This week's Official UK Singles Chart
1 COUNTRY HOUSE (Blur)
2 ROLL WITH IT (Oasis)
The two-way tussle at the top of the charts continued again this week with the battle for supremacy betweeen the two bands seemingly not over yet. Although the media speculation in no way reached the heights of the previous week there was enough of it, centering on the fact that sales of the Oasis single appeared to be edging out those of Blur. In the end, however, Blur managed to stay ahead to spend a second week at Number One. The reason for this speculation was the release of 12-inch version of Roll With It - the legendary 'fourth format'. Much was made earlier in the year of the ruling by the Chart Supervisory Committee (the body that defines the rules for the charts) that the number of formats eligible for a single to chart was to be reduced from four to three, meaning that the traditional practice of releasing 7-inch, 12-inch, cassette and CD versions of a single was to go out the window. The small print of the rules also stated, however, that more than 3 formats was permitted, but the excess would be granted a chart position independent of the main release. As a result, sales of the 12-inch version of Roll With It have not counted towards the main chart position of the song. Instead the format registers its own chart placing just outside the Top 40 meaning that Roll With It is quite possibly the best selling single in the country this week - but is not Number One. This isn't the first time Oasis have deliberately defaulted themselves from Number One in this manner. Back in May Some Might Say debuted at Number One only to slide to Number 2 the following week following the release of the 12-inch version leaving Livin' Joy's 'Dreamer' to become the first ever Number One record not to be the best selling track of the week.
3 YOU ARE NOT ALONE (Michael Jackson)
Top 3 placing notwithstanding, Scream was by all accounts a terrible cacophony of a record that looked almost embarrassingly out of place on an album alongside some of Michael Jackson's past classics. The same can be said of many of the new songs from the History album, save one. The R Kelly-penned ballad You Are Not Alone probably ranks as one of the most beautiful songs Michael Jackson has ever recorded and so hot on the heels of becoming the first ever instant No.1 on Billboard's Hot 100, the track smashes straight in to become a Top 3 hit over here. Aside from his Jacksons work, this is Michael's 31st UK Top 10 hit.
5 THE SUNSHINE AFTER THE RAIN (Berri)
The summer reissue fever strikes once more, albeit in a rather convoluted way. The Sunshine After The Rain was originally recorded by Elkie Brooks back in 1977 when it reached Number 10. In November last year New Atlantic released their galloping remake of the track under the rather confused billing of 'New Atlantic/U4EA featuring Berri'. The track made a respectable Number 26 but of course in today's terms that was clearly not respectable enough. As a result the club anthem returns, this time under a far simpler billing, bringing 21 year old vocalist Berri to the fore and conjures up an instant Top 5 hit. For the same recording of a song to rechart under a different artist credit is, as you would probably expect, pretty unusual. Back in 1964 the legendary saxophonist Stan Getz released his version of The Girl From Ipanema with a vocal credited to Joao Gilberto - despite that fact that it was his wife Astrud Gilberto who famously sang on the track. When it was reissued twenty years later Stan Getz's credit had vanished from the record altogether and it charted credited simply and correctly to 'Astrud Gilberto'. The only other occasion for this came in 1970 when Boris Gardiner released an instrumental track Elizabethan Reggae only to find that the record company had printed thousands of labels crediting the track to 'Byron Lee'. The record was listed on the charts under this name for several weeks before the mistake was corrected and Gardiner received his credit.
