Wednesday, 30 October 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: October 30, 1994

There comes a time in every pop group's life when one member wants to leave for a solo career. And those left behind have to decide whether to carry on without them or give up and dissolve the group.

Girlfriend lost a member... and many of their clothes

This week in 1994, Australia's premier girl group returned to the ARIA top 50 after losing the member who was effectively their lead singer. As it would turn out, it was the best thing that had happened to them in quite some time, even if it didn't return them to the number 1 spot.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 30, 1994

At number 1 this week in 1994, "Tomorrow" by silverchair ascended to the top spot for the first of six weeks.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Everything's Cool" by Pop Will Eat Itself
Peak: number 97
Three-and-a-half years after they first made the top 100, the British industrial band paid another brief visit to our chart with the song that would also give them their final UK hit before they broke up in 1996.

Number 95 "Omaha" by Counting Crows
Peak: number 85
"Round Here" hadn't delivered Counting Crows another hit here, so their Australian record company deviated from overseas singles and instead went with this track, seemingly only released locally. Didn't make much difference.

Number 94 "Sabotage / Get It Together" by Beastie Boys
Peak: number 94
Australia followed Europe's lead and released the first two singles from Ill Communication as a double A-side, but that didn't really help its performance. The Spike Jonze-directed, '70s crime show-referencing video for "Sabotage" was nominated for five MTV VMAs.

Number 80 "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star
Peak: number 72
Although it was never a big hit here or overseas - it scraped into the US and UK top 50s - this dreamy song stuck around in the ARIA top 100 until March and has gone on to become one of the most acclaimed songs of the decade.

Number 75 "(Don't Need) Mercy" by The Angels
Peak: number 75
Two years after their last career retrospective, the pub rock veterans released another, Evidence, which included some of their more recent hits and two new tracks, of which this was one.

Number 64 "You Got Me Rocking" by The Rolling Stones
Peak: number 64
Speaking of veterans, the rock 'n' roll legends lifted another single off their Voodoo Lounge album and even enlisted the Perfecto team for a dance remix.

New Entries
Number 34 "The Strangest Party (These Are The Times)" by INXS
Peak: number 34
The last couple of years hadn't been kind to INXS, so what better time - in the lead-up to Christmas - to remind people how great they had once been? The world-conquering band released their first ever best of, The Greatest Hits, and even tailor-made different tracklistings for different countries depending on what songs had done well there. In Australia, we got the biggest hits all the way back to "Just Keep Walking" - and this new tune, which for me was one of the best songs they released all decade. Unfortunately it didn't get any further up the chart, although perhaps people, like me, decided to buy the album, which debuted at number 2 in three weeks' time.

Number 33 "Sooner Or Later" by gf4
Peak: number 11
Like INXS (in pretty much only this way), Girlfriend hadn't had much joy on the ARIA chart for some time. Their two singles from second album It's Up To You were nowhere near as successful as the biggest songs from their debut. Robyn Loau, who'd done the lion's share of the lead vocals on the girl group's best known songs, obviously thought it was time to get out while the going was good, leaving her former band-mates to regroup and rebrand as gf4. Gone were the flower hats and perky smiles, replaced with sexy pouts and shirtless guys in the music video for this relaunch single. The song itself was also a million miles away from what had come before. A radical reworking of a 1971 US top 10 hit by The Grass Roots, "Sooner Or Later" had an on-trend galloping bassline, Eurodance synths, a rap in the middle and was really very good. Not surprisingly, it became their biggest hit since their chart-topping debut, "Take It From Me"
The good times didn't last, however. Another member, Jacqui Cowell, quit the band following "Sooner Or Later" and was replaced by future Bardot member Belinda Chapple for the follow-up single, "Need Love (To Make The Sex Right)", a remake of "I Need Love", a 1992 single for Olivia Newton-John. When that song peaked at number 101, it was essentially over for gf4 and their third album never saw the light of day - all of which was accomplished before Robyn released her debut solo single, which wouldn't end up happening until 1997.

