Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Best Of Depeche Mode - part 2: the albums

I've been listening to the new album by Depeche Mode, Delta Machine, pretty solidly over the last couple of weeks and my initial thoughts are that there don't seem to be that many stand-out tracks, but that as a whole it's a consistently good album.

I am, however, a fan of hit singles and album tracks that are good enough to be singles, so that means if I were to slot Delta Machine into my list of favourite DM albums, it would likely rank between numbers 9 and 10 below.

There's always time for it to improve - and some DM albums do take a while to grow on me, but it has some stiff competition among the 12 studio albums the band has released to date. In order from least to most favourite, I give you the Depeche Mode back catalogue...

12. Construction Time Again

Released: 1983
Singles: "Everything Counts", "Love, In Itself"
Best album track: "And Then..."
Rating: 6.44/10

Despite featuring my favourite Depeche Mode single of all time, the band's third LP is my least favourite of their studio albums to date. In fact, I only have half of it in my iTunes library - and interestingly enough, the songs that didn't make the cut are those written wholly or partly by Alan Wilder, who, in 1983, had made the grade as an official member of the band. It wasn't the best album for Martin's songwriting, either, especially as he'd proved on previous album A Broken Frame that the band would be quite fine without Vince Clarke.

11. A Broken Frame

Released: 1982
Singles: "See You", "The Meaning Of Love", "Leave In Silence"
Best album track: "My Secret Garden"
Rating: 7.2/10

Speaking of that second studio album, here it is - and it's one the band don't think that highly of either. Parts of A Broken Frame are fairly consistent in tone to their debut - especially songs like "Photograph Of You" and "See You", which are as light as anything Vince Clarke wrote for the group - but other songs hint at DM's emerging darker side.

10. Speak & Spell

Released: 1981
Singles: "New Life", "Just Can't Get Enough"
Best album track: "Boys Say Go"
Rating: 7.45/10

I'm a big fan of Vince Clarke, with Erasure ranking as my third favourite group of all time behind Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode - and it's almost unfair to compare this album to the others by DM, since it has their original songwriter's musical DNA all over it and not so much in common with the dozen albums that were to come. Vince didn't write every song on Speak & Spell, of course, but the couple penned by Martin aren't up to much. Even so, it's a strong enough debut offering - with a handful of perfectly formed pop moments that indicated the band was one to keep an eye on.

9. Sounds Of The Universe

Released: 2009
Singles: "Wrong", "Peace", "Fragile Tension/Hole To Feed"
Best album track: "Perfect"
Rating: 7.75/10

With albums one, two and three out of the way, we skip right ahead to their most recent offering, which had a fair bit to live up to since 2005's Playing The Angel had featured some of their best songs in years. My problem with Sounds Of The Universe is the same issue it looks like I'm going to have with Delta Machine - there's nothing terrible on the album, but at the same time, there's a decided lack of classics. This was, however, the first (and, to date, only) album I interviewed one of the band members for (I spoke to Dave ahead of its release), so at least that's something.

8. Exciter

Released: 2001
Singles: "Dream On", "I Feel Loved", "Freelove", "Goodnight Lovers"
Best album track: "Shine"
Rating: 8/10

Although roughly the same amount of time had passed between DM's ninth (Ultra) and tenth (Exciter) albums as had between the eighth (Songs Of Faith And Devotion) and ninth - four years - the second gap somehow felt longer. Not only did it seem like DM had been away for more time, but in 2001, the musical landscape was markedly different than in 1997. Pop ruled in 2001 - and although that made no difference to DM, it did make it harder for me to get my head back around the band since I'd been bombarded (not unwillingly) by boy bands, girl groups and Britney for the last couple of years. 
Add to that the fact that Exciter was, as a whole, a much softer collection of songs than we'd heard from them before and it was a bit of a shock to the system. Instead of one or two ballads, the majority of the album was more subdued and tender. "I Feel Loved" and "The Dead Of Night" were there to shake things up, but it was a gentle return for the band - and one that's aged quite well in the decade since its release.

7. Playing The Angel

Released: 2005
Singles: "Precious", "A Pain That I'm Used To", "Suffer Well", "John The Revelator/Lillian"
Best album track: "Nothing's Impossible"
Rating: 8.27/10

This is what's been missing from the two most recent DM albums: strong singles with great hooks - and they're in abundance on Playing The Angel. The only thing that lets the album down is that its second half is nowhere near as strong as the first, but it was a sign that DM wouldn't be one of those bands that keep putting albums out long after their used-by date and perform concerts where the crowd politely sits through the new material but really wants to hear the old stuff. This album proved the band's new music could be just as good.

6. Music For The Masses

Released: 1987
Singles: "Strangelove", "Never Let Me Down Again", "Behind The Wheel", "Little 15"
Best album track: "Sacred"
Rating: 8.3/10

If it wasn't for "Pimpf", this album would sit at number 3 on this list since besides that final track, it's a pretty solid collection of songs. But, fair's fair and since it's a bona fide track and not just an interlude, it needs to be included (I call it the "Act Of Contrition" rule). Technicalities aside, Music For The Masses was the band's most self-assured album to date with a robust sound that felt as big as they were becoming around the world.

