This week's Official UK Singles Chart

Introduction

Nope, sorry. Not one word will pass these lips as to what you can expect later on. Suffice it to say that the British charts once again have proved the words of the famous Chuck Berry song... You Never Ever Can Tell. 15 new entries for a second week running, 3 climbers (all of them in the top ten) and 2 non-movers.

The Chart

No. 37: (--) Vanessa-Mae - Red Hot

Quite aside from the music, Vanessa-Mae is certainly turning out to be one of the media hits of the year. The exotic-looking teenaged violin virtuoso has become one of the first classical artists ever to be promoted to a mass market, based largely on the populist tone of the music but also partly on her sex-appeal. Her first hit was a frantic reworking of Bach's Toccata and Fugue which reached a creditable No.16 back in March, complete with lolita-overtoned cover of her playing the violin in a see-through dress whilst walking out of the sea. Her second single is another classically-styled workout, complete with rock video and a cover of her dressed in an appropriately red vinyl outfit. With a nationwide series of concerts on the go too, it all begs the question of exactly what is being bought by the punters here, her image or her music?

No. 35: (--) Gompie - Alice (Who The X Is Alice)

Is there an official industry parlance for this? Euro-rude is the best way of describing the current trend on the continent for dance records that are high on the radio-unfriendly naughty words factor. We've already had the first example over here in the shape of the Outhere Brothers' hit, despite the most commercial mix excorcising the arse and pussy references which I suspect made the record such a smash in the first place. Now along comes the record which has held the Dutch charts to ransom recently, charting here after a brief cover battle with Roy 'Chubby' Brown. The premise of the record is this: In essence a cover version of Smokie's 1976 MOR classic Living Next Door To Alice except in this version whenever the singer says the word 'Alice' the track stops dead and a crowd of people shouts 'Alice? Who the f**k is Alice?', at which point the song continues on its way as before. Bizarre as it may sound, it is quite funny the first couple of times you hear it, which goes part of the way to explaining why it has charted in the first place. As for where it goes now, heaven only knows. Despite there being bleeped/censored versions of the track available, radio is likely to avoid it like the plague with the result that it may become an enormous early summer smash or fade into the obscurity it probably deserves. Rude records are nothing new of course, and Judge Dredd pulled exactly the same trick, with far greater aplomb over 20 years ago. [The 'original' Dutch version of the concept, here beating the Smokie/Roy 'Chubby' Brown version into the charts, although it would wind up the smaller of the two competing remakes].

No. 33: (--) Bob Dylan - Dignity

Amidst all the frantic turnover at the bottom end of the charts you occasionally get an astonishing gem like this. Bob Dylan may appear to churn out albums in his sleep these days, may have been singing his back catalogue for so long he is bored of their original tunes and changes them every time, but he is still a Legend to a large number of people, and a legend who has just released an MTV Unplugged session at that. The release of a track from that album has now landed him this, what is for him the comparative rarity of a UK Top 40 single. It is not that he has been short of hit singles in the past, just that virtually all of them came in the 1960s when he had five Top 10 hits, his biggest ever being Like A Rolling Stone which made No.4 in August 1965. His recent resurgence in popularity has led to a few minor hits over the past ten years or so, but this chart appearance of Dignity is incredibly his first Top 40 hit since Baby Stop Crying made No.13 in August 1978 - a gap of nearly 17 years. It may not be a major hit and indeed may be the last hit he ever has, but it makes the biggest selling 40 of the week and as such is one of the 15 biggest hits of his career.

No. 32: (RE) Sparks - When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way'

Reissue fever strikes again, this time with the Sparks attempting to kickstart a still sadly moribund career despite having produced one of the best albums of their career. ...My Way was first released last October but could only reach No.38, a fate similar to the follow-up When I Kiss You... which made No.36 - their first hits since 1979. Now the first single is released once more in a barely discernable remix and seems likely to go overlooked for a second time - a shame really as, as I have said before, the whole of the album is utterly wonderful with the band that can be said to have inspired the Pet Shop Boys themselves sounding 20 years on like Tennant and Lowe on acid...

No. 28: (--) Elton John - Made In England

The second hit of the year for Elton John, following on from Believe which made No.15 back in March. The second single is the title track from his current album, and in so many ways is a much better single. Forget all these mushy ballads about divorce and middle-age he has been churning out recently, posterity will record that Elton John is the master of the out-and-out pop stormer - and this song, both a homage to this wonderful country and yet at the same time a protest against homophobia is possibly one of the best records he has made for several years. That said, its low chart entry may well mean it will underperform, despite the copious radio support it is currently commanding.

