[A column which this week appears to be little more than a relentless parade of new entries. In fact, this is the chart that set the all-time record - 20 brand new singles landing in the Top 40 - which to date has never been topped].
1 YOU'RE NOT ALONE (Olive)
The 12th Number One single so far this year is far and away one of the most unexpected. Olive is the brainchild of Tim Kellett, a former member of Simply Red who was unceremoniously dumped by Mick Hucknall a few years ago. You're Not Alone was first released last September but could only climb as far as Number 42. This new release, coupled with a new set of remixes and mass radio support has led to it scaling the ultimate pinnacle. The single itself, complete with fading in and out introduction is one of those peculiar pop/jungle hybrid's in the same style as N-Trance's Set You Free, singer Ruth-Ann breathily intoning the song whilst a frantic jungle beat blasts away in the background, almost independently of the main melody. The effect is to create something quite startlingly beautiful - almost as beautiful as a rather unexpected Number One hit.
3 WONDERFUL TONIGHT (Damage)
This is a very very bold move for the teen soulsters and to their credit they just about carry it off. Wonderful Tonight is easily one of the most famous rock ballads ever written, Eric Clapton's song of adoration to Patti Boyd has remained a fan's favourite and has been part of his concert act ever since it was first recorded in 1978. Clapton's original became an American Top 20 hit but failed to chart over here, eventually it became a Number 30 hit in a live version released in 1991. Now it is the turn of Damage to become the first act to take a cover version of the song into the charts and in the process take it to its highest chart position ever and gives them their first Top 3 hit with their fourth hit single. Clapton's songs are notable for withstanding reinterpretation in different styles, witness his own Bluesey remake of Layla in 1992.
4 YOU MIGHT NEED SOMEBODY (Shola Ama)
In yet another frantic chart week that has seen no less than 20 new entries to the Top 40, credit is due to those singles that have sustained their chart position in the face of such intense competition. Top of the pile has to be Shola Ama who advances to Number 4 after falling back to Number 7 last week. Already this single is far and away more successful than Randy Crawford's original version of the track which could only reach Number 11 when first released in 1981.
6 LOVE WON'T WAIT (Gary Barlow)
Another spectacular tumble from the top and this time it must surely come as a disappointment to Gary Barlow. Not only has he fallen straight out of the Top 5 but only two of the singles outselling him are brand new songs. Two are cover versions, two are re-releases of singles available last year and one is a former Number One which has been on the chart for over two months. Love Won't Wait probably deserved better, not least because of its author - Madonna. It marked her first connection with a Number One single since she climbed to the top herself with Vogue in 1990. Despite her pedigree as a songwriter startlingly few people other than herself have benefitted from her expertise. The last notable occasion was in 1986 when former model Nick Kamen had a Top 10 hit with Each Time You Break My Heart which was written by Madonna and Patrick Leonard [and which was also a track recorded for a Madonna album and subsequently discarded].
7 I'M A MAN NOT A BOY (North and South)
...or "The World Famous North And South" as they refer to themselves on TV. When a group goes around saying "we're not just another boy band" then alarm bells start ringing. Fortunately North and South do have a number of things in their favour, such as this extremely strong single and the exposure that TV can give them. Although they claim both the group and series came into being at the same time, they are all actors, child stars of the childrens TV series No Sweat which charts the fictional emerging fortunes of "The World Famous North And South". Cue the inevitable tie-in single which immediately shoots straight to the Top 10. It would be wrong to be too cynical about this, one such pop act who released their first single as a tie-in to a childrens TV series were Ant and Dec.
8 KOWALSKI (Primal Scream)
Despite their somewhat sporadic recording career Primal Scream still have a great many fans as this entry shows. Their forthcoming new album is their first single 1994 but the gap appears to have done them no harm. Despite the back to basics stones-aping nature of singles such as Rocks and Cry Myself Blind from their last album this new single represents a move back to the trancey sound of their earlier 1990s work. The new album is called Vanishing Point and as a clever reference point Kowalski was the name of the driver from the famous film of the same name. The lineup of Primal Scream has recently expanded to include former Stone Roses bass player Mani and this fact, coupled with the presence of the Seahorses' single this week at Number 11 means that both the Stone Roses and Take That have two former members with singles on the chart this week.
9 SUSAN'S HOUSE (Eels)
The second hit from the Eels follows the path of Novovaine For The Soul and charges straight into the Top 10, this time improving by one place the peak of its predecessor. Brilliant as you would expect, with just the question of which Mike Post theme does the piano figure most resemble to be resolved.
12 5 MILES TO EMPTY (Brownstone)
The first hit single after a long layoff for Brownstone, the all-girl group who have by now hopefully shaken off the stigma of being labelled as proteges of Michael Jackson, despite the fact that their only connection was to be signed to his record label. After 3 Top 30 hit singles in 1995 they crash back into the Top 20 with this rather pleasant track that won't win them any new converts but at least scores points for not having crashing guitars, screamed vocals, or horrible bleepy noises as part of the production.
