Have been described as a 'Late Night Industry Enigma'... I just enjoy being a part of one of the most exciting industries in the world. I talk Entertainment, Bars/Nightclubs, Cocktails and Marketing. Follow me daily on Twitter too: @troylinehan Welcome to my world!
Hey there all, thanks for stopping by!
As some of you may know, today was the day in the UK where the government delivered their budget which shows us the ‘plan’ for the year ahead. Some predicted that this budget would also be used to try and keep power in the hands of the current government as the general election looms. Some businesses and entrepreneurs did well out of the budget but alcohol and the business of bars, pubs and clubs took it’s usual bashing by being delivered a 2% increase on alcohol duty and a 11% increase on cider. The late night industry in the UK is already in a precarious position with an estimated 47 pubs per WEEK closing down in the UK. Now, I moved over to the entertainment side of things years ago but have been known to go back to the other side of the bar and manage such venues from time to time. It’s no big surprise for those who know me well that this is something I am very passionate about. I’ve been a part of corporate late night companies and with many of them, I don’t see eye to eye. However, I believe in protecting the longevity of this industry as it is vital to a country’s economy and even a country’s culture.
So… Now to the bar & entertainment bit.
It will also come as no surprise that I am a huge advocate for live entertainment and getting THE RIGHT entertainment in to venues. It’s pretty safe to say that the late night industry took a knock a few years back with the smoking ban. Supermarkets and off licenses also dealt a blow by being able to sell alcohol at a MUCH lower price than bars. If I were the government, I’d bring those prices in line with the bars or create a national average to put anyone selling alcohol on a level playing field. And now with the added tax on alcohol, breweries will put publicans, lease holders and general managers over the proverbial barrel… You see, most lease holders are locked in to contracts that state that they can only purchase alcohol from the brewery it’s self. Sometimes the brewery will be charging 20, 50 and in some cases 80% more for products that can easily be brought at a lower price from a cash & carry. The contracts state that it is illegal to purchase from other suppliers, in many cases, taking legal action if a contract is breached. Some of these contracts exclude wine and soft drinks and say that this is the companies good will gesture. But we all know (especially if you are a lease holder) that this is not enough. I saw a quote earlier today which said “Change happens. To survive it, you must anticipate it; and to be successful, you must embrace it”. This was from an article written by Dallas Lawrence about how most big brands and companies are still NOT USING (or not using correctly) things like Facebook to get a business edge. You can read the article HERE. It’s a fact that pubs and bars a few years back were the ‘Facebook’ of their time, a hub for the community combining, Live Music, Chat, Games, Drink and Banter to all that visited. There are still a few venues like this and the reason they are still around is down to the passionate people who operate them. They invest their lives to make these places what they are.
So, what entertainment?
It’s also safe to say (although I hate to say it) that many venues who provide Live entertainment or any entertainment couldn’t give a damn about it. They see it a little bit like Field of Dreams and have the “If you build it, they will come” attitude… Screw that, If that’s what you think, YOU are contributing towards the decline of the industry and you think that you’ve helped?… pffft! get real will ya! You see, there is a big difference between just putting on a live band and showing Live Entertainment, the main difference being that one is ACTUALLY Entertaining. There are so many bands out there who will gladly play a decent venue for a crate of beer or £150. Now, if you are getting a full live band to play your venue for anything around that price, I’ll also tell you what your getting… a great big pile of shit!… It’s true. Live entertainment in the UK is filled with great bands, acts, tribute artistes. But for every great act, there are 10 terrible ones cashing in from someone’s lack of knowledge or lack of caring. It may seem like a great deal to you, you’ve got a band for £150 “Hey, I’ve put on live entertainment and it didn’t break the bank, that’s great right”? WRONG, Dummy! Your lack of caring could be damaging your brand more that you think. Don’t get me wrong though, open mic nights or unsigned band nights are a great idea if they are marketed as just that. You can’t dress an unsigned up-and-coming band as ‘the best live entertainment’ as that simply wouldn’t be true. I have a simple sum that works all of this out - SUM - Cheap Band = Cheap Brand. Your business will die in the hands of these terrible bands and ‘weekend Elvis’ as I call them, they are risking your money and your business. Customers pick up on this more than anything and they won’t be fooled. They’ll vote with their feet. Lack of caring will result in a lack of customers. Marketing can also be measured in this way. If your venue isn’t busy, you aren’t marketing it correctly or at all. Marketing in most cases is a small monetary investment but a huge investment in time and if it is your business you must invest the time. When I worked with Chicago Rock there were 64 venues ALL showing live entertainment every Wednesday night (a ‘slow’ night) it was introduced because the format worked. For many of the venues, they were welcoming an extra 500 - 1,000 customers on this quiet night, not just because of the entertainment, but because they had dedicated managers in the venue who cared about the products and pushed the hell out of each event. These passionate people were the driving force behind the venue. On the flip-side, there were venues wasting (in some cases) £2,000 on some acts only to never get a return on the bar. You’d walk in to the venue the day after and still find full boxes of flyers for the said event. They didn’t care about the product, had no passion for the business and the same successful nights that other venues had, wilted away when put in the hands of the certain venue managers. Marketing isn’t always who can have the best posters, radio coverage or a spot in the local or national news papers. As a business you should use the resources that suit your venue best. A combination of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace) and physically hitting the streets with flyers and promoting to businesses around you will work best and if you are doing it right, with the right entertainment, you WILL see a return on investment. If you follow these points as a venue, you cant go wrong -
- Customer service is vital (as a person you can singlehandedly enhance a customer’s experience in your venue)
- Entertainment - Bands, Tributes, Quizzes, Pub Games - Put quality and passion in to them and they create a fantastic atmosphere and most of all, will give people a reason to leave the house.
- Marketing - It has to be done, become the figurehead of your brand and let evenryone know what your venue is about. Most of all, do it with passion and belief in your product.
- Standards - Is your venue clean? Is your beer fresh? Are your bottles in date?
- Safety - Customers like being in a safe environment, is that your venue, or at least is it welcoming and feels like a safe environment?
- Products - Do you stock the popular products that people want to buy?
It’s now time for you to invest in your venue, with a little extra money to get the best live entertainment you can afford, to market the venue if it’s already doing the entertainment thing OR to do BOTH!… This is mainly an investment in marketing time after all and if you do it with commitment and use the best resources (there are some great acts, entertainment agents and marketeers around) you can rescue your venue and help turn the industry around. Hell, that’s what Im trying to do, one place at a time. Also, get a check out what your competition is doing, see what you can improve on and do it with a positive attitute, it’s your industry too after all. All of a sudden, that 2% and 11% doesn’t seem that much of a big deal. Of course, I’d try to cut a deal with your brewery to get some relief on the prices you are paying… Hey, be cheeky and talk to your local council and see if you can get a rate reduction, if ever there was a time to do that it would be now.
That’s my two cents, I’d love to hear yours?
Take care and get building those brands!
