Wednesday, 4 December 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: December 4, 1994

Some songs are ahead of their time, failing to connect with the public when they are initially released. Songs like one of the new entries on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1994.

A decade and a remix finally gave Severed Heads a hit

Originally released in 1984, it had no impact on the mainstream. Revived and remixed a decade later, it became a top 20 hit and lauded as one of the best homegrown dance tracks of all time.

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

One of the most popular homegrown rock tracks of all time came to the end of its run at number 1 this week in 1994. "Tomorrow" by silverchair spent its sixth and final week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Atomic (remix)" by Blondie
Peak: number 98 (original peak: number 12)
Here's a song that had been successful when initially released back in 1980 (and is my favourite single for that year), but didn't enjoy another burst of popularity when remixed for The Platinum Collection by British DJ Diddy (although I also liked this version).

Number 95 "Space" by Prince
Peak: number 91
Not even a substantial remix from the album version could help this second single from Come follow "Letitgo" into the top 50.

Number 82 "Melody Of Love (Wanna Be Loved)" by Donna Summer
Peak: number 79
This brand new track, co-written by Clivill├ęs & Cole, was included on Endless Summer: Donna Summer's Greatest Hits, however it didn't become one of them.

Number 65 "A Conspiracy" by The Black Crowes
Peak: number 62
A final top 100 appearance for the band with this lead single from their third album, Amorica, which had one of the most memorable front covers in some time. Look it up.

New Entries
Number 50 Gyroscope by Tumbleweed
Peak: number 50
They'd peaked just outside the top 50 at the start of the year with "Daddy Long Legs" and managed to sneak just inside with this EP, which preceded second album Galactaphonic. I'm not sure about this, but I have a feeling the title of the EP (which was also the name of its lead track) inspired the name of the Perth band Gyroscope.

Number 49 "Dead Eyes Opened" by Severed Heads
Peak: number 16
Around in one form or another since 1979, Australian dance act Severed Heads had remained underground favourites for the first 15 years of their career. And then, a track from their 1983 album, Since The Accident, which had flopped when released as a single the following year, was remixed a decade later by Robert Racic and made the top 20, thanks in no small part to high rotation on Triple J. Featuring a spoken word sample from Edgar Lustgarten, the host of BBC serial Scales Of Justice, "Dead Eyes Opened" was given this new release to promote the band's 10th album, Gigapus, on which it did not feature (but was included as a bonus disc in a two-CD set). It's safe to say it achieved its purpose of drawing attention to the band.

Number 44 "Love Spreads" by The Stone Roses
Peak: number 36
Five years after they led the Madchester charge, The Stone Roses returned with their second album, appropriately enough called Second Coming. And the religious overtones of the title were also about right, at least in the UK, where the band were treated like musical gods and "Love Spreads" became their highest charting single, peaking at number 2. In Australia, the band had only ever graced the top 50 once, with "Fools Gold/What The World Is Waiting For" - shockingly, "She Bangs The Drums" had been all but ignored by the general public - and so "Love Spreads" only became a minor hit here.

Number 40 "Baby Come Back" by Pato Banton featuring Ali & Robin Campbell
Peak: number 11
Who said reggae was over? I probably did, once the deluge of massive reggae hits from 1993 died down. But proof that the genre could never really be counted out came with this remake, which fell just short of the top 10. Originally released by The Equals in 1966 (and reaching number 10 in Australia two years later), "Baby Come Back" was reinterpreted by Pato Banton with a little heavyweight help from UB40's Campbell brothers. 

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

Next week: two follow-ups to number 1 hits, plus the return of a singing legend who'd last made a comeback six years earlier covering Prince.

Back to: Nov 27, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 11, 1994

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: November 27, 1994

A few weeks ago, I talked about how a covers album is often the kind of thing an artist does when their career has hit a rough patch and they don't know what else to do. I mentioned that Christmas albums fall into the same category, and we've seen countless examples over the years of singers sticking out a collection of festive favourites when they've run out of other ideas.

Mariah + Christmas: one of the most successful collaborations of all time

This week in 1994, however, a very different type of Christmas release debuted on the ARIA singles chart. Taken from a holiday album that came when the singer responsible was very much in the ascendancy, it has, in the 25 years since, become a modern day Christmas classic. And, in the streaming age, it returns to the chart each year, having finally reached number 1 last Christmas.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 27, 1994

At number 1 in the lead-up to Christmas 1994, silverchair held on to the top spot for a fifth week with "Tomorrow".