13 LOVE SHINE A LIGHT (Katrina and the Waves)
"I used to think maybe you loved me, now baby I'm sure." The opening lines of what is surely one of the greatest pop singles ever recorded, Walking On Sunshine which gave Katrina and the Waves a worldwide smash hit in 1985, the single reaching Number 8 over here. By rights they should have continued to be massive, every song they recorded was a wonderful slice of guitar-driven pop, songwriter Kimberley Rew had such an ear for a melody that the Bangles fell over themselves to record a new version of Going Down To Liverpool. Despite one other minor hit in 1986, Sun Street, everything went badly wrong. For the last ten years, the band have flitted from record label to record label, always promising much but delivering little, last year's single 'Honey Lamb' deserved better but failed to chart at all. Then came the Eurovision Song Contest, the annual event where the countries of Europe come together in a festival of popular song that is televised worldwide. What was a good idea in the late 1950s when it began is something of an anachronism these days yet TV audiences still switch on and despite playing the whole thing tongue-in-cheek the British would love to win it again. The song selected to represent our interests in Dublin last week was Love Shine A Light, a soaring anthem performed by Katrina and the Waves who probably knew this was their last chance for career salvation. It won. Not by a whisker, but by miles with the biggest score in the contest's history, bringing the prize back to these shores for the first time since Bucks Fizz won in 1981. After landing at Number 50 when released last week the single charges into the Top 20 with the biggest chart leap of the year so far to put Katrina and the Waves firmly back on the map. Eurovision winners don't always do so well - the biggest worldwide smash from last year's contest was Gina G's Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit which barely made Top 10 in the original voting.
15 LOVE IS ALL WE NEED (Mary J. Blige)
Always welcome in the UK Top 40, Mary J Blige makes her first appearance for over a year. Her biggest ever run of hit singles came with her last album in 1995 when she had no less than 3 Top 20 hit singles, the biggest being You're All I Need To Get By which reached Number 10. Now with another great soul track, she returns to the Top 20 for the first of what is hopefully several hit singles.
19 THE PROPHET (CJ Bolland)
CJ Bolland's second Top 20 hit single in much the same vein as his first, Sugar Is Sweeter which made Number 11 in October last year.
23 SHINE (Space Brothers)
Big on the dancefloor, now big in the Top 40, the first hit single for the Space Brothers although to write it off as just another piece of electronic dance is to do it a disservice. Just pity the chart climate that means this is going to struggle to climb any further. [This was an early example of turn of the millennium trance. Within three years it was dance music's default sound].
24 FOREVER GIRL (OTT)
The second hit single from the Irish boy band. By the looks of things they have some work to do, their first single was Let Me In, a cover of the Osmonds song which reached Number 12... a better chart position should have been the order of the day to build on that success.
26 BLUE DAY (Suggs and Co. featuring Chelsea Team)
Spring is upon us once more and with it the end of the football season and its annual showpiece - the final of the Football Association Challenge Cup. As is now almost required, the finalists each record a rather terrible single for their supporters to flock to buy and for everyone else to ignore. First out of the blocks this year are Chelsea who last appeared in the FA Cup final in 1994. That year they recorded No One Can Stop Us Now, a title which proved ill-advised as they only reached Number 23 and were hammered 4-0 by Manchester United who, to add insult to injury, reached Number One with Come On You Reds. This is Chelsea's third hit single, their first coming in 1972 when Blue Is The Colour reached Number 5. One member of the Chelsea squad who is no stranger to chart action is Dutch player-manager Ruud Gullit who recorded a number of singles in the earlier part of his career, none of which were released over here but did very well on the continent. Chelsea's opponents at Wembley on May 17th are Middlesbrough whose single is on the way.
27 STRUMPET (My Life Story)
The fourth single from the album The Golden Mile sees Jake Shillingford et al still searching for their first massive hit single. This is at least a step in the right direction, propelling them into the Top 30 for the first time.
28 GOSPEL OAK EP (Sinead O'Connor)
The first single release in a long time for Sinead O'Connor who could never be accused of prolific. This is her first chart hit since her duet with Shane McGowan Haunted reached Number 30 in April 1995. Fortunately the single is worth the wait, the EP led by the moving ballad To Mother You which she sings in such a way as to break your heart time after time.
33 I WISH YOU LOVE (Paul Young)
Time after time his career has been written off yet still he manages to bounce back. One of Britain's finest white soul voices first charted back in the 1970s when a member of the Street Band. Upon going solo he scored a Number One hit first time out in 1983 with his cover of Marvin Gaye's Wherever I Lay My Hat. Since then he has notched up seven Top 10 hits with many others achieving all manner of chart positions. None of his single releases in 1995 made the Top 40 so this is his first appearance in these all-important upper reaches since It Will Be made Number 34 in April 1994. Appealing more to the adult easy listening market these days it will take a great deal to give Paul Young a massive chart hit but for the moment his career just goes on and on.
34 FIREWORKS EP (Embrace)
Many many plaudits for this new rock band from Brighouse in West Yorkshire, fronted by brothers Danny and Richard McNamara. With their first release, they charge straight into the Top 40 with the promise of even better to come [and how].
36 THEME FROM THE PROFESSIONALS (Laurie Johnson and the London Big Band)
Despite the fact that nobody has yet made a film out of it the 1970s police series maintains a cult following, exacerbated largely by a famous veto by star Martin Shaw that prevented the series from being repeated. Recently he has relented and satellite station Granada Plus has been re-showing the classic episodes, prompting moves to make a brand new series. In recognition of this Blueboy have taken it upon themselves to remix Laurie Johnson's original theme tune - to, it has to be said, quite astonishing effect. It marks a surprising return to the charts for conductor and arranger Laurie Johnson who had only once before had a chart hit, Sucu Sucu which reached Number 9 way back in 1961. Such a gap between hit singles - just a few months short of 36 years is the second longest in chart history, beaten only by Perez Prado who notched up 36 years 27 days when Guaglione charted in December 1994.
37 CORNERSHOP (Babybird)
A third hit single from the Ugly Beautiful album, only this time the track has been re-recorded with what is described as a 'harder guitar sound'. However hard or soft it might be the single looks likely to disappoint, the Top 3 success of You're Gorgeous seems a distant memory.
40 SPYBREAK! (Propellerheads)
Yet another example of films using electronica to spice up their soundtracks, from the new David Duchovny film Playing God comes this debut Top 40 single from Propellerheads.