5. Black Celebration

Released: 1986
Singles: "Stripped", "A Question Of Lust", "A Question Of Time"
Best album track: "Black Celebration"
Rating: 8.5/10

It was almost as if DM needed to release a greatest hits collection in order to clear the decks and really move forward as a band - and they did just that with the first album after The Singles 81-85. A bold step forward, Black Celebration set the stage for Music For The Masses and Violator, and, for me, only falls short due to a handful of tracks that aren't quite as memorable as the three singles, the title track or the excellent "Here Is The House" and "Fly On The Windscreen". The beginning of a new era...

4. Some Great Reward

Released: 1984
Singles: "People Are People", "Master And Servant", "Blasphemous Rumours/Somebody"
Best album track: "Something To Do"
Rating: 8.78/10

Of course, that new era would never have happened if it wasn't for this album, on which Depeche Mode, er, got the balance right - and, most importantly of all, realised that gloomy and gothic didn't need to equal tuneless. With a mix of pop hits and darker fare, the band's redefinition was complete.

3. Ultra

Released: 1997
Singles: "Barrel Of A Gun", "It's No Good", "Home", "Useless"
Best album track: "Freestate"
Rating: 8.89/10

Although they're viewed by many as an '80s band, the '90s really were the best era for Depeche Mode albums - with 1997's Ultra managing to be almost as good as the two albums that had come immediately before. And, given the obstacles they had to overcome to get it made (Alan Wilder's departure, Dave Gahan's drug problem), it's even more of a remarkable feat.

2. Violator

Released: 1990
Singles: "Personal Jesus", "Enjoy The Silence", "Policy Of Truth", "World In My Eyes"
Best album track: "Halo"
Rating: 9.11/10

The pinnacle of DM's success was achieved with this album. I remember finding the cassette of Violator among my sister's music collection at the time and listening to it because it was the band Vince from Erasure had been in at one point. Because I hadn't really heard anything by the band played in Australia since 1984, Violator was a revelation and an album I kept coming back to as each new single was released. Today, it's an album I still regularly play from beginning to end - and it sounds as fresh and exciting as it did back then.

1. Songs Of Faith And Devotion

Released: 1993
Singles: "I Feel You", "Walking In My Shoes", "Condemnation", "In Your Room"
Best album track: "One Caress"
Rating: 9.5/10

Not only is this album pretty great, it was also the soundtrack to my first year of university and was on constant rotation in my bedroom as I studied. This was also the first album I saw the band perform live - incidentally, the only concert I've ever slept out overnight to get tickets for. It was fairly different to rest of the music I was listening to in 1993 (think Eurodance, female British soul singers and Take That) and quite a shift for the band themselves, featuring a much more prominent rock feel than any of their previous albums, but it was the album that solidified DM as one of my favourite acts of all time and prompted me to go back and explore the music I'd missed out on between "Just Can't Get Enough" and "I Feel You".

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Best Of Depeche Mode - part 1: the singles

While there was sad music news this past week with the demise of Girls Aloud, there was also good news for me when it came to Depeche Mode.

Firstly, I got confirmation that I'll be going to see my second favourite group of all time (PSB are still just in front) at the O2 in London in May.

Depeche Mode version 2.0

And secondly, their new album, Delta Machine, streamed in full on iTunes ahead of its Australian release date of March 29.

I'm still digesting Delta Machine, so while I get to grips with it, here are my favourite 25 Depeche Mode singles of all time...

25. "Freelove"

Released: 2001
Album: Exciter
Charts: UK #19
Given a welcome remix from the album version by the band's one-time producer Flood, "Freelove" is not one of DM's best known songs, but it's a sensitively performed tune that ranks as one of their best ballads of all time.

24. "Martyr"

Released: 2006
Album: The Best Of Depeche Mode Volume 1
Charts: UK #13
It didn't make the cut for Playing The Angel, and although the compilation album it did end up on seemed like an unneccesary release at the time (speaking of which, will there even be a Volume 2?), at least the world got to enjoy this track, which almost sounds like it could date back to the mid-'80s.

23. "Only When I Lose Myself"

Released: 1998
Album: The Singles 86>98
Charts: UK #17, Australia #34, US #61
Another previously unreleased song included on a compilation, this was the sole new track on DM's second singles collection. I first heard this track on the Greek island of Santorini, when I saw the newly released The Singles 86>98 in a local record store and bought it despite it being a ridiculously expensive import. And, although that holiday was full of sun, surf and donkey rides, this moody track is the song I associate most strongly with that time.

22. "Stripped"

Released: 1986
Album: Black Celebration
Charts: UK #15
With their first singles collection (The Singles 81-85) marking the end of one chapter in DM's history, "Stripped" signalled the start of another. Released as the lead single from Black Celebration, it showed the band's poppier days were behind them, even if that change was resisted in the US, where B-side "But Not Tonight" (also a great song) received the focus of promotion.

21. "Strangelove"

Released: 1987
Album: Music For The Masses
Charts: UK #16, US #50
It sounds quite different on Music For Masses, but I prefer the more commercial single version of this track, which returned the band to the Billboard Hottest 100 for the first time since 1984's "Master And Servant". The next few years would see the band's popularity and commercial success peak in the US.

