed to the group's edgy, bad lad image.
The song made it clear from the start that East 17 weren't going to play by the rules when it came to what boy bands typically sang about. No drippy love song, "House Of Love" is a plea for humankind to stop battering the planet - "one more war and she might explode".

Number 48 "Faithful" by Go West
Peak: number 42
Not ones to rush things, Go West finally got around to following up their Pretty Woman smash, "King Of Wishful Thinking", two years later with this just as slickly produced - once again by Peter Wolf - pop tune. Although the length of their absence didn't hurt "Faithful" in the UK and the US, going top 20 in both countries, the duo seemed to have lost their momentum in Australia, missing the top 40 and never returning to the top 100 with any of their subsequent singles.

Number 44 "I'd Die Without You" by PM Dawn
Peak: number 42
The latest releases from the Mo' Money and The Bodyguard soundtracks might have bombed, but PM Dawn managed to sneak into the top 50 with this beautiful song that, like "End Of The Road", featured in Boomerang. Unlike their previous hit, the Spandau Ballet-sampling hip-hop of "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss", "I'd Die Without You" was a heartfelt, wholly sung piano ballad that established the duo could do more than just rap over '80s riffs. Although, having said that, they'd be back on the chart in a matter of months doing just that again...

Number 36 "Gangsta" by Bell Biv DeVoe
Peak: number 17
While Ralph Tresvant proved unable to break into the top 50, three of his New Edition band-mates finally landed a hit in the wake of their oh-so-brief featured spot on "The Best Things In Life Are Free". A between-albums single, "Gangsta" also restored the group's chart fortunes in the US, where it became their biggest hit since their opening salvo of number 3 hits, "Poison" and "Do Me!".

Number 11 "Sweat It Out" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 11
Having got his soul covers album out of his system, Jimmy Barnes was back in a rock frame of mind for his sixth studio album, Heat. Appropriately, the album's lead single was called "Sweat It Out" and its rawer, less commercial sound may be the reason that, after making a splashy debut just outside the top 10, it immediately dropped down the chart, spending just five weeks on the top 50. There was bad news for Jimmy on the albums chart, too - Heat became his first post-Cold Chisel album (which included his five previous studio efforts and live album Barnestorming) not to reach number 1. He had to settle for number 2 instead.

You can find this week's new entries added to my Spotify playlist of all the ARIA chart hits from 1993:

Next week: a TV band whose hit single was way bigger than the show it came from, plus the first hit by a two-hit wonder band who were never seen on the chart again after 1993.

Back to: Jan 17, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 31, 1993

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: January 17, 1993

By this point in 1993, American R&B hits were more readily snapped up by Australian music fans than they had been just a few years earlier. But just because a song had done well in the US, it didn't automatically mean it would be big locally.

You don't think it could have anything to do with the way you're dressed, do you?

This week in 1993, two US top 10 hits entered the ARIA singles chart - and neither charted anywhere near as high here. One was the latest by a female vocal harmony quartet who were still waiting for their big Australian hit, while the other was from a male vocal harmony quintet who'd never take off here. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending January 17, 1993

An American singer whose record-breaking Billboard chart hit had translated down under was still at number 1 this week in 1993. "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston spent its fifth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Cowboy Lover" by Rhapsody
Peak: number 95
Some abysmal locally produced pop to start us off, with this single from Australian duo Rhapsody. The barely in tune "Cowboy Lover" was co-produced by Ashley Cadell, who did much better work for Kate Ceberano.

Number 99 "Hello (Turn Your Radio On)" by Shakespears Sister
Peak: number 97
Not even a return to the ballad style of "Stay" could provide Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit with another hit. This would be the duo's final top 100 appearance in Australia. Marcella's days in the act were also numbered, dismissed via a letter from Siobhan that was read out at the Ivor Novello Awards in May.

Number 96 "Temptation (Brothers In Rhythm remix)" by Heaven 17
Peak: number 64
One of the best songs from 1983 transformed into the best thing released in 1992 - but unfortunately this remix didn't match the original's top 50 performance in Australia.

