Thursday, 31 January 2013

25 Years Ago This Week: January 31, 1988

Twenty-five years ago this week, school holidays were coming to an end and it was back to school - I was going into Year 8. Bad, Kick and Faith had been the soundtrack of my summer (on my bright red Sony Walkman, no less) and, had iTunes been in existence, "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" would have topped my most played list.

What a difference a few years make... Feargal Sharkey's
hit-making days were over in 1988

"(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" was still making its way up the ARIA chart at this point, and I quite liked being an early adopter in that instance. In fact, as 1988 went on, I began to pride myself on being ahead of the chart instead of looking to it for guidance. Especially when that guidance would have come in the form of a new Jimmy Barnes single.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 31, 1988

Jimmy gives us our first new entry of the week, while at the other end of the chart, George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set On You" finally got a week at number 1, dislodging "Faith" after only one week.

Single Of The Week
"Much Love" by Feargal Sharkey
Peak: number 61
In 1985-86, Feargal had become the textbook example of a two-hit wonder. "A Good Heart" had been a number 1 here and in the UK, and its follow-up, "You Little Thief", also cracked the top 5 in both countries. A few years later, Feargal's fans had deserted him, with this first single from second album Wish (which received the Album Of The Week treatment on the flipside of the chart) peaking outside the top 50. I must admit I could only vaguely remember this song from the time and it took a listen to the clip below to ring any bells. That listen also allowed me to conclude that "Much Love" reached the chart position it probably deserved.

"All Shook Up" by Ry Cooder
Peak: number 61
Ry Cooder, Robert Cray, Joe Satriani, Gary Moore... Australia loved guitarists in the '80s. Me, not so much. This is the first time I've listened to this Elvis Presley cover from Ry's Get Rhythm album and it hasn't been that pleasant an experience. "All Shook Up" peaked at the same position as Feargal's single and, with that fact out of the way, does anyone mind if I move on?

New Entries
Number 50 "Driving Wheels" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 12
It just gets worse! I was never a fan of Jimmy's in the 1980s and this song about trucking was hardly going to be the one to convert me. Having said that, I did quite like "Chained To The Wheel" by The Black Sorrows the following year, but "Driving Wheels" was too... well, Barnes-ish for me. "Driving Wheels" would go on to be a decent hit, even if that was a bit of a dip from chart-topper "Too Much Ain't Enough Love". But, since parent album Freight Train Heart had also reached the top by this stage, the normal law of dimishing returns applied, something that was borne out by Jimmy's two subsequent singles, which reached the top 30 and top 40 respectively.

Number 49 "Revolution Love" by Kids In The Kitchen
Peak: number 44
Here's a song I talked about in my personal 1987 countdown, and given it took until the end of January 1988 to crack the top 50, it should come as no surprise that it only managed to climb five more places. "Revolution Love" would end up as KITK's final single, with the band breaking up within the year. Scott Carne would try his hand at a couple of musical directions after the split, forming the short-lived rockabilly group Priscilla's Nightmare and releasing a couple of ill-fated solo singles like "All I Want To Do" in 1990, neither of which were anywhere near as good as KITK. These days, he performs regularly on the retro circuit, often in league with Brian Mannix.

Number 36 "Valerie" by Steve Winwood
Peak: number 19
Years before it was sampled by Eric Prydz (or, more accurately, the vocal was re-recorded by Steve) for "Call On Me", "Valerie" was released to promote Chronicles, a greatest hits album by the former Traffic and Spencer Davis Group member. Even more years before this 1987 remix of "Valerie" came out, the song had been a single in 1982 from Steve's third solo album, Talking Back To The Night. The original version of "Valerie" had bombed, but this updated version rectified that, peaking at number 19 in both Australia and the UK, and 10 places higher in the US. The turnaround in chart fortunes was likely down to Steve's previous studio album, Back In The High Life, which had contained a number of hits, although only one, "Higher Love", made it onto Chronicles.

Albums Chart

ARIA Top 50 Albums Chart - week ending January 31, 1988

With only a few singles to talk about this week (and even less that I actually care for), it's the perfect time to turn the chart over and ask: what albums were Australians buying 25 years ago?

Answer 1: Not albums by female artists

Only four of the top 50 albums were by solo female singers - Whitney Houston, Pat Benatar (a best of), Madonna (a remix album) and Tina Turner (a live album), with Whitney the only original studio album. Three other entries were by groups with female singers - Fleetwood Mac, The Pretenders and Eurythmics, meaning women were sorely under-represented musically in January 1988.

Answer 2: Compilations and soundtracks

Summer 88 and Celebrate 88 appear higher on the chart, but the compilation everyone who was around at the time remembers is Smash Hits 87, which featured a denim jacket on the cover - a denim jacket worn by none other than Kylie Minogue. Meanwhile, Dirty Dancing made the week's biggest jump within the top 50, on its way to dominating the chart for the rest of the year (and winding up as the year's second highest-selling album).

