No. 38: NEW ENTRY. PJ Harvey - Down By The Water
First up this week comes a brand new hit for the lady who could be said to have started the current vogue for women's bands with attitude. Always a bit underrated commercially, Polly Harvey has for the past few years been mentioned in the same breath of some of the trendier blokey bands and feted by the inky music press. Now with the rise of bands like Portishead and Sleeper her time could have come although her songs are always a little too gloom-laden to be hits. This is in fact only her second Top 40 entry, following on from 50ft Queenie which made No.27 in May 1993.
No. 36: NEW ENTRY. Garth Brooks - The Dance
Another stage in Britain's battle to work out what all the fuss is about this man. He finally made his chart breakthrough early last year as a result of a string of concerts in this country. They led to his first ever Top 20 hit with The Red Strokes which was followed by the Top 30 hit Standing Outside The Fire. Now comes his third UK hit in the wake of his continuing domination of the US charts with the form of release that is usually anathema to American record buyers - the Greatest Hits album.
No. 35: NEW ENTRY. Aswad - You're No Good
Reggae veterans Aswad enjoyed yet another spurt of success last summer when they scored a long-lived Top 5 hit with Shine. The band have been together in one form or another since the mid-1970s but have only in the past few years reached hitmaking form, the breakthrough coming in 1988 with their No.1 version of Don't Turn Around, (the song covered by Ace Of Base last year). The followup to Shine was Warriors which fizzled out at No.33 and so clearly after a rethink the band have turned back to the old faithful of a reggae cover of a classic pop record. You're No Good was first popularised by the Swinging Blue Jeans who reached No.3 with it in 1964. The song was later covered by Linda Ronstadt and although not a hit here it made No.1 in America in 1975. Aswad's version if anything is a little soulless compared to the timeless original and may struggle to give them another smash but the longevity and enduring popularity of the veterans of the scene ensures that it won't be long before they are back again.
No. 29: NEW ENTRY. Go-Gos - Whole World Lost Its Head
It smacks of milking a concept I suppose but the second reunion in recent years for the ultimate US Girlie band of the 1980s produces some new material and their first ever UK Top 40 hit. The makeup of the band is I'm sure too well known to be detailed here, suffice it to recount that the solo careers of Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin appear to have taken something of a tumble of late and so a reunion of the girls, maybe not quite as trim or as glamorous as they were 15 years ago (although face it, are any of us?) makes good commercial sense. The closest they ever came to a UK hit during their original incarnation was in 1982 when their version of Our Lips Are Sealed made No.47, the song becoming a hit for co-writer Terry Hall's band Fun Boy Three a year later. Their 1991 reunion produced a single in the shape of their cover of Cool Jerk but that in turn could only reach No.60.
No. 28: NEW ENTRY. Melanie Williams and Joe Roberts - You Are Everything
As I sit writing this on Valentine's day I suppose it is somewhat appropriate to note the plethora of love songs that have suddenly flooded the chart. By no means the least poignant of them is this cover of the soul classic performed by real-life couple Melanie Williams and Joe Roberts. The song first charted as a minor hit for the female duo Pearls in 1973 but was most famously a hit for Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye the following year when they reached No.5. I must confess to never having been a massive Diana Ross fan so if anything this new version sounds better than the original. For Joe Roberts it is his third Top 40 hit following Lover and Back In My Life last year. Melanie Williams is best known for her vocals on Sub-Sub's 1993 Top 3 hit Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use) but also charted in her own right last June with Everyday Thang.
No. 26: NEW ENTRY. C & C Music Factory - I Found Love/Take A Toke
The world of dance music was thrown into shock at the start of the month following the death of David Cole. He fell ill with Spinal Meningitis at the end of 1994 and was unable to recover. Together with partner Robert Clivilles he left behind a string of international dance smashes such as Gonna Make You Sweat and Things That Make You Go Hmm and produced hits for artists such as Lisa Lisa and Aretha Franklin. Having circulated as a white label for some months now, this track was already on the release schedules when he died and now stands as a fitting tribute to the man whose more recent commercial successes tended to overshadow his contribution to the modern house music scene during the mid to late 1980's.
No. 25: NEW ENTRY. Del Amitri - Here And Now
That most worthy of Scottish bands, Del Amitri return after a two-year absence as they try to follow up the Change Everything album which saw them reverse their slight decline in recent years and score a string of hit singles, most notably Always The Last To Know which as well as reaching No.13 in May 1992 also became a sizeable American hit. Categorising the band is hard, they make neither pop music nor rock music, just nice gentle guitar folk songs which can at times disappear up the worthiness of their subject matter but at their best never fail to excite or entertain. Their first hit remains their biggest, Nothing Ever Happens peaked at No.11 in January 1990.
No. 23: NEW ENTRY. BMU - U Will Know
Few film soundtracks can have been heralded by a track such as this. The first single from a film (whose name escapes me at this precise moment) is performed by BMU - Black Men United - and features the vocal talents of just about every young black soul artist to have charted in recent months. Whilst a lovely idea in practice these 'galaxy of stars' records never really work out as well as they should simply because one mob of soul artists singing in harmony sounds just like any other, particularly when they are all mixed together in a fairly normal-sounding swingbeat track.
