1 FLAVA (Peter Andre)
All hail the most astonishing pectorals in pop music. The seven week reign of the Spice Girls is finally ended in dramatic style by the Aussie-bred hunk who attracts more comment on the state of his chest than for any of his singing talents. The huge summer success of Mysterious Girl led to record company fears that he would be eclipsed by that one song - hence the recent decision to pull it from the shelves. Clearly they needn't have worried as Flava surges into a commanding lead at the top of the charts despite being a rather weak-kneed dance workout with none of the cod-reggae panache of its predecessor. The single marks the biggest success to date for Australian-based label Mushroom records who enjoy a Number One hit for the first time ever.
2 READY OR NOT (Fugees)
The duopoly that persisted for most of the summer at the top of the charts looks set to continue. For much of June and July the charts were dominated by Peter Andre and the Fugees with two singles that were eventually deleted to free the market for the followups although despite this Killing Me Softly is still hanging around the Top 40 and this week slides to Number 34. Both acts now release their new singles simultaneously only this time it is the Fugees who have to take second place. Ready Or Not is more in the style of the Fugees' usual output but the success of Killing Me Softly has put them on the crest of a wave. It is their third hit single and curiously enough all have been covers. Their debut Fu-gee-la was a remake of an old Tina Marie hit, they topped the charts with a Roberta Flack song and this new single is based on the Delfonics' 1971 hit Ready Or Not Here I Come which peaked exactly 39 places below this new version [plus an unauthorised sample of a hitherto obscure Enya track and which caused her to get righteously litigious in the wake of this single's success].
6 I'M ALIVE (Stretch & Vern present Maddog)
Aside from the two big new hits at the very top, this week has been a relatively quiet week for new singles. Suhc are the circumstances that allow a whole batch of dance records to flood into the Top 40. The biggest success of all is by a track that would have hit big whatever the competition having been a summertime smash on dancefloors all over the country. I'm Alive scores by digging in the past once again, using the loop from Earth Wind and Fire's Boogie Wonderland to wonderfully commercial effect and hence at Top Ten entry.
8 HOW BIZARRE (OMC)
Yet another week of consistent selling from the New Zealand act now spending a fifth week inside the Top 10 and the fourth week in total which has seen it become the eighth best selling single in the country.
12 ON A ROPE (Rocket From The Crypt)
An impressive Top 40 debut from the stateside band for whom the hype machine has been in overdrive recently. The anticipation has paid off as On A Rope, not the most commercial track in the world it has to be said, makes an impressive debut and bodes well for their future releases.
15 THE GIFT (Way Out West/Miss Joanna Law)
A second hit in 1996 for Way Out West, following on from Domination which reached Number 38 back in March. The difference in chart placings is largely due to the fact that this is much more than just another anonymous dance record. The Gift is based on The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, one of many songs written by Ewan (father of Kirsty) MacColl for his wife Peggy Seeger. The basic premise of the song has been taken up and reworked by Way Out West to make a rather lovely dance track. If anything the idea is slightly misconceived as too little attention is paid to the original song for the sake of some synthesised pyrotechnics. Had they stuck to making a straightforward dance version of the classic song it is possible an even bigger hit would have ensued [please God no, what were you thinking?].
20 I LOVE YOU ALWAYS FOREVER (Donna Lewis)
Turns out there is some justice in the world after all. Thanks largely to a quiet week for new releases but not least because of the quality of the record, Donna Lewis makes an enormous climb up from Number 34 last week to give her what may well be the momentum to go even further.
28 STOMP - THE REMIXES (Quincy Jones)
In straightforward commercial terms he may have been overtaken by people like Jam and Lewis and Teddy Riley but Quincy Jones is still one of the Kings of black American music. Having produced virtually everyone of note throughout his long career few can touch the knowledge and skill he brings to his productions - even Michael Jackson has never sounded quite the same since the pair parted after the Bad album. His solo outings are sporadic to say the least but never fail to make an impact, this set of mixes showing that he can still cut a dancefloor hit to match the younger generation. It becomes the first single credited to him by name to reach the Top 40 since his 1990 remake of I'll Be Good To You which reached Number 21. His biggest ever 'solo' hit came in 1981 when the Patti Austin-voiced Razzamatazz make Number 11.
30 MAKE IT ON MY OWN (Alison Limerick)
The 'let's pretend it is the start of the decade again' retrospective continues. Hot on the heels of the recent Rozalla reissue comes a new set of mixes of this hit which reached Number 16 in March 1992. For a long time it was Alison Limerick's biggest hit single, a record which was finally eclipsed by the reissue of her debut track Where Love Lives which reached Number 9 back in July.
31 I WAS BROUGHT TO MY SENSES (Sting)
A third hit from Mercury Falling, an album which has so far failed to produce the big hits that Sting has recently proved he is capable of having. Whilst Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot may have made Number 15, You Still Touch Me was a relative disappointment at Number 27. Now this jaunty new track looks set to become his first single to miss the Top 30 since Nothing Bout Me in early 1994.
37 UNDERGROUND (Ben Folds Five)
The North Carolina trio make a welcome Top 40 debut following a summer of touring festivals and playing small gigs which means their US college reputation has gained an equivalent over here. None of this explains why they sound like Queen jamming around a village hall piano but still...
38 BOM DIGI BOM (THINK ABOUT THE WAY) (Ice MC)
Ice MC is an Italian raaga toaster who lives in Nottingham. Confusing? Well possibly. Bom Digi Bom was first released in the summer of 1994 when it could only reach Number 42. Despite this it became a massive hit all over Europe and so now after two years becomes a Top 40 hit over here [hard on the heels of being used in "Trainspotting" although it was not featured on the official soundtrack album for reasons that have never been clear to be]. As a rather strange ragga/Europop hybrid it retains little more than novelty value and is certainly not the long-lost dance classic the record company would have us believe.
39 ANYMORE (Sarah Cracknell)
A debut solo single for Sarah Cracknell who insists that this is only a temporary foray whilst Saint Etienne take a brief sabbatical. In many ways this is a disappointing performance for her first single released under her own name, especially considering that Saint Etienne's last his 'He's On The Phone' was their most successful to date.
40 SAVED (Octopus)
To bring up the rear this week is the first Top 40 hit for Octopus, signed to Food records, the label that first brought Blur to the attention of the world. The single charts on the back of supports with Kula Shaker and Dodgy and whilst unlikely to set the world on fire, this rather nicely harmonised track bodes well for the future. One has to start somewhere after all and even Oasis missed the Top 40 with their first single.