One thing I can tell you about all of the songs I write about this week is that I didn't hear any of them at the time... and there are a few tragic stories about the artists in question! Let's take a look.
Natalie Cole: Wild women... sometimes take their time to peak, and sometimes they miss the top 150 altogether.
Top 150 debuts:
Number 127 "Fever" by Joe Cocker
Peak: number 112
Peak date: 5 February 1990
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks
I wasn't aware until now that Joe had covered this song, which was originally recorded by Little Willie John in 1956, with the most-famous version recorded by Peggy Lee in 1958.
Released as the second single from Joe's One Night of Sin album (number 32, October 1989), following "When the Night Comes" (number 39, November 1989), "Fever" only charted in Australia and New Zealand, where it peaked at number 46 in February 1990.
We lost Joe Cocker in December 2014 from lung cancer, aged 70.
Joe will be a regular visitor to this region of the chart in the coming years, notching up no fewer than five singles that peaked between numbers 101 and 150 in the coming three years. We will see Joe again twice this year, with the next occasion being in May.
Number 136 "That's What They Always Say" by Chris Rea
Peak: number 123
Peak date: 5 February 1990
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks
A quick aside - the title of this track, which I hadn't heard before, makes me think of Mary Roach's legendary American Idol audition, where she says "'that's what they always say in theatre" in response to someone saying 'break a leg' to her, before she entered the audition room. If you haven't seen that audition, it's worth checking out... Ah, bless Mary and her white flares.
Now onto the Chris Rea song. "That's What They Always Say" was the second single lifted from Chris's The Road to Hell album (number 35, November 1989), following "The Road to Hell (Part 2)" (number 78, November 1989). "That's What They Always Say" peaked at number 83 in the UK in December 1989, and number 35 in France in May 1990.
Sadly, 69 year-old Chris has endured a number of major health problems over the years, including multiple surgeries for pancreatic cancer, diagnosed in 2000, and a stroke in 2016. In a Daily Mirror article in 2014, Chris revealed that he takes thirty-four tablets and has seven injections a day, following the complete removal of his pancreas and part of his digestive tract.
Number 145 "Big Talk" by Warrant
Peak: number 111
Peak date: 19 February 1990
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks
Weeks on chart: 10 weeks
Warrant first bubbled WAY down under in July 1989, and hadn't had much chart success in Australia with any of the singles from their debut album, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (number 72, November 1989). "Heaven" was the biggest of the bunch, peaking at number 54 in October 1989. "Big Talk" had marginally more success in the band's native US, where it peaked at number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1989.
On the state charts, "Big Talk" performed strongest on the Victoria/Tasmania state chart, where it peaked at number 70.
One notable thing about the music video for "Big Talk" is that the 'dirty rotten filthy stinking rich' record company fat cat type depicted on the album sleeve comes to life. The video is worth watching for that alone.
Warrant singer Jani Lane sadly passed away from acute alcohol poisoning in August 2011, aged 47. Jani was never comfortable with being known as "the 'Cherry Pie' guy" - after Warrant's biggest hit (number 6, January 1991), as evident in this interview on YouTube, in which he ominously says, "I could shoot myself in the f**king head for writing that song."
Warrant will join us again in March.
Number 150 "Call It Love" by Poco
Peak: number 150
Peak date: 22 January 1990 and 5 February 1990
Weeks in top 150: 2 weeks
Poco are (they are still active, according to Wikipedia) an American country rock band formed in 1968 (!). Although I'd never heard of them before, they actually placed two singles on the Australian chart in the 1970s, with the biggest one being "Rose of Cimarron" (number 51, February 1977). They also had six charting albums in Australia between 1971 and 1980.
"Call It Love", as you might expect, performed much better in the US, where it peaked at number 18 in April 1989. Released in Australia on 6 November 1989, "Call It Love" took over two months to dent the top 150, where it spent two non-consecutive weeks at number 150. While it's not the usual sort of thing I listen to, I did enjoy the minor chord (or perhaps it's just a key change - I'm not quite musically-gifted enough to know for sure) guitar bridge leading into the chorus.
To my surprise, this song was also a hit of sorts in the Dutch-speaking world, peaking at number 20 in the Netherlands in November 1989, and number 38 in the Flanders region of Belgium (Belgium has two separate charts: one each for the Dutch and French-speaking regions) in December 1989.
"Call It Love" was lifted from the band's Legacy album (number 136, February 1990). Another single from the album, "Nothin' to Hide", was released locally in February 1990, but missed the top 150.
Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 162 "As a Matter of Fact" by Natalie Cole
Peak: number 162
Peak date: 22 January 1990
Weeks on chart: 1 week
Natalie's previous single, "Miss You Like Crazy" (number 34, October 1989), was a slow burner on the Australian chart, taking six weeks to crack the top 100, 13 weeks to break the top 50, and 20 weeks to reach its peak. Nat would perform a similar feat with subsequent single, "Wild Women Do" (number 37, September 1990), which took 5 weeks to crack the top 100, and 24 weeks to both break the top 50 and reach its peak.
Released as the second single from her Good to Be Back album (number 87, September 1989) in Australia, "As a Matter of Fact" had a much shorter chart life, spending just one week on the chart, outside the top 150. Curiously, the single took two months to dent the charts, being released locally on 20 November 1989. "As a Matter of Fact" failed to chart elsewhere.
Poor Nat had inconsistent success on the Australian charts, with each of her seven top 100 singles in Australia being from a different album. To add insult to injury, her 1988 single "Everlasting" made each of the state top 100 charts at different times in September-October 1988, but failed to dent the national top 100 (this was before ARIA extended the chart beyond number 100).
Unfortunately, Natalie is no longer with us, having passed away from heart failure at the end of 2015, aged 65.
Natalie will join us again in 1991.
Next week (29 January): Five new top 150 entries, including the belated appearance of the debut solo single from a new act who had a big hit on their hands, and one bubbling WAY down under debut. You can also follow my posts on instagram and facebook.