Wednesday, 26 September 2018

This Week In 1993: September 26, 1993

One day you're up, the next you're down - something that can be said for many of the acts we'll see in this week's flashback to the ARIA singles chart from 1993. It can also be said of me having to write a post without a single pop song.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 26, 1993

An artist who wouldn't come down from the number 1 spot for a long time was still riding high this week in 1993. Meat Loaf spent a fourth week on top with "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)".

Off The Chart
Number 85 "Nothingness" by Living Colour
Peak: number 85
It'd been a couple of years since Living Colour had found themselves in the top 10, and this latest single from Stain didn't change that. I don't recall it from the time, but it's not bad at all.

Single Of The Week
"Woman With Soul" by The Cruel Sea
Peak: number 64
The Cruel Sea's time as a top 50 band had also come to an end for the time being, with this remake of a 1969 song by Tony Joe White failing to match the success of previous hits "Black Stick" and "The Honeymoon Is Over". The album of the same name as the latter, however, was well established in the top 50, where it would stay until June 1994.

New Entries
Number 46 "Soul To Squeeze" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Peak: number 9
Here's a band on the way back up the chart. An old B-side - although I'm not sure whether it was ever previously available in Australia - "Soul To Squeeze" was included on the soundtrack to Coneheads and, possibly due to the fact that it didn't sound that dissimilar to chart-topper "Under The Bridge", gave RHCP their first big hit since "Suck My Kiss". It would be another two years before the band would return with some genuinely new music.

Number 44 "Higher Ground" by UB40
Peak: number 40
Their previous single had been their number 1 remake of "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" - one of four top 3 singles the reggae outfit had enjoyed over the previous decade. But every one of those big hits had been cover versions and, traditionally, UB40 struggled to attract the same level of interest with original songs. Only "Where Did I Go Wrong" bucked the trend to make the top 20 in early 1989. Original song "Higher Ground" stuck to the pattern and just crept into the top 40 - the band's final hit locally.

Number 43 "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 24
Also suffering a downturn in chart fortunes were Bon Jovi, who followed three consecutive top 10 singles with this minor hit from Keep The Faith. Although a fun track, it's certainly not one of the band's best, so number 24 is about what it deserved.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: some actual pop music as Australia's premier girl group come back with album number two and one of the year's best dance tracks debuts.

Back to: Sep 19, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 3, 1993

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

This Week In 1993: September 19, 1993

It's always interesting how differently an artist can fare in one country compared to another, especially when their debut single is a huge success all around the world. For the female singer who arrived on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1993, her Australian achievements - two hits, separated by an eight-year gap - paled in comparison to her tally of 10 top 10 singles at home in the UK.

Dreams did come true for Gabrielle in 1993

But in 1993, both Australia and Britain welcomed the eyepatch-wearing singer immediately, with her debut single flying towards the top of the chart. In the UK, it reached number 1, while in Australia it fell one place short.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 19, 1993

At number 1 this week in 1993, Meat Loaf was settling in for the long haul as "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" spent its third week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Ain't Nothin' You Can Do" by Andrew Strong
Peak: number 67
The Commitments had made him if not a household name then at least a voice recognised by hundreds of thousands around the country, but those fans did not follow the Irish singer as he launched his solo career.

Number 79 "Human Behaviour" by Björk
Peak: number 63
Not including the music she released as a pre-teen, this was the Icelandic singer's first solo effort away from The Sugarcubes - the lead single from her appopriately titled album, Debut.

Single Of The Week
"I'll Be Good To You" by Tracey Arbon
Peak: number 131
She'd been a runner-up on talent contest Star Search before signing with Festival Records and releasing this remake of the 1976 single by The Brothers Johnson (previously covered in 1989 by Quincy Jones featuring Ray Charles and Chaka Khan). But Tracey Arbon wasn't able to turn TV fame into chart success with this or any of her subsequent releases.

New Entries
Number 50 "Monday's Experts" by Weddings Parties Anything
Peak: number 45
Looked like the top 30 success of "Father's Day" was going to be an anomaly as this lead single from the folk rock band's fifth album, King Tide, merely poked its head into the top 50 and no subsequent single by Weddings Parties Anything even got that far.

Number 49 "Harness Up" by Died Pretty
Peak: number 35
Meanwhile, here's another Australian band making their top 50 debut with the second single from their biggest album, Trace. "Harness Up" is one of those songs I didn't think I knew, but as soon as I played it and that "Oooh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oo-oh-oh" vocal hook kicked in, it was instantly familiar. Surprisingly not a bigger hit given it even registered on my radar at the time.