6 I'LL BE THERE FOR YOU (Rembrandts)
So no-one told you life was gonna be this way. British TV station Channel 4 is renowned for bringing the cream of US sitcom to our TV screens, its Friday night schedules having been filled in the past by classics such as 'Cheers' and 'Roseanne'. The sleeper success of the summer has been the latest US comedy sensation 'Friends' which has had me watching avidly and in hysterics every week since it began. The catchy theme song to the series is this track by the Rembrandts which for the past few months has been setting records of its own over in America as arguably one of the most intensively played songs on US radio ever. Despite this the record company over there has refused to release the track as a single, forcing people instead to rush out and buy its parent album. Thankfully such disgraceful cynicism does not pervade over here and as a result of impressive radio support this glorious piece of guitar-based pop crashes deservedly into the Top 10. This isn't the first time the Rembrandts have come to attention over here, their 1991 track That's Just The Way It Is Baby received much radio support over here but missed the charts altogether. It is interesting to note that theme songs from TV shows, and US sitcoms in particular, have a rather chequered history on the charts. Despite a rush of 'Eastenders' related chart hits in 1986, US TV shows tend to fare slightly better in the charts - but only just. Suicide Is Painless from M*A*S*H and Irene Cara's 'Fame' both made Number One in the early 1980s but both of these tracks found Fame as film themes before being used in their respective TV series'. Many US shows from the 70s and 80s had minor hits with their theme songs - Cheers, Happy Days and The A-Team are all ones that spring to mind, but only Mike Post's Theme From Hill Street Blues came close to being a major hit, making No.25 in 1982. The success of this Rembrandts track is, therefore, all the more impressive.
9 HIDEAWAY (De'Lacy)
The latest piece of dance to crash into the Top 10 is this hit US garage track from De'Lacy. The track itself would be fairly unremarkable but for the row that developed last week over the availability of the track. DeConstruction records were confident of a high chart placing for the track, thanks to the demand that had built up for it. This potential was offset by a flood of imports from an Italian label which also held the licence for the track. They arrived in some specialist shops before the track's official August 21st release causing a row between the two record companies and possibly to the detriment of the tracks' chart position.
13 GREAT THINGS (Echobelly)
Great Things have indeed been predicted for Echobelly for a long while. The attention being payed to the British/Swedish hybrid act results in their latest single crashing straight into the Top 20 to become the group's biggest hit to date. Their only previous Top 40 placing was in July 1994 when I Can't Imagine The World Without Me reached Number 39.
14 SCATMAN'S WORLD (Scatman John)
Where there is a novelty hit, there is clearly a followup. The 40-something American living in Denmark first rose to prominence earlier this year with Scatman, one of the more unusual dance hits of the year combining his gruff voiced rapping with some astonishing scat singing. Now he is back with the followup in pretty much the same vein. Without the novelty value of the first hit it will be interesting to see if this manages to top the Number 3 peak of its predecessor.
15 SOMETHIN' 4 DA HONEYZ (Montell Jordan)
The giant singer also arrives with a followup, this time hot on the heels of his first hit This Is How We Do It which reached Number 11 back in May.
19 JUST (Radiohead)
More intensive angst for Radiohead who chart their third brooding hit of the year. Just becomes the fourth Top 20 hit of their career - not band for a band who have shown no signs of having anything resembling commercial appeal since their first hit Creep back in 1993. [Chart position notwithstanding this became a classic anyway, and rightly so].
26 DAGENHAM DAVE (Morrissey)
Another Morrissey release, another hit single for the man who has long ago thrown off the tag of being the former Smiths singer and is now a solo chart star in his own unique way. Dagenham Dave is unlikely to become one of his bigger hit singles but does enough to become his second Top 30 hit of the year and his 16th since his first solo hits in early 1988.
27 WHEN I THINK OF YOU (Kenny Thomas)
A welcome return to the charts for Kenny Thomas who first rose to prominence with a series of sweet soul hits back in 1991. This is his first Top 40 hit since Piece By Piece reached Number 36 in November 1993. In common with many of his recordings this is unlikely to set the world alight commercially but is certain to find a home as background music in many wine bars across the country. His biggest hit remains Thinking About Your Love which reached Number 4 in June 1991.
28 LIVING NEXT DOOR TO ALICE (Smokie featuring Roy Chubby Brown)
Competition from the other version notwithstanding, Smokie's joking remake of their famous track eases them up into the Top 30. The band have actually been recording and touring almost continuously since their 70s heyday but the success of this track marks the first time they have had a Top 40 hit since Take Good Care Of My Baby reached Number 34 in April 1980. Living Next Door To Alice may be their most famous hit but it was not their biggest ever, that honour goes to their first single If You Think You Know How To Love Me which reached Number 3 in August 1975.
