1 HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE (Take That)
So a not unexpected second week at the top slot, despite a strong challenge from Robert Miles just a place below them. As I am sure you are aware by now this is Take That's final single, the end of a career which has seen the band virtually single-handedly breathe new life into the British pop industry. It was an industry that was virtually dead in the water when the group first appeared in 1991. The teen stars of the time were Americans New Kids On The Block who were well on their way out and the last British band to become genuine teen sensations were the disastrous Bros in 1988. Pop magazines were frantically having to expand their coverage to include TV and Film stars as the charts filled up with an endless succession of dance hits as singles sales slumped to an all time low. Into all of this came Take That. Their rise was not without its difficulties and a string of low-charting singles and endless changes of images ensued before they finally broke big with the half-desperate release of their cover of It Only Takes A Minute in May 1992. With that track in the Top 10 they were off and running and the release in October that year of A Million Love Songs showed that not only did the band have an enormous range of styles they also had a master songwriter in the shape of Gary Barlow. 1993 was the year things finally went ballistic as they carried off every award under the sun and in July scored their first Number One hit with the Gary Barlow penned Pray. It set them off on an incredible run of 8 Number One hits to the present date, every single one entering the charts at the top, a fear no other act can match. Over the last 3 years the only single of theirs to not reach the top was July 1994's Love Ain't Here Anymore which only reached Number 3 but perversely went on to outsell many of their chart-topping hits. The high point undoubtedly came last year with the million-selling Back For Good which was certainly Barlow's Careless Whisper, a massive American hit to boot and a lifetime's pension plan for the composer. Any band whose audience consists mainly of weeping teenagers is bound to attract a fair bit of derision but it was virtually universally acknowledged that Take That were something just a little bit special with an appeal that spread across all ages. Their demise will inevitably leave a gap for a time as acts like Boyzone have still yet to achieve the popularity of the lads from Manchester but they leave behind them an industry in a totally different shape to the one they joined, able to sell records to 13 year olds once again and in a position to lead the world in popular music. For all of that they will certainly go down as one of the greatest acts of the decade.
4 REAL LOVE (Beatles)
Whilst Free As A Bird did not become the Number One hit that most romantic notions had it down as it still made a big enough splash to herald the new Anthology project. Now all the fuss has died down, the TV series is long finished and the albums are gradually finding their way to bargain buckets across the country. Into this climate is released Real Love, the latest track resurrected from a dodgy cassette recording left behind by the late John Lennon. Whilst Free As A Bird was a semi-complete studio track when Paul, George and Ringo got to it, Real Love was little more than a recording made from a cassette machine stood on top of a piano and so required a little more work to knock it into shape. The result is actually rather good and many have muttered that it is actually a much better single that Free... and so is better equipped to stand on its own feet in the charts. In actual fact the single has managed to generate its own publicity with Radio One declining to play it and facing derision in the media because of it. Aside from the hype it gives the Beatles their third hit single over the past year and is good enough to stand comparison with their impressive musical legacy.
6 RETURN OF THE MACK (Mark Morrison)
Mark Morrison is yet another producer/DJ [no he isn't, he's just a singer] who has been making a name for himself recently with a string of records made under his own name. He charted briefly in September last year with Let's Get Down which reached Number 39. Since the new year a new recording of his has been setting dancefloors alight, the rather brilliant Return Of The Mack which explodes onto the chart to land an instant Top 10 placing.
7 THESE DAYS (Bon Jovi)
Bon Jovi break many current chart trends and make a strong climb into the Top 10. In doing so they ensure the continuation of an impressive run of Top 10 hit singles - this being their eighth in a sequence that stretches back to Dry County in March 1994.
12 GIVE ME A LITTLE MORE TIME (Gabrielle)
Even in the current chart climate where many weeks you will be hard pressed to find any records climbing the chart at all, there are still one or two tracks determined to buck the trend and mark out rather erratic courses for themselves. One such track is Gabrielle's gorgeous single. Probably due to the fact that it sounds better every time you hear it, the track has now moved 15-14-15-12 and gains a bullet this week with a massive increase in sales.
