1 A LITTLE BIT MORE (911)
Sometimes the most fascinating tale of the charts is told not by the final week-end listing but the day by day tables showing the progress of singles throughout the week. The singles by 911 and Another Level were both thought to stand a good chance of entering near the top of the charts and so it proved on Monday with 911 outselling everyone else and with a comfortable lead over Another Level who were in second place. By the middle of the week things were less clear-cut as a surge of support for Another Level had reduced the gap considerably - it was now measurable not in thousands, not in hundreds but in tens. As a result there was a collective holding of breath until the final listings were released on Sunday afternoon which showed 911 were the ultimate winners of this race - even if it was by the narrowest of margins. Almost three years since their first hit single 911 finally achieve the one thing that has eluded them - a Number One hit. As I have commented before it has been a curious jinx that since the demise of Take That the only pop-orientated boy band to have had a Number One hit have been Boyzone. That jinx is finally broken by 911 albeit in a rather safe way as they have once again produced a cover version. The single itself is a faithful version of Doctor Hook's classic love song which made Number 2 in 1976, three years before the band themselves would top the charts with When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman. 911s version is a great single, certainly (is it possible to do a bad version of this song?) but their increasing reliance on cover versions is slightly disappointing. This single comes hot on the heels of their Number 2 cover of the Bee Gees' More Than A Woman and indeed a whole album of cover versions is planned - quite why is something of a mystery to me as their own singles such as The Journey, The Day We Find Love and All I Want Is You are fine pop records in their own right.
2 I WANT YOU FOR MYSELF (Another Level featuring Ghostface Killah)
Denied at the last gasp at the chance of a second Number One single, the odds are Another Level won't be too disappointed with the performance of this track which returns them to the Top 3 after their pre-Christmas single Guess I Was A Fool peaked at Number 5. This single is another one that looks to the past with a production that evokes memories of late-70s Motown in the same manner as Boyz II Men's Motownphilly. Just as Jay-Z appeared on some mixes of their debut hit Be Alone No More in February last year they enlist the help of some heavyweight rap help once more in the shape of Ghostface Killah who thus makes his first Top 40 appearance since his own All That I Got Is You made Number 11 in July 1997.
4 PRAISE YOU (Fatboy Slim)
By the looks of things the pattern of frantic action at the top of the chart that we have seen in January/February for the last few years is set to be repeated. Back in 1997 it was the end of February before any single managed more than seven days at the top whilst last year it was not until Aqua's Doctor Jones hit the top that the Number One position achieved anything approaching stability. With three different singles already having registered at the top of the charts in 1999, could the same pattern be about to be repeated. As it happens I doubt Norman Cook will mind too much about not being Number One. The album You've Come A Long Way Baby, which contains Praise You as well as Gangster Trippin' and Rockafeller Skank, is now resident in the Top 3 of the albums listing.
5 MORE THAN THIS (Emmie)
The nearest I get to a claim to fame these days was being at a party in the summer of 1997 when I met a blonde teenager called Emma who had aspirations to becoming a singer. At the time she had contributed vocals to a record called Your Caress (All I Need) which was credited to DJ Flavours and made Number 19 when released in October that year. Fifteen months later Emma has resurfaced, now calling herself Emmie and with major record company backing. Her first single will raise a few eyebrows as it is an atmospheric techno version of Roxy Music's classic More Than This, a Number 6 hit for the band in 1982 and as it turned out the last ever Top 10 hit for Bryan Ferry et al. Purists will doubtless hate it but the record works very well and saturation radio airplay has helped the single to this quite impressive debut. Is this a new star in the making? [For the answer to that question, tune into the breakfast show on Heart Yorkshire every weekday morning].
7 CASSIUS 1999 (Cassius)
How come France is suddenly the country that is producing all the major dance talent? Never regarded as a hotbed of musical activity, Gallic dancefloors have given us the likes of Daft Punk and Air. Now in their footsteps come Cassius, aka Philippe Zdar and Boombass who are best known as one-time producers of French rap superstar MC Solaar. Their first UK hit single will doubtless provoke comparisons with fellow countrymen Air as this is another ethereal single complete with a retro-disco groove and a breathless female vocal. Needless to say it is also rather brilliant and deservedly lands straight in the Top 10 this week.