Answer 3: Comedy releases

The highest-selling album of the week was the first LP-length offering from Billy Birmingham (aka The Twelfth Man). Wired World Of Sports spent three weeks on top, a position every single album by the comedian has reached - and there have been seven of them! That's a lot of jokes about Indian surnames. Further down the chart, Kevin Bloody Wilson made an appearance with the third of his five top 50 albums.

Answer 4: Rock, rock and more rock albums

From Barnesy to Farnsy, Whitesnake to Pink Floyd, Billy Joel to Billy Idol, the ARIA top 50 was packed with just about every style of rock music imaginable, with at least 30 albums being categorisable as rock or pop/rock. And no, I'm not including Kenny G or Foster & Allen in that tally!

Next week: four new entries - three I quite liked and one I really hated. See you then!

Back to: Jan 24, 1988 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 7, 1988

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Best Of 1990 - part 4

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

Just a few years earlier, my end of year chart had a significant overlap with the list of highest-selling singles in Australia - but in 1990, my top 100 and the annual ARIA chart were quite different.

Paula Abdul's feline friend helped her land her biggest hit in 1990

Big hits by Sinead O'Connor, Alannah Myles, Jon Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Concrete Blonde, Peter Blakeley, Heart and, er, Craig McLachlan & Check 1-2 are nowhere to be seen on my chart of top songs for the year.

On the flipside, half of my top 25 songs from 1990 didn't even crack the weekly ARIA chart locally. The majority were hits in the UK, while a couple... well, you'll see...

Number 25 "Killer" by Adamski
We start off this batch of songs with a UK number 1 which failed to make the Australian top 100 at all. But, it's a song plenty of Australians will be familiar with since the featured (but not credited) vocalist was Seal, who recorded his own version of the track for his debut solo album. While Seal sold well here, the singer's new version of "Killer" only just managed to slip into the chart - it peaked at number 95. Producer Adamski (real name: Adam Tinley) looked like he'd have a promising career, with "Killer" the middle of three UK chart hits, but just as Seal took off as an artist in his own right, Adamski's time in the spotlight came to an end. The dance classic was also covered by George Michael (on his Five Live EP) and German dance act ATB as "Killer 2000", both of which made the Australian top 40.

Number 24 "Got To Have Your Love" by Mantronix featuring Wondress
Another song that missed the Australian top 100 altogether but charted in a cover version years later (Liberty X's remake made number 75 in 2002), this was a big UK top 5 hit early in 1990. Led by Kurtis Mantronik (who would finally score an Aussie top 40 hit in 2003 with "How Did You Know"), Mantronix went through quite the transformation in 1990 following the departure of rapper MC Tee, with their sound moving further away from hip-hop and more towards club music. Singer Wondress (her real name!) would return for follow-up "Take Your Time" (number 120 on this list).

Number 23 "Hang Onto Your Love" by Jason Donovan
After a pretty impressive 1989 - he had the highest-selling album in the UK and a string of hits both there and in Australia - Jason struggled in 1990. By "only" reaching number 8 in the UK, this second single from Between The Lines was his least successful to date. I don't even know if it or his next single, "Another Night" (number 45 on this list), were released in Australia. If "Hang Onto You Love" did come out here, it missed the top 100, despite having a video which looked like a commercial for Cottee's cordial; if it didn't, it was probably a good move since local interest in Jason had dropped right off. Personally, while I was more than happy to defiantly declare my love for Kylie Minogue's music at high school, I doubt I would have 'fessed up too loudly to also being a fan of Jason's songs.

Number 22 "Fascinaing Rhythm" by Bass-o-matic
This is getting a bit predictable... big UK hit (number 9), total flop in Australia, classic dance track with a link to a performer who would eventually have local success - in this case, William Orbit. Years before he twiddled the knobs for Madonna and All Saints, and helped turn Barber's "Adagio For Strings" into a trance anthem, the producer/performer formed this dance group. This was their most successful single, but I also liked "Funky Love Vibrations" from their second and final album, Science And Melody.

Number 21 "Enjoy The Silence" by Depeche Mode
1990 was a big year for this long-running synthpop group turned stadium-filling mega-band - just not in Australia. The second single from Violator returned them to the UK top 10 for the first time since 1984 and gave them their first and, to date, only US top 10 hit.
I came across this song on the double cassette of Now That's What I Call Music 17, which my sister brought back for me from the UK. I had forgotten all about Depeche Mode since liking early '80s tracks like "Just Can't Get Enough" and "People Are People", and this reignited my interest in them.
I got right into the Violator album - which also included "World In My Eyes" (number 34 on this list) and "Policy Of Truth" (number 44) - and snapped up Songs Of Faith And Devotion when it came out a few years later. I then reversed through the group's back catalogue, picking up all the albums I'd missed along the way - and Depeche Mode now rank as one of my favourite groups of all time.
They have a new album, Delta Machine, out in a couple of months' time - and I hoping it's as good as 2005's Playing The Angel and a lot better than their last offering, the disappointing Sounds Of The Universe.

