Thursday, 3 March 2016

This Week In 1991: March 3, 1991

Despite last week being the anniversary of my favourite song of all time debuting on the ARIA top 50, not much else was happening. The singles chart made up for it this week in 1991 with nine new entries, and a bunch of other songs to talk about in the lower reaches of the top 100.

Something old and something new were headed to the top of the chart

Included in the bumper crop are two future number 1 singles - one, the latest rap chart-topper and the other, a cover version that took an Australian singer back to the top for the first time in 15 years.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending March 3, 1991

Londonbeat were still at number 1 this week in 1991, with "I've Been Thinking About You" spending its third of four weeks on top.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Guilty People" by Margaret Urlich
Peak: number 99
After three top 50 hits, Margaret Urlich ran out of steam with this ballad single from Safety In Numbers. But, it's not the only new song the New Zealand singer performed on this week...

Number 86 "Give Peace A Chance" by Various Artists
Peak: number 86
Put together by Yoko Ono, this cover of the Plastic Ono Band track was in protest of the developing Gulf War, and was performed by an ensemble of acts as diverse as Iggy Pop, LL Cool J and Alannah Myles.

Number 72 "Keep On Running" by The Real Milli Vanilli
Peak: number 62
It was a case of once bitten, twice shy when the actual vocalists behind Milli Vanilli's hits released this single. That, and the fact that "Keep On Running" just wasn't as good a song.

"Kinky Afro" by Happy Mondays
Peak: number 63
Even though it hadn't been that long since The Party Boys topped the ARIA chart with their version of "He's Gonna Step On You Again", I'm always surprised that Happy Mondays' "Step On" didn't crack the top 100 here. Instead, it was the Madchester band's only other UK top 5 hit, "Kinky Afro", which managed that feat. Except for the snippet of "Lady Marmalade" incorporated into the song, I don't find "Kinky Afro" very memorable at all, but at this point, Happy Mondays were one of the biggest bands in Britain and could do little wrong there. What I didn't realise until now was that the single and accompanying Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches album were produced by future Perfecto duo Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne. 

"Easier To Walk Away" by Elton John
Peak: number 57
There was no way this single was going to do any better. For one thing, it didn't even have a proper music video - the one below is one of those cobbled together compiles of old Elton clips and news footage. For another, the album it came from, The Very Best Of Elton John, had been in the top 5 all summer. Plus, as Elton John songs go, it really feels like an album track rather than a single. So, let's get on with our deluge of top 50 entries, shall we?

New Entries
Number 49 "Bitter Tears" by INXS
Peak: number 36
Also suffering from the fact that its parent album had been a consistent seller since its release in October 1990 was this third single from X, which only just dented the top 40. I actually quite like "Bitter Tears", which was even more of a chart disappointment than previous single "Disappear", but it does feel a little undercooked compared to some of INXS's bigger singles, so I can see why it didn't seem to appeal beyond the band's hardcore fanbase.

Number 48 "On The Way Up" by Elisa Fiorillo
Peak: number 19
In 1985, she won the American version of Star Search. In 1987, she provided vocals for the Jellybean single "Who Found Who", which reached the UK top 10 and US top 20. In 1989, she was a backing singer on Prince's Batman soundtrack (and would do the same for Graffiti Bridge and Diamonds And Pearls). But for all intents and purposes, Elisa Fiorillo was an unknown performer in Australia when she released "On The Way Up".
The Prince connection - he also co-wrote "On The Way Up" - certainly helped Elisa's cause locally. The song became her only ARIA chart appearance but, in the process, joined the ranks of "Manic Monday", "Nothing Compares 2 U", "I Feel For You" and "The Glamorous Life" as top 20 hits written by Prince and performed by women.

Number 45 "Here Comes The Hammer" by MC Hammer
Peak: number 37
Michael Jackson aside, it's rarely a good idea when an artist decides the world needs a lengthy music video to accompany their latest single - as this self-indulgent eight-and-a-half-minute clip demonstrates. The fourth track lifted from Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, "Here Comes The Hammer" was once again based on a sample - in this case, from "Super Bad" by James Brown, who appears in the clip (via archive footage) dancing alongside Hammer. Not even throwing a stack of cash at the video could disguise the fact the song's not great, and it dismal chart performance in Australia was matched in the US (where it missed the top 50 after three straight top 10 hits).

