This Week In 1991: March 3, 1991
Despite last week being the anniversary of my favourite song of all time debuting on the ARIA top 50, not much else was happening. The singles chart made up for it this week in 1991 with nine new entries, and a bunch of other songs to talk about in the lower reaches of the top 100.
Included in the bumper crop are two future number 1 singles - one, the latest rap chart-topper and the other, a cover version that took an Australian singer back to the top for the first time in 15 years.
Londonbeat were still at number 1 this week in 1991, with "I've Been Thinking About You" spending its third of four weeks on top.
Off The Chart
Number 99 "Guilty People" by Margaret Urlich
Peak: number 99
After three top 50 hits, Margaret Urlich ran out of steam with this ballad single from Safety In Numbers. But, it's not the only new song the New Zealand singer performed on this week...
Number 86 "Give Peace A Chance" by Various Artists
Peak: number 86
Put together by Yoko Ono, this cover of the Plastic Ono Band track was in protest of the developing Gulf War, and was performed by an ensemble of acts as diverse as Iggy Pop, LL Cool J and Alannah Myles.
Peak: number 62
It was a case of once bitten, twice shy when the actual vocalists behind Milli Vanilli's hits released this single. That, and the fact that "Keep On Running" just wasn't as good a song.
Peak: number 63
Even though it hadn't been that long since The Party Boys topped the ARIA chart with their version of "He's Gonna Step On You Again", I'm always surprised that Happy Mondays' "Step On" didn't crack the top 100 here. Instead, it was the Madchester band's only other UK top 5 hit, "Kinky Afro", which managed that feat. Except for the snippet of "Lady Marmalade" incorporated into the song, I don't find "Kinky Afro" very memorable at all, but at this point, Happy Mondays were one of the biggest bands in Britain and could do little wrong there. What I didn't realise until now was that the single and accompanying Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches album were produced by future Perfecto duo Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne.
Peak: number 57
There was no way this single was going to do any better. For one thing, it didn't even have a proper music video - the one below is one of those cobbled together compiles of old Elton clips and news footage. For another, the album it came from, The Very Best Of Elton John, had been in the top 5 all summer. Plus, as Elton John songs go, it really feels like an album track rather than a single. So, let's get on with our deluge of top 50 entries, shall we?
Number 49 "Bitter Tears" by INXS
Peak: number 36
Also suffering from the fact that its parent album had been a consistent seller since its release in October 1990 was this third single from X, which only just dented the top 40. I actually quite like "Bitter Tears", which was even more of a chart disappointment than previous single "Disappear", but it does feel a little undercooked compared to some of INXS's bigger singles, so I can see why it didn't seem to appeal beyond the band's hardcore fanbase.
Number 48 "On The Way Up" by Elisa Fiorillo
Peak: number 19
In 1985, she won the American version of Star Search. In 1987, she provided vocals for the Jellybean single "Who Found Who", which reached the UK top 10 and US top 20. In 1989, she was a backing singer on Prince's Batman soundtrack (and would do the same for Graffiti Bridge and Diamonds And Pearls). But for all intents and purposes, Elisa Fiorillo was an unknown performer in Australia when she released "On The Way Up".
The Prince connection - he also co-wrote "On The Way Up" - certainly helped Elisa's cause locally. The song became her only ARIA chart appearance but, in the process, joined the ranks of "Manic Monday", "Nothing Compares 2 U", "I Feel For You" and "The Glamorous Life" as top 20 hits written by Prince and performed by women.
Number 45 "Here Comes The Hammer" by MC Hammer
Peak: number 37
Michael Jackson aside, it's rarely a good idea when an artist decides the world needs a lengthy music video to accompany their latest single - as this self-indulgent eight-and-a-half-minute clip demonstrates. The fourth track lifted from Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, "Here Comes The Hammer" was once again based on a sample - in this case, from "Super Bad" by James Brown, who appears in the clip (via archive footage) dancing alongside Hammer. Not even throwing a stack of cash at the video could disguise the fact the song's not great, and it dismal chart performance in Australia was matched in the US (where it missed the top 50 after three straight top 10 hits).
