Hello again friends! Welcome to my music blog for the month of June. This time around we’re looking at the music gems that hit the top 20 in the UK from September 1993. This was very much the year when the anti-fashion of grunge was starting to gain momentum in the USA. It was also the time in our charts when euro-beat style dance was starting to take a backseat and indie music with emphasis on live bands was starting to come to the forefront. 1993 saw kids clambering for Mighty Morphing Power Rangers and adults focussing for hours on pictures made up of wavy lines, eventually exclaiming “I can se it!!!… It’s a Dolphin”. Ah, the joys of ‘Magic Eye’ pictures. Welcome to the post summer charts of 1993.
Worlds Apart – Everlasting Love – Highest position #20 UK Charts
There’s money in remaking old classics, and these boys had it down to an art. All of their major hits were someone else’s! Originating from the UK, these guys emerged on to our chart scene in 1992 and are still going strong today (in France) with a change to the original members, including ‘Totally Scott-Lee’s – Nathan Moore. Everlasting Love was the first time they broke in to the UK top 20, their only other time would be one year later when they score a number 15 hit with yet another cover ‘Could It Be I’m Falling In Love’. Im currently waiting for one of the band members to be featured on Buzzcocks in the ‘line-up’. The group enjoyed a triple-platinum #1 Album in France but were never to hit our charts again after 1994.
James – Sometimes – Highest position #18 UK Charts
Manchester based ‘English Rock Band’ hit our charts at #18! I never really saw James as a rock or indie band, for me, they were always a bit ‘folky’ and that’s alright. They had their own sound and distinctive vocals provided by on and off member Tim Booth. The core of the band were Paul Gilbertson and Jim Glennie. The band have a VERY storied past, too big for this chart blog, but I look forward to writing more about this fantastic group of people in the near future. James were a key component in the late 80’s of The Hacienda and were signed by Factory Records being proclaimed as Manchester’s next big thing. The band actually broke up before much of their material charted, meaning that fans were starved of live performances. ‘Sometimes’ didn’t become an anthem like their other hits ‘Shes a Star’ ‘Laid’ and ‘Sit Down’… However, ‘Sometimes’ did reach a higher chart position than ‘Laid’ and remains one of the band’s hidden gems for fans and music aficionados.
Kenny Thomas – Trippin’ On Your Love – Highest position #17 UK Charts
Make way for the London born BT technician/come soul singer! Cast your mind back to 1991 (if you were alive) where you witnessed silky smooth vocals on Kenny’s debut track ‘Outstanding’ that was another cover (nicked from The Gap Band) after that, he slid in to #4 in our charts with ‘Thinking about your love’. These two hits set Kenny up for two BRIT Award nominations for Best British Male Vocalist and Best British Newcomer. BTW, the winners of those BRITS were Beverley Craven (British Newcomer) < Waste of an award, I’d have probably awarded it to EMF. The other winner was Seal (British Male Vocalist) who was also up against George Michael, Elton John, Van Morrison, Phil Collins and our boy Kenny. Let’s face it, he didn’t stand a snowball in hell’s chance. IMO, Kenny is just one of those ‘Coming to a Butlins near you’ acts. His career was attempted to be revived as he featured in 2006’s ‘Hit Me Baby, One More Time’ TV show where he crashed out to Shakin’ Stevens!! When ever I see Kenny Thomas, I get that creepy Steve Brookstein (remember him?) ‘white guy making a hash of soul music’ feeling. It really doesn’t work for him. Kenny had great vocals but didn’t find his niche. Sack the producers I say!
Carter USM – Lean On Me I Won’t Fall Over – Highest position #16 UK Charts
Known lovingly as Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine (fantastic band name!), this group were formed in 1988 by Jim Morrison (no, not him, obviously) and Les Carter. The music was a total fusion of beats, digital over-lays, tongue in cheek lyrics and good old rock n’ roll, but sat firmly in the ‘indie’ category. Carter USM found fame with the release of the single ‘Sherriff Fatman’ and the album 101 Damnations which was a musical pun-fest and hit the top of the indie charts. ‘Lean on me I won’t fall over’ was taken from the album Post Historic Monsters which was Carter’s 4th album gracing the charts. Note the video as it highlights another Carter USM trait that was born in London’s Astoria when Jim and Les were the only band members to turn up… They played as a duo with backing tracks. This feature stuck and made them stand out as a live band!
