This Week In 1991: November 24, 1991
In the 1980s, talking about sex in music had often resulted in songs and/or music videos being banned for being too risqué. To get away with it, artists had been forced to be more subtle or metaphorical in their approach.
Times had changed by 1991 when a single that literally talked about sex became one of the biggest hits of summer '91/'92. The track got to number 1 without anyone really batting an eyelid.
A song about being sexy was at the top of the ARIA singles chart this week in 1991. "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred spent its third week at number 1.
Single Of The Week
Peak: number 73
It was second album time for Texas, but not even that fact could help this lead single from Mothers Heaven return them to the top 50. It wasn't just in Australia that the Scottish band were struggling — "Why Believe In You" peaked at a miserable number 66 in the UK.
Number 48 "Come To Me" by Diesel
Peak: number 8
A couple of weeks ago, we saw him pop up on guitar on Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham's duet, "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby", and here Johnny Diesel was again with his own retro soul track — although in this case, "Come To Me" was an original song and not a remake. It was also the first single credited to just Diesel, which did a neat job of differentiating the smooth track from his rockier releases with The Injectors as well as his previous solo single, "Love Junk" (although that'd pop up on his debut solo album anyway). With its more accessible sound, "Come To Me" took Diesel back into the top 10 for the first time since "Cry In Shame" and achieved his highest chart placing to date.
Number 39 "No Son Of Mine" by Genesis
Peak: number 29
Since Genesis's last album, Phil Collins had continued his solo success with the ...But Seriously album, while Mike Rutherford had squeeze in two albums with his side-project, Mike + The Mechanics. The trio (which also included Tony Banks) reconvened for another album together and kicked things off with this pretty intense lead single. Written about a family dealing with domestic violence, "No Son Of Mine" was more "Another Day In Paradise" than "Invisible Touch" and, as a result, a bit of a downer. Yes, it's an important issue that should be given attention, but the endless verses and angry chorus made for a pretty heavy song — something that might explain its lacklustre chart performance.
Peak: number 5
Now this was genius. What's a funk/pop group to do when it's been away from the top 50 for three-and-a-half years? How about remaking a song that was last a hit 20 years ago and bringing it right up to date? And what about recruiting as guest vocalist the daughter of Australian music royalty? Rockmelons, who'd never been able to break into the top 20 despite coming close twice, did just that and enjoyed their first top 5 hit.
The song they covered was "Ain't No Sunshine", originally recorded by Bill Withers (number 17 in 1971) and also included by Michael Jackson on his debut solo album, Got To Be There, in 1972. It was a track many people were familiar with, but enough time had past for a new version to be more than welcome. Belting out the soul classic was Deni Hines, daughter of '70s pop sensation Marcia, who made her musical debut with the single. This was just the beginning for the combination of Rockmelons and Deni...
Peak: number 20
From the sublime to... this horror. A top 5 hit in the UK, where it originated, "I'll Be Back" capitalised on the success of Terminator 2: Judgment Day earlier in the year, incorporating some of the best known catchphrases of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator character into a basic techno track. Presumably to avoid legal issues, the artist name was deliberately misspelt, although the blame really belongs to Richard Easter, the sidekick of British DJ Steve Wright, who apparently threw the song together in two hours. You can't half tell. As a novelty record, "I'll Be Back" is wholly unfunny and as a dance track, it's an abomination. A Top Of The Pops "performance" is below, while if you really want to, you can listen to a proper version of the song here.
Number 13 "Let's Talk About Sex" by Salt 'n' Pepa
Peak: number 1
With a title like this, it was always going to be massive, but interestingly, "Let's Talk About Sex" had been sitting on Salt 'n' Pepa's Blacks' Magic album for a year-and-a-half before it was issued as a single. The song, which tackled the issues of censorship and safe sex, was released in a variety of versions. In Australia, the main mix was the bouncy True Confessions edit by Ben Liebrand you can hear in the video below, while America went with an alternate version that stuck closer to the album mix. There was also a version that more specifcally focussed HIV/AIDS.
Whatever the mix people preferred, "Let's Talk About Sex" became the biggest hit of Salt 'n' Pepa's career in Australia, surpassing the success of breakthrough single "Push It" and topping the chart for four weeks. In the US, since airplay was counted towards the Billboard Hot 100 (and because America hadn't become that liberal), the result was a number 13 peak for "Let's Talk About Sex", a position they'd better with a couple of their other massive '90s singles.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: speaking of sex, Australia's favourite pop princess raunches up her image even more. Plus, a number 1 homegrown club hit, a politically motivated one-hit wonder and a new version of an old flop single by John Farnham all debut.