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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!