[Trivia note: this was the first ever commentary to appear on the World Wide Web as well as on usenet and via an email mailing list. This was harder to achieve than you might think, the concept of ISPs routinely providing subscribers with their own webspace was a couple of years away and so I was reliant on an old university friend marking the column up each week and hosting it on his allocation on their servers. This was still cutting edge stuff, the first version of Netscape Navigator wasn't released for another month. But it was also timely, the concept of "The Internet" was steadily becoming mainstream with the first net-relating magazines appearing on the shelves and TV shows starting to talk it up. And here I was, an already well-established and enthusiastically followed content creator. These were exciting times to be a part of].
No. 38: NEW ENTRY. Status Quo - Sherri Don't Fail Me Now
First up this week comes the second hit of the year from the veteran rockers following on from I Didn't Mean It which made No.21 in August. They are far and away the most charted band of all time, this being their 47th chart hit in a run stretching back to 1968. They are often the butt of many jokes about all the songs sounding the same, comments which frankly fail to hold water when you listen to most of their output. The new single is as classic a piece of music as they have ever produced, not a hope in hell of getting further but then their legions of fans will hardly care about that. It is worth remembering that they have also written and produced a No.1 single already this year - even if it was for Manchester United. [No official video to embed, but go seek it out as this was possibly The 'Quo's last truly great single and something of a lost classic].
No. 37: FALLER. Youssou N'Dour featuring Neneh Cherry - Seven Seconds
A two place drop prolongs the chart life of this hit for perhaps one last gasp. This is now the hit's 18th week in the Top 40, more than any other hit this year save for Wet Wet Wet.
No. 34: NEW ENTRY. 2 In A Room - El Trago (The Drink)
The two rappers are best known in this country (and indeed in many places too I suspect) for their 1991 Top 10 hit Wiggle It - an infuriatingly silly little record that somehow dominated the dancefloors early that year. The followup to that She's Got Me Going Crazy stalled at No.54 and they have been quiet ever since but now charge back into the Top 40, albeit in a rather minor way with another piece of Dance-Rap that will, you guessed it, vanish as quickly as it came.
No. 31: NEW ENTRY. INXS - Strangest Party (These Are The Times)
Greatest Hits collection time for this mob as well. The biggest band ever to come out of Australia took a while to break through in the UK, and only in 1988 finally hitting big with a succession of singles from their Kick album. Commercially they seem to have peaked soon after, despite rave critical reviews of a succession of albums that developed their musical inventiveness. The new single to herald their career overview looks back to more straightforward times and yet still manages to slightly underachieve first week out - disappointing given that their last hit The Gift made an instant No.11 exactly one year ago this week. Throughout their entire career they have only ever had one Top 10 hit - a remix of Need You Tonight which made No.2 in November 1988.
No. 26: NEW ENTRY. Pantera - Planet Caravan
Nothing to specially write home about, the second Top 40 hit of the year for Pantera, following on from I'm Broken which made No.19 in March.
No. 20: NEW ENTRY. Ultimate Kaos - Some Girls
The wet dream I suspect of every American A&R man, to find a group of children who can become the new Jackson Five (or should that be the new New Edition or the new NKOTB etc). Well the latest mob to try and fulfill that aim are Ultimate Kaos who have managed the unusual feat for a US teen act of actually scoring a major British hit with apparant ease. That is not to detract from the pop brilliance of the single, sounding for all the work as if it could be by an updated Jackson 5 and leaped upon immediately by radio who have been playing it to death for weeks. Bad luck aside, a Top 10 placing could be imminent. [A terrific assessment with just one tiny flaw. They were British, and the brainchild of a certain Simon Cowell. You may have heard of him].
No. 17: NEW ENTRY. Elastica - Connection
The hype surrounding this band may not be as big as some others I could mention (or will have done by the time we reach No.1) but it is still enough to ensure that this record could not really miss. Elastica have steadily grown in stature ever since their first hit Line Up which crashed straight in and out to No.20 back in February. Further progression may be unlikely perhaps but I suspect this will not be the last we hear of them before the end of the year.
No. 15: NEW ENTRY. Let Loose - Seventeen
It was in September 1992 that Let Loose were first signed to their label, heralded as one of a new wave of pop bands who were going to turn the singles market around amongst the young. Quite why it should have taken them so long is a bit of a mystery but after a couple of false starts they are off and running. After missing the charts altogether earlier in the year, their last hit Crazy For You finally hit this summer, hung around for ages whilst climbing to No.2 and is still one of the biggest sellers of the year. The Nik Kershaw penned and produced Seventeen was first released in May but could only make No.44. Now on the back of their newfound success the track crashes straight into the Top 20 and looks set to become the massive hit it always deserved to be. It is almost certainly one of those pop records that somehow manages to transcend mere teen appeal to become a genuine standard and it is worth bearing in mind that the last time Nik Kershaw was the brains behind an outstanding pop record was in 1991 when The One And Only made No.1 for Chesney Hawkes.
No. 10: NEW ENTRY. R. Kelly - She's Got That Vibe
Gosh, they're determined to sell this guy to us Brits no matter what it takes. The third hit for R.Kelly is his biggest so far thanks to a frighteningly large promotional push that eclipses the No.19 peak of Your Body's Calling and the in-and-out No.23 performance of Summer Bunnies. It will be interesting to watch how this does next week in the light of his recent chart performance and also considering that the US No.1 Bump and Grind has yet to be released as a single over here.
No. 9: CLIMBER. Snap featuring Summer - Welcome To Tomorrow
Sixth chart week for Snap and Welcome To Tomorrow edges its way into the Top 10. Before this track hit the charts every Snap single had reached its ultimate peak on its second or third chart week.
No. 7: NEW ENTRY. Oasis - Cigarettes and Alcohol
Well if anyone can claim to be the new band of 1994 it has to be Oasis. Attracting such adoration that they famously got beaten up on stage and notorious enough to be featured on highbrow news shows on Radio 4, Oasis have steadily seen their chart stature growing too. Live Forever back in August made No.10 first week out and now their fourth hit and possibly one of their better tracks betters that position by a full three places, all the more impressive when you consider that the album from which it comes has already made No.1 first week out and then plummeted to virtually nowhere in the six weeks it has been on release.
No. 6: CLIMBER. Michelle Gayle - Sweetness
Michelle Gayle still moving and I was interested to note this week, reading the record label for the first time (the CDs at work are in sealed cartridges so that is not as slack as it may seem) that the track is written and produced by Narada Michael Walden who has in the past produced hits for Whitney Houston and Starship amongst others - it could also bode well for this track to cross over to the states. You have been warned.
No. 2: CLIMBER. Pato Banton - Baby Come Back
Pato Banton's debut hit climbs to what will probably be its eventual peak [yeah, right]. It is interesting to note that as a protege of UB40 too he has a No.2 debut hit in common with Bitty McLean.
No. 1: SECOND WEEK. Take That - Sure
Off and running and little to shift them for this week at least, the fifth chart topper for Take That notches up a second week and the tenth week the band have spent at the top in their entire career, not all that unusual though as there are 32 other acts ahead of them in that particular list - give them time though. The record in that particular department is held by the same familiar names: Slade on 20, Abba on 31, Frankie Laine on 32, Cliff Richard on 43, the Beatles with 69 and Elvis outscoring them all with an incredible 73 weeks at No.1.