Friday, 15 March 2013

The Best Of 1992 - part 3

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

I mentioned at the start of this countdown that I have really strong memories of the music that was around the summer of '92/'93. I was on the longest summer vacation of my life - from mid November through until early March, when I began university. In between 18th birthday parties (including my own), visiting my first nightclubs (yep, I waited until I was legal) and lazing around in front of music TV, I associate a lot of songs with one of the best periods of my life.

Dog: check. Silly hats: check. Moody expressions: check.
East 17 knew what it took to be a boy band in 1992

The other reason the music from that summer sticks in my mind is because there were some monster hits out at the time. I've already mentioned "End Of The Road" by Boyz II Men and the Bodyguard soundtrack, which were massive all summer. And, you couldn't go half an hour without hearing the remix of "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)", Sonia Dada's "You Don't Treat Me No Good" and a couple more tunes that appear in this batch of songs.

Number 50 "Ain't No Man" by Dina Carroll
Branching out as a solo artist in her own right after a guest appearance on Quartz's 1991 cover of "It's Too Late", British singer Dina Carroll released three singles in 1992 - none of which climbed higher than number 16 in the UK. This song was one of two to reach that position - the other was "Special Kind Of Love" (number 67 on this list). Much bigger things were to come for Dina, including sales of over one million albums and a BRIT award.

Number 49 "Make It On My Own" by Alison Limerick
In my 1991 countdown, Alison was four spots lower with "Where Love Lives (Come On In)" and here she is again with another song from the And Still I Rise album. It was her biggest hit yet, but like two of Dina Carroll's songs, stalled at number 16.

Number 48 "The Day You Went Away" by Wendy Matthews
Another of the songs you could not get away from during the summer of '92/'93, despite the fact that it'd been out since August, was this sparse, beautiful ballad. It was the hit Wendy had been waiting for - a number 2 on the ARIA chart and the winner of the Best Single award at the 1993 ARIAs. It was, however, all downhill from there for Wendy, whose career never returned to such highs again - and I'm including her time on celebreality show It Takes Two.  

Number 47 "Million Miles Away" by Kim Wilde
Mentioned below

Number 46 "In Your Room" by Toni Pearen
With the Minogue sisters having established international pop careers, the early '90s saw more than one soap star try to emulate their success. They didn't all come from Neighbours or Home And Away, either. E Street's Melissa (Tkautz) and Toni Pearen both cracked the Australian top 10 with their early singles. Melissa was first with her 1991 number 1 "Read My Lips" and follow-up "Sexy (Is The Word)", which both just missed my top 100 for that year. In 1992, she released "Skin To Skin" (number 108 on this list), which would be her final top 20 hit.
Despite the fact that Toni wasn't quite as big, I preferred her music. For one thing, she was a better singer. Toni first demonstrated her vocal chops on a Network Ten ad singing "This Is It" and I was never sure why she didn't release the song as a single since it was a big hit in 1993 for Dannii Minogue. Instead, Toni's debut single  - and first of two number 10 hits - was this tune with the awful/awesome line: "I want to be your oxygen/you breathe me out and you breathe me in."

Number 45 "Lift Me Up" by Howard Jones
It had been three years since Howard's last album - and even longer since he'd scored a hit back home, but in 1992, the British singer returned to the US top 40 with this track from his In The Running album. I'd long been a fan, since I grew up with my sister owning his first two albums on vinyl, so I was glad to have him back making music again, even if his renewed success would turn out to be short-lived.

Number 44 "Who Do You Think You Are" by Kim Wilde
Poor Kim. At this point of her career, she really was struggling to land the type of hit she'd been used to in the '80s. Her 1990 album, Love Moves, hadn't really yielded much success (although the singles dominated my top 100 for that year). Her 1992 album, Love Is, followed suit. First single "Love Is Holy" (number 93 on this list) did OK, but each subsequent single performed worse, with "Million Miles Away" (number 47) not registering on any major worldwide chart. For me, this track (released as single number three) was the best from the album, but by the time it came out (after the more subdued "Heart Over Mind"), no one was that interested anymore.

