This Week In 1992: July 5, 1992
With great success can come great backlash. In November 1982, ABBA made their final appearance on the Australian top 50 after eight years in which they'd dominated the chart and reached the number 1 spot six times. In the decade following "The Day Before You Came", which sputtered out at number 48, the Swedish foursome became synonymous with the words "daggy" and "uncool".
By 1992, the time was right for another look at the ABBA legacy - and leading the charge was an EP of cover versions that debuted on the ARIA chart this week that year. Following its success, the world went ABBA crazy once again.
Also this week in 1992, the number 1 single in Australia was "Jump" by Kris Kross. The rap duo stayed on top for a second week.
Off The Chart
Number 85 "Precious" by Annie Lennox
Peak: number 83
Well this was unexpected. As part of Eurythmics, she'd never been far away from the top 50, but Annie Lennox stumbled with just her second solo single, which I preferred to "Why".
Peak: number 56
Here's another act you would've expected more from, especially following their triumphant return with 1989's Cosmic Thing and singer Kate Pierson's guest vocal double duties in 1991. Unfortunately, the title track of The B-52's sixth album just didn't have enough oomph to become the "Love Shack"-style party tune it felt designed to be. I like the song's chorus, but the verses kind of drag and it takes to long to get to, well, the good stuff.
Peak: number 60
Who saw this coming? After having never missed the top 30 with her first 16 singles, Kylie Minogue's chart career hit a massive speed bump with the fourth single from fourth album Let's Get To It. Realistically, "Finer Feelings" was always going to be a hard sell in Australia, even with a Brothers In Rhythm remix and an artsy black and white music video shot in France. The sophisticated ballad was a mile away from the type of pop tracks Kylie was known for and even the presence of another previously unreleased dancefloor-friendly bonus track couldn't help it muster enough interest to break into the top 50.
Number 49 "Always The Last To Know" by Del Amitri
Peak: number 39
They already had three hits to their name - a couple of which had showed remarkable tenacity and hung around the top 100 for ages. And unlike the acts we've seen so far, Scotland's Del Amitri were welcomed back to the top 50 with this lead single from their third album, Change Everything. Despite the album's title, however, "Always The Last To Know" was pretty much what we'd become accustomed to from the band.
Number 48 "I'll Be There" by Mariah Carey
Peak: number 9
It had been airing without much in the way of fanfare since 1989, but with Mariah Carey's appearance on the show, everyone suddenly knew about MTV Unplugged. Since she hadn't undertaken a major concert tour up until this point, Mariah and her people thought it would be a good way to demonstrate she could, in fact, cut it live - and what better way to demonstrate that than with an intimate, stripped back set?
As well as tracks from her first two albums, Mariah performed a cover of The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There", which had only reached number 31 in Australia in 1970. Featuring a prominent role from backing vocalist Trey Lorenz, whose use of melisma and whistle register rivalled the diva herself, the remake was lifted from the seven-track MTV Unplugged album and returned Mariah to both the ARIA top 10 and the Billboard number 1 spot (for a sixth time).
Peak: number 31
In the US, they'd rivalled Mariah for the number of chart-toppers they squeezed out of one album in 1990, but Wilson Phillips had only ever managed the one hit in Australia: debut single "Hold On". Back with the first taste of second album Shadows And Light, the harmonising trio made a reasonably surprising return to the top 50, especially given ballad "You Won't See Me Cry" was less "Hold On" and more "Release Me". In the US, the song barely made the top 20 - a sure sign that even in the couple of years since their debut, music tastes had moved dramatically on.
Number 42 "The Disappointed" by XTC
Peak: number 32
Like ABBA, XTC hadn't been seen on the Australian top 50 since 1982 (with number 12 hit "Senses Working Overtime"), but had been releasing music the entire time. For whatever reason - possibly the fact "The Disappointed" was quite a catchy song? - the British band broke their decade-long drought with this single from their 12th album, Nonsuch.
Number 37 "Midlife Crisis" by Faith No More
Peak: number 31
They'd made a huge splash with 1990's "Epic", but in the couple of years after that, genre-blending band Faith No More failed to live up to that chart-storming performance, with even this lead single from Angel Dust (the follow-up to The Real Thing) landing in the middle of the top 50. Inspired by Madonna, "Midlife Crisis" may well be the only chart hit with the word "menstruating" in the lyrics (I always thought it was "menstruating hard", but it's "menstruating heart"). They were selling albums, but if Faith No More wanted another chart hit, perhaps it was worth revisiting a song from the '70s, like these next two acts...
Number 35 "Please Don't Go" by K.W.S.
Peak: number 2
ABBA wasn't the only act from the '70s whose music was revived this week in 1992. Chart-topper "Please Don't Go" by KC & The Sunshine Band (which reached number 1 here in early 1980) was given a '90s dance update by British outfit K.W.S. (named after the surnames of its members Chris King, Winston Williams and Delroy St Joseph). The song almost topped the Australian chart again and did so in the UK for five weeks - but not without controversy. Turns out K.W.S. had modelled their version of "Please Don't Go" on a recent remake by Italian act Double You, who sued, claiming copyright in an arrangement - something that was found to exist in the lengthy legal proceedings. So even though KWS's hit did well, including in the US, where I'm assuming this alternate video aired, they likely made no money from it.
Number 31 ABBA-esque by Erasure
Peak: number 13
Here's the record that knocked KWS's "Please Don't Go" off the number 1 spot in the UK, giving Erasure their first British chart-topper after two near misses. And it was another cover version of a '70s song - actually, it was four covers of four different ABBA tunes bundled together as the ABBA-esque EP.
The track that got all the attention was the MC Kinky-featuring remake of "Take A Chance On Me", which featured Andy Bell and Vince Clarke donning drag as Frida and Agnetha respectively in the music video. But clips were made for the other three songs, with my favourite a toss-up between "S.O.S." and "Lay All Your Love On Me".
It was Erasure's first chart hit in Australia since 1986's "Sometimes" reached the dizzy heights of number 45 - and effectively kick-started the worldwide ABBA revival, with the hugely successful compilation album ABBA Gold released later in the year. Another by-product of ABBA-esque was the decision by ABBA tribute band Björn Again to release the Erasure-ish EP, featuring version of the duo's UK hits "A Little Respect" and "Stop!".
Number 17 "Heaven Knows" by Rick Price
Peak: number 6
Making it two top 10 hits in a row, Rick Price returned with the title track of his soon-to-be-released debut album and peaked just one place shy of "Not A Day Goes By". I always found "Heaven Knows" to be a little bit wimpy for my liking, but he quickly accumulated plenty of fans, with the album blasting into the chart at number 3 at the end of the month.
Number 13 "Heaven Sent" by INXS
Peak: number 13
I started this post talking about backlashes against hugely successful acts - and here's a band that knows a thing or two about that. By 1992, much of the Australian public had turned their back on INXS, with this lead single from eighth album Welcome To Wherever You Are starting well but rapidly dropping out of the chart, ultimately only spending seven weeks in the top 50. A similar fate awaited the album, which debuted strongly at number 2 in August but just as quickly tumbled down the listings. I don't mind the distorted rock sound of "Heaven Sent" - it seemed to blend the band's trademark sound with a rawer feel - and it was certainly a good song to choose to kick off the album, but at the same time it was no "What You Need", "Need You Tonight" or "Suicide Blonde".
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:
Next week: the return of one of my favourite female singers of all time, plus a rock band jumps on board the dance remix bandwagon.