20. "Master And Servant"

Released: 1984
Album: Some Great Reward
Charts: UK #9, Australia #89, US #87
Speaking of "Master And Servant", here's the song which in my mind marks a turning point for the band. While still relatively upbeat and poppy, its flirtation with a darker subject matter hinted at things to come. Naturally, any suggestion of "sexual deviancy" had radio stations up in arms, with some US stations refusing to play the song and a ban by the BBC narrowly avoided.

19. "Blasphemous Rumours / Somebody"

Released: 1984
Album: Some Great Reward
Charts: UK #16, Australia #87
Released as the follow-up to "Master And Servant", this double A-side single was the band's most introspective release to date. It was also the first time a song featuring Martin as lead vocalist ("Somebody") was released as a single - even if Mute hedged its bets by issuing it alongside "Blasphemous Rumours", which was sung by Dave.

18. "Walking In My Shoes"

Released: 1993
Album: Songs Of Faith And Devotion
Charts: UK #14, Australia #74, US #69
Skipping ahead a decade now and this second single from Songs Of Faith... was not only a great song in its own right, but it also featured one of my favourite Depeche B-sides, "My Joy".

17. "Personal Jesus"

Released: 1989
Album: Violator
Charts: UK #13, US #28
"Master And Servant" and "Stripped" might have each marked important turning points in the band's career, but "Personal Jesus" trumps both those, heralding the start of DM's time as a supergroup. As the '80s ended, the first single from the landmark Violator album put the group back on the radar with a much wider audience than just the fiercely loyal fanbase who had supported them throughout the decade. Sonically, the rock sound of the track made it clear (if 101 hadn't) that Depeche were just as comfortable filling stadiums as a live act as they were in the studio on their synthesizers.

16. "A Pain That I'm Used To"

Released: 2005
Album: Playing The Angel
Charts: UK #15
Here's a track which showcases the guitars-meets-synths sound that has been a feature of DM's work since "Personal Jesus". The second single from the return-to-form album, Playing The Angel, starts with a blast of sound and builds back up through each verse to a similarly raucous chorus.

15. "Never Let Me Down Again"

Released: 1987
Album: Music For The Masses
Charts: UK #22, Australia #82, US #63
There's something triumphant about this track which makes it a great song to hear live - or even just cranked loud on your car stereo. When it was released in 1987, it gave a glimpse of the fuller, rockier sound that was to come just a couple of years later.

14. "A Question Of Time"

Released: 1986
Album: Black Celebration
Charts: UK #17
Remixed for single release, "A Question Of Time" is also notable for being the first song to come with a music video directed by long-time collaborator Anton Corbijn, who would be instrumental in helping to define the band's visual image over the next couple of decades.

13. "Suffer Well"

Released: 2006
Album: Playing The Angel
Charts: UK #12
Another first - this time it's the first single since "Just Can't Get Enough" not to be written by Martin. Instead, "Suffer Well" was co-authored by Dave Gahan, who, having released his first solo album three years earlier, was finally allowed to contribute to the songwriting of DM. 

12. "I Feel Loved"

Released: 2001
Album: Exciter
Charts: UK #12, Australia #95
I always think of Exciter, despite its title, as a rather understated album - but this storming single (aided by a remix from Danny Tenaglia) definitely shook things up between the quietness of "Dream On" and "Freelove". This was the first sign that the band had what it took to remain relevant in the new millennium.

11. "Policy Of Truth"

Released: 1990
Album: Violator
Charts: UK #16, US #15
1990 was a fantastic year for DM, and "Policy Of Truth" is the first of three singles from that year to appear on this countdown. It was a massive hit in the US - in fact, it was the first single by the band to chart higher in the States than in the UK.

10. "It's No Good"

Released: 1997
Album: Ultra
Charts: UK #5, Australia #52, US #38
"Barrel Of A Gun" had been a good choice of lead single from Ultra, since it definitely grabbed the listener's attention - but better singles from that album were to come, including this track, which I always remember being quite long (and taking up a lot of room on mixtapes).

9. "World In My Eyes"

Released: 1990
Album: Violator
Charts: UK #17, US #52
The fourth single from Violator need not have been the final single since there were other tracks that could easily have been released - especially in those days when seven singles from an album was not unusual. Fans who already had the album were rewarded with not one but two good B-sides in the form of "Sea Of Sin" and "Happiest Girl", making the "World In My Eyes" single a particularly worthwhile purchase.

8. "Precious"

Released: 2005
Album: Playing The Angel
Charts: UK #4, US #71
Since many of my other favourite '80s bands had started to disappoint me in the 21st century, I wasn't expecting Depeche Mode to release a single that'd blow me away when they returned after a four-year break from making music. But, they proved me wrong with this track, which instantly became a favourite.

7. "Home"

Released: 1997
Album: Ultra
Charts: UK #23, US #88
We've already seen "Somebody", and here's another song featuring vocals from Martin - and it was the first track he performed to be released as a single in 11 years. It was worth the wait, with "Home" proving to be my favourite track from Ultra.