Twitter - @Troylinehan
Just a quick one! I’m surprised that with all the buzz about Angry Birds that more companies haven’t got in on the act yet. One company in particular springs to mind… LEGO! The brand marriage of Lego & Angry Birds could be massive. It also gives endless structure possibilities to be built in order to protect those pesky pigs! Build your catapult, attack those pigs!!
Think on that Lego and Angry Birds execs!
Twitter - @troylinehan
Facebook - www.facebook.com/troy.linehan
Email - Troy@Troylinehan.com
Just dropping by really quickly this morning as it has been confirmed that ‘Merlin Entertainments’ attraction Warwick Castle, UK will be getting involved in a marriage of brands.
Warwick Castle have teamed up with the makers of popular BBC series ‘Merlin’ to open ‘The Dragon Tower’ in early 2011. Merlin (the company, that is) states that this “will be the first attraction inspired by the the show.” This leads me to believe that we may be seeing more Merlin inspired goings on in the UK’s favourite castle and will surely be a boost for international tourism too. Teaming FremantleMedia Enterprises and Merlin Entertainment is a winning match-up.
To keep an eye on Warwick Castle, you can follow them on Twitter and get all the updates - @warwickcastle
Thanks for stopping by!
Twitter - @troylinehan
Welcome back! Due to a few very early mornings, I thought I’d fill the time and get my creative juices flowing by kicking up the leaves in the 1990’s. If you’ve ever talked to me about music, you’ll know that I LOVE music from the 50’s all the way through till today. But you’ll also know that I think that the 90’s is one of the most underrated decades of music that there is. The 90’s was PACKED with musical gems and some hidden one-hit-wonders that ended up being many people’s guilty pleasures. Once a month on my blog I’m going to pick a year and month in the 90’s and look at the top 20 hits. Who knows, we may unearth some diamonds in the rough and some fine memories.
1991 was the year of the bomber jacket, now-a-days that fashion is reserved for nightclub security and aging rodies. It was also the year of Noel’s House Party and that we all loved a little blue speedy hedgehog named Sonic. Let’s check the top 20 hits of that month. Each song is linked too if you’d like to have a listen or your own 90’s office disco ;)
Madonna – Crazy For You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXMlowJ-bus (91 Remix)
Highest position #2 – UK Charts
Madge took a knock and only hit the #2 spot in this year as she used this track to push and promote the #1 Album ‘The Immaculate Collection’… In early 91, Madonna dated porn performer Tony Ward but ditched him in March. The Oscars rolled around and tongues were set wagging when Madonna’s date was none other than moonwalking, chimp loving megastar, Michael Jackson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbrPf4eQicI
Bee Gees – Secret Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1MZmMIFtOo&feature=fvsr
Highest position #5 – UK Charts
‘Secret Love’ Was a pretty much forgotten hit in the 90’s as the Bee Gees eventually went on to pen greater know hits such as ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’. They even went on to work with Canadian diva Celine Dion for ‘Immortality’
Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FpaK0nGebg
Highest position #1 – UK Charts
Punk heroes of the experimenting in the late 70’s and really hitting form in the 80’s returned in 91 and re-released what some would say was their anthem. It’s a song that still rocks hard today and has passed the test of time. It’s even been covered a few times, most notably by Kylie Minogue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaTb2Ah2AQA (the famous ‘behind’ features in this vid too). Seriously though, the song was released to mark the 10 year anniversary of it being first written in 1981 and was also ranked by VH1 in 2009 as #42 in the worlds “100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs”. In fact, this month marks its 30th year of existence.
Mock Turtles – Can You Dig It http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGSHIidlesQ
Highest position #18 – UK Charts
The early 90’s also saw the birth of indie music and the Mock Turtles from Manchester were among the few bands to break out of the alternative scene of the late 80’s and embrace what was to be known as ‘Indie’… I don’t know about you, but all this song reminds me of is being kept on hold by Vodafone (who used this track in their TV ads)
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – Happy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmD08Na5VKI
Highest position #16 – UK Charts
Another band under the ‘indie’ banner was slightly more rocking and eventually far more obscure that the previous charting act, maybe even sliding more in to the punk category which was now pretty much disbanded in the UK. This West Midlands based band was formed in the late 80’s and got their name from an episode of the ‘Goon Show’… Moshing, crowd surfing and stage diving thrills and spills were a staple part of their live shows. They pretty much sank in to obscurity BUT kept a cult fan following. They now have the site Ned’s Atomic Dustbin :Re-United http://www.nedsatomicdustbin.com/
Roxette – Joyride http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCorJG9mubk&feature=related
Highest position #4 – UK Charts
“Aim for the flat-top” I think you either loved or hated Roxette. I was always a big fan of this Swedish pop duo and was always under the impression that they were brother and sister. This wasn’t the case. They hit big in the late 80’s with ‘It Must Have Been Love’ which was used on the ‘Pretty Woman’ soundtrack, just like that, they were a house-hold name. ‘Joyride’ was their first #1 in their home country and reached the top of the charts in many others including the USA but on #4 here in the UK. It’s a catchy tune that is always greatly received (though I always preferred ‘The Look’)
Happy Mondays – Loose Fit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQCrgu8Am2U
Highest position #17
Loose Fit was pretty much a lost song for the Happy Mondays and is slightly more trippy than Ryder & Co’s other offerings. We do get to see Shaun Ryder in a blonde wig and lipstick though… If that’s your thing.
REM – Losing My Religion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if-UzXIQ5vw
Highest position #19 – UK Charts
Highest position #19?!! I know, you are also reading this correctly. Undoubtedly this is an alternative rock anthem that will weather any musical storm. I’d like to think if it was re-released today it would enjoy more success in the UK than #19. Anyway, Stype and the gang had been rocking since1980 and were seen to be a little bit too obscure for most musical tastes. But this all changed when the alternative, indie & rock scenes flourished in the early 90’s. They gave us ‘Losing My Religion’ and were rewarded with global success with albums ‘Out of Time’ (91) and ‘Automatic For The People’ (92). These two albums took them out of their rock roots but gave them the platform to make them commercially viable and in the process made shed loads of lovely money. Well Done! That video is also one of the last times you’ll see him with hair.
Charlatans – Over Rising http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6daKJG14LI
Highest position #15 – UK Charts
More trippy indie goings on with The Charlatans. This track was no ‘North Country Boy’ and this band tended to get lost in the shuffle a bit with the likes of The Happy Mondays overshadowing them a little. I can’t even say this track is worth a listen to. What were we all thinking?
Hale and Pace & The Stonkers – The Stonk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iwA2oRs8dk&feature=related
Highest position #1 – UK Charts
This tells you lots about our UK Charts but also UK people. Release a song for charity no matter how bad and it’ll be a sure fire #1. It’s because we’re all so kind a generous. Hale & Pace were kings of early 90’s late night TV comedy in the UK and were called upon by the BBC to release a song for ‘Red Nose Day’. As the years have rolled on, Red Nose Day has become less prolific in the media but is always worth a watch. BTW, I like the part in the vid where you see the ‘Mary Whitehouse Experience’ (another great 90’s cult show) crew dancing apart from moody comic Robert Newman. Speaking of which here’s a bit of Newman & Baddial with ‘History Today’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEQcsuXnnnc Yes…. That’s you that is!
