21 May 2021

Week commencing 21 May 1990

This week is the second in a three-way tie for the most top 150-peaking debuts in 1990, tied with 19 March 1990 and 17 September 1990, with ten new top 150 entries.  Of the ten new debuts, six of them are at their peak position next week, which is an unusual occurrence.  There are also three debuts that spent more than one week at their highest position.  Six of this week's debuting acts contain artists who are no longer with us.  Let's take a look at them.
 
Somehow, Seal's 'killer' song flopped not once, but twice in Australia.
 
Top 150 debuts:
 
Number 131 "Counting Every Minute" by Sonia
Peak: number 118 
Peak date: 28 May 1990
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks
Weeks on chart: 10 weeks

"Counting Every Minute" was another Stock Aitken Waterman composition/production for Sonia, and another single of hers to flop in Australia, peaking one place higher than the last one, which we saw back in February.  "Counting Every Minute" was also the fourth release from her then-yet-to-be-released-in-Australia album Everybody Knows (number 144, September 1990).

This single was also the fourth in a string of top 20 hits in the UK for the Liverpudlian songstress and future Eurovision Song Contest entrant, peaking at number 16 in April 1990.  "Counting Every Minute" also dented the top 20 in Ireland, peaking at number 18.  Within Australia, "Counting Every Minute" performed strongest on the Victoria/Tasmania state chart, where it reached number 88.

I'm not sure why, but 'single' (as in the chorus lyric "counting every single minute") has been omitted from the song's title, just as 'from' was omitted from the title of Sonia's "You'll Never Stop Me Loving You" (number 29, October 1989).  These little things bother me!  I suppose you can understand 'from' being omitted from the title of the latter, though, as it is a longer title already.

As for the song... it's another upbeat dance-pop number, this time making use of the ubiquitous James Brown "wooh! yeah!" sample, which I mentioned last week, and we shall see on another song debuting this week...
 
Fans of Sonia may be interested to know that she recently released a box-set of 6 expanded CD singles from the Everybody Knows album era.

Sonia will join us next in September 1990.



Number 137 "New York, New York" by Ecco Homo
Peak: number 110
Peak dates: 4 June 1990, 25 June 1990 and 9 July 1990
Weeks in top 150: 9 weeks

I am a little bit confused, and there doesn't seem to be a clear answer online (please help me out if you know), but Ecco Homo were an Australian collective of musicians, centred around Peter "Troy" Davies, who was a close friend of Richard Lowenstein, director of many INXS music videos.  Over the years, Troy had appeared in a couple of film clips for other artists, including Flame Fortune's "Sex Symbol" (number 76, June 1985) and Frente!'s' "No Time" (number 50, March 1993).
 
I don't believe Troy performed much of the vocals on the two Ecco Homo singles released, however.  The 'group' also contained Ollie Olsen - whose Max Q project was fronted by Michael Hutchence of INXS - Gus Till (who I think performed the majority of the vocals), Bill McDonald and Michael Sheridan.

Whatever Ecco Homo were, they managed to place one single within the ARIA top 100, "Motorcycle Baby" (number 66, March 1989), which featured Michael Hutchence and Sherine Abeyratne from Big Pig (who also performed vocals on the track) in the music video.

"New York, New York" was the second and final Ecco Homo release, and features Bono from U2 singing a few lines and appearing in the music video (!).  U2's The Edge also performs on the track.  Apparently, Bono and U2 happened to drop by the recording studio where Ollie Olsen and Michael Hutchence were jamming, after a live show in Melbourne; it was not a planned collaboration.

Despite featuring two members of U2, "New York, New York" flew under the radar, peaking outside the ARIA top 100.  It did, however, manage to spend three non-consecutive weeks at its peak of number 110, which is not bad for a single that missed the top 100.  "New York, New York" crept into the Australian Music Report top 100 singles chart, reaching number 85.

Troy Davies passed away in 2007, aged 47.  A film documenting his life and career, titled Ecco Homo, was released in 2015, co-directed by Richard Lowenstein.



Number 138 "Handful of Promises" by Big Fun
Peak: number 110
Peak date: 28 May 1990
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Weeks on chart: 7 weeks
 
Big Fun were another Stock Aitken Waterman-produced act, consisting of Mark Gillespie, Phil Creswick, and Jason John (real name Jason Herbert).  Although a trio, the group's vocals were mostly performed by Mark, with the other two providing occasional backing vocals, rather than singing in unison or sharing lead vocal duties.  Yet we see all three of them mouthing the words to Mark's vocals in the videos... Hmmm.