10 WALK LIKE A PANTHER (All Seeing I)
Sheffield-based All Seeing I first hit the chart in March last year with The Beat Goes On, one of the more unusual dance hits of the year and probably the first to sample the Buddy Rich Orchestra. Almost a year later they return with a single equally as left-field and once more with some rather unique selling points. The presence of Jarvis Cocker on songwriting duties alone would provoke interest but it is the fact that Walk Like A Panther features a vocal from none other than Tony Christie that makes it something rather special. Having made his name as a cabaret crooner of some note in the last 1960s, Christie went on to have a number of hit singles in the 1970s, most were comfortably mid-table but by far the biggest was I Did What I Did For Maria which hit Number 2 in early summer 1971. His last chart appearance came in 1976 with Drive Safely Darlin' but now he returns on an extraordinary record which swings from laidback lounge croon to stomping techno track in a blinking of an eye. Could it really fail?
11 BEAUTIFUL DAY (3 Colours Red)
Remember these guys? Their first album came out in 1997 and for a brief while they were music press darlings albeit ones with a rather cartoonish image. They managed four Top 40 singles, the biggest being Sixty Mile Smile which reached Number 20 in March 1997. Two years later they unleash their second album onto the world and trail it with a quite magical record. Beautiful Day is something of a revelation compared to their past releases, a soaring ballad that stands comparison with anything The Verve and Embrace have produced recently. So appealing is the single that it has even been picking up airplay on the conservatively mainstream Radio 2 and this high chart entry is nothing more than it deserves, for now the biggest ever hit single for 3 Colours Red.
15 GET ON THE BUS (Destiny's Child featuring Timbaland)
Following Mel B and Missy Elliot's I Want You Back comes this second single from the soundtrack of the film Why Do Fools Fall In Love. Just like I Want You Back this is co-written by Missy Elliott but without the big name appeal of Mel B this single finds things a little tougher going [no, you didn't misread and 1999 James was on the money here. Once upon a time Mel B on a record gave it more hit potential than Destiny's Child. This was shortly about to change]. Nonetheless, it has landed inside the Top 20 to become the second biggest hit single for Destiny's Child, only their March 1998 debut No, No, No can boast a higher chart peak, having made Number 5.
17 BAD GIRLS/I LIKE IT (Juliet Roberts)
Remember this time last year? Juliet Roberts, best known for her 1993 hits such as Caught In The Middle, had a Top 20 single with a track called So Good. Although nothing special it had been helped into the chart thanks to airplay from radio stations who had been serviced with the single before the Christmas period and eagerly playlisted it as one of the few uptempo songs available to them over the holiday period. The same tactic has been tried here as Bad Girls has been all over the radio since the middle of December but only now gets a commercial release. It is a fairly faithful cover of Donna Summer's 1979 Number 14 hit and fits in nicely with the current vogue for 70s disco grooves. It becomes her third Top 20 hit, her biggest being a 1994 remix of Caught In The Middle which made Number 14.
27 TOM'S PARTY (T-Spoon)
Is there ever a good time for cheesy Euro-disco? Hot on the heels of their Top 3 hit Sex On The Beach last summer T-Spoon rack up a second UK hit. The main selling point of this single is the sample of Suzanne Vega's classic Tom's Diner which was never a big hit itself when released in 1987 but which was a massive dance smash itself in July 1990 when remixed by DNA, peaking at Number 2.
29 THE WIND (PJ Harvey)
Straight from the drawer marked 'bizarre' comes this atmospheric single from PJ Harvey, her first Top 40 entry since A Perfect Day Elise made Number 25 in September last year.
39 POWERTRIP (Monster Magnet)
Can this really be true. After almost 10 years in the business US rock band Monster Magnet finally get a Top 40 hit. They first came close to a commercial breakthrough in the mid-90s when they had a succession of minor hits, the biggest being Megasonic Teenage Warhead which made Number 49 in March 1995. The chances of this single progressing any further cannot be considered anything more than nonexistent but it is somehow refreshing to see the presence in the Top 40 of some good old-fashioned heavy rock.