Number 31 "Nothing But You" by Cold Chisel
Peak: number 16
The second single from Cold Chisel's vault-clearing release, Teenage Love, had an even shorter lifespan than "Hands Out Of My Pocket". "Nothing But You" shot up to its peak position in its second week on the chart and then fell back down, spending six weeks in the top 50. Clearly one for the diehards - something the album would prove to be when it had a similarly brief chart trajectory in a couple of weeks' time.

Number 24 "All Come Together" by Diesel
Peak: number 17
As the pre-Christmas market heated up, one of Australia's favourite male performers returned with a new album, Solid State Rhyme, in November and previewed it with this lead single. Classic Diesel, "All Come Together" blended blues and rock in a FM radio-friendly package, and so effectively captured that throwback vibe that it sounded to me like it must have been another cover like "I've Been Loving You Too Long". It wasn't. 

Number 16 "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow
Peak: number 1
There were some songs I loved in the summer of '94-'95. There were also two massive hits you couldn't escape that I loathed. We'll see the second next week, but this is the first one. The breakthrough hit for former backing singer Sheryl Crow, "All I Wanna Do" kick-started her own career a year after the release of her debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club. With lyrics based on a poem called "Fun" by Wyn Cooper and a sound that encapsulated the laidback Los Angeles lifestyle, the song was, in Sheryl's own words, "a throwaway - it wasn't even going to be on the album". 
As soon as I heard those opening seconds of the song, with that sound like a record being played at the wrong speed and Sheryl's spoken word intro, I would jump for the off switch. If I could. I had to endure the song at my local gym, which played 2Day FM - one of many stations that had "All I Wanna Do" on constant rotation - until I realised there was a tape player in the cardio room I could put my own cassettes into and drown out the sound of Sheryl going on about the sun coming up over Santa Monica Boulevard. As is so often the case, everyone else seemed to like the song a lot more than me, with it spending a week at number 1 and winning the Grammy Award for Record Of The Year.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: the other massive number 1 from the summer of '94-'95 I couldn't stand, plus a disco classic is covered by a Latin superstar.

Back to: Oct 23, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 6, 1994

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: October 23, 1994

Pop music and controversy have always gone hand in hand. From Elvis Presley's swivelling hips right up to Madonna's steamy fllm clips, the world had been shocked and/or titillated by musicians on a regular basis.

What could out-controversy Madonna? Nine Inch Nails' F-bomb would do it

This week in 1994, possibly the most controversial song to ever enter the singles chart up until that point burst into the top 50 - and it did so in a week when Madonna herself also returned with new music.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 23, 1994

At number 1 this week was "I'll Make Love To You" by Boyz II Men - a song with a title that might have been seen as racy decades earlier but was positively quaint in 1994.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Can't Help It" by The Truth
Peak: number 87
The third single by the funk/rock band from Melbourne became their only to venture into the top 100. Drummer Nicky Bomba would go on to be a member of the John Butler Trio.

Number 88 "No One" by 2 Unlimited
Peak: number 70
It had been over for 2 Unlimited in Australia for a while, and this reggae-infused second single from Real Things didn't help matters - even I didn't really like it.

Number 86 "Basket Case" by Green Day
Peak: number 85
They'd had a solid start to their career with debut single "Longview", but this follow-up, about singer Billie Joe Armstrong's anxiety, didn't give the pop/punk trio a second hit. That would come soon enough...

Number 69 "Fireworks" by Roxette
Peak: number 68
Like 2 Unlimited, Roxette had pretty much come to the end of their chart success in Australia, although I did prefer this third single from Crash! Boom! Bang! to its predecessor, the album's title track.