6. "A Question Of Lust"

Released: 1986
Album: Black Celebration
Charts: UK #28
Here's the only other single sung by Martin, and like "Somebody" and "Home", it's quite an impassioned ballad - one that I used to play on the piano after I was given a compendium of Depeche Mode sheet music for my 19th birthday. Well, I tried.

5. "People Are People"

Released: 1984
Album: Some Great Reward
Charts: UK #4, Australia #25, US #13
It's been nearly 30 years and DM have not reached the Australian top 30 since this single peaked at number 25 in 1984. "People Are People" is also one of three songs that have made it to number 4 in the UK - the band's highest ever placing. Despite the chart records achieved by the song, it's not a band favourite and hasn't been performed in decades. Shame.

4. "I Feel You"

Released: 1993
Album: Songs Of Faith And Devotion
Charts: UK #8, Australia #37, US #37
1993 was the year I rediscovered DM. I'd been aware of them throughout the '80s and was a fan of a number of their songs, but I fully explored their back catalogue after this first single from Songs Of Faith And Devotion was released. At the time, I bought the CD single of "I Feel You", which featured the amazing "One Caress" - my all-time favourite non-single by the band.

3. "Enjoy The Silence"

Released: 1990
Album: Violator
Charts: UK #6, Australia #71, US #8
This is the song that really put DM back on the map in the UK after more than half a decade of middling singles chart positions. "Enjoy The Silence" also gave them their first US top 10 hit and won the BRIT Award for Best Single. In many ways, it's the band's signature song, and has been sampled and covered by countless other acts. It was also remixed in 2004 by Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda for the Remixes 81-04 album and, had I included that single release in this list, it would have ranked as number 20.

2. "Just Can't Get Enough"

Released: 1981
Album: Speak & Spell
Charts: UK #8, Australia #4
In the 32 years since Depeche Mode's breakthrough hit was released, their sound has changed so dramatically that it's almost unimaginable the band we know today would ever have released this synthpop ditty. Obviously, "Just Can't Get Enough" comes from the Vince Clarke era of DM, but the band hasn't turned its back on it and the song still gets regular outings during live shows.

1. "Everything Counts"

Released: 1983
Album: Construction Time Again
Charts: UK #6
Until 1993, this was the only Depeche Mode single I owned - and my love for it has stood the test of time. A live version was released to promote 101 in 1989 and the song has acted as concert encore for more than one tour - in fact, it's probably due to pop up again in the Delta Machine set list. Fingers crossed.

In the next few days, I'll count down the 12 studio albums released by Depeche Mode so far and give my first impressions of Delta Machine.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Best of Girls Aloud

They're the exception to the girl group rule. By remaining intact from beginning to end (admittedly, with a rather large gap in there), Girls Aloud have achieved what so many other female groups have not. And, for an act formed by a reality TV show, it's especially surprising they lasted this long.
Perfect pop stars: Kimberley, Cheryl, Nicola, Nadine, Sarah

Plus, they've released some of the best pop singles of the last decade while they were at it. To mark the end of Girls Aloud, here are my top 10 GA singles...

1. "Love Machine"

Album: What Will The Neighbours Say?
Year: 2004
The second single from Girls Aloud's second album remains my favourite track of theirs - and proved the Xenomania production team really knew what they were doing with the group. Thank goodness no one connected to the project decided to stop working with the pop dream team.

2. "Biology"

Album: Chemistry
Year: 2005
The only song from GA's third album to make my top 10, "Biology" made up for the girls' other lacklustre releases ("See The Day", especially) during that period.

3. "The Show"

Album: What Will The Neighbours Say?
Year: 2004
I was in London when this single came out and rushed back with the CD single in my luggage to play it to the Smash Hits Australia team only to find it was being played by a local radio station despite there being no plans at that stage to release it. It didn't end up charting in Australia until June 2006, when it was released as a follow-up to "Biology", which had reached number 26. "The Show" got to number 67.

4. "Something Kinda Ooh"

Album: The Sound Of Girls Aloud
Year: 2006
The best new track from the group's first greatest hits release. I didn't think that much of the other previously unreleased songs, especially the seemingly pointless cover of "I Think We're Alone Now".

5. "Something New"

Album: 2012
Year: Ten
And here's the best new track from their second greatest hits album. At first, I wasn't that enamoured with "Something New" (although I did like its literal title) and rated it about as highly as, say, "Sexy! No No No...". Clearly, it grew on me.

6. "The Loving Kind"

Album: Out Of Control 
Year: 2009
What more perfect pop collaboration could there be than Girls Aloud and Pet Shop Boys, who co-wrote this tune with the Xenomania team?

7. "No Good Advice"

Album: Sound Of The Underground
Year: 2003
The surf guitars were back for GA's second single - with this the first indication that there might be some longevity to these Popstars: The Rivals winners.

8. "Sound Of The Underground"

Album: Sound Of The Underground
Year: 2002
The song that started it all - and blew away Popstars rivals One True Voice. "Sound Of The Underground" even made number 31 in Australia in early 2003 and it was around that time I conducted my only interview with one of the group's members. I had a phoner with Cheryl (still Tweedy at the time) and may have just been a little bit tipsy when I did it, since I'd popped out of a Universal function to take the call.

