This Week In 1991: August 11, 1991
For the previous few years, it had worked the other way. First, a performer would make a name for themselves on TV - usually in one of the three big soap operas: Neighbours, Home And Away and E Street. Then, they'd branch out into music.
This week in 1991, a female all-rounder debuted on the ARIA chart with her first - and only - hit single. Before long, she'd move on to a very successful TV career that has continued (with some big breaks) until today.
I should probably just skip this part for the next couple of months, right? This week in 1991, Bryan Adams was number 1 for a third week (of 11) with "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You".
Off The Chart
Number 98 "Part Of Me, Part Of You" by Glenn Frey
Peak: number 97
Soundtrack singles had given Glenn Frey his two biggest Australian hits to date, but this song from Thelma & Louise was no "The Heat Is On". "Part Of Me..." would later appear on Glenn's 1992 album, Strange Weather.
Number 92 "Any Dream Will Do" by Jason Donovan
Peak: number 92
This Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat number gave Jason Donovan, who was starring in the West End production at this point, his fourth UK number 1. By contrast, it was his last ARIA top 100 appearance.
Number 82 "Ruby's Mind" by Killing Time
Peak: number 72
The first of three releases from the Sydney metal band before they changed their name to Mantissa to avoid confusion with identically named overseas acts.
Single Of The Week
Peak: number 65
The original version of this song appeared on the AC/DC album of the same name in 1977. This remake by the Australian punk band with guest vocals from American musician Henry Rollins gave both acts their first top 100 appearance. Its chart performance may or may not have been aided by the availability of a series of limited edition 10" coloured vinyl records.
Number 49 "Wind Of Change" by Scorpions
Peak: number 7
Like Extreme, who we saw land their first hit a few weeks back, German band Scorpions generally released much harder edged music than power ballad "Wind Of Change". And although this wasn't a love song like "More Than Words", it became a massive hit all the same - Scorpions' only top 50 appearance in Australia. Written by singer Klaus Meine following a trip to Moscow in 1989, it deals with the decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. A worldwide smash, it's apparently the best-selling single of all time by a German act. I couldn't stand it.
Peak: number 38
This UK dance track was more my thing in 1991, but I was (pleasantly) surprised it got anywhere near the Australian top 40. With a classic early '90s keyboard hook; some half-sung, half-shouted vocals from Gary Clail and a line from Lana Pellay of "Pistol In My Pocket" fame, this fitted in perfectly with all those indie dance hybrid tracks from the likes of EMF, Jesus Jones and Happy Mondays. Naturally, it was a UK top 10 hit for Gary, who was signed to On-U Sound Records (thus his moniker).
Number 46 "Unity" by Sound Unlimited Posse
Peak: number 40
In 2016, there are plenty of successful local hip-hop acts on the chart, but in 1991, it was unheard of for an Australian rap group to reach the top 50. Previously known as Westside Posse, Sydney's Sound Unlimited Posse was the first hip-hop act signed to a major record label (CBS, later Sony Music), and "Unity" was their breakthrough single following a minor top 100 entry for "Peace By Piece" in late 1990. "Unity" maintained the anti-racism theme of their previous single, but swapped out the reggae feel for a more commercial pop/R&B sound. Although it wasn't a massive hit, it was certainly a landmark chart appearance - and it still sounds pretty good all these years later.
Number 45 "I've Got To Go Now" by Toni Childs
Peak: number 5
In 1988, Australia had fallen in love with the distinctively voiced Toni Childs, awarding her a pair of number 17 hits in the form of "Stop Your Fussin'" (which I despised) and "Don't Walk Away" (which I liked), and one of the year's biggest albums, Union. New Zealand aside, the rest of the world was proving harder to crack, but Australia came through with the goods for Toni again in 1991, sending this lead single from second album House Of Hope into the top 5. This time around, Toni covered much more serious subjects than on Union, with "I've Got To Go Now" dealing with the topic of domestic abuse.
Number 42 "Pump It (Nice An' Hard)" by Icy Blu
Peak: number 8
It was unfortunate that a quality Australian hip-hop track would get no higher than number 40 but rubbish like this made the top 10. Of course, "Pump It (Nice An' Hard)" would never have been anywhere near as big without the incorporation of samples from "Push It" by Salt 'n' Pepa. Thankfully, this was the only hit single by Icy Blu, whose real name is Laurel Yurchick and seems to have had a tough time of it since she was a pop star if the comments on this post are anything to go by.
Number 39 "P.A.S.S.I.O.N." by Rythm Syndicate
Peak: number 28
No, that's not a typo - that is how Rythm Syndicate annoyingly decided to spell their name. That quirk aside, the American pop band were responsible for one of my favourite songs of 1991 with "P.A.S.S.I.O.N.", yet another track Australia was introduced to on American Top 40. Once their hits dried up - they had a second top 20 single in the US with "Hey Donna" - band members Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers worked as songwriters and producers for other acts. Many years later, they'd discover a female singer from Barbados you might've heard of: Rihanna. Carl and Evan co-wrote and co-produced her debut single, "Pon De Replay".
Number 36 "Every Heartbeat" by Amy Grant
Peak: number 17
With "Baby Baby" still sitting comfortably in the top 20, Christian music star-turned-pop singer Amy Grant struck again with the second single from her Heart In Motion album. Like its predecessor, "Every Heartbeat" was remixed from the album version for single release, but once again I felt like the update was unnecessary since it was fine just as it was. Also like "Baby Baby", the song has been given a freshening up for its 25th anniversary. A number 2 smash in the US, "Every Heartbeat" wasn't quite as big in Australia - and it would be Amy's final top 50 appearance locally.
Number 34 "99 Reasons" by Jo Beth Taylor
Peak: number 31
You hear plenty of stories of support acts never getting to meet the big-name stars they open for on tour, but that wasn't Jo Beth Taylor's experience. Signed to Molly Meldrum's Melodian label, she was sent out with label-mates Indecent Obsession as the opening acts for Debbie Gibson's Australian tour in 1990. Jo Beth (real name: Joanne Guilfoyle - Molly told her to change it) and Debbie clearly hit it off. After the tour, Jo Beth hung out with Debbie in New York, where Debbie wrote and produced five of the 12 tracks on Jo Beth's debut album, 99 Reasons.
The title track, which became Jo Beth's debut single, wasn't one of Debbie's compositions - it was written, randomly, by former '70s heartthrob and future Australian Idol judge Mark Holden with Fred Zarr, who'd worked on Debbie's first two albums. Fred produced the song, while Debbie and her "momager", Diane, were listed as co-executive producers. Despite all the big names in Jo Beth's corner, "99 Reasons" wasn't a massive hit - probably because it sounded about three years out of date. Jo Beth never returned to the ARIA top 50, but the exposure eventually led to a much more successful career on TV.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: a chart-topping single written by Prince but performed by a female pop star, a reggae hit that had flopped when first released in April 1990 and a rap one-hit wonder.