1 MAMBO NO.5 (Lou Bega)
To the surprise of absolutely nobody at all, Mambo No.5 flies straight to the top of the chart in the wake of the single finally getting an official release in this country. To reiterate the point I made last week and to save anyone becoming confused, the single is listed as a New Entry this week despite having been on the Top 75 for the last four, rising to Number 31 last week. This is simply because as far as the rules are concerned the unofficial imports are a totally separate release from this 'proper' issue and the two are distinct as far as the chart is concerned. Hence this "new entry" at the very top of the listing.
Now that the record is out proper it is worth actually considering its origins. Bega has simply added new vocals to the original Perez Prado track of the same name and in doing so has created the worldwide smash hit of the summer. Mambo No.5 itself has never been a hit single before as Perez Prado's own chart career was surprisingly brief considering his celebrity as the original King of the Mambo. It is by no means the first time he has been at the top of the charts though, his rendition of Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White hitting the top in 1955 - this ironically being the last time that a Mambo track topped the charts in this country. The late bandleader also made a chart appearance more recently in 1995 when Guaglione reached Number 2 thanks to its use in a TV commercial (what else) for Guinness. Mambo No.5 has also benefitted from media exposure having been chosen at the start of the summer by Channel 4 for its coverage of test match cricket. This has undoubtedly been a factor in the demand for the single but with the track topping charts all over Europe and without a shadow of a doubt the party tune of the summer a smash hit in this country was more or less a lock as well.
2 MUCHO MAMBO (SWAY) (Shaft)
Just in case you were in any doubt whatsoever that Mambo fever has swept the country the second biggest new hit of the week is also a faithful recreation of the spirit of the original Latin dance. Whilst it hasn't quite sparked the hysteria that Lou Bega's hit has managed to generate, the tale of Mucho Mambo's ride into the chart is almost as interesting. The track was originally heard as the soundtrack to a TV ad for London radio station Kiss FM and was essentially an updated mix of Rosemary Clooney's recording of the song Sway (which was most famously a hit for Dean Martin reaching Number 6 in 1954). Clooney had the honour of being one of the first chart stars to have hit singles with Mambo tracks and her song Mambo Italiano which topped the chart in 1955 was the first Mambo Number One. Mucho Mambo was set for commercial release only for the copyright holders of the Clooney track to refuse permission for the sample to be used commercially. This led to PPL slapping a total moratorium on the track, no radio or TV station could use it for any purpose at all (and the copies that had already been mailed out suddenly became as valuable as gold dust - and no you cannot have mine!) Session singer Claire Vaughan was hastily drafted in to recreate the vocal line from scratch and the new mix was made available two days later. It is this version that appeared in the shops this week.
Those with long memories will be aware that this is by no means the first time that the late clearance of samples has caused chaos in the distribution of dance singles. Back in 1987 MARRSs Pump Up The Volume raised the ire of Pete Waterman for its use of a sample from the Stock/Aitken/Waterman track roadblock which led to him obtaining an injunction preventing the distribution of the track for several days, just when it was on the verge of topping the chart. A new version with the sample deleted was hastily issued in its place. Two years later Black Box's Ride On Time ran into similar problems, the track being the first to be based around Loeletta Holloway's Love Sensation - at least at first. When copyright clearance was refused Heather Small, then an unknown session singer, was drafted in to re-sing the vocal. Curiously enough no restrictions were placed on the continuing use of the Holloway-voiced original and this version continued to be played by Radio One amongst others, despite it being unavailable in the shops. [Coming up in 2000, two more Number One hits which ran into sample issues. One which had to be completely resung before release, and one which to everyone's surprise had its original sample cleared mere days before it was due to be released with a re-creation. But we're getting ahead of ourselves here].