Number 20 "I Wanna Make Love" by Colours
Just for something different - a song that went nowhere anywhere, failing to make the Australian top 100 or the UK top 75. I came across the track when it got a random play on a Saturday morning music show and snapped up the 7" single, which I still have. I don't know anything about the group, except that they had an album called Rules Of Attraction, which I also ended up tracking down on CD years later so I could have the song on CD, only to find the album version was longer - and if there's one thing I like more than anything else when it comes to music, it's 7" versions or radio edits. I regularly check eBay for a copy of the CD single...

Number 19 "If I Have To Stand Alone" by Lonnie Gordon
1990 was not a good year for producers Stock Aitken Waterman - or their latest artist. Although things started off swimmingly, with Lonnie's "Happenin' All Over Again" reaching number 4 in the UK (and number 33 in Australia), by November, when this track came out, it could only manage a single week at number 68. Needless to say, it completely stiffed in Australia. As far as SAW were concerned, it was one of many disasters for them that year - some tracks were deserved flops, but this song and Lonnie's other single from 1990, "Beyond Your Wildest Dreams", were just as worthy as "Happenin'..." (which is still to come) of becoming hits.

Number 18 "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" by Janet Jackson
Mentioned below

Number 17 "Only Your Love" by Bananarama
From an act new to SAW to one who was (kind of) leaving them behind, Bananarama branched out musically with this first single from their Pop Life album. That album did feature two SAW productions, but neither of them were singles. Instead, they worked with in-demand producer Youth (who was behind credible dance act Blue Pearl and had, coincidentally, been a member of SAW-produced group Brilliant back in the mid-'80s) and, on this track, sampled The Rolling Stones, The Stone Roses and Primal Scream. It wasn't as big a musical shift as it sounds, with the girls' pop sensibility firmly in place - but it probably was too cool for the kids and not cool enough for the indie crowd, resulting in a much lower chart position than Bananarama had recently become accustomed to. In Australia, it narrowly missed the top 50, peaking at number 51.

Number 16 "Blue Savannah" by Erasure
Unlike Bananarama, fellow '80s survivors Erasure were still very much in favour and landed their highest charting single from Wild! in the UK with this, the album's third single. Vince and Andy were really on a roll at this point in their career, with another four years of big UK hits still to come, including "Star" (number 98 on this list). But, yep, you guessed it, in Australia, "Blue Savannah" didn't chart inside the top 100.

Number 15 "World In Motion..." by England New Order
Finally, a song that people in Australia actually bought! (In fairness, Janet's entry back at number 18 also did well, but we'll talk about that later) Why Australians bought a British soccer anthem, however, is another matter. "World In Motion" was the latest in a long line of UK "football songs", released in support of a team's sporting efforts - in this case, the national team, which was competing in that year's World Cup. In Australia, enough people either supported the British team or liked New Order (or both) to send the song to number 21 on the chart.  

Number 14 "Opposites Attract" by Paula Abdul with The Wild Pair
This was already a great album track crying out for a single release, but throw in a rap from a cartoon cat, who also dances with the singer, and the result was amazing - and a number 1 smash around the world, including in Australia (for two weeks). MC Skat Kat (the Ks made him extra kool) only performed the two raps in the song, with the male part of the back-and-forth vocal supplied by The Wild Pair (Bruce DeShazer and Marv Gunn). "Opposites Attract" would be Paula's only chart-topper in Australia ("Rush Rush" spent three weeks at number 2 in 1991), but in the US, it was her fourth of six number 1s.

Number 13 "So Hard" by Pet Shop Boys
Previously featured here

Number 12 "One Thing Leads To Another" by Yell!
Remember back at number 19 when I said 1990 was a bad year for Stock Aitken Waterman? Well, here's another song they produced which failed miserably. And, unlike songs they worked on for the likes of Kakko, Delage and Romi & Jazz, "One Thing Leads To Another" had the advantage of being the follow-up to a UK top 10 hit. At the start of the year, the duo comprised of Paul Varney and Daniel James had taken a pretty ordinary cover version of Dan Hartman's "Instant Replay" to number 10, so it's even more surprising this SAW original completely bombed. Paul would go on to record a couple of solo flops with SAW - one of which will pop up quite high in my 1991 chart.