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Sly" by Massive Attack
Peak: number 98
Maintaining their strike rate of being completely underappreciated on the Australian chart, this lead single from second album Protection, which features vocals from Nicolette, was barely a blip on the top 100.

Number 96 "Give It All You Got" by Marcia Hines
Peak: number 53
The first single from Right Here And Now just made the top 50; this follow-up just missed. "Give It All You Got" was given a couple of releases, with the link above taking you to the 1995 remix version.

Number 95 "Dance Naked" by John Mellencamp
Peak: number 79
"Wild Night" had taken John Mellencamp into the top 20 for the first (and what would end up as the only) time during the '90s, but the title track of his 13th album did not follow suit.

Number 84 "Move That Body" by Look Twice featuring Gladys
Peak: number 66
A fairly hideous Eurodance track (even by my standards) that took its hook, like so many other songs, from "Let's All Chant". It was the only top 100 entry for the Swedish group.

New Entries
Number 50 "My Wave" by Soundgarden
Peak: number 50
"Black Hole Sun" had taken them into the top 10 and even (slightly) appealed to grunge-resistant me, but this follow-up scraped the very bottom of the top 50 and is not a song I even recall hearing at the time. "My Wave", which was inspired by "My Beach" by Surf Punks, certainly didn't have the immediacy or sing-along chorus of their big hit, which probably explains its lowly peak.

Number 48 "Tighten Up Your Pants (Scotland Medley)" by Audio Murphy Inc. featuring Melinda
Peak: number 39
Just when you thought dance music couldn't sink any lower than "Swamp Thing" and "Everybody Gonfi Gon", along came Melinda Schneider to yodel all over this cynical cash grab from Australian group Audio Murphy Inc, who released one more track in 1995: "Fiddler Man" featuring Slim Dusty. Thankfully, that didn't chart. Melinda, meanwhile, would go on to have quite a respectable music, TV and radio career.

Number 47 "Sure" by Take That
Peak: number 31
Despite the best efforts of the boy band and their record company, Take That had still to really happen in Australia, the top 10 placement of "Pray" notwithstanding. The Everything Changes album had paid a brief visit to the top 30 mid-year but the title track and "Love Ain't Here Anymore" hadn't amounted to much locally. So what about a brand new song from their then-upcoming third album? "Sure" was an instant number 1 in the UK - albeit the lowest selling chart-topper for the year there - and in Australia it was... another minor hit. For me, "Sure" wasn't among Take That's best songs and seemed a bit like an obvious attempt to appeal more to the US. Then there were those bizarre outfits in the music video - the likes of which hadn't been seen since their debut clip. All in all, it felt like some odd decisions were being made, but Take That would course correct in about six months' time.

Number 46 "All I Want For Christmas" by Mariah Carey
Peak: number 2 (in 1994); number 1 (in 2018)
Even Mariah Carey herself was unsure about how wise it was to release a Christmas album when she was only three albums in to her career - and that career up until then had been one of the most successful debuts of all time. But her record company, headed up by her then-husband, Tommy Mattola, pushed for the project, Merry Christmas, which featured a selection of festive standards and three new songs, co-written by Mariah with regular collaborator Walter Afanasieff. One of those, "All I Want For Christmas", a 1960s-sounding love song with a holiday theme, was chosen as the lead single and was a substantial hit at the time (her second number 2 following "Endless Love").
But it's what happened next that makes the song truly remarkable. Over the years, the track, which works as both a season-specific tune and a pop song, has established itself as a Christmas classic in the vein of "White Christmas" or "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", and is covered by other artists on their Christmas albums, performed at Carols By Candlelight, has appeared in films and TV shows, and is inescapable in the month leading up to December 25. And, since the streaming era, "All I Want For Christmas" has returned regularly to the ARIA top 50. It reached number 40 in 2012-13, number 33 in 2013-14, number 14 in 2014-15, number 17 in 2015-16, number 15 in 2016-17, number 6 in 2017-18 and, finally, went all the way to number 1 last Christmas.
Naturally, the song never hangs around in the top 50 for very long - its original seven-week run has yet to be beaten - but unless something dramatic happens to the chart in the coming years, we can rest assured that "All I Want For Christmas" will pay a visit each December for some time.

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

Next week: an eclectic mix of new entries, including some British indie, a reggae remake, a spooky dance song and some Aussie rock.

