This Week In 1994: October 2, 1994
Sometimes the changing of the guard in the Australian music industry happens subtly. And sometimes there are weeks like this one in 1994 when a brand new band from Newcastle rocketed into the ARIA singles chart while two veterans' top 50 careers came to an end.
The ascendant band not only achieved massive chart success with their debut single, but they also became the most successful attempt to translate America's grunge sound to the local scene, being rewarded with a number 1 single for their effort.
Another Australian act was at number 1 this week in 1994. Kylie Minogue stayed on top for a third week with "Confide In Me".
Off The Chart
Number 98 "Beercan" by Beck
Peak: number 98
The immediate follow-up to "Loser", "Pay No Mind (Snoozer)", had missed the top 100 and this next single from the man destined to be a one-hit wonder in Australia did little better.
Number 92 "Everybody Gonfi Gon" by 2 Cowboys
Peak: number 76
Blame "Swamp Thing". Following The Grid's ukelele-based dance smash, this fiddle-featuring UK top 10 hit by the Italian Eurodance duo was another affront to good taste.
Number 91 "Born Dead" by Body Count
Peak: number 52
The third top 100 entry for the metal band led by rapper Ice-T was the title track of their second album and saw them edge ever closer to the top 50.
Number 86 "More Than A Game" by Chris Doheny
Peak: number 54
The former singer for should've-been-bigger 1980s band Geisha — who was at this point fronting a band called Dragonfly — provided vocals for this song used as the theme for the AFL version of The Footy Show.
Number 46 "Lay Your Love On Me" by Roachford
Peak: number 26
"Only To Be With You" had finally brought British soul/rock band Roachford into the top 50 and follow-up "Lay Your Love On Me" repeated the achievement, albeit with a slightly lower chart peak. Another song tailor-made for FM radio, "Lay Your Love On Me" gave Permanent Shade Of Blue a slight bump, but it wouldn't be until February 1995 that the album really took off in the lead-up to Roachford's May 1995 tour.
Number 45 "Fantastic Voyage" by Coolio
Peak: number 37
The rapper born Artis Ivey Jr had been plugging away since the mid-'80s, but everything changed for him when he signed with Tommy Boy Records, the home of De La Soul, Naughty By Nature and House Of Pain. Like those other acts, Coolio soon found himself with a hit on his hands with this party jam that sampled (and tooks its name from) the 1981 funk track by Lakeside. A number 3 hit in the US, "Fantastic Voyage" had a more modest reception locally. But significantly bigger things were just a year away.
Number 43 "Red Light Avenue" by James Reyne
Peak: number 32
Three years after his last studio album (and two after a best of collection), James Reyne returned with fourth album The Whiff Of Bedlam, which saw him signed to a new label, rooArt. This understated lead single is one that completely passed me by at the time — I have no recollection of it whatsoever. "Red Light Avenue" would also be James's final top 50 entry in a chart career dating all the way back to Australian Crawl's first hit, "Beautiful People", in 1979 — although his vocals were heard on Smash 'n' Grab's 2005 single "She Don't Like That", which sampled "Reckless".
Peak: number 35
Another single by a veteran Australian performer that I had completely forgotten about is this first single from Gaia: One Woman's Journey, which was Olivia Newton-John's first pop studio album since 1988's The Rumour. It was also her first release since being diagnosed with breast cancer two years earlier. Like all songs on the album, "No Matter What You Do" was written and co-produced by ONJ, and, harking back to her earliest hits, had a bit of a country twang to it. I do remember there being quite a bit of attention given to this single and the album, which became her first top 10 studio album since 1981's Physical, but "No Matter What You Do" ended up as only a minor hit. Like "Red Light Avenue", it would also be Olivia's final top 50 hit, except for a remix EP of songs from Grease in 1998.
Number 26 "Tomorrow" by silverchair
Peak: number 1
As two Australian performers with years of hits behind them took their last bows on the ARIA top 50, this week also saw the arrival of a band who would go on to be one of this country's most successful and musically innovative in the years to come. Just teenagers when they burst onto the scene thanks to taking out Pick Me, a band competition run by Triple J and an SBS music show called Nomad, "Tomorrow" was recorded as part of their prize package. Also included: the original music video. As well as reaching number 1 locally, silverchair's take on grunge was also successful in America — a case of selling ice to eskimoes if ever there was one. A new music video was shot for the US market and "Tomorrow" performed well on Billboard's rock charts, with their eventual debut album, Frogstomp, reaching the US top 10. And just like that, Australia had a new international music sensation on our hands.
Number 16 "Always" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 2
The fourth quarter of the year used to mean one thing in the music industry: big new albums and best of collections being released just in time for Christmas. And I would eagerly look forward to discovering which acts were doing to be putting out a greatest hits album. Since my music library wasn't as extensive as it is now, it was a great (and economical) way to own the singles I liked by artists I'd never buy a full studio album by. Artists like Bon Jovi. I'd been a fan of "You Give Love A Bad Name", "Livin' On A Prayer", "Bad Medicine", "Keep The Faith" and a few more of their songs — usually the uptempo ones rather than the power ballads — and so the band's compilation Cross Road was one I added to my collection.
That said, I wasn't really a fan of "Always", one of the two obligatory new tracks included on the album (although I may be the only one who didn't like it). The epic power ballad had originally been intended for the film Romeo Is Bleeding, thus the opening lyrics, but when singer and "Always" songwriter Jon Bon Jovi was shown the movie, he opted not to allow the song to be used. Probably a wise choice, since the film starring Gary Oldman was a flop. Not so the single, which became Bon Jovi's biggest hit in Australia, denied the number 1 spot for six of its seven weeks spent at number 2 by those pesky 15-year-olds from silverchair.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:
Next week: the rival version of a current chart hit edges into the top 50, while a new version of a three-year-old song makes a splash.