Some big new hits and a lot of movement at the top end but it still belies a tale of chart recession. Only 2 records climb this week, with most of last weeks new hits falling dramatically from their promising starts. 12 others try their hand this week with 3 other records staying the same.
No. 33: NEW ENTRY. Cocteau Twins - Bluebeard
The second hit in recent months for the Cocteau Twins after their return to form with Evangeline in October which peaked at No.34. The masters of the dreamy indie ballad, they seem forever destined to never have a big hit. Bluebeard is only their fourth Top 40 hit ever in a chart career that stretches back 10 years.
No. 32: NEW ENTRY. Sting - Nothing 'Bout Me
Notching up hits like there is no tomorrow, Sting's new hit becomes his first since the remixed Demolition Man made No.21 in November. Nothing Bout Me goes back to the album and this breezy uptempo track, its chart position helped no end by the accompanying set of remixes of If I Ever Lose My Faith In You. In a way it's a shame they are not a single in their own right, transforming the ballad into the kind of record Demolition Man proved that Sting should be making in the first place.
No. 31: NEW ENTRY. Jam And Spoon - Right In The Night
Culture Beat may be the ones to have international hits but back home in Germany it is Jam and Spoon who are the true superstars of German dance. They have never had an international hit until now, previously only charting back in 1992 at No.49 with the Tales From A Danceographic Ocean EP from which the track Stella has now become a club classic. All that changes now as Right In The Night charges into the Top 40. It's combination of a brilliant pop tune and rampant flamenco rhythms should be enough to make it the biggest hit of the next few months. If I hadn't become so cynical about public taste recently I would stick my neck out and say this will be No.1 by the end of March... It could happend I suppose. [One of my favourite club hits of the era as it so happens, but it took two goes to turn it into even a middling chart hit].
No. 29: FALLER. Haddaway - I Miss You
Probably the last gasp for Haddaway this week, one of only two hits in the chart still left over from the end of last year.
No. 28: NEW ENTRY. Gabrielle - Because Of You
A major soul talent she may be but Gabrielle has stalled slightly since the No.1 success of Dreams in June last year. Her fourth hit is likely to be her smallest so far, following on from I Wish which peaked at No.26 just before Christmas.
No. 22: NEW ENTRY. Level 42 - Forever Now
Times are hard for Level 42, the chart stalwarts who started their career in 1980 as the forerunners of a new British Jazz/Funk boom and who have steadily reinvented themselves over the years, peaking in chart terms in the mid-80s with the pop brilliance of the Running In The Family album before suffering a dramatic fall which culminated in their longtime label Polydor rejecting their latest album in 1991 and dropping them [curious, that's not part of the official narrative these days. Is this a long buried detail or just a misconception?]. Said album was Guaranteed which was eventually released by RCA but which produced only one hit single in the shape of the title track which made No.17 in August 1991. Forever Now from a new album is their first Top 40 hit since, and is really a typical Level 42 track. Fans of Mark King et al love it of course, most others I suspect will be indifferent to it. It's still and impressive 27th hit in a 14 year career. That in itself is not to be sniffed at. [It would also be their last].
No. 21: RE-ENTRY. Cypress Hill - Insane In The Brain
First released back in July last year when Cypress Hill were virtual unknowns over here, Insane In The Brain peaked at No.32. Since then their stature has grown with the US rap superstars penetrating effectively the limited UK rap market. The two followup singles both made the Top 20 and now, as the country is poised for a string of live dates, the track that first made their name is re-released and charges back into the Top 30.
No. 20: NEW ENTRY. Soundgarden - Spoonman
Overshadowed perhaps by certain other Seattle garage bands, Soundgarden are still one of grunge's best kept secrets. All that may change soon as Spoonman crashes in to give them only their second Top 40 hit ever, eclipsing the No.30 peak of Jesus Christ Pose back in April 1992.
No. 19: NEW ENTRY. SWV - Downtown
After months of struggling, SWV finally had a massive hit back in the summer with the Human Nature remix of Right Here which would up one of the biggest hits of the season. Reverting back from that pop brilliance to their usual harder swingbeat may not be the most commercial thing they could do but Downtown at least gives them their first hit since, their third Top 20 hit to follow the aforementioned smash and also their debut I'm So Into You which made No.17 in May last year.
