10 December 2021

Week commencing 10 December 1990

This week's batch of new entries from 1990 can be broadly split into two categories - artists your parents knew and liked, or would approve of, and newer acts who never took off in Australia.  But before we take a look at them, I have updated last week's post which now contains an audio clip of the Solange song.
Caron Wheeler: soul II solo
Top 150 debuts:
Number 125 "And So It Goes" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 108
Peak dates: 7 January 1991 and 14 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Weeks on chart: 9 weeks
"And So It Goes" was the sixth single issued from Billy Joel's Storm Front (number 1, November 1989) album, and his fourth consecutive release to miss the top 100 in Australia.  We last saw Billy bubble under in May 1990 with the fourth single from the album.  The fifth, "That's Not Her Style" (released in Australia in August 1990), failed to chart, which is odd, as it was the only one to miss the ARIA top 100 that I knew at the time.

Internationally, "And So It Goes" peaked at number 30 in Canada in September 1990, and number 37 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in December 1990.

On the ARIA state charts, "And So It Goes" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 84.  Interestingly, "And So It Goes" peaked within the top 100 on four of the five ARIA state charts, only missing out in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory, where it peaked at number 101.
Believe it or not, there were another two singles to come from Storm Front - both of which peaked outside the ARIA top 100.  We shall see the next one of them in February 1991.
Number 127 "Impulsive" by Wilson Phillips
Peak: number 103
Peak date: 21 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks
Weeks on chart: 10 weeks

American female vocal trio Wilson Phillips were sisters Carnie and Wendy Wilson (daughters of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson), and Chynna Phillips (daughter of The Mamas & The Papas' John and Michelle Phillips).  The trio burst onto the charts with their debut single "Hold On", which topped the US Billboard Hot 100 in June 1990, and reached number 2 in Australia the following month.

"Hold On" was to be Wilson Phillips' only major hit in Australia, with no other single they released peaking higher than number 31 (1992's "You Won't See Me Cry").
In the US, it was a different story, and the trio notched up three Hot 100 number one singles and a number 4 hit from their debut album Wilson Phillips (number 7, July 1990), which reached number 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and spent more than two years on the chart.
The trio's success, however, waned when their second album Shadows and Light (number 30, August 1992) was released, yielding no US top 10 hits.  The group split in 1993, and Chynna embarked on a solo career, landing a back-to-back top 15 hits in Australia in 1996 (and nowhere else) with "Naked and Sacred" (number 15, June 1996) and "I Live for You" (number 9, November 1996).

Back to Wilson Phillips' chart success, or lack thereof, in Australia... the group's second single, "Release Me" (number 57, September 1990), stalled outside the top 50, though spent a respectable 16 weeks on the chart.

"Impulsive" was the third single released from Wilson Phillips, and unlike the previous two singles, Wendy Wilson sang the lead vocal.

Internationally, "Impulsive" peaked at number 42 in the UK in November 1990, 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in December 1990, and scraped into the top 30 in Switzerland, Austria and New Zealand.  "Impulsive" also registered in the top 40 in the Netherlands, and the top 60 in Germany.

On the ARIA state charts, "Impulsive" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 55.  "Impulsive" peaked within the top 100 on four of the five state charts, with Victoria/Tasmania being the only exception.

If you ask me, "Impulsive" and some of Wilson Phillips' other singles failed on the Australian chart because they were a bit too bland, safe, and 'American' sounding (squeaky clean, good little 'Christian' girls singing music your parents would approve of) for our tastes at this point in time.  The same observation was presumably made by the writers of the Australian comedy sketch program Fast Forward, at the time, in their parody of "Hold On" as "Wholesome".

Despite only landing one big hit in Australia, "Hold On" has had enduring popularity.  As of December 2017, "Hold On" had spent 249 weeks on the ARIA singles chart.  But yes, over 220 of those weeks are in the digital/streaming era, where anything can chart, and the chart now runs into the thousands.

Wilson Phillips will next join us in April 1991.

Number 134 "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode
Peak: number 134
Peak date: 10 December 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Weeks on chart: 8 weeks
We saw Depeche Mode bubble under in July 1990, and back then I wrote of how criminally underrated the band were on the Australian charts.  And, as if to prove the point, here we have one of Depeche Mode's biggest, most-recognisable hits, languishing in the 130s... on re-release, no less.  Yes, "Personal Jesus" was the first single issued from the band's seventh studio album Violator (number 42, September 1990), back in October 1989.  "Personal Jesus" eventually limped into the ARIA singles chart, at number 166, in December 1989.  I guess the record company decided to give the single another go, after the belated... success of "Enjoy the Silence" - probably the band's signature song, which peaked at number 71 in Australia in September 1990, almost six months after debuting at number 139 in the last week of March.