Definition of Sound – Wear Your Love Like Heaven http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzKuEefxjaA
Highest position #17 – UK Charts
This was a one week wonder (yes, not even a hit) and I wouldn’t be very surprised if you’ve never heard the song at all. It was probably on one of those free ‘Now’ VHS’ that were knocking around. But do give the video a watch so you can take in the throwback dance moves and funky outfits. I even believe one of the leads is wearing Super Mario’s hat!! Believe it or not, they were London based but enjoyed a little more success outside of the UK
Feargal Sharkey – I’ve Got News For You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZUKVuIdPoU
Highest position #12 – UK Chart
“It’s Friday Night… It’s Top Of The Pops!”… And we need something middle of the road to fill the time before we wheel out Madonna! Yes, it’s once punk rocker Feargal Sharkey who in the early 90’s was dabbling in A&R and on the slippery musical slope. GONE are the Undertones hits and even his soppy whiney hits of the late 80’s like ‘A Good Heart’. All that’s left is this, we’ll I’ve got news for you Feargal, get your coat, you’re done! Of course now he’s known for being CEO of British Music Rights and rather powerful in the fields of musical media. Every Cloud…
Rod Stewart – The Rhythm Of My Heart http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCccPGtjaCU
Highest position #3 – UK Chart
Some people in music just have staying power and become iconic, I think that Rod Stewart is one of these typical musical legends. Although I’m not a fan of his, I can recognise that this man is a hit maker whose music spans decades and generations. It would be easy to think that this track could be easily lost on the fast changing early 90’s landscape where indie, rock and experimental dance were taking over. But again, the man is a legend and produced a #3 hit in the UK and #5 in the USA. This was also the opening (and defining) track of Rod’s 1991 album ‘Vagabond Heart’. Enjoy this clip taken a few years after at the Royal Albert Hall.
Scritti Politti – She’s a Woman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=485ynI-YZ2M
Highest position #20 – UK Chart
Formed in Leeds (yeah, who’d have thought it) they were in the early 80’s, a left-wing punk band who (after floating around the bottom of the charts) decided to give themselves a more appealing commercial edge. This song didn’t quite do this even though it was a cover of a song by The Beatles. It trolled in at #20 which is quite surprising as it featured the (at the time) prolific reggae star ‘Mr Loverman’ Shabba Ranks! So, now here’s The Beatles original version of the same song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3W2Oa_Dqwc No Shabba Ranks though sorry.
Ride – Today Forever http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dI2xxuKfGME
Highest position #14 – UK Chart
Out of Oxford, UK comes dreary sweater wearing melancholy indie band ‘Ride’… If you’re having trouble sleeping try listening to this track. Nearly the entire first minute is a one way guitar intro followed by a less than inspiring performance. They were only around for a few more years and then split. Andy Bell (no not the fella from Erasure) then set to form the band Hurricane#1 but that project was soon thrown in the bin as he was asked to play Bass for Oasis. You can now see him in current band ‘Beady Eye’ with Oasis cohort Liam.
Mike & The Mechanics – Word Of Mouth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwmdEmICPEQ
Highest position #13 – UK Chart
Mike & The Mechanics was a pet project of Mike Rutherford who was a founding member of Genesis. Word of Mouth even sounds like it was spawned from that band as it includes punchy drums and big vocals. Speaking of vocals, they’re supplied on this track by Paul Young. This band enjoyed early success with ‘In The Living Years’ that got a US #1 in 1989. Mike & The Mechanics on paper were a UK pop superpower but ‘Word of Mouth’ didn’t hit the mark or even spread (see what I did there?) until four years later when they re-entered the charts with ‘Over My Shoulder’ in 95.
Simple Minds – Let There Be Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enSIQHlZF74
Highest position #6 – UK Chart
Scottish ‘Dad Rock’ band bestow this chart single upon us all and nobody seems to take much notice. In fact, all I thought while looking at this video is, why does Jim Kerr always seem to be hugging himself in his videos?? The band was better known for it’s global hit ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ from the cult film “The Breakfast Club”… And yes, Jim is hugging himself in that video too, hey! It’s Scotland, maybe he’s cold.
Pet Shop Boys – Where The Streets Have No Name (Can’t Take My Eyes Off You) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDAN3jm_kdc
Highest position #4
In 91 The Pet Shop Boys start to move away from the electro 80’s sounds and experiment with Disco! Could this song be one of the very first ‘Mash-up’ tracks released by an original artist?… Hmmm, Maybe! This is an amped up disco cover of the U2 classic from the Joshua Tree album in 1987. This version couldn’t be further from the original as The Pet Shop Boys embrace their success in the Gay scene and pump out campy disco vibes throughout the rest of the 90’s. In this track they take the Boystown Gang’s 1981 version of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ (over the original Frankie Valli 60’s version) and incorporate that arraignment to ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ and PRESTO! They have a #4 hit! By the way, check out the giant glittery cowboy hat!
C & C Music Factory – Here We Go http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_oa_98n4hw&feature=fvst
Highest position #20 – UK Chart
Yet another lost band of the late 80’s and early 90’s and I’ll bet you’ve never even heard this song J You were doing the escalator to ‘Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)’ and the electric slide to ‘Things That Make You Go Hmmm’ and wondering “who the hell is this?” to ‘Here We Go’. Yet this track reached #1 on the US Dance Chart feeding off the success of Gonna Make You Sweat. In fact, all of C & C Music Factory’s songs hit the #1 spot on the US dance chart! Go on, bust a move! You know you want to.
Dannii Minogue – Love And Kisses http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mswiH8CHyw
Highest position #8 – UK Chart
Kylie has smashed the door wide open and we get the debut ‘hit’ from the chubby faced youngster’s album of the same title. She stuck around the charts for a while and in later years became a regular on the UK Holiday Park and Nightclub scenes performing in some highly priced P.A.’s (personal appearances) Way to capitalise on a sibling’s fame, good on ya Sheila! (she’s still doing it now… and the video has some truly awful miming)
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Sailing On The Seven Seas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMST3H69-Os
Highest position #3 – UK Chart
Wirral based O.M.D had a few other hits in the 70’s and 80’s and were huge during the time of 80’s electro & new wave, but this was their 90’s one hit wonder masterpiece. It’s actually a catchy song and probably deserves its #3 placement. Unfortunately after this hit the band slipped in to the musical wilderness again and reformed with rotating band line-ups for live shows. They were best known for ‘Electricity’ and worldwide hit ‘Enola Gay’.
