This Week In 1991: April 14, 1991
As great as it was that Australia was so readily embracing dance music by 1991, it was often disappointing to me which club tracks made the cut locally and which were completely ignored. Wouldn't you know it, the ARIA top 50 from this week that year demonstrates my point perfectly!
Three of the five new entries on the singles chart were dance releases, but none of them excited me as much as the plethora of club-oriented tunes that missed the top 50 in 1990-91. As a side (but maybe related?) point, although dance music was doing well, it was not a good week for Aussie rock.
Up at the top of the chart, Roxette were also doing well as they leapt from number 4 to number 1 with "Joyride", while Tingles by Ratcat reached a new peak of number 2 in its 17th week on the top 50.
Off The Chart
Number 94 "Call It Poison" by The Escape Club
Peak: number 82
It was looking increasingly unlikely that the band behind "Wild, Wild West" would ever manage another top 50 hit - especially with songs like this lead single from their album Dollars & Sex.
Number 83 "Come Back To Me" by Janet Jackson
Peak: number 79
Given she'd been on a bit of a roll lately, Janet's record company obviously thought this previous US single (released between "Alright" and "Black Cat") was worth a shot here.
Peak: number 51
Here's our first under-performing Aussie rock track. Although, I doubt anyone would've had very high hopes for this fifth single from Blue Sky Mining, especially since fourth single "Bedlam Bridge" had only just scraped into the top 50 and "One Country" is hardly the most commercial of tunes. And so, maybe a number 51 peak and a small bump back up the chart for the parent album is not bad going.
Peak: number 57
Ugh. Thank goodness Australia had the good sense not to send this schlocky power ballad any higher up the chart than this. Comprising members of groups like Styx and Night Ranger, Damn Yankees clung onto that bigger-is-better '80s hard rock sensibility that, even by 1991, sounded incredibly dated. Naturally, this was massive in America - a number 3 hit.
Peak: number 53
It'd taken a cover version for this hard-working pub rock outfit to see any serious chart action from their debut album, Goin' To Pieces. This lead single from second album After The Show didn't change matters for Nick Barker & The Reptiles, whose original material continued to have only a limited following.
Number 49 "Rendezvous" by Choirboys
Peak: number 40 It'd been almost a year-and-a-half since their last new single, "Empire", so you might've expected Choirboys to have spent all that time coming up with another "Run To Paradise". Not quite. There's certainly a hook in there, but just when it feels like the chorus is going to explode, "Rendezvous" pulls back and never quite gets there. The single also never quite got there on the chart, bouncing around the 40s for the next couple of months and setting up the Midnight Sun album to have a similarly understated chart run. Funnily enough, the only time we'd see Choirboys in the ARIA top 50 after this would be thanks to a dance remix of "Run To Paradise" in 2004.
Number 48 "16 (Into The Night)" by Junior Tucker
Peak: number 46
For some reason, I thought this reggae remake of the Benny Mardones song from 1980 - then called simply "Into The Night" - had been a bigger hit in Australia. Perhaps that's due to the fact that "16..." spent around half a year in the top 100. And, although its chart peak didn't come close to rivalling that of Benny's original - its longevity did. For Junior, its 25 weeks in the top 100 were mostly spent bouncing around the 50s and 60s. Benny's version, meanwhile, stayed on the chart from October 1980 to May 1981, rising initially to a peak of number 31 and then dropping out of the top 50 before reversing all the way to its eventual high of number 19. These days, Junior has set aside his pop/reggae career for a series of Christian music releases.
Peak: number 3
I believe the word is "basic". Despite this single from Austrian trio Bingoboys being one of the year's biggest dance hits, I've always found "How To Dance" to be a bit simplistic. Yes, it samples a bunch of credible disco, house and soul tracks (from the likes of Chic, Mantronix and The Whispers) but its repeated use of a snippet from a 1970s instructional record make it feel a bit like a novelty record (and you know how I hate those). For me, "How To Dance" is to dance music what "Sucker DJ" is to rap music - an extremely commercial track that ends up a bit like fast food (i.e. briefly satisfying but lacking in any substantive value).
Peak: number 40
The ironic thing about this latest multi-artist megamix is that despite it being a lazy, uninspired bandwagon-jumping medley, by reaching number 40, it brought many of the songs I did think highly of onto the top 50 for the first time, so at least that was something. Songs like "Big Fun", "Street Tuff" and "Don't Miss The Partyline" had all been big hits in their own right in the UK and deserved to be better locally, but their presence on "Time To Make The Floor Burn" was better than nothing, I guess.
Megabass was comprised of Darren Ash and Martin Smith, who, rather unsurprisingly, had a connection to the Jive Bunny records - and their unquestionable mixing skills were on display. The track even features some early mash-ups with the vocals from one song playing out over the backing track from another. Still, give me the original tracks (of which there is a full list on the YouTube link below) any time.
Peak: number 20
Even though this was much more like it - a credible, original dance track - I have to say I didn't consider this follow-up to "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" to be anywhere near as good as its predecessor. Once again, "Here We Go", which had "Let's Rock & Roll" tacked on to the end of its title on the album, combined Freedom Williams' machine gun rap delivery with vocal bursts from Zelma Davis (and it was actually her this time). But not even a cheeky play on the hook from Chic's "Le Freak" - "Aaaah, Freedom!" - made it feel like any less of a slog to get through the whole song.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: the dance act behind a novelty track from 1988 return to "rock ya", while the Aussie rock band responsible for one of 1991's most controversial chart-toppers struggles with their follow-up single. Plus, Wendy Matthews, John Farnham, Simple Minds and the under-the-radar arrival of one of the decade's highest-selling singers.