Paul Young – Now I Know What Made Otis Blue – Highest position #14 UK Charts
Whenever I see the name Paul Young, I sigh and think “oh dear God, not him again”. You’ve guessed it, I’m not a fan at all. BUT, I recognise his contribution to British and international music. I played back the Video of ‘What Made Otis Blue’ and quickly realised it was probably Paul Young, so I made a last minute video substitution and found that a puppet miming to this song was far more entertaining than the man himself. I’ve covered Luton born, Paul Young a few times before. Unfortunately for Paul, this one was one of his more forgettable tracks, but if you were knocking about in the 90’s you WILL remember the chorus of the song, which is actually testament to his musical ability. This track hit the lows of many charts as his popularity started to diminish and his closest success was in France where this song hit number #16 in their charts. What is it with the French and terrible music?? ;)
Paul Weller – Wild Wood – Highest position #14 UK Charts
Paul Weller – The Modfather!! He’s reached the same chart position as Paul Young, but I think you’ll agree that Weller is in a league of his own when it comes to musical contribution. His music, while with The Jam shaped a generation of anti-establishment Brits looking for a release. They found it in his music. Another man that I could easily write an entire blog on, but I’ll try to get back on point and save that for another time. Weller had been a part of The Jam and The Style Council which was a total contradiction to his work with The Jam. In 1990 he branched out on his own to make his mark as a solo singer/songwriter but had no recording deal. He toured with his ‘Paul Weller Movement’ playing Jam, Style Council classics while including his own song-writing efforts in to the set. Pauls influences started to change and some of his songs had a clear soul and funk vibe to them. In 1992, he managed to produce his very first solo LP and finally got the pay-off he was looking for in 1993 as he returned to the studio with Steve White, Steve Cradock and Damon Minchella to produce the Mercury Music Prize nominated – Wild Wood. The album of the same name hit #2 in the UK Album Charts and went platinum here in the UK too. This album was also voted by Q Magazine (in at #77) in The Top 100 British Albums Of All Time. Not bad for a bloke from Woking.
Stakka Bo – Here We Go – Highest position #13 UK Charts
Guilty Pleasure or Hidden Gem? I’d say the latter for this track. Stakka Bo is the AKA for Swedish born Johan Renck who didn’t make his name in the music industry by being a recording artist. Recording music was Johan’s ‘bit on the side’ as he is a very well known music video director who has worked with the likes of Beyonce, Robbie Williams, Madonna and Kylie Minogue to name but a few. He also has TV directing credits under his belt and collaborated as director of the highly acclaimed TV series ‘The Walking Dead’. ‘Here We Go’ was taken from his short 1993 album ‘Supermarket’ which he clearly put together to release his creative energies and test the water of the music industry. It’s a great track that everyone who was around during this era will instantly recognise. Take note of his ‘East-17’ look and freaky Bez style backing dancer. Awesome!
New Order- World (The Price Of Love) – Highest position #13 UK Charts
You all probably know the story, New Order was formed in the early 80’s after the death of The Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. It’s remaining members stayed together and formed another iconic group of an era known as New Order. The single ‘World’ was pretty low on their list of hits and achievements. It’s probably only really acknowledged by ‘hardcore’ fans of the group and actually was one of the main songs from the group’s 1993 album ‘Republic’. Interestingly enough, the music video only shows brief glimpses of the band members - Peter Hook sits at a table on the seafront, Bernard Sumner stands overlooking the sea, and Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert pose for a photograph outside the hotel. This will be the last we see of the band together in a music video until 2005!
Belinda Carlisle – Big Scary Animal – Highest position #12 UK Charts
She’s a red headed siren is what she is! One of pop music’s original bad girls and lead singer of the infamous Go-Go’s (look them up kids), Belinda Carlisle hit’s #12 in the charts with the little known ‘Big Scary Animal’… Is 1993 shaping up to be the year of hidden musical gems or what?! Bit of history first on the Go-Go’s as the were considered by many to be the most successful all female rock group of all time. They we ultra talented and also played all their own instruments (get your mind out of the gutter!). She really broke in to the UK charts in the late 80’s with world-wide success single ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’ and managed a number of other huge hits in the early 90’s… ‘Big Scary Animal’ taken from the album ‘Real’ wasn’t really one of those hits. The song tells a tale of people’s hesitation to fall in love, because “Love is, a big scary animal”… In fact, I’m not going to try and big this track up too much, it’s only redeeming feature is Belinda Carlisle. I’d also go as far as to say, if this were a newcomer to the music industry, this song probably wouldn’t have charted. It’s rubbish. (But I still love you Belinda!)
