This Week In 1992: March 8, 1992
Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers... If I was a rock music fan, I'd be loving delving back to when all those bands had their first big hits in Australia. But, I'm not. Still, no one forced me to do these chart flashbacks, so I guess I'll take the rock with the pop.
This week in 1992, two of the bands I just mentioned returned to the ARIA top 50 with new singles. For one of the groups, it'd be their first major hit - a song that would go all the way to number 1.
The number 1 single in Australia this week in 1992 was "Saltwater" by Julian Lennon, which ascended to the top in its 23rd week on the top 100.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 77
Number 98 "Zero" by Jenny Morris
Peak: number 89
As I've remarked before, I'd have thought this would've been a much stronger follow-up to "Break In The Weather" - even if it sounded a little similar. Surprisingly, a fourth single was released from Honeychild, but "Crackerjack Man" missed the top 100.
Number 76 "Hit" by The Sugarcubes
Peak: number 76
Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, this lead release from Stick Around For Joy became the Icelandic band's only chart "hit" in Australia. Singer Björk would have much more luck on her own.
Peak: number 64
Doing for electronic music what rooArt did for indie bands, Volition Records was responsible for signing and cultivating excellent - and under-appreciated - acts like Boxcar, Southend and Itch-E And Scratch-E. Also on the Volition roster was Sydney's Single Gun Theory, who specialised in dreamy, floaty synthpop like "From A Million Miles", their equal most successful single. They returned to the dizzy heights of number 64 in 1994 with "Fall", which was among my favourite songs for that year.
Peak: number 52
Just when she'd got her chart career back on track in Australia with second top 50 hit "Change", Lisa Stansfield went and released the deathly slow "All Woman" as its follow-up. The type of sophisticated, beautifully performed and produced ballad that was never going to work in Australia, it was the closest Lisa ever got to the top 50 for the rest of her career despite continuing to rack up UK top 10s like "In All The Right Places" and "The Real Thing" until 1997.
Peak: number 31
OK, bring on the rock... Making a return to the top 50 is the band behind one of my least favourite singles of 1990. This Wild West-themed lead single from the Walking In London album didn't do anything to alter my thoughts on Concrete Blonde and, if anything, felt a little bit like a novelty record. This would be the band's final top 50 appearance in Australia.
Peak: number 13
The only interesting thing I have to say about this latest soft rock power ballad from singles machine Bryan Adams is that it provoked a dramatic turnaround in his chart fortunes. After the lacklustre number 30 placing for "There Will Never Be Another Tonight", "Thought I'd Died And Gone To Heaven" restored him to back up near the top 10 - a chart roller-coaster that was almost the mirror image of how the two songs placed in the US. Of course, all that revival did was prompt Bryan's record company to release even more singles from the album...
Peak: number 1
What do you do when your funk-meets-hard rock singles aren't quite cutting through? For Red Hot Chili Peppers, you pull an Extreme and release a ballad instead. And just like "More Than Words", "Under The Bridge" changed everything for RHCP. Having peaked in the 40s with both "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away", the LA band suddenly found themselves with a chart-topper on their hands.
With lyrics written by singer Anthony Kiedis about the impact his drug use had on his life, the song still had the edge the Chili Peppers were known for, but it didn't smack you in the face like their previous two top 50 appearances had done. As these things so often go, it was producer Rick Rubin who convinced Anthony to share his lyrics and could see the potential of the song as it developed way before the band could.
Unlike Extreme, who found it difficult to parlay their pop success into increased fandom for their regular material, "Under The Bridge" served as an introduction to RHCP that many people followed up by getting into their earlier stuff. As Blood Sugar Sex Magik headed towards the top of the albums chart, previous album Mother's Milk entered the top 40. Later in the year, a compilation of songs from their first four albums (with "Under The Bridge" tacked on) reached the top 10.
Personally, I found "Under The Bridge" to be the band's least objectionable single yet, but yes, I do prefer the All Saints version, even if its lyrical changes completely alter the song's meaning.
Number 41 "Come As You Are" by Nirvana
Peak: number 25
While Red Hot Chili Peppers were on the way up, Nirvana were already there. This week in 1992, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" reached its peak position of number 5, while Nevermind spent its 10th week in the top 10. Next came the song everyone assumed would give the band their commercial breakthrough - only thing was, that'd happened thanks to "Smells...". In fact, it was the mainstream appeal of "Come As You Are" that had convinced the band to release the song, despite misgivings about the fact its intro was incredibly similar to "Eighties" by Killing Joke. Potential plagiarism aside, "Come As You Are" maintained the soft verse/loud chorus approach of Nirvana's previous single, while its blurry, watery music video allowed Kurt Cobain to shy away from the direct spotlight, something he was already struggling with.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:
Next week: the return of an act that'd topped the chart eight years earlier with another number 1 single.