Following a low-key single release in early 1989 with "Living for Your Love", Big Fun recorded a cover version of Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move", produced by Phil Harding and Ian Curnow, the Stock Aitken Waterman Hit Factory 'B' team.  Their version of "I Feel the Earth Move" was set to be released in the UK in June 1989, and a music video was filmed to promote it.  However, it was pulled from released after Pete Waterman saw the favourable reaction the group were receiving from the audience on tour with the Hitman Roadshow (for SAW-related acts).  Pete instead wanted to launch the group with a Stock Aitken Waterman-produced track - a cover version of The Jacksons' "Blame It on the Boogie".  Martika, of course, released her own version of "I Feel the Earth Move" (number 2, January 1990) later in 1989.

Big Fun crept into the lower region of the Australian top 40 with "Blame It on the Boogie" (number 37, December 1989), and into the top 100 with "Can't Shake the Feeling" (number 97, February 1990).  These singles, in contrast, peaked at numbers 4 and 8, respectively, in the UK.

"Handful of Promises" was the third release from the group's only album A Pocketful of Dreams (released in Australia in July 1990, failed to chart), and peaked at number 21 in the UK in March 1990.  The album - which takes its title from a chorus lyric of "Handful of Promises" - performed much better in the UK, where it reached number 7 in May 1990, and sold over 100,000 copies.

On the state charts, "Handful of Promises" performed best in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it peaked at number 85.
 
As with Sonia above, this track makes use of the James Brown "woo! yeah!" sample throughout.  Big Fun will join forces with Sonia for a charity single, which we will see in September.

The group released one final single from the album in the UK - but not in Australia - "Hey There Lonely Girl", which peaked at number 62 in the UK in August 1990.  This track was originally recorded by Ruby and The Romantics as "Hey There Lonely Boy".  Following this release, the group parted ways with Jive Records.
 
One thing that was kept hush at the time - so as to not potentially alienate their target teen/tween girl audience - was that Mark and Phil were a couple.  The pair would later release a cover version of The Brothers Johnson's "Stomp!", minus Jason, as Big Fun II.  Their version of "Stomp!" reached number 12 on the US Billboard Dance Chart in May 1994.
 
Something I didn't know until a few years ago is that Mark is originally from Australia!  Someone I have been in contact with via a music forum lived next door to Mark in Canberra when he was growing up.  Small world...
 
Following the demise of Big Fun and Big Fun II, Jason went into music management, managing the likes of Geri Halliwell from the Spice Girls during her solo career.  Mark and Phil split, and Phil became a painter and decorator, before running into some legal troubles involving drugs in 2017.   I have no idea what Mark is doing these days.
 
Jason sadly passed away in Brazil in April 2019, aged 51, although there is not much information available about this.
 

 
Number 142 "54-46 (That's My Number)" by Partners Rime Syndicate
Peak: number 142 
Peak date: 21 May 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
 
Here's a track I had never heard of before getting hold of these below #100 charts.  Unfortunately, I cannot tell you much about this song, other than the chorus is a reworked version of "54-46 Was My Number" by Toots & The Maytals, from 1969.  I also cannot find evidence of this single charting elsewhere.
 
 
 
Number 143 "Dançando Lambada" by Kaoma
Peak: number 143
Peak date: 21 May 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
 
I'm guessing you thought French-Brazilian band Kaoma were one-hit wonders with "Lambada" (number 5, April 1990), right?  Well, they did manage to place a second single on the ARIA chart... at number 143.  The song in question, which translates from Portuguese as 'dancing Lambada', also imaginatively contains 'lambada' in the title...

"Dançando Lambada" was a hit across Europe, reaching the top 10 in Switzerland, France and the Netherlands, and the top 20 in Germany, Austria, Ireland, and the Flanders region of Belgium.  The single flopped in the UK, however, where it only reached number 62.  According to Wikipedia (no supporting reference is cited), "Dançando Lambada" topped the Brazilian chart.

This would be the last chart entry for Kaoma in Australia.  Vocalist Loalwa Braz was sadly murdered in Brazil in 2017, aged 63; her body was discovered inside a burnt-out car.
 
 
 
Number 144 "I Will Live for You" by Joe Cocker
Peak: number 134 
Peak dates: 28 May 1990 and 11 June 1990
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
 
We saw the late Joe Cocker in January this year, and he returned to the 101-150 region of the Australian chart with this track, the third single from his One Night of Sin (number 32, October 1989) album.  "I Will Live for You" does not appear to have charted anywhere else.
 
Joe will next join us in July, with a third single to peak in the 101-150 region of the ARIA chart in 1990.

 
 
Number 146 "Killer" by Adamski
Peak: number 112 
Peak date: 2 July 1990
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks

As much as I like Sonia, I have to concede that this track is the best song debuting this week - in my opinion, anyway.  It seems the record-buying public in the UK held a similar view, as this track stopped Kylie Minogue's iconic "Better the Devil You Know" from reaching number 1 there.
 