No. 16: NEW ENTRY. Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Two Tribes
With all the others reissued it was clearly a shame to ignore this one. Ten years on it is easy to forget the impact this record had. Proving that the naughtiness of Relax was no fluke, Two Tribes was possibly the band's (and producer Trevor Horn's) masterpiece. Crashing straight into No.1 in June 1984 it stayed there for 9 weeks, selling nearly 2 million copies and joining Relax as one of the Top 10 best selling single of all time. The same success is of course unlikely this time around, not least because it appears in a new remix which effectively rips the heart out of the song, even to the extent of missing out the dramatic orchestral introduction voiced by Patrick Allen that was a central point of the original epic. Of all these recent reissues, only Relax has performed as well as first time round, its chart run in October last year when it peaked at No.5 was enough to make the track the third biggest single of all time.
No. 13: NEW ENTRY. Elton John and RuPaul - Don't Go Breaking My Heart
Oh dear. Arguably the most glorious record Elton and Bernie ever wrote, Don't Go Breaking My Heart was the biggest hit of Elton John's career worldwide and for years here was his only taste of No.1 glory. Following his chart reunion with original duettist Kiki Dee with True Love Elton now releases this new version accompanied by drag queen RuPaul. Aside from the ironic joke of having the male/female love song now sung by a man dressed as a woman together with the openly bisexual Elton, the record itself is what amounts to an unholy massacre, replacing the glorious Philly pastiche of the original with a series of anodyne electronics. Taken on its own the record is creditable enough and sales are clearly boosted by the performance of the singers as hosts of last week's Brit awards ceremony but in comparison with the original it really does not deserve the time of day, and certainly not a No.13 placing. It finally give RuPaul a big hit though, following both Supermodel and House Of Love, neither of which could progress beyond the bottom end of the chart.
No. 11: CLIMBER. Meat Loaf - Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through
Only two of last week's crop of new hits improve on their original place and this is the only move of significance.
No. 8: CLIMBER. 2 Unlimited - Let The Beat Control Your Body
In a week of such uninspiring chart activity, any achievement at all is to be credited so well done at least to 2 Unlimited, even for only a 1 place climb.
No. 7: NEW ENTRY. Ace Of Base - The Sign
One of the biggest hits of last year was Ace Of Base's All That She Wants which made No.1 all over Europe and surprisingly for a continental hit also became a smash in the United States. Followup Wheel Of Fortune could only make No.20 though whilst a third single missed the Top 40 altogether. It looked as if they would become merely a flash in the pan and hardly "The New Abba" as the Swedish foursome were labelled at the time. All that changes now though with this track that was specially recorded for the American market and did not appear on the European version of the Happy Nation album. Released now to coincide with its Stateside Top 10 success, The Sign returns Ace Of Base to the top end of the charts and must surely put them in contention for a second No.1 hit.
No. 6: CLIMBER. Bryan Adams/Rod Stewart/Sting - All For Love
The imminent release of the film helps the theme from 'Three Musketeers' to sustain its sales slightly and actually climb back up the charts after seemingly going into decline.
No. 3: NEW ENTRY. Suede - Stay Together
A part of me is tempted to imagine Brett Anderson gathering the other members of Suede around him and saying 'Look guys, the hype is starting to die down and our career will soon be over so we had better make our masterpiece now'. Well why not after all. In terms of press coverage the glam revivalists were the biggest band of last year, yet for all that only had two hits Animal Nitrate making No.7 and So Young crashing in at No.22 before crashing straight out again. The epic Stay Together changes that, instantly becoming their biggest hit ever and clearly made with 'this is a classic' written all over it. I would be very surprised if it tops the charts, being as it is still a fairly standard piece of what must now be regarded as uniquely Suede.
No. 1: SECOND WEEK. Mariah Carey - Without You
Unassailable for now at the top, Mariah Carey spends a second week in charge. When she went straight in at the top last week it was a remarkable achievement. Although it is the 35th record to go straight to the top of the charts it is the first ever to be sung by a woman. By a strange quirk of fate, every single instant No.1 has been either by a male soloist or an all-male group, the only possible exception being Lulu's contributing performance to Take That's Relight My Fire back in October. Other women have come close, most especially Kylie Minogue who has missed out by a whisker on any number of occasions but Mariah is the first to ever do it on her own terms. Without You is also the 17th song to make No.1 in two versions, following the success of Nilsson's original version back in 1972. That original has also be re-released but has yet to make it into the upper reaches of the chart, possibly as radio has seen fit so far to ignore it. In a way it is a shame. The recent tragic death of Harry Nilsson would have made it a candidate for re-release anyway and without the competition of Mariah's sound but still inferior version it may well have become a massive hit all over again.