Back to: Nov 20, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 4, 1994

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: November 20, 1994

Some songs are immediately successful, blasting into the upper reaches of the chart; others are more of a slow burning, taking their time to work their way up to their peak.

Celine Dion had to think twice when it looked like this single wasn't going to be a hit

This week in 1994, there was an example of each type of song among the new entries on the ARIA singles top 50, with both peaking near the number 1 spot - one much more quickly than the other.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 20, 1994

Still at number 1 this week in 1994 were silverchair, who spent a fourth week on top with "Tomorrow".

Off The Chart
Number 100 "All By Myself" by Margaret Urlich
Peak: number 100
Her previous Australian hit had been a cover, but this remake of the Eric Carmen power ballad scraped the very bottom of the top 100 and didn't end up being included on Margaret Urlich's next album.

Number 96 "Hard Days Night (live)" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 85
Another cover, this time of The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night", which was taken from  A Voyage On The River Of Dreams, a repackage of Billy Joel's 1993 album. The single, released only in Australia, was his second live Beatles remake, following 1987's "Back In The USSR".

Number 88 "I Wish It Would Rain" by Jon Stevens
Peak: number 67
And yet another cover - and one that would also end up being a between albums release. "I Wish It Would Rain" was originally recorded by The Temptations in 1967.

Number 80 "God Shuffled His Feet" by Crash Test Dummies
Peak: number 70
Peaking 30 places lower than their previous single, the title track of the Canadian band's second album became their final release to visit the ARIA top 100.

Number 71 "Circle Of Life" by Elton John
Peak: number 60
I had to double check this was right because I would've sworn this follow-up to "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" had also been a hit, so ubiquitous has it become. But my memory failed me and it did, indeed, miss the top 50.

New Entries
Number 50 "Last One Standing For You" by The Black Sorrows with Jon Stevens
Peak: number 46
While his latest solo release didn't make the top 50, Jon Stevens did get a look-in with this guest appearance on the second single from The Black Sorrows' Lucky Charm album. Like its predecessor, "Snake Skin Shoes", it's not a song I have any memory of and would end up as the final hit for the band, which was essentially just Joe Camilleri and a floating line-up of musicians at this point.

Number 49 "Think Twice" by Celine Dion
Peak: number 2
I guess it made sense to mix things up and release "Misled" after Celine Dion's cover of "The Power Of Love", but as it would turn out, people really just wanted power ballads from the Canadian belter and that more uptempo track fizzled. And so it was back to the ballads in the form of this third single from The Colour Of My Love, although "Think Twice" sure took its time to become the massive hit it ended up being. In fact, it dropped back out of the top 50 in seven days' time before re-entering at number 45 on the December 4 chart. Then, it disappeared again from the top 50 until late January, when it began its tortuously slow climb to number 2, finally reaching its peak in late April. In the UK, it was a similar story, with "Think Twice" not hitting number 1 until its 16th week - a rarity for the much more rapid British chart. I don't think it's any coincidence that most of Celine's future singles (and big hits) were ballads.

Number 43 "Cruise Control" by Headless Chickens
Peak: number 26
Here's a song that took three years to become a hit in Australia, although this release of the New Zealand top 10 hit was a completely different version to the original mix from 1991 that had been successful there. Remixed by British electronic band Eskimos & Egypt, "Cruise Control" gained new layers of synths and a poppier aesthetic, while still retaining its early '90s indie-meets-dance feel. This was actually the third release of the track locally, with the original 1991 version and a 1992 UK remix both missing the top 100 previously.

Number 3 "Spin The Black Circle" by Pearl Jam
Peak: number 3
Here's the new entry that smashed its way into the top 5 first week out. And it's easy to see why - "Spin The Black Circle" was a brand new song from one of the world's biggest bands and would serve as the lead single for upcoming album Vitalogy. The frenetic song is about Pearl Jam's regard for vinyl records, which was so high that Vitalogy was released on that format in the US two weeks ahead of its release on CD and cassette. In Australia, Vitalogy was released on vinyl on November 28 (possibly as an import of the US pressing), one week ahead of the other formats, but that didn't result in an early chart entry for the album, which debuted at number 1 following its full release on December 5

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

Next week: Speaking of songs that took a long time to reach their peak, a festive favourite that took almost a quarter of a century to reach number 1 debuts. And if banjos weren't enough to ruin dance music, how about yodelling?