Zucchero & Paul Young - Senza Una Donna http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2nIG1JxExs&feature=related
Highest position #4 – UK Chart
Paul Young was busy in the early 90’s moonlighting and making guest appearances with other bands but stumbled upon a hit when he teamed with Zucchero who had previously released this song in 1987. It clearly needed a bit of the ‘Young’ Magic where it was then released as Senza Una Donna (Without A Woman). This single was certified GOLD in France where it sold over 250,000 copies and it also hit #1 status in Belgium, Italy and Sweden. That Paul Young… Hits genius ;)
James – Sit Down http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ7CLkWG7Qc&feature=fvst
Highest position #2 – UK Chart
Manchester band James were formed in the early 80’s but like most good bands, took time to develop. In this month they shared the #2 spot with the ‘Queen of Pop’ – Madonna and that’s no mean feat! ‘Sit Down’ is an all time indie anthem and will be a track that all of us will most likely enjoy for years to come. They also had moderate success with the single ‘Laid’. This wasn’t the first time around for ‘Sit Down’ though, in 1889 it was released in it’s seven minute original form but only got to #77 in the UK Charts. Although it was (and still is) an anthem of it’s time, it was denied the #1 spot by The Clash and ‘The One And Only’ Chesney Hawkes. How’s that for a kick in the pants?
Snap – Snap Megamix http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-JxkqoyDWU
Highest position #10 – UK Chart
It isn’t often that a group will release a megamix in to the UK charts, though, thinking back, a few groups could have really done well out of it… Vengaboys unfortunately springs to mind. Snap were the dance powerhouses of the late 80’s and creeped in to the 90’s. It’s also true that every decade (or there about) when the moon is full, on a stormy night, the blood of a goat and all of our dignity is sacrificed… SNAP will release a remix of one of their past hits (The Power or Rhythm Is A Dancer)… This ‘Mega’ Mix features ‘Ooops Up’ ‘The Cult Of Snap’ ‘The Power’ and ‘Mary Had a Little Boy’. This mix however didn’t feature their soon to be legacy ‘Rhythm Is A Dancer’ that went on to storm clubs globally. As for The Power? If you’re a darts fan, you can catch Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor use it as his entrance music. Let’s Play Darts!!
Hope you enjoyed stopping by, you can now go and share your new found knowledge of one month in the 90’s. See you next month with another month and another year!
Twitter - @Troylinehan
Facebook – www.Facebook.com/troy.linehan
Greetings friends! Welcome back to my little monthly music blog where we pick a random 90’s year and a random 90’s month… We then review the top 20 hits on a little trip down memory lane. June 1995 was the month that South Africa won the Rugby World Cup and it all continued to kick off in Iraq. 1995 was also the year of Mel Gibson romping around Scotland in ‘Braveheart’ and teenage girls wept as Robbie Williams sulked and left Take That. Alcopops dominated the youth market as brands like Two Dogs and Hooch were enjoyed under the slide at the local park! So let’s get on to how the top 20 hits looked in June 1995.
Haddaway – Fly Away – Highest position #20 UK Charts
What is Love!?… NO! We couldn’t be further away from that anthem. In 1995, Trinidadian eurodance sensation Haddaway was starting to lose his magic touch. Sure, this song had repetitive 2-unlimited style keys that we all loved in the 90’s, but it lacked the 3 words that made us go crazy for Haddaway… “What Is Love.” As a result, this only reached number 20 in the UK but snuck in to the top 10’s in Switzerland, The Netherlands and Israel. Way to go! ;)
Amy Grant – Big Yellow Taxi – Highest position #20 UK Charts
Who? I hear you cry. Well unless you were a fan of Christian Rock at that time, Amy Grant may have slipped your mind… By the way, she was ‘Kind of a big deal’ on that scene! Anyways, we all know of the song that was first made famous by Joni Mitchell (other Yellow Taxi luminaries include Counting Crows and… wait for it… Darius) But Amy did the unthinkable and changed the words in the song from “And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see em” to “And then they charged the people 25 bucks just to see em”… Gasp!! The video looks like she invaded a Roxette music vid. Soon after, she returned to the Christian music scene.
Dodgy – Staying Out For The Summer – Highest position #19 UK Charts
Out of the bands former guise ‘Purple’ came Redditch trio Dodgy with that style of brit power pop that we all love. The song deserved more than a #19 spot as it was an anthem for one of ‘the best summers of your life’… Potentially ;) It also sparked many of the brit bands shooting cheap comedy style videos because most of these bands were actually most comfortable and at their best on a stage performing live. They didn’t have time for make-up or wardrobe so headed out to the country in a camper van. Happy Days!! Of course they found true success with the hit ‘Good Enough’ and both songs still are not out of place when played today. That’s staying power for you.
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart – Highest position #19 UK Charts
Despite the song being penned in 1979, it made regular visits to the UK charts (very much like the Clash) after it first debuted at a Buzzcoks gig when Joy Division supported in 1979. It was the quintessential sound of the musical uprising in the north of the country in the early 80’s. The lyrics were said to reflect the issues between ‘Division’ front man Ian Curtis and his wife. In May 1980 Ian Curtis committed suicide and one month later the song was released and got to #13 in the UK charts, in 1981 it reached #1 status in New Zealand. In years to come, the song was often championed by (sadly missed) Radio DJ – John Peel. A few years later after a spell of touring under the name ‘The No-Names’ the band morphed in to New Order and took the alternative and electro world by storm. But that’s another story for another time.
Chemical Brothers – Leave Home – Highest position #17 UK Charts
The ‘Dust Brothers’ are dead and were then reborn as The Chemical Brothers! The UK dance sound was starting to make the transition from electro keys with a heavy Eurodance influence in to more of an industrial sound (stick with electo influences) but topped off with big beats and looping vocals. The Chemicals along with Faithless and later Basement Jaxx were about to embark on a journey taking them in to rock band territory where they would play huge festivals and stadiums. Dance music was changing and the UK was leading the charge.
Duran Duran – White Lines – Highest Position #17 UK Charts
After smashing the 80’s with innovative and stylish videos, Duran Duran pretty much tank when they release their covers album ‘Thank You’. Im sure this wasn’t the way they wanted to try and re-invent them self. Well as quick as you could say “Rang-dang-diggidy-dang-a-dang” the song bombed out. On a personal note, I think this one song was responsible for the end (at least in the public eye) of Duran Duran. Can anyone say – Worst cover of ALL time? And I’m quite sure that Grandmaster Melle Mel and Flash were none too impressed either. In response to Le Bon, Duran’s manager should have simply said “White lines?… Don’t Do It”
Jodeci – Freak N’ You – Highest position #17
Break out the white boxer shorts and low jeans, USA R&B stars Jodeci are here! Now, you might think their chart reign was a short one, but Jodeci featured some great R&B collaboration stars like Mr Dalvin, DeVante Swing and primarily K-Ci & JoJo who had hits that surpassed their fame in Jodeci. Although they were pretty new to the UK ‘Freak n You’ was taken from their third album that had a very ‘Bump n Grind’ feel to the whole affair. Although, this continued the tren of US R&B videos having a very slick movie-like feel to them. It was all about production value in the mid 90’s!