4 SING IT BACK (Moloko)
Moloko can be forgiven for feeling a little cheated as the release date of Sing It Back had been carefully chosen as a week in which the single could have a clear run at the top of the chart. Having first peaked at Number 45 back in March the continuing demand for the track in clubs had made its prospects for becoming a hit upon re-release very good indeed. That was until the fuss over Mambo No.5 broke and the single was frantically brought forward to this week, nicely overshadowing the Moloko single. Not that this high new entry is at all disappointing but with the two Mambo singles likely to dominate headlines the arrival in the chart of one of the more deserving dance hits of the year has been reduced to little more than a footnote.
7 SUMMERTIME (Another Level featuring TQ)
So what do you do if you are pop sensations in the UK with your own brand of pop-orientated soul and now want to repeat that success in the states? The answer may well be to team up with an act who comes with stateside credibility already. Hence this collaboration with TQ on what will be their first single on the other side of the pond. As this chart position shows it hasn't done too badly over here either although the group are effectively guest stars on their own record as Summertime is written by TQ himself and is very much in the vibe of his own string of hits. Still why knock it? The single maintains Another Level's impressive record of Top 10 hits with all but the re-release of Be Alone No More hitting the required heights. Summertime is duly their second hit of the summer coming just over two months since From The Heart reached Number 6. TQ will welcome this return to Top 10 status following the rather surprising failure of his last single Better Days which peaked at a lowly Number 32 a fortnight ago.
11 I WOULDN'T BELIEVE YOUR RADIO (Stereophonics)
Another melodic offering from the Stereophonics, very much in the vein of what we used to call Britpop. I Wouldn't Believe Your Radio just misses out on a place in the Top 10 and so fails to become their third such hit of the year (and the fourth in total from the album Performance And Cocktails). Both Just Looking and Pick A Part That's New peaked at Number 4 in March and May respectively.
12 MAMMA MIA (A Teens)
Do you smell a concept here? The A Teens, for reasons that will become apparent, are massive in their native Sweden. The concept is simple - take a bunch of well-scrubbed teenagers and have them perform slick updated versions of classic Abba tunes. Just from the sound of it you know it is an idea that you will either love or hate and the actual record itself won't change whatever conclusion you come to. Mamma Mia was the second of Abba's nine Number One hits in this country, topping the chart in 1976 and like most of their output is almost impossible to ruin with a bad cover version, surviving even the efforts of the A Teens to do so. This version of Mamma Mia comes after the success of the Abba All Stars medley from the Brit awards earlier this year and coincides with the seven-year old Abba Gold compilation nestling in the Top 10 of the album chart where it has been for most of the last six months.
13 PROPHET IN PEACE (Ocean Colour Scene)
With the release next month of their new album One From The Modern, OCS will celebrate ten years together and it is worth paying tribute to the fact that not only did they overcome the frustrations of their earlier hitless years but that they are still turning out some wonderful music after all this time. Prophet In Peace picks up where their last album left off and is a brooding mid-tempo rock track led by a typically powerful Simon Fowler vocal. Not one of their biggest hits admittedly, falling just short of the Top 10 but you can bet there are plenty more to come from one of the greatest British rock bands of the 90s. Though I've said it before about their 1997 hit Better Day, I cannot be the only one that can hear echoes of Wings in this track.
16 AISY WAISY (Cartoons)
After the Top 10 hits Witch Doctor and DooDah! the technobilly bandwagon rolls on with the third single from the Danish act. The rock and roll for five year olds formula is trotted out once again on this single which cannot be properly appreciated by anyone over the age of 10 and so further comment from me (25) is completely inappropriate. The slightly lower chart placing for the single suggests that perhaps the novelty is wearing off, but such is the fate of all acts of this nature.
22 AYLA (Ayla)
Originally a moderately sized club hit when first released last year, this German dance anthem makes a timely late summer reappearance in the shops and duly creeps into the chart second time around. Needless to say it is another slab of synthesised trance that is music to the ears of fans of the genre and as interchangeable with any of the others that have charted this year to the rest of us. I've held off from making the point before as there is something rather appealing about dance music based on a proper melody but when I hear tracks such as this I cannot help but be reminded of the work of Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre. Thinking about it some more, Ayla (the track) owes more than a little to the inspiration of Vangelis' Pulstar. Could it be that synthesised music has just spent the last twenty years turning full circle?