Number 11 "Insect" by Boxcar
So far, all the songs we've seen which didn't work in Australia have been by UK artists (or, in the case of Jason Donovan, a local artist based in the UK), but here's an Australian band who couldn't land a hit in their home country. The reason might have been because Boxcar sounded like they were a UK synthpop band and, clearly, that was not a popular genre in this country at the time. Routinely compared to New Order - and there were obvious similarities - Boxcar had a number of awesome songs, including this track and their sole ARIA top 100 entry, "Gas Stop (Who Do You Think You Are)" (number 41 on this list). Despite the lack of success for the singles and debut album Vertigo, the band returned in 1994 with a second studio album - and more underappreciated songs.

Number 10 "Make It Easy On Me" by Sybil
Previously featured here

Number 9 "Groove Is In The Heart" by Deee-Lite
Certainly the most unique new act of 1990, Deee-Lite hit it out of the park with this debut single, hitting number 1 in Australia and famously being denied the top spot in the UK due to a re-release of "The Joker" by Steve Miller Band selling an almost identical amount of copies. Although they're considered a one-hit wonder, Deee-Lite did slip into the bottom of most major charts with follow-up "Power Of Love" (number 88 on this list) - and I also liked 1991's "Good Beat".

Number 8 "Vogue" by Madonna
With the singles from Like A Prayer starting to bring back ever-diminishing returns, Madonna returned to the studio and came up with "Vogue", inspired by a dance style that actually been around for some time without most people noticing. In Australia and Europe, "Vogue" was released as a double A-side with "Keep It Together", and duly became the latest in a long line of number 1 singles. In the US, "Keep It Together" had already charted and so "Vogue" hit the top spot there in its own right.

Number 7 "Step Back In Time" by Kylie Minogue
Previously featured here

Number 6 "Handful Of Promises" by Big Fun
Previously featured here

Number 5 "Escapade" Janet Jackson
Like Madonna and Paula Abdul, as well as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, who we saw back in Part 3, Janet was a regular visitor to the number 1 spot in the US. 1990 was a time when albums were mined for singles, with "Escapade" becoming the third of seven releases from Rhythm Nation 1814 - and the second of four that reached the top spot. It's my favourite Janet single of all time, a feeling not shared by much of Australia, since the song only reached number 25 here. "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" (number 18 on this list) was another US chart-topper and did quite well here, reaching number 14 - and also featured a video in which Janet ditched the military wear and long jackets for a sexy new look. We'd be seeing a lot more of that body in the following years...

Number 4 "Don't Worry" by Kim Appleby
Making a triumphant return to the UK music scene, Kim was one half of '80s pop duo Mel & Kim and had tragically lost sister Mel to cancer at the very start of the year. "Don't Worry" was always going to be successful as a show of support for Kim by the British public - but it was a great song as well, the first of a number of poppy solo singles she recorded without help from previous producers SAW. Some of the tunes on her self-titled album were co-writtern with Mel, and had been intended for the second Mel & Kim album. Unfortunately, Kim's return to the charts never translated to Australia.

Number 3 "Better The Devil You Know" by Kylie Minogue
Previously featured here

Number 2 "Happenin' All Over Again" by Lonnie Gordon
Mentioned above and previously featured here

Number 1 "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" by Jimmy Somerville
In a year with such classic singles from some of pop's leading ladies, it sometimes surprises me that this is my top song for 1990, but at the time, I loved this remake of the Sylvester disco track and bought the 12" single on import - something I rarely did, since the purchase set me back close to $20, a fortune at the time. Jimmy had moved on from Communards by this stage, but maintained his habit of turning old songs into hits all over again - at least in the UK, where this went to number 5. In Australia, it struggled to a high of number 76.

My top 200 singles for 1990 in full:

