A word of warning before I start: Enjoy the calm and relative normality of the chart while it lasts... for the next few weeks things near the top are set to go a little crazy. The calm before the storm at present but still 14 new entries, 4 climbers a self-explanatory lack of non-movers.
No. 40: NEW ENTRY. Alysha Warren - I Thought I Meant The World To You
The debut hit for Alysha Warren with a fairly ordinary piece of swingbeat soul, by no means unpleasant but without the impetus to make it a major hit I suspect. She has been around for a while as a session singer and releasing the odd track under her own name. Most famously of all it was her voice that was used by the 49ers on their 1990 Top 3 hit Touch Me.
No. 35: NEW ENTRY. Apollo 440 - Don't Fear The Reaper
It is records like this that restore your faith in the power of the cover version. Apollo 440 have been having sporadic hits for a while, charting first of all in January 1994 with Astral America which made No.36 and more recently with 'Liquid Cool' which staggered to No.35 last November. Both of those tracks were fairly run-of-the-mill dance but now from out of nowhere they sparkle with what many might consider a monstrosity. (Don't Fear) The Reaper was of course first recorded by Blue Oyster Cult and became their only UK hit when it made No.16 in May 1978. Since then it has become something of a rock classic and up until now consiered untouchable. Far too many dance producers ruin classic songs by smothering them in a welter of production but to their credit Apollo 440 have remained very restrained, letting the song speak for itself and creating, whilst not a monster smash, one of the more pleasant dance covers that have flooded the charts in recent months. Tin Tin out take note...
No. 34: NEW ENTRY. C B Milton - It's A Loving Thing
For a change some of the best pop records are down in the lower reaches this week. The debut hit for C B Milton follows a tried and tested Eurodisco formula and in the footsteps of artists such as Haddaway. The result is an extremely radio-friendly hit single which deserves better things than this chart position.
No. 33: NEW ENTRY. Ned's Atomic Dustbin - All I Ask Of Myself...
Wahay the Neds. Back after a long absence come perennial student favourites Ned's Atomic Dustbin with their first hit single for over two years. Quite why the gap between albums should have been so long is beyond my powers of speculation but their last chart appearances saw them on an unsteady path to commercial acceptance, scoring their biggest ever hit in March 1991 with Happy which made No.16. Their new single is more of the same kind of quirky rock that they have been turning out ever since Green Day were in short trousers, by no means a major hit but good to see them back all the same.
No. 29: NEW ENTRY. Warren G - Do You See
The third hit for Warren G, still looking to follow up last summer's smash Regulate with another sizeable smash. A fairly ordinary piece of rap, however commercial, is unlikely to be the one to do it. The rap is based around the loop from Junior Giscombe's 1982 Top 10 hit Mama Used To Say.
No. 28: NEW ENTRY. Duran Duran - Perfect Day
Throught his long solo career since the days of the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed has only ever had one chart hit. Whilst Walk On The Wild Side is still a classic record to this day it is by no means the track for which he will always be associated with the most. Perfect Day is arguably that song, released an re-promoted several times as a single yet never able to chart, despite being a jukebox staple the whole nation over. In recent months interest in the track has taken off with no less than two versions available on albums currently on release. The first is by Kirsty MacColl who duets on the ballad with Evan Dando on her current Greatest Hits collection. The second is by Duran Duran, released here as the first single from their forthcoming collection of cover versions. It's the first release for Duran Duran since 1993 and their astonishing comeback with Ordinary World which saw the band back in the Top 10 for the first time in four years and sparked off a run of hits for the former teen band whom most people had forgotten. For a band with their pedigree to make a covers album raises a few albums to say the least, but if it sells and gives them hits - more importantly hits as faithful and beautiful as this, who is going to complain? [Just wait until White Lines, just you wait 1995 James, you'll change your tune then]. In a career that stretches back to 1981 this is their 22nd Top 30 hit.