9. "Call The Shots"

Album: Tangled Up
Year: 2007
Rated by some as Girls Aloud's best song, "Call The Shots" was certainly the best of the three singles chosen from Tangled Up. As you'll see from my non-singles top 10 below, there were a few better candidates for singles selection than "Sexy! No No No..." and "Can't Speak French".

10. "The Promise"

Album: Out Of Control
Year: 2008
The first single released from my favourite Girls Aloud album was an instant UK number 1 (one of four they scored) and a BRIT Award winner.

And, since it wasn't always just about the hits for Girls Aloud, here are my top 10 non-singles:

1. "Girl Overboard" from Tangled Up
2. "Every Now And Then" from Ten
3. "Miss You Bow Wow" from Out Of Control
4. "Memory Of You" - B-side to "The Loving Kind"
5. "White Lies" from Sound Of The Underground
6. "On The Metro" from Ten
7. "Black Jacks" from Tangled Up
8. "Close To Love" from Tangled Up
9. "Love Is Pain" from Out Of Control
10. "Stop" from Sound Of The Underground

Farewell, Girls Aloud. See you in five years?


Monday, 18 March 2013

The Best Of 1992 - part 4

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

I didn't have time for much other than studying in 1992 since it was my final year of high school. Of course, I had a stereo (turntable, double tape deck, CD player, radio) on my desk, so studying usually equalled listening to music in my bedroom.

Take That finally lived up to the hype in 1992... at least in the UK 

As a result, there are some albums from that period of time that I know from beginning to end since I had them on constant rotation. Being a singles fan, I also religiously made compilation tapes since it was a bit of a drag to have to keep stopping what I was doing to change CD single or cassingle every three-and-a-half minutes.

In a pre-iTunes world, mixtapes was the equivalent of playlists - and I think about all the time I wasted making those tapes and how much more I would have got done if iTunes had been around. Although, if the internet had taken off at that point, I probably would've wasted a whole lot more time looking for new music online - and who knows: my top 25 songs from 1992 might look a little different...

Number 25 "Don't You Want Me" by Felix
Another big single from the Deconstruction record label, "Don't You Want Me" was Felix's first and most successful single, reaching number 6 in the UK and number 17 in Australia. It's also one of those dance songs that has refused to go away, charting in the UK in remixed form in 1995 and again in 1996 (with another version), and featuring most recently as a sample in 2011's "Sweat" by David Guetta vs Snoop Dogg.

Number 24 "Too Funky" by George Michael
This is where things got really messy for George, who started legal proceedings against record label Sony Music in 1992 and was musically silent for four years as a result. "Too Funky" was his final release on Sony (for the time being) and was donated by George to the Red Hot + Dance charity album. For the clip, supermodels were again the order of the day, with a young Tyra Banks and Linda Evangelista a couple of the names who stomped the runway in time to the music, while George popped up briefly in the clip behind a camera.

Number 23 "Friday I'm In Love" by The Cure
I wonder what The Cure circa 1979, when they were all dark and broody, would have thought of this unashamedly up song. The end point of a gradual process of commercialisation, "Friday I'm In Love" was the band's last big international hit, although they released new music as recently as 2008.

Number 22 "It Only Takes A Minute" by Take That
Mentioned below

Number 21 "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Perfecto mix) by U2
Speaking of going mainstream - in 1992, nothing said commerical more than a rock band having a dance remix made of one of their songs. What would have been totally unexpected from U2 five years earlier felt kind of natural following the game-changing album that was Achtung Baby. The album version of "Even Better..." was released as the fourth single mid-year, and was closely followed into the UK charts by the remix from the Perfecto team of Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne - with the remix actually bettering the peak of the original. It was my favourite U2 release of the year, beating "One" (number 127 on this list) and "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" by some margin - and is the last single of theirs I've truly loved.

Number 20 "Shine On" by Degrees Of Motion featuring Biti
A club classic if ever there was one, "Shine On" wouldn't actually become a big hit in the UK until 1994, when a remixed version reached number 8, but I preferred this original (complete with dodgy rap) which missed the British top 40 in 1992. Another of their 1992 songs, "Do You Want It Right Now", also got the remix and re-release treatment in 1994 - and ends up on my top 100 for that year.

Number 19 "Perfect Motion" by Sunscreem
Mentioned below

Number 18 "L.S.I." by The Shamen
Mentioned below

Number 17 "Disappointed" by Electronic
Having finished releasing singles from their debut album, synthpop supergroup Electronic carried on with this new track, again featuring Neil Tennant on vocals. It would end up being their highest-charting release in the UK (it reached number 6) but did not lead on to a new studio album. In fact, it would be a four-year wait (to the week) before another new Electronic single would see the light of day.

Number 16 "Love U More" by Sunscreem
Mentioned below

Number 15 ABBA-esque by Erasure
Mentioned below

Number 14 "One In A Million" by Euphoria
The Euphoria juggernaut was seemingly unstoppable in 1992. Their late 1991 single, "Love You Right", topped the ARIA chart in February, and two more singles also reached number 1 in Australia: "One In A Million", which came with a music video that provided a more accurate representation of who did what in the dance group, and "Do For You" (number 91 on this list). The dream run spluttered to a halt once fourth single "I Will Never Leave You" (number 104) only just scraped into the top 50, but it was fun while it lasted. We will see Euphoria pop again in my 1993 countdown, by which time I may well have been the only person still interested in them.

