Almost done with February 1990. Here comes the Top 10.
How did Lisa Stansfield fall out of fashion so suddenly? It is such a shame. 1990 saw the northern lass with a velvet voice at her peak, having had a massive Number One smash the previous year with All Around The World, she followed it up with this similarly styled Top 10 hit which at the time I remember preferring for whatever reason. She was still releasing albums as late as 2005, even if they were met with public indifference by and large.
Ah, the Pop Princess when she was a mere 21 and just a couple of years into what has now turned into a 20-year singing career. This 50s cover was her contribution to the soundtrack of the feature film "The Delinquents" in which she had a starring role and which I guess technically counts as the second-worst film she ever starred in. The track sneaked to Number One at the start of the new year to coincide with the post-Christmas release of the film and so was steadily on its way out here. Memorably Smash Hits printed the lyrics with all the "dum-dum-dum-dum" backing vocals transcribed verbatim in what was presumably some kind of ironic joke. I always wonder why "The Delinquents" is not better remembered, especially as it contains several scenes of the young global sex symbol involved in moments of clothes-shedding. If you think this is a gratuitous reference simply to see how many Google hits I get for "Kylie Minogue topless" you are absolutely right.
Now, remember kids, if anyone ever refers to this as "that Liberty X" song, kill them in the face. The aforementioned popstars rejects may well have had a Number 2 hit with the single in 2002 but it began life in early 1990 as an awesome, slinky, impossible to dislike club track. Producer Kurtis Mantronik made his name in hip-hop but as the decade turned transformed himself into a house producer of some considerable note, his reward being two UK Top 10 hits, of which this was the first.
Now then, remember the bit about Phil Collins on the Eric Clapton record lower down this chart? Well here is the favour returned as the second single from the ...But Seriously album was this heartfelt ballad that featured a cameo from Clapton himself on guitar (what else). The album represented the exclamation point on Phil Collins' status as a solo superstar during the 80s. By the time he'd finished up with Genesis for one last album and tour, the world had moved on and like so many others he arrived in the mid-90s finding he was suddenly irrelevant to all but a young generation of American R&B stars. That was until the drumming gorilla came along...
A little-remembered star these days for some reason but back then, Sybil Lynch was an R&B diva of some note. Her early hits came thanks to two brought up to date covers of songs originally popularised by Dionne Warwick. First came Don't Make Me Over in 1989 and then this worldwide smash hit in early 1990. As a masterclass in how to show due respect to a cover it is worth checking out. Trying to turn a Bacharach and David ballad into a club hit is fraught with danger but this track somehow managed to pitch its approach perfectly.
Just to prove that sometimes it is actually possible to follow up an unstoppable hit single. A creation of prolific Italian producer Daniele Davoli, Black Box had wound up with the biggest selling single of 1989 thanks to Ride On Time, the hugely controversial single that topped the charts in a totally different version to the one that had climbed them, thanks to Loleatta Holloway insisting that her uncredited sampled vocals were deleted from the track (ones by a then-unknown Heather Small were grafted on top). Rows over vocals on their hits did not end there. Although model Katrin Quinol fronted the group publicly, it was a fairly open secret that the singing on the tracks (including this follow-up hit) was by Weather Girl Martha Wash, although she claimed afterwards that she was booked for the sessions on the understanding that they were for white-label use and never for mass release. Her own subsequent lawsuit over a lack of direct credit is pretty much why the featured or sampled singer on club tracks is always given a full label credit.
Now for something rather special. 1990 is a pivotal point in the story of Stock/Aitken/Waterman, as after two years of all but guaranteed hits with their widely sneered at happy go lucky formula, the trio attempted to reinvent their sound with a slightly harder edge. In doing so they rather killed the goose that laid the golden eggs, but not before the "new" SAW produced a couple of utter gems. Lonnie Gordon had flown her powerful lungs over from Philadelphia to work with the trio and was gifted one of their best ever songs, a stunning and intoxicating pop-soul record which Gordon pulled off with considerable aplomb. Even the SAW haters in the trendy music press lavished praise on this track and its failure to climb further than this Number 4 placing was considered something of a shock. Even more of a surprise was the fact that the two follow-ups Beyond Your Wildest Dreams and If I Have To Stand Alone were considered to be even better yet neither made the Top 40. Gordon re-emerged the following year with club screamer Gonna Catch You but to all intents and purposes remained rather tragically a one-hit wonder.
Remember the last time you heard a song that was so astoundingly well done you knew without a shadow of a doubt it would be a Number One? Well such was the reaction to Dub Be Good To Me which was here at Number 3 as the highest climber of the week and on the way to a well-received place at the top. Beats International was of course the first-ever chart pseudonym for Norman 'Fatboy Slim' Cook, the group name created to reflect the series of performers he had assembled around him for what would be his first foray into dance music. The core of Dub Be Good To Me was a dub reggae track called Invasion Of The Estate Agents (itself constructed from the bassline from Guns Of Brixton by The Clash) which had appeared on the b-side of Cook's flop "solo" single For Spacious Lies at the end of the previous year. The hit version was effectively a mash-up, combining 'Invasion…' with Just Be Good To Me, a 1984 hit for the SOS band and here sung in crystal clear tones by former child actress Lindy Layton. One of those rare singles where concept and execution came together perfectly in a manner that was quite captivating. Arguably the only dub-reggae track ever to top the UK charts, it showed Norman Cook just where his musical future lay.
Let's not knock him for it. When Belgian producer Jo Bogaert created a worldwide smash hit in 1989 with Pump Up The Jam, the most logical thing to do was to follow it up with a track that was effectively part 2 of the same song. As seemed to be the fashion at the time, rows over the lead singer surrounded the Technotronic project. The rapper on Pump Up The Jam was Ya Kid K, but being just 16 at the time it was decided to recruit model Felly to front the single for video and promo purposes (her credit even extending to the single itself). Legend has it that Felly even turned up to the studio to repeat her performance for the video for Get Up but was informed that Ya Kid K was to take her rightful place as the credited performer. As big as their singles were in the UK and Europe, it was in America that they commanded the most attention, cracking the US charts which had until then been almost totally resistant to the rise of clubland.
Can I confess something? Even at the time this single did absolutely nothing for me. A four week Number One it may have been, with everyone and their dog falling over themselves to praise Sinead O'Connor and her crystal clear vocals and heartfelt emotional rawness, but it utterly bored the pants of me at the time. Listen to it with a cynical ear and you hear a dirge, with droning instrumentation and O'Connor taking her usual vocal shortcuts of hooting and wailing rather than holding a note properly. Still, for many others this single remains a deeply fond memory and there is no doubting that it made her career internationally, however brief her time in the sun was before she became unglued. Of special note at the time was the fact that this was the second time a female star had topped the UK charts with a Prince track (Chaka Khan was the first). The Purple One himself would have to wait another four years before he finally rode to the summit in Britain.
So that is your lot, and looking back and after listening to the tape whilst writing this, I'm now struggling to work out just why this rundown stuck in my mind as one of my favourites ever. I've a feeling it was because at the time I was going through a phase of discovering the blues, a process helped by Radio One hero-worshipping Eric Clapton and broadcasting his Royal Albert Hall concerts live in special Saturday night presentations. As a result, the presence of hits from EC himself, Phil Collins and Tina Turner meant that many of the upcoming hits of the time fitted in with my own musical tastes. Looking back of course they were actually aberrations, the last vestiges of corporate rock struggling to be heard as the dance and indie revolution slowly took hold.