1 FAIRGROUND (Simply Red)
Almost exactly four years ago, Simply Red were geared up for the release of their brand new single, taken from their forthcoming new album Stars. Expectations were high. They were proved right as well, the single Something Got Me Started making a respectable enough Number 11 but heralding an album which has ended up the bestselling album of the decade so far and one of the bestsellers of all time. Now it is time for the entire process to start again, but more importantly for Mick Hucknall to follow up the greatest success of his career. Believe it or not he does so in fantastic style. Fairground was released to radio stations almost a month ago via satellite with the first promotional copies following a few days later. The single was placed in heavy rotation on virtually every Top 40 radio station in the land which has resulted in the track making an unstoppable leap to the top of the airplay charts, a position it has held for the past three weeks. When a single that is not yet released to the public becomes the most played record on British radio then you know you are dealing with something special. The single itself is quite unlike any Simply Red single ever released, using the loop from Goodmen's Give It Up to create a base for Mick Hucknall to mumble the verse over until the song explodes in a chorus to die for. An instant Number One was almost assured but in the event it turned out to be a close-run thing with last week's instant champion Shaggy and a resurgent Michael Jackson putting in a strong showing. It gives Simply Red their first ever Number One hit in this country, their previous biggest being Holding Back The Years and If You Don't Know Me By Now which both reached Number 2 in 1986 and 1989 respectively.
2 BOOMBASTIC (Shaggy)
Simply Red were too much of a challenge to hold off and so Shaggy surrenders his Number One slot, just one week after crashing straight in to the top of the charts. It means the single is the fifth so far this year to spend a mere week at Number One, which in itself is not so incredible until you consider that from the start of 1991 to the end of 1993 not one single spent less than 2 weeks at the top of the charts. Although long runs at the top this year by Celine Dion and Green/Flynn have redressed the balance it still means that so far this year we have had 14 chart-topping hits, compared with 15 in the whole of both 1993 and 1994.
5 LIVING NEXT DOOR TO ALICE (Smokie featuring Roy Chubby Brown)
Six weeks into its chart run and the single is still climbing despite little or no support from radio stations. This current climb means the quite literally f***ed up version of the song matches the peak of the original back in 1976. Whilst the track is clearly a novelty it is worth pondering awhile on the way it has brought the expression 'Who the f*** is Alice' into the vernacular with nobody even pretending they don't know what lies behind the bleeps. Curiously even the tabloid newspapers have not seen fit to complain about what might be perceived as filth, preferring instead to get upset about the sleeve of the new Pulp single [that story coming next week]. It is this lack of coyness about the verbals in the record that may have caused radio stations to shy away from the track, despite the bleeped versions on the CD single. Even this apparently isn't good enough, to get the record played on the chart show I produce for local radio we had to produce our own edited version complete with funny noises to cover up the rude bits.
9 LA LA LA HEY HEY (Outhere Brothers)
It's unusual I know to mention a record on the slide but this is fairly significant for the Outhere Brothers as it looks as if their 100% record of Number Ones is about to come to a close with their third single. There was speculation that they could become only the fourth act in chart history to have Number Ones with their first three hits but this now looks a little unlikely.
10 SOMEWHERE SOMEHOW (Wet Wet Wet)
Floods of new entries on the Top 40 are nothing new these days but this week is absolutely astonishing. No less than 18 hits - almost half the entire chart - make their Top 40 debut this week, equalling the record set in the first week of 1992. Even back then, however, only 17 of these were new hits, the 18th climbing into the Top 40 from below. Aside from Simply Red at the top, the highest goes to Wet Wet Wet with their third Top 10 hit of the year, following Julia Says and Don't Want To Forgive Me Now.
11 SHORT SHORT MAN (20 Fingers featuring Gillette)
One of two dance hits to be resurrected to become hits for a second time this week, but this one does so in the most bizarre style. Short Short Man was first released in November 1994 when it reached Number 21 only back then it went under its original title of Short Dick Man, the track referring to... well, I'm sure you can work that bit out. That alone was enough to restrict the exposure for the record, with most radio stations reluctant even to play the radio edit which still had the "Short Dick Man" hookline running all the way through it. Radio One took the step of creating its own edit to play on the Top 40 countdown, looping the track so it said Short Short Man which sounded silly but kept the complaints at bay. Now the track has been reissued and the record company appear to have taken the hint, releasing the track in a new vocal edit and under a new title so it is indeed Short Short Man, although the original 'dirty' version is still present in alternate mixes. It is yet another example, following the saga of the Outhere Brothers album, whereby record companies are seemingly quite content to avoid the hassle and notoriety of releasing records with the tiniest bit of rude language, simply it seems to maximise sales.
12 SOMETHING FOR THE PAIN (Bon Jovi)
The second hit for Bon Jovi from their recent Number One album, following in the wake of This Ain't A Love Song which reached Number 6 back in June. The success of Always last Christmas which became their biggest hit ever has clearly pointed the way for the band to have hits, keeping away from some of their wilder material and release instead the tender, bluesy numbers of which this is another. There is nothing wrong with these tracks but Bon Jovi in full blown rock mode is a far more impressive sight altogether.
13 ALRIGHT (Cast)
Funny this, two singles called Alright in the space of two months, both from some of the brightest British bands around yet both totally different songs. This is the second single for Cast, led by former La's bassist John Power and follows on from Finetime which reached Number 17 back in July. Alright was first written by Power during the La's last tour together. He performed it in soundchecks and the song was such a success that it ended up as part of the band's set and was set to appear on their self-incinerated second album. Now it is recorded by his new band and becomes the hit it was obviously going to be.