Annie Lennox – Whiter Shade Of Pale – Highest position #16 UK Charts
More 80’s icons were trying to re-invent themselves in the 1990’s. One such global superstar was Annie Lennox as she (like other 80’s folk) decided to do a few cover versions as it was less time consuming than writing new material and heck! They could still sell an album off the back of it. The Scot picked Procol Harum’s classic ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ which I might add, wasn’t too bad at all. There was nothing quirky about it and the style of the track suited Lennox’s haunting vocals. The track was to be a part of her album ‘Medusa’ but didn’t get the notoriety it deserved as “No More I Love You’s” was the track that garnered all the interest.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo featuring China Black – Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – Highest position #15 UK Charts
It being the year (and month) of the Rugby World cup, it wouldn’t be quite right to have a chart without a world cup song. Being a multi cultural lot in the 90’s (yes, we all watched and LOVED ‘The Lion King’ in 94) it would suit the African territory to have our World Cup anthem sung by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and ‘Searchin’ star China Black. The collaboration leads to a reasonably dreary assault on the charts. With a relatively badly put together video to boot. But hey, we’ve still got those memories of the Lion King to keep us all warm and fuzzy. For the record, I wasn’t really a fan of the UB40 version either… Just saying ;)
Therapy? – Stories – Highest position #14 UK Charts
For lots of the commercial loving music kids of the 90’s, chances are, If you blinked at any point, you probably missed Therapy? All together. But the fact of the matter is, this band hailing from Northern Ireland were very high on the Metal Music totem pole! They also broke in also on the USA alternative scene with their nicely put together riffs and catchy choruses. The band was formed in 1989 and comprised of Andy Cairns, Fyfe Ewing and Michael McKeegan and although we don’t hear from them anymore, I can assure you that they are still around touring and gigging to a still very loyal fan base.
East 17 – Hold My Body Tight – Highest position #12 UK Charts
In the early 90’s we were all treated to a battle of the boybands! In one corner, clean cut boys that you’re mother would love, yes, it’s TAKE THAT… In the other corner, a bunch that wouldn’t look out of place on the Jeremy Kyle Show… Ladies & Gentleman, EAST 17! Years before Bryan Harvey was running himself over with his own car, the boys had major success in the UK. This was mainly down to the talents of singer songwriter (and original lead singer in the band) Tony Mortimer. In fact, Bryan Harvey was only ever supposed to be backing vocals & dancer but was promoted to lead singer after the band’s producer heard him sing and ordered a switch around. They put Walthamstow firmly on the map with early smash hits like ‘House of Love’ ‘Deep’ and ‘Its Alright’. Two years later in 1997 after Bryan “Ecstasy can make you a better person” Harvey made a few off hand remarks, the band was thrown in to turmoil and their boyband image was shattered.
Reef – Naked – Highest position #11 UK Charts
Before I get started, you know this song and you know the riffs. It was featured on numerous adverts in the 90’s. That said, when people think of Reef, they only think of their full on timeless anthem ‘Place Your Hands’. This band is from the musical wilderness of Glastonbury and it’s sound is well and truly styled by the sound of their incredible lead singer Gary Stringer. Reef were classed as Brit-Pop but have a very Bluesy sound in their bass lines. 1995 was a bit of a high for the band as they managed to tour with Paul Weller, Soundgarden and even The Rolling Stones. They really made their mark in 1997 with the release of the album ‘Glow’ that went straight to #1 in the UK album chart. It’s well worth a listen and I know you’ll find some gems in there.
Jam & Spoon – Right In The Night – Highest position #10 UK Charts
Is euro dance dead?… Not quite, it’s still knocking about in 95 and was helped along by Jam & Spoon (featuring Plavka). This song is sort of a modern day classic and a bit of a guilty pleasure. The German group say their musical style is Trance but we all know that it’s really cheesy party Euro-Pop! Surprisingly, they didn’t really do anything else of note in the UK charts but left us with a lasting memory and a very strange video. Bravo!!
M People – Search For The Hero – Highest position #9 UK Charts
Want to make a car advert or a video that’s an inspiration to others?… I’ve got just the song for you! M People was a Manchester born band that got it’s name from founding member Mike Pickering but really known for it’s leading lady Heather Small. Funny thing, Heather is actually very small in person but for some reason, actually looks quite tall in their videos. That’s forced perspective at play! Anyway, Pickering picked up steam by being one of the original faces (and DJ’s) of Manchester’s infamous Hacienda Night Club. Pickering found Small as part of the band ‘Hot House’ who, after having no success, was happy to join an early doors M People. They then built a solid foundation with hits ‘One Night In Heaven’ and ‘Moving On Up’. They were then named Best British Dance Act at the 1995 Brit Awards and had continued success in the UK and US charts.
Black Grape – Reverend Black Grape – Highest position #9 UK Charts
We’re staying in Manchester for another one. After the Happy Mondays fell off the edge of the map through artistic differences and drug fuelled benders, Shaun Ryder started recruiting for a new band to open another chapter in his storied career. Kermit and Psycho were snapped up by Shaun and Bez… The band also included the musical stylings of Jed Lynch and Wags. They debuted with Reverend Black Grape that easily outsold their previous (and some would say) best Shaun Ryder hit ‘Step On’. We’ll be hearing plenty more about Ryder and Co in future 90’s blogs. Until then, don’t think for a second that Bez is actually playing the harmonica in this video!
Whigfield – When I Think Of You – Highest position #7 UK Charts
Whigfield AKA Sannie Carlson AAKA Naan was born in Denmark and after a few years as a model was spotted by music producer Larry Pignagnoli who now produces Benny Benassi but retro kids will be pleased to know he also produced Spagna!… Yeah, he clearly had his eye on the ladies. Whigfeild’s first charting smash was holiday park favourite ‘Saturday Night’ and was notable because she became the first ever non UK or American artist to go to #1 in her first week in the UK Singles Chart. She was also the subject of controversy as due to always lip syncing during live performences, critics actually claimed that (much like Milli Vanilli) that wasn’t actually Whigfield’s voice on any of her songs. Since then, she did perform live on a number of occasions thus proving it was her voice all along. Phew! We’ll all sleep well now J
Wet Wet Wet – Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now – Highest position #7 UK Charts
I urge you to watch the video as this is a Wet Wet Wet lost classic. It never really got the acclaim that the other songs did but was as catchy as hell! This track was taken from the band’s SIXTH studio album ‘Picture This’. On a side note, I’ve always liked how happy and comfortable Marti Pellow looks while performing… Must be the velvet suit! This song came after ‘Love Is All Around’ which some people will say is their defining hit, I disagree. ‘Picture This’ was the start of years of decline after the global might that the band had in the late 80’s and early 90’s. They hit an all time low in 1999 as the band fell apart and Marti Pello went in to drug rehab.
