This Week In 1990: March 11, 1990
After the terrible effort we saw last tme, the ARIA top 50 singles chart more than made up for it this week in 1990. With eight new entries - most of which I liked - it was an exciting time for chart-watchers like me. Even the new entries I wasn't that fussed about weren't that objectionable.
Far and away the biggest music news of the week came with the ARIA debut of the sister of Australia's biggest pop star. Could the younger Minogue live up to the chart efforts of her older sister? Interestingly, she wasn't the only artist with a well-known sibling to enter the top 50 this week.
Despite all the action lower down the top 50, there was no change at the top as "Nothing Compares 2 U" spent a third week at number 1. Where would it end? Not for a good few weeks.
Off The Chart
Number 80 "Let Me Go" by Melissa Etheridge
Peak: number 70
"No Souvenirs" had peaked a full 40 places higher, so the disappointing performance of this subsequent single effectively brought an end to the Brave And Crazy album campaign.
Peak: number 52
Their 1983 covers album, Labour Of Love, had done wonders for their career - so it was pretty much inevitable that reggae combo UB40 would produce a sequel. Released in late 1989, Labour Of Love II contained another batch of songs originally recorded or previously reinterpreted by their musical inspirations. Lead single "Homely Girl" fell into the latter category - originally by soul group The Chi-Lites, it was reggae-fied by Inner Circle and it's the latter version that UB40 remade. Given the other tracks on the album - some of which would go on to be significant worldwide hits - it's a little surprising that "Homely Girl" was chosen to launch the project, since it's a bit on the understated side. Nevertheless, it gave the band another UK top 10 hit (charting one place lower than the original, which reached number 5 there in 1974).
Number 48 "No Myth" by Michael Penn
Peak: number 24
Here's our first entry by an act with a famous sibling - in this case, the older brother of two entertainers: actors Sean and Chris Penn. The first single from Michael's debut album, March, "No Myth" hooked you in from the first second with its catchy guitar riff then proceeded to deliver a chorus that got stuck in your head for days. It was a promising start, but one Michael never lived up to.
Peak: number 21
"Crying In The Chapel" had given Peter's chart career a great start, and for the follow-up, he decided to tackle a song made most famous by Roberta Flack. I say "made most famous" since Roberta is one of dozens of artists to interpret "First Time Ever...", which started life in the late 1950s as a folk tune. But since the soul singer's 1969 recording (an edited version of which belatedly became a US number 1 hit in 1972) won Grammy Awards for Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year, it's fair to say hers is the definitive version. Anyway, back to Peter - and his synth-laden take on the song (which kind of reminds me of Bros's "Cat Among The Pigeons") was the last time ever his face was seen in the ARIA top 50.
Number 40 "Love And Kisses" by Dannii
Peak: number 4
She'd performed on Australian TV each week for six years when she was known as Danielle Minogue, but two years after she left Young Talent Time and almost three years after big sister Kylie released her debut single, the newly monikered Dannii finally got around to putting out her first record.
"Love And Kisses" wasn't what a lot of people were expecting, especially since Dannii was signed to the same record label as Kylie and Jason Donovan. But the Home And Away star didn't go running to Stock Aitken Waterman - eschewing a pure pop approach for an edgier American R&B-influenced sound, courtesy of little-known producers Alvin Moody and Vincent Bell.
I wasn't blown away by "Love And Kisses" at the time - and even the UK remix in 1991 courtesy of D-Mob's Dancin' Danny D didn't completely win me over - but Australia sent the single soaring into the top 5. It remains Dannii's only top 10 hit locally despite her going on to release far superior songs. Naturally, the single received the obligatory Fast Forward treatment at the time. Easy target, really.
Peak: number 15
It was two boring singles in a row from Phil Collins as far as I was concerned - and if "Another Day In Paradise" had put me to sleep, then this follow-up rendered me comatose. I didn't always feel this way about Phil - I'd actually liked the majority of his '80s discography, including mega-ballads "Against All Odds", "A Groovy Kind Of Love" and "Separate Lives". But this FM radio staple, which featured Eric Clapton on guitar (and in the overly long music video), was way too dreary for me.
Number 33 "Escaping" by Margaret Urlich
Peak: number 17
Time for a game of musical connections. This New Zealand chart-topping single was performed by the former member of Kiwi groups Peking Man and When The Cat's Away. Branching out as a solo artist, Margaret released "Escaping" as her debut single - a song that had been written by Robyn Smith and Barry Blue, the latter of whom had been a recording artist in his own right in the mid-'70s. The track would later be covered by British acts Asia Blue (unsuccessfully) and Dina Carroll (who took it to number 3 in the UK after "changing a few words and taking a third" - actually, it was a quarter, since her producer also got a look-in). We'll be seeing more of Margaret in the coming months, although she didn't ever beat the number 17 peak of "Escaping".
Peak: number 7
The pretence that Felly was anything more than a lipsyncing model was abandoned, but poor Ya Kid K still didn't get a credit for her vocals on this follow-up to "Pump Up The Jam" - at least, not in Australia. She did, however, get to appear in the music video. Baby steps. In my opinion, "Get Up!" is actually a better song than "Pump Up The Jam" and gave the Belgian dance act a second successive top 10 hit in Australia.
Number 20 "Blame It On The Rain" by Milli Vanilli
Peak: number 5
While Technotronic were making an effort to be more authentic, Milli Vanilli were in too deep to do anything but keep up the charade, with recent Grammy Award recipients Rob and Fab bursting into the top 20 with their third (and final) big Australian hit. Like all their singles, "Blame It On The Rain" was produced by group mastermind Frank Farian, but this time the songwriter was none other than power ballad queen Diane Warren. The duo would sneak into the top 50 once more later in the year, so we'll pick their story up then.
Number 19 "Opposites Attract" by Paula Abdul
Peak: number 1
Here's proof that you didn't actually need to be the best singer in the world to be a star. After dominating the US chart throughout 1989, choreographer-turned-singer Paula Abdul finally landed a major hit in Australia - with a little help from a cartoon cat. The sixth and final release from Forever Your Girl, "Opposites Attract" had been a monster single waiting to happen - a she says, he says tale of an unlikely romantic pairing, actually performed as a duet between Paula and The Wild Pair (Tony Christian - aka Bruce DeShazer - and Marv Gunn). MC Skat Kat entered the picture for the single version, with the animated character responsible for a couple of raps (actually performed by Derrick "Delite" Stevens) incorporated into the song. The result: a chart-topping smash.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1990:
Next week: the top 50 settles down somewhat with the follow-up to one of the biggest hits of the summer. Plus, chart also-rans from a Danish rock back, a half-Swedish singer/rapper and a British indie group.