This Week In 1991: April 21, 1991
Some artists make a huge splash with their debut single (and then sometimes struggle to live up to it), while others take a while to fulfil their potential. This week in 1991, the act behind the week's highest new entry on the ARIA top 50 singles chart and one of the artists in the breakers section demonstrated the more gradual approach.
The former was a British dance duo that exploded with their eighth single (although they had enjoyed one-off chart success three years previously under a different name). The latter was a French-Canadian diva-in-waiting, whose big ballads would help define the decade.
A band that'd also taken its time to break through - at least internationally - held down the number 1 spot this week in 1991. "Joyride" by Roxette spent a second week on top.
Off The Chart
Number 78 "Night Fever Megamix" by The Mixmasters
Peak: number 78
Not to be confused with Jive Bunny's Mastermixers, the different set of Mixmasters involved in the Megabass track or "Grand Piano" by Mixmaster, this hideous re-sung medley of songs from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack pre-empted the imminent arrival of "The Grease Megamix" (which had actually come out first in the UK) in Australia.
Peak: number 62
Almost two years after she first performed it at 1989's Eurovision Song Contest in Switzerland (having won for that country the previous year with "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi"), Celine Dion's first big international English-language hit finally made its way to Australia. It didn't get very far locally, but "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" was a sign of things to come for the Quebec-born singer who'd been releasing French-language albums since 1981. An epic ballad that showcased Celine's monster vocal style, the US top 5 hit was the first step in her eventual world domination. The song was taken from her debut English-language album, Unison, which was released following a major overhaul of Celine's image - including her teeth being fixed and elocution classes. It would turn out to be money well spent.
Number 49 "In Days To Come" by John Farnham
Peak: number 49
Possibly as a result of his rapid singles release schedule in 1990, John Farnham had achieved with the Chain Reaction what he hadn't managed with either Whispering Jack or Age Of Reason - three top 10 hits. And, by reaching the top 50 - just! - fourth single "In Days To Come" achieved what neither "Reasons" nor "We're No Angels" could. The socially conscious ballad which references "Imagine" by John Lennon, Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "Blowin' In The Wind", and Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech was co-written with Ross Fraser and David Hirschfelder, who he'd worked with on "Going, Going, Gone" on Whispering Jack.
Peak: number 14
"Token Angels" and "Women's Gotta Have It" had established Wendy Matthews' solo artist credentials, but if we're being honest, they were a bit ho-hum. With third single "Let's Kiss (Like Angels Do)", the former Absent Friends vocalist finally released a song that excited me - and a good deal of the Australian public, it would seem, since the upbeat pop track became her biggest hit to date. "Let's Kiss..." also had a knock-on effect on album Émigré, which had been puttering around the lower 30s and 40s on the albums chart and suddenly sputtered back to life.
Number 43 "Love School" by Divinyls
Peak: number 43
"I Touch Myself" had put Divinyls on the world stage, but the pair squandered their new-found success by releasing this track as the follow-up single. A song that would've made a great album track, "Love School" never really amounts to very much and, as a result, missed the ARIA top 40. Things went even further downhill with the third single from Divinyls, "Make Out Alright", which missed the top 100 altogether.
Number 42 "Let There Be Love" by Simple Minds
Peak: number 15
The last time we'd heard from stadium-fillers Simple Minds, they'd gotten all political with the Street Fighting Years album, which included UK number 1 and ARIA top 20 hit "Belfast Child". On ninth album Real Life, the band, which was now a trio comprised of singer Jim Kerr, guitarist Charlie Burchill and drummer Mel Gaynor, kept things simple. Lead single "Let There Be Love" was about as straightforward a song as you could hope for, and while it lacked the oomph of some of Simple Minds' best '80s anthems, it gave them their best chart showing since "Belfast Child".
Peak: number 3
From stadium rock we move now to stadium house and the duo who'd been releasing singles since 1987, including 1988's "Doctorin' The Tardis" (as The Timelords). But, up until 1990's UK top 5 "What Time Is Love?", The KLF had been very much a cult act. While that single received scant attention in Australia, the follow-up, "3 A.M. Eternal", catapulted Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond into the top 3.
Originally released in a "Pure Trance" version in 1989, the radically reworked "3 A.M. Eternal" was subtitled "Live At The S.S.L." - but that was deceptive. Despite featuring crowd noise behind Ricardo Da Force's rap and the "aha aha aha aha" female vocals, the track was a studio production, with S.S.L. standing for Solid State Logic, a type of mixing desk.
Unlike the deluge of megamixes, and cheesy novelty songs like "How To Dance" and "Sucker DJ" that'd infiltrated the Australia chart in recent months, "3 A.M. Eternal" was quality dance music that pushed the genre forward in new and inventive ways. And the bizarre KLF (also known as The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, furthermore known as The JAMs) were possibly 1991's most exciting new chart stars.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: a future chart-topper from a band that still hadn't reached number 1 with their previous single, plus a greatly diminished Australian pop group resort to another cover version to make it back into the top 50.