1        YOU MAKE ME FEEL (MIGHTY REAL) Jimmy Somerville
2        HAPPENIN' ALL OVER AGAIN Lonnie Gordon
3        BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW Kylie Minogue
4        DON'T WORRY Kim Appleby
5        ESCAPADE Janet Jackson
7        STEP BACK IN TIME Kylie Minogue
8        VOGUE Madonna
9        GROOVE IS IN THE HEART Deee-Lite
10      MAKE IT EASY ON ME Sybil
11      INSECT Boxcar
13      SO HARD Pet Shop Boys
14      OPPOSITES ATTRACT Paula Abdul (Duet with The Wild Pair)
15      WORLD IN MOTION... England New Order
16      BLUE SAVANNAH Erasure
17      ONLY YOUR LOVE Bananarama
18      LOVE WILL NEVER DO (WITHOUT YOU) Janet Jackson
19      IF I HAVE TO STAND ALONE Lonnie Gordon
20      I WANNA MAKE LOVE Colours
21      ENJOY THE SILENCE Depeche Mode
22      FASCINATING RHYTHM Bass-o-matic
23      HANG ONTO YOUR LOVE Jason Donovan
24      GOT TO HAVE YOUR LOVE Mantronix featuring Wondress
25      KILLER Adamski
26      I CAN'T SAY GOODBYE Kim Wilde
29      TWO TO MAKE IT RIGHT Seduction
30      I NEED YOUR BODY Tina Arena
31      LOVE WILL LEAD YOU BACK Taylor Dayne
32      SUMMER RAIN Belinda Carlisle
33      HOLD ON Wilson Phillips            
34      WORLD IN MY EYES Depeche Mode
35      THINK Information Society
37      THAT'S WHAT I CALL LOVE Kate Ceberano
39      FANTASY Black Box
40      VISION OF LOVE Mariah Carey
42      MADLY IN LOVE Bros
43      HELLO The Beloved
44      POLICY OF TRUTH Depeche Mode
45      ANOTHER NIGHT Jason Donovan
46      DUB BE GOOD TO ME Beats International featuring Lindy Layton
47      CAN'T STOP After 7
48      GET UP! (BEFORE THE NIGHT IS OVER) Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K
49      LOVE CHILD Sweet Sensation
50      TIME Kim Wilde
51      RUB YOU THE RIGHT WAY Johnny Gill   
52      DON'T WANNA FALL IN LOVE Jane Child
53      BIRDHOUSE IN YOUR SOUL They Might Be Giants
55      I'M NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP The Brat Pack
57      MILES AND MILES Noiseworks
58      BEING BORING Pet Shop Boys
59      TIME AFTER TIME The Beloved
60      ESCAPING Margaret Urlich
61      ROOM AT THE TOP Adam Ant
62      SHE AIN'T WORTH IT Glenn Medeiros featuring Bobby Brown
64      RUNAWAY HORSES Belinda Carlisle
65      THE ONLY ONE I KNOW The Charlatans
66      ROAM The B-52's
67      GOOD LOVE Klymaxx
68      THAT MAN (HE’S ALL MINE) Inner City
69      STEP BY STEP New Kids On The Block
70      ROMEO Dino
71      YOU'RE THE ONLY WOMAN The Brat Pack
73      TENDER LOVER Babyface featuring Bobby Brown
75      INFINITY (1990s… TIME FOR THE GURU) Guru Josh
77      24 HOURS Betty Boo
78      FEELS GOOD Tony Toni Tone
79      SHOW ME HEAVEN Maria McKee
80      EACH AND EVERY TIME Sweet Sensation
81      THE GIRL I USED TO KNOW Brother Beyond
82      I DON'T HAVE THE HEART James Ingram
83      NOTHING TO LOSE S'Express
84      (YOU'RE MY ONE AND ONLY) TRUE LOVE Seduction
86      HEARTBEAT Seduction
87      POWER OF LOVE Deee-Lite
88      IT'S HERE Kim Wilde
89      IF WISHES CAME TRUE Sweet Sensation
90      WHERE ARE YOU BABY? Betty Boo
91      ALL I'M MISSING IS YOU Glenn Medeiros
92      TALK ABOUT IT Boom Crash Opera
93      HOLD ON En Vogue
95      ROCK THE BOAT Delage
96      DOIN' THE DO Betty Boo
97      STAR Erasure
98      PRAY MC Hammer
99      MY KINDA GIRL Babyface
101    STRONG AS STEEL Tina Arena
102    LIVIN’ IN THE LIGHT Caron Wheeler
103    ROCKIN' OVER THE BEAT Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K
104    DON'T YOU LOVE ME 49ers
106    HEART LIKE A WHEEL Human League
107    HOW LONG Information Society
108    LOVE TAKES TIME Mariah Carey
109    WHOLE WIDE WORLD A’me Lorain
111    FREEDOM '90 George Michael
113    DON'T CHA THINK After 7
114    REPUTATION Dusty Springfield
116    LOVE AND EMOTION Stevie B
117    READ MY LIPS (ENOUGH IS ENOUGH) Jimmy Somerville
118    AFTER THE RAIN Titiyo
119    TAKE YOUR TIME Mantronix featuring Wondress
120    I CALL YOUR NAME a-ha
121    CRAZY The Boys
122    NOT THRU BEING WITH YOU Michael Jeffries with Karyn White
123    LIES En Vogue
124    U CAN'T TOUCH THIS MC Hammer
125    POISON Bell Biv Devoe
126    SENSITIVITY Ralph Tresvant
127    LITTLE BROTHER Blue Pearl
128    FOLLOW MY HEARTBEAT A’me Lorain
130    IMPULSIVE Wilson Phillips
131    PEOPLE Soul II Soul
132    EVERYTHING Jody Watley
133    COME BACK TO ME Janet Jackson
134    PRAYING FOR TIME George Michael
135    WATER Martika
136    BREAKAWAY (REMIX) Donna Summer
137    ONLY MY HEART CALLING Margaret Urlich
138    LET'S HANG ON Shooting Party
139    HOW LONGER 49ers
140    DIRTY CASH The Adventures of Stevie V
141    DANGEROUS Roxette
142    KEEP IT TOGETHER Madonna
143    I'M FREE Soup Dragons featuring Junior Reid
144    REAL REAL REAL Jesus Jones
145    YOU CAN'T DENY IT Lisa Stansfield
146    GROOVY TRAIN The Farm
147    TINGLES (EP) Ratcat
149    HOW CAN WE BE LOVERS Michael Bolton
150    I PROMISED MYSELF Nick Kamen
151    HEAVEN GIVE ME WORDS Propaganda
152    NAKED IN THE RAIN Blue Pearl
153    GHETTO HEAVEN Family Stand
154    TOMORROW Tongue ‘n’ Cheek
155    LOVE COMES TO MIND The Chimes
156    LOVE MAKES THINGS HAPPEN Pebbles / Babyface
157    NEVER GONNA STOP Indecent Obsession
158    DON’T SHUT ME OUT Kevin Paige
159    CLOSE TO YOU Maxi Priest
160    INNOCENT The Whispers
161    COULD HAVE TOLD YOU SO Halo James
162    WON’T TALK ABOUT IT Beats International
165    BAD OF THE HEART George Lammond
166    MISSING YOU Soul II Soul
167    LOVE SAW IT Karyn White / Babyface
168    RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW Jesus Jones
169    IT’S A SHAME (MY SISTER) Monie Love featuring True Image
170    DO ME Bell Biv Devoe
171    SECOND CHANCE Tyler Collins
173    CRAZY FOR YOU Sybil featuring Salt 'n' Pepa
174    SHINE ON House Of Love
175    (WE WANT) THE SAME THING Belinda Carlisle
176    SAY A PRAYER Breathe
177    LET’S PUSH IT Innocence
178    THIS IS HOW IT FEELS Inspiral Carpets
179    WHIPAPPEAL Babyface
180    TONIGHT New Kids On The Block
181    SERIOUS Duran Duran
182    WHAT DID I DO TO YOU Lisa Stansfield
183    MAKE YOU SWEAT Keith Sweat
184    NATURAL THING Innocence
186    ALL MY LIFE Linda Ronstadt / Aaron Neville
187    ELEVATE MY MIND Stereo MCs
188    READY OR NOT After 7
191    HEAT OF THE MOMENT After 7
193    NOBODY Tongue ‘n’ Cheek
194    SILENT VOICE Innocence
195    COULD THIS BE LOVE Seduction
196    WAITING FOR THAT DAY George Michael
197    GIRLS NITE OUT Tyler Collins
199    THE MASTERPLAN Diana Brown & Barry K Sharpe

