17 December 2021

Week commencing 17 December 1990

Welcome to the last chart survey of 1990!  It doesn't seem like that long since I was rounding off 1989.
Among this week in 1990's batch of singles peaking outside the top 100 are several artists who've been around for a while, but were now not having so much luck on the charts.  We also have some upcoming dance and alternative artists - the chart seemed to cater for both genres equally in the early 1990s.
Before diving into this week's new entries, I have updated an earlier post:
- 24 July 1989 - with a newly uncovered bubbling WAY down under entry from Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam.
Daryl Hall & John Oates: so close to the top 100.
Top 150 debuts:
Number 121 "So Close" by Daryl Hall & John Oates
Peak: number 106
Peak date: 7 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 11 weeks
American duo Daryl Hall and John Oates placed 18 singles on the Australian top 100 between 1976 and 1988.  Surprisingly, only two of those, "Rich Girl" (number 6, June 1977) and "Maneater" (number 4, December 1982), reached the top ten.  Given how much Australian radio loved Hall & Oates, if you were around in the early-mid 80s, you would assume the pair would have had a string of number one hits.  That was the case in the US, where the duo notched up six Billboard Hot 100 number ones.  I am actually shocked that "Private Eyes" (number 17, December 1981) did not even make the top 10 in Australia; it seems like it would have been a number one here, to me.

Despite only making the Australian top 10 singles chart twice, Hall & Oates had another four top 20 hits in Australia, with "Out of Touch" - my favourite - narrowly missing the top 10, peaking at number 11 in December 1984.  Oddly, the "Out of Touch" music video seems to be blocked on YouTube, at least in Australia.

A combination of a three-and-a-half-year gap between albums and popular music styles shifting is probably responsible for Hall & Oates' chart fortunes waning significantly on the Australian chart in the second half of the 1980s.  "Everything Your Heart Desires" (number 75, June 1988), the duo's last single to register in the top 100, stalled in the lower half of the top 100, and was the only charting release from Hall & Oates' previous studio album Ooh Yeah! (number 46, June 1988).  The second and final single issued from the album in Australia, "Missed Opportunity", lived up to its title, and failed to chart.

"So Close" was the lead single from Hall & Oates' fourteenth studio album Change of Season (number 137, February 1991).

In my mind, the US charts at this point in time were an odd marriage between 'new'-sounding (mainly r&b) music, that hadn't quite crossed over properly in Australia, and 'safe' music your parents would approve of that seemed quite dated (think of all of those overwrought ballads that seemed to hog the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100).  Accordingly, Hall & Oates' commercial success continued in the US for a while longer than it did elsewhere, and both "Everything Your Heart Desires" (number 3, June 1988) and "So Close" (number 11, December 1990) were decent-sized hits there.  "So Close" was the duo's final Billboard Hot 100 single to reach the top 40, however.

Elsewhere, "So Close" peaked at number 69 in the UK in September 1990, and number 4 in Canada in December 1990.
While Hall & Oates' would not trouble the top 150 again with a contemporary release, in the streaming era, where anything can chart, their 1983 rendition of "Jingle Bell Rock" reached number 36 in December 2020, and could better that peak this year or in subsequent years - anything can happen, it seems, with the Christmas chart these days.

We will see Daryl Hall & John Oates again in April 1991.

Number 123 "Heaven" by Angry
Peak: number 102
Peak date: 7 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks
Angry Anderson, real name Gary Stephen Anderson, dropped his surname for the era of his debut - and only, depending on how that is counted (read on to see what I mean) - solo album, Blood from Stone (number 35, October 1990).  Prior to going solo, Angry was the lead singer of Australian pub rock band Rose Tattoo, who landed 11 singles on the Australian top 100 between 1977 and 1987.  Rose Tattoo's biggest hit was surprisingly not "We Can't Be Beaten" (number 28, December 1982), but "Bad Boy for Love" (number 19, January 1978).
Angry launched his solo career with "Suddenly" (number 2, August 1987), a song that is best known for its use as the soundtrack to Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie Minogue)'s wedding on the Australian TV soap opera Neighbours in July 1987.  This exposure led to "Suddenly" reaching number 3 in the UK and Ireland in December 1988, when the wedding belatedly aired there.
What confuses me is that "Suddenly" originally appeared on the Rose Tattoo album Beats from a Single Drum (number 35, December 1986), which was later re-issued as a solo Angry Anderson album (including in Australia - so not just following the 'solo' success of "Suddenly" overseas), despite having the same songs on it.  Can anyone enlighten me on what happened here?
"Heaven" was the second single lifted from Blood from Stone.  It followed "Bound for Glory" (number 11, October 1990), which was used as an unofficial anthem for the 1990 Australian Football League grand final - not that I give a toss about that.