Number 43 "That Word (L.O.V.E.)" by Rockmelons featuring Deni Hines
After a three-year gap, Rockmelons had burst back onto the scene towards the end of 1991 with a hit cover of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine", which featured the vocal talents of a member of Australian pop royalty. Deni Hines is, of course, the daughter of Marcia Hines, who'd been crowned Queen Of Pop in the Go-Set awards from 1976-1978. And, since she hadn't yet polarised Australia through her exploits on reality TV, Deni's debut as a singer in her own right was quite welcome. The collaboration continued into 1992 on this track as well as "It's Not Over", and the three songs would prove to be the best performing tracks of Rockmelons' career.

Number 42 "I'm Gonna Get You" by Bizarre Inc featuring Angie Brown
A big number 3 hit in the UK, club track "I'm Gonna Get You" failed to cross over in Australia despite having a supremely catchy "da-da-da a-doo da-da" vocal line. However, in a couple of years' time, Angie popped up on another dance smash that did become an Australian chart hit - and in fact, performed much better here than in the UK: Motiv8's "Rockin' For Myself". Despite its "screen grab", the video below does, in fact, play.

Number 41 "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" by Incognito
Time for a cover version triple play - and the first is by acid jazz band Incognito, who turned the 1974 Stevie Wonder single into their second and final top 20 hit in the UK. It was the first time the song had charted in Britain, having previously only been a hit in the States for Stevie.

Number 40 "I'll Be There" by Mariah Carey featuring Trey Lorenz
A song that had been a hit pretty much everywhere in the world first time round, when it was recorded by the Jackson 5 in 1970, was remade in 1992 by Mariah for her appearance on MTV Unplugged. Not only did the single give her another US number 1 (and worldwide hit), but when the full EP was released, it sold through the roof and remains the highest-selling Unplugged album. Meanwhile, Mariah's backing singer Trey, who sang the verses originally performed by Jermaine Jackson, received a "featuring" credit and the profile boost led to him releasing his own album in 1993.

Number 39 "Run To You" by Rage
And the third of our cover versions was the most unlikely of them all - a dance remake of Bryan Adams' 1984 single. Long before DJ Sammy got his hands on "Heaven", Rage (or En-Rage, as they were briefly called after a legal dispute with a German heavy metal band also called Rage) took "Run To You" all the way to number 3 in the UK - a much bigger hit there than the original had been.

Number 38 "Once You've Tasted Love" by Take That
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 37 "Deeper And Deeper" by Madonna
Ever since "Vogue", I'd gone off Madonna, who had released a string of singles I didn't much care for. "Hanky Panky", "Justify My Love" and "Erotica", with their varying degrees of sexual explicitness, had left me unexcited, and "This Used To Be My Playground" and "Rescue Me" were OK but nothing special. Finally, the second single from Erotica turned things around. A disco-infused track that wasn't trying too hard to be sexy, it even contained a nice homage to "Vogue".

Number 36 "I'd Die Without You" by P.M. Dawn
Another cut from the Boomerang soundtrack, this gentle ballad was a nice change of pace for the group who otherwise turned sampling into an artform throughout the '90s. "I'd Die Without You" spent four weeks at number 3 in the US, but in the UK it barely made the top 30 and in Australia, the top 50. Sometimes there's no accounting for taste.

Number 35 "House Of Love" by East 17
While it took Take That four singles and a cover version to finally score a top 10 hit in the UK, their chart rivals for the next few years made the grade on their first time out. While early Take That singles were cheesy (hey, I still liked them), "House Of Love" was edgy and the clip established East 17 as the bad boys of pop. While Take That had two members who didn't really sing much and just danced about in the background... well, at least that's something the two groups had in common.  

Number 34 "Gotta Learn My Rhythm" by Damian Dame
They popped up in my 1991 countdown, and this was another single from the LaFace act -and unfortunately another song that didn't progress very far up the US chart. In fact, unlike their previous two singles, "Gotta Learn My Rhythm" couldn't even crack the top 100, which was a shame, since it was the best of the lot. RIP Damian Dame.