Back to: Nov 13, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 27, 1994

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: November 13, 1994

Although Australia had been a little late to the boy band party, things really started picking up in 1994. Following the success of Kulcha, a second homegrown R&B-flavoured quartet made their debut on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1994.

CDB hooked themselves up with some chart action in late 1994

The floodgates didn't exactly open in Australia as they did in the US and the UK, but having two successful local boy bands did pave the way for an even bigger vocal harmony group to hit the scene in 1996 (and go on to be inducted into this year's ARIA Hall Of Fame).

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 13, 1994

A band you'd have to expect will one day enter the ARIA Hall Of Fame were still enjoying their first number 1 this week in 1994. "Tomorrow" by silverchair stayed on top for a third week.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Shake Your Groove Thing (remix)" by Peaches & Herb
Peak: number 71
The original reached number 13 in 1979, and the disco classic was the latest to be given a new lease of life by The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, although not as successfully as "I Love The Nightlife (Disco Round)"

Number 93 "How Can I Be Sure" by Daryl Braithwaite
Peak: number 55
His recent releases hadn't done so well, so how about a newly recorded cover (of a number 16 hit for The Young Rascals in 1967) taken from greatest hits album Six Moons: The Best Of 1988-1994? Still no luck.

Number 88 "Get Over It" by Eagles
Peak: number 74
Back with their first new music in 14 years, the hugely successful '70s band included four new studio recordings (of which this was one) on live album Hell Freezes Over. The song was written by Glenn Frey and Don Henley, with the latter handling vocals.

Number 87 "Blind Man" by Aerosmith
Peak: number 76
Our fourth act that had originated in the '70s and the second with a new song promoting a compilation of songs from a specific part of their career. "Blind Man" was included on Big Ones, which covered Aerosmith's output for Geffen Records from 1987 to 1994.

Number 85 "Yesterday Once More" by Redd Kross
Peak: number 84
Remember tribute albums? This second top 100 entry from the American alternative band came from If I Were A Carpenter, which also featured the likes Sonic Youth, Matthew Sweet and The Cranberries reinterpreting the music of The Carpenters.

Number 65 Beetroot by Clouds
Peak: number 65
The Sydney band's first new music since 1993 album Thunderhead, this four-track EP was kicked off by the less commercially palatable (or successful) "Boy Of Air".

Number 60 "None Of Your Business" by Salt 'n' Pepa
Peak: number 53
The hip-hop group had been on a hit streak with the singles from Very Necessary, but this Grammy-winning fourth release just missed out on giving them another hit.

New Entries
Number 50 "Interstate Love Song" by Stone Temple Pilots
Peak: number 50
Just sneaking into the top 50, the American grunge band followed up "Vasoline" with this song, which I expect many would have thought had been much more successful. In the US, where it wasn't a commercial single, it enjoyed a then-record 15 weeks at number 1 on one of Billboard's other charts (Album Rock Tracks), and made number 17 in the Triple J Hottest 100. But as well as only scraping the very bottom of the top 50, it didn't even help parent album Purple back up the chart - in fact, that spent its final week in the top 50 this week, not returning for additional runs until February (three weeks in the 40s) and April (another visit to the top 10).

Number 40 "Coming Down (Drug Tongue)" by The Cult
Peak: number 40
Returning with their first new studio set since 1991, British rock band The Cult found themselves back in the top 50 with this lead single from their self-titled sixth album after having just missed it the year earlier with their remix of "Sanctuary". I'd liked the odd bit of The Cult before, but I can't say this song did anything for me.

Number 38 "Hook Me Up" by CDB
Peak: number 11
Sydney had Kulcha, and south of the border, four all-singing, all-formation dancing vocalists combined to form CDB. Comprised of brothers Brad and Gary Pinto, Andrew De Silva and Danny Williams, the boy band followed Kulcha's lead of offering an Australian spin on new jack swing, but "Hook Me Up" felt slicker than anything Kulcha had released. That was probably on account of it being produced by pop/funk group Rockmelons, and written by that band's core members along with ex-Wa Wa Nee frontman Paul Gray and Andrew from CDB. The glossier, pop-influenced sound made it feel less like watered down Teddy Riley and more like something that incorporated new jack swing rather than trying to imitate it. "Hook Me Up" just missed out on reaching the top 10 but it did spend nine weeks bouncing around the top 20.

