[Now this is actually quite a treat because this text was for a long time missing from my own archives - something I actually only discovered at the end of 2016 when first uploading them to this site. For a long time this page was a placeholder until I was contacted by Ronald Verbarendse who was cleaning out old folders of his own and found the originally published piece he had kept saved all this time. Which I now get to share with everyone else.]
1 I BELIEVE/UP ON THE ROOF (Robson and Jerome)
Having sailed effortlessly past the half a million copies mark, Robson and Jerome continue what appears to be their stranglehold over the musical tastes of a nation, with their album making Number One on the album chart this week to match their singles success. Three weeks at the top adds to their seven earlier in the year to give them a total (so far) of ten weeks. They are only the third act in the 1990s to reach double figures inside a calendar year, following on from Bryan Adams in 1991 and Wet Wet Wet in 1994. These figures are dramatically at odds with the overall trend of a rapid turnover of records on the chart. Indeed, in the whole of the relatively more stable 1980s only Frankie Goes To Hollywood in 1984 managed to reach double figures in the space of twelve months. The longer the pair stay at the top, the more likely they are to collide with the annual frantic race to lead the pack come Christmastime. Every year I talk about the fevered anticipation this brings with it and every year I receive bemused email from people in other countries perplexed at this uniquely British phenomenon. Christmas is the time when the populace confirms its collective reputation as a nation of music lovers, as record shops are invaded by people who would never dream of entering such establishments at any other time of year. The result of this is to send sales through the roof and to focus attention on which single is going to outsell all others in the crucial week before Christmas. Indeed, Christmas is the one time of year when betting on the record charts becomes a national pastime and the coming weeks will see a succession of odds being trailed by bookmakers, keen to make money out of the interest. Of course some years are more competitive than others, none more so than in 1993 when Mr Blobby famously snatched the crown back from Take That at the last gasp. This year may prove to be more of a foregone conclusion, a conclusion which kicks off in earnest this week when the Beatles single Free As A Bird finally receives a public airing. Still, in this life, and in pop music especially, nothing can be taken for granted.. so watch this space.
2 GANGSTA'S PARADISE (Coolio featuring L.V)
Meanwhile the sales of Coolio's single continue to defy all speculation. After two weeks at Number One he was shouldered out of the way by Robson & Jerome and Blur, only to climb back to Number 2 last week. This week he holds up still further, spending a second week at Number 2 and a fifth consecutive inside the Top 3.
3 MISSING (Everything But The Girl)
Just to prove you can never keep a good song down, the track that a year ago in its original form peaked at Number 69, this week in its remixed form climbs yet another place to equal the Number 3 peak of I Don't Want To Talk About It back in 1988 to become Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn's joint biggest hit ever.
5 THE UNIVERSAL (Blur)
Those of you with more than just a passing interest in the 'battle of the bands' may wish to savour this moment. An Oasis single outselling Blur. As Wonderwall becomes one of Oasis' biggest selling singles of their career and slides a single place to Number 4 this week, Blur crash into the chart with the highest new entry and the second single from the Great Escape album. Number 5 first week out is impressive enough, but it is worth pointing out that all 3 Oasis singles from their current album have debuted at either One or Two. Significance or circumstance? You decide. Either way, there is no question that the new single is yet another classic. Just as they did for the Parklife album, Blur have gone for the epic ballad for the second single, this one a sweeping string-laden masterpiece that shows Damon has forgotten none of his oft-referenced classical training. It gives Blur the fifth Top 10 hit of their career.
8 FATHER AND SON (Boyzone)
It is almost a year since the manufactured Irish lads made their chart debut with their version of Love Me For A Reason. Since then they have attracted teeny press interest, a substantial concert following (I should know, I shared a train with what seemed like most of the audience one night after a concert in Bradford) and not a little serious critical derision. Still, that matters nought when you are selling records like they do, this new single at a stroke becoming their fourth straight Top 10 single following the aforementioned debut, Key To My Life and So Good. You can tell it is Christmas, as this single is a pretty seasonal ballad, full of twinkling noises and sentimental lyrics [its origins as a Cat Stevens son clearly having escaped me at the time of writing for shame]. The strategy has clearly been to get in before the rush of similar releases over the next few weeks, but this could backfire as I suspect the track does not have the staying power to still be a substantial chart hit by the time of the Christmas chart in exactly 5 weeks time.
