In terms of media interest, this weeks chart provoked the greatest amount of speculation for a long time. This was due to what was perceived to be a 3 horse race for the top.... and predictions of which turned out to be very wrong indeed.... An astounding 15 new entries this week, 4 records climb and 3 don't move.
No. 40: NEW ENTRY. Genesis - Tell Me Why
The track from the We Can't Dance Album that has been climbing the US chart for several weeks, finally gets a UK release. The delay has been due to the promotion by the record company of the two live sets The Way We Walk Vols 1 and 2. The low entry, plus the fact that this is yet another release of an album that is now 15 months old means it is unlikely to progress further. All proceeds of the sale of the single go to charity.
No. 36: NEW ENTRY. Wendy James - The Nameless One
A lesson in music biz survival: You are the publicity-seeking bimboesque lead singer of sub-punk band Transvision Vamp whose star is on the wane. Group split up after record company refuse to release third album on the grounds that it is crap. What do you do? Ms James, in this case wrote a love letter to Elvis Costello which moved him so much he sat down and wrote her an entire album of which this is the first single. The tuneless thrash and whine of Wendy's voice may not win her any new fans with this single, but the album itself displays all the hallmarks of Costello's lyrical dexterity so is not to be written off yet.
No. 35: NEW ENTRY. Charles and Eddie - N.Y.C (Can You Believe ThisCity)
After having its release date postponed umpteen times so as not to clash with the No.1 'Would I Lie To You' on its leisurley progress down the charts, the second single from the soulsters makes a surprisingly weak debut. It may yet improve though, just like the last one did. The guitar riff, incidentally is sampled from a certain Buffalo Springfield track which by an unhappy or happy coincidence gets a mention later on...
No. 34: NEW ENTRY. Living Colour - Leave It Alone
The US rockers have had a hard time building up a following for their unique blend of rock, funk and soca rhythms. This track off a new album is only their third Top 40 entry and will be hard pressed to match the No. 12 peak of Love Rears Up Its Ugly Head which remains their only Top 20 entry.
No. 32: NEW ENTRY. Quireboys - Brother Louie
Coincidental remakes abound this week as the UK rockers return after a long absence with a cover of the 1973 Hot Chocolate hit. They have quite a battle on their hands, competing with a rival version by rising star Louie Louie who falls short of the chart this week [didn't even make the Top 100]. It's not the first time the tale of interracial love has been in a covers battle. In America the Hot Chocolate original lost out to a remake by Stories which topped the US charts in 1973. The song incidentally has nothing to do with the Modern Talking track which was a European hit in 1986 - they are two different songs altogether.
No. 28: NEW ENTRY. Oui 3 - For What It's Worth
'Donnnggggg, Diiinnngggg' goes the guitar riff on Charles and Eddie's single and likewise on this, a friendly dance remake of the Buffalo Springfield track from which it was originally taken. The original never charted over here, but made No.7 in the US in 1967. Quite why somebody should choose to cover it at exactly the same time as another act steals the backing track, nobody knows but it is at least good to see such a famous song making the UK charts at long last. Own up.... how many of you had your first introduction to it by the performance by the Muppets?
No. 26: NEW ENTRY. Peter Polycarpou - Love Hurts
If you think the name is silly try saying it on the radio. I fell over it this morning and many others have done the same. The track I believe is the theme to the BBC TV show of the same name and an appropriate entry for a Valentines chart. The popular appeal the track has may well cause it to break the mould of many songs of late and actually climb up the charts. [A curiosity this, as the TV series starred Adam Faith who was more than capable of singing his own "feem tune" but it was actually performed by Polycarpou whose might high profile role at that time had been in Birds Of A Feather].
No. 25: NEW ENTRY. New Model Army - Here Comes The War
Clog wearers of the world unite. One of the UKs biggest cult bands return with a new label and their biggest hit ever, beating the No.28 peak of their most celebrated track No Rest. The appeal of their own brand of cynicism and social despair has never been clear to me but as a fan record it will plumment rapidly next week.
No. 22: NEW ENTRY. REM - The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
Everyone's favourite track off the Automatic For The People album finally gets a single release to clock up another hit for the band who appear to be able to do no wrong. Whether it will realise its commercial potential is doubtful given sales of the album but it is generating media interest if only over the vexed question of exactly what Michael Stipe is singing about. [Something about Cheryl Baker].
No. 21: NEW ENTRY. Metallica - Sad But True
Another band riding on the crest of a wave currently after having Enter Sandman voted the nations favourite Metal track of all time in a Radio One/Kerrang Magazine poll. Metallica records a difficult to predict. They will either only appeal to the hardcore fans and drop like a stone or magically find crossover appeal although it has to be said this tends to happen with their more commercial ballads.