Bon Jovi – This Ain’t A Love Song – Highest position #6 UK Charts
In 1995 the hair of the 80’s most commercial rock band was still very much in tact but melodic tunes, harmonies and power ballads were very much the order of the day for Jon ‘The Bon’ and the boys! The song was to come from the album ‘These Days’ and strangely enough this single got a pretty icy reception in their native land only reaching #14 in the US Charts. This album had a very different feel from the Bon Jovi that The USA had known and loved for such a long time, but was still a major success in it’s own right over in the UK. However, it was in this year that the band won an award for ‘Best Selling Rock Band’ at the World Music Awards, they were clearly still doing something right. June 1995 also created a career (so far) high spot of playing 3 nights to a sold out Wembly Stadium. Soon after, they got hair cuts.
Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You – Highest position #4 UK Charts
This was the one hit wonder of Scottish singer songwriter Edwyn Collins and while singing it, it’s hard to resist singing the guitar bit too. Try it… See! Impossible! There are actually a few little musical facts about this song. Here they are should you ever get asked at a pub quiz. The drum sample in the song is actually taken from the Len Barry hit ‘1,2,3’. Also, playing the very stylish Vibraphone we have Sex Pistols drummer – Paul Cook. Every day is a school day kids! The song made it to #68 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders chart. Collins was also a very competent music producer and worked with many bands both nationally and internationally. Edwyn is still gigging with his guitar driven style and most recently played SXSW.
Michael & Janet Jackson – Scream – Highest position #3 UK Charts
Following the very high profile media coverage of Jackson over child sexual abuse allegations in 1993 he answered with (that’s right) a song! This song (very much like ‘leave me alone’) was directed at the tabloid media. Song aside, let’s talk about the video! At the time it was listed by the Guinness Book of records as the most expensive music video of all time totalling $7 Million. It’s also little known that most of the instruments used to build this track were actually also played by Michael Jackson. The song ‘Childhood’ (also a duet with Janet) was a B side on the ‘Scream’ single and both featured on the HIStory Album. Incidentally ‘Childhood’ was also the title track for ‘Free Willy 2’… OK, you can all start laughing now.
Baby D – Everybodys Gotta Learn Sometime – Highest position #3 UK Charts
Get your glow sticks, whistles, horns and furry boots at the ready as in 1995 Baby D returned to the charts. This was their third comeback with the same song in one decade. It was first released in 92, again in 93, AGAIN in 94 where it hit #1 and then it returned in 95 as a remixed B Side and had numerous remixes in the late 90’s early 00’s…. Yes, I was actually talking about Let Me Be Your Fantasy! WOW! The early incarnations of the song before 94 were basically commercial flops but massive on the underground scene, this (after the 94 #1) set the stage for them to step out on to the commercial stage. After the #1 they were signed by London Records and decided to cover the Korgis classic ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime’. Their cover however, stayed true to the groups underground roots (no pun intended) and hit big again on the UK Rave circuit. Terry Jones (vocals, keyboards and actually a producer too) was said to be the driving force behind the groups survival. Jones also produced for Eternal and The Backstreet Boys as well as co-wrote a #1 for Peter Andre.
U2 – Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me – Highest position #2 UK Charts
Before Bono started saving the world he wrote this little number for another hero (note the sarcasm) This was the title track for Batman Forever and according to Bono “this song is about being a HUGE star”… He was soon to get his ego checked when the song failed to reach #1 in the UK and USA despite having incredible sales. It was however nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song but lost out to ‘Colours of The Wind’ from the Disney film Pocahontas. Oddly, it was also nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Original Song but lost that honour to ‘Walk Into The Wind’ from the movie ‘Showgirls’ (yeah, you’ve seen it)
Pulp – Common People – Highest position #2 UK Charts
Sheffield indie band Pulp shot to fame with two hits ‘Common People’ and ‘Sorted for Es and Wizz’ which both reached #2 in the same year. The band was formed in 1978 by Jarvis Cocker but really struggled early on in their career. They honed their craft in the north and fed off the vibes of other bands also coming out of the north. They were nominated for a Mercury Music Award in 1994 and became one of the main faces of Brit-Pop. The ‘Common People’ video also features a set of dance moves near the end of the track. This was added by Jarvis Cocker simply because he had seen years of dance crazes though Top Of The Pop’s and would have liked to create his own… It didn’t catch on. They had a few more chart successes but Cocker gain global media coverage at the 1996 Brit Awards where he did manage to start a craze… Stage invasions!! And his was the mother of them all as he interrupted Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZEWomOQVno
It’s funny to watch Jarvis run around the stage like a naughty little boy (probably not the right wordage) he was later arrested, but it gets stranger as Bob Mortimer (of Reeves & Mortimer) acted as Cocker’s legal representative. Jarvis was released with no charges set against him.
So that brings us to our June 1995 #1
BOOM BOOM BOOOOM, Let me hear you say Waaaayooooo! (OK, you didn’t do it)
The Outhere Brothers – Boom Boom Boom – Highest position #1 UK Chart
They fended off rock legends U2 and Bon Jovi, smacked Michael Jackson figuratively upside the head and sent Jarvis Cocker packing. Its the Outhere Brothers!! Who with this song reached the #1 spot in the UK, Ireland and Germany but nowhere else on the entire planet earth! Outhere Brothers are from Chicago USA and were also known at the time for their other hit ‘Don’t Stop’ Wiggle Wiggle. Due to explicit content, the original versions of their songs didn’t make the charts of radio airplay. This also stopped them from having any hits ANYWHERE. But their music has found a home in the many sports arenas over the globe being used as ‘pump up’ music to get the crowd going bananas. So I’ll ask you one more time BOOM BOOM BOOM, Let me hear you say Waaaaayoooooo! (that’s better)
Till next time 90’s music fans!
IT’S CHRIIIIIISSSSSTMAAAAAAAAASS!!… I know it’s nearly summertime, but I thought this would be a great time to take a look back in my monthly blog, to a time when the Christmas #1 was THE hit of the year. That’s right! Before X Factor, Pop Idol and reality music shows dominated the Christmas charts in the UK, acts would battle it out for one of the most coveted titles in UK Music “The Christmas Number 1”. We’re heading back to 1991 with a heavy weight battle for the top spot in the year where Teenage Mutant NINJA Turtles and Nintendo Gameboy were the must have toy. Welcome friends, to the race for Christmas Number One in 1991! I’d also love to hear YOUR comments on the songs and suggestions for other years and months in the 90’s for me to break down.
Lisa Stansfield – All Woman – Highest position #20 UK Charts
At number 20, we find understated pop diva and Lancashire born Lisa Stansfield with ‘All Woman’… I always found Lisa strangely intimidating and for that reason only, I had zero interest in her and her music. Lisa made her first TV appearance in 1982 on a TV Talent show but her early music career was up and down. It wasn’t until the early 90’s when she started to get traction. Don’t go confusing her deep vocals for American counterpart ‘Taylor Dayne’ who also had the same vocal styling http://youtu.be/5y8XpuA2VOo SEE! I believe Lisa gained the most musical notoriety with ‘People Hold On’ (later) BUT ‘All Around The World’ in 1989 will probably be known as her all time big hit. That song also performed well on the US Billboard chart where it hit #3 in 1990.
