Thursday, 21 April 2016

This Week In 1991: April 21, 1991

Some artists make a huge splash with their debut single (and then sometimes struggle to live up to it), while others take a while to fulfil their potential. This week in 1991, the act behind the week's highest new entry on the ARIA top 50 singles chart and one of the artists in the breakers section demonstrated the more gradual approach.

In 1991, a 23-year-old Celine Dion was about to make the leap into the big time

The former was a British dance duo that exploded with their eighth single (although they had enjoyed one-off chart success three years previously under a different name). The latter was a French-Canadian diva-in-waiting, whose big ballads would help define the decade.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending April 21, 1991

A band that'd also taken its time to break through - at least internationally - held down the number 1 spot this week in 1991. "Joyride" by Roxette spent a second week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 78 "Night Fever Megamix" by The Mixmasters
Peak: number 78
Not to be confused with Jive Bunny's Mastermixers, the different set of Mixmasters involved in the Megabass track or "Grand Piano" by Mixmaster, this hideous re-sung medley of songs from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack pre-empted the imminent arrival of "The Grease Megamix" (which had actually come out first in the UK) in Australia.

"Where Does My Heart Beat Now" by Celine Dion
Peak: number 62
Almost two years after she first performed it at 1989's Eurovision Song Contest in Switzerland (having won for that country the previous year with "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi"), Celine Dion's first big international English-language hit finally made its way to Australia. It didn't get very far locally, but "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" was a sign of things to come for the Quebec-born singer who'd been releasing French-language albums since 1981. An epic ballad that showcased Celine's monster vocal style, the US top 5 hit was the first step in her eventual world domination. The song was taken from her debut English-language album, Unison, which was released following a major overhaul of Celine's image - including her teeth being fixed and elocution classes. It would turn out to be money well spent.

New Entries
Number 49 "In Days To Come" by John Farnham
Peak: number 49
Possibly as a result of his rapid singles release schedule in 1990, John Farnham had achieved with the Chain Reaction what he hadn't managed with either Whispering Jack or Age Of Reason - three top 10 hits. And, by reaching the top 50 - just! - fourth single "In Days To Come" achieved what neither "Reasons" nor "We're No Angels" could. The socially conscious ballad which references "Imagine" by John Lennon, Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "Blowin' In The Wind", and Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech was co-written with Ross Fraser and David Hirschfelder, who he'd worked with on "Going, Going, Gone" on Whispering Jack.

Number 48 "Let's Kiss (Like Angels Do)" by Wendy Matthews
Peak: number 14
"Token Angels" and "Women's Gotta Have It" had established Wendy Matthews' solo artist credentials, but if we're being honest, they were a bit ho-hum. With third single "Let's Kiss (Like Angels Do)", the former Absent Friends vocalist finally released a song that excited me - and a good deal of the Australian public, it would seem, since the upbeat pop track became her biggest hit to date. "Let's Kiss..." also had a knock-on effect on album Émigré, which had been puttering around the lower 30s and 40s on the albums chart and suddenly sputtered back to life.

Number 43 "Love School" by Divinyls
Peak: number 43
"I Touch Myself" had put Divinyls on the world stage, but the pair squandered their new-found success by releasing this track as the follow-up single. A song that would've made a great album track, "Love School" never really amounts to very much and, as a result, missed the ARIA top 40. Things went even further downhill with the third single from Divinyls, "Make Out Alright", which missed the top 100 altogether.

Number 42 "Let There Be Love" by Simple Minds
Peak: number 15
The last time we'd heard from stadium-fillers Simple Minds, they'd gotten all political with the Street Fighting Years album, which included UK number 1 and ARIA top 20 hit "Belfast Child". On ninth album Real Life, the band, which was now a trio comprised of singer Jim Kerr, guitarist Charlie Burchill and drummer Mel Gaynor, kept things simple. Lead single "Let There Be Love" was about as straightforward a song as you could hope for, and while it lacked the oomph of some of Simple Minds' best '80s anthems, it gave them their best chart showing since "Belfast Child". 