New Entries
Number 50 "Walkaway Lover" by Toni Pearen
Peak: number 35
One of Australian music's biggest mysteries is why the career of soap star-turned-pop star Toni Pearen went off the rails. After scoring back-to-back number 10 hits with 1992's "In Your Room" and "I Want You" from 1993, the former E Street actress released this third single after a gap of 18 months, by which point the country had moved on. In that time, Toni had started and ended a stint on another soap, Home And Away, playing Beth Armstrong between April and June in 1994 - surely it would have made sense to time a release to coincide with that? Much poppier than her previous two singles, "Walkaway Lover" had previously been released (as "Walk Away Lover") by British singer Sonia on her self-titled second album. Toni's debut album, Intimate, would finally surface in November, but thanks to the disappointing performance of "Walkaway Lover", it missed the top 50.

Number 49 "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name" by Harry Connick Jr
Peak: number 15
Three years after Harry Connick Jr's first, timid entry onto the Australian singles top 100, the jazz singer landed his first hit with this single from funk-influenced album She. The success of "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name", which Harry co-wrote, spurred She on to new chart heights as well. Having debuted on the albums chart in late August, it reached its number 3 peak the week after this. Although Harry continued to register hit albums until 2009, this was his only major singles chart success.

Number 47 "Yesterday, When I Was Mad" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 13
The peaks of Pet Shop Boys' singles from Very had gone 17, 10, 34 and 63, which made this sudden resurgence of fifth release "Yesterday, When I Was Mad" a little unexpected. But a few factors worked in the song's favour. Firstly, the duo had just landed their biggest ever hit in Australia under the alias Absolutely Fabulous. Secondly, they began their first ever tour of the country on November 1 - a show which I enjoyed right at the front of the general admission section at Sydney's Entertainment Centre. Thirdly, the track had been remixed from its album version by Jam & Spoon. And fourthly, while there were other songs from Very that I would have preferred to see released ("One In A Million" and "A Different Point Of View", for example), the lyrics of "Yesterday, When I Was Mad" were Pet Shop Boys at their wittiest and most self aware, notably the line about them making "such a little go a very long way".

Number 46 "Eighteen Strings" by Tinman
Peak: number 16
In 1991, Pet Shop Boys had committed what was considered by some as musical sacrilege when they turned U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" into a disco stomper. Taking a leaf out of their book was British producer Paul Dakeyne, who took the riff from Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (although he recreated it rather than sampled it) and used it as the basis for this dance track, which had been originally promoed in 1993. Given a proper commercial release in 1994, "Eighteen Strings" made the UK top 10 and peaked not far below the Australian one.

Number 45 "Compliments On Your Kiss" by Red Dragon featuring Brian & Tony Gold
Peak: number 18
Just when it appeared like the reggae wave of 1993 had well and truly abated, this collaboration between Jamaican DJ Leroy May (aka Red Dragon) and singers Brian Thompson and Patrick Morrison (Tony comes from his middle name Anthony) hit the ARIA top 20 following its UK number 2 peak. Not brothers - Gold is a stage name - Brian and Tony would return to the chart eight years later as guest artists on Shaggy's "Hey Sexy Lady".

Number 44 "I Miss You" by Haddaway
Peak: number 44
Haddaway's record company had skipped over this ballad for "Rock Your Heart", presumably thinking something more along the lines of "What Is Love" and "Life" would perform better in Australia. Funnily enough, "Rock My Heart" had missed the top 50, while the more emotional "I Miss You" peaked just inside when it was finally released as the German-based singer's fourth single.

Number 13 "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails
Peak: number 3
I wonder if Nine Inch Nails' runaway hit would have been as big had it not featured the line "I want to fuck you like an animal". The explicit lyric, which had the F-word muted out for radio play, certainly gained the second single from The Downward Spiral a lot of attention. As did its once seen, never forgotten music video. But even without those elements, I'd suggest "Closer" would have been successful. With its throbbing beat and climactic chorus, it's the type of song that turns a cult act into a mainstream sensation - albeit briefly, as it would turn out. Far and away the biggest hit of Nine Inch Nails career, "Closer" only spent nine weeks on the top 50, although its rapid drop down the chart suggests the single was deleted at the peak of its popularity to drive album sales. Given its lyrical content, the song is superficially assumed to be about sexual desire, but it's more complicated than that.

