The chart calms down slightly this week after the feats of last, but that is not to say there is not an interesting crop of new entries - far from it as the size of this posting will testify. 12 new entries, 6 climbers and 4 non-movers.
No. 39: (--) Gun - Something Special
The second hit of the year for Gun, now clearly into a run of minor hits following their big breakthrough smash with Word Up last summer. The fillip that hit gave their career is clearly witnessed by the fact that this is their fourth Top 40 hit on the trot - a better run than they have managed at any stage in their career in the past.
No. 36: (52) Love City Groove - Love City Groove
Ah, the Eurovision Song Contest. Hardy perennial and long-standing relic of the days when the combined forces of all the state-run television stations across Europe united to produce a 'who can write the tackiest song' competition. The fact that I can precis the show like that will little risk of a flame shows the way the contest is viewed these days, despite the fact that it remains strangely compulsive viewing for one Saturday evening every May. Britain's proud record in the annual telefest has taken something a battering of late with the Irish having now won three years on the trot and last year's entry Lonely Symphony by Frances Rufelle only coming tenth in the final voting. This year though interest is higher than it had been for years, owing to the involvement in the selection process for the British entry of near-legendary impresario Jonathan King. King is a kind of music media guru, credited with discovering Genesis and 10cc amongst others and having in the past rescued the Brit awards from the ignominity of the 1989 ceremony. His involvement in Eurovision this year led to the shortlist of songs comprising one from just about every trendy musical style of the moment, from commercial pop to rap and indie rock. The winners from amongst all of this were Love City Groove, their eponymous entry being in a soul/dance vein and certainly one of the most credible records to be a British Eurovision entry for years. However the high level of interest in the contest has also been in part due to the number of 'cheat' allegations flying around. The fuss started a week before the telephone vote to choose the songs when it appeared some entrants had hired telephone canvassers to place mass votes on their behalf which resulted in a highly publicised letter from the producer of the show that such actions would not be tolerated. Now, after Love City Groove became the runaway winners of the vote it is being claimed that they broke the rules on exposure of the track. In order to ensure each song had a fair crack of the whip, a restricted embargo was placed on airplay for the tracks, which is all well and good except for the fact that Love City Groove has been available as a white label pressing since the start of the year, has been something of a hit in the clubs and in the week before the contest received plays in breach of the embargo by a number of radio stations, including a spin on BBC Radio One's dance show - much to the umbrage of the losing acts. To me the whole thing seems a little silly as an airplay embargo is virtually impossible to enforce - certainly we had copies of most of the entries up to a fortnight before the voting and only the whims of the playlist committee at Head Office stopped them being played. The arguments I'm sure will run and run whilst the single itself is bound to sell in the runup to next months full competition. I bet the Irish still win again... [Britain's attempt to drag Eurovision kicking and screaming into the modern era. We failed, but marvel that this was indeed our entry that year].
No. 34: (--) Lightning Seeds - Marvellous
Cleverly released during the post-Christmas lull, Ian Brodie et al scored their biggest hit ever after six years of trying with Lucky You which made No.13 back in January which as I pointed out at the time was ironically not the best record they had ever made. The first new single since is much more like it, the kind of melodious guitar driven pop that they are not supposed to make any more and which sounds like it should be forever dominating the charts. Sod's law does of course insist that this, their fifth Top 40 hit will yet again only be a small success.
No. 33: (--) Kingmaker - You And I
I must confess to a small affinity with Kingmaker, the first band I ever saw live and met backstage afterwards when they played my university in October 1991 [I have literally no memory of that, I smell bullshit]. They have had some creditable chart performances in the past with two No.15 hits to their name plus a few other minor hits. You And I is their first single release for nearly two years and is in many ways a small gem, albeit a gem which may not realise its full potential. It stands at least as an example of yet another young British rock band who have been quietly producing for years the kind of music that US darlings such as Weezer and Green Day have sudddenly begun to make trendy.
No. 30: (--) Crash Test Dummies - The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead
The Crash Test Dummies have striven hard to shake off their novelty tag following last summer's No.2 Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, a tag which a further Top 30 entry in the shape of Afternoons and Coffeespoons (IMHO a far better record) did little to shake off. They return to the chart with their first hit since in the shape of a track taken from the soundtrack to the Jim Carrey film 'Dumb And Dumber' which opened here last week. The soundtrack is filled with bizarre cover versions - this one being a new rendering of a 1992 track from XTC. XTC are one of a unique breed of long-lived British bands, having been formed in 1979 and performed ever since with their own brand of mutant power-pop which has brought them a number of classic hits but only ever one Top 20 hit. The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead was one of the more popular tracks from their last album but could only make No.71 when released in June 1992.
No. 28: (--) Tricky - Black Steel
The second hit of the year for Tricky following on from Overcome which made No.34 back in January.
