Hold tight, the new year shakeout may be a week late but it is no less spectacular for all that. 15 new entries, 6 climbers and 2 non-movers.
No. 38: NEW ENTRY. Paris - Guerilla Funk
Nothing much to comment about this particular track, but for the choice of name - 'Paris' being the name of the short-lived group who had a No.49 hit in 1982 with No Getting Over You. [This guy however was rapper Oscar Jackson Jnr, and a scary bloke he was too].
No. 37: NEW ENTRY. New Order - Nineteen63
New Order released their first hits compilation in 1987. Entitled Substance it covered all their single releases to that date, plus two new tracks, both of which became instant New Order classics. True Faith was one of them, released as a single in August that year and became their biggest hit to that date. The other was 1963, never released in its own right but tucked away on the B-side of True Faith. Fast forward to the present day when New Order release their second Greatest Hits collection. True Faith again is released as a single and reached No.9 back in November. To follow it up the original b-side finally becomes an a-side in its own right and scrapes into the bottom end of the Top 40. Its a strategy that will probably do the single a disservice, always one of the more penetrable New Order lyrics and certainly an enduring juke box favourite, accompanied now by a video starring Jane Horrocks. For b-sides to end up as a-sides on a completely different occasion is rare but by no means unusual, Janet Jackson and 808 State being particularly prone to this. Sometimes the b-side can become a bigger hit on its own as happened with Dire Straits' Walk Of Life after it was promoted from the back of So Far Away and most spectacularly by Whitney Houston's The Greatest Love Of All which started life on the back of her first American hit You Give Good Love before becoming a US No.1 in its own right.
No. 35: NEW ENTRY. Thelma Houston - Don't Leave Me This Way
More dance, although this time in the superior form of 1970s Northern Soul and arguably one of the greatest disco songs ever written. Thelma Houston's cover of the Harold Melvin song first made No.13 in March 1977 when it charted simultaneously with the Bluenotes' original version. Now with the obligatory set of remixes it becomes a hit all over again 18 years later to give the legendary vocalist her first chart appearance since You Used To Hold Me So Tight reached No.49 in December 1984. The song has become something of a standard over the years, most recently in the Top 10 courtesy of the Communards' version in 1987 which cheekily used Thelma Houston's take on the songs gender to fit the sexual tastes of Jimmy Somerville. Whilst it may not be directly relevant to its chart position, the song has a legend of its own where I work, our playlist computer having programmed all three versions of the song within one track of each other once... I always said it had taste.
No. 34: NEW ENTRY. Donna Allen - Real
Spooky this, barely a month after a dance record lifts the vocal from this lady's biggest ever hit, she emerges from the shadows with a brand new hit. Donna Allen first came to attention back in 1987 with Serious, a No.8 hit which was recently sampled by Strike's U Sure Do. She returned to the charts in 1989 with her cover of Maze's Joy and Pain, fighting off a challenge from the original to reach No.10. Her first hit in nearly six years comes as a result of the tracks appearance on the soundtrack of the film 'The Specialist'.
No. 31: NEW ENTRY. Jim Carrey - Cuban Pete
[Funny how I didn't see this as comment-worthy at the time. The fact that Jim Carrey made the British Top 40 with his rendering of the old standard as seen in "The Mask" is something that is almost lost to history. Good job I can flag it up here].
No. 27: NEW ENTRY. Van Halen - Don't Tell Me
The new year is always a good time to sneak a hit in and Van Halen have used it to their advantage. Eddie et al will of course always be synonymous with Jump, their worldwide smash from 1984 which in true ironic fashion is totally removed from most of the music they produce. Since then they have had only 3 more Top 40 hits, Why Can't This Be Love making No.8 in 1986, When Its Love making No.28 in 1988 and a live recording of Jump which made No.26 in 1993. Don't Tell Me is by no means a smash hit, but it is always welcome to see some genuine crunching commercial rock in the charts from the man who is arguably one of the best guitarists in the world.
No. 26: NEW ENTRY. Scarlet - Independent Love Song
Possibly more than any other act of the moment, Scarlet have generated an industry buzz for a number of years now. The two girls from Hull were first spotted almost five years ago when they were both just 16 and have since then been nurtured and developed by an extremely patient record industry. It was well worth the wait believe me. They first surfaced in 1992 thanks to a couple of independent singles, one of which Piccadilly In The Rain was one of my favourites of the year and still sounds just as good today. Their first release for a major label virtually shouted to go on radio playlists and as a result lands with a bang into the Top 30. My own very personal view is that it is easily one of the singles of the year, a startlingly beautiful power-pop ballad, one of those rare records that has the capacity to move you to tears when played at high volume. Alright so I'm biased in this particular commentary but if there is any record which should, nay deserves to be a massive hit it is this one.
No. 24: NEW ENTRY. Mr Roy - Saved
When all is said and done pop music is supposed to be fun and so it is welcome to see a dance hit which, whilst possibly not originally intended as a joke, is lighthearted enough to make you smile. Saved begins conventionally enough with a standard techno beat and gruff vocals before transforming itself halfway through and sampling almost in its entirety Booker T and the MGs Soul Limbo. The classic Stax record was never a major hit here, reaching No.30 in early 1969 but is known by virtually the whole country as the BBCs theme to all its cricket coverage. Well it made me smile anyway...
No. 22: NEW ENTRY. TLC - Creep
The current American hit bounds over the Atlantic to give a much-delayed second Top 40 hit over here. Left behind perhaps in the girlie swingbeat race that developed in 1992/93, TLC scored big first time out with Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg which made No.13 in June 1992 but then failed to reach the Top 40 with any of their followups. This hit gets a Top 30 place but has nothing special to recommend it. The last Top 40 hit called Creep was of course the Radiohead song and you get the feeling that had TLC covered that they may have generated a little more interest. Claws away James.... [delete your account].