Number 13 "This Is It" by Ruth Campbell
Back in Part 3, I mentioned that Toni Pearen had appeared on a Network Ten promo singing the Melba Moore song, "This Is It", and although she didn't release a single of her version, this alternate remake (which actually dated back to 1990) did pop up on CD single locally in 1992 instead. I know nothing about Ruth at all, but, as any pop fan knows, we would be hearing more from "This Is It" in 1993... 

Number 12 "Pressure" by Sunscreem
Who'd have thought it? Early '90s dance act Sunscreem score three entries in my top 25 for the year. All three songs, "Pressure", breakthrough hit "Love U More" (at number 16 above) and highest-charting UK single of the year "Perfect Motion" (at number 19), were lifted from the group's debut album, O3 (the chemical symbol for ozone), which was one of many albums I bought with the fruits of my 18th birthday party. Since it was fairly well known I liked music, I received over $200 in record vouchers (which was quite good, since records cost around $20 at the time) and I snapped this album up after its release in February 1993, only to be disappointed many of the tracks were different from the single versions - a mistake I would make again with Boss Drum by The Shamen.

Number 11 "Breath Of Life" by Erasure
Four positions above this is the EP that finally gave Erasure a number 1 single in the UK and returned them to the Australian top 50 for the first time since 1986's "Sometimes". ABBA-esque was also, of course, responsible for making ABBA cool again, paving the way for the release of compilation album ABBA Gold in 1992 after which there was a major renaissance for the Swedish group's music. Erasure's cover of "Take A Chance On Me" got the most airplay, something about that MC Kinky rap annoyed me and I preferred the duo's take on both "Lay All Your Love On Me" and "SOS". But, enough about ABBA-esque, pipping that release to the post on my list is this fourth and final single from the Chorus album, which returned Andy and Vince to the UK top 10 after the disappointing "Am I Right?"

Number 10 "Sense" by The Lightning Seeds
Offering a brief respite from all the dance tracks and synthpop, here's a single by a band I liked quite a bit during the '90s. Led by Ian Broudie, they'd end up becoming best known for football anthem "Three Lions" (and its regular re-releases), but it's a shame songs like "Sense" and "The Life Of Riley" (also from 1992) didn't become bigger hits, since they're about as perfect as guitar-based pop can be.

Number 9 "Feel So Real" by Dream Frequency featuring Debbie Sharp
I told you it was only a brief break... it's back to the dance floor for this track, which shares one thing in common with The Lightning Seeds song: it was another minor hit in the UK. I remember winning the Dream Frequency CD (as well as 2 Unlimited's Get Ready) by calling up a competition line in dance music street newspaper 3D World - then convincing my dad to drive me all the way into the city to collect them. Once again, however, the album version of "Feel So Real" wasn't the one I liked, so I eventually tracked down the CD single.

Number 8 "In My Dreams" by The Party
This is an interesting one - a group made up of Mickey Mouse Club members covering a song by heavy metal band Dokken. There's not much more genius than that. The Party had been the first act signed to Disney music label Hollywood Records (eventual home to Miley Cyrus, Jesse McCartney, etc.) and had released a string of forgettable pop singles in 1990 without major success. Then, at the very end of 1991, a covers album was put out to keep fans occupied until a second album of originals could be released - and "In My Dreams" became the group's first and only top 40 hit in the US.

Number 7 "Celebration" by Kylie Minogue
Mentioned in Part 2 and previously featured here

Number 6 "Did I Say 'Ti Amo'" by Fresh
Previously featured here

Number 5 "Something Good" by Utah Saints
UK dance music really was pretty exceptional in the early '90s - and Utah Saints followed the K-klass approach to releasing music by offering up one outstanding track each year from 1991 to 1993. "Something Good", which sampled Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting", was the biggest and best of the three songs, even cracking the Australian top 10.

Number 4 "Ebeneezer Goode" by The Shamen
Nothing like a bit of controversy to promote your record. Banned by the BBC in the UK (which almost guaranteed the track would fly to number 1), "Ebeneezer Goode" was accused of endorsing the use of ecstasy and, let's face it, the lyrics speak for themselves. The furore in the UK press was so marked, it can't be a coincidence the song was deleted while at number 1 - no matter what the band claimed. 1992 was a particularly busy year for The Shamen, with four singles released between July and the end of the year. Besides this track, "L.S.I." (number 18 on this list), "Boss Drum" (number 73) and "Phorever People" (number 105) were all top 10 hits in the UK.

Number 3 "What Kind Of Fool (Heard All That Before" by Kylie Minogue
Mentioned in Part 2 and previously featured here

Number 2 "Could It Be Magic" by Take That
Everything changed (no pun intended) for Take That in late 1992. They finally scored a top 10 hit in the UK with a cover of the Tavares (and Jonathan King) song "It Only Takes A Minute" (number 22 on this list) after yet another flop with "Once You've Tasted Love" (number 38). They stayed in the UK top 20 with original tracks "I Found Heaven" and "A Million Love Songs", then released this seventh single from Take That & Party.
A cover of the Barry Manilow song, "Could It Be Magic" was radically remixed from the album version (thankfully, since it was nowhere near as good) and gave the boy band their biggest hit to date in the UK (where it got to number 3) and their first charting single in Australia (where it got to number 30). 1993 was going to be even bigger...