Number 5 "Secret" by Madonna
Peak: number 5
As Nine Inch Nails pushed the envelope, an artist known for doing just that actually toned things down as she returned to the chart with the first taste of her sixth album, Bedtime Stories. Reinventing herself once again, Madonna traded in the sexual overtones of Erotica and her usual dance-pop sound for an acoustic-flavoured blend of pop and R&B. Co-written and co-produced by Dallas Austin, "Secret" was what Madonna had always done best - a great song with a killer hook, and it duly became her 16th top 5 hit in Australia. 

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: one of the biggest - and, for me, most annoying - songs of summer '94-'95. Plus, a girl group returns minus a member.

Back to: Oct 16, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 30, 1994

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: October 16, 1994

In the UK, their chart competition was much more hotly contested, but in Australia, the battle of British boys bands East 17 and Take That had decidedly been won by the former, who had a number 1 to their name, as well as four other top 10 singles. Take That, meanwhile, had reached number 10 with "Pray" and placed two other songs in the 30s.

Both singles were top 10 hits in the UK - how did they fare in Australia?

This week in 1994, the boy bands went to head to head, with new singles by both making their debut on the ARIA top 50 in the same week. While neither song would be among their biggest hits, the performance of each said a lot about Australia's pop preferences.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 16, 1994

Speaking of preferences, the nation decided to give Boyz II Men a turn at number 1, with "I'll Make Love To You" dethroning "Confide In Me" to spend its first week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 82 "Hey Now (Girls Just Want To Have Fun)" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 62
A decade earlier, the original version had started Cyndi Lauper's chart career with a number 1 smash. This reggae-fied update released to promote best of Twelve Deadly Cyns... And Then Some didn't come close to repeating that.

Number 74 "Rollercoaster" by The Grid
Peak: number 59
While "Swamp Thing" held firm at number 6, this less irritating follow-up joined it on the chart, but clearly the lack of a banjo removed the novelty factor - and therefore the attention it received.

Number 70 "My Everything" by Jennifer Brown
Peak: number 51
Hoping to join the ranks of Mariah, Celine and Toni, this ballad belter from Sweden fell just short of landing a hit with this single from her album Giving You The Best

New Entries
Number 41 "Standing Strong" by Wendy Matthews
Peak: number 37
Before we get to the boy bands, the week's other new entry was a song you'd think would've done much better. The lead single from Wendy Matthews' third solo album, The Witness Tree, "Standing Strong" was an uplifting, gospel-tinged tune that was more rousing than most of what she'd released before. Maybe that was the problem - it was certainly a very different style to "The Day You Went Away", but it's a shame this pretty much signalled the end of Wendy's chart career in Australia.

Number 38 "Love Ain't Here Anymore" by Take That
Peak: number 38
Up until now, Take That's success in Australia, such as it was, had come from two uptempo cover versions and a re-release of mid-tempo song "Pray", which took them into the top 10 in the wake of a promotional visit to our shores. But in the UK, they'd enjoyed quite a bit of success with ballads like "A Million Love Songs", "Why Can't I Wake Up With You" and British chart-topper "Babe", none of which even got a single release locally. In fact, as it would turn out, writing ballads was kind of Gary Barlow's forte, and "Love Ain't Here Anymore" was Take That's epic weepie from the Everything Changes album. 
But perhaps the boy band's Australian record company had been wise to ease off on the ballads, since "Love Ain't Here Anymore" dropped out of the top 50 after arriving with a splash here at number 38. It would poke its head into the top 50 for one more week, but it was hardly what you'd call a major hit. Still, it out-performed previous single "Everything Changes", which hadn't even breached the top 50. For me, the song isn't one of my favourite Take That tunes, especially the pained falsetto at the dramatic climax, but the group would perfect the art of the ballad in 1995.