No. 27: (--) Green Day - When I Come Around

The third hit of the year for Green Day, coming down now from the high of Basket Case which smashed straight into the Top 10 and following on from Longview which reached No.30 in March. This track, their current American hit is really more of the same, and unlikely to extend their following here much further.

No. 26: (--) Skin - Take Me Down To The River

The first hit of 1995 for Skin, who gathered together quite a following last year after a series of concerts and charted three hits - two of them in the Top 20. Its the kind of rock that never manages major commercial hits, but this is another one to add to their tally and need not be overlooked because of that.

No. 24: (--) Everton FC - All Together Now

Manchester United's rivals for the FA Cup on Saturday release their obligatory track and crash straight into the Top 30 with it. They are very much the underdogs for the final having just scraped by without relegation for the past couple of seasons. Their last consolidated period of success was in the mid-80s and so in turn this becomes their second hit single, the first being in 1985 with Here We Go which reached No.14. Coincidentally that preceded their last appearance in an FA Cup final against non other than Manchester United who made No.10 with their effort and went on to win the final 1-0. All of which has nothing to do with the song of course. It is based around the Farm's 1990 Christmas hit of the same title, produced by the band themselves after a little heart searching from Peter Hooten who was worried about devaluing his song which has grown into something of a peace anthem over the last five years.

No. 20: (20) Joshua Kadison - Jessie

Possibly not over yet for Joshua Kadison, now spending a third week running at No.20. That's the longest static period outside the Top 10 since Diana Ross spent three weeks at this same position in September 1993 with Chain Reaction.

No. 19: (--) Rod Stewart - You're The Star

The most celebrated unretired star in the business returns with his first solo hit in a long while. His last chart appearance of any kind was in early 1994 when he sang on a third of All For Love alongside Sting and the man who is two places below him. His last solo chart hit was almost two years ago in June 1993 when his cover of Van Morrison's Have I Told You Lately reached No.5. Rod has been on something of a chart roll for most of the 1990s having notched up no less than 7 Top 10 hits since 1990 compared to 4 for the whole of the 1980s and whilst this new single may not be his most classic release ever it is still another to add to an ever impressive list dating back to 1971.

No. 17: (--) Bob Marley and the Wailers - Keep On Moving

Elvis Presley is possibly the only other deceased artist to chart as regularly as Bob Marley who has had most of his biggest hits since he passed away almost 15 years ago. Keep On Moving is his first hit since September 1992 and Iron Lion Zion which reached No.5 and just like that last hit has been touched up for the 1990s to give it a hard yet still poppy edge that still serves to remind why he was the biggest commercial reggae artist ever. A further Top 10 hit is certainly not out of the question for this one.

No. 15: (--) Ali Campbell - That Look In Your Eye

More pop-reggae, this time in the shape of UB40 singer Ali Campbell, filling the gap between albums by the band with his first ever solo release. A lovely little track it is too, helped along by the voice behind 16 Top 10 hits from the biggest reggae _band_ in chart history. His last chart appearance was along with brother Robin, guesting on Pato Banton's No.1 cover of Baby Come Back and there is still more to come with talk of a followup single featuring him and his daughter duetting on Frank and Nancy Sinatra's Something Stupid.... now that would be quite something. [Yeah, that happened too later in the summer].

No. 11: (--) Celine Dion - Only One Road

Yes... she's back. The woman behind that bloody Think Twice record [that was its official name by this point] which spent 7 weeks atop the charts after a marathon trek to get there, sold well over a million copies and is still one of the bestsellers of the year. Her latest single is more of the same, an overwrought ballad sung in the same voice which although obviously has its fans always seems to give me a headache. Hands up all those who spotted her last Saturday in the retrospective montage shown during the Eurovision Song Contest, complete with embarrassing bubble perm as she won the contest for Luxembourg in 1988. Only One Road is the third Top 20 hit of her career following Think Twice and The Power Of Love.