Number 44 "Just Another Dream" by Cathy Dennis
Peak: number 14
Even with all the exposure she got from providing vocals for D-Mob's "C'mon And Get My Love" and "That's The Way Of The World", Cathy Dennis just couldn't seem to get her solo career off the ground in the UK. This first effort stalled twice there in 1990 and it wasn't until the song reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 that her home country deigned to make it a hit (by which point follow-up "Touch Me (All Night Long)" had made the UK top 5). At the time, "Just Another Dream" was the subject of much debate concerning who was responsible for the male vocals in the chorus. It wasn't, as many suspected, Rick Astley, but her D-Mob pal Dancing Danny D.

Number 43 "Miss Freelove '69" by Hoodoo Gurus
Peak: number 19
Despite their previous penchant for tie-dye and long hair, Hoodoo Gurus usually came across more like a straight-out rock band than a bunch of hippies. But, if the title of this lead single from the Kinky album wasn't a big enough clue, "Miss Freelove '69" was their most psychedelic retro-sounding single to date. It was also their biggest hit since 1987's "What's My Scene", with none of their previous six singles managing to get higher than number 27. Unfortunately, that chart success wouldn't last.

Number 38 "The Horses" by Daryl Braithwaite
Peak: number 1
Things hadn't been looking good for Daryl's Rise with both the title track, which had been released as lead single, and the album itself peaking just outside the top 20 on their respective charts. Luckily for the former Sherbet singer, he had this ditty up his sleeve. Originally recorded by Rickie Lee Jones a couple of years earlier, but never released as a single, "The Horses" became Daryl's first solo chart-topper since his debut single "You're My World" in early 1975 and the first number 1 he'd performed on since Sherbet's 1976 classic, "Howzat". Joining Daryl on guest vocals on "The Horses" was Margaret Urlich, although model Gillian Mather was hired to lip sync in the music video when Margaret was unavailable to appear. How very Black Box. Following the success of "The Horses", Rise got a kick in the pants and quickly climbed into the top 10 for an extended stay.

Number 35 "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)" by Cher
Peak: number 4
Next up, another cover version. Originally released as "It's In His Kiss" by backing singer Merry Clayton in 1963 as her first single as lead artist, the track didn't become a hit until the following year thanks to a remake by Betty Everett under the revised title "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)". Nearly 30 years later, Cher recorded the song for use in the film Mermaids and although the movie wasn't a blockbuster, the single was, reaching the ARIA top 5 and spending five weeks on top of the UK chart. A stand-alone release between albums, "The Shoop Shoop Song" would be followed in a few months by Cher's next studio offering.

Number 34 "Operaa House / Aria On Air" by Malcolm McLaren presents The World Famous Supreme Team Show
Peak: number 18
Throughout the '80s, former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren had released a string of fairly revolutionary singles that introduced mainstream audiences to concepts like scratching, double dutch and vogueing. In 1990, he reunited with a slightly renamed The World Famous Supreme Team Show, who he'd collaborated with on debut album Duck Rock. This time, the fruits of their labour was the album Round The Outside! Round The Outside!, named after the refrain from 1982's "Buffalo Gals"
"Operaa House" built on the track "Aria On Air", a collaboration between Malcolm and new age artist Yanni. That song had updated "Flower Duet" from the opera Lakmé by Léo Delibes and been used in a memorable British Airways commercial from 1989. With added vocals, beats and rapping, "Aria On Air" became "Operaa House". The blend of opera, hip-hop and house gave Malcolm his fourth top 20 hit in Australia.

Number 33 "Sucker DJ" by Dimples D
Peak: number 1
What a difference a year makes. Thanks to the aforementioned MC Hammer, as well as Young MC and Vanilla Ice, rap was now a thing in Australia - and this tune, which had been knocking around since 1983, became the latest hip-hop track to reach number 1 on the ARIA chart. With the addition of a sample from the theme tune to I Dream Of Jeannie, courtesy of remixer Ben Liebrand, the updated version of "Sucker DJ" was just poppy enough for Australian audiences to embrace it. Unfortunately for Dimples D (real name: Crystal Smith), nothing else she did crossed over and she became a one-hit wonder.