Number 19 "Steam" by East 17
Peak: number 18
Unlike Take That, East 17 had been embraced with open arms by Australian fans from the outset and, with the notable exception of "Gold", which missed the top 100, everything they had released here had reached the top 10. Although it looked like the quartet were set to maintain their strike rate with this title track from their second album, "Steam" only progressed one more spot up the chart, hovering between 18 and 20 for the first five weeks of its chart run. Fair enough - like "Love Ain't Here Anymore", it wasn't one of their best songs. Still, the sexy swagger of "Steam" was much more in line with Australia's boy band tastes which, Boyz II Men excepted, had tended to skew more towards party jams and new jack swing tracks than power ballads. Naturally, East 17's next single, which would restore them to the top 10, would be one of the year's most epic pop ballads...

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: the return of one of music's most controversial performers with a song that wasn't actually the most shocking new hit of the week. Plus, a dance track that sampled the quintessential grunge song.

Back to: Oct 9, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 23, 1994

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: October 9, 1994

In the last few weeks, we've seen six of 1994's top 30 biggest singles debut on the ARIA top 50. So we're about due for a week where not much of note entered the chart. 

That week is this week. Even so, we still have 11 songs - seven from outside the top 50, four from inside - to talk about.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 9, 1994

Remaining at number 1 this week in 1994, Kylie Minogue held down the top spot for a fourth week with "Confide In Me".

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Back And Forth" by Aaliyah
Peak: number 100
Released when she was 15, this debut single from the late R&B singer, written and produced by her illegal husband, R. Kelly, gave her a top 5 hit in the US. She'd have to wait six years to reach the ARIA top 10.

Number 99 "Get Down And Boogie (Megamix)" by KC & The Sunshine Band
Peak: number 98
This megamix of the disco band's songs seems to have only been released in Australia, with former Flotsam Jetsam members Stephen and Nick Ferris behind the decks.

Number 98 "House Of Love" by Vika & Linda
Peak: number 98
Not a cover of the East 17 hit - although how amazing would that have been? - this second single from the Bull sisters' self-titled album was written by Paul Kelly.

Number 97 "Ghetto Day / What I Need" by Crystal Waters
Peak: number 94
While "What I Need" was the type of club track we'd come to expect from the woman behind "100% Pure Love", "Ghetto Day" was a laidback sample-based soul groove.

Number 94 "Workin' On It" by Nathan Cavaleri Band featuring Andrew Strong
Peak: number 55
Still only 12, the guitar prodigy and leukaemia survivor assembled a band of gun musicians, including the former singer of The Commitments, for his second album. This was its lead single.

Number 93 "5 Minutes Alone" by Pantera
Peak: number 76
The title came from a comment made by the parent of a concertgoer who was beaten up at one of the metal band's shows. The song didn't follow "I'm Broken" into the top 50.

Number 75 "Fire On Babylon" by SinĂ©ad O'Connor
Peak: number 57
The first single from fourth album Universal Mother, "Thank You For Hearing Me", had missed the top 100, but this track, co-produced by Bomb The Bass' Tim Simenon, performed better.

New Entries
Number 50 Post Moronic by Def FX
Peak: number 43
After four singles that had peaked outside the top 50, the Australian band fronted by multi-tasker Fiona Horne, whose list of skills and professions includes pilot, yoga instructor and witch, finally cracked the top 50 with this EP featuring the Beach Boys-sampling "Mask" and "Masses Like Asses", which made the Triple J Hottest 100.

