'Greetings pop pickers' as was once famously said. Welcome to another tabulation of top hits. Just for a change there are no cockups to report, the chart having been produced and compiled normally for a change. Time then really to say a special 'hello' to Vox magazine which gave this posting a brief writeup... its nice to be appreciated although its a pity they printed the old web address that isn't active anymore... [This was the point where things started to go stratospheric. Suddenly this new thing called "the internet" was the thing to run magazine features on, and in those pre-corporate days it was the privateers, the indvidual content makers who were written about. And there was me, the online authority on British music, occupying a void that few others had chosen to fill. So MTV talked about me, magazines mentioned me in passing and the subscriber list for these columns climbed into the thousands. They were wild, crazy days]. Onto musical matters and the top end of the chart explodes in a flurry of action... all in an attempt to shift that bloody Canadian woman. 12 new entries, a mere 3 climbers and 2 non-movers.
No. 33: NEW ENTRY. Prince - The Purple Medley
I have to confess to having suppressed a giggle of evil delight when I first heard of this record. With "Prince" embroiled in a conflict with Warner Brothers and frantically attempting to churn out material to fufil his contractual obligations the record company do the dirty on him in return and release a naff megamix of all his greatest hits. [Actually this was Prince himself attempting to wriggle out of his contract by delivering material without actually making new material. As it were. The medley is made up of samples of some and re-recorded clips of others with the New Power Generation very much in evidence]. Naff it is indeed, all 17 minutes of the full-length version, featuring brief snatches a la Batdance of various Prince classics all of which only serve to rip the very heart and soul out of some of the most brilliant pop songs ever written. The record company may argue it is a good way of keeping the man who recently won a Brit award for Best International Artist in the public eye and capitalising on the publicity surrounding the award. That may well be true, but anyone listening to this from cold as it were would be sorely tempted to wonder what on earth all the fuss is about.
No. 31: NEW ENTRY. 49ers featuring Ann-Marie Smith - Rockin' My Body
With Alex Party riding high at the moment the age of Italian House appears to be on us once again. The 49ers started life as the brainchild of one Gianfranco Bortolotti and first hit the charts early in 1990 with the No.3 hit Touch Me, hotly pursued by an irate Aretha Franklin whose Rocksteady formed a substantial percentage of the vocal track. They followed it up with the lyrically unique Don't You Love Me (complete with 'You make me funky' hookline). This new track marks their first appearance in the Top 40 since 1990, following on from a number of minor hits in 1992.
No. 30: NEW ENTRY. Green Day - Longview
The third hit for Green Day, following on from the Top 10 success of Basket Case. The success of that track notwithstanding, I suspect even their quirky brand of American garage-rock may not garner quite the appeal it has in the states. This one will struggle to become their third successive Top 20 hit.
No. 29: NEW ENTRY. 10cc - I'm Not In Love
Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley arguably made up one of the finest British pop bands of the 1970s. Their massive commercial success was arguably due to the way they could switch styles with ease, making a string of singles that were all almost totally distinct from each other, from the falsetto Rock N Roll ballad Donna to the cod-reggae Dreadlock Holiday. During the course of their career they had 11 Top 10 hits and three No.1s, the second of which was the stunning production of I'm Not In Love which arguably predated most ambient new age music by about ten years. The track also made No.2 in America and is to this day regarded as one of the greatest singles ever made. All the more interesting then that the track should make a reappearance in this form, not a straight re-release of the original but a totally new recording using acoustic guitars rather than synthesisers. What made the original so special was of course the atmospheric production. Strip all that away and one is left with the overwhelming feeling that underneath it all is a very moving and very beautiful song. Whether it becomes a big hit again is all in the lap of the Gods, but there can be few singles in the chart this week that have the pedigree of this one. [A bizarre tail end to the career of 10cc, with the whole Mirror Mirror album being a disaster and many people wondering just how "re-recorded" this version of I'm Not In Love actually was or whether it was just overdubbed].
No. 23: CLIMBER. Cranberries - I Can't Be With You
With so few records on the way up this week it is worth picking out the few that do... the Cranberries sail up into the Top 30 to make this their third biggest ever hit. The two biggest (so far) are Linger and Zombie, both of which reached No.14.
No. 22: NEW ENTRY. Terrorvision - Some People Say
Arguably the most famous band ever to come out of Bradford, Terrorvision return with their first hit of 1995 and are looking to continue the form which saw them score five Top 30 hits in a row during 1994. Oddly enough despite the acclaim for their album and the run of hits they scored, none ever made the Top 20 - this despite being some of the more commercial alternative rock hits of the year. The high entry point for Some People Say bodes well - their biggest hit to date is Oblivion which reached No.21 just under a year ago.
No. 19: FALLER. N-Trance - Set You Free
N-Trace now look to be on their way out, falling out of the Top 10 for the first time in what has so far been a 10-week chart run. It's not bad going for a single which is on its second release and a second run in the Top 40 having made No.39 in May 1994.
No. 18: NEW ENTRY. Human League - One Man In My Heart
One of the more extraordinary comebacks of the year has been that of the Human League. Many years away from selling a million copies of Don't You Want Me, Phil Oakey et al suddenly returned from nowhere in January with Tell Me When which made No.6 to give them their first Top 10 hit for nearly 9 years. Hot on the heels of that comes another new hit, unusually featuring Joanne and Suzan on vocals completely on their own [actually it is Susan solo, her first ever lead vocal after 13 years]. The result is a tender woman's ballad to which the expression 'lovely' could almost be said to have been coined.