Number 90 "Form One Planet (Power To The People)" by Rockmelons featuring Eric Sebastian
Peak: number 73
Rockmelons' hit streak came to an end as this title track from their second album, which contained a resung hook from John Lennon's "Power To The People", failed to match the chart highs climbed by the three Deni Hines-featuring singles that preceded it.

Number 73 "Run To You" by Rage
Peak: number 56
Another '80s song given a new lease of life - this time, Bryan Adams's number 24 hit from early 1985 had a pumping Eurodance makeover by the British group renamed En-Rage in Germany to avoid confusion with another act.

New Entries
Number 48 "She's Playing Hard To Get" by Hi-Five
Peak: number 46
Seems Australia was playing hard to get for this five-piece boy band from Texas, who registered three top 10 hits in the US, including this lead single from second album Keep It Goin' On. Here, "She's Playing Hard To Get" peaked just one place higher than previous hit "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)". Later in 1993, tragedy struck the group when one member, Roderick "Pooh" Clark, was involved in a car accident that left him paralysed. By 1994, Hi-Five, who are not to be confused with the later Australian children's act of the same name, had disbanded.

Number 44 "Free Your Mind" by En Vogue
Peak: number 39
Also making the US top 10 (number 8) but only becoming a minor hit in Australia was the latest from the consistently good and continually underappreciated (locally) En Vogue. The kind of fiery funk/R&B track that made you sit up and take notice, especially after the snoozesome "Giving Him Something He Can Feel", "Free Your Mind" saw the four-piece tackling racism and prejudice - especially timely given the LA riots that had occured in mid-1992. Basing its hook on "Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow", a 1970 track by Funkadelic, the slightly reworded "Free Your Mind" ("and the rest will follow") also featured lead vocals from all four members, whose fierce performance in the music video helped it go on to win three MTV Video Music Awards.

Number 38 "Do You Believe In Us" by Jon Secada
Peak: number 38
Our final new entry for the week was yet another single that under-performed here compared to its American success (number 13). I actually prefer this follow-up to Jon Secada's first hit, "Just Another Day", but seems Australia didn't agree, with "Do You Believe In Us" progressing no further on the chart. A Spanish version of the song, titled "Cree En Nuestro Amor", appeared on Jon's album Otro Día Más Sin Verte, which he'd released shortly after his self-titled English-language debut.

You can find this week's new entries added to my Spotify playlist of all the ARIA chart hits from 1993:

Next week: another brilliant American R&B act finally breaks into the top 50. Plus, the arrival of Britain's baddest boy band and the latest return of a duo who burst onto the scene in the mid-'80s.

Back to: Jan 10, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 24, 1993

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: January 10, 1993

A new year, and with the dawn of 1993 came a new musical trend: world music goes electronic. The biggest of the five new entries on the first ARIA chart for the year did for pan pipes and foreign language lyrics what Enigma did for Gregorian chant a couple of years earlier.

1993's first musical trend: world music goes mainstream

The song was a worldwide sensation, but I always associate it with another '90s phenomenon: chart rigging. I'll explain why when we get to it...

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - three weeks ending January 10, 1993

Speaking of phenomena, there was no change at number 1 this week in 1993, with "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston just where we left it. This was the fourth week on top for the Bodyguard smash. 

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Time After Time" by Mark Williams / Tara Morice
Peak: number 82
Unlike the remix of "Love Is In The Air", this remake of the Cyndi Lauper ballad recorded as a duet for Strictly Ballroom (with its female lead as one of the performers) was not a hit.

Number 91 "Love In Motion" by Icehouse featuring Christina Amphlett
Peak: number 74
This revamp of Icehouse's 1981 top 10 hit with guest vocals by the formally credited Divinyls frontwoman was taken from Masterfile, the second compilation of the band's material to stop short of covering the Man Of Colours years.

Number 73 "In Bloom" by Nirvana
Peak: number 73
This fourth and final single from Nevermind might've sounded as, well, grungy as the rest, but it came with a lighthearted music video that saw the band send up 1960s variety shows.