Number 44 "Just Another Dream" by Cathy Dennis
Peak: number 14
Even with all the exposure she got from providing vocals for D-Mob's "C'mon And Get My Love" and "That's The Way Of The World", Cathy Dennis just couldn't seem to get her solo career off the ground in the UK. This first effort stalled twice there in 1990 and it wasn't until the song reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 that her home country deigned to make it a hit (by which point follow-up "Touch Me (All Night Long)" had made the UK top 5). At the time, "Just Another Dream" was the subject of much debate concerning who was responsible for the male vocals in the chorus. It wasn't, as many suspected, Rick Astley, but her D-Mob pal Dancing Danny D.
Number 43 "Miss Freelove '69" by Hoodoo Gurus
Peak: number 19
Despite their previous penchant for tie-dye and long hair, Hoodoo Gurus usually came across more like a straight-out rock band than a bunch of hippies. But, if the title of this lead single from the Kinky album wasn't a big enough clue, "Miss Freelove '69" was their most psychedelic retro-sounding single to date. It was also their biggest hit since 1987's "What's My Scene", with none of their previous six singles managing to get higher than number 27. Unfortunately, that chart success wouldn't last.
Number 38 "The Horses" by Daryl Braithwaite
Peak: number 1
Things hadn't been looking good for Daryl's Rise with both the title track, which had been released as lead single, and the album itself peaking just outside the top 20 on their respective charts. Luckily for the former Sherbet singer, he had this ditty up his sleeve. Originally recorded by Rickie Lee Jones a couple of years earlier, but never released as a single, "The Horses" became Daryl's first solo chart-topper since his debut single "You're My World" in early 1975 and the first number 1 he'd performed on since Sherbet's 1976 classic, "Howzat". Joining Daryl on guest vocals on "The Horses" was Margaret Urlich, although model Gillian Mather was hired to lip sync in the music video when Margaret was unavailable to appear. How very Black Box. Following the success of "The Horses", Rise got a kick in the pants and quickly climbed into the top 10 for an extended stay.
Peak: number 4
Next up, another cover version. Originally released as "It's In His Kiss" by backing singer Merry Clayton in 1963 as her first single as lead artist, the track didn't become a hit until the following year thanks to a remake by Betty Everett under the revised title "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)". Nearly 30 years later, Cher recorded the song for use in the film Mermaids and although the movie wasn't a blockbuster, the single was, reaching the ARIA top 5 and spending five weeks on top of the UK chart. A stand-alone release between albums, "The Shoop Shoop Song" would be followed in a few months by Cher's next studio offering.
Peak: number 18
Throughout the '80s, former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren had released a string of fairly revolutionary singles that introduced mainstream audiences to concepts like scratching, double dutch and vogueing. In 1990, he reunited with a slightly renamed The World Famous Supreme Team Show, who he'd collaborated with on debut album Duck Rock. This time, the fruits of their labour was the album Round The Outside! Round The Outside!, named after the refrain from 1982's "Buffalo Gals".
"Operaa House" built on the track "Aria On Air", a collaboration between Malcolm and new age artist Yanni. That song had updated "Flower Duet" from the opera Lakmé by Léo Delibes and been used in a memorable British Airways commercial from 1989. With added vocals, beats and rapping, "Aria On Air" became "Operaa House". The blend of opera, hip-hop and house gave Malcolm his fourth top 20 hit in Australia.
Number 33 "Sucker DJ" by Dimples D
Peak: number 1
What a difference a year makes. Thanks to the aforementioned MC Hammer, as well as Young MC and Vanilla Ice, rap was now a thing in Australia - and this tune, which had been knocking around since 1983, became the latest hip-hop track to reach number 1 on the ARIA chart. With the addition of a sample from the theme tune to I Dream Of Jeannie, courtesy of remixer Ben Liebrand, the updated version of "Sucker DJ" was just poppy enough for Australian audiences to embrace it. Unfortunately for Dimples D (real name: Crystal Smith), nothing else she did crossed over and she became a one-hit wonder.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: another six new entries, including the return of the Swedish duo who dominated 1989/90, the solo debut of a future coach on The Voice Australia and a rock band from my parents' home town.