16 STARDUST (Menswear)
This year's Oasis if all the hype is to be believed. The somewhat eclectic Menswear charge into the Top 20 for the second time in as many releases, hot on the heels of Daydreamer which made Number 14 back in July.
17 MARY JANE (ALL NIGHT LONG) (Mary J Blige)
Here is a strange coincidence. Back in 1983 two separate arms of Motown records released singles called All Night Long. One was by Lionel Richie and the other was by the Mary Jane Girls who reached Number 13 with their song that was nothing to do with Mr Richie's. Twelve years later and within a week of each other both songs have been resurrected for new hits. Umboza's current hit at Number 28 uses a sample from the Lionel Richie hit and now here comes Mary J Blige with her version of the song by the group who almost share her name. Despite its Top 20 placing first time round, the Mary Jane Girls' hit is one of those long-lost hit singles which never ever makes it onto the radio these days, so Mary J Blige's version is very welcome indeed, and gives her another Top 20 hit to follow hot on the heels of her vocal on Method Man's You're All I Need To Get By back in July.
20 BROKEN STONES (Paul Weller)
I will make no secret of the admiration I have for the music Paul Weller is putting out at the moment. His latest career incarnation of semi-acoustic strummer is not a style of music I would normally choose to listen to, but every single so far from the Stanley Road album has been a revelation. Following Top 10 hits with 'The Changingman' and the bluesey You Do Something To Me, the former Jam and Style Council man produces something which is arguably even better. Broken Stones is a gentle, vibe-led track that could almost have stepped straight out of a 1970s soul album and yet does not sound an inch out of place in 1995. The track is almost certain to topple out of the charts as quickly as it arrived but who cares, I've just been inspired to go buy the album.
24 HISTORY (The Verve)
History they are indeed, the Verve having decided to call it a day just as their latest album is selling bucketloads and they are having a string of hit singles. Thus, what will probably ["probably"] prove to be their swansong becomes their third Top 40 hit of the year and ironically their biggest to date following the Number 35 peak of This Is Music back in May and On Your Own which reached Number 28 back in June. [Yep, the world of music will miss The Verve, shame they never quite achieved their full potential].
26 HOLD THAT SUCKER DOWN (O T Quartet)
The second dance hit of the week to be getting a second bite of the cherry. Hold That Sucker Down was first released well over a year ago, reaching Number 24 in April 1994. For no apparent reason other than its continuing popularity the track, made by man of the moment Rollo Armstrong, reappears in pretty much the same form but curiously so far lower than its original peak.
29 ONLY HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS (Garbage)
Another debut, this time for Garbage who are the latest in the line of girl-fronted indie bands who dominated the charts at the start of the year. Saying that probably sums them up there being little to distinguish them from bands such as Sleeper, Elastica and Echobelly. They are at least worthy of note for stating in interviews that they feel their records are perfect to have sex to.
31 WAITING IN VAIN (Annie Lennox)
The novelty of Annie Lennox doing strange cover versions appears to have worn off as the hits start getting smaller. The latest single is a radically reworked version of Bob Marley's 1977 Number 27 original. On the b-side of the single is her similarly radical version of the Clash's Train In Vain. Originally it was planned that these two would form a double-a side but that appears to have been dropped as Train In Vain receives no listing on the chart and was not even on the promotional copies sent to DJs a few weeks ago.
33 HARD AS A ROCK (AC/DC)
Heavy rock is set to make a chart comeback over the next few weeks and to open the floodgates, here come the best of the bunch. AC/DC never ever change but in all honesty who would want them to? Hard As A Rock may be a bit more relaxed than past hits from them but it still kicks bottom and still comes with a video featuring Angus Young going mental in a school uniform which is really all that matters. They are far and away one of the most consistent rock acts of all time, this being their 25th chart hit since 1978 and their first since Big Gun from the 'Last Action Hero' soundtrack reached Number 23 in July 1993. AC/DC are also the holders of one of the more bizarre chart records. Of all their 25 hits, not one as progressed further than Number 12. No other act has had as many hits without ever once making the Top 10.
34 SICK AND TIRED (Cardigans)
Another debut, this time for the Cardigans whose single has been unavoidable on Radio One over the last week or so, largely thanks to the relentless plugging by breakfast DJ Chris Evans. The single is a lovely laid-back oddity which deserves a far bigger chart audience than it is likely to get. Whoever said life was fair anyway?
35 BORN ON THE 5TH OF NOVEMBER (Carter USM)
No longer an Unstoppable Sex Machine and apparently no longer able to command the chart positions they did back in 1991 and 1992. This is their second hit single of the year following The Young Offenders Mum which made Number 34 back in February. The band are best known for their frantic pumping indie-dance hits yet are never adverse to churning out the odd ballad, just like this one which is oddly reminiscent of the most glorious moment of their career back in 1992 when for a Christmas hit they recorded a completely straight-faced version of The Impossible Dream which as far as I am concerned is one of the best singles they ever made.
37 ANYWHERE (Dubstar)
One of the few acts amongst the flood of new entries at the bottom of the chart to not be making their Top 40 debut this week. This is Dubstar's second hit single of the year following Stars which made a brief appearance at Number 40 back in July. The Newcastle group are slowly but surely building up a name for themselves and their next hit could well be the one to break them big.
40 EVEN THOUGH YOU BROKE MY HEART (Gemini)
To prop up the bottom end of the chart this week come yet another act making their chart debut this week. It's pop music time again as EMI parade their latest concept, Gemini being two identical twin boys, singing what is in all honesty a lovely soulful pop tune but with so many harmonies it evokes feelings of Christmas more than anything else, especially once the wonderfully cheesy saxophone instrumental kicks in halfway through. Only a small hit for now then, but they are an act to watch over the next few months.