1 FASTLOVE (George Michael)
It's been a good couple of months since I sat in front of the rep from Virgin records and made appreciative cooing noises at the sound of the second single from George Michael's forthcoming new album. At the time it was difficult to get excited about it but after repeated exposure the brilliance of the track shines through. Unlike Jesus To A Child this is George back at his funky best. The concatenated title alone should give you the clue that this single is along the same lines as TooFunky,a tight, intense funk track with its own sense of fun retro (it samples Patrice Rushen's Forget Me Nots at the end as a nod to the inspiration for the song's rhythm). A second successive Number One hit was virtually assured, giving Michael the 11th Number One hit of his long and varied career. It is only the fourth to be credited to him alone but his work with Wham! and artists such as Queen, Aretha Franklin and Elton John. The Guinness rules for the table of most Number One hits state that only his solo credits count for the purposes of that table, hence this is his seventh chart-topper, putting him equal with Madonna and just behind Take That and the Rolling Stones on the all-time list. If the Wham! hits are taken into account only the Beatles, Elvis and Cliff have been at the top of the charts more.
7 BEFORE (Pet Shop Boys)
Believe it or not it is almost three years since we had a 'proper' Pet Shop Boys album. Since Very there have come the Absolutely Fabulous single, the Disco 2 remix album and their Alternatively collection of b-sides. As a result a brand new single from the Kings of electronic pop is bound to be something of an event. The minimalist yet still catchy Before crashes straight into the Top 10 to make it the 16th such single for them and their first hit since the remix of Paninaro made Number 15 in August last year. Their consistency over the last ten years is such that they have never had a single miss the Top 30 - their smallest hit ever being 1991s Was It Worth It? which could only reach Number 24.
8 MOVE MOVE MOVE (THE RED TRIBE) (1996 Man Utd. FA Cup Squad)
The climax to the football season is almost upon us and with it comes the climax of the world's most famous knockout tournament - the Football Association Challenge Cup. The final of said competition is these days invariably preceded by the release of singles by the two sides set to battle it out in the final. For the third year in succession Manchester United have reached the final hurdle and so similarly for the third time in as many years they score a chart hit. Back in 1994 their cup final song Come On You Reds (a remake of a Status Quo song) became the first record by a club side to top the charts, coinciding with their emphatic win in the final. Last year's effort We're Gonna Do It Again was less successful and could only reach Number 6 and also proved slightly premature as Everton inflicted a 1-0 defeat on them. So to this year and the Red Army have gone dance, releasing a song that has one eye on the dancefloor in an attempt to appeal outside their supporters and to casual record buyers. In actual fact their nationwide support would be enough to catapult the track into the Top 10 anyway as has happened here but the fact that this is a half decent pop song helps. This may not be the last football single we see charting this year with fellow finalists Liverpool yet to release their cup effort and with the Lightning Seeds-produced anthem for England's European Championships campaign set to be released in the summer. [I have high hopes for that one].
10 SALE OF THE CENTURY (Sleeper)
Sleeper's first single release of 1996 was always set to be a smash and so it proves, Louise Wener et al charging straight into the Top 10 with the catchy Sale Of The Century to give the band their biggest hit single ever.
11 24/7 (3T)
Is this a chart rundown or a maths exam? The second hit single for 3T doesn't quite make the initial impact of the smash 'Anything' but earns itself a respectable enough chart placing. The Jackson descendants turn out another piece of sweetly voiced soul that helps to pass 3 minutes without shaking the world too much. x=12 by the way.
12 I WILL SURVIVE (Chantay Savage)
Inspired. In-spired. As has been mentioned before, I Will Survive is one of those eternally classic records. Gloria Gaynor's galloping original still holds its own as one of the greatest disco records of all time. Nobody else could deliver the song in quite the same way as Diana Ross' recent failure to do so proved amply. Full credit then to Chantay Savage for taking the opposite track. This new version slows the song down, right down in fact to turn it into the RnB ballad you never imagined it was. Already a smash hit in America, the radical new version charts easily over here to leave the memory of Gloria Gaynor still unequalled but at least unsullied.
