I'm not really to sure what to make of the current chart scene. In marked contrast to the trends of the last two years, more and more records are notching up lengthly stays in the charts, and the average number of new records per week is decreasing. It could be just the time of year of course, we await the Autumn with interest. 8 new entries, 8 climbers and a curious 6 non-movers.
No. 39: NEW ENTRY. Squeeze - Third Rail
First up this week then is a welcome return for one of the great British bands. Since they reformed in 1985 Squeeze have never quite regained their former momentum. Third Rail is a Top 40 breakthrough after a string of albums and singles flopped, and marked their return to the upper reaches of the charts for the first time since Hourglass made No.16 in September 1987. The high charting of the single is due to a rigorous round of promotional appearances, including an ironic performance on the TV show of former keyboardist, Jools Holland.
No. 36: NEW ENTRY. Dance 2 Trance - Take A Free Fall
Second hit in a row for Dance 2 Trance, to follow up their Top 20 debut Power of American Natives. This new track is not quite as catchy or accessible as the last, and may not scale the same heights.
No. 34: CLIMBER. US3 featuring Tuka Yoot - Riddim
First of a couple of startling yo-yos this week, as US3 reverse their fall of last week to mark a 2 place climb. It may not progress much further, but is an interesting example of the way the back end of the chart has suddenly in the past few weeks ceased to be a graveyard for minor hits.
No. 33: NEW ENTRY. N-Joi - Drumstick EP
Doyens of the Manchester rave scene, N-Joi return to the charts after over a year with their fourth hit. It's their first chart outing since the epic Live In Manchester which made No.12 in February 1992. This new track is pretty run of the mill bleeping noises, a pity really as they proved with Anthem - their biggest hit ever that they can actually write a decent pop tune.
No. 31: CLIMBER. Time Frequency - The Ultimate High
Another curious turnaround for the Time Frequency which, although not one of the biggest dance hits of the year is certainly turning out to be one of the most enduring, its leisurely progress down the charts on a par with its leisurely climb.
No. 29: NEW ENTRY. Waterboys - Glastonbury Song
Mike Scott and the Waterboys achieving a landmark second hit of an album with the followup to The Return of Pan. The record is standard Waterboys fare, this time dedicated to the town of Glastonbury, famous for the Glastonbury Tor and also the annual alternative music festival which takes place around the summer solstice.
No. 27: NEW ENTRY. REM - Nightswimming
And still they keep on plugging. REMs fifth hit from the album is in a similar vein to Everybody Hurts which became their biggest hit ever back in May. Similar success may be difficult for this song, not being quite as universal as the last and due to the fact that the album Automatic For The People is now one of the biggest sellers of the year so far.
No. 24: CLIMBER. OMD - Dream Of Me (Based on Love's Theme)
Highest climber of the week belongs to OMD, shooting up an impressive 14 places but this may still not be enough to give them a Top 20 hit.
No. 23: NEW ENTRY. Shara Nelson - Down That Road
Charting as a result of protracted radio airplay, Shara Nelson makes her Top 40 debut with a fairly standard piece of pop-soul but with continued airplay may well breach the Top 10 if she is lucky. She is the seventh artist called Nelson to chart, following in the steps of the Nelson brothers, Bill, Phyllis, Rick, Sandy and Willie although this list is nothing compared to the 23 Williams' that have made the British chart over the past 40 years. [Not a word you will note of her previous chart life as singer with Massive Attack and in particular the voice of Unfinished Sympathy. I really did throw these things together back then].
No. 20: CLIMBER. Urban Cookie Collective - The Key: The Secret
A second week climb for the dance track which last week was the fastest mover. It will be interesting to see how long this momentum can last for what is in all honesty a rather weak-kneed piece of girlie dance.
No. 19: FALLER. Paul Weller - Sunflower
No further progress for Paul Weller's biggest solo hit ever, but it did occur to me during the week why the guitar riff sounds so familiar. It's actually the same one from Abba's 'Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie' isn't it?
No. 14: NEW ENTRY. Craig McLachlan and Debbie Gibson - You're The One That I Want
Last Friday the brand new production of the hit musical 'Grease' opened in the West End. It's produced by the brains behind the movie, Robert Stigwood which means for the first time the songs written for the film can be included in the stage show. Thus it is that to promote the show the two stars have released their version of everyone's favourite Grease track. It's a record embedded deep within the British consciousness, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's version made No.1 for 9 weeks in 1978 and to this day is one of the 10 best selling singles of all time in the UK. This new version is no patch on the original of course but does mark a return to form for both of the vocalists. For former 'Neighbours' hunk McLachlan it's his first hit since One Reason Why peaked at a lowly 29 in April 1992 and after the followup On My Own stalled at No.59 last November. For Debbie Gibson the wait has been even longer. Her last Top 40 hit was We Could Be Together which made No.22 in August 1989. The only track from her last album Anything Is Possible to chart was the title track which bombed out at No.51 in March 1991.
No. 7: NEW ENTRY. Roxette - Almost Unreal
Highest new entry of the week comes as a bit of a surprise. The rather weedy and critically panned ballad recorded by the Swedish duo for the rather weedy and critically panned film 'Super Mario Brothers' becomes their highest new entry ever and their fifth UK Top 10 hit. It's their biggest hit since Joyride made No.4 in March 1991 and their first chart outing since the No.28 peak of Queen Of Rain in November 1992. It will be interesting to watch the further progress of the track, given that their biggest ever UK hit was also a ballad from a film soundtrack - It Must Have Been Love from Pretty Woman made No.3 exactly 3 years ago.
No. 4: NON-MOVER. Chaka Demus and Pliers - Tease Me
The first big crossover hit from two of ragga's biggest superstars shows no sign of fading, holding on to a Top 5 position against all odds.
No. 1: SECOND WEEK. Take That - Pray
Still leading the field by a huge margin, Take That remain at the top. Last week they became the second act this year to go straight in at No.1. Although the feat is still statistically quite rare it is becoming more and more common. It's the 8th in the 1990s so far, compared with 14 in the whole of the 1980s and a lowly 4 in the 1970s (all of them coincidentally in the wonder year of 1973). Over the years the list of acts to have managed the feat has included the Beatles, Slade (3 times in one year!), Jam (3 times), Police, Duran Duran, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Band Aid (twice), Ferry Aid, Scouse Aid, Jive Bunny, Iron Maiden, Queen (twice), U2 and Erasure as male groups or male-led charity outfits plus Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Gary Glitter, Adam Ant, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, Jason Donovan, Michael Jackson and George Michael and Elton John as male soloists. No solo female artist or group with a female lead singer has ever topped the charts in their first week. Only Kylie Minogue has ever come close - 4 times straight in at No.2 and twice missing out by the skin of her teeth. Most recently of course Gabrielle did the same, entering the chart at No.2.