"Personal Jesus" had greater success internationally.  Despite only peaking at number 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in March 1990, "Personal Jesus" was Depeche Mode's first US top 40 hit in almost five years, and kicked off a string of three consecutive top 30 hits there, propelling Violator to number 7 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in May 1990.  The album was certified 3 times platinum in the US, for shipments of over 3 million copies.

In the band's native UK, "Personal Jesus" peaked at number 13 in September 1989.  "Personal Jesus" also reached number 7 in Ireland, number 5 in Germany and Switzerland, top 20 in Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand, and top 30 in France.

On the ARIA state charts, "Personal Jesus" performed strongest in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory, where it peaked at number 111.

"Personal Jesus" was the first Depeche Mode single to feature prominent use of a guitar, laid on top of their signature electronic sound.  Adding more guitar to their sound no doubt helped the band's music appeal to a new audience.  The guitar would become even more central to Depeche Mode's sound on their next studio album Songs of Faith and Devotion (number 14, April 1993).

Marilyn Manson recorded a pointless cover version "Personal Jesus", which peaked at number 30 in Australia in October 2004.  It's an indictment on the Australian record-buying public, really, that his version peaked over 100 places higher than the Depeche Mode original.

But that would not be the last time "Personal Jesus" made a (very small) ripple on the Australian chart - the Stargate remix of the track peaked at number 571 in June 2011.

We shall next see Depeche Mode in March 1991.

Number 137 "Type" by Living Colour
Peak: number 121
Peak date: 7 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks 

"Type" was the lead single from American band Living Colour's second album Time's Up (number 15, July 1990).  To date, the band had placed two singles within the ARIA top 150, with "Cult of Personality" (number 54, April 1989) being the bigger of the two.  We saw Living Colour bubble under with their second Australian chart 'hit' in June 1989.  In the interim, the third single from Living Colour's debut album Vivid (number 52, April 1989), "Glamour Boys" (released in Australia in October 1989), missed the top 150.

Internationally, "Type" peaked at number 75 in the UK in October 1990.  None of the band's singles charted on the Billboard Hot 100 after their first album.

"Type" peaked at number 95 on the Australian Music Report singles chart.

Living Colour's next single, "Love Rears Its Ugly Head" (number 10, July 1991) became their only major hit, and only top 50 single, in Australia.  Released in mid-December 1990, in its original LP version, "Love Rears Its Ugly Head" stalled at number 147 in January 1991.  It was the Soulpower remix that became a hit in Australia and Europe, when the single was re-issued locally in March 1991, climbing gradually to its eventual peak in July.
Living Colour placed another five singles in the ARIA top 100, but none of these peaked higher than number 56.

Number 142 "Livin' in the Light" by Caron Wheeler
Peak: number 112
Peak date: 28 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks
Weeks on chart: 11 weeks

English singer Caron Wheeler came to fame as the featured vocalist on Soul II Soul's breakthrough hits "Keep on Movin'" (number 77, September 1989) and "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" (number 45, February 1990).  While neither track was a massive hit in Australia, both singles peaked within the top 5 in the UK, and the top 15 in the US.

Before recording with Soul II Soul, Caron was one third of the vocal group Afrodiziak, together with Claudia Fontaine and Naomi Thompson.  The trio performed backing vocals for many British recording artists during the 1980s.

Caron launched a solo recording career following her success with Soul II Soul. "Livin' in the Light" was the lead single from her debut album UK Blak (number 128, January 1991).

Elsewhere, "Livin' in the Light" peaked at number 14 in the UK in September 1990, number 25 in Ireland in September 1990, number 53 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in November 1990, and number 26 in the Netherlands in October 1990.  The single also reached the top 40 in the Flanders region of Belgium, and the top 50 in Germany and New Zealand.

Domestically, "Livin' in the Light" performed strongest on the South Australia/Northern Territory state chart, where it reached number 84.

Caron's next single, "UK Blak", was issued in Australia in January 1991, but failed to chart locally.  Two further singles were released from UK Blak in the UK, but were not released here.