16 ONLY ONE (Peter Andre)
[Katie Price sperm donor debut klaxon!] What did the philosopher once say? "Give me a pretty looking Australian boy with long hair, an OK voice and enough promotion and marketing muscle and I will give you a Top 20 hit with apparent ease." Well alright maybe he didn't - but I just have OK?
17 CARS (PREMIER MIX) (Gary Numan)
It is at times like this I'm glad I don't have a limit on the amount I am allowed to write for these pages. Gary Numan first recorded Cars in 1979. It was his second hit single as a followup to Are Friends Electric which he released under the name of Tubeway Army. The track emulated the success of its predecessor and shot to Number One in October of that year, in the process marking itself out as an early electronic classic. Said classic was re-released in 1987 in a slight re-mix entitled the 'E-Reg model'. After a string of flop singles Gary Numan knew a money-spinner when he saw it and returned to promote the track, resulting in a Number 16 placing in September that year. Still a classic, the track refused to die and after being used in a series of advertising campaigns was re-released in 1993 in yet another remix only for it this time to peak at Number 53. Fast forward another 3 years and we reach the present day to find Gary Numan's classic being used prominently once again as part of a TV advertising campaign. The obligatory re-mix is performed (incidentally none of these 'remixes' appear to do much to the near-perfect original - they add more echo if anything) and the track is re-promoted once more to now reach the Top 20 for the third time of asking and to chart in a record-breaking fourth different mix. It becomes Gary Numan's first Top 40 hit single since the Sharpe and Numan track No More Lies reached Number 34 in February 1988 and his first solo Top 40 hit of any kind since er.. Cars in 1987.
18 IN WALKED LOVE (Louise)
As Eternal's latest release gradually slips down the charts here is former member Louise with her second solo single and looking to capitalise on the success of Light Of My Life which reached Number 8 back in October. In retrospect the record company took a risk releasing such a mature ballad as her first single - this new track plays along much safer ground, a cracking pop single written by Diane Warren and originally recorded by Expose for their 1992 album - for Louise an easy Top 20 hit, albeit one that has under-performed in the light of the amount of promotional effort which has been spent on it.
21 '74-'75 (Connells)
No, your eyes do not deceive you. Another re-release but this time one that has very little to do with the dancefloor. The Connells' single was first released in August last year. Following immense radio popularity it exploded from nowhere into the Top 20, ultimately peaking at Number 14. The gentle acoustic ballad was one of those tracks that fits nicely into the safe programming of many commercial radio stations and so it remained in rotation on the playlists of many stations for months afterwards. The net effect of this was to create a continuing demand for the few remaining copies of the single. The status of the song was further increased at the tail end of last year with the release of a rather cheesy dance version which mercifully missed the charts altogether. Since the start of the year anyone attempting to order a copy of the track will have been frustrated as London records deliberately withheld the track. With no album from the pair available demand for the track has steadily built up - resulting in this re-release and the reappearance of the track inside the Top 30. So there you go - a single re-released not because of a TV advert, not because clubbers love it, but simply because it is a rather lovely record.
26 WE GOT IT (Immature featuring Smooth)
It reads like a biblical lineage doesn't it? Barbers shop quartet begat doo-wop hits from the 1950s which begat Boyz II Men which begat 3T which begat Immature. Alright so maybe it isn't quite as logical as that but Immature continue the long line of sweet male harmonies that America has always been so enamoured with. Immature have had minor successes in the states over the past year or so but to date this is the first time they have made the British charts. The recent success of 3T clearly shows there is a market for this kind of balladeering but things are still pretty hit and miss as to whether the songs are big hits or not. 3T got lucky - it looks as if Immature did not.