No. 22: NEW ENTRY. 2 Unlimited - Here I Go
Silly bleeders, they forgot the Again off the end of the title. Hit single from the band fast becoming the Status Quo of techno, releasing a string of singles all based on a similar musical principle and yet each of them apparently irresistible to the public at large. It's their first hit single since No One made No.17 in October 1994 to be what was surprisingly their smallest hit ever. That trend does not bode well for this track, becoming their lowest new entry since their debut Get Ready For This first entered the charts at No.36 back in 1991. Still, this hit is not to be sniffed at, their 12th hit in total and thus far every single one making the Top 20. They have had No.1 singles in virtually every country in the world with even America finally catching up - Get Ready For This is hanging around the Billboard Top 30.
No. 20: NEW ENTRY. Sean Maguire - Suddenly
A third hit single for the former soap star, although of course he won't appreciate being reminded of this. He first charted in August 1994 with Someone To Love which made No.14, based more on his teen appeal than the quality of the single I suspect. The followup was musically stronger but clearly commercially weaker, Take This Time making No.27 in November. Now he returns to the chart with another pretty ordinary piece of pop, giving at least the Teeny press to print more posters of him looking sultry. The British Joey Lawrence.
No. 18: NEW ENTRY. Leftfield/Halliday - Original
Trendy producers Leftfield first made a name for themselves in mid-1993 when they were responsible for remixing many of the hits from David Bowie's Black Tie White Noise album. Later that Autumn they moved above ground, teaming up with former Sex Pistol John Lydon on Open Up which made No.13. Now, fresh from writing the theme to the film Shallow Grave they return to the Top 20 in conjunction with sessioner Toni Halliday.
No. 14: NEW ENTRY. Tin Tin Out - Always Something There To Remind Me
It's hard to know how to approach this one. Tin Tin Out first hit the charts in partnership with Sweet Tee on a remake of her 1988 club classic The Feeling back in August 1994, making No.32. Now they explode back into the charts with this track, a club hit for many weeks now. It's based (very very loosely) around Sandie Shaw's classic No.1 from 1964 but sadly does a disservice to the pedigree of that record, being for the most part an unholy mess... despite the chart placing.
No. 13: CLIMBER. Human League - One Man In My Heart
A further hike for the Human League, in a week swamped by new entries they are incredibly the first record on the chart to climb from last week. To have a chart with few climbers is becoming rarer these days as the singles market calms down but even in those weeks where it happens, to have to go as high as No.13 for a climber is very unusual indeed.
No. 12: NEW ENTRY. Rednex - Old Pop In An Oak
Time for a miniature Top 40 analysis series - a whole sequence of records grouped under the banner 'Follow That!'. So then, Follow That! (Part 1): The second hit single for Swedish C&W terrorists Rednex, hot on the heels of Cotton Eye Joe which holds the distinction of being the last No.1 BCD (before Celine Dion). The news, or rather lack of it, is that their new hit is almost exactly the same as its predecessor, a techno-ised Square Dance reel which despite this has already become a smash hit all over Europe. The new hit is unlikely to be as big a hit as its predecessor for precisely this reason, but if a formula works why change it? 2 Unlimited and Real 2 Reel have built entire careers on such a principle.
No. 11: NEW ENTRY. East 17 - Let It Rain
Follow That! (Part 2). Despite the obvious seasonal nature of the track it was somehow quite refreshing to see East 17 at No.1 over Christmas for the biggest hit of their career. Now they are faced with the prospect of following up that triumph, and do so in style with the fourth single from their current album. Let It Rain turns back to the harder dance sound that typifies much of their output and sounds in places like a distant relation of their first hit House Of Love back in September 1992. The single was first performed by the band in epic style at the Brit awards last month and this has certainly helped its impetus, along with the constant press attention for the band, centering mainly on songwriter Brian Harvey and his tempestuous relationship with former Eastenders star Daniella Westbrook. Nonetheless the lads from Walthamstow are on a roll at the moment, in terms of popularity second only to a certain Manchester five-piece...