Number 34 "Trouble" by Shampoo
Peak: number 17
Catchy enough to be pop, edgy enough to be cool, the breakthrough hit for British duo Shampoo was all teen attitude and shouty vocals. A number 11 hit in the UK and massively popular in Japan, "Trouble" is one of those bratty songs that people either think is great or grates on people (see also: "I Love It" by Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX). In Australia, it was the only hit for Carrie Askew and Jacqui Blake, who recorded for a few more years before going their separate ways.

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

Next week: a mega ballad that had a mega slow climb up the chart, plus a new song by one of the world's biggest rock bands that shot straight into the top 5.

Back to: Nov 6 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 20, 1994

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: November 6, 1994

The decision for an artist to record a covers album is an interesting one, because it suggests they have run out of their own ideas and/or are in need of a boost to their lagging career. That's not always the case but, like Christmas albums, a collection of remakes often feels a bit desperate.

Gloria Estefan turned her Australia chart career around in 1994

This week in 1994, a singer who'd done reasonably well on the Australian charts up until then did something she'd never managed before - released a top 10 single that just happened to be the lead release from her first covers album.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 6, 1994

Meanwhile, at number 1 for a second week this week in 1994, silverchair's "Tomorrow" continued to keep "Always" by Bon Jovi in second place.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "2 Way Dreamtime" by DIG
Peak: number 99
Another top 100 entry for Australia's premier acid jazz outfit - this time, a track with an Indigenous flavour in terms of its lyrics and instrumentation.

Number 97 "This D.J." by Warren G
Peak: number 95
A second top 10 hit for the West Coast rapper in the US, this cruisy follow-up to "Regulate" didn't catch on locally.

Number 82 "Everybody Needs Somebody" by Nick Howard
Peak: number 71
Not to be confused with the more recent British singer of the same name, this Nick Howard came from Australia and was our next big pop hopeful. This was not a great start to his chart career.

Number 81 "Neighbourhood Freak" by Swoop
Peak: number 62
A harder track than the one they'd made their top 100 debut with earlier in the year, this was the Australian band's last release before moving from Freakzone to Mushroom Records.

Number 77 Mc Skunk by Skunkhour
Peak: number 52
Another local band that blended rock with funk (and hip-hop), Lismore's Skunkhour made their top 100 debut with this EP, their second since singing with Mercury Records.

Number 75 "Fall" by Single Gun Theory
Peak: number 64
Two years after "From A Million Miles", this chilled dance act found themselves peaking at number 64 once again with a song that was, for me, one of the year's best.

New Entries
Number 50 "Turn The Beat Around" by Gloria Estefan
Peak: number 8
Never quite as big in Australia as in the US, Gloria Estefan's previous best singles chart peak locally had been number 11, which she had reached (with Miami Sound Machine) on two separate occasions - in 1984 with "Dr Beat" and in 1988 with "Anything For You". But it had been four years since Gloria had seen the inside of the ARIA top 40 - her last hit here was 1990's "Cuts Both Ways" - and so a covers album was a great way for her to reignite interest. The lead single from Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Gloria's take on Vicki Sue Robinson's disco classic, "Turn The Beat Around", became her first ever top 10 hit in Australia. Outperforming the original, which had peaked at number 28 in mid-1978, the song was also included on the soundtrack to Sylvester Stallone/Sharon Stone movie The Specialist. Fun fact: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me was Gloria's fifth solo album. Her fourth? Festive album Christmas Through Your Eyes.

Number 45 "Zombie" by The Cranberries
Peak: number 1
Last week, I mentioned I wasn't too fond of Sheryl Crow's number 1 hit, "All I Wanna Do". Here's the other chart-topper from summer '94-'95 that I couldn't stand. A musical change of direction for the Irish band who had so far been known for dreamy pop tunes like "Linger" and "Dreams", "Zombie" was written about a 1993 IRA bombing in which two young boys had been killed and was, as you would expect, an angry piece of music. While I can't fault the sentiment behind the track, it was not a song I really wanted to listen to. Yet again, Australia disagreed with me and sent it to the top of the chart for eight long weeks. Fun fact: I actually bought the CD single of the dance cover of "Zombie" by A.D.A.M. featuring Amy, but I can't say I like that much either (what was I thinking?).

Number 39 "Lucas With The Lid Off" by Lucas
Peak: number 15
Earlier in 1994, Eurodance had collided with The Charleston in "Doop", and now Danish rapper Lucas Secon blended a Benny Goodman track from the 1930s with hip-hop on this top 20 single, which for some reason I can never remember. The Michel Gondry-directed music video was notable for being one continuous take (on the 17th take).

