In once sense, all of this week's new entries are 'all in the same gang', as they all missed the ARIA top 100 singles chart. Ho ho ho... I couldn't resist making that quip. You'll see what I am referring to if you read on. Let's do just that...
Top 150 debuts:
Number 135 "We're All in the Same Gang" by The West Coast Rap All-Stars
Peak: number 106
Peak date: 13 August 1990
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks
During the 1980s, it became commonplace for artists to unite together to record a song for a cause - usually a charity, such as the famine in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, the quality of the records in question was not always that great.
The West Coast Rap All-Stars was a 90s take on the theme, uniting rap artists to record a song with an anti-violence message. The artists in question who perform on this track are: King Tee, Body & Soul, Def Jef, Tone Lōc, Above the Law, N.W.A., Michel'le, Digital Underground, Young MC, Ice-T, Eazy-E, Oaktown's 3.5.7, MC Hammer, and J.J. Fad. We have seen Young MC and Michel'le bubble under on the Australian singles chart in 1989-1990, while others will bubble under in years to come. The song was produced by Dr. Dre.
"We're All in the Same Gang" was not a huge commercial success, peaking at number 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in August 1990. In Australia, the single narrowly missed the top 100. It performed much better across the ditch, though, reaching number 11 on the New Zealand singles chart in September 1990.
Number 138 "Knocked Out" (Remix) by Paula Abdul
Peak: number 115
Peak date: 27 August 1990
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks
Weeks on chart: 5 weeks
Before Paula Abdul became known as the 'nice' judge on American Idol in the early 2000s, she had a happening recording career in the late 80s and early to mid 90s. But before that, she was an in-demand choreographer, best-known for being behind the nifty dance routines in the classic music videos from Janet Jackson's Control (number 25, September 1986) album.
Paula's chart career got off to a decent, if not massive, start in Australia when "Straight Up", her first single released locally, peaked at number 27 in May 1989, and spent 23 weeks in the top 150. But it was followed by a string of singles that missed the top 50: "Forever Your Girl" (number 51, June 1989), the original version of "Knocked Out" (number 82, September 1989), "Cold Hearted" (number 68, December 1989), and "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" (number 76, February 1990).
Paula finally scored a major hit down under when "Opposites Attract", the sixth and final single from her debut album Forever Your Girl (number 1, May 1990), topped the ARIA singles chart for two weeks in April 1990.
In Paula's homeland, the US, she scored five top 3 singles from Forever Your Girl, with only one of these, "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me)", missing the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The album also topped the US Billboard 200 albums chart for 10 non-consecutive weeks (one week in 1989, and 9 weeks in 1990), and spent over a year in the top 10.
The Forever Your Girl album campaign took a while to get off the ground in the US, though. "Knocked Out" was issued as Paula's debut single there, stalling at number 41 on the Hot 100 in August 1988. The original release of "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" performed even worse, peaking at number 88 in November 1988. But then "Straight Up" was released just a few weeks after that, and the music video, with Paula's impressive dance skills on display and a cameo from Arsenio Hall, started receiving heavy rotation on MTV. The rest is history.
Paula released a remix album, Shut Up and Dance (number 16, May 1990), in 1990. "Straight Up" (Ultimix Mix) from the album was issued as a single in Australia, and nowhere else, peaking at number 55 in June 1990.
Shep Pettibone, who produced Madonna's "Vogue", remixed "Knocked Out" for Shut Up and Dance, and an edited version of this mix was issued as a single in Europe and Australia. A new video for the remixed "Knocked Out" was produced, embedded below, using footage from Paula's earlier videos set on a screen at a boxing match.
The remixed version of "Knocked Out" peaked at number 21 in the UK in July 1990, number 17 in Ireland in July 1990, and number 45 in France in September 1990. The single performed stronger on the Australian Music Report chart, where it reached number 95.
One further single from Shut Up and Dance was issued in Australia - another Australia-only release - the "1990 Medley Mix", which was a megamix of the six Forever Your Girl singles (plus "State of Attraction" on the full-length LP version), and peaked at number 33 in October 1990.
Paula will bubble under again on the Australian chart in 1996.
Number 145 "The Crying Scene" by Aztec Camera
Peak: number 123
Peak date: 10 September 1990
Weeks in top 150: 11 weeks
Scottish band Aztec Camera formed in 1980, but had to wait until 1988 to score their first Australian hit, with "Somewhere in My Heart" (number 34, September 1988). Despite that, I recall hearing an earlier single of theirs, "Deep & Wide & Tall" - released in Australia in October 1987, on the radio.
"The Crying Scene" was the first single released from Aztec Camera's fourth studio album Stray (number 107, September 1990). The single peaked at number 70 in the UK in July 1990. I recall seeing the music video for "The Crying Scene" on Countdown Revolution more than once, so its low chart peak in Australia is surprising.
