This Week In 1991: March 10, 1991
After last week's clear out on the ARIA singles chart, you might have expected things to be a bit quieter this week in 1991. Wrong - the flood of new entries continued with another six debuts in the top 50.
The newcomers were all big hits as well, with four of them reaching the top 10 and one going all the way to number 1. The chart-topper came as no surprise since the band responsible had already been to number 1 twice in as many years.
The number 1 song this week in 1991 was, once again, "I've Been Thinking About You" by Londonbeat, which spent its fourth week on top. But, a certain cartoon character was edging ever closer to the chart summit.
Off The Chart
Number 99 "Hard To Handle" by The Black Crowes
Peak: number 79
A slight improvement on the peak of their debut single, this cover of the Otis Redding single from 1968 only ended up as a US and UK top 40 hit after being re-released later in 1991.
Number 83 "Bat Out Of Hell" by Meat Loaf
Peak: number 79
Re-released to coincide with Bat Out Of Hell: Revamped, a new version of the 1977 album that remains one of the highest selling releases in Australian history. The single originally peaked at number 26.
Single Of The Week
Peak: number 131
They'd started their music career together as songwriters, responsible for penning "We Belong", which Pat Benatar turned into a hit in 1984. A few years later, Eric Lowen and Dan (cousin of Dave) Navarro decided to step into the spotlight themselves, but there were few takers (here or in the US) for this title track from their debut album. Undeterred, the duo continued to record and perform together until 2009, by which point Eric's ALS proved too great an impediment to carry on. He passed away in 2012.
Number 48 "Unbelievable" by EMF
Peak: number 8
With the odd exception, Australia had been mostly immune to the fusion of dance and indie rock peddled by bands like Happy Mondays, The Charlatans and The Farm. Resistance was futile when it came to this debut single by the band whose name either stands for Epson Mad Funkers or Ecstasy Mother Fuckers - or both. Featuring various vocal samples - Andrew Dice Clay, Ya Kid K, someone screaming "what the fuck was that?" - as well as crunching guitars and an insistent keyboard hook, "Unbelievable" became a massive worldwide hit for EMF, reaching the ARIA and UK top 10, and number 1 in the US. As we'll see in coming months, follow-up hits were hard to come by, despite debut album Schubert Dip being packed with catchy genre-blending tracks.
Number 40 "Joyride" by Roxette
Peak: number 1
It only took one line: "Hello, you fool, I love you". And just like that, Roxette lodged themselves firmly back in our heads with another unshakable earworm. "Joyride" was the title track from the Swedish duo's follow-up album to international breakthrough Look Sharp! and became their third - and final - number 1 single in Australia. It also only took one listen to the song for it to be quite obvious that "Joyride" was somewhat of an homage to "Magical Mystery Tour" by The Beatles, with Per Gessle getting the title from the word used by Paul McCartney to describe the songwriting process with John Lennon.
Number 33 "Crazy" by Seal
Peak: number 9
He'd already topped the UK chart as featured vocalist on Adamski's "Killer", but Australia had never heard of the singer with the uncommon name of Seal when he dropped this debut solo single. Seal was signed to ZTT in the UK and "Crazy" was produced by label co-founder Trevor Horn, the man responsible for records by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, ABC and Grace Jones, who gave the song a similarly epic sound. Taken from the first of many self-titled albums, "Crazy" would be Seal's only major hit in Australia until 1995, but like "Killer", many of his other singles deserve wider recognition.
Number 31 "Rescue Me" by Madonna
Peak: number 15
It was inevitable that the other new song on The Immaculate Collection would be released as a single, but "Rescue Me" came out with minimal fanfare and no music video, so the fact that it still reached number 15 (especially given how well The Immaculate Collection had done over the summer) speaks volumes about Madonna's ability to sell records in the early '90s. Like "Vogue", "Rescue Me" was another half-sung, half-spoken collaboration with producer Shep Pettibone - and while it was nowhere near as good as that career landmark, I liked it a lot better than previous single "Justify My Love". Pity it's been all but forgotten about in the decades since.
Number 30 "Mary Had A Little Boy" by Snap!
Peak: number 18
After the non-event that had been "Cult Of Snap", Snap! returned with their poppiest single to date - all piano house chords and nursery rhyme lyrics. Simplistic it might have been, but "Mary Had A Little Boy" did the job and returned the German dance act to the top 20, and was actually my favourite of the four singles released from World Power. What would Snap! do next? Well, the same as Technotronic, Black Box, Bobby Brown and Paula Abdul, obviously...
Number 26 "Better" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 4
As accepting as Australia had become of pop, dance, rap and R&B by the early '90s, there was still nothing that went down better (no pun intended) with local audiences than a serving of pub rock. After breaching the top 100 with debut single "C'mon", Newcastle's The Screaming Jets exploded with "Better", a song even I didn't mind thanks to its catchy chorus. Loud, wild and in your face - and that was just singer Dave Gleeson's hair - the band quickly earnt a reputation as Australia's hottest new rock act and became a chart staple over the next few years, although never bettering (again, no pun intended) this top 5 hit.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: the year's weirdest TV series spawns a chart-topping single, plus the debut of a singer who'd go on to star in that show's spin-off movie. And, a former star of the Hit Factory returns.