"Killer" spent 4 weeks on top of the UK singles chart, and 16 weeks in the top 40, which was quite a long chart run for a single there at this point time.  "Killer" also topped the Flemish chart in Belgium, and was a top 5 hit in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland.  On this side of the globe, "Killer" nudged into the New Zealand top 30, peaking at number 29 there in August 1990.
 
"Killer" started out as an instrumental track by keyboard whizz Adamski (real name Adam Tinley), originally titled "The Killer", as he felt it sounded like the soundtrack to a murder scene in a movie.  Following a chance meeting with Seal (real name Henry Samuel) at a nightclub on New Year's Eve 1989, Seal was invited to lay down vocals to some of Adamski's instrumental tracks he had been playing as a DJ.

Although Seal sang and co-wrote the song, he is not credited as a featured artist, due to Adamski's record company wanting to promote the single as solely an Adamski release.  Seal's working relationship with Adamski subsequently soured.

Seal would go on to have a successful solo career, placing two singles within the Australian top 10 - "Crazy" (number 9, April 1991), and "Kiss from a Rose" (number 1, August 1995).  Adamski placed one single within the ARIA top 100, "The Space Jungle" (number 70, November 1990), on which he performed vocals.
 
The Adamski album in which "Killer" and "The Space Jungle" are lifted from, Doctor Adamski's Musical Pharmacy, peaked at number 144 in November 1990.

Seal would re-record "Killer" for his debut album Seal (number 22, June 1991).  It was released as the album's fourth single, peaking at number 8 in the UK in November 1991, and number 95 in Australia in December 1991.  Seal also recycled the "racism in among future kings can only lead to no good, and besides, all our sons and daughters already know how that feels" lyric from "Killer" in "Future Love Paradise" (number 46, July 1991).

"Killer" would eventually become a top 40 hit in Australia, when ATB released a version of it titled "Killer 2000" (number 33, March 2000).

We shall see Adamski again in 1992, when he collaborates with another artist.



Number 147 "Treat Me Like a Lady" by Five Star
Peak: number 130
Peak date: 28 May 1990
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks

British pop group Five Star were five siblings from the same family, all with the surname Pearson.  The group placed 15 singles within the UK top 40 between 1985 and 1988, with six of those reaching the top 10.  In Australia, it was a different story, with only "System Addict" (number 66, May 1986) registering within the top 100.

It is quite surprising, then, to see that "Treat Me Like a Lady" dented the top 150, particularly considering it only reached number 54 in their homeland, in March 1990.

"Treat Me Like a Lady" was the first single - and only Australian release - from the album Five Star.

The group would release another single in Australia, "Shine", in 1992, but it did not make the top 150.



Number 149 "Have a Heart" by Bonnie Raitt
Peak: number 149
Peak dates: 21 May 1990 and 28 May 1990
Weeks in top 150: 2 weeks

Last week, Bonnie Raitt made her first appearance in the top 150, and here she is a mere week later with the third single from her Nick of Time (number 58, April 1990) album.

"Have a Heart" was a middling success for Bonnie in her native US, where it peaked at number 49 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1990.  "Have a Heart" was the theme song for the 1990 movie Heart Condition, from which several clips are used in the music video below.

Listening to this track for the first time as I write this, I can't help but hear a similarity in the backing music to James Reyne's "One More River" (number 22, August 1989), though I am sure it is coincidental.



Number 150 "Message" by Go 101
Peak: number 131
Peak date: 28 May 1990
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks

Australian band Go 101 scored minor success in 1988 when their debut single "Build It Up" reached number 55 in September 1988.  Two further singles also made the ARIA top 100: "Room for Love" (number 88, March 1989) and "Jealous Heart" (number 66, November 1989).
 
"Message" was the fourth and final single from the band's only album Tempting Fate (number 73, November 1989).  Interestingly, the song was titled "Message (To a Broken Heart)" on the album, but not on the single sleeve.  The song was remixed for its single release, but only the album version, embedded below, is available on YouTube.

I didn't think I knew this song, but it sounds familiar listening to it as I write this week's post.



Bubbling WAY down under:

Number 159 "Moonlight on Water" by Laura Branigan
Peak: number 159
Peak date: 21 May 1990
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
 
As hinted in the blurb for this week's post last week, the first album I ever bought was recorded by one of this week's debuting artists.  The artist in question was Laura Branigan, and the album was Self Control (number 29, August 1984).

Between 1982 and 1988, Laura placed 9 singles within the Australian top 100, with 4 of those reaching the top 10.  "Gloria" (number 1, February 1983) went all the way to number one, for 7 weeks, becoming the third best-charting single of 1983.