"Heaven" was Angry's last foray into the ARIA top 150, and was the final single released from Blood for Stone.
"Heaven" reached number 99 on the Australian Music Report singles chart.

Angry is better known these days for being an aspiring Liberal (that is, economically liberal and socially conservative, as the Australian 'Liberal' Party is) politician, in spite of his 'rough' bikie gang appearance and working class roots, who occasionally pops up on shows like A Current Affair or SBS's Go Back to Where You Came From, where he was quite outspoken against "boat people".
Number 132 "Imagine" by John Lennon
Peak: number 132
Peak date: 17 December 1990 (chart repeated 24 December 1990 and 31 December 1990)
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
Weeks on chart: 415 weeks (as of 9 February 2022)

Now onto an artist who promoted peace and social justice - so long as you were not an unwanted child of his (sorry, I couldn't help myself).  John Lennon was, of course, shot by a crazed fan in December 1980, and died shortly afterwards, aged 40.

"Imagine" was recorded in 1971, and topped the Australian singles chart.  It re-entered the chart following John's untimely death, reaching number 43 in March 1981.  More-recently, "Imagine", backed with "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)", peaked at number 21 in December 1988.

I'm not sure exactly what led to "Imagine" re-charting in 1990.

Number 138 "The Real Thing (1990 Mix)" by Russell Morris
Peak: number 124
Peak date: 7 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
Another oldie re-charted this week in 1990... "The Real Thing" was first released in 1969, and topped the Australian Go-Set (as it was then) singles chart.  The song was produced by Ian "Molly" Meldrum, who of course went on to host the iconic Australian music TV program Countdown between 1974 and 1987.

Australian electronic act Third Eye had recently covered "The Real Thing".  Their version of the song peaked at number 76 in October 1990, which presumably prompted this remix of the original, by Mike Duffy.

If you ask me (and this is my site, so I'll give my 2 cents' worth anyway), this remix is pretty pointless, and doesn't sound terribly '1990' to my ears, for that matter.

This version of "The Real Thing" was included on Russell's A Thousand Suns (number 98, November 1991) album.

We shall see Russell again in August 1991.

Number 141 "Bottle" by Doug Anthony All Stars
Peak: number 141 
Peak date: 17 December 1990 (chart repeated 24 December 1990 and 31 December 1990)
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
Doug Anthony Allstars are an Australian comedy trio, who at this point in time were made up of Paul McDermott, Tim Ferguson, and Richard Fidler.  However, "Bottle" sounds like it is only Paul McDermott singing, unless the other two were playing instruments, which I don't think they were, although Richard Fidler also played guitar.

"Bottle" was the only single from the trio's debut and only studio album DAAS Icon (number 42, June 1990).
My favourite thing with loose Doug Anthony All Stars connections is the flop (which means it was good, right?) ABC 1970s cop drama parody series from 1995, Funky Squad, in which Doug Anthony All Stars member Tim Ferguson played one of the main characters.  If you haven't seen it, the seven episodes are on YouTube, and it is worth checking out alone for the real 1970s TV commercial breaks featured within it.

Number 145 "Fascinating Rhythm" by Bass-O-Matic
Peak: number 145
Peak date: 17 December 1990 (chart repeated 24 December 1990 and 31 December 1990)
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks
Bass-O-Matic, alternatively stylised as Bassomatic and BassOmatic (such inconsistencies annoy me!), were an electronic group from Sheffield, England.  One of the group members was William Orbit, who went on to become quite a successful producer for other artists, such as Madonna, All Saints, Robbie Williams, and Blur, among others.  The group was fronted by singer Sharon Musgrave and rapper MC Inna Onestep.

"Fascinating Rhythm" was Bass-O-Matic's second single, following "In the Realm of the Senses", which was issued in Australia in July 1990 but missed the top 150.  Both tracks were lifted from their debut album Set the Controls for the Heart of the Bass.

Internationally, "Fascinating Rhythm" peaked at number 9 in the UK in September 1990, number 18 in Ireland, and number 47 in the Netherlands in November 1990.
On the ARIA state charts, "Fascinating Rhythm" performed strongest in Western Australia, where it reached number 107.

"Fascinating Rhythm" was Bass-O-Matic's only single to chart in Australia.

Number 147 "Cloud Factory" by Clouds
Peak: number 118
Peak date: 11 March 1991
Weeks in top 150: 21 weeks
1991 is often cited as the year that 'alternative' music - that is, music that is not primarily motivated by achieving major commercial success - became mainstream, with the success of Nirvana's Nevermind album towards the end of the year.
There were signs of an alternative music commercial breakthrough on the Australian chart earlier in 1991, however, when Sydney indie band Ratcat topped the singles chart twice in the space of a month, and also had a number one album.  But even before then, there were occasional ripples of mainstream success for indie artists on the Australian chart, such as The Hummingbirds' "Blush" creeping into the top 20 in September 1989, or even R.E.M.'s "Orange Crush" becoming a top 20 hit in February 1989.