Number 65 "Achy Breaky Heart" by Alvin & The Chipmunks
Peak: number 61
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the helium-voiced rodents gave Billy Ray Cyrus's chart-topper a makeover that resulted in a whole new type of hell.

New Entries
Number 50 "I Will Never Leave You" by Euphoria
Peak: number 41
The dream run was over for two-time chart-topping dance act Euphoria as their fourth single - and first released after their debut album, Total Euphoria - fell a long way short of the top 10. The 2 Unlimited-ish "I Will Never Leave You" also saw the group come full circle with Holly Garnett, who sang the verses, not appearing in the music video, but Keren Minshull, who performed the rest and for whom Holly had lip synced in the "Love You Right" clip, present and accounted for. A post-Holly Euphoria would release one more new single, which we'll see later in the year.

Number 48 "Oíche Chiúin (Silent Night)" by Enya
Peak: number 48
Exactly a year earlier, Enya's Gaelic rendition of the festive favourite had charted as part of a double A-side with "How Can I Keep From Singing?". In 1993, a separate release of "Oíche Chiúin" wound back up in the low 40s thanks to Christmas sales. Enya's persistent record company tried to turn it into a big hit again in 1994-95 and 1995-96 (and maybe on other occasions for all I know), but this was its last appearance in the top 50.

Number 44 "Man On The Moon" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 39
R.E.M. really weren't doing so well with the singles from Automatic For The People at this point, we're they? (Although they could console themselves with the fact the album reached number 2.) Matching "Drive" by peaking in the 30s was this second single, which was inspired by comedian Andy Kaufman. "Man On The Moon" would go on to be used in and provide the title for a film about the former Saturday Night Live cast member in 1999, and despite its surprisingly lowly chart peak here, it's surely become one of the band's most recognisable songs.

Number 43 "Sweet Lullaby" by Deep Forest
Peak: number 7
Indigenous music and dance music had been combined to great effect previously, with the club mixes of Yothu Yindi's songs achieving great success on the ARIA chart. But Yothu Yindi was a contemporary act, while Deep Forrest took recordings of traditional indigenous populations, and blended them with ambient music and electronic beats. On "Sweet Lullaby", a melody that originated from the Solomon Islands was turned into a chillout tune - one that connected with people all around the world, albeit gradually. Released in 1992, it took its time to become a global hit, with countries still coming on board in 1994.
So what's the connection to chart-rigging, I hear you ask? Well, when I worked at a now defunct music store later in the '90s while I was at uni, I witnessed first-hand how sales data was tabulated and was told by the person working out how many copies of each song had been sold that week how easy it was to diddle the figures. In fact, they'd added quite a few sales to the tally for "Sweet Lullaby" when it'd been released, they told me, because they thought it would be funny if it turned into a hit. Of course, I'm not suggesting the song was only successful because one worker in one record shop inflated its sales - it doesn't work like that. And besides, the track was so novel and such an effective production that it was always going to be big. But nevertheless, I always think of that story when I hear the song. 

Number 35 Happy Birthday Helen by Things Of Stone & Wood
Peak: number 9
A song I'm reminded of a couple of times each year when either of my friends named Helen has a birthday, the title track of Things Of Stone & Wood's second EP would provide the Melbourne band with their commercial breakthrough. Naturally, thanks to its jangly, feelgood vibe, it was easy to take the piss out of - and so The Late Show did. "Happy Birthday Helen" was actually written for someone called Helen - singer Greg Arnold's then-girlfriend and future wife, on the occasion of her 22nd birthday.

I'm trying something new this year and creating Spotify playlists for all the top 50 entries on my 25 Years Ago... and 30 Years Ago... posts. Well, as many songs as are available - Euphoria, for example, is not on Spotify. Here's the start of the 1993 one and I'll add to it every week to coincide with each new post:

Next week: a couple of fantastic R&B hits make the chart, a couple of songs from the '80s updated for the '90s don't. 

Back to: Dec 20, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 17, 1993