1 UNDER THE BRIDGE/LADY MARMALADE (All Saints)
Incredibly enough this single was first slated to appear at the end of January but was forced back time and time again as Never Ever surpassed all sales expectations to sell over a million copies and linger in the Top 40 for 20 weeks. The now-celebrated ballad also set a record of its own, climbing to Number One in January after nine weeks on release and having already sold over 900,000 copies, more than any other single had ever clocked before reaching Number One. Given the current buzz about the four girls, it comes as no surprise to see this much-awaited single slide comfortably to the top now it is finally released. I have long argued that there is a right way and a wrong way to cover songs and this new version of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers song is a perfect example. Staying faithful to the original, even to the extent of directly sampling the guitar riff from the intro, All Saints then take the song in their own direction, subtly altering the melody of the chorus to sound spookily like TLC. An out and out smash hit from the moment it starts it quite deservedly gives All Saints their second Number One hit from their first three releases, and this is before anyone has considered the similarly excellent cover of Labelle's Lady Marmalade which shares equal billing. The exposure of the two tracks has been helped by the screening of the epic video that accompanies both before the UK screenings of the film 'Jackie Brown' which has helped raise money for Breast Cancer charities. Quite what the Chili's themselves make of this reworking of their most famous hit I have yet to track down. The original has charted twice in this country, reaching Number 26 in March 1992 and then climbing to Number 13 when reissued two years later.
2 RAY OF LIGHT (Madonna)
After the Number One smash hit Frozen here comes the title track from Madonna's current album which eases its way into the Top 3 and finds itself unlucky to come up against All Saints and be denied the top slot. Casual listeners may be puzzled to find her apparently singing the praises of British actress Anna Friel throughout the song, a misheard lyric that ranks alongside "Bill Oddie, Bill Oddie, put your hands all over my body" as one of Madonna's best.
6 TRULY MADLY DEEPLY (Savage Garden)
Deep into its chart career, it is worth highlighting once again the phenomenal chart run of what is almost certain to become Savage Garden's greatest ever hit. First released in the middle of February it has now spent 11 weeks on the chart, none of which have seen it fall lower than Number 9. The single moves up a place once again this week but despite this, it has never matched the Number 4 position it occupied when first released.
9 PUSH IT (Garbage)
Sounding as if they have never been away, Garbage storm back into the Top 40 for the first time since 1996 with this single from their brand new album. Some acts find their stock slumps if they leave too much of a gap between releases but clearly not Shirley Manson, Butch Vig and co. Following Stupid Girl and Milk this becomes their third successive Top 10 hit.
Currently the hottest act at the moment, Bristolians Massive Attack have just spent the past couple of weeks at Number One on the album chart with their acclaimed Mezzanine and now belatedly release the first single from the collection. It is their first hit since Risingson made Number 11 in July last year and now takes on the mantle of their biggest hit ever, breaking into the Top 10 for the first time. Viewed by many as the founding fathers of trip-hop the group have never been major hitmakers but have at least one all-time classic to their name in the shape of their 1991 debut Unfinished Sympathy which was recently voted the best dance record of all time by readers of DJ Magazine. The singer on that track was Shara Nelson who herself had a reasonably successful solo career with five Top 40 hits between 1993 and 1995. [With this single Massive Attack arguably finally created a classic to sit alongside the aforemtioned Unfinished Sympathy. Both are easily their defining moments].
11 ALL MY LOVE (Queen Pen featuring Eric Williams)
Following the R&B ploddder The Man Behind The Music, the hottest name in female rap at the moment produces a stormer of a follow-up. Based almost totally on the old Luther Vandross hit Never Too Much Queen Pen adds her own rapped lyrics to the chorus, sung here by Blacksteet singer Eric Williams. A brilliant pop record that storms into the Top 10 and makes the Number 38 peak of her first hit look very poor indeed. Never Too Much was Luther Vandross' first chart hit over here, reaching Number 44 in 1983 before making Number 13 in a remixed version in late 1989. Those with sharp ears will have also spotted Beenie Man lifting lines wholesale from the track on his hit Who Am I which made Number 10 in March.