No. 21: NEW ENTRY. Shampoo - Delicious
I commented back in the summer when this pair first charted that Shampoo were an A&R man's wet dream, two peroxide blonde teenage girls making punky, guitar-driven pop singles. In practice though it is hard to divulge exactly what market they are aimed at as the pair, whilst lovely people in real life I'm told, aren't exactly oil paintings to look at. Still, personal preferences aside, Shampoo smashed into the Top 20 last August with Trouble and whilst it never quite managed to crack the Top 10 hung around the charts and on radio playlists for a long while afterwards, to the detriment of the more melodic followup, the grammatically challenged Viva La Megababes which crashed out at No.27 in October. Having this time they hope got their timings right, Shampoo return with a gloriously perky track, quite clearly aimed for a party atmosphere or the time of the evening when you are too inebriated to care what you are dancing to. This may be partly due to the fact that the song is the bastard cousin of Dizzy and Gimmie Some, but then again ripping off guitar riffs from party hits gone by never did Transvision Vamp any harm...
No. 19: NEW ENTRY. Gloria Estefan - Everlasting Love
Having tackled 1970s disco and 1950s torch ballads on her flow of cover versions, Gloria Estefan now turns her hand to a pop classic and oh dear, makes a balls-up of it. Everlasting Love is without a doubt one of the most perfect pop records ever written coupling not only a strong melody but also a startlingly powerful romantic lyric that no amount of modern bleeping noises can smother. It is also one of the most prolific songs in chart history having been recorded by countless artists (U2 being my particular favourite) and having been a chart hit on no less than five previous occasions for writer Robert Knight, the Love Affair (who made No.1), Rex Smith/Rachel Sweet, Sandra and most recently Worlds Apart in September 1993. Sad to relate then that Gloria Estefan's is the worst of the lot. It may be impossible to smother the song but this production does its darndest, opening in a crescendo of pseudo-rave beats to be joined by Gloria Estefan sounding extremely bored with the whole process - never a good idea when you are covering one of the most exuberant anthems ever written. Whatever the quality of the song, it becomes her second Top 20 hit in succession following the No.11 success of 'Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me' back at Christmas. Incidentally, the most prolific song in chart history is White Christmas which has charted in no less than 8 different versions.
No. 18: CLIMBER. Vanessa-Mae - Toccata And Fugue
After a slow start, the young girl who is being labelled as the new Nigel Kennedy takes a leap into the Top 20 to become the first classical artist to climb this far since Luciano Pavarotti reached No.15 in conjunction with Zucchero on Misere in November 1992. Bach's composition was of course previously a hit for Sky in 1980, reaching No.5 although despite Mike Batt's modern arrangement, this version is light years away from Sky's pomp-rock opus.
No. 11: NON-MOVER. Deuce - Call It Love
They have been edging up slowly over the past few weeks and now Deuce stall, agonisingly close to the Top 10. Its a pity really as the debut single from the act is easily one of the best pop records on the chart at the moment.
No. 10: NEW ENTRY. Alex Party - Don't Give Me Your Life
In from virtually nowhere come Alex Party with a brilliantly commercial piece of dance, dramatically overtaking the No.29 peak of their last hit Read My Lips in May 1994.
No. 3: FALLER. N-Trance - Set You Free
Despite a flood of new hits, hardly any make a massive impact on the top end of the chart but the stagnation of recent weeks has taken its toll and many of the top movers are now into a terminal decline, leaving things wide open for the coming weeks.
No. 2: NEW ENTRY. Annie Lennox - No More 'I Love You's
Back in 1986 the Norwegian band A-Ha dominated the pop market. Record companies everywhere scrambled to find similar acts to cash in on this latest musical wave. A&Ms answer was a duo called The Lover Speaks who turned out to be an expensive failure but they did leave behind a gorgeous single entitled No More 'I Love You's which could only reach No.58 in August of that year. Too good to leave alone, the track was reactivated two years later only to vanish without trace. Enter Annie Lennox who for her second solo album has elected to follow the crowd and record an album of covers. Rather than go for well-known songs she has selected some of her more obscure favourites. The first single is her own beautifully-rendered and faithful version of one of the great long-lost classics of British pop. Right down from the purity of her voice, the cuteness of the backing vocals and the impeccable Valentine's day timing, the song could hardly fail to be a hit. A masterful performance on Top Of The Pops a week before release helped matters no end and the record smashes in to give Celine Dion a run for her money and perhaps more importantly the biggest solo hit of Annie Lennox's career. Obviously a contender for No.1 next week and whilst there have been 'sure-fire' No.1 hits that have stopped short in the past it would take a very hardened cynic to bet against this one.
No. 1: THIRD WEEK. Celine Dion - Think Twice
In the meantime Celine Dion mops up the honours for a third week. Valentines day will have given the sales of this single a boost as well but for the moment at least, Annie Lennox looks unstoppable.