This Week In 1991: June 23, 1991
If we're to take a lesson away from the new entries on the ARIA chart this week in 1991 it's this: if you leave a successful band for a solo career, it's helpful if the band bore your name (or the pseudonym you use as a musician).
This week in 1991, two male artists debuted with their first singles away from their former groups - and the one with better name recognition was significantly more successful than the other.
Speaking of significant success, "The Grease Megamix" was still at number 1 this week, with the medley well on its way to becoming a wedding reception and 21st birthday party staple.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 93
There are a bunch of versions of this song, but the one I've linked to above, which sounds like a cross between Snap! and C+C Music Factory, is the one I recall from the time.
Number 98 "Christchurch Bells" by Hothouse Flowers
Peak: number 98
The first of four songs in a row that spent a single week in the 90s, "Christchurch Bells" was the fourth of five singles from Home, which had topped the albums chart back in March.
Number 97 "RSVP" by Jason Donovan
Peak: number 97
A sign of just how far both he and producers Stock Aitken Waterman had fallen from favour, this brand new song was a chart disaster, despite it being Jason's best effort since "Too Many Broken Hearts".
Peak: number 96
Elvis channels The Beach Boys on this lead single from his Mighty Like A Rose album. It might sound bright and bouncy, but it contains some biting lyrics, including a swipe at "Imagine".
Number 95 "Unfinished Sympathy" by Massive Attack
Peak: number 95
Our final brief stayer is one of the most acclaimed singles of the '90s - and the breakthrough international hit for trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack. Shame on us for overlooking it.
Peak: number 85
Just as the American indie rock band gained the support of a major label for the release of their 1991 album, Vinyl, this 1985 single made a belated appearance in the ARIA top 100.
Peak: number 59
In many ways, this almost-hit by Nichelle Strong (aka Nikki D) was basically just a remix of the DNA featuring Suzanne Vega version of "Tom's Diner" since it borrowed so heavily from that track. Besides Nikki's rap, other elements thrown into the mix were a sample of the "ba" from "Buffalo Gals" by Malcolm McLaren as well as elements of tracks by LL Cool J, Joe Tex and Whodini.
Peak: number 49
I wonder what would've happened if Boom Crash Opera guitarist and key songwriter Richard Pleasance hadn't been diagnosed with tinnitus in 1990. Would he even have taken a break from the band? If not, this under-rated pop/rock tune might never have come into existence, so I guess there's a silver lining to Richard developing the ear-ringing condition. Unfortunately, "Sarah (I Miss You)", which sounded like a slightly more chilled version of Boom Crash Opera, didn't progress very far on the top 50, but the Galleon album is well worth checking out. Richard would appear on Boom Crash Opera's next release, which we'll see towards the end of the year, but would quit the band for good in 1992.
Number 46 "Trippin'" by Push Push
Peak: number 25
Time for some Kiwi rock now - and this debut single from the Auckland band had been a chart-topper in New Zealand for the long-haired five-piece. It performed more modestly in Australia and would be Push Push's only top 50 appearance locally (as opposed to their three top 10 hits back home) before they parted ways in 1993. I never really paid much attention to "Trippin'" at the time, but listening to it now, it seems to neatly combine elements of late '70s/early '80s pub rock with the harder sound we'd be hearing a lot more of as grunge took a grip on music.
Number 41 "Love Junk" by Johnny Diesel
Peak: number 19
Along with The Injectors, Johnny Diesel (aka Mark Lizotte) had enjoyed a pretty spectacular start to his chart career, with three top 10 hits (and a top 30 single) from the band's debut album, which peaked at number 2. They added to that in 1990 with number 11 soundtrack hit "Please Send Me Someone To Love" and then Johnny moved on (although given most people wouldn't have been able to name a single Injector, it didn't feel like that big a change).
Nevertheless, "Love Junk" was his first solo hit - and his only single credited to Johnny Diesel, since he would soon drop back to just being called Diesel. Despite sporting a new image that I still don't quite know what to make of (those stripy trousers! that hat a member of Girlfriend would be proud of!), Johnny maintained his bluesy rock sound on "Love Junk" and duly landed back in the top 20. Better songs were to come from this period of his career, but the track certainly reconfirmed his position as one of Australia's favourite male artists.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: Kylie goes hip-hop... kind of. Plus, one of my favourite Australian bands takes a musical turn for the worse.