This Week In 1991: March 24, 1991
Nearly every lead singer of a group thinks they've got what it takes to be a solo star - and many that try it have great success on their own. Plenty don't.
This week in 1991, the solo debut of a singer from one of the most popular bands of the past five years turned out less than spectacularly. Of course, she wasn't technically a lead singer, but let's not let semantics get in the way, shall we?
Meanwhile, at the top of the ARIA singles chart this week in 1991, one pop/rap song made way for another. "Sucker DJ" by Dimples DJ took over at number 1 from "Do The Bartman" for the first week in a two-week run.
Off The Chart
Number 93 "Love Or Something" by Bob Geldof
Peak: number 74
Although this was nowhere near as annoying as "The Great Song Of Indifference", Australia's interest in solo material from Bob Geldof faded as quickly as it had emerged.
Number 76 "Mother Universe" by The Soup Dragons
Peak: number 67
Not even an "I'm Free"-style remix could turn this previous single into a hit for the Scottish band, who never saw the inside of the top 100 again.
Peak: number 65
Like its predecessor, this single by the Canadian duo peaked way too low. The main hook is sampled from Quincy Jones's "Soul Bossa Nova", later used in the Austin Powers film series.
Peak: number 65
With New Edition having splintered off into various side-projects over the past few years, there was a gap in the market for another super-young African-American boy band - and the four Abdulsamad brothers fit the bill perfectly. Khiry, Hakim, Tajh and Bilal had been aged between nine and 14 when their debut album, Messages From The Boys, was released in late 1988. That LP had featured three LA Reid & Babyface productions, including US top 20 single "Dial My Heart".
Now three years older, the brothers were writing and producing their own records, except for this lead single from second album The Boys, which was produced and co-written by LaFace B-team Daryl Simmons and Kayo. The group's only other US chart hit (it reached number 29), "Crazy" came with a video that saw the boys send up Janet Jackson, Bobby Brown, Madonna, Milli Vanilli, Michael Jackson and George Michael, which probably accounted for it doing as well as it did in Australia.
Peak: number 62
Speaking of New Edition, here's the final member of the group to reach the Australia top 100 - and the only one never to land a top 20 hit in Australia (if you ignore his one-line "contribution" to "The Best Things In Life Are Free"). Ralph Tresvant had actually been the lead singer of New Edition, so while Bobby Brown worked with LA Reid & Babyface, it made sense for Ralph to team up with the other main songwriting/production team in the US at this point: Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. (Incidentally, fellow New Edition member Johnny Gill worked with both duos on his self-titled 1990 album.) The title of Ralph's debut solo single, "Sensitivity", said it all - the silky smooth US top 5 hit was the antithesis of the boastful swagger Bobby Brown displayed on tracks like "My Prerogative" and "Humpin' Around", which is maybe why it went under the radar in Australia.
Peak: number 54
Now if any former lead singer was going to have a successful solo career, you would've thought it would be The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs. I know, I know, she wasn't actually the lead singer of the girl band, since all four members shared vocal duties. But c'mon, that's the way she was perceived by the public - a view that arguably had been pushed by the record company, which led to tension in the group and their inevitable split.
For her debut solo single, Susanna even enlisted Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, the writers of "Eternal Flame", and together they wrote "My Side Of The Bed", but the song was a resounding flop. And just like that, Susanna's solo career was effectively over before it even began, which is a shame because the subsequent two singles from her album, When You're A Boy (one of which we'll see in coming months), were far superior and may just have been hits if either had been chosen as lead single instead.
Number 50 "More Than Words Can Say" by Alias
Peak: number 30
This week's actual top 50 entries are much less exciting than the songs that missed the chart. Ready for some big boring ballads? How about this debut single from the band formed by two former members of Canada's Sheriff and a few guys who used to be in Heart? A lighters-in-the-air soft rock power ballad, "More Than Words Can Say" came about because Sheriff's 1983 single "When I'm With You" became a belated number 1 hit in the US in 1989 - but the band had long since broken up. Unable to resurrect Sheriff to capitalise on their new-found success, singer Freddy Curci and guitarist Steve DeMarchi formed Alias and almost topped the Billboard Hot 100 again. I've actually warmed to "More Than Words Can Say" a little over the years, although it's still about as predictable a power ballad as you could ever hope for.
Number 49 "A Better Love" by Londonbeat
Peak: number 25
The only one of this week's top 50 entries I actually like, "A Better Love" was Londonbeat's follow-up to chart-topper "I've Been Thinking About You", which was still in the top 5 this week. Another radio-friendly pop/dance track, "A Better Love" featured a reference to a "harbour bridge" in the lyrics, which always made me wonder if it referred to Sydney. The band wasn't from Australia, but you never know.
Number 47 "Never Let Me Go" by The Black Sorrows
Peak: number 30
The Black Sorrows maintained the one on, one off top 50 strike rate that extended back to "The Crack Up" with "Never Let Me Go" improving on the fortunes of previous single "Angel Street". Featuring the band's regular backing singer Vika Bull on lead vocal, "Never Let Me Go" was easily the best thing The Black Sorrows had released since "Chained To The Wheel" and I can only wonder why it took so long for it to be issued as a single.
Number 46 "Rosalie" by The Slow Club
Peak: number 46
Not quite a ballad, but a cruisy pop/rock tune that would've been the perfect addition to FM playlists, "Rosalie" was the follow-up to the Melbourne band's debut chart hit, "Shout Me Down". As pretty as it was, "Rosalie" was also rather forgettable and didn't advance any further than this position - and that was the last we ever heard of The Slow Club on the top 100.
Number 34 "Hold Me In Your Arms" by Southern Sons
Peak: number 9
This week's highest new entry was another fully fledged ballad, from a band who were on a bit of a roll at this point. Following "Heart In Danger" and previous weep-fest "Always And Ever" into the chart, "Hold Me In Your Arms" returned Southern Sons to the top 10, solidifying them as Australia's favourite new pop/rock act. A third hit also helped the band's self-titled debut album, which had peaked at number 15 upon release in December, jump to a new high of number 14 this week on its way to an eventual top 5 placing. Things wouldn't be as good on the charts for Southern Songs again for a couple of years.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: yet another megamix hits the top 50, along with the song that won the MTV Video Of The Year award for its film clip. Meanwhile, some music legends don't do so well with their latest efforts.