No. 17: FALLER. Ini Kamoze - Here Comes The Hotstepper
Ini Kamoze also on his way out, also after having notched up one of the biggest hits of the year so far - nine weeks in the Top 10 and still in the Top 20 after 12.
No. 15: NEW ENTRY. Prodigy - Poison
Another single release from last year's Music For The Jilted Generation for one of the most successful 'faceless' dance acts around. I use the quits, simply because the identity of Liam Howlett and assorted pals has long been known yet they have consistently kept a low profile and let their astonishing string of hits speak for themselves. With a couple of notable exceptions, Prodigy's music is some of the most uncommercial dance around yet this has not stopped them notching up a string of Top 20 hits of which this is the ninth...
No. 10: NEW ENTRY. Janet Jackson - Whoops Now
How much mileage can you get from one album? Almost two years since the release of Janet but why record new material when you can produce a string of remixes? Having said that, it certainly hasn't harmed the chances of Janet Jackson charting singles, Whoops Now crashes in to become the seventh Top 20 hit from the album (or the first from 'Remixed' depending on which way you look at it) and her first Top 10 hit since Again at Christmas 1993.
No. 9: NEW ENTRY. Outhere Brothers - Don't Stop (Wiggle Wiggle)
There should, I suppose, be a whole genre set aside for filthy dance records that have to be dramatically edited just to qualify for chart rundowns on the radio. Short Dick Man was the most recent example and now here come the Outhere Brothers, massive in the clubs for months and now on a commercial release crashing straight into the Top 10. Fortunately for radio programmers everywhere the single does include a cleaned up radio version - but you find a single record buyer who has bought it on the strength of hearin that. These days if a record does possess slightly dodgy lyrics there are few record companies who will _not_ release an edited version to radio stations to pick up airplay - its a far cry from the 1970s when smashes such as Judge Dredd's Big Six were simply banned from the radio completely.
No. 5: NEW ENTRY. 'Comic Relief' - Love Can Build A Bridge
The quotes are there for a reason which I'll explain in a moment. For the benefit of those overseas, Comic Relief is that somewhat uniquely British event whereby the entire country wears plastic red noses for a day and does silly things, all in the name of charity. This is backed up by a telethon in the evening, all under the watchful eye of the country's top comedians. Comic Relief days have been held in 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1993 with the fifth one due this Friday (17th March). A regular part of this festival of fun is the Comic Relief single, a tradition predating the Red Nose Days themselves. The first was released in 1986 and featured the Young Ones massacring Living Doll assisted by Cliff Richard himself. This was followed at Christmas 1987 by Mel Smith and Kim Wilde's Rocking Around The Christmas Tree (No.3), Help by Bananarama and French and Saunders (No.3) in 1989, The Stonk by Hale and Pace (No.1) in 1991 and Stick It Out by Right Said Fred in 1993 which reached No.4. This year sees a break with tradition with the release for once of a straight single to mark the event, performed by a stella trio of Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry and with Eric Clapton on guitar. The song itself is unique in many ways, having been released in the aid of charity in one form or another no less than 3 times. Love Can Build A Bridge was first recorded by the Judds for an album in 1991. In 1992 it was used by ITV to soundtrack their regular telethon appeal. Public demand led to the original track being released in aid of the charity - only for it to flop completely. Last year it surfaced again, sung by a group of children for the benefit of the Rwandan aid appeal. Despite much media exposure the track failed to break the Top 50. Now finally, the ballad becomes a hit... finally in aid of a good cause as well. All that remains for me to do is to look at this last screenful of text and wonder what the hell I am going to find to say about the song if it makes No.1 next week...
No. 3: RE-ENTRY. Freak Power - Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out
Media exposure is also the source of the biggest new hit of the week. Freak Power is/are the brainchild of producer Norman Cook who graduated from playing Bass with the Housemartins in the mid-1980s to fronting Beats International in the 1990s. Their biggest hit came in 1990 with their version of Just Be Good To Me which made No.1 but by 1993 the hits had dried up and Cook disbanded the group. In their place he formed Freak Power and their debut hit single was the seriously funky Turn On... which made No.29 in October 1993. The other end of this thread starts with 501 jeans, the famous string of television adverts for which have resulted in a string of hit singles far too numerous to list here. Last year a track called Inside by an unknown Scottish band called Stiltskin was selected for such an advert - propelling the song to No.1. The latest advert has been airing for some weeks now, depicting a lecherous taxi driver discovering to his surprise that his glamorous female passenger is in fact a man - all of which takes place to the groove of Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out. The result of all this is a re-release for the single and its propulsion to the Top 3 over a year after it first charted. Could this be yet another No.1 thanks to Levi's jeans?
No. 1: SEVENTH WEEK. Celine Dion - Think Twice
More than ever before the competition hots up behind Celine Dion yet still she hangs on in there, way way past 1 million copies sold and set to be probably the biggest hit of the year. To sell a million is the dream of everyone who has ever released a single. Despite the fact that there are now almost 40 singles which have done so [yep, just 40 million sellers by 1995. 20 years plus later and there are three times the number], it still carries with it a kudos of being something special. This is all the more so since 1989 when the BPI assumed the day of the million-seller had gone forever and reduced the qualification for a platinum single from 1,000,000 to 600,000 units - only for there to have been five singles to make the grade since. Curiously enough, this week's chart features no less than three other acts who have made the grade at some point in their careers - Human League, Elton John and 10cc - to be joined next week by Wet Wet Wet. Spooky.