15 THE 13TH (Cure)
The Cure seem to go on forever. When I was a child they were the band that sang Love Cats; when I was a teenager they made the brilliant pop of Inbetween Days; when I was a sixth former they sparked endless common room arguments with the release of the Mixed Up album and when I was a student they dominated the charts once more with the pure pop of Friday I'm In Love. Four years on from that and I am grizzled, cynical adult and Robert Smith is still making records. Their first single after a long gap is something of a slight change of direction with an uptempo, almost Latin feel yet still with the unmistakeable weirdness that characterises a Robert Smith song. As a trailer for the new album it charts respectably enough, giving the band their 11th Top 20 hit.
18 SLANG (Def Leppard)
Britain's foremost metal band also make a return to the charts this week. Notwithstanding the Vault hits compilation and its associated hit single When Love And Hate Collide plus the filler Retro mini LP the forthcoming new album is their first proper since 1992's Adrenalize album. Hearing this track for the first time conjures up images of Spinal Tap saying "Hope you like our new direction..." as the Sheffield rockers cast an eye over the dancefloor. Grinding metal riffs are still the order of the day but there are less layered harmonies and more breakbeats and scratchings as the word 'experiment' looms large in the mind. A Number 18 placing first week out is respectable enough but is a disappointment when you consider that Let's Get Rocked, the first single from Adrenalize charged straight in at Number 2.
20 CELEBRITY HIT LIST (Terrorvision)
Stars at long last, Terrorvision return to the charts with their second hit of the year to follow the Top 5 smash Perseverance. More of the same is the drill here as Celebrity Hit List does no harm at all to their claim to being one of the country's brightest rock bands. Anyone who witnessed their performance before the Bradford Bulls' recent Super League match will be only too aware of this.
23 NOBODY KNOWS (Tony Rich Project)
A welcome chart entry for the current US Top 3 smash, Tony Rich scoring his first British hit with this laid back ballad. A climb could well be on the cards for this next week as well.
26 THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD (Bruce Springsteen)
The Boss climaxes his acoustic tour over here and at the same time scores a hit single from the title track of his current album. His hits over here tend to be sporadic and small, this being his first Top 40 entry since the Greatest Hits inspired Hungry Heart reached Number 28 last November. It is worth remembering, however, that it is only two years since Streets Of Philadelphia reached Number 2 to give him his biggest hit ever.
28 SHOW ME (Dana Dawson)
Slowly but surely Dana Dawson is building up a career for herself. It is strange that she never capitalised on the momentum of her debut hit 3 Is Family which reached Number 9 early last summer. It took until October for her to score with a followup in the shape of Got To Give Me Love which reached Number 27. Now she scores a third Top 40 hit which is still a rather pleasant upbeat pop track but I suspect will struggle to stand out from the crowd and become a bigger hit.
33 OVER AND OVER (Plux featuring Georgia Jones)
A rather brilliant 70s inspired dance hit from the same production team that were responsible for The Original. One of those tracks you can either dance to or sit and play 'spot the sample' [at the time of posting this track isn't on whosampled which kind of suggests it didn't sample anything, comment below if you know differently].
35 GRATEFUL WHEN YOU'RE DEAD (Kula Shaker)
The debut hit single for Kula Shaker, a new band who's quest for fame came last Autumn when they were one of the featured unsigned acts at the British Music Industry's annual 'In The City' conference. They were voted joint winners of the mini Battle Of The Bands in which they featured and the result was a record deal this Top 40 hit.
37 I THANK YOU (Adeva)
Back in 1989 Adeva was one of the Queens of garage. She exploded into public view at the start of the year with her cover of Aretha Franklin's Respect and then proceeded to notch up a string of hit singles. For some reason after her first album the hits started to dry up and she was only able to chart sporadically with one-offs such as guesting on Monie Love's Ring My Bell. This climaxed with her being dropped by Cooltempo records and apparently cast into the wilderness. Hints of a comeback for the lady with the astonishing voice came last year when Frankie Knuckles asked her to sing on some retro-sounding tracks he had recorded. That resulted in two Top 40 hits in the shape of Too Many Fish In The Sea and Whadda U Want From Me. Now her old record company have got back in on the act, remixing some of her old hits as a result she gets another hit single with this updated version of a track which reached Number 17 in October 1989. It is a great track but still sounds astonishingly 80s [before this was a good thing].