No. 22: (--) Luther Vandross - Ain't No Stopping Us Now
Another single and another hit for Luther Vandross, on a bit of a roll at present with his covers album. Having crooned his way through the musical legacies of Lionel Richie, Steven Stills and Heatwave he now turns his attention to the disco classic Ain't No Stopping, first a hit (as any fule kno.) for McFadden and Whitehead who reached No.5 in May 1979. Speaking as the world biggest unreconstructed disco freak I'm tempted to view this will a slighly jaded look but that said, Luther Vandross knows how to treat a classic with respect and technically there is little to fault in this production, sterile though it is.
No. 18: (25) Pato Banton - Bubbling Hot
Pato Banton climbs to the Top 20 for the third time on all his credited hits, following on from Sting's This Cowboy Song which reached No.15 earlier in the year.
No. 17: (12) Celine Dion - Think Twice
Sliding down but still only bits at a time, this is now the song's 23rd week inside the Top 40 and its 26th in the Top 75 overall (that's exactly six months!)- the longest continuous run by any single since Jennifer Rush's The Power Of Love managed 32 straight in 1985. Only 22 records have ever charted for 30 or more consecutive weeks, the all-time champion being surprisingly Release Me by Englebert Humperdinck with a startling 56 weeks - all the more impressive when you consider that this was back in 1967 when the chart only stretched to 50 places.
No. 16: (--) Hole - Doll Parts
You might argue that it was about bloody time Hole had a hit. After over two years during which Courney Love has been more famous for being the erratic wife then widow of Kurt Cobain, fodder for the gossip press and whose concerts have been a focus of attention less for the music than for whether she is going to drop her knickers on stage again. A series of concerts and an appearance on Top Of The Pops have helped to make this track Hole's first ever hit single in this country and is actually so good you wonder why the band have not managed it earlier on their own merits. All I have to do now is to stop being so paranoid that this record is the first I've ever had to comment on that is made by a fairly prominent net.citizen. [OMG Courtney Love's newsgroup outbursts. The memories].
No. 13: (--) Tina Arena - Chains
In from nowhere comes the debut hit single from Tina Arena, a young Australian lady currently being touted as 'the next big thing' (TM). The high chart placing of this track comes in many ways as a result of extensive radio airplay, stations picking up on the track several weeks before its release, making it one of the most obscure records to achieve a high placing on the airplay listings. This was despite a few problems with the listing caused by the length of the unedited single. Media Monitor, which tracks radio airplay for statistical purposes does so by programming its scanners to detect a short musical 'fingerprint' from all tracks currently available - usually from somewhere in the middle of the record. The problem was that London's Capital radio which was playing the track to death had created their own edit of the track - deleting the fingerprinted section of the record. This caused the song's airplay rating to be downgraded somewhat - the resulting publicity from this story drawing even more attention towards the song.
No. 12: (--) Mary J Blige - I'm Goin' Down
I've commented several times on the slowly-but-surely approach of Mary J Blige, one of the most highly regarded soul singers around but whose chart career has thus far consisted of a string of minor hits, the biggest of which being Real Love which made No.26 in August 1993. Suddenly she sparkles and has her biggest hit to date with a rather fabulous cover of an old Rose Royce song. I'm Goin' Down was originally recorded for the film 'Car Wash' and despite its popularity was never a hit for the band, who were always more popular over here than they were in America.
No. 10: (11) Bucketheads - The Bomb
A fairly quiet Top Ten is to the advantage of the Bucketheads who enter it once more after two weeks at No.11 and a full five weeks since the track first made No.5, the first record to climb into the Top 10 twice in the same chart run since Whigfield's Another Day just before Christmas.
No. 9: (--) REM - Strange Currencies
The current stir over the unfortunate Bill Berry [his onstage collapse from a brain aneurysm] and the anticpation of their still-scheduled summer stadium tour gives REM the biggest surprise hit of the week. Although What's The Frequency Kenneth also made No.9 back in September, their last two hit singles from Monster have followed the general rule of diminishing returns. Suddenly their placings have turned around, in part owing to the popularity of this track from the beginning to give the band what is actually only their fourth Top 10 hit of their career.
No. 8: (17) Brownstone - If You Love Me
The only other track to crack the ten this week is this by Brownstone, making a sudden charge after a small climb last week.
No. 1: ( 1) SECOND WEEK. Take That - Back For Good
Inevitably selling less than half the number of copies that they did after last week's record-stretching sale, Take That remain at No.1 by a comfortable margin having now sold over half a million copies in two weeks. A million-seller is still a long way off although certainly not our of the question as the track is invevitably destined to go down as one of the classics of the mid-1990s and quite possibly the pinnacle of the band's career. Interesting to note that Take That frame a string of five consecutive dance hits beneath them, tailed off nicely at the other end by Wet Wet Wet, whose style 'Back For Good' can be said to resemble.