Number 49 "Ain't Nobody (Loves Me Better)" by KWS and Gwen Dickey
Peak: number 43
As Jaki Graham's version of the Rufus and Chaka Khan song moved into the top 20, it was joined on the top 50 by this rival rendition by the British group who'd already found themselves in a face-off over a remake once before. But while KWS's take on "Please Don't Go" had proved to be the more successful cover back in 1992, they weren't so lucky with their, it has to be said, inferior recording of "Ain't Nobody", which featured Rose Royce singer Gwen Dickey on vocals.

Number 41 "Voodoo People" by The Prodigy
Peak: number 24
Slowly but surely, Australia was starting to wake up to The Prodigy, with this third single from second album Music For The Jilted Generation becoming the dance act's biggest hit to date locally. Funnily enough, in the UK, "Voodoo People" achieved their lowest peak up until this point: number 13, possibly because the album had come out back in July. Or possibly because the song, which sampled the likes of Nirvana, Led Zeppelin and The Last Poets, wasn't quite as good as tracks like "No Good (Start The Dance)" and "Out Of Space".

Number 30 "Goodnight Girl '94" by Wet Wet Wet
Peak: number 26
In Australia, they had only reached the top 20 on one occasion before soundtrack behemoth "Love Is All Around" took them all the way to number 1, but in the UK, Wet Wet Wet had reached that section of the chart 11 times before their Four Weddings And A Funeral smash. To capitalise on their new-found success locally, and to help push the finally successful singles collection, End Of Part One - Their Greatest Hits (which was at number 3 this week), one of their previous British chart-toppers, "Goodnight Girl", was given a mild remix. Having peaked at number 21 originally, the chart peak of "Goodnight Girl '94" wasn't as successful as it was possibly hoped it would be, and even if this new version wasn't quite as good as the original, it was nice for the song to be given a chance to reach a wider audience.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: battle of the British boy bands as new singles by East 17 and Take That debut on the top 50.

Back to: Oct 2, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 16, 1994

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: October 2, 1994

Sometimes the changing of the guard in the Australian music industry happens subtly. And sometimes there are weeks like this one in 1994 when a brand new band from Newcastle rocketed into the ARIA singles chart while two veterans' top 50 careers came to an end.

In 1994, three teenagers from Newcastle took on the world

The ascendant band not only achieved massive chart success with their debut single, but they also became the most successful attempt to translate America's grunge sound to the local scene, being rewarded with a number 1 single for their effort.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending October 2, 1994

Another Australian act was at number 1 this week in 1994. Kylie Minogue stayed on top for a third week with "Confide In Me"

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Beercan" by Beck
Peak: number 98
The immediate follow-up to "Loser", "Pay No Mind (Snoozer)", had missed the top 100 and this next single from the man destined to be a one-hit wonder in Australia did little better.

Number 92 "Everybody Gonfi Gon" by 2 Cowboys
Peak: number 76
Blame "Swamp Thing". Following The Grid's ukelele-based dance smash, this fiddle-featuring UK top 10 hit by the Italian Eurodance duo was another affront to good taste. 

Number 91 "Born Dead" by Body Count
Peak: number 52
The third top 100 entry for the metal band led by rapper Ice-T was the title track of their second album and saw them edge ever closer to the top 50.

Number 86 "More Than A Game" by Chris Doheny
Peak: number 54
The former singer for should've-been-bigger 1980s band Geisha - who was at this point fronting a band called Dragonfly - provided vocals for this song used as the theme for the AFL version of The Footy Show.  

New Entries
Number 46 "Lay Your Love On Me" by Roachford
Peak: number 26
"Only To Be With You" had finally brought British soul/rock band Roachford into the top 50 and follow-up "Lay Your Love On Me" repeated the achievement, albeit with a slightly lower chart peak. Another song tailor-made for FM radio, "Lay Your Love On Me" gave Permanent Shade Of Blue a slight bump, but it wouldn't be until February 1995 that the album really took off in the lead-up to Roachford's May 1995 tour. 