Kate Bush – Rubberband Girl – Highest position #12 UK Charts
A fact-loaded chart entry! Some of these facts you’ll probably know, but if you take part in music quizzes, some of these are sure to crop up! Kate Bush is the Marmite of British female vocalists, you either love or hate her. One thing is for sure, she has one of the most unique vocal styles of ANY female vocalist in history. In fact, her vocal and musical style has been described in many fields as eclectic and idiosyncratic (look it up Poindexter). In 1978 Kate Bush became the very first female in UK music history to have a #1 single with a self written debut song, that single in question was ‘Wuthering Heights’. In the following year she took part in her only concert tour and became the most photographed woman in Britain. Many of her songs were piano based as she says her style was heavily influenced by Elton John and the writing of Bernie Taupin. Bush’s mainstream days of the mid 80’s were behind her but still managed to release the very solid ‘Red Shoes’ album in 1993 which featured ‘Rubberband Girl’ got to #2 in the UK album charts. This album also featured songs ‘Moments of Pleasure’ and title track ‘Red Shoes’. This album showed the world that there was still a place for eclectic music. Also featured on this album were musical contributions by the likes of Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Nigel Kennedy! Kate Bush also played piano, despite not being able to actually read music. The song may not have charted highly, but the album was a collaborative musical masterpiece. It really is worth a listen if you fancy something a little more left-field.
Wonderstuff – On The Ropes – Highest position #10 UK Charts
West Midlands (UK) represent!!! Again, another band that was pigeon-holed as being a rock band and yet again, I’d say they were an indie/folk band. This band was made up of members from the band ‘Pop Will Eat Its Self’ and fronted by Miles Hunt who’s uncle Bill played keyboard for Wizzard! (nice little fact for you). I don’t really think this band got the true recognition that they really deserved and I’ll always feel that even though they had the fantastic hit ‘Size of A Cow’… still played and enjoyed to this day by the way! They will always be remembered as a comedy footnote as they had a #1 hit in 1991 with Vic Reeves when they re produced the Tommy Roe track ‘Dizzy’. I’m sure it was well received at the time and raised the band’s profile. But from then on, whenever the Wonderstuff was mentioned, people would instantly think of Vic Reeves. ‘On The Ropes’ was a part of the album ‘Construction For The Modern Idiot’ which was released and dedicated to the band’s original bass player Rob ‘The Bass Thing’ Jones who died in New York shortly after leaving the band. The writing appeared o be on the wall as the band split in 1994, cancelling a tour with no public announcement or explanation.
Roxette – It Must Have Been Love (re-issue) – Highest position #10 UK Charts
I’ve written about my crazy crush for Swedish, Roxette lead singer Marie Fredriksson so I’ll try to spare you all the sordid details once again. This single had no less that three releases and was originally sent out in 1987 where it was titled ‘It Must Have Been Love’ (Christmas for the broken hearted) it didn’t chart in the UK or mostly anywhere. It actually wasn’t charted until it featured as the title track for the huge 1990 movie Pretty Woman. From the back of that, Roxette earned a #1 in the USA, Australia, Switzerland and Norway… They managed #3 in the UK (we have impeccable music standards you see… lol). Interestingly enough, the 1987 version has a verse referencing Christmas, for the 1990 version, that was taken out with an orchestral over-lay standing in it’s place. This song was entered again in to the UK chart (this time by it’s own merit) and hit the #10 spot, well, it’s never as good the second time around is it? ‘It Must Have Been Love’ didn’t feature on a Roxette album until the 1997 ‘Pearls of Passion’ came along. From the success of the Pretty Woman soundtrack, this song is still one of Roxette’s biggest hits ever, rivalling ‘The Look’ and Joyride’. Behold!! The power of the movie soundtrack!! (We’ll forget about the Super Mario Brothers Movie… for now)
Depeche Mode – Condemnation – Highest position #9 UK Chart
Everything got a bit strange in the 90’s with Depeche Mode. I feel they were making their best music ever in the early to mid 90’s but couldn’t help but feel loathing for messiah wannabe (and lead singer) Dave Gahan… The original line-up dates back to 1980 and featured the keyboard wizardry of synth-lord (see what I did there) Vince Clarke who also left in the early 80’s to be a part of Yazoo and then Erasure. Alan Wilder was Clarke’s replacement and the band marched on. In the late 80’s & early 90’s DM were getting more recognition (which seems to be the word of the day) on the other side of the pond with our friends in the USA. Gahan was starting to become influenced by bands in the US grunge scene like Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction and Audio Slave. With this new found influence, the band went on to release ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’ which featured distorted grunge style guitars but also a gospel choir!! The album debuted at #1 in both the UK and USA making them the 6thBritish act to achieve such a distinction to date. The first single from the album was the grunge-influenced ‘I Feel You’ (feel free to shimmy and clap your hands). The gospel influences are most noticeable on the album’s third single and track in question, ‘Condemnation’. Love them or hate them, they are one of the most globally successful British musical exports of all time.