No. 20: NEW ENTRY. Barry White - Practice What You Preach
Ah, the Walrus of Love, perhaps a little more blubbery than he was but still trying it on with the ladies. Barry White, the man whose voice is an aphrodisiac in itself needs no introduction of course, having scored a string of sensuous disco hits in the 1970s, most with ludicrously long titles. Despite still recording regularly he has hardly had any hits at all since 1978. His only other chart appearance since then was in November 1987 when his debut A&M hit Sho You Right made No.14. The new hit comes to the chart via extensive plugging in the clubs but is surprisingly a bit pedestrian when it comes down to it. Never mind, the man who inspired 90% of all Lisa Stansfield's songs will always manage to charm. Now where did I put the Haagen-Dazs?
No. 18: NEW ENTRY. Ultimate Kaos - Hoochie Booty
The second hit for the kiddies from London following on from Some Girls which made No.9 back in October. For their second hit they move away from the bubblegum Jackson 5 sound and into harder swing beat territory. It may make for a more credible record but in actual fact is a bit of a disappointment and possibly not as big a hit this time round. The record may well receive a bit of a push in a couple of weeks though, its path to the Top 20 having been documented in a film due to be shown on the BBC1 show How Do They Do That on Wednesday 25th January which is certain to have a slight knock-on effect on its sales.
No. 16: NEW ENTRY. Sleeper - Inbetweener
[What, nothing to say about an early Britpop classic 1994 James? For shame].
No. 15: FALLER. Portishead - Glory Box
A 4am brainstorm last week caused me to hit this record and go off at a tangent and in completely the wrong direction. Apologies to all those confused by my describing it as a dance record. It is actually the long-awaited breakthrough for the band following several near-misses and is definitely one of the more gloriously slinky indie records released in ages. [But you still don't know what trip-hop is do you? Never mind, maybe the next single on the charts will help].
No. 14: NEW ENTRY. Massive Attack featuring Tracey Thorn - Protection
Massive Attack's new album was released last year to near universal acclaim but the first single Sly failed to achieve much, fizzling out after reaching No.24. Pleasant though it was they clearly were missing the vocals of Shara Nelson which had made 1991s Unfinished Sympathy such a treat. The second single and title track from the album changes all that with guest vocals in the shape of the velvet tones of Tracey Thorn from Everything But The Girl. The result is an instant Top 20 smash, just one place short of the peak originally reached by their groundbreaking debut hit.
No. 13: CLIMBER. Lightning Seeds - Change
The strongest climb of the week comes from the pure pop of the Lightning Seeds, smashing past the No.16 peak of Pure to give Ian Broudie et al their biggest ever hit.
No. 11: CLIMBER. Bill Whelan - Riverdance
Bill Whelan's 'Wiggly Leg Dance' as it is known in some quarters, exceeds many expectations despite a lack of mainstream radio play and rebounds for a second week to shoot past the No.15 peak it achieved at Christmas. Whether it makes further progress is open to question but with Terry Wogan and Steve Wright both enamoured with the track and television shows falling over themselves to show the spectacular dance in the video anything is possible.
No. 10: NEW ENTRY. R Kelly - Bump and Grind
Biggest new hit of the week then comes from R Kelly, riding on a wave after the Top 3 success of She's Got That Vibe over 2 and a half years after the track was first released. He follows it up with his biggest American hit of the last year, a rather slower track but certain to be boosted by his imminent arrival on these shores for a series of concerts in career boosting move that echoes the rise of Bobby Brown here in 1989. Media interest though is of course likely to centre more on whether or not he is poking Aaliyah [age ain't nothing but a number you know] with the lyrics of the song taking on a far greater irony than he could ever have anticipated.
No. 6: CLIMBER. Human League - Tell Me When
Another shift in position for the Human League. Only 4 of their hits have ever peaked higher.
No. 3: CLIMBER. N-Trance - Set Me Free
N-Trance make an assault on the Top 3, a far cry from when the track was first released in May last year when it could only make No.39.
No. 2: NON-MOVER. Celine Dion - Think Twice
Celine Dion holds firm at No.2 and looks to be running out of steam [ahem, famous last words. Reminiscent of November 1992 when week after week I rubbished the prospects of a certain Whitney Houston song]. Detailed breakdown of the chart statistics shows that the gap between her and Rednex this week is equivalent to the number of copies of the 12" of 'Cotton Eye Joe' that were sold this week. The crucial difference is that Think Twice is unavailable on vinyl in any form. Whilst the share of the market enjoyed by good old black plastic is a sad shadow of what it used to be its impact can often still be enough to make a difference. No single has yet made No.1 without being available in either 7" or 12" format and although this is by no means an unbreakable taboo it may continue to be significant for a while yet. Interestingly enough the only Take That single in 2.5 years not to make No.1 was Love Ain't Here Anymore which could only be found in Cassette and CD formats.
No. 1: SECOND WEEK. Rednex - Cotton Eye Joe
So with 12" singles ablaze (so to speak) Rednex stay atop for a second week with an apparant dearth of ready challenges beneath them. They are only the fourth Swedish act to make No.1 in the UK alongside Abba, Europe and Ace Of Base. You would be taking your life in your hands to describe the track as 'Country' but if we do so for the sake of argument it is the first C&W-styled track to reach No.1 since Kenny Rogers' Coward Of The County way way back in 1980.