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

Next week: another six new entries, including the return of the Swedish duo who dominated 1989/90, the solo debut of a future coach on The Voice Australia and a rock band from my parents' home town.

Back to: Feb 24, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 10, 1991


  1. I think I only heard 'Guilty People' once at the time, but it's probably my favourite single from Margaret Urlich's first album.

    'Give Peace a Chance' completely passed me by; I don't recall hearing, seeing, or even reading about it anywhere at the time.

    I liked 'Keep On Running', but am surprised it even did as well as #62, given the lip-syncing scandal.

    I know 'Kinky Afro' primarily through it being one of about 30 random videos that aired almost every Saturday morning on rage (the top 50 went AWOL) when the then-programmer went on long service leave for the last ~3 months of '95.

    I thought 'Bitter Tears' was a weak choice for a single.

    Elisa Fiorillo did the original version of 'Jackie', apparently.

    Rival Smash Hits mag Hit Songwords had a dodgy transcription of the 'Just Another Dream' lyrics, I remember: "is this for real or crazy or just another dream?" I'm surprised JAD flopped on its first 2 releases in the UK.

    'The Horses' had been airing on Fox FM in Melbourne since at least late December 1990, so by the time it was new on the charts, it was pretty old to me. I like it, but it's silly that they got a model to lip-sync Margaret Urlich's vocals in the video, given that her voice was 'known' by then. Hadn't heard the original before.

    'The Shoop Shoop Song' was also being flogged on Melbourne radio for months before it debuted; almost like the 6+ week pre-release promo more common a decade later. I had no idea Merry Clayton was that old.

    'Operaa House' would have to be one of the most unique songs to ever grace our charts.

    It seemed a little lazy to base a song around the 'I Dream of Jeannie' theme when DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince had done it on 'Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble', released 18 months earlier (here, anyway).

  2. Big week compared with last weeks but some damn good songs entering the ARIA chart this week in 1991.

    Up until today I had no idea Guilty People actually charted so it was a pleasant surprise as it was a great album track up until today.

    I have no recollection of the Give Peace A Chance remake, I do like the original but this was rather blah.

    The Milli Vanilli track is terrible, always has been, always will be!

    Never got into the whole brit-pop psychedelic scene so Happy Mondays were always going to be hard pressed impressing me seeing The Stone Roses failed previously.
    Kinky Afro was one of those tracks RAGE played heaps of in the late 90's but never really grabbed me.

    You're right about Easier To Walk Away being a mediocre album track, it really is a poor offering and long forgotten in Elton's back catalog (to me anyway).

    Yet another INXS track I liked but bombed on the ARIA chart.

    Really like On The Way Up, would be interesting to hearing what else she came out with because the Prince influence is very strong with this track.

    Here Comes The Hammer is an absolute atrocity! It's worse than I remember and is easily his worst charting single for me.

    Loved Cathy Dennis when I first got into chart music but after awhile she disappeared, or so I thought. Pity because I really thought she had the stuff to be huge like the Kylie's and Madonna's.

    Miss Freelove '69 is easily my favorite Gurus track, loved it from the first time I saw the film clip.

    It still baffles me even today Australia's obsession with The Horses.
    Daryl's output at this point in his career imo was sublime, so many other tracks deserved the success this track had.
    The original is rather icky and tbh it's one of those tracks that sound that way by whoever does it except Daryl, Daryl owned it still does.

    My ex loved Mermaids (I have no memory of it other than a very young Christina Ricci) so this one got an absolute flogging from memory.
    I actually was still consistently playing it quiet regularly around 10 or so years ago, don't as much now but still a joy.

    One of my very first introductions to video clips was the track Operaa House. It was a Saturday morning on Video Hits and I remember being transfixed to the screen watching this. The track itself to me doesn't work without the clip.

    Sucker DJ was a favorite of mine to play when I was DJing at parties in my teens in the mid 90's, daggy yeah but good times and memories.
    Always peeved me when I ever heard the edited radio version though.



  3. Interesting that the Hoodoo Gurus song is misprinted on the chart as "Miss Freelove '89"! That concept could've been interesting. "Miss Freelycra '89" perhaps...

    1. Ha! I hadn't noticed that before. Clearly someone had a word since it was fixed the following week!