Number 46 "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum
Peak: number 11
Here's a song I do remember, especially thanks to its missing children-themed music video, and, I have to say, I find it as much of a dirge now as I did back in 1993. The Grammy-winning song (which is actually about depression) changed everything for the American band, who'd been releasing music since 1984 - and its video also had quite an impact, with region-specific versions released in different parts of the world, including Australia, where some of those missing turned out to be victims of backpacker murderer Ivan Milat.

Number 40 "Human Wheels" by John Mellencamp
Peak: number 40
Our rock fest continues with the title track of John Mellencamp's 12th studio album, which got its lyrics from a eulogy written by the singer's collaborator, songwriter George Green. "Human Wheels" wasn't one of John's biggest hits in Australia - and I'm not convinced I've ever listened to it before - but the album of the same name did better, debuting this week at number 7 before dropping like a stone out of the top 50 within five weeks. 

Number 33 "Dreams" by Gabrielle
Peak: number 2
The lone female performer in a male-dominated week, Gabrielle had made a huge impression at home earlier in the year when she blasted into the UK chart at number 2 - the highest ever debut by a new female artist. "Dreams" went on to spend three weeks at number 1 there. The singer born Louise Bobb (Gabrielle is her middle name) didn't get off to as quick a start in Australia, but she did wind up at number 2 locally, denied a chart-topper by Ace Of Base. Originally featuring a sample of "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman, "Dreams" was a delicious slice of pop/soul - the first of many Gabrielle would release (and do well with) in the UK. In Australia, it would take until 2001's "Out Of Reach" for her to break the one-hit wonder tag, with local listeners ignoring the likes of "Going Nowhere", "Give Me A Little More Time" and "Sunshine" in the meantime. 

Number 24 "Heart-Shaped Box" by Nirvana
Peak: number 21
Back to the rock... and a brand new track from Nirvana, who were following up the world-conquering Nevermind with their third - and, it would turn out, final - studio album, In Utero. An unexpectedly modest hit given it was new music from one of the world's biggest bands, "Heart-Shaped Box" just missed the top 20, although perhaps fans were holding out for the album, which debuted at number 2 the following week (blocked from the top by Meat Loaf). Like "Harness Up", this is another song I didn't know by name, but that "Hey! Wait" lyric is certainly memorable. There are a few quite interesting theories about the meaning behind the song, but I'm sure fans already know way more about that than me, so let's move on to another under-performing lead single from a new album...

Number 18 "Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time" by John Farnham
Peak: number 16
Since he'd returned to his solo career in 1986, a new John Farnham album had meant major singles chart action, with the first two singles from each of Whispering Jack, Age Of Reason and Chain Reaction all reaching the top 10. That changed in 1993 when this lead single from Then Again... only climbed a couple of places from this entry position. Co-written with Rosses Wilson (of Mondo Rock and Daddy Cool) and Fraser (the album's producer), "Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time" certainly lived up to its title on the singles chart, but that didn't stop the album hitting number 1, just as those previous ones had. Had Farnsey lost his hit singles touch? Time would tell...

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: a chart-topping band with hits that were almost exclusively cover versions make their last showing on the top 50... with an original song.

Back to: Sep 12, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 26, 1993

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

This Week In 1993: September 12, 1993

You've got to hand it to the Swedes - they really do know their way around a good pop song. This week, the third most successful Swedish act of all time (after ABBA and Roxette, of course) made their debut on the ARIA singles chart.

All that Ace Of Base wanted was an international chart-topper... and they got one

Fusing Eurodance and reggae (how very 1993), the two-boy, two-girl quartet's breakthrough hit reached the number 1 spot around the world... except in their native Sweden.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 12, 1993

For the time being, the number 1 hit in Australia this week in 1993 was "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf - and it wasn't going anywhere any time soon. 

Off The Chart
Number 96 "I Can See Clearly" by Deborah Harry
Peak: number 96
The lead singles from her previous two studio albums had been massive, but this Arthur Baker-produced track from Debravation proved things would be different in the '90s for the Blondie singer.

Number 92 "Cryin'" by Aerosmith
Peak: number 80
The biggest hit from Get A Grip in the US, this power ballad, which featured Alicia Silverstone and Stephen Dorff in its music video, did suprisingly little locally.

Number 90 "Somebody's Baby" by Pat Benatar
Peak: number 90
Not seen on the top 100 since 1988, when she scored one of her biggest hits, this was the second single from Gravity's Rainbow - a return to pop/rock after her blues album, True Love.

Number 76 "Bower Of Bliss" by The Clouds
Peak: number 69
Not as commercial as their previous charting efforts, this single from third album Thunderhead still had a great hook buried in its chorus.