27 SISTER PAIN (Electrafixion)
Ian McCulloch parted company with Echo and the Bunnymen in 1988 with the intention of forging a solo career for himself. Said career never really took off, the closest he ever came to a solo hit was his 1992 cover of Leonard Cohen's Lover Lover Lover which reached Number 47. Meanwhile his old band soldiered on without him, overcoming the death of Pete De Freitas to release 1990s Revelation album only to see it vanish without a trace. Now history seems to have come back round on itself with McCulloch teaming up with members of his old band [well OK, Will Sergeant then] to form Electrafixion. Thus here comes their debut single and perhaps unsurprisingly it sounds like Echo and the Bunnymen had never been away with their original mournful yet somehow uplifting sound still intact.
28 ALL SUSSED OUT (Almighty)
The Almighty are one of those bands who have been around for years, churning out a string of very good singles to a phenomenally loyal base of fans. They first charted in June 1990 with Wild And Wonderful and since then have notched up a string of very minor hits without ever it seems, breaking into the big time. Something tells me this could well be about to change as All Sussed Out is easily one of the most commercial tracks they have ever released, hence this not completely unimpressive chart position. It just falls short of becoming their biggest hit ever, that honour being held jointly by their last two hits Wrench and Jonestown Mind which both reached Number 26 in September 1994 and January 1995 respectively.
31 URBAN CITY GIRL (Benz)
The influence of Coolio's recent successes spread even further with the the debut single from Benz as Gangsta Rap heads further down the path of pop commercialism. I'm not complaining because this is actually a great single.
33 DARLING PRETTY (Mark Knopfler)
Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler has been threatening a solo career for a number of years. In between the now sporadic Dire Straits albums he has been involved in a number of fringe projects, most notably his mid-80s soundtracks for Local Hero and Cal and his 1990 collaboration with Chet Atkins Neck And Neck. Now he finally makes it official with the release of his first proper solo album that is not tied in to a film or a duet with a fading country star. Given his usual propensity for steel guitar self-indulgence this single is actually quite a revelation, Darling Pretty ranks alongside one of the sweetest ballads he has ever written. In charting inside the Top 40 it sails past the Number 45 peak of Going Home in 1983 which was until this date the only solo single he had ever charted. It is his first chart appearance of any kind since Dire Straits' live Encores EP reached Number 31 in May 1993.
35 SOUL PROVIDER (Michael Bolton)
So many rude things have been written about Michael Bolton over the years that it seems unfair to continue them. Despite his eternal lack of credibility and musical naffness Michael Bolton appears to have inherited the mantle of Barry Manilow as the alleged hunk releasing twee recordings beloved of housewives everywhere - as his current series of Greatest Hits concerts is proving. Following on from A Love So Beautiful which reached Number 27 back in December he now re-releases one of his older classics. Soul Provider was the title track from the 1990 album which finally broke him in this country. Released as a single at the tail end of that year, it missed the chart altogether and so as a result makes its first ever appearance this week to give him the 16th Top 40 hit of his career.
39 NEW YORK UNDERCOVER EP (Various Artists)
A curious oddity to round things off this week. This 4-track EP collection of tracks from various new American bands arrives on the chart without a specific artist credit and so is listed under the 'Various Artists' heading normally reserved for compilation LPs. For Various Artists collections to reach the singles chart is pretty rare although there have been a number of such singles released over the last few years. Such EP collections tend to be charity based such as 1992s The Fred EP which reached Number 26 and which featured Flowered Up, Saint Etienne and the Rockinbirds with their own interpretations of Right Said Fred tracks. Another example is the April 1993 peak of the Gimmie Shelter EP which featured a variety of artists performing versions of the classic Rolling Stones track spread out over the four different formats of the single. The chart rules were bent slightly to enable all four different formats to chart as a single entity - all in aid of the homeless charity shelter. The most successful Various Artists EP ever came way back in 1956 when Decca records released the All Star Hit Parade EP featuring the well known artists of the day with cover versions of a number of popular songs. It reached Number 2. [For the record, the artists on this EP were Guy, Little Shawn, Monifah and The Lost Boyz of which only the third of those ever managed so much as a minor hit under their own steam. Although the Little Shawn track marked the anonymous chart debut of Notorious B.I.G.].