9 IT'S OH SO QUIET (Bjork)
There was never any question that this was going to be a hit. When Bjork's album Post was released earlier this year, this was the one track that stood out, to such an extent that it received more airplay following its release than any of the other singles from it. At last public demand has been sated and the track lands, as you always thought it would, straight in the Top 10 to give her the biggest hit of her career to date. The reason for all this is simple, the track comes straight out of left-field and stands out as one of the most bizarre singles she has ever recorded. The track was first recorded back in the 1940s by film star Betty Hutton and Bjork's version is fairly faithful to the original, complete with big band and snarling, manic vocals. Even that description cannot really convey the atmosphere and inspired genius of the track as Icelandic pixie meets the sound of Frank Sinatra to almost perfect effect. [She almost certainly regrets the way this cover eclipsed every other moment of true creativity in her life, but it remains to this day her defining moment as a solo star].
10 LIE TO ME (Bon Jovi)
Who could have predicted this? Blur, Boyzone, Bjork and Bon Jovi - four Bs with new entries inside the Top 10. The final one of these is Bon Jovi who are destined to end the year as one of the most charted acts. If you count their two hits that were still on the chart at the end of last year, this is the no less than the band's sixth single to register a presence inside the Top 40 this year. Lie To Me is another typical Bon Jovi ballad, as commercial as ever and as a result giving them the tenth Top 10 hit of their career - all the more impressive when you consider that a couple of years ago they were regarded as products of a bygone era of heavy metal whose hitmaking days were gone for good.
11 ITCHYCOO PARK (M People)
Ha Ha. No, come on. This is a joke, isn't it? I mean, nobody could seriously contemplate this, could they? Well bugger me, they have and suddenly it doesn't seem quite so funny. Words fail me when trying to describe this. M People have made over the last few years some of the more brilliant dance-pop records around, not least of which have been the hits they have notched up so far this year such as Open Up Your Heart and Search For The Hero. They have also proved capable of making competent cover versions, most notably their take on Dennis Edwards' Don't Look Any Further which made Number 9 in December 1993. Sad to relate then, that this single falls into neither category. Instead, this is a massacre of one of the all-time great pop records. Itchycoo Park was written by the late Steve Marriott and recorded by the Small Faces in 1967 when it reached Number 3. A reissue in 1975 also made Number 9. Sadly M People's version pays little heed to the reputation and atmosphere of the original as it lumpily plods its painful way through the song. Sorry to be nasty, but there it is, a completely unnecessary record.
13 TO THE BEAT OF THE DRUM (LA LUNA) (Ethics)
A smattering of dance hits make the chart this week, the biggest being this track from Ethics which, in common with many like it has been around for a number of months, finally surfacing above ground to become a massive Top 20 hit. But no further.
15 HOBO HUMPIN' SLOBO BABE (Whale)
Sweden do quite well on the chart this week with Ace of Base and Roxette being joined by quirk-rockers Whale who have been threatening to have a hit single over here for a long while. The frantic, and frankly bizarre Hobo Humpin.. was first released in March 1994 when it could only reach Number 46. After several attempts to reissue it the track finally becomes a UK hit to become what is easily the heaviest metal track seen in the Top 40 since Iron Maiden a few weeks ago.
16 EXHALE (SHOOP SHOOP) (Whitney Houston)
Given the rapid turnover of hit singles the chart is experiencing at the moment, it is perhaps no surprise that many of last week's new hits should quickly fall from their peaks but tje five place drop of Whitney's new hit may give some cause for concern, especially amongst those behind her new film from whose soundtrack it is taken.
19 GOLDENEYE (Tina Turner)
The same can be said of Tina Turner's hit. Whilst the hype machine for the new Bond film goes into overdrive, the theme song takes an unexpected dip on the chart. That is certain to be a disappointment as hopes were clearly riding high for the Bone/Edge track to languish in the upper reaches for a few weeks, aided by the impact of the film when it opens at cinemas next week. A turnaround is by no means impossible, but it means bucking most current chart trends to do it.
