This Week In 1991: November 10, 1991
To say Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham had dominated the Australian music scene in the late '80s and early '90s would be a massive understatement. Over the previous seven years, they'd racked up a combined total of 29 top 50 hits, including three number 1 singles (two for John, one for Jimmy).
And so, you'd think a duet between the two would've been a shoe-in for number 1. It came close, but their cover version of a soul ballad from the 1960s had to settle for a top 3 position instead. I can't say I was disappointed.
One of the songs that played a part in denying Barnesy and Farnesy the top spot moved up to number 1 this week in 1991. "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred knocked off U2's "The Fly", which had debuted at the top last week.
Off The Chart
Number 98 "Work" by Technotronic featuring Reggie
Peak: number 92
"Move That Body" had returned them to the top 50, but Technotronic's second single with singer/wrapper Reggie took them back down the dumper — and fair enough, since "Work" was pretty awful.
Peak: number 71
Single Of The Week
Number 41 "The Unforgiven" by Metallica
Peak: number 10
With a number 1 album and this, their second top 10 single in a row, Metallica's transition to the mainstream was complete. A change of pace after the frenetic "Enter Sandman", "The Unforgiven" is actually a pretty melodic power ballad, especially in the chorus. Over the years, it's been followed by two sequels: "The Unforgiven II" in 1998 and "The Unforgiven III" in 2008, with the former peaking one place higher on the chart and the latter remaining as an album track.
Peak: number 3
Jimmy Barnes also slowed things down for his latest single, a duet with fellow chart hog John Farnham that to me sounded like a shouting match. Originally recorded by soul duo Sam & Dave in 1967, "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" was the latest release from Jimmy's covers album Soul Deep. It also featured Diesel (as he was now officially known) playing guitar and he was good enough to turn up for the music video shoot even though he mostly had his back to the camera.
Given the sorry state of this week's singles — not one I liked among them — I thought it would be a good opportunity to flip the chart over and see if there was any better news on the albums side of things.
Well, that depends on your definition of "better news". Fans of Bryan Adams would have been glad to see him holding down the number 1 position for a fourth week in a row. Unlike his endless domination of the top spot on the singles chart, this would be the last week that Waking Up The Neighbours would be the nation's highest-selling album.
They didn't even have a hit single yet, but the hype around Nirvana was enough for Nevermind to blast onto the albums chart, albeit one spot lower than comedian Rodney Rude. Elsewhere in rock, Use Your Illusion II was proving much more successful than Use Your Illusion I, with a gap of 10 spots between the two Guns n' Roses albums.
Remember Nigel Kennedy? The classical violinist with the cool haircut was given Album Of The Week status and spent his fourth week in the top 20 with his year-old recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. He was joined on the ARIA chart by guitarist/singers John Lee Hooker and Tommy Emmanuel, as well as 16 other male artists.
There were only 10 albums by female performers on the top 50, and the highest placed was the latest from Toni Childs. House Of Hope sat at number 8 this week in 1991, closely followed by albums by Jenny Morris, Mariah Carey and Gloria Estefan. Female-fronted groups Baby Animals, Clouds and Roxette also put in a showing with their albums.
In its 136th week in the top 50, Hot August Night by Neil Diamond was easily the oldest and longest-running album on the chart. The 1972 double live album, which spent 29 weeks at number 1 in 1973-74 added several more weeks to its tally in the lead-up to Neil's April 1992 Australian tour. It may have spent 60 weeks less on the top 50, but the 76 weeks registered by the Grease soundtrack were more than enough to make it the second most enduring album on the chart, its resurgence due to the success of "The Grease Mega-mix".
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: the King of Pop returns and zooms straight into the top 5, while another single enters the top 50 well over a year after its original release. Plus, a side-project from members of two of Australia's most popular bands.