Number 33 "For Your Babies" by Simply Red
I always associate this song with my elder sister's wedding, since it was her bridal waltz. I just realised I'd never really delved that deeply into the lyrics and hoped it wouldn't turn out to be one of those songs like "Sometimes When We Touch" that people play at their weddings despite them being completely inappropriate. I think this one's safe. "For Your Babies" was the third single from the mega-selling Stars album and the last of the singles I really liked - with the less enjoyable "Thrill Me" and "Your Mirror" following.

Number 32 "Movin' On" by Bananarama
Here are two women who wouldn't quit despite losing not one but two group members along the way. With Siobhan Fahey's replacement, Jacquie O'Sullivan, having departed after the Pop Life album, Sara and Keren did what they should have done all along and forged on as a duo. They also reunited with Stock and Waterman (Aitken had also flown the coop) for the Please Yourself album, which ended up being the musical template for Steps. The "ABBA on speed" sound Steps became famous for has its roots in this song (which Steps covered on their second album) and follow-up "Last Thing On My Mind" (which would become Steps' second single). The UK public were largely indifferent to the new-look, new-but-old-sounding Bananarama, with "Movin' On" only creeping to number 24.

Number 31 "If You Belonged To Me" by Nancy Davis
Previously featured here

Number 30 "I Love Your Smile" by Shanice
A song that it's almost impossible not to like, "I Love Your Smile" was a number 2 hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Originally released in November 1991, it took a remix by Driza Bone just three months later to turn it into a UK success. It had taken much longer than that for Shanice Wilson, as she was originally credited, to score a hit - since she'd been putting out records since 1987. It wouldn't be her last success, with a soundtrack hit from a massively popular '90s teen drama to follow in 1993.

Number 29 "Love Me All Up" by Stacy Earl
For the previous few years, the US charts had been cluttered with pretty young female solo artists, but by 1992, the post-Tiffany/Debbie Gibson/Martika glut of pop princesses had begun to dry up. Stacy was one of the last wave to hit the Billboard chart and, at 30 years of age, was slightly older than many of her peers. Her self-titled debut album featured all the big producers of the day and even a duet with The Wild Pair called "Romeo & Juliet", which was essentially "Opposites Attract" part two.

Number 28 "Rhythm Is A Dancer" by Snap!
When it came to dance acts of 1990, Snap! were further down my list of favourites than Technotronic, Soul II Soul, Black Box and 49ers. I just didn't like "The Power" or "Oops Up" that much. But in 1992, they released the best song they ever recorded in "Rhythm Is A Dancer". A six-week number 1 in the UK, three weeks at number 3 in Australia and a number 5 in the US, it was one of the club hits of the year - and featured the immortal "it's as serious as cancer" line.

Number 27 "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston
What is there to say about this song that hasn't already been said? In the top 20 highest-selling singles in Australia for two years running, a record-breaking 14 weeks at number 1 in the US, over 1.5 million sales in the UK... Then, there's the vocal - one of the best on record and, as cover versions go, a rendition that adds something new while paying respect to the Dolly Parton original. I remember the a cappella opening being quite unusual at the time but my favourite bit has always been the big drum beat in the middle before the final chorus - and I spent the entire film waiting to hear that moment.

Number 26 "Save The Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams
As good as "I Will Always Love You" is, I actually like this other big ballad hit from 1992 slightly more. Up until this point, Vanessa's best songs had been dance tracks "The Right Stuff" and "Running Back To You", but with this single, she changed that forever and it was the first of several ballads I liked by the former (disgraced) beauty queen. A number 1 in Australia and the US, it was apparently turned down by a number of other singers before being a last-minute inclusion on Vanessa's The Comfort Zone album.

In Part 4, three singles by a group we haven't come across yet, a revamped '80s classic, some homegrown dance music and the record that's to blame for the ABBA resurgence.

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