As a fan of Soul II Soul's singles, I somehow never heard "Livin' in the Light" until 2013, despite reading about its release and seeing the single in the shops in 1990.  My first thought upon hearing the track was that it sounded a lot more 1970s-inspired than I was expecting, and, musically at least, is not dissimilar to something Jamiroquai might have put out a few years later.  I was expecting a more-typical 'Soul II Soul'-type sound, but I like this track a lot.

We shall see Caron again in 1993.

Number 145 "Biggest Mountain" by Inspiral Carpets
Peak: number 122
Peak date: 21 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 11 weeks
Weeks on chart: 11 weeks

Inspiral Carpets bubbled under back in July with their first single issued in Australia, from their debut album Life (number 140, September 1990).  In the interim, "She Comes in the Fall" was issued locally in September 1990, but failed to chart.  "Biggest Mountain" was an in-between-albums single.

In Inspiral Carpets' native UK, "Biggest Mountain" was the lead track on their Island Head E.P., which peaked at number 21 there in November 1990.  The EP also reached number 29 in Ireland during the same month.

As a (very) casual fan of Inspiral Carpets' singles, I bought a DVD of their music videos second hand on eBay some years back, but haven't watched most of it.  Listening to "Biggest Mountain" as I write this post, this is actually the first time I have heard the track.  I like its more-subdued sound, and there is even a harpsichord waltz coda from just after three and a half minutes in - I was not expecting that.
This style of slightly 'alternative' music offered by British bands from this era remained largely unappreciated in Australia until Oasis and Blur landed major hits in the second half of the 1990s.

On the ARIA state charts, "Biggest Mountain" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 101.

We will next see Inspiral Carpets in August 1991.

Number 147 "The Anniversary Waltz" by Status Quo
Peak: number 104
Peak date: 7 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks
British rock band Status Quo formed in 1962.  Originally, they were named The Scorpions (not to be confused with the German band), changing to The Status Quo in 1967 before dropping the 'The' in 1969.  Somehow, the band are still going, although there have been numerous line-up changes, and several members have died in more-recent years.

At this point in 1990, Status Quo had placed 14 singles on the Australian top 100 chart, between 1970 and 1985.  Three of their singles reached the top 10 in Australia during the 1970s.  These days, the song they would likely be best known for here is "Down Down" (number 4, 1975), thanks to its use in supermarket giant Coles' TV commercials (yes, the "down down, prices are down" song).

Not to be outdone by Jive Bunny and The Mastermixers, Status Quo recorded this medley of covers of songs from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  I was going to surmise it was in hope of landing a UK Christmas number one, but the single was released in September 1990 there, peaking at number 2 the following month.

A sequel to "The Anniversary Waltz", Part 2 - another covers medley - was released in the UK just in time for Christmas; however, it only reached number 16 on the Christmas chart.  Thankfully, Australia was spared part two.

Elsewhere, part 1 of "The Anniversary Waltz" reached the top 10 in Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden; and the top 20 in Germany, Switzerland, and the Flanders region of Belgium.  Surprisingly, "The Anniversary Waltz" reached number 30 in New Zealand in January 1991 - a rare instance of our Kiwi brethren displaying worse musical taste than us.

"The Anniversary Waltz" peaked higher on the Australian Music Report singles chart, where it reached number 74.

Bubbling WAY down under:

Number 165 "I Like the Girls" by Mr. Lee
Peak: number 165
Peak date: 10 December 1990
Weeks on chart: 1 week

American rapper Mr. Lee has bubbled under on two previous occasions earlier in 1990, most recently in September.

"I Like the Girls" was the third single from his Get Busy album - released in Australia in August 1990 but did not chart.

Internationally, "I Like the Girls" peaked at number 34 in the Netherlands in August 1990, and number 36 in the Flanders region of Belgium in September 1990.

Domestically, "I Like the Girls" performed strongest on the New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory state chart, where it reached number 153.
Despite being uploaded on an official Vevo channel, the music video for "I Like the Girls", embedded below, has distracting de-interlacing lines (those horizontal lines) throughout, making it almost unwatchable.  Record companies really ought to do better than this with official uploads!

Mr. Lee will join us for one last visit in 1992.

Next week (17 December): The chart year draws to a close, with seven top 150 debuts and four bubbling WAY down under entries.  Among them is the single that spent more weeks on the top 150 than any other single peaking between number 101 and 150 from the first half of the 1990s.

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