On Thursday, we return to 1988 for my ARIA chart recap, and we'll be taking a look at the singles and albums chart from 25 years ago this week.

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Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Best Of 1990 - part 3

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

We're halfway through my countdown of my favourite 100 songs from 1990, and as I write this, the latest Triple J Hottest 100 has just been announced. I like a grand total of eight songs from the list. I'm not really surprised - my taste and that of the audience of the national broadcaster have never really been in sync.

Wilson Phillips: three girls, one song... or at least it felt like that

Back in 1990, if the Hottest 100 as we now know it had been in existence, it would no doubt have been packed with songs by The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, Happy Mondays, Faith No More, Ratcat and The Hummingbirds - and they would have been the more commerical inclusions.

Instead, at that stage, voters could pick any song from any year for inclusion - and only one single from 1990 made it into that year's list: "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor. Sinead doesn't make my countdown, but in this batch of songs there are plenty of other female artists, with some dance and R&B thrown in for good measure.

Number 50 "Time" by Kim Wilde
Mentioned below

Number 49 "Love Child" by Sweet Sensation
Mentioned in Part 1 and previously featured here

Number 48 "Get Up! (Before The Night Is Over)" by Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K
What a difference a year makes. After being kept in the shadows while bumbag-wearing model Felly lip synced in the music video for "Pump Up The Jam", Ya Kid K, who'd actually performed on that song, received proper billing for the follow-up (in some countries, at least) and even got to appear in the music video. 1990 was a good year for Ya (is that what she was called for short?) - she also performed on Technotronic's "Rockin' Over The Beat" and Hi Tek 3's "Spin That Wheel". What I never knew until recently was that Ya Kid K and MC Eric (who rapped on "This Beat Is Technotronic") got married! Wonder if Felly was invited.

Number 47 "Can't Stop" by After 7
Male vocal trio After 7 was comprised of Keith Mitchell, and Melvin and Kevon Edmonds - the latter two being brothers of Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, who we saw back in Parts 1 and 2. Naturally, the group was produced by LaFace and their associates, and this was their best and biggest US hit. After 7 continued recording until the mid-'90s and even eventually landed an Australian hit with "'Til You Do Me Right", but disbanded after a 1997 retrospective collection. These days, a line-up in which Melvin is replaced by his son Jason still tours.