Human Resource – The Complete Dominator – Highest position #18 UK Charts
Oh dear, this one doesn’t actually scream ‘peace and good will’… It actually only screams ‘wanna kiss myself’. We can tell that the rave era of the late 80’s and early 90’s was still in effect with this Dutch House classic making it in to our beloved Christmas top 20. Though one thing can be said about the UK music charts, they are truly universal.
Digital Orgasm – Running Out Of Time – Highest position #16 UK Charts
I think it’s fair to say, if I didn’t put this song on this list you probably wouldn’t know or care that it exsisted. So far, I’m not feeling the warm Christmas vibe from the charts and to be honest, it all seems to be going a little pear shaped. This little ditty is the child of Belgium based dance composers Praga Khan and Maurice Engelen… Digital Orgasm had MANY different names and incarnations. I can only guess that this may have been for tax reasons. This song still doesn’t really exsist to me. But I’m sure that to a few people in that era who were ‘sorted for eez and wizz’ this song would have been a real barn burner!… I’ve just popped it in the bin!
Erasure – Am I Right – Highest position #15 UK Chart
I think it’s at this point, I totally regret pulling this year and month out of the hat. Check out the video, it has falling snow, a snowman, an audience that could care less, miming, and Vince Clarke pretending to play a squeeze box. That combination has classic written all over it, but the song doesn’t seem to ever get started. Apparently the song examines the feelings of a protagonist who is wandering through the city streets after a romantic separation, while his lover contemplates whether or not (s)he is really in love and wants to return to the relationship… Bollocks! I say GIVE ME SOME BLOODY CHRISTMAS SONGS! Erasure, I admire what you’ve done for synthy pop but I despise you for letting this go in to the charts at Christmas. Rave groups know no better, but you sirs, know what the UK Christmas charts are all about. I hope in 91, you had a terrible Christmas!
UK Mixmasters – Bare Necessities - Highest position #14 UK Chart
Break out the megamix ‘jive bunny’ style cliché of “AH YEAH” and “I Know You’re Gonna Dig This”… Mix it up with the Jungle Book and what we have is Disney on Speed. It’s absolute dross, but at least it’s starting to feel a little bit more like Christmas. Have you ever been to a birthday party and the lazy DJ plays a load of pre-mixed stuff?… In 1991, he or she probably played this. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the part-miming Gary Martin singing on the released version of this song, it was (famous at the time) Gary Wilmot who sung on the version in the shops. I can only assume that Wilmot didn’t want his credibility dented by appearing on Top Of The Pops… Either that or he just didn’t want to wear a furry jungle toga. Fun for all the family? AH YEAH!!
Jason Donovan – Joseph Megamix – Highest position #13 UK Chart
Star of Neighbors, Star of the West End… This boy is gonna go far! Nah, in the early 90’s squeaky clean Jason had a love affair with drugs and fell off the wagon more times than Phil Mitchell. But before that happened he was the main man in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s ‘Joseph & His Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat’. The fall was yet to happen and in 91 Jason was enjoying tons of success and was yet to sample the dizzy heights of Butlins & Chicago Rock Cafe every single week. What was it with the early 90’s and mega mixes? Either way Jason, take you’re last bite of real fame, it’s about to slip away (at Christmas… How cruel)
U2 – Mysterious Ways – Highest position #13 UK Chart
Bono is one of my favorite rock megastars to have a pop at. But this time, the December chart has been so bad, I’m actually thankful for this song showing up. This track has the early 90’s indie vibe mixed with the big time rocking of the Edge’s guitar and some even bigger vocals from ‘rock messiah’ Bono! This track was a part of the ‘Achtung Baby’ album and nearly didn’t come around. The track was actually created after an Adam Clayton bass line was laid down. But the band still struggled getting lyrics and the rest of the song together. It was finally a real track after the Edge introduced some riffs with a new guitar effects pedal (that’s that groovy indie sound) and the rest was music History. I guess The Edge could claim to have influenced indie bands in the early 90’s with this track. It didn’t do too well in the UK charts but managed #9 in the US Billboard charts. It’s safe to say that this song became more popular as the years rolled on. Some even see it as one of the band’s greatest hits. I’d firmly agree with that.
Kate Bush – Rocket Man – Highest position #12 UK Chart
Want to cover a song?… Why is it that people choose Rocket Man? More people than you’d think have covered this song you know. This wasn’t just a cover made because of a passing fancy for the track. This was made as part of an album to celebrate the music of Elton John & Bernie Taupin. Kate’s version was, musically an entire remake of a classic which now features reggae influences, plus Kate in the video 100% NOT playing the guitar ;) Kate’s cover of Rocket Man was also voted the Observer reader’s ‘Best Cover of All Time’. But I’d say that title is HIGHLY debatable. On creating this track for the album, Bush was quoted in saying “From the age of 11, Elton John was my biggest hero. I loved his music, had all his albums and I hoped one day I’d play the piano like him (I still do). When I asked to be involved in this project and was given the choice of a track it was like being asked ‘would you like to fulfil a dream? would you like to be Rocket Man?’… yes, I would.” The B side of her single was another Elton John classic ‘Candle in the Wind’
Cliff Richard – We Should Be Together – Highest position #10 UK Chart
HaHaHaaaa! The king of Christmas number ones took a knock in 91. Throughout the 80’s (though he didn’t have as many Christmas #1’s as everyone thinks) Cliff seemed to rule the charts in December. It was as if his PR people only worked on getting Cliff a Christmas hit. This is one of his more forgettable songs for sure. But take a quick listen past his creepy phone call introduction and you’ll realise that you know this song and instantly hate it (unless you are an old lady) The song differed from Richard’s previous Christmas efforts - primarily being a love song. The promotional video for the single tells the story of an offshore oil worker who makes the journey back to his home to join his family for Christmas. I wish Cliff Richard was an off shore oil worker… Dangerous job that!
New Kids On The Block – If You Go Away – Highest position #9 UK Chart
Now known as NKOTB the boy band’s stock was starting to plummet and they were gaining higher chart numbers everywhere else apart from in their native country. At that point, you can do one of two things… 1. Call it a day OR 2. Go to Japan and be a MEGASTAR! Thankfully, the ‘New Kids’ opted for 1. And called it quits on the pop game. This song was to be the groups final hit until ‘Summertime’ that was released in 2008!! The death knell started tolling for the boy band after they appeared on the Hit US TV Show ‘Arsenio Hall’ where it was claimed that the band (in true Milli Vanilli style) were now lip syncing. This was frowned upon in that time as the public demanded live music. That was the final straw for the American public and their love affair with NKOTB. Here is the video from The Arsenio Hall Show that started the controversy http://youtu.be/WoXuvEqsRjQ You decide.