A chorus lyric from "The Crying Scene" - you only get one hit, that's the beauty of it - could, ironically, describe Aztec Camera's Australian chart career. The band would, however, score a second and final top 100 single in Australia with "Good Morning Britain" (number 65, February 1991), a duet with Mick Jones from Big Audio Dynamite II, formerly of The Clash.
We shall see Aztec Camera again in 1992.
Number 146 "Red Dress" by Andrew Ridgeley
Peak: number 110
Peak date: 20 August 1990
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Together with former Wham! band-mate George Michael, Andrew Ridgeley placed 11 singles on the Australian chart between 1983 and 1986, with only two of those missing the top ten.
George Michael launched a successful solo career in 1984 with "Careless Whisper" (number 1, September 1984) at the height of Wham!'s fame, although the duo did not split until 1986.
Andrew took a little longer to embark on a solo career, releasing "Shake" (number 16, June 1990) earlier in the year. Interestingly, Australia appears to have been the only country in the world where "Shake" made the top 40 - the single stalled at number 58 in Andrew's native UK in April 1990, and peaked at number 77 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in May 1990. "Shake" also charted in the Netherlands, where it reached number 48 in April 1990. In Australia, "Shake" was the 81st highest-selling single of 1990.
In a similar fashion, "Red Dress" does not appear to have charted anywhere but in Australia. While I remember seeing the single in the shops, I don't think I actually heard the song or saw the video at the time. Both "Shake" and "Red Dress" were lifted from Andrew's only solo album Son of Albert (number 63, June 1990). Son of Albert did not even chart in the UK, and peaked at number 66 in the Netherlands in May 1990, and number 130 in the US in June 1990.
Andrew did not release any further singles or albums, although Son of Albert received an expanded re-issue in 2018. Since 1990, Andrew has largely shunned the limelight. He has been in a long-term relationship with Keren Woodward from Bananarama since 1990, although the couple split for two years in 2017.
Although we don't see Andrew Ridgeley charting again, we will see his Wham! partner George Michael bubble under in 1991.
Number 147 "Stay Forever" by Bang the Drum
Peak: number 114
Peak date: 17 September 1990
Weeks in top 150: 11 weeks
Weeks on chart: 11 weeks
Australian band Bang the Drum scored two minor hits earlier in the year with "Only You" (number 31, April 1990) and "Passion" (number 43, May 1990). Both singles were lifted from the band's only album Bang the Drum (number 51, May 1990).
"Stay Forever" was the band's third and final single release. Despite missing the top 100 nationally, it peaked within the top 100 on four of the five state charts, performing strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 44.
I don't recall hearing this one before, but it presumably received airplay, as it was just the kind of 1927-esque middle-of-the-road soft rock/pop that Australian radio programmers of the time lapped up.
Number 150 "Baby Says" by The Shivers
Peak: number 150
Peak date: 30 July 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Melbourne band The Shivers first made an appearance in the top 150 on the first ARIA chart for the 1990s, back in January.
While the group issued two more singles in Australia - "Not in Love" (released in Australia in October 1990) and "Downtown Sister (Town Is Gone)" (April 1991), neither of which is on YouTube at the time of writing this - "Baby Says" was their last release to dent the top 150.
Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 169 "Heartbeat" by Seduction
Peak: number 169
Peak date: 30 July 1990
Weeks on chart: 1 week
Seduction started out as a studio project produced by Robert Clivillés and David Cole, who were the studio boffins behind C+C Music Factory. Seduction's second single and first Australian release (in October 1989), "(You're My One and Only) True Love", featured the uncredited vocals of Martha Wash, who was the (again, uncredited) vocalist on all of the singles from Black Box's Dreamland album, minus "Ride on Time". Martha's vocals were also used, again without credit, on C+C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" (number 3, February 1991). Martha successfully sued Clivillés and Cole for royalties and a credit on the song.
While "(You're My One and Only) True Love" failed to chart in Australia, it became an unexpected mainstream hit in the US, reaching number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1989. As the single started to gain traction, Clivillés and Cole assembled "a group of women who displayed talent, sex appeal, and multi-format potential", to quote Wikipedia, as a front for the group.
The band's third single, and second Australian release, "Two to Make It Right", was released in Australia in June 1990, but failed to chart. However, it became Seduction's biggest hit in the US, peaking at number 2 in February 1990. This time, two of the group members actually sang on the track.
"Heartbeat", the band's third release in Australia, just scraped into the top 170, but reached number 13 in the US in April 1990. An album, Nothing Matters without Love, peaked at number 36 in the US in March 1990, and number 142 in Australia in September 1990.
On the state charts, "Heartbeat" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 142.
Listening to this track for the first time, it sounds like an instrumental hook from it was used on the remix of Donna Summer's "Breakaway", released as a single in the UK (but not in Australia) at the end of 1990.
We will see Seduction again in early 1991.
Next week (6 August): Five new top 150 entries, and one bubbling WAY down under debut.