Number 57 "Outbreak Of Love" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 57
This latest single from Earth And Sun And Moon was a change of pace from what you'd normally expect from the Oils. I'd look up the meaning behind the song, but this week's post is already late enough...

New Entries
Number 49 "Scratch My Back" by The Sharp
Peak: number 40
Was the novelty wearing off the skivvy-wearing trio's rockabilly sound? This third chart entry was their least successful yet, although their debut album, This Is The Sharp, out-performed their singles chart peaks by reaching number 13 when it appeared the following week. Speaking of novelty, "Scratch My Back" was the song lampooned by The Late Show with one of their send-up clips titled "Skivvies Are Back".

Number 45 "Insane In The Brain" by Cypress Hill
Peak: number 40
Gone were the days when seminal hip-hop tracks did nothing in Australia - and although it only scraped into the top 40, the song often referred to as "Insane In The Membrane" seemed to have quite a large presence at the time thanks to its title (real or mistaken) being imminently quotable. The breakthrough hit for Cypress Hill returned to the chart six years later when Jason Nevins tried to do with this track what he'd done with Run-DMC's "It's Like That" (and, to a lesser extent, "It's Tricky") in 1997-98. His remix reached number 35.

Number 42 "All That She Wants" by Ace Of Base
Peak: number 1
If not for a faulty car casette player, the Ace Of Base phenomenon may never have come to be. The group sent an early version of "All That She Wants" to producer Denniz Pop (who, before his death in 1998, helped establish the Scandipop sound that would define the late '90s and much of the 2000s), but he hated it, so the story goes. The demo tape became jammed in his car stereo, however, and he was forced to listen to it whenever he drove. Eventually, he worked out how to fix the song. The result: the new and improved version of "All That She Wants" became a global smash. More massive hits would follow for Ace Of Base, but, as we'll see in coming months, not immediately. For now, though, the world couldn't get enough of the song that wasn't actually about a woman who wanted to get pregnant, but about one who wanted another boyfriend (i.e. "baby").

Number 36 "If I Had No Loot" by Tony! Toni! Toné!
Peak: number 12
I'd been a big fan of their previous US top 10 hit, "Feels Good", in 1990, but Australia hadn't got behind that song. It was a different story with this new jack swing-meets-old school soul track taken from the trio's third album, Sons Of Soul. Fun fact: none of the group's members were called Tony (no matter how you spell it). Instead, Tony! Toni! Toné! was comprised of brothers Dwayne and Raphael Wiggins, and their cousin Timothy Riley. You may know Raphael better under the name he later adopted, Raphael Saadiq. He's produced everyone from TLC to Solange to D'Angelo to Paloma Faith.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: the debut of an eyepatch-wearing female artist who broke a UK chart record, and Australia's own record-breaker returned with his least successful album since his 1986 comeback.

Back to: Sep 5, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 19, 1993

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

This Week In 1993: September 5, 1993

Yes, this week in 1993, a single debuted at number 1 for only the fourth time in ARIA chart history. But the less time I have to spend reliving that torturous part of musical history, the better.

One of two number 1 hits debuting this week in 1993

Luckily for me, a number of other big singles also debuted that week, including another chart-topper that, instead of being an overblown rock opera, was a cool slice of Eurodance. So let's focus on the posititves, shall we?

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending September 5, 1993

With a new song charging straight in at number 1, Billy Joel's "The River Of Dreams" was forced to vacate the top spot after just one week - so I guess there was a silver lining...

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Alright" by Kris Kross
Peak: number 97
Fifteen months earlier, hip-hop duo Kris Kross jumped straight into the top 20 and up to number 1 with "Jump". But a lot can change in that time and this lead single from second album Da Bomb, er, bombed out.

Number 96 "When I Fall I Love" by Celine Dion / Clive Griffin
Peak: number 93
Taken from 1993's big rom-com Sleepless In Seattle, this remake of the much-covered song made the US top 30 but didn't give Celine Dion a second Australian hit. As for her British duet partner, he'd previously been responsible for one of my favourite songs from 1989.

Number 88 "Cannonball" by The Breeders
Peak: number 58
The debut single from the side project formed by Pixies' Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly from Throwing Muses might not have been a hit, but it became one of the decade's biggest indie rock anthems.

Number 83 "Faces" by 2 Unlimited
Peak: number 54
Well, this was totally the wrong single to release next from No Limits, especially considering what 2 Unlimited still had up their sleeves on the album. Way to ruin a hit streak.