23 PERRY MASON (Ozzy Osbourne)
More rock, this time in the shape of one of the veterans. Ozzy's chart career has been fairly erratic ever since the days of Black Sabbath, but given that this type of music sells more albums than anything else this is perhaps understandable. Nonetheless, he has managed several solo hits over the years, this being his first Top 40 hit since Mama I'm Coming Home made Number 32 in September 1991. A Number 23 entry for this track is actually pretty impressive, comparing favourably with his biggest solo hits ever, So Tired and Shot In The Dark which both reached Number 20 in 1984 and 1986 respectively. These are by no means the biggest hits of his career, that honour falls to many Black Sabbath recordings, the biggest of these being Paranoid which made Number 4 in 1970.
26 ANGEL (LADADI O-HEYO) (Jam and Spoon featuring Plavka)
More atmospheric meanderings from Jam and Spoon who finally broke the British charts earlier this year with their 1994 euro-hit Right In The Night. This is the follow-up to Find Me which reached Number 22 back in September.
28 THE LOOK '95 (Roxette)
Their Greatest Hits album is called Don't Bore Us Get To The Chorus which pretty much sums up the songwriting style of Roxette. No pretensions at making a statement here, just a string of crunching pop-rock tracks with singalong lyrics and choruses to die for. It has given them a string of hit singles since 1989, 17 Top 40 hits in all. To mark the release of the hits collection comes a re-release of their debut hit, the semi-legendary track that American radio fell in love with so much that it virtually forced the hand of EMI records to export the group to the States. Its appearance is in the form of a '95 remix which may seem a little strange, but in actual fact works pretty well. Rather than strip away elements of the original track to 'update' it, this new mix beefs it up a little, making the guitar lines stronger and the beats a little harder. There was little wrong with the original mix, which reached Number 7 in May 1989 but this new version at least does it justice.
30 RUNAWAY (E'Voke)
A massive club hit for a number of months, Runaway finally crosses over and becomes a Top 40 hit. There is more of a story behind this hit that would first appear as E'Voke are no faceless dance act. They are singers Marlaine Gordon and Kerry Potter who have spent most of their careers so far as actresses, popping up either separately or together in a variety of TV series [They had both starred in the sitcom Us Girls whilst Marlaine was also at the time appearing in Eastenders]. Runaway is their first stab at chart success but appears to have suffered from a burning desire to make a credible dance record rather than an out-and-out pop hit. As a result what there was of a song in the first place finds itself smothered by layer upon layer of dance rhythms, whichever mix you choose to listen to.
33 FOUND LOVE (Double Dee featuring Dany)
Down the bottom end we go, and in doing so come across a bit of a gem. Found Love is destined, for the moment at least, to vanish into the proverbial chart black hole once this week has gone by but I suspect this is one track that may well resurface in a couple of months, being as it is a good pop record in its own right, in the mould of early D:Ream tracks. We shall see. Remember that I Luv U Baby was only a minor chart entry at the start of the year.
36 I'M GONE (Diana Ross)
It must be, ooh, several paragraphs since I mentioned Christmas, so let us do it now. Christmas is always the time when pretty ballads do well, and Diana Ross is adept at these. Let us not forget that it was the Christmas success of When You Tell Me That You Love Me which resurrected her chart career back in 1991 from the doldrums it had been in since the mid-1980s. Lately, her hit-making powers appear to have deserted her once again, with Take Me Higher only managing to reach Number 32 back in September. This new hit falls back on the pretty ballad attack once again but this lowly chart entry may mean it is destined to be another small hit.
37 RELAX (Crystal Waters)
La Da Dee La Dah Dah. Hardly the most inspired lyrics in the world, but it was that moment of inspired banality that propelled Crystal Waters to stardom in 1991 with Gypsy Woman, a record which for the most part simply repeated the simple vocal refrain. It shot straight in at Number 3, at the time equalling the highest ever new entry from an unknown artist. Sadly her later singles failed to have the same impact and it took 1994s 100% Pure Love to return her to the higher reaches of the charts (it made Number 15). This new single is her first Top 40 hit since Ghetto Day made Number 40 in July 1994 yet is still slightly formulaic and disappointing and unlikely to progress beyond this initial peak.