Number 46 "Dub Be Good To Me" by Beats International featuring Lindy Layton
A mash-up before that was even a term, this UK chart-topper took the bassline from The Clash's "Guns Of Brixton" and put it underneath a remake of The S.O.S. Band's "Just Be Good To Me". Beats International was a stepping stone in the career of Norman Cook, who had been one of The Housemartins and would become Fatboy Slim later in the decade. They were a one-hit wonder in Australia, but I also liked their other UK top 10 hit, "Won't Talk About It", which also featured Lindy Layton on lead.

Number 45 "Another Night" by Jason Donovan
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 44 "Policy Of Truth" by Depeche Mode
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 43 "Hello" by The Beloved
This was the track that introduced me to synthpop group The Beloved - and it was one of those list songs which seemed to be popular at the time (see also: "We Didn't Start The Fire" by Billy Joel, "Born To Be Sold" by Transvision Vamp). It wasn't their first single - far from it, since the band had been releasing music since 1986 - but it was their biggest success up until that point and was followed by a re-issue of "Your Love Takes Me Higher" (number 54 on this list) and "Time After Time (number 59). The three singles were featured on Happiness, which is still one of my favourite albums.

Number 42 "Madly In Love" by Bros
Ah, Bros, how quickly the tide turned. In 1988, there was no hotter act in pop than the Doc Marten-wearing trio. By 1990, the group, down to just Matt and Luke Goss, missed the UK top 10 for the first time since their breakthrough with this release. Sure, it was the fourth single from second album The Time, but five songs from Push had gone top 5 so that's no excuse. Oddly, "Mady In Love" was, in part, lyrically and melodically identical to "Too Much", the lead release from The Time - which may have had something to do with its relative lack of success, despite being a far superior song.

Number 41 "Gas Stop (Who Do You Think You Are)" by Boxcar
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 40 "Vision Of Love" by Mariah Carey
In 2013, it's easy to forget there was a time when Mariah Carey wasn't a music superstar - but in 1990, she was just the latest in a long line of female pop singers whose record companies hoped would become the next Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson or Madonna. From the start, Whitney was the obvious comparison given Mariah's penchant for big ballads and a vocal range that actually surpassed Ms Houston's (remember when that squeal was an amazing novelty?). "Vision Of Love" was her debut single and shot straight to number 1 in the US - a position she'd become very familiar with very quickly. This is still one of my favourite Mariah songs - surpassed only by 1991's "Someday".

Number 39 "Fantasy" by Black Box
Mentioned below

Number 38 "I'm Your Baby Tonight" by Whitney Houston
Speaking of Whitney, here she is with the first single taken from her third album, which shared the same title. Recorded with LA Reid & Babyface, "I'm Your Baby Tonight" received a much-needed remix for the European and Australian release - a ploy used a couple of years later for Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross's "The Best Things In Life Are Free". The original US version (which you can hear by clicking on the song title above) clearly worked for that market, giving Whitney another number 1 - and ensuring her overall tally of chart-toppers was secure for a good few years. It took until 1997 for Mariah to overtake Whitney on that front.

Number 37 "That's What I Call Love" by Kate Ceberano 
With one of the best tracks from her Brave album - and the final single to be lifted from it - is an artist I wish had kept delivering music like this instead of getting sidetracked by Andrew Lloyd Webber and guitar-based pop/rock during the rest of the decade. There wasn't a proper video made for this release (the budget must have been blown on double-A side "Brave/Young Boys Are My Weakness") so a live performance clip was used instead.

Number 36 "Giving You The Benefit" by Pebbles 
Here's another act produced by LaFace, and one who was still married to LA Reid at the time, with the first single from her second album, Always. Always was one of a handful of albums I had brought back from the US for me in 1990 (from memory, two of the others were by Karyn White and Seduction) and, like all CDs in America in those days, it came packaged in a longbox. As far as I'm aware, longboxes, which were the same height as vinyl record sleeves, were never used for packaging CDs in Australia - and they were thankfully phased out a few years later.

Number 35 "Think" by Information Society
Next up: another song I probably would never have heard were it not for American Top 40, since the synthpop stylings of Information Society didn't receive any other airplay in Australia at all. As a result of liking "Think", I sought out the group's album, Hack, which contained another great single, "How Long", and also delved back and discovered their hits from 1988 and 1989.

Number 34 "World In My Eyes" by Depeche Mode
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 33 "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips
I can't watch the video for this song without thinking of the parody version which appeared on Aussie sketch comedy show Fast Forward (featuring Kath, Kim and Sharon!). In recent years, the song received a new lease of life thanks to its use in Bridesmaids, but in 1990, "Hold On" launched the daughters of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, and John and Michelle Phillips (from The Mamas And The Papas) onto an unsuspecting public. Always way bigger at home in the States (they had three number 1s there) than anywhere else in the world, Wilson Phillips only really had this one hit in Australia, although I remember a heavily discounted "You Won't See Me Cry" sneaked into the top 50 for a few weeks in 1992.