No. 9: CLIMBER. Janet Jackson - Whoops Now
A curious climb, given that the Sesame Street Theme, as it has been unkindly referred to is the seventh Top 20 hit from the Janet album. Her two other hit albums also spawned no less than 7 UK hit singles but for one to make the Top 10 after all this time is really quite incredible. The only other contemporary artist able to do this on such a scale is her brother...
No. 6: NEW ENTRY. Wet Wet Wet - Julia Says
Follow That! (Part 3). Well what can you say. It is a somewhat daunting prospect to follow up a No.1 single after nine months, even more so when that single was the biggest in the world last year and one of the Top 10 bestsellers of all time in this country. That is what has faced Wet Wet Wet and they have done it in style. Julia Says, the followup to Love Is All Around, is the first single to be released from the bands first album proper since 1992s High On The Happy Side which marked their transition from fallen teen idols to sophisticated adult stars. Julia Says quite sensibly breaks no new ground, featuring Marti Pellow immaculate of voice as ever and with the rest of the band providing harmonies on this ballad, which is by no means the strongest song they have ever released. Despite this it becomes the biggest new hit of the week, possibly not a No.1 but proof if nothing else that there is indeed life after the single of the decade so far.
No. 3: FALLER. Celine Dion - Think Twice
Finally toppled after 7 weeks, Celine Dion looks set now to be on her way out after around five months in the charts. The single has sold well over a million copies and it will take a very big smash indeed to prevent this being the bestseller of the year... Having said that, big smashes are something the chart will not be short on this year I can promise. [How precient, but totally true].
No. 2: CLIMBER. Outhere Brothers - Don't Stop (Wiggle Wiggle)
The biggest leap of the week goes to the Outhere Brothers with their wonderfully immature piece of lewdness. Its one of those unique singles which sounds nothing like the version heard on the radio and is I suspect selling for precisely that reason...
No. 1: FIRST WEEK. Comic Relief - Love Can Build A Bridge
Despite a stiff challenge from below, the triumvirate of Cher, Neneh Cherry and Chrissie Hynde charge up to grab a No.1 on the back of extensive exposure for the track during the past week of Comic Relief lunacy. The recent history of the all-star charity hit dates back of course to 1984 and Do They Know It's Christmas. Since then such charity discs have popped up quite regularly and whilst none a guaranteed a smash, many end up making it to No.1. Aside from the aforementioned Band Aid record, other charity conglomerations to hit the top have included USA For Africa, The Crowd on You'll Never Walk Alone in aid of the Bradford stadium fire disaster in 1985, Ferry Aid on Let It Be for the Zeebrugge ferry disaster in 1987 and the 'Scouse Aid' version of Ferry Cross The Mersey in aid of the Hillsborough football disaster in 1989. On a lighter note, this is the third Comic Relief single to make No.1, following in the footsteps of The Stonk by Hale and Pace in 1991 and Living Doll by Cliff Richard and the Young Ones - the record that started the whole Comic Relief project in 1986. As for the ladies on the record themselves, Cher manages the interesting feat of making No.1 as a soloist, as part of a duo and now as part of a trio (a feat bettered only by Paul McCartney who has been at the top as part of a four-piece and a five-piece as well). Neneh Cherry makes No.1 for the first time in her career whilst Chrissie Hynde is there for the second time, following on from the Pretenders' Brass In Pocket in 1980. Most significantly of all though is the No.1 success of the other credited artist on the record - Eric Clapton. In a career that stretches back through his solo years, Derek and the Dominoes, Cream, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and the Yardbirds he has never had a No.1 single. The closest he ever came was playing lead on the Yardbirds' Heart Full Of Soul which made No.2 in 1965, his biggest ever hit since a 1982 reissue of 'Layla' made No.4. Whilst a guest guitar solo may not make this a 'proper' No.1 single for him he has said he intends to celebrate nonetheless. As for what happens now, it looks interesting. The single may yet hang on for a bit on the strength of the Judds' song but now Comic Relief is over interest may wane. Things may also be thrown askew by the potential appearance on the chart next week of a bunch of lads from Liverpool who have a rather impressive chart-topping track record. Their names? John, Paul, George and Ringo...