Number 1 "Temptation (Brothers In Rhythm remix)" by Heaven 17
The initial release of this song made number 14 on my list of favourite songs from 1983 and this update by Brothers In Rhythm is a rare example of a remix being better than the original. Keeping everything that's great about the original, but adding, among other things, a heavier beat and dramatic strings really added a sense of excitement to the track, which had never sounded so lush. I couldn't stop listening to it! The remix heralded the release of a best of album the same year.

My top 200 for 1992 in full:

2         COULD IT BE MAGIC Take That
4         EBENEEZER GOODE The Shamen
5         SOMETHING GOOD Utah Saints
6         DID I SAY 'TI AMO' Fresh
7         CELEBRATION Kylie Minogue
8         IN MY DREAMS The Party
9         FEEL SO REAL Dream Frequency featuring Debbie Sharp
10        SENSE The Lightning Seeds
11        BREATH OF LIFE Erasure
12        PRESSURE Sunscreem
13        THIS IS IT Ruth Campbell
14        ONE IN A MILLION Euphoria
15        ABBA-ESQUE (EP) Erasure
16        LOVE U MORE Sunscreem
17        DISAPPOINTED Electronic
18        L.S.I. The Shamen
19        PERFECT MOTION Sunscreem
20        SHINE ON Degrees Of Motion
22        IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE Take That
23        FRIDAY I'M IN LOVE The Cure
24        TOO FUNKY George Michael
25        DON'T YOU WANT ME Felix
26        SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST Vanessa Williams
27        I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU Whitney Houston
28        RHYTHM IS A DANCER Snap
29        LOVE ME ALL UP Stacy Earl
30        I LOVE YOUR SMILE Shanice
31        IF YOU BELONGED TO ME Nancy Davis
32        MOVIN' ON Bananarama
33        FOR YOUR BABIES Simply Red
34        GOTTA LEARN MY RHYTHM Damian Dame
35        HOUSE OF LOVE East 17
36        I'D DIE WITHOUT YOU PM Dawn
37        DEEPER AND DEEPER Madonna
38        ONCE YOU'VE TASTED LOVE Take That
39        RUN TO YOU Rage
40        I'LL BE THERE Mariah Carey featuring Trey Lorenz
41        DON'T YOU WORRY 'BOUT A THING Incognito
42        I'M GONNA GET YOU Bizarre Inc featuring Angie Brown
43        THAT WORD (L.O.V.E.) The Rockmelons featuring Deni Hines
44        WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE Kim Wilde
45        LIFT ME UP Howard Jones
46        IN YOUR ROOM Toni Pearen
47        MILLION MILES AWAY Kim Wilde
48        THE DAY YOU WENT AWAY Wendy Matthews
49        MAKE IT ON MY OWN Alison Limerick
50        AIN'T NO MAN Dina Carroll
51        DON'T STOP K-klass
52        THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE Janet Jackson / Luther Vandross (with BBD and Ralph Tresvant)
53        SLEEPING SATELLITE Tasmin Archer
54        MONEY LOVE Neneh Cherry
55        JESUS HE KNOWS ME Genesis
56        MAN ALIVE Diesel
58        FINALLY CeCe Peniston
59        FAITHFUL Go West
60        MY DESTINY Lionel Richie
61        AIN'T 2 PROUD 2 BEG TLC
62        COLOURED KISSES Martika
63        I DON'T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM Kate Ceberano
64        DON’T LOSE THE MAGIC Shawn Christopher
65        LOVE CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS Celine Dion
66        EXCITED M-People
67        SPECIAL KIND OF LOVE Dina Carroll
68        DAMN I WISH I WAS YOUR LOVER Sophie B. Hawkins
69        CRUCIFY Tori Amos
71        DREAM COME TRUE Brand New Heavies
72        IT'S A FINE DAY Opus III
73        BOSS DRUM The Shamen
74        BEWARE Vivienne McKone
75        WHEN YOU GONNA LEARN Jamiroquai
76        BE MY BABY Vanessa Paradis
78        BOY IN THE MOON Margaret Urlich
79        IF YOU DON’T LOVE ME Prefab Sprout
80        JOY Soul II Soul
81        WITHOUT YOU Girlfriend
82        DO YOU FEEL LIKE I FEEL Belinda Carlisle
84        THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT YOU Karyn White
85        (LOVE MOVES IN) MYSTERIOUS WAYS Julia Fordham
86        TEMPLE OF DREAMS Messiah
87        DO FOR YOU Euphoria
88        LOVE IS EVERYWHERE Cicero
89        BETTADAZE Boom Crash Opera
90        STEP IT UP Stereo MCs
91        WOULD I LIE TO YOU? Charles And Eddie
92        GOOD FOR ME Amy Grant