Number 36 "3 A.M. Eternal" by The KLF featuring The Children Of The Revolution
Peak: number 3
From stadium rock we move now to stadium house and the duo who'd been releasing singles since 1987, including 1988's "Doctorin' The Tardis" (as The Timelords). But, up until 1990's UK top 5 "What Time Is Love?", The KLF had been very much a cult act. While that single received scant attention in Australia, the follow-up, "3 A.M. Eternal", catapulted Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond into the top 3. 
Originally released in a "Pure Trance" version in 1989, the radically reworked "3 A.M. Eternal" was subtitled "Live At The S.S.L." - but that was deceptive. Despite featuring crowd noise behind Ricardo Da Force's rap and the "aha aha aha aha" female vocals, the track was a studio production, with S.S.L. standing for Solid State Logic, a type of mixing desk. 
Unlike the deluge of megamixes, and cheesy novelty songs like "How To Dance" and "Sucker DJ" that'd infiltrated the Australia chart in recent months, "3 A.M. Eternal" was quality dance music that pushed the genre forward in new and inventive ways. And the bizarre KLF (also known as The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, furthermore known as The JAMs) were possibly 1991's most exciting new chart stars.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:

Next week: a future chart-topper from a band that still hadn't reached number 1 with their previous single, plus a greatly diminished Australian pop group resort to another cover version to make it back into the top 50.

Back to: Apr 14, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 28, 1991


  1. I can't say I was always a fan of Céline's ballads, but I liked 'Where Does My Heart Beat Now'... at the time, anyway. Video Hits aired a different, 'performance' video to the one embedded here.

    'Reasons' deserved to chart higher, but the other 4th singles from John Farnham were a bit too bland for my liking.

    I thought 'Token Angels' was the strongest of the 'Emigré' singles. 'Let's Kiss' was definitely the most likely to be a big hit, though.

    I always thought it funny that 'Love School' begins with a recycled 'I Touch Myself' lyric ("I don't want anybody else"), albeit with a different melody; but the cross-marketing clearly didn't work. I thought it would have done better than #43. It's strange that they had no other real hit from the album. Not releasing a new album for 5 years really killed their career off.

    I haven't heard 'Let There Be Love' for many years. I preferred the follow-up single, which of course flopped.

    Oddly, I didn't like the KLF track initially, but now think it's a classic.

  2. I agree with Nathan in that Token Angels is a much more enjoyable song.

    I loved Simple Minds 'Let there be Love'. It still gets high rotation on my song playing at home.

    The KLF spent years refining the same songs. You only have to listen to their catalogue of music to hear the same themes evolve into the pop songs that graced our charts. It's a pity it didn't continue to the release of more albums later on.

  3. Thankfully the atrocity that was the Night Fever Megamix never made an impact on out charts. That megamix alone put me off them forever as it brings back bad memories of my first year of high school, it used to get flogged in Drama.

    I must admit I do enjoy a big ballad from Celine Dion and Where Does My Heart Beat Now is no exception.

    Another surprising flop from Farnsey, thought In Days To Come was again a great offering to commercial radio. Heard it a fair bit up until the mid 00's but not so much now.

    In my review for Let's Kiss (Like Angels Do) I stated that it reminded me of ex North Sydney and QLD rugby league player Les Kiss.
    I still have a chuckle and sing the line 'Les Kiss' instead of.

    Divinyls I thought were really unlucky in their chart life and Love School is another example, shits all over I Fuck Myself.

    Recently been hearing a LOT of Simple Minds and liking a LOT at the same time. To me Let There Be Love sounds very dated for this era but it's still another chart gem for them.

    I never got the fuss over The KLF until I heard and saw 3am Eternal!
    What A Jam! Easily their best work!

  4. Hello, just want to say I really appreciate the work you've put into this site! I've been co-running a forum game involving ARIA top 20 hits from 1988 onwards, which has been the first I'd heard about half the songs (and many more below #20), so I've been reading along here and your commentary has been invaluable for information and context around the songs, especially for relative obscurities like "Operaa House" and "Five In A Row".

  5. "Make out alright" was under-rated. If it was a Rolling Stones song it would ve been top 10. Love School was a bad choice for 2nd single and so the album lost momentum.