Number 45 "Fantastic Voyage" by Coolio
Peak: number 37
The rapper born Artis Ivey Jr had been plugging away since the mid-'80s, but everything changed for him when he signed with Tommy Boy Records, the home of De La Soul, Naughty By Nature and House Of Pain. Like those other acts, Coolio soon found himself with a hit on his hands with this party jam that sampled (and tooks its name from) the1981 funk track by Lakeside. A number 3 hit in the US, "Fantastic Voyage" had a more modest reception locally. But significantly bigger things were just a year away.

Number 43 "Red Light Avenue" by James Reyne
Peak: number 32
Three years after his last studio album (and two after a best of collection), James Reyne returned with fourth album The Whiff Of Bedlam, which saw him signed to a new label, rooArt. This understated lead single is one that completely passed me by at the time - I have no recollection of it whatsoever. "Red Light Avenue" would also be James's final top 50 entry in a chart career dating all the way back to Australian Crawl's first hit, "Beautiful People", in 1979 - although his vocals were heard on Smash 'n' Grab's 2005 single "She Don't Like That", which sampled "Reckless"

Number 42 "No Matter What You Do" by Olivia Newton-John
Peak: number 35
Another single by a veteran Australian performer that I had completely forgotten about is this first single from Gaia: One Woman's Journey, which was Olivia Newton-John's first pop studio album since 1988's The Rumour. It was also her first release since being diagnosed with breast cancer two years earlier. Like all songs on the album, "No Matter What You Do" was written and co-produced by ONJ, and, harking back to her earliest hits, had a bit of a country twang to it. I do remember there being quite a bit of attention given to this single and the album, which became her first top 10 studio album since 1981's Physical, but "No Matter What You Do" ended up as only a minor hit. Like "Red Light Avenue", it would also be Olivia's final top 50 hit, except for a remix EP of songs from Grease in 1998.

Number 26 "Tomorrow" by silverchair
Peak: number 1
As two Australian performers with years of hits behind them took their last bows on the ARIA top 50, this week also saw the arrival of a band who would go on to be one of this country's most successful and musically innovative in the years to come. Just teenagers when they burst onto the scene thanks to taking out Pick Me, a band competition run by Triple J and an SBS music show called Nomad, "Tomorrow" was recorded as part of their prize package. Also included: the original music video. As well as reaching number 1 locally, silverchair's take on grunge was also successful in America - a case of selling ice to eskimoes if ever there was one. A new music video was shot for the US market and "Tomorrow" performed well on Billboard's rock charts, with their eventual debut album, Frogstomp, reaching the US top 10. And just like that, Australia had a new international music sensation on our hands.

Number 16 "Always" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 2
The fourth quarter of the year used to mean one thing in the music industry: big new albums and best of collections being released just in time for Christmas. And I would eagerly look forward to discovering which acts were doing to be putting out a greatest hits album. Since my music library wasn't as extensive as it is now, it was a great (and economical) way to own the singles I liked by artists I'd never buy a full studio album by. Artists like Bon Jovi. I'd been a fan of "You Give Love A Bad Name", "Livin' On A Prayer", "Bad Medicine", "Keep The Faith" and a few more of their songs - usually the uptempo ones rather than the power ballads - and so the band's compilation Cross Road was one I added to my collection. 
That said, I wasn't really a fan of "Always", one of the two obligatory new tracks included on the album (although I may be the only one who didn't like it). The epic power ballad had originally been intended for the film Romeo Is Bleeding, thus the opening lyrics, but when singer and "Always" songwriter Jon Bon Jovi was shown the movie, he opted not to allow the song to be used. Probably a wise choice, since the film starring Gary Oldman was a flop. Not so the single, which became Bon Jovi's biggest hit in Australia, denied the number 1 spot for six of its seven weeks spent at number 2 by those pesky 15-year-olds from silverchair.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: the rival version of a current chart hit edges into the top 50, while a new version of a three-year-old song makes a splash.

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