Shaft – Roobard & Custard – Highest position #7 UK Chart
With some songs released through out time, I always thought that musical ability wasn’t always the deciding factor. THIS is one of those songs. Take a song from a popular show that people will find amusing. Put a big beat behind it… OH, and fill the people who could potentially buy the track full of ecstasy (as in the drug… not a happy state) It’s also safe to say that this song only appeals to drug fuelled crazies and small children who know no better. This was the brainchild of UK music producer Mark Prichard and though this type of rave mix (using children’s themed sound tracks) had already been done, he and Shaft were the first dance act to break in to the UK top 10 with it. In 1992, other rave groups were to find success with this formula - Urban Hype got to #7 with ‘A Trip To Trumpton’ http://youtu.be/sXYa_qklKPc and Smart E’s bagged the #2 spot with ‘Sesame’s Treet’ http://youtu.be/xTt-02Ttt-I
Brian May – Driven By You – Highest position #6 UK Chart
It’s unfortunate circumstances that had Brian May chart this song when he did. There is no denying that Brian May is one of rock’s most iconic (yet understated) guitar legends. May wanted to release a solo album of tracks that he’d been working on, the album ‘Back To The Light’ was released in 1992 with world wide acclaim. When touring to push and promote the album, May was backed by an all star line up including the likes of Rick Wakeman, Cozy Powell, Neil Murray and Steve Vai. Driven By You was released on 6 November 1991, just 18 days before the death of May’s band mate Freddie Mercury. Earlier in the year, Mercury had urged May to persist with recording the song, telling him that if he did die around the time of its release, it would help boost sales. Fair play Freddie!
Kym Sims – Too Blind To See It – Highest position #5 UK Chart
Early 90’s soulful dance had a certain sound… This was it! It’s a track that’s been remixed more times than I care to remember and above all, it’s a dance track that has stood the test of time and can still be played in clubs today and get the dance floor jumping. Kym Sims was American born but found her success outside of her home country. In the US, Kym was just a radio jingle singer. She struck gold when she started working with music producer Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley and came up with ‘Too Blind To See It’ which spent 12 weeks in the UK Charts. Sims is still touring now and wowing the crowds with her fantastically retro hits. It should be noted however that although she didn’t have singing success in the USA, she co-wrote ‘Keep On Walking’ for CeCe Peniston which reached #1 in the US Dance Chart and #20 in the US Billboard Chart. Not at all bad for a singer of ‘jingles’
Guns N Roses – Live & Let Die – Highest position #5 UK Chart
Of course, we all know that the first version of this track was recorded by Paul McCartney & Wings to be the title music of the James Bond film of the same name. The original was done in 1972 with a number of covers and parodies being made of the song, including Al Yankovic’s version ‘Chicken Pot Pie’. Guns N Roses effort was a part of their ‘Use Your illusion’ album. As always we have the trademark Axl vocals and some BIG sounds from the man Slash. To me, this shows a different side to the band and along with some of their rock ballads, it really brings out the diversity that this legendary rock band had. Now-a-days we can see that even more as Slash has seemingly reinvented himself as he collaborates with some of pop music’s biggest names… Or is it Slash that is reinventing them?
MC Hammer – Addams Groove – Highest position #4 UK Chart
The man who was ‘Too legit to quit’ should have thrown the towel in long before this song. This was the title theme of ‘The Adams Family’ movie. I knew someone who was crazy for MC Hammer and at the time of this song, she actually tried to convince people that it was a truly great song and a musical triumph for Hammer. Take a listen back, it really wasn’t! This song is tripe of the highest order and if it wasn’t for the film, this track wouldn’t chart. Needless to say, Hammer made a few dollars from it, but I bet it’s not on his musical achievements list. Let’s face it ‘You Cant Touch This’ and ‘Pray’ were all that Hammer brought to the table. Get back in the box reverend Hammer!
Right Said Fred – Don’t Talk Just Kiss – Highest position #3 UK Chart
Let’s not over analyze this. The fact of the matter is that these guys (unlike many of their 80’s & 90’s counterparts) are still doing business worldwide. Though I’m not a fan of the music, I’d say they seem like the sort of people that truly enjoy their place in music, even if it is a somewhat novelty one. This track was Richard & Fred Fairbrass’s follow up single to Gold and PLATINUM single ‘Im Too Sexy’ and really capitalised on the success of that track. Did you know that Right Said Fred were the first UK band since The Beatles to score a #1 in the USA with a debut single? For the follow up they enlisted the vocal talents of soul supremo - Jocelyn Brown for this cheeky assault on the charts. Give your mesh t-shirt a wash, we will be seeing more of the Fairbrass boys in coming music blogs.
KLF featuring Tammy Wynette – Justified & Ancient - Highest position #2 UK Chart
Justified & Ancient wasn’t a dig at Tammy Wynette, but it is interesting to see a few of the un-established groups calling for the services of singers of superstar status such as Tammy and (like in the previous track) Jocelyn. This song was an international hit for UK based KLF but I wonder if it would have been if it didn’t feature US Country star Tammy Wynette??… Either way, this is another dance classic that has stood the test of time in the UK and can still be heard to this day. However, most music critics dubbed this song awful, with terrible lyrics “Bound for Mu Mu Land” and who could forget the Country music legend singing “They’re justified and they’re ancient, and they drive an ice cream van”? What’s not to love? Shortly after, The KLF released ‘3am Eternal’ which was another semi-hit. But Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty the guys behind The KLF quit the music industry and retired the KLF name at the same time. Not very Christmassy, but a guilty pleasure for sure!
George Michael & Elton John – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – Highest position #1 UK Chart
I truly believe that this song was set to be the Christmas #1 and if it hadn’t have been for the tragic and untimely death of Freddie Mercury it would have managed it. Before 1991, this pairing had performed the song in 1985 at Live Aid to a capacity Wembly Stadium. The feeling was that such a moment shouldn’t be attempted to be replicated. It was replicated with incredible results as Elton was a surprise guest during the song that was performed in March or 1991 at Wembly Arena. I’m pretty sure the song can’t be sung now without somebody saying “Ladies & Gentlemen… Mr Elton John”. This collaboration had global hit written all over it.
It’s time for your 1991 Christmas Number One!
Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody (re-issue) / These Are The Days Of Our Lives – Highest position #1 UK Charts
It was decided that both Bohemian Rhapsody and These Are The Days Of Our Lives (the last Queen song recorded by Freddie Mercury) would be released in the wake of Freddie’s death on November 24th 1991. It seemed only fitting (if not a little somber) that Queen should take the crown of Christmas Number One in the UK. Bohemian Rhapsody was one of the true anthems of this band but ‘These Are The Days…’ was more of a fond farewell to a much loved rock legend. This track was largely written by the band’s drummer Roger Taylor. It was released as a single in the United States on 5th September 1991 (which happens to be the last birthday lead vocalist Freddie Mercury lived to see) and as double A-side single in the UK three months later on 9th December. Later in 1992 as a tribute to Freddie the song was played live in April 1992 at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, sung by George Michael and Lisa Stansfield. You can see that version here http://youtu.be/Y6n1h_KO8Gg So it’s with a heavy heart that I close this month’s 90’s music blog. Artists like Freddie Mercury are true ‘one offs’… He was an incredible singer with operatic range, a showman with unrivalled charisma and a larger than life performer who could hold entire stadiums in the palm of his hand.
Till next time 90’s music fans!
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!