No. 10: (RE) Billie Ray Martin - Your Loving Arms

...and so here it comes again, yet another minor chart hit turned around into a massive smash a couple of months down the line. Your Loving Arms was first released last November and could only make No.38 for the former singer with S-Express and Electribe 101. Clearly that was not good enough, and so here it comes again, crashing straight into the Top 10 to become the biggest hit of her career since she had a guest spot on S-Express' Hey Music Lover back in 1989. The re-release of minor hits has reached near epidemic proportions of late. This track is no less than the sixteenth dance hit (by my reckoning) to become a smash hit second time round since the beginning of the year, and that total is not including all the dance hits that are cover versions of other people's hits from years gone by. All of which points towards the speed of turnover at the lower end of the chart. For a while it was just accepted as a consequence of the recession but now with prosperity returning and singles sales shooting through the roof there are clearly other factors involved. I would suggest though, that the trend of minor hits being turned into big ones after a rethink is actually nothing new. All that has changed recently is the amount of money A&R departments have to throw around... if they are sure they have a hit record they can spend big money on promoting it to be so... a luxury not seen since the mid-80s and it can be no coincidence that the first half of 1985 also saw a rash of underachievers from the previous year go on to become classic hits.

No. 7: (16) Love City Groove - Love City Groove

Well they didn't win, coming a not too unrespectable joint tenth but the buildup to the competition generated enough interest in Love City Groove to send them shooting up the charts and into the Top 10 - the first British Eurovision entry to get this high since One Step Further by Bardo did it in 1982 and the first Eurovision track of any kind to be a top tenner since Johnny Logan's 1987 winner Hold Me Now made No.2. The cutoff point for this chart was of course midnight on Saturday so this will not include the sales from people who saw the record during the telecast on Saturday night, meaning it may still receive another boost come next week. Of course the cynical view is that if the record had been little more than a mandolin and violin solo it may have stood a better chance, but I would hate to stoop to such bitchiness... [that's a reference to the song that actually did win the contest, look it up].

No. 6: (15) Man Utd featuring Stryker - We're Gonna Do It Again

Up go Man Utd to make the Top 10 for the second year in succession and the third in their brief chart career. As mentioned above, their first Top 10 hit was back in 1985 when they were up against their rivals this year - Everton. All eyes on Wembley stadium on Saturday then...

No. 2: ( 1) Livin' Joy - Dreamer

Strange goings on at the top of the charts. Livin' Joy become the second record in succession to be toppled after just a week at the summit. They put up a fight, but in the end the competition was overwhelming.

No. 1: (--) FIRST WEEK. Robson Green and Jerome Flynn - Unchained Melody/White Cliffs Of Dover

Its another of these I'm afraid, just one record which has sold a fair number of copies and yet which shatters and equals all sorts of chart records. Robson Green and Jerome Flynn are two stars of the ITV series 'Soldier Soldier'. A recent storyline had them singing a rendition of Unchained Melody, a performance which generated such a reaction from the public that RCA records [read: Simon Cowell] leaped on the concept and released it as a single [after much persuasion on his part, the two actors wanting little to do with being pop stars at first], coupled with the timely double-A side rendition of White Cliffs Of Dover to coincide nicely with its VE day release. Over the course of the last week the track sold well over 300,000 copies, rivalling Take That for one of the biggest first week sales of the year. It was enough of course to send it straight to No.1 and to create an incredible string of records:

1) Equalling the now-unbeatable record of the highest ever new entry by a completely unknown act. The once unthinkable feat was first achieved by Whigfield last year with Saturday Night. No other previously uncharted acts have ever gone straight to No.1.

2) The fourth No.1 hit in a row to enter at the top of the charts. Such a streak of instant success is totally unprecedented in chart history [get used to it].

3) The fourth No.1 single in as many weeks. Curiously enough despite epic residencies at the top of the charts by acts such as Celine Dion and Wet Wet Wet this is the third time in the last 18 months that we have had a rapid turnover of No.1 hits. The first was almost exactly a year ago when Prince, Tony Di Bart and Man Utd came and went in quick succession. The second was just a few months ago when Celine Dion, Comic Relief and Take That all took turns at the top.

4) Unchained Melody itself makes history by becoming the first song ever to be No.1 in three different versions. It's first spell of glory came in 1955 when the film for which the song was originally written was only general release. A flood of versions hit the charts, topped by Jimmy Young who managed three weeks in July that year. The second version was the Righteous Brothers' version which was re-released in 1990 following use of the track in the film 'Ghost'. It spent four weeks at the top and was the second biggest hit of the year. Thus the song has topped the charts over a span of nearly 40 years and with Guaglione means that two of the top 3 records this week are songs written four decades ago.

All of which leaves me with sore fingers, the record books reeling and speculation as to what happens next. The lead Green and Flynn have at present is at least enough to keep them at No.1 for a couple of weeks, but as those of you who have followed these articles for any length of time will know, you can never ever predict what is going to happen next.