23 BEST FRIEND (Mark Morrison and Connor Reeves)
Just over three and a half years since topping the chart with Return Of The Mack, Mark Morrison finds himself having to make a comeback for the second time, his well publicised prison terms having caused more than one interruption to his recording career. His first single since September 1997s Who's The Mack (his first comeback after being released from prison first time round) could well be the track that makes people overlook what a prat he is in real life and concentrate on the music for this new single is in truth rather fabulous. Believe it or not Best Friend was originally a duet between Morrison and Gary Barlow until Barlow's record company vetoed its release. Instead forgotten British soulster Connor Reeves has been drafted in for vocal duty and an uncredited Gabrielle provides backing. Far removed from the usual Mark Morrison dose of US-aping R&B this is a slick Stevie Wonder-esque slice of soul that shows off the vocal talents of both men to almost perfect effect and is the sort of record that has Mobo Award written all over it. Could the Mark Morrison revival be more than a flash in the pan? [This is actually one of the great lost British R&B classics of its era, no word of a lie. And imagine just what it would have done for Gary Barlow had his version ever been released].
24 OH YEAH (Caprice)
Go on, be honest here. When you heard that Caprice was planning a singing career, what did you really think? Poor girl. No matter how much PR spin is put on her "musical talents" when the world knows you as a blonde woman whose body has sold push-up bras, countless glossy magazines and who has appeared in TV commercials for pizzas, getting anyone to take you seriously as a popstar is going to be an uphill struggle. So it has proven for Ms Bourret as her debut single was originally due out several weeks ago only to be put back whilst desperate attempts were made to drum up interest in the track. Finally it has emerged and despite an almost total lack of radio airplay has forced its way into the Top 30 although the effort that has had to be expended on getting it this far does not bode well for her future prospects as a recording star. One cannot help but be reminded of Naomi Campbell's attempt to turn herself into a recording star in 1994 with the single Love And Tears (which I actually thought was fabulous but which only reached Number 40) as an example of the futility of trying to get people to take a model seriously as a singer. Having said that it worked for Samantha Fox in the 1980s (six Top 30 hits in 3 years) but times have changed since then. Caprice's Oh Yeah is by no means a bad pop single (Madonna is clearly an inspiration here) but you cannot help but feel that had she released it anonymously more people would have been willing to see past her image as a singing clotheshorse which I'm afraid is going to hamper her attempts at becoming a singer for a long while yet.
35 AROUND THE WORLD (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Hot on the heels of the Top 20 smash Scar Tissue come the Chili's with the third single from the Californication album. Around The World is more like the band of old, half-rapped and half-sung over a backing that veers between frantic funk and classy rock. The result of a collision between Give It Away and Under The Bridge if you like but sadly not one of their biggest ever hits.
38 ONLY YOU '99 (Yazoo)
Having been one of Depeche Mode's chief songwriters in their early years, Vince Clarke sensationally quit the band in 1982 to forge his own musical direction. He duly teamed up with an unknown singer called Alison Moyet and together they formed Yazoo. The duo were only together for two years but in that short time they produced a string of classic singles. Only You is perhaps the most famous, the simple haunting melody will always tug at the heartstrings and remains a classic single to this day. Originally making Number 2 in April 1982 the track was covered acapella style by The Flying Pickets who topped the chart for Christmas the following year. Fast forward to 1999 and a long-overdue Yazoo retrospective is due for release, their somewhat limited output being augmented by the inclusion of a set of new mixes of tunes such as Don't Go, Nobody's Diary and of course, Only You. Hence the appearance of this new mix of the track, albeit at a rather lowly position. The new mix happily works hard not to ruin the spirit of the original but some would argue that to add just a few extra beats to the classic, minimalist original is like daubing paint on an old master. Not as terrible as it might have been then but somehow you feel that it is best the memories of the original remain unspoiled and that the chart life of this new version is mercifully brief.