Single Of The Week
"When You Gonna Learn" by Jamiroquai
Peak: number 105
Just a few weeks ago, we saw Jamiroquai's second single, "Too Young To Die", enter the top 100, but the focus quickly shifted to their environmentally themed debut single, which had been released in late 1992 and done absolutely nothing locally. Coming out for the first time through Sony Music (the earlier release was through Shock Records), the didgeridoo-featuring "When You Gonna Learn" still missed the chart, however.

New Entries
Number 43 "More And More" by Captain Hollywood Project
Peak: number 43
Clearly, given its peak position, this isn't the Eurodance song I was talking about at the start of this post, although it was co-written by one of the writers of the Cuture Beat single. Massive across Europe, "More And More" was the debut single by the dance act anchored by Tony Dawson-Harrison. On this track, female vocals were provided by Nina Gerhard.

Number 42 "If I Can't Have You" by Kim Wilde
Peak: number 3
After a couple of criminally overlooked albums packed with potentital hits, Kim Wilde's record company did the logical thing: they compiled a greatest hits collection in time for Christmas to try and reinvigorate the career of the once massive British singer. And it worked, thanks largely to Kim's remake of Yvonne Elliman's Saturday Night Fever track, "If I Can't Have You". One of two new songs on The Singles Collection 1981-1993, the cover of the disco tune written by the brothers Gibb and also recorded by Bee Gees as a B-side to "Stayin' Alive" became her biggest hit since her last big remake, 1986's "You Keep Me Hangin' On". Sadly, despite a career which continues to this day - check out 2018 album Here Come The Aliens - Kim has never returned to the ARIA top 50 since.

Number 41 "You're So Vain" by Chocolate Starfish
Peak: number 11
Next up, another cover version - this time from an act just starting out in their career. Following an EP released earlier in 1993, Chocolate Starfish unleashed their take on Carly Simon's 1973 Australian chart-topper. Their rambunctious rock version of the much-dissected song was a great choice for the band to release as their debut single, allowing flamboyant frontman Adam Thompson to literally strut his stuff and, thanks to its almost-top 10 success, ensuring people around the country came to know what a chocolate starfish is.

Number 36 "Mr Vain" by Culture Beat
Peak: number 1
There had been some great Eurodance singles so far in the 1990s. Tracks like "Rhythm Is A Dancer", "Get Up! (Before The Night Is Over)", "I Don't Know Anybody Else", "Get Ready For This" and so on. Achieving what none of those had managed was this song by German duo Culture Beat, which was taken from their second album, Serenity. With the classic Eurodance structure of rapped verses (courtesy of Jay Supreme) and a sung chorus (by Tania Evans), "Mr Vain" was hard enough to be credible but pop enough to be a major commercial hit. And, as a bonus, it knocked this week's other number 1 single off the top spot... eventually.

Number 29 "The Journey" by Tommy Emmanuel
Peak: number 29
Having released music since the late '70s, Australian guitar legend found himself with a top 5 album and, more suprisingly, a top 30 single with this title track from The Journey - a dramatic instrumental that kind of sounds like a cross between "One Night In Bangkok" and something by Queen (without any lyrics).

Number 7 "Numb" by U2
Peak: number 7
Here's the band behind the last song to debut on the ARIA chart at number 1. In 1991, Achtung Baby's lead single, "The Fly", shot straight in at the top - and if fans thought that was a radical departure for U2, then follow-up album Zooropa pushed things even further. Like lead release "Numb", which featured "vocals" by guitarist The Edge and was only available as a video single. Enough fans enjoyed the Kevin Godley-directed clip to snap "Numb" up in its first week and send it charging straight into the top 10, but the novelty of the release quickly wore off and it had dropped out of the top 50 after five weeks.

Number 1 "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf
Peak: number 1
Let's get one thing out of the way first. No song needs to be 12 minutes long, which is the duration of the album version of this lead single from Meat Loaf's first new album in seven years, Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell. For single release, the typically wordy Jim Steinman composition was edited back to five-and-a-half minutes (although two extra minutes were retained for the music video) - and even then it felt like "I'd Do Anythng..." went on forever.
Given how massive the original Bat Out Of Hell album was - it edges out Whispering Jack to be the highest seller in Australian music history - the sequel album was always going to attract a lot of attention. Both single and album debuted at number 1, with the former spending eight weeks at the summit and ending 1993 as the year's biggest seller. For a man who hadn't had a hit locally since the late '70s, it was quite the comeback. 
Mention must be made, of course, of female singer Lorraine Crosby, whose vocals went uncredited on the single and who didn't appear in the music video, with her part lip synced by Dana Patrick. And now, having done my due, I'll hope never to have to relive this musical monstrosity again.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: the arrival of another number 1 song from Europe, plus one of the most iconic hip-hop singles of all time.

Back to: Aug 29, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 12, 1993