Number 4 "About A Girl" by Nirvana
Peak: number 4
Seven months after the death of frontman Kurt Cobain, the album of Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance, which had been recorded in November 1993, was released and, in seven days' time, would debut at number 1. Before that, this limited edition single blasted into the top 5. A track from Nirvana's debut album, Bleach, "About A Girl" was considered one of the band's poppier numbers, so it was only fitting that it would become their highest-charting single. Due to the fact that it only spent one week on the top 50 - only 5000 copies were produced in total - it would have been outsold by "Smells Like Teen Spirit", however.

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

Next week: another new Australian vocal harmony group arrives, as does a mouthy British duo.

Back to: Oct 30, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 13, 1994

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: October 30, 1994

There comes a time in every pop group's life when one member wants to leave for a solo career. And those left behind have to decide whether to carry on without them or give up and dissolve the group.

Girlfriend lost a member... and many of their clothes

This week in 1994, Australia's premier girl group returned to the ARIA top 50 after losing the member who was effectively their lead singer. As it would turn out, it was the best thing that had happened to them in quite some time, even if it didn't return them to the number 1 spot.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 30, 1994

At number 1 this week in 1994, "Tomorrow" by silverchair ascended to the top spot for the first of six weeks.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Everything's Cool" by Pop Will Eat Itself
Peak: number 97
Three-and-a-half years after they first made the top 100, the British industrial band paid another brief visit to our chart with the song that would also give them their final UK hit before they broke up in 1996.

Number 95 "Omaha" by Counting Crows
Peak: number 85
"Round Here" hadn't delivered Counting Crows another hit here, so their Australian record company deviated from overseas singles and instead went with this track, seemingly only released locally. Didn't make much difference.

Number 94 "Sabotage / Get It Together" by Beastie Boys
Peak: number 94
Australia followed Europe's lead and released the first two singles from Ill Communication as a double A-side, but that didn't really help its performance. The Spike Jonze-directed, '70s crime show-referencing video for "Sabotage" was nominated for five MTV VMAs.

Number 80 "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star
Peak: number 72
Although it was never a big hit here or overseas - it scraped into the US and UK top 50s - this dreamy song stuck around in the ARIA top 100 until March and has gone on to become one of the most acclaimed songs of the decade.

Number 75 "(Don't Need) Mercy" by The Angels
Peak: number 75
Two years after their last career retrospective, the pub rock veterans released another, Evidence, which included some of their more recent hits and two new tracks, of which this was one.

Number 64 "You Got Me Rocking" by The Rolling Stones
Peak: number 64
Speaking of veterans, the rock 'n' roll legends lifted another single off their Voodoo Lounge album and even enlisted the Perfecto team for a dance remix.

New Entries
Number 34 "The Strangest Party (These Are The Times)" by INXS
Peak: number 34
The last couple of years hadn't been kind to INXS, so what better time - in the lead-up to Christmas - to remind people how great they had once been? The world-conquering band released their first ever best of, The Greatest Hits, and even tailor-made different tracklistings for different countries depending on what songs had done well there. In Australia, we got the biggest hits all the way back to "Just Keep Walking" - and this new tune, which for me was one of the best songs they released all decade. Unfortunately it didn't get any further up the chart, although perhaps people, like me, decided to buy the album, which debuted at number 2 in three weeks' time.

Number 33 "Sooner Or Later" by gf4
Peak: number 11
Like INXS (in pretty much only this way), Girlfriend hadn't had much joy on the ARIA chart for some time. Their two singles from second album It's Up To You were nowhere near as successful as the biggest songs from their debut. Robyn Loau, who'd done the lion's share of the lead vocals on the girl group's best known songs, obviously thought it was time to get out while the going was good, leaving her former band-mates to regroup and rebrand as gf4. Gone were the flower hats and perky smiles, replaced with sexy pouts and shirtless guys in the music video for this relaunch single. The song itself was also a million miles away from what had come before. A radical reworking of a 1971 US top 10 hit by The Grass Roots, "Sooner Or Later" had an on-trend galloping bassline, Eurodance synths, a rap in the middle and was really very good. Not surprisingly, it became their biggest hit since their chart-topping debut, "Take It From Me"
The good times didn't last, however. Another member, Jacqui Cowell, quit the band following "Sooner Or Later" and was replaced by future Bardot member Belinda Chapple for the follow-up single, "Need Love (To Make The Sex Right)", a remake of "I Need Love", a 1992 single for Olivia Newton-John. When that song peaked at number 101, it was essentially over for gf4 and their third album never saw the light of day - all of which was accomplished before Robyn released her debut solo single, which wouldn't end up happening until 1997.