No. 19: NEW ENTRY. Stereo MCs - Ground Level
"To The Left... To The Right" screamed the nations dancefloors over Christmas. The long overdue breakthrough for the dance act started in the Autumn with Connected and hit a peak with the infectious Step It Up over the holiday period. Thus the third single off their latest album makes a high entry but finds them in a more reflective mood. Moving more to the left than to the right it seems but a climber is assured.
No. 18: HIGHEST CLIMBER. Shaggy - Oh Carolina
The groundwork done in recent months by Apache Indian and Leila K gives the dancehall track a huge lift up the charts to become the biggest climber for many weeks. TV exposure should help the track further as mainstream audiences realise you do not have to worry about what the vocalist is on about to enjoy the track... is he really singing about 'Jumpin' Prawns'????
No. 17: NEW ENTRY. Rod Stewart - Ruby Tuesday
A song that needs no introduction really. Rod keeps his star in the heavens with a cover of the Rolling Stones classic. The original made No.3 in 1967, Melanie's cover made No.9 in 1970 and if Rod climbs next week it will become one of the few songs to be Top Ten hits in 3 separate versions. This may well happen with Rod due to perform the track at the Annual British Record Industry BRITS awards on Tuesday night. It is no small coincidence that his performance of 'Downtown Train' at the same ceremony three years ago was a major factor in his career revival in this country.
No. 15: FALLER. Saint Etienne - You're In A Bad Way
Have you people NO TASTE WHATSOEVER?????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No. 11: NEW ENTRY. Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way
Having produced the recent hit for Vanessa Paradis, plus her new single out soon, Kravitz returns to his own career in full Jimi Hendrix mode and at a stroke matching the peak of his biggest hit ever It Ain't Over Til Its Over.
No. 7: CLIMBER. Rolf Harris - Stairway To Heaven
And now it starts to get interesting. In the middle of last week bookmakers closed the book on this track, standing to lose thousands if it made No.1. Despite all the media hype and coverage it makes suspiciously slow progress and has effictively killed off its chances of making the top... particularly with such strong competition above.
No. 5: NEW ENTRY. Whitney Houston - I'm Every Woman
Another song that underperformed this week with preliminary sales reports giving it a Top 3 position. It is still an impressive debut, Whitney's highest ever and at a stroke eclipsing the chart peak of Chaka Khan's original. It charted twice, once in 1978 making No.11 and again in remixed form in 1989 making No.8. The second-highest new entry is still not Ms Houston's most remarkable feat of the week.
No. 4: FALLER. Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You
This is. To have two top ten hits simultaneously is extremely rare. The last act to do this were the Righteous Brothers during Christmas week 1990 with Unchained Melody down at 9 and
You've Lost That Loving Feeling up at 3 (both reissues). Even more impressive is the feat of having Top Ten hits at consecutive numbers... and to find the last time that happened you have to go back to August 1975 to find Madonna at No.1 with Into The Groove and at No.2 with the re-released Holiday. Consecutive chart placings do happen elsewhere though - the last time was just after Christmas when Boyz II Men were at 24 and 25.
No. 3: NON-MOVER. Annie Lennox - Little Bird/Love Song For A Vampire
Most bets were on this being No.1 The clever marketing of the double-A side, one appealing to dance fans the other to film fans and romantics made it in many eyes a sure-fire winner. Alas 'twas not to be.. given the state of play just one place above.
No. 2: NEW ENTRY. Take That - Why Can't I Wake Up With You
Despite the fact that the charts have officially been published, statisticians at chart compilers Gallup are cross checking the figures this morning after the closest run at the top since the infamous week in September 1990. The band have just had a whole week co-presenting the daily 'Big Breakfast' show on Channel 4 and this extensive exposure has surely pushed the single up to reach a peak few has anticipated. At a stroke it becomes their biggest hit ever and only misses out on the top by the narrowest margin ever.
No. 1: SECOND WEEK. 2 Unlimited - No Limit
Last week it took a last minute recalculation to put them at the top over Whitney Houston and yet again they scrape in by the skin of their teeth in a result certain to become embroiled in controversy. I wish I had the chance to see the exact panel sales figures for the two records as they are reportedly too close for comfort. Whatever happens 2 Unlimited are officially Number 1 but it would take a brave man to predict the same next week (although given my track record on these things... who knows?). Incidentally thanks to Peter Climie for pointing out that U2 also hit No.1 with a number in their name.
[I'm not entirely sure about this talk of it being one of the closest chart races ever. I don't have the full figures to hand, but this week is never mentioned in accounts of some nail-biting finishes - and there were several more during the course of 1993. No Limit sold 62,000 copies that week so it is not impossible that the much-hyped Take That track wasn't all that far behind].