Wednesday, 8 March 2017

25 Years Ago This Week: 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. 

The Gus Van Sant-directed video for "Under The Bridge"

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. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending March 8, 1992

The number 1 single in Australia 25 years ago this week was "Saltwater" by Julian Lennon, which ascended to the top in its 23rd week on the top 100.


Off The Chart
Number 99 "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt
Peak: number 77
One of Bonnie Raitt's best known songs - a top 20 hit in the US - has been memorably covered by George Michael and Adele, among others. This was Bonnie's last top 100 appearance.

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.


Breakers
"From A Million Miles" by Single Gun Theory
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.




"All Woman" by Lisa Stansfield
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.




New Entries
Number 49 "Ghost Of A Texas Ladies' Man" by Concrete Blonde
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.




Number 45 "Thought I'd Died And Gone To Heaven" by Bryan Adams
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...




Number 43 "Under The Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
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.




Next week: the return of an act that'd topped the chart eight years earlier with another number 1 single. 


Back to: Mar 1, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 15, 1992


6 comments:

  1. Oh come on man? All Saints version of Under The Bridge is better than the original? Give me a break

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    1. Yeah, I thought that might get a reaction.

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  2. American top 40 is the only place I remember hearing the Bonnie Raitt track.

    I heard 'Zero' once at the time, when she performed it on 'Hey Hey'. I think it's one of Jenny's weaker singles.

    I like Björk's first 3 solo albums, but am not as into the Sugar Cubes tracks I've heard.

    It's interesting that the Single Gun Theory video is on an 'official' YouTube channel (for a record label, it seems), yet is clearly only a VHS rip from rage. Volition did release some great Australian dance music that was under-appreciated commercially.

    'All Woman' sounds to me like the kind of music you might hear in the background while waiting to get your hair cut, though I like it.

    I didn't mind 'Ghost...', though preferred their more 'serious' songs like 'Caroline' and 'Everybody Knows'.

    'Thought I'd Died...' was the first Bryan Adams song I grew to like, though have since gone on to like several earlier singles. It sounds like Def Leppard featuring Bryan.

    I grew to like 'Under the Bridge' too, but it has been overplayed.

    I knew an Anne-Marie at the time, and used to sing "Anne-Marie yeah" instead of "memory yeah" to the 'Come As You Are' lyric, because it sounds like he's saying that.

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  3. I don't understand how some artists aren't better received. Single Gun Theory made amazing dream-like music that easily seduced me, but not so much everyone else.

    I liked the Concrete Blonde track but the title had me very confused as an 8 year old.

    Waking Up the Neighbors was one of the first albums I ever owned and played it quite a lot. I still think highly of Bryan Adams and this track was one of my faves.

    Great track by Chili Peppers but definitely overplayed way too much. Their next album One Hot Minute was the one that made me a fan, which is ironic seeing as it's the one most fans hate.

    I can't describe how much Nirvana meant to me (and still does mean to me). I was riding high on the grunge wave, it was an exciting time to be alive and listening to music.

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  4. Ah, one of my favourite weeks, when "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was at number 5! I even have the ARIA chart from this week, too. And "Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man" gets Single of the Week status. I was actually given the cassingle of that song for free, as well as Roxette's "Church of Your Heart", when I purchased a CD sometime in mid-1992. Both singles were a bit of a snoozefest, all things considered.

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  5. Here's the Vic/Tas different layout national chart from this week in 1992 - http://i.imgur.com/NRWx91F.jpg

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