29 RUNNING AROUND TOWN (Billie Ray Martin)
Billie Ray Martin's Your Loving Arms was one of several chart hits this year to become a succes second time around, following its relative failure last Autumn. She now faces the challenge of building on that success and proving it was not just a one-off. That task has fallen to this single which somehow lacks the charm of its predecessor and may struggle to progress past this initial low entry.
31 WARPED (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
In spite of a series of tours and some minor hits the Red Hot Chili Peppers had never really come close ot emulating their US success over here. All that appeared to change in early 1994 when a two year old album track Give It Away was reactivated as a single and reached Number 9 over here to give them their biggest hit ever. This was then followed by a reissue of their biggest ever US hit Under The Bridge which swept away its own 1991 peak of Number 26 to reach a deserved Number 13 in May 1994. Now the band reappear with a new album and set out to build on that success. Sadly this may not be the track to do it, a typical manic funk workout yet somehow not one that is likely to appeal to radio programmers or record buyers over here.
32 TAKE ME HIGHER (Diana Ross)
After spending much of the 1980s in the doldrums, Diana Ross' career over here took on a new lease of life in the 1990s, her 1991 Christmas hit When You Tell Me That You Love Me sparking off a run of hit singles unprecedented in her entire solo career. The difference was that during the 1980s she spent much of her time releasing some rather lacklustre dance tracks whilst her 1990s hits were predominantly the kind of classic ballad she has become famous for. This would suggest that a return to making dance records could be a mistake, as the chart position of this new single would suggest. Despite the fact that it is unlikely to progress much further it is still her 11th consecutive Top 40 hit which compares favourably with the run of 17 she had to open her solo career between 1970 and 1977.
36 ALICE (WHO THE X IS ALICE?) (Gompie)
Well I suppose it was inevitable. As British holidaymakers flood back from the continent they invariably charge into record shops to purchase the records they heard whilst on holiday. By far the most popular holiday record this year has been the by now legendary Who The X Is Alice record. As I mentioned last week, both Gompie's and Smokie's versions were first released over here back in May, Gompie's version being the only one to manage a Top 40 placing. Last week Smokie's version of the track charted and this week climbs to Number 28. Now it is the turn of the original Dutch dance version to make a reappearance, charting in the first instance two places lower than the peak it managed back in May. Quite what happens next is anyone's guess. Even without radio support it is quite possible that the tracks will grow in popularity but it is unclear as to which version will come out on top. For there to be two versions of the same song on the chart at once is unusual but by no means uncommon. Indeed, the practice was quite widespread back in the 1950s when the emphasis was on the song rather than on the artist who sang it. In recent years it has all but died out. This week marks the first time two versions of the same song have been Top 40 hits together since Rick Astley and Nat King Cole did battle with When I Fall In Love in December 1987.
37 HAVE FUN GO MAD (Blair)
A curiously low chart placing for one of the more popular radio hits of the summer. Have Fun Go Mad is a lively jazz-funk track in a similar vein to many Jamiroquai offerings, sounds brilliant on the radio in hot weather and yet looks as if it will miss out on being a major hit - unless the re-release monster has a say in things. Expect this to become a bigger hit in a few months time somehow. [And yet oddly enough that never happened, making this a lost classic of sorts. Unless you count the cover by children's' TV characters The Tweenies which went Top 20 in 2002].
40 CHARITY (Skunk Anansie)
Skunk Anansie, complete with vocalist Skin, one of the more striking figures in British music at the moment, have been threatening to break in to the Top 40 for a while now and finally do so with this single. They would have done so with their last single I Can Dream but for the fact that the single sleeve incorporated the barcode - crucial for sales terminals to register figures for inclusion in the chart - as part of its design, only for shops to find the image had been distorted in printing and their machines could not read it. As a result many sales of the single went astray and the record was listed at Number 41 when its actual sales suggested a higher chart position. Ironically enough the same fate nearly (and disastrously) befell Oasis' current Number 2 hit. A few days before the single was released, chart compilers Millward Brown complained that their computers were misreading the black border surrounding the barcode on some copies of the CD sleeve. This resulted in staff at Vital Distribution spending almost the entire weekend before the release of the single stickering new barcodes over the top of existing stock.