Number 31 "Nothing But You" by Cold Chisel
Peak: number 16
The second single from Cold Chisel's vault-clearing release, Teenage Love, had an even shorter lifespan than "Hands Out Of My Pocket". "Nothing But You" shot up to its peak position in its second week on the chart and then fell back down, spending six weeks in the top 50. Clearly one for the diehards - something the album would prove to be when it had a similarly brief chart trajectory in a couple of weeks' time.

Number 24 "All Come Together" by Diesel
Peak: number 17
As the pre-Christmas market heated up, one of Australia's favourite male performers returned with a new album, Solid State Rhyme, in November and previewed it with this lead single. Classic Diesel, "All Come Together" blended blues and rock in a FM radio-friendly package, and so effectively captured that throwback vibe that it sounded to me like it must have been another cover like "I've Been Loving You Too Long". It wasn't. 

Number 16 "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow
Peak: number 1
There were some songs I loved in the summer of '94-'95. There were also two massive hits you couldn't escape that I loathed. We'll see the second next week, but this is the first one. The breakthrough hit for former backing singer Sheryl Crow, "All I Wanna Do" kick-started her own career a year after the release of her debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club. With lyrics based on a poem called "Fun" by Wyn Cooper and a sound that encapsulated the laidback Los Angeles lifestyle, the song was, in Sheryl's own words, "a throwaway - it wasn't even going to be on the album". 
As soon as I heard those opening seconds of the song, with that sound like a record being played at the wrong speed and Sheryl's spoken word intro, I would jump for the off switch. If I could. I had to endure the song at my local gym, which played 2Day FM - one of many stations that had "All I Wanna Do" on constant rotation - until I realised there was a tape player in the cardio room I could put my own cassettes into and drown out the sound of Sheryl going on about the sun coming up over Santa Monica Boulevard. As is so often the case, everyone else seemed to like the song a lot more than me, with it spending a week at number 1 and winning the Grammy Award for Record Of The Year.

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

Next week: the other massive number 1 from the summer of '94-'95 I couldn't stand, plus a disco classic is covered by a Latin superstar.

Back to: Oct 23, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 6, 1994

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: October 23, 1994

Pop music and controversy have always gone hand in hand. From Elvis Presley's swivelling hips right up to Madonna's steamy fllm clips, the world had been shocked and/or titillated by musicians on a regular basis.

What could out-controversy Madonna? Nine Inch Nails' F-bomb would do it

This week in 1994, possibly the most controversial song to ever enter the singles chart up until that point burst into the top 50 - and it did so in a week when Madonna herself also returned with new music.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 23, 1994

At number 1 this week was "I'll Make Love To You" by Boyz II Men - a song with a title that might have been seen as racy decades earlier but was positively quaint in 1994.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Can't Help It" by The Truth
Peak: number 87
The third single by the funk/rock band from Melbourne became their only to venture into the top 100. Drummer Nicky Bomba would go on to be a member of the John Butler Trio.

Number 88 "No One" by 2 Unlimited
Peak: number 70
It had been over for 2 Unlimited in Australia for a while, and this reggae-infused second single from Real Things didn't help matters - even I didn't really like it.

Number 86 "Basket Case" by Green Day
Peak: number 85
They'd had a solid start to their career with debut single "Longview", but this follow-up, about singer Billie Joe Armstrong's anxiety, didn't give the pop/punk trio a second hit. That would come soon enough...

Number 69 "Fireworks" by Roxette
Peak: number 68
Like 2 Unlimited, Roxette had pretty much come to the end of their chart success in Australia, although I did prefer this third single from Crash! Boom! Bang! to its predecessor, the album's title track.

New Entries
Number 50 "Walkaway Lover" by Toni Pearen
Peak: number 35
One of Australian music's biggest mysteries is why the career of soap star-turned-pop star Toni Pearen went off the rails. After scoring back-to-back number 10 hits with 1992's "In Your Room" and "I Want You" from 1993, the former E Street actress released this third single after a gap of 18 months, by which point the country had moved on. In that time, Toni had started and ended a stint on another soap, Home And Away, playing Beth Armstrong between April and June in 1994 - surely it would have made sense to time a release to coincide with that? Much poppier than her previous two singles, "Walkaway Lover" had previously been released (as "Walk Away Lover") by British singer Sonia on her self-titled second album. Toni's debut album, Intimate, would finally surface in November, but thanks to the disappointing performance of "Walkaway Lover", it missed the top 50.

