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!
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