13 IF... (Bluetones)
Alright, I admit I thought the Bluetones had lost their commercial touch. Solomon Bites The Worm was hardly the best single they had ever released and the first single from their current album duly plummeted off the chart a mere fortnight after entering at Number 10. This second single may fare little better in terms of chart life but is a far more commercial single, right down to the Hey Jude-style na-na-na fadeout. Not enough to add to their tally of three Top 10 hits, this is still their sixth Top 20 hit in a row, a run that stretches back to late 1995.
18 JUNGLE BROTHER (Jungle Brothers)
Hot on the heels of Run-DMC, the Jungle Brothers become the second legendary rap act to stage something of a comeback this year. The New York group were at the height of their powers at the turn of the decade when they were the masters of their art. Renowned as innovators, they remade hits from legends such as Marvin Gaye, expressed admiration for James Brown and were also one of the first rap acts to merge their sound with house rhythms as illustrated on their October 1988 hit I'll House You which until now was their biggest hit ever, peaking at Number 22. The Jungle Brothers were renowned for the number of other acts they took under their wing, including British rapper Monie Love - now isn't it time she made a comeback too?
22 A ROSE IS STILL A ROSE (Aretha Franklin)
One of the most welcome new entries of the week sees the Queen of Soul back where she belongs, in the charts and making music. This single, written by Lauryn Hill from the Fugees, is her first Top 40 single since 1994s Willing To Forgive which made Number 17. Her chart performance has never quite matched her standing in the industry. Since her debut in 1967 with Respect she has had a mere five Top 10 singles, two of which were duets with other, more contemporary, hitmakers - in particular her 1987 duet with George Michael I Knew You Were Waiting which made Number One. Happily her biggest solo hit is one of her most famous - I Say A Little Prayer which reached Number 4 in September 1968.
27 REDUNDANT (Green Day)
After the surprise smash hit success of the acoustic Time Of Your Life, Green Day return to US alternative mode and back it seems to lesser chart positions that their Number 11 hit from January. To give them credit this is now their tenth UK Top 40 hit, an impressive total.
29 NO WAY (Freakpower)
Superstar producer of the moment Norman Cook teams up once again with singer Ashley Slater to resurrect for the moment the name of Freakpower. The group were originally supposed to be the next Norman Cook hitmaking project after the dissolution of Beats International. In the event they only had one real hit, Turn On Tune In Cop Out which made Number 29 when first released in October 1993 and then Number 3 when reissued in March 1995 after its use in a Levis Jeans Commercial. The last chart appearance for Freakpower came in June 1996 when New Direction peaked at Number 60 at which point Norman Cook abandoned the project - temporarily it appears as this single which cocks a nod in the direction of Twist And Shout gives Slater and Cook their second Top 40 hit together.
31 BAD OLD MAN (Babybird)
A new single, with a new album to follow but this appears to be Babybird sinking into the realm of the chart also-rans. Their last single Cornershop could only peak at Number 37 in May last year and the halcyon days of You're Gorgeous becoming a Top 3 smash seem a long long way away.
33 UNITED CALYPSO '98 (Reds United)
I would invite you to call to mind the last Reds United single Sing Up For The Champions but that might be too painful to bear. The same people that brought you the Christmastime medley of terrace songs (which reached Number 12 of all positions) follow it up with another disc to celebrate the erstwhile greatest football team in England. United Calypso '98 is as good a title as any given that 'Sing Up For The Premiership Runners Up Who Messed Up In Europe And Were Knocked Out Of The Cup By Barnsley' doesn't have the same ring to it.
39 SOLVED (Unbelievable Truth)
Another slightly disappointing chart position for Unbelievable Truth. This single is the follow-up to February's Number 38 hit Higher Than Reason and which still leaves them with something to prove if they are to justify the press hype as the hottest thing going.