Wednesday, 28 February 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: February 28, 1993

Some music acts are so inextricably linked to a certain time and place that it's impossible for them to succeed outside their era. And in the early '90s, many of the artists that'd been huge in the '80s found the new decade didn't want them anymore - they were too much a part of the past.

Duran Duran made a massive comeback in 1993

This week in 1993, a band whose extravagant style and MTV-friendly pop had come to define the early '80s defied expectations and made a major comeback. Meanwhile, a couple of dance acts that'd defined the sound of the early '90s found their time was already up.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending February 28, 1993

Whitney Houston's time at number 1 was also up, as Sonia Dada's already double platinum "You Don't Treat Me No Good" took over on top for a four-week stint.


Off The Chart
Number 98 "Move This" by Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K
Peak: number 67
In its original version, this song featured on Technotronic's debut album. Remixed for inclusion on The Greatest Hits, it made the US top 10 in August 1992 and finally reached its Australian peak after re-entering in October 1993.

Number 90 "A House Divided" by Rick Price
Peak: number 74
Seemingly learning nothing from his "What's Wrong With That Girl" experience, Rick Price suffered another chart blow with this rocky fifth single from Heaven Knows.

Number 82 "Let Me Be Your Underwear" by Club 69
Peak: number 53
Prolific Austrian remixer Peter Rauhofer did much better with his work for other artists - he even won a Grammy for remixing Cher's "Believe" - than with his own dance tracks.

Number 73 "Stairway To Heaven" by Rolf Harris
Peak: number 73
Australians (mostly) had the good sense to enjoy this wobble board-featuring Led Zeppelin remake where it belonged - on ABC comedy series The Money Or The Gun. The Brits sent it into their top 10.


New Entries
Number 50 "Exterminate!" by Snap!
Peak: number 50
Like Technotronic, the days of Snap! being a chart force in Australia were over, with this follow-up to "Rhythm Is A Dancer" scraping the very bottom of the top 50 - somewhere they wouldn't return for a decade, and then only with a remix of that hit. The first of two singles to feature Madonna backing singer Niki Harris, "Exterminate!" was a top 10 success across Europe, but its less commercial dance sound made it a hard sell locally.




Number 47 "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" by Sting
Peak: number 41
Another act whose solo singles chart success was more or less over was former The Police frontman Sting, with this lead single from his fourth album, Ten Summoner's Tales, continuing a downward trend by missing the top 40. The Grammy-winning song was actually my favourite Sting song since his run of singles in 1985, but with the exception of a big soundtrack collaboration at the very end of the year, his success would be limited to the albums chart from hereon in.




Number 45 "No Limit" by 2 Unlimited
Peak: number 7
Here's a dance act that was just hitting its stride, with this lead single and almost title track from second album No Limits! returning 2 Unlimited to the top 10 for the first time since "Get Ready For This". For me, this was the song with which the Belgian-produced, Dutch-fronted duo perfected their sound - and Europe agreed, sending it to number 1 across the continent and in the UK. In a year when I started going clubbing as often as I could, it also wound up as my favourite song for 1993.




Number 44 "Rump Shaker" by Wreckx-N-Effect
Peak: number 10
If there's one writer/producer who's defined pop music in the new millennium it's the seemingly ageless Pharrell Williams. But he started his behind-the-scenes career way before the '00s, writing part of this hip-hop classic by one-hit wonders Wreckx-N-Effect. Pharrell is listed as one of the song's multiple writers, although some of those credits are due to the sample-heavy nature of the track. His involvement with the tune is due to it being co-written and co-produced by his mentor at the time, new jack swing pioneer Teddy Riley, who also featured vocally on the song and whose brother, Markell, was one half of the duo.




Number 42 "Ordinary World" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 18
Between 1981 and 1985, they'd been unstoppable, racking up hit after hit around the world, including 8 top 10 singles on the Australian chart. But things had been going increasingly worse for Duran Duran since three of them reunited in 1986 after their side project-filled hiatus. The lead single of their previous album, 1990's Liberty, hadn't even made the ARIA top 50. Was the globe-conquering band's success going to be relegated to the New Romantic era? Not if they had anything to do with it.
In 1993, they came back with a vengeance. "Ordinary World" was the lead single from their second self-titled album, now commonly referred to as The Wedding Album due to its cover art - and its rock ballad feel perfectly fit into the music scene of the time. The more sombre sound wasn't completely out of the blue - Duran Duran had ventured into similar territory with "Save A Prayer" and "Do You Believe In Shame", although neither of those singles had performed very well in Australia. "Ordinary World" returned them to the top 20 for the first time since 1986's "Notorious", and took them back to the US and the UK top 10.
"Ordinary World" shares another link with "Do You Believe In Shame". The two songs (as well as 1997's "Out Of My Mind") were written about the death of a friend of singer Simon Le Bon's. Less serious fact: like last week's "Sleeping Satellite", dance act Aurora turned the song into a trance/pop anthem seven years later.




Number 41 "Mr Wendal / Revolution" by Arrested Development
Peak: number 7
A second top 10 hit on the trot for Arrested Development with this double A-side release, which combined the third single from debut album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days In The Life Of... and their contribution to the soundtrack of Malcolm X. The former, "Mr Wendal", raised awareness of homelessness, with Speech writing about the homeless people he'd encountered in Atlanta. Although there was no one Mr Wendal, the man who Speech most strongly associates with the song passed away before it was released and never got to hear it.




Number 36 "I'm Every Woman" by Whitney Houston
Peak: number 11
"I Will Always Love You" might have dropped off the number 1 spot this week and The Bodyguard soundtrack might do the same the following week, but Whitney Houston had more hits up her sleeve, including this remake of the 1978 debut solo single by Chaka Khan, who Whitney namechecks towards the end of her version. Chaka, along with TLC, songwriter Valerie Simpson (of Ashford & Simpson fame), Weather Girl Martha Wash and Whitney's mother, Cissy, also appeared in the music video. Co-produced by Clivill├ęs & Cole, "I'm Every Woman" was an antidote to mega-ballad "I Will Always Love You", which, like all massive hits, had started to rub people the wrong way. 




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





Next week: another cover of a '70s song makes a huge debut in the top 10, while an Australian band who'd recently visited the top 10 twice found themselves at the other end of the top 50.


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


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