Number 49 "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name" by Harry Connick Jr
Peak: number 15
Three years after Harry Connick Jr's first, timid entry onto the Australian singles top 100, the jazz singer landed his first hit with this single from funk-influenced album She. The success of "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name", which Harry co-wrote, spurred She on to new chart heights as well. Having debuted on the albums chart in late August, it reached its number 3 peak the week after this. Although Harry continued to register hit albums until 2009, this was his only major singles chart success.

Number 47 "Yesterday, When I Was Mad" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 13
The peaks of Pet Shop Boys' singles from Very had gone 17, 10, 34 and 63, which made this sudden resurgence of fifth release "Yesterday, When I Was Mad" a little unexpected. But a few factors worked in the song's favour. Firstly, the duo had just landed their biggest ever hit in Australia under the alias Absolutely Fabulous. Secondly, they began their first ever tour of the country on November 1 - a show which I enjoyed right at the front of the general admission section at Sydney's Entertainment Centre. Thirdly, the track had been remixed from its album version by Jam & Spoon. And fourthly, while there were other songs from Very that I would have preferred to see released ("One In A Million" and "A Different Point Of View", for example), the lyrics of "Yesterday, When I Was Mad" were Pet Shop Boys at their wittiest and most self aware, notably the line about them making "such a little go a very long way".

Number 46 "Eighteen Strings" by Tinman
Peak: number 16
In 1991, Pet Shop Boys had committed what was considered by some as musical sacrilege when they turned U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" into a disco stomper. Taking a leaf out of their book was British producer Paul Dakeyne, who took the riff from Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (although he recreated it rather than sampled it) and used it as the basis for this dance track, which had been originally promoed in 1993. Given a proper commercial release in 1994, "Eighteen Strings" made the UK top 10 and peaked not far below the Australian one.

Number 45 "Compliments On Your Kiss" by Red Dragon featuring Brian & Tony Gold
Peak: number 18
Just when it appeared like the reggae wave of 1993 had well and truly abated, this collaboration between Jamaican DJ Leroy May (aka Red Dragon) and singers Brian Thompson and Patrick Morrison (Tony comes from his middle name Anthony) hit the ARIA top 20 following its UK number 2 peak. Not brothers - Gold is a stage name - Brian and Tony would return to the chart eight years later as guest artists on Shaggy's "Hey Sexy Lady".

Number 44 "I Miss You" by Haddaway
Peak: number 44
Haddaway's record company had skipped over this ballad for "Rock Your Heart", presumably thinking something more along the lines of "What Is Love" and "Life" would perform better in Australia. Funnily enough, "Rock My Heart" had missed the top 50, while the more emotional "I Miss You" peaked just inside when it was finally released as the German-based singer's fourth single.

Number 13 "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails
Peak: number 3
I wonder if Nine Inch Nails' runaway hit would have been as big had it not featured the line "I want to fuck you like an animal". The explicit lyric, which had the F-word muted out for radio play, certainly gained the second single from The Downward Spiral a lot of attention. As did its once seen, never forgotten music video. But even without those elements, I'd suggest "Closer" would have been successful. With its throbbing beat and climactic chorus, it's the type of song that turns a cult act into a mainstream sensation - albeit briefly, as it would turn out. Far and away the biggest hit of Nine Inch Nails career, "Closer" only spent nine weeks on the top 50, although its rapid drop down the chart suggests the single was deleted at the peak of its popularity to drive album sales. Given its lyrical content, the song is superficially assumed to be about sexual desire, but it's more complicated than that.

Number 5 "Secret" by Madonna
Peak: number 5
As Nine Inch Nails pushed the envelope, an artist known for doing just that actually toned things down as she returned to the chart with the first taste of her sixth album, Bedtime Stories. Reinventing herself once again, Madonna traded in the sexual overtones of Erotica and her usual dance-pop sound for an acoustic-flavoured blend of pop and R&B. Co-written and co-produced by Dallas Austin, "Secret" was what Madonna had always done best - a great song with a killer hook, and it duly became her 16th top 5 hit 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 the biggest - and, for me, most annoying - songs of summer '94-'95. Plus, a girl group returns minus a member.

Back to: Oct 16, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 30, 1994