2 Unlimited – Faces – Highest position #8 UK Charts
“Techno, Techno, Techno, Techno!”… This is why I love the UK charts! It’s an unpredictable beast where legendary singer/songwriters like Paul Weller can go up against trashy euro-pop and be kicked to the gutter. We all helped shape these charts and I often think that the UK in the 90’s was a fun place to be. The chart actually reflects that nothing was taken too seriously. Here, we see the return of our favourite Dutch keyboard wielding duo 2-Unlimited! Ray and Anita had already tasted chart success with ‘Get Ready For This’ (#2 in the charts) and after being licensed to Pete Waterman’s ‘PWL Continental’ label they were ready for an all out assault on the UK charts in a big way. In 1993 they had their most successful hit of all time with the repetitive and highly annoying ‘No Limits’ that reached #1 in eight different countries! ‘Faces’ was a part of the ‘No Limits’ album and earned a #1 in Spain no less J Faces isn’t one of the group’s heavy hitters as a song, but we’ll always remember 2-Unlimited as purveyors of awful euro-pop and legends of the ‘guilty pleasure’
Radiohead – Creep – Highest position #7 UK Charts
The posh school boys hailing from Oxfordshire that made up the members of Radiohead had been knocking around since 1985 but really had no fame and fortune until 1993. Creep was originally released in 1992 and made zero impact on our charts. It wasn’t until the release of their debut album ‘Pablo Honey’ where the public decided to actually sit up and take notice. Pablo Honey (like it’s lead singer Thom Yorke) had a very distinctive sound but still managed to fit in with the grunge sound of that current time. Often, when listening to early Radiohead, I always felt that they had a deconstructed, basic and very rough sound. Pair that with Yorke’s vocal talents and you’ve got a winning formula. Creep remains to this day one of (if not - THE) bands most mainstream hits. It truly is a timeless track and can still do the business today! When ‘Creep’ debuted in the USA, many music moguls touted Radiohead as being the British Nirvana. The follow up album was ‘The Bends’ but they didn’t really receive critical acclaim until the release of OK Computer in 1997. Radiohead purists will still state that ‘Pablo Honey’ and ‘The Bends’ were the finest releases from the band to date.
Haddaway – Life – Highest position #6 UK Charts
It’s another musical curve ball and a song you won’t probably know by name… Give it a listen and you’ll be transported back to your 90’s youth, singing along in no time at all! Born in Trinidad, a young Haddaway spent his early years in boarding school before moving to the USA with his mother. It was while he was in university that he discovered a love and talent for music. He became part of a covers band called ‘Chance’. In 1989, he moved to Germany and started working as a dance choreographer, carpet salesman and American Football player in the German League… Oh, he also made music in his spare time. After a while of dabbling in music, he was signed by German record label ‘Coconut Records’ where he released global hit ‘What Is Love’. ‘Life’ was the follow up hit in several countries, particularly in Sweden and Spain where it reached number 1. The song is featured prominently at Unleash the Power Within and other live life coaching events hosted by Tony Robbins worldwide, as a main augmenting component of the neuro-linguistic programming deployed at the events… Spooky!
Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box – Highest position #5 UK Charts
Looking back, Nirvana deserved much more credit from the British music loving public. They truly were one of the greatest bands of all time and quite possibly THE grunge band!… Though they credit The Pixies with that honour. The video above was from MTV’s Live & Loud and has been hailed as one of the band’s finest concerts ever. Heart Shaped Box was the only track from the album to have international airplay. Apparently, the song was put together when he and his wife moved house in to The Hollywood Hills. In a 1994 Rolling Stone interview, Love said she overheard him working on the song’s riff in a closet. She said she asked him if she could use the riff for one of her songs, to which he replied, “Fuck off!” and closed the closet door. “He was trying to be so sneaky”, said Love. Nirvana had difficulty completing the song. Cobain attempted to have the rest of the band complete the song during jam sessions. He said, “During those practices, I was trying to wait for Krist and Dave to come up with something but it just turned into noise all the time.” One day Cobain made one last attempt at completing the song. Cobain was able to come up with a vocal melody and the band finally finished writing the song. Cobain said that when they completed “Heart-Shaped Box”, “We finally realized that it was a good song.” This is one of those songs that should have done so much more in the UK… The legacy of Nirvana and the In Utero album lives on.
Chaka Demus & Pliers – She Don’t Let Nobody – Highest position #4 UK Charts
Little known in the UK, this Jamaican duo were popular musicians in their own right in their own country. When they went international with their first hit ‘Tease Me’, they became the very first Jamaican act to have 3 consecutive top 5 hits on the UK singles chart… That is, until Shaggy came along! ‘She Don’t Let Nobody’ was sandwiched in between ‘Tease Me’ and their only #1 ‘Twist & Shout’ featuring Jack Radics & Taxi Gang. This dancehall style would make an even bigger impression on the UK chart as the 90’s rolled on. The UK has a huge reggae/dance hall following and artists like this certainly filled that gap in the market and made a lot of money at the time.
M People – Moving On Up – Highest position #2 UK Charts
We covered M People’s formation in the previous blog on 1995 so I’ll make this short and sweet so that I don’t cover old ground. ‘Moving On Up’ was the band’s strongest ever one week sale to date where they shifted more than 118,000 units in that 7 day period. Today, that effort would have bagged them a #1 hit with no problem. That statistic alone shows you how tough the music industry used to be. Moving On Up was also M People’s biggest global hit but still only reached #2 in the UK charts. This track was one of the contributing factors that won the ‘Elegant Slumming’ album the Mercury Music Award in 1994, yet another masterstroke from Paul Hardcastle and Heather Small!
Pet Shop Boys – Go West – Highest position #2
Sharing the #2 spot in this month were The Pet Shop Boys (another band, I’ve covered greatly in previous blogs). This is another example that shows off the British chart’s diverse range and mass appeal. Many look at this as a novelty song, but I see this one as a ‘campy’ play on their huge draw in the gay scene. TPSB’s had international fame in the 80’s as they produced anthems that helped form that decade. But in the 90’s it’s as if they publically admit (without actually saying it) that they are now producing music predominantly for the gay market. Of course, this just widened their appeal as old fans didn’t desert them and new fans discovered them and their back catalogue of music… This is my interpretation of it all anyway. The song originally came about in 1992, when TPSB’s were asked by Derek Jarman to perform at an AIDS charity event at The Haçienda in Manchester, Chris Lowe of the duo selected “Go West” as the song they would perform. Though singer Neil Tennant was unable to remember the lyrics during that performance, the two decided to record it as a single.
And in at NUMBER 1!….
Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – BOOM! Shake The Room – Highest position #1
There’s a sort of dance routine that you all know and probably did on your nights out (I know I did) and though this could be seen as a guilty pleasure, at the time it was a HIT, a number one hit no less! Jeff Townes and Will Smith affectionately known as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince used the popularity of a TV show as the main vehicle that would propel the duo to world-wide music fame. Believe it or not, this track is not the duo’s best seller. That title was reserved for their other global hit ‘Summertime’ that peaked at #8 here in the UK, but hit #1 in the USA earning them their second Grammy Award. Domestically in the USA the duo have sold over 5.5 million albums, just goes to show that a little sit-com exposure can do your music career the world of good. I’m now waiting for Charlie Sheen & Snoop Dogg’s single to chart in the UK… Nah, maybe not! DID YOU KNOW? - The song samples “Funky Worm”, a song by the Ohio Players, and “Jump”, a classic hit by Kris Kross. On September 17, 1993, the Recording Industry Association of America certified the song - GOLD.
That’ll about do it for this month. Don’t forget, If you’ve enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane with me, share the links with your friends or check out my Facebook page that includes plenty more ‘Guilty Pleasures’ videos and music links.
Till next time 90’s music fans!