Quiet is the best word I can find to describe the chart this week. Not that there is any shortage of action, nor smash hits. Maybe its just me.... 9 new entries, 5 climbers and 5 non-movers.
No. 31: (--) Apache Indian - Ragamuffin Girl
As a string of hits take a tumble, the first record of any significance on the chart this week is the second hit of the year for Apache Indian following on from Make Way For The Indian which reached No.29 back in February. Whilst that last hit was a fairly hardcore piece of ragga, the new single reverts to the happier, gentler sound of the hits that first brought him to stardom in 1993. Raggamuffin Girl is the kind of bouncy reggae hit that always seems to get trotted out this time of year and makes for a pleasant, inoffensive diversion if nothing else.
No. 28: (12) Mary J Blige - I'm Goin' Down
One of last week's highest new entries suffers a rather dramatic change in fortunes, a fate also suffered by REM just a few places above. First week megasales strike again.
No. 26: (--) Boyz II Men - Thank You
The current US hit for Boyz II Men makes its debut over here, following on from Down On Bended Knee which made No.20 last November. Boyz II Men records tend to fall into one of two categories, the slushy ballad and the macho soul groove. The slushy ballads tend to be the ones to give them their biggest international hits, whilst the more harder edged songs always falter in comarison. This has happened before, with the band releasing Motownphilly in 1992 as a followup to the No.1 success of End Of The Road only to see the track peter out at No.23. I suspect a similar fate is likely to befall this track, immaculately produced and sung as it is but without the commercial potential to become another smash hit.
No. 24: (34) Lightning Seeds - Marvellous
A number of records make impressive climbs this week, this one of ten places for the Lightning Seeds to give them their fourth Top 30 hit since 1989.
No. 22: (17) Celine Dion - Think Twice
Last week I pointed out that Celine Dion's stay of over six months in the Top 75 amounted to the longest such run since Jennifer Rush's The Power Of Love. What is most interesting is that Jennifer Rush's long chart run was due in part to the record spending over three months outside the Top 40 before hitting big and in all the track only spent 15 weeks in the upper reaches. Celine Dion has now spent 24 weeks in the Top 40, matching that of Wet Wet Wet last summer with Love Is All Around. With, as seems likely, at least two more weeks of life in the single yet, it looks set to have the most protracted continuous stay in the Top 40 since 1984 and Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax which managed 37 weeks on the trot - that's almost nine months.
No. 19: (--) Mark Morrison - Crazy
Mark Morrison lands his first ever Top 40 hit with this rather frantic dance single. What is most interesting to note is the title, no less than the tenth different song called Crazy to make the charts. That total makes it the most popular song title in chart history, surpassing the previous champion Tonight which has been used nine times as a title.
No. 18: (--) TLC - Red Light Special
The second hit of the year for TLC, slipping into a distinctly American summer groove to make what is arguably one of their best records ever and surpasses at a stroke the No.22 peak of Creep back in January. Their biggest hit ever remains their first - Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg which reached No.13 in June 1992.
No. 17: (36) Love City Groove - Love City Groove
Eurovision Song Contest or not, it is quite possible that Love City Groove would have been a smash hit anyway. Demand for the track once it became the UK entry for this year's telefest was so high that most retailers ran out of stock of the track which the record company had only expected to sell about 10,000 copies or so. It has taken until now to rectify that situation, hence the dramatic improvement of the record's chart position. It may not be the most conventional song in the contest next month and may not even stand a hope in hell of winning but it is most definately a hit. [And now a popular joke of the period. Q: What is the difference between Love City Groove and Manchester United? A: Manchester United will still have Gig(g)s by Christmas].
No. 15: (18) Pato Banton - Bubbling Hot
Pato Banton edges his way slowly up the Top 20 to match the peak of This Cowboy Song, the Sting track he toasted on back in January. He is joined on the track by Ranking Roger, former of the Beat, one of the more underrated English Ska bands of the early 1980s and from whose ashes sprung Andy Cox and David Steele of the Fine Young Cannibals. Ranking Roger is thus enjoying his biggest chart hit since the Beat's Can't Get Used To Losing You made No.3 in April 1983.
No. 13: (--) Portishead - Sour Times
The second hit of the year for Portishead, and what a hit it is. Sour Times started life as the bands first single, released last August and onyl staggering to No.57. After the success of Glory Box earlier this year, the slinky classic is re-released and crashes straight in to duplicate the peak of its predecessor. Its the kind of gloriously understated piece of melancholia that is normally supposed to appeal to students but is actually far too good to be wasted solely on that market. "Nobody loves me, it's true. Not like you do." [Because just occasionally 1995 James could spot a classic at ten paces when it smacked him in the face].
No. 12: (--) (MC Sar &) The Real McCoy - Love And Devotion
A third hit for the Real McCoy who are somehow making Eurodance records that sound comfortably familiar without becoming formulaic. For some reason the more laid-back tempo of Love And Devotion reminds me of the kind of record the DJ would put on at an open air disco in the middle of the continent in summer. If this was September you would instantly be able to point to the source of this hit, however it is April and as I look out of the window now it is snowing which rather puts the mockers on that theory. Never mind, a third Top 10 hit could well be on the cards for the group who have managed the unthinkable and taken this style of music straight to the Americans with astonishing success.
No. 10: (--) Deuce - I Need You
A whilst this years Song For Europe winners charge into the Top 20, their fourth placed opponents ironically go seven places better and land an instant Top 10 hit. I Need You would have been a hit anyway, without being entered for the contest, on the back of the Top 20 success of Call It Love back in February. Its a pleasant enough piece of pop which is one of the reasons why it was the bookies favourite to win the telephone vote to decide the Eurovision entry. Its chart appearance lends further weight to Jonathan King's claim that every single one of this year's shortlist had the potential to be a No.1 hit.
No. 7: (13) Tina Arena - Chains
The number of people tipping this to be the next No.1 has now reached frightening proportions which may well be enough to kill of its chances, but Tina Arena's song is certainly moving in the right direction. Its position has certainly been helped by the stunning Top of the Pops performance she gave last week. Watch this go Top 3 at least.
No. 4: (--) Bryan Adams - Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman
In the midst of an otherwise moribund Top 5 comes the bigggest new hit of the week. Bryan Adam's first new single for over a year follows what is by now a well-worn path and is indeed AFB. AFB in this case standing for Another F***ing Ballad, and in the tradition of most Bryan Adams AFBs is instantly a smash hit. In my view its a bit of a shame, given the pedigree of fantastic pop hits he has made in the past that he clearly feels he has to pander to the market that gave him his biggest ever hits, but since when was life fair? Its the first chart hit for Adams since All For Love made No.2 in January 1994 alongside Sting and Rod Stewart and his first solo hit proper since Please Forgive Me made No.2 a couple of months earlier - Please Forgive Me being released to promote his Greatest Hits collection and was of course AFB. Have You Ever... drifts along in a pleasant enough manner and released by any other artist would have been classed as a nice inoffensive acoustic strum. What really does bring it all home though is the fact that playing on the radio as I write this is Run To You which serves only as a reminder that he can, and I'm sure will, release far better records than this. [On the other hand, 1995 James will occasionally hear a classic and shit all over it].
No. 1: ( 1) THIRD WEEK. Take That - Back For Good
Meanwhile the Top 3 remain static for the third week and for possibly the last time if Bryan Adams and Tina Arena have their way. Take That continue to sell in undreamed of quantities, surpassing 600,000 copies to make 'Back For Good' one of the fastest selling non-charity singles ever.