1 THREE LIONS (Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds)
The football fever that has gripped the nation came to a climax last week when England faced Germany in the Euro 96 semi-finals. It was a match they were to ultimately lose but that did not stop the atmosphere of the match being a pageant to remember - all kicked off by the moving sound of nearly 70,000 people singing along as Three Lions boomed out over the tannoys. After exposure such as that it was with a sense of inevitability that sales of the track went through the roof yet again and despite the fact that the Fugees had a lead of nearly 2:1 last week, David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds find themselves at Number One once more. It is by no means unknown for records to regain the Number One spot after having been deposed by a rival but by and large it is a dying art and Three Lions is only the 22nd track in chart history to do so. It was common in the 1950's and 60's but by the end of that decade the practice had all but died out, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da by Marmalade appeared to have been the last track to do so in January 1969. Boney M came close to making a sensational reversal of fortune in 1978 when 'Rivers Of Babylon' dropped from Number One to almost the bottom of the Top 20 when it suddenly began climbing again thanks to renewed interest in the disc's b-side Brown Girl In The Ring... several weeks later the track was back at Number 2. Then in 1993 the Mr Blobby phenomenon led the pink monster to hit Number One just before Christmas. After a week he was deposed by Take That's Babe only to sensationally overtake the teen stars in the week before the holiday to become Christmas Number One that year. Thus Three Lions becomes only the second record in the last 30 years to climb back to Number One but what makes this feat even more sensational is the timescale involved. The track first topped the charts six weeks ago but was deposed by Killing Me Softly after only one week. During the four week run of the Fugees' track it had dropped as far as Number 4 before the astonishing turnaround of the last couple of weeks. The only record ever to rival this feat is the Beatles' She Loves You which spent 4 weeks at Number One in September 1963 and then fell from the top only to climb back again for another 3 weeks in November after an astonishing seven weeks in the lower reaches. Incidentally She Loves You was then replaced at Number One by I Want To Hold Your Hand making the Beatles the only act in chart history to replace themselves at Number One. [Only living act, at least at that point].
4 TATTVA (Kula Shaker)
An impressive showing for Kula Shaker, taking advantage of a slight lull in the relentless tide of big new releases to shoot into the Top 10 and become the biggest new hit of the week. This is all the more impressive when you consider their last single Grateful When You're Dead only reached Number 35 in May.
5 BECAUSE YOU LOVED ME (Celine Dion)
The month-long logjam at the top end of the chart involving the Fugees, Three Lions and Peter Andre has also been reflected in the progress of Celine Dion's hit which has performed remarkably consistently for a track outside the Top 3. Now into its sixth week on the chart the song has moved 9-8-8-5-5-5. With the market still dominated by quick in and out performances by big hits it is all the more refreshing to see a record sell solidly and consistently without necessarily being a Number One smash.
6 OH YEAH (Ash)
Another smash single for Ash who can seemingly do no wrong at present following the Number One success of the album 1977. Oh Yeah is their fourth hit since last summer and their second Top 10 in a row following Goldfinger which made Number 5 in April.
7 JAZZ IT UP (Reel 2 Real)
A return to form for Reel 2 Real after a couple of years in the doldrums. The pair first hit the charts in early 1994 with the ragga smash I Like To Move It which after a slow start powered its way into the Top 5 and became one of the most enduring hits of the year. They followed it up with a further 3 Top 20 hits before the end of the year only to find their form slip in 1995 with Conway being their only Top 40 entry (it reached Number 27). Now they are back with a vengeance with a new dance hit that is a fair way removed from the gruff toasting of their previous smashes and as the title suggests leans more towards Jazz rhythms than anything else. Exposure in clubs meant a smash hit was assured.
9 WHERE LOVE LIVES (Alison Limerick)
The disease of 1995 was dance-retro. What had hitherto been the most forward looking of musical genres suddenly stagnated last year and looked to its past for inspiration, leading to a succession of reactivated classics dressed up with new mixes in the hope that nobody would notice. Fortunately this year has seen less backpedalling, the Theme From S-Express excepted but that is not to say it still cannot happen. In all fairness Where Love Lives had been crying out for a re-release for many years. First released in March 1991 it was the debut hit for the soul diva, reaching Number 27. Alison Limerick went on to have a number of other hit singles, the biggest being Make It On My Own which made Number 16 in February 1992 but none was a major smash. Despite this Where Love Lives remained something of a hidden classic and since the spring pressure has been building up for the track to be reactivated. This has duly happened and the song storms the Top 10 to become the smash hit many argue it always deserved to be.