Laura's last single to reach the top 40 in Australia was "Spanish Eddie" (number 24, October 1985).  Like many recording artists strongly associated with the 1980s, Laura struggled to achieve major commercial success once the 90s clocked over; although her chart career had been on the decline for most of the second half of the 80s.
 
Although she did not write the songs, Laura had the unfortunate knack of recording songs that would later go on to be big hits when recorded by other artists.  Among them are "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" (although this track was written by Michael Bolton), "I Found Someone", and "The Power of Love" (the Jennifer Rush original only reached number 57 in the US).  I discovered recently that she even recorded an earlier version of "Bad Attitude", which would go on to become a top 30 hit for the Australian girl-group Girlfriend in 1992!

"Moonlight on Water" was an exception to this usual pattern of others scoring hits with Laura's flops - instead, it was a cover version of a song originally released by Kevin Raleigh in 1989.  Kevin's version peaked at number 81 in Australia in July 1989, and at number 60 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in June 1989.  The song was co-written by Steve Kipner, who co-wrote Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" (number 1, November 1981).

In Laura's native US, "Moonlight on Water" peaked 100 places higher than it did in Australia, at number 59, in April 1990, although it would be her last Billboard Hot 100 entry.  Within Australia, "Moonlight on Water" performed strongest on the Western Australia state chart, where it reached number 132.
 
The album "Moonlight on Water" is lifted from, Laura Branigan, peaked at number 143 in Australia in June 1990.  Although Laura would have no further ARIA singles chart success, two later albums charted in Australia: Over My Heart (number 151, September 1993) and Greatest Hits (number 476, October 2007).

Laura sadly died from a brain aneurysm in her sleep in 2004, aged 52.

 
 
Number 165 "96 Tears" by The Stranglers
Peak: number 165
Peak date: 21 May 1990
Weeks on chart: 1 week

Between 1978 and 1986, English band The Stranglers placed five singles on the Australian top 100.  Three of those made the top 40: "Golden Brown" (number 10, May 1982), "Skin Deep" (number 11, February 1985), and "Always the Sun" (number 21, March 1987).  "Big in America" also bubbled under on the Kent Music Report's list of singles receiving significant sales reports beyond the top 100, reaching fifth place on the list in April 1987.
 
"96 Tears" was the lead single from The Stranglers' tenth studio album 10 (number 142, April 1990).  The single reached number 17 in the UK in February 1990, and number 9 in Ireland during the same month.
 
I don't recall hearing this song before, and while I think it's OK (not brilliant), it's not a patch on "Always the Sun", which is one of my favourite songs of all time, even though I only know a few Stranglers singles.  I've also had a crack at trying to play "Golden Brown" on the piano, not being in possession of a harpsichord.

A second and final single from 10, "Sweet Smell of Success", was issued in Australia in May 1990, but failed to chart.  It did, however, peak at number 65 in the UK in April 1990.

Following the release of the compilation Greatest Hits 1977-1990, which oddly did not chart in Australia, the group were dropped by their record label.  The band's lead singer, Hugh Cornwell, also quit the group.  The Stranglers continued on, however, with new vocalist Paul Roberts on vocals.

Since it's extremely unlikely that I will be writing these chart recap posts once I get around to 2014 (2004 is probably a stretch, though you never know), I might as well reveal the spoiler now that The Stranglers had one later 'charting' single in Australia: "Peaches", which originally peaked at number 54 in February 1978, re-charted at number 947 (!) in April 2014.  Yes, the chart is really calculated that low... and lower, in the digital era.


 
Next week (28 May): Next week we have six new top 150-peaking debuts, and three bubbling WAY down under entries.
 
< Previous week 14 May 1990                                         Next week: 28 May 1990 >

3 comments:

  1. Interesting about all the Laura Branigan songs that she covered/others covered. Were you aware that the track "Self Control" was also a cover version?

    The Go 101 track "Message" stuck in my memory from seeing it on a special episode of Countdown Revolution in mid-1990 that was quirkily staged outdoors in rural Chinkapook in NW Victoria. That show also featured Andrew Ridgely performing current hit "Shake"; I think it must have been the strangest gig ever for all the acts involved

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    1. D'oh, I did know that "Self Control" was also a cover version (as was "Gloria" - albeit an Engliah language version of an Italian song), but didn't know that until just over a decade ago. I suppose I wouldn't have included either song among this list, anyway, as they were both hits for Laura, unlike the other songs listed.

      I recall someone asking for that Chinkapook episode of Countdown Revolution with Andrew Ridgeley performance to be aired during rage retro month, every year, on the old rage website guestbook. Was that you?

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  2. "Killer" was the second ever non-Top 50 video I ever saw on Rage (after "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones). I kept expecting it to enter the Top 50, as it was a damn fine house track -- but it never did. Aargh!

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