93        LOVE IS HOLY Kim Wilde
94        GOODNIGHT GIRL Wet Wet Wet
96        WINTER Tori Amos
97        BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Celine Dion / Peabo Bryson
98        GOLD East 17
99        IT'S MY LIFE Dr Alban
100      I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU Euphoria
102      I FEEL YOU Love Decade
103      WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS Annie Lennox
104      DO YOU BELIEVE IN US Jon Secada
105      PHOREVER PEOPLE The Shamen
106      EVERYTHING CHANGES Kathy Troccoli
107      KEEP THE FAITH Bon Jovi
108      SKIN TO SKIN Melissa
109      THE LIFE OF RILEY The Lightning Seeds
110      NEVER LET HER SLIP AWAY Undercover
112      WHO CAN MAKE ME FEEL GOOD Bassheads
113      IT WILL MAKE ME CRAZY Felix
114      JAM Michael Jackson
115      FREE YOUR MIND En Vogue
116      YOU SAID, YOU SAID Jermaine Jackson
117      GIVE U MY HEART Babyface / Toni Braxton
118      STAY THIS WAY Brand New Heavies
119      HEARTBREAKER Color Me Badd
120      SOMEDAY M-People
121      AIN'T NO DOUBT Jimmy Nail
122      I FEEL LOVE Messiah featuring Precious Wilson
123      MOTOR CITY (I GET LOST) Company Of Strangers
124      INDIO Indecent Obsession
125      DECEMBER, 1963 (OH WHAT A NIGHT) (REMIX) Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
126      YOU Ten Sharp
127      ONE U2
130      ONE LOVE IN MY LIFETIME Innocence
131      TAKE TIME Chris Walker
132      YOU BRING ON THE SUN Londonbeat
133      ANOTHER MINUTE Cause & Effect
134      A LITTLE BIT MORE Kym Sims
135      HIT & RUN Boxcar
136      WE GOT A LOVE THANG Ce Ce Peniston
137      BAKER ST Undercover
138      KISSING THE WIND Nia Peeples
139      FINER FEELINGS Kylie Minogue
140      DON'T LET IT GO TO YOUR HEAD Brand New Heavies
141      I'M THE ONE YOU NEED Jody Watley
142      SOMEDAY (I’M COMING BACK) Lisa Stansfield
143      PLEASE DON'T GO Boyz II Men
144      JUST ANOTHER DAY Jon Secada
145      CONNECTED Stereo MCs
146      THINKIN’ BACK Color Me Badd
147      WHO IS IT Michael Jackson
148      THE MAGIC FRIEND / MEGAMIX 2 Unlimited
149      KISS ME Indecent Obsession
150      YOU THINK YOU KNOW HER Cause & Effect
151      TAKE ME Dream Frequency featuring Debbie Sharp
152      ROMEO AND JULIET Stacy Earl
153      MOVING ON Dana Dawson
154      HUMAN RACE Margaret Urlich
155      SET YOUR LOVIN’ FREE Lisa Stansfield
156      HANG ON IN THERE BABY Curiosity
157      I'M DOING FINE NOW The Pasadenas
158      MOVE ME NO MOUNTAIN Soul II Soul
159      BOOK OF DAYS Enya
160      REAL LOVE Mary J Blige
161      REMEMBER THE TIME Michael Jackson
162      DON'T WALK AWAY Jade
163      STAY Shakespear's Sister
164      FEEL SO HIGH Des'ree
165      I’LL BE THERE Innocence
166      COLOUR MY LIFE M-People
167      TASTE IT INXS
169      YESTERDAY En Vogue
170      DEEPLY DIPPY Right Said Fred
171      TO BE WITH YOU Mr Big
172      STARS Simply Red
173      SHOW YOU THE WAY TO GO Dannii Minogue
174      RESTLESS HEART Peter Cetera
175      TEARS Jenny Morris
176      GIVE IT UP, TURN IT LOOSE En Vogue
177      TAKE MY ADVICE Kym Sims
178      MOVE THIS Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K
179      CLUNK (EP) Frente
180      I DON’T CARE Shakespear’s Sister
181      YOU DON’T TREAT ME NO GOOD (REMIX) Sonia Dada
182      GOOD ENOUGH Bobby Brown
183      IT'S NOT OVER The Rockmelons featuring Deni Hines
184      HEART OVER MIND Kim Wilde
185      IRRESISTIBLE Cathy Dennis
186      FOREVER LOVE Color Me Badd
187      BOOGIE NIGHTS Sonia
188      FROM A MILLION MILES Single Gun Theory
190      WILL YOU MARRY ME Paula Abdul
191      TWILIGHT ZONE 2 Unlimited
193      IF I EVER FALL IN LOVE Shai
194      HIGH The Cure
195      PENNIES FROM HEAVEN Inner City
196      THIS IS THE LAST TIME Laura Enea
197      SHAKE YOUR HEAD Was (Not Was)
198      DUNNO WHAT IT IS (ABOUT YOU) Beatmasters featuring Elaine Vassell
199      IF YOU ASKED ME TO Celine Dion
200      IN THE CLOSET Michael Jackson

That's it for 1992. This Wednesday, my regular ARIA chart recap when we look back at what was hitting the top 50 this week 25 years ago.

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