13 HEY GOD (Bon Jovi)
Another month another Bon Jovi hit it seems. The most consistent rock band around at present score their second hit single of the year following on from These Days back in March. Many will be hoping this makes a climb next week as at present it is in danger of spoiling their current run of six successive Top 10 hits.
14 FORBIDDEN CITY (Electronic)
In 1989 when it became clear that New Order would not be recording for a while vocalist Bernard Sumner struck up a musical partnership with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. They called themselves Electronic and with a little help from Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant released a single Getting Away With It for Christmas that year. It made Number 12 and justified pursuing the project further. The result was an album released in mid-1991 which produced the Top 10 single Get The Message and is to this day one of the classics of the decade. A further one-off single Disappointed again featuring Neil Tennant went Top 10 in July 1992 but following that Electronic was put on hold as New Order regrouped for a new album. Finally the wait is over as the original indie supergroup re-emerges and it is well worth waiting for. Forbidden City comes close to being perfect and in a similar way to Get The Message does not rely on a hook to draw the listener in, the whole song managing to sound like one catchy refrain. A new entry at Number 14 may have disappointed slightly but it bodes well for the new album due out very shortly.
21 SURPRISE (Bizarre Inc)
Remember Bizarre Inc? They first hit the Top 20 in 1991 with the dance hits Such A Feeling and Playing With Knives. In 1992 they pushed singer Angie Brown to the fore and had their biggest chart success with I'm Gonna Get You which became a Top 3 hit. After a long break they reappeared in March this year with the similarly styled Keep The Music Strong which could only make Number 33. Remember all that? Good. Now forget it all because this new single is so totally different you would be hard pressed to recognise the same act. Surprise has its roots not in the clubs but in the mid Atlantic as it is easily one of the cleverest Motown pastiches ever made. Angie Brown sounds for all the world like Martha Reeves as she blasts out this gorgeously retro-styled hit that radio stations fell in love with the minute the CDs arrived in the post. Interestingly enough the track sounds remarkably fresh. Radio programming has moved on so much in the last few years that tracks from the 1960s have been restricted to Gold AM stations and are virtually never played on pop-orientated FM stations. Hence Surprise comes as something of a bolt out of the blue, a reminder of a forgotten era and a sound which a whole generation may even be unaware of. Be warned, the Motown revivalist chic starts here. [But of course the official video is missing, so have a TV performance instead. This is too good to miss out on].
25 TELL HIM (Quentin and Ash)
Easily one of the best and most popular TV shows in Britain at the present time is the sitcom 'Men Behaving Badly' which along with 'Loaded' magazine has led the way in establishing the cult of the New Lad where politically correct paranoia is out and a bold appreciation of beer, breasts and more beer is most definitely in. The two male stars of the series Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey have repeatedly turned down offers to have their characters make a spin off record but their female counterparts have taken the bait. Quentin is Caroline Quentin, wife of comedian Paul Merton and an extremely funny lady in her own right whilst Ash is Lesley Ash, the slim blonde actress who first came to prominence snogging Phil Daniels in an alley in the film of 'Quadrophenia'. As for the record itself, well you will either love it or hate it. Tell Him is one of those songs that everyone recognises but is unable to name. It was first recorded by Billie Davis who made Number 10 in 1963 and was covered in a glam rock vein by Hello who made Number 6 in 1974. It has always been one of the ultimate party songs, best performed with a huge grin on your face, something Quentin and Ash have clearly failed to do. The problem is they are not pop stars, they are both trained actresses with excellent voices and so the record is so perfectly sung as to be almost lifeless. It seems strange to criticise a track for being too good but that is the only way I can find to express the way this record is cold compared to other recordings of the song.
28 BRAIN STEW/JADED (Green Day)
A second Top 30 hit this year for Green Day, following on from Stuck With Me which charted back in January. Their current releases appear to be selling to their established fans and nobody else. Strange to think it is only 18 months since Basket Case was such a smash.
31 DREAMTIME (Zee)
Another female dance diva to emerge from the Perfecto stable, Zee scores her first hit and stakes a claim for being the lowest-ranking act in the alphabet to make the chart this year.
32 VICIOUS CIRCLES (Poltergeist)
Virtually the only anonymous track to prop up the bottom of the chart this week is this synthesised dance instrumental from Poltergeist. Robert Miles it isn't and sounds more like the theme from 'The Omen' than anything else.
34 FASTLOVE (George Michael)
35 RETURN OF THE MACK (Mark Morrison)
Both of them now looking fairly long in the tooth, the former Number Ones from George Michael and Mark Morrison take advantage of the curious lull at the bottom end of the Top 40 this week. George Michael has a non-mover at Number 34 whilst Mark Morrison astonishingly reverses his decline and goes back up 5 places in this, the track's 17th week on the chart.