Number 32 "Summer Rain" by Belinda Carlisle
1990 was a good year for Belinda. In Australia, she scored a top 10 hit with this track, while in the UK, it was "(We Want) The Same Thing" (number 174 on this list) which did the trick. I also liked "Runaway Horses" (number 64), which wasn't as successful, although the album of the same name, which contained all of those, plus her 1989 singles, "Leave A Light On" and "La Luna", was a big seller. In 2004, Australian dance/pop trio Slinkee Minx not only had one of the worst names ever, but also took "Summer Rain" back into the Australian top 10 - and even ended up charting one place higher than Belinda at number 5.

Number 31 "Love Will Lead You Back" by Taylor Dayne
Australian fans who'd liked Taylor's 1988 singles "Tell It To My Heart" and "Prove Your Love", which to that point had been her only two top 50 hits here, must have been somewhat surprised to a) hear her belt out a big ballad and b) see her with her new, more subdued look. Of course, Taylor had already gone down the slow showstopper route before - with US top 5 hit "I'll Always Love You" - but "Love Will Lead You Back" was both a way better song than that and actually a huge success locally. She lost me with subsequent singles from the Can't Fight Fate album, "I'll Be Your Shelter" and "Heart Of Stone", but their pop/rock sounded went down a treat with Aussie radio stations.

Number 30 "I Need Your Body" by Tina Arena
Even though I didn't watch Young Talent Time growing up (I preferred to hear the original artists, not a bunch of precocious, over hairsprayed teens singing covers), I, like everyone in Australia, knew who "Tiny" Tina Arena was. In 1990, Tina succeeded where countless other former YTT cast members from the '80s had failed - by releasing a song that rocketed into the Australian top 5 and went platinum (an achievement which was much rarer back then that it is now). The fact that Tina completely ignores this part of her musical history is pretty insulting to all those who bought the track. It's one thing to ignore early songs or albums released before you scored your first hit, it's another thing entirely to pretend one of your biggest songs doesn't exist.

Number 29 "Two To Make It Right" by Seduction
Like The Brat Pack, who we saw back in Part 2, Seduction was a group written for and produced by Clivill├ęs & Cole. Comprised of Idalis DeLeon, April Harris and Michelle Visage, the trio achieved their greatest US chart success with this song, but released a bunch of other great singles from Nothing Matters Without Love, including "(You're My One And Only) True Love" (number 85 on this list), "Heartbeat" (number 87) and "Could This Be Love" (number 192). The group was short-lived - after Idalis left in 1990, she was replaced by Sinoa Loren, before the new line-up called it quits in 1991.

Number 28 "King Of Wishful Thinking" by Go West 
By 1990, chances are anyone who'd been a fan of this British duo back in 1985 (when they'd last had hits in Australia) had forgotten all about them. However, a song on one of 1990's biggest soundtracks, Pretty Woman, ensured them renewed attention and, since the song was quite good, saw them back near the top of charts around the world. Years later, in the mid '00s, I saw Go West perform at one of those retro festivals - and, despite being on the same bill as ABC, Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet, Wa Wa Nee and Real Life, they gave the standout performance of the night.

Number 27 "I Don't Know Anybody Else" by Black Box
Following up "Ride On Time" was never going to be easy, but Black Box not only did it once, with this Australian and UK top 10 hit, but again with "Everybody Everybody" (number 86 on this list) and once more with "Fantasy" (number 39), a cover of the Earth, Wind & Fire track. The hits from the Dreamland album would keep coming in 1991 with "Strike It Up" and the Italian dance act even broke the States - although, unlike Technotronic, Black Box kept up the pretence that model Katrin Quinol performed the songs and not former Weather Girl Martha Wash, who'd later sue for royalties and credits. Martha also performed vocals on Seduction's "(You're My One And Only) True Love", making her one of the most featured vocalists on this list.

Number 26 "I Can't Say Goodbye" by Kim Wilde
The most featured artist on this list, however, is the singer who bookends this batch of songs - "Time" was back at number 50. Also in my top 100: "World In Perfect Harmony" (number 63), "Can't Get Enough (Of Your Love)" (number 76) and "It's Here" (number 89). All five tracks were taken from Kim's Love Moves album, which unfortunately was nowhere near as big as her previous album, 1988's Close. All five tracks weren't singles in the UK, though, with "Can't Get Enough..." and "World..." only surfacing on the continent. Of those that did come out in the UK, none cracked the top 40. In Australia, it was even worse, with not one single from the album making the top 100. Still, even if no one else cared, I did - and Kim was my favourite overall artist for the year.

In Part 4: a couple of the year's biggest global hits and, to balance that out, a couple of big old flops. Plus, a cartoon cat, a featured singer who'd go on to be much bigger than the main artist and a soccer song that was actually listenable...

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