Clouds, who were usually referred to as 'The Clouds' despite there being no 'The' in the band's name on their album or single sleeve artwork, were a Sydney indie rock band who achieved some moderate commercial success on the ARIA chart in the early 1990s.  "Cloud Factory" was Clouds' debut release.  Interestingly, the track does not appear on the band's debut album Penny Century (number 23, October 1991), but was included on a 2-CD expanded re-issue of it in 1996.

Like many avid pop/chart fans at the time who weren't old (or perhaps 'cool') enough to listen to Triple J, I first became aware of Clouds when this and the band's next single, the Loot EP (number 22, June 1991) - led by the track "Soul Eater", were vying for number one position on the ARIA Alternative Chart as shown on Channel 10's Coca-Cola Power Cuts music video TV program (does anyone reading this remember that?).

I have previously expressed my disdain for Billboard's stupid genre-specific charts, based on dubious methodology, and I feel similarly about ARIA's - though at least ARIA has/had 100% sales-based singles and albums charts, unlike Billboard.  Furthermore, unless you were a chart freak or religiously watched Coca-Cola Power Cuts in 1991 (the only year it was on air), you probably wouldn't even be aware that ARIA had Alternative and Dance charts.
Without bothering to check when it actually happened, ARIA's Dance chart was eventually sales-based, unlike Billboard's, and just extrapolated from the weekly national chart.  The ARIA Reports from this era state that "the ARIA Alternative Charts are compiled using sales data supplied by Alternative Music Retailers in each capital city."  As a Victorian, 'alternative music retailers' makes me think of Melbourne's Au Go Go Records store, which closed in 2003 (this makes me feel very old).  I guess the Sydney equivalent might be Red Eye Records, which seems to still be operating.

While "Cloud Factory" was not a massive success on the ARIA national singles chart, it reached number two on the ARIA Top 20 Alternative Singles chart (Coca-Cola Power Cuts only showed excerpts from the top 10) in April 1991.  At one point in April 1991, both "Cloud Factory" and Loot were in the Alternative top 10 together, and remained so until September 1991, although "Cloud Factory" dipped out of the top 10 for a couple of weeks in June and August.  In July 1991, Loot was number one and "Cloud Factory" was number two on the ARIA Alternative Singles Chart.  How is that for 'alternative' facts success?

Despite only peaking at number 118 on the national chart, "Cloud Factory" spent 21 non-consecutive weeks in the top 150, which holds the record for the most weeks in the top 150 for a single that peaked outside the top 100, at least until the end of 1995 (as far as I have obtained with these top 150 charts at the time of writing).  "Cloud Factory" was still charting as late as 24 June 1991 - more than six months after its top 150 debut.

We will next see Clouds in 1993.

Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 159 "Cubik"/"Olympic" by 808 State
Peak: number 159 
Peak date: 17 December 1990 (chart repeated 24 December 1990 and 31 December 1990)
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks

English electronic band 808 State (pronounced "eight oh eight state") formed in Manchester in 1987.  Only one single and one album released by the group in Australia reached the ARIA top 100: their first single released locally, "Pacific" (number 82, March 1990), and the album 808:90 (number 97, May 1990).

Both "Cubik" and "Olympic" were lifted from 808 State's third album ex:el (number 109, April 1991).  The double A-sided single reached number 10 in the UK in November 1990, and number 23 in Ireland during the same month.

On the ARIA state charts, "Cubik"/"Olympic" performed strongest in Western Australia, where it reached number 114.

Although I enjoy some of 808 State's singles, I have to say that the riff used on "Cubik" reminds me a little too much of one of those ear-bleeding ringtones some people use on their phones.  I don't think I had heard "Olympic" before.

We will next see 808 State in April 1991.

Number 165 "Kiss the Ground" by Real Life
Peak: number 161
Peak date: 28 January 1991
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks
Australian electronic band Real Life landed six singles on the Australian top 100 chart between 1983 and 1990, with "Send Me an Angel" (number 6, July 1983) and "Catch Me I'm Falling" (number 8, March 1984) reaching the top ten.  Both tracks even registered on the US Billboard Hot 100, although the 1989 version of "Send Me an Angel" became their biggest hit there, reaching number 26 in July 1989.
"Kiss the Ground" was the second and final single from Real Life's third studio album Lifetime (number 120, October 1990), their first album since 1985.  It followed "God Tonight" (number 83, October 1990), which performed much stronger in Victoria/Tasmania than in other states, where it reached number 39.

On the state charts, "Kiss the Ground" performed strongest in Western Australia, where it reached number 129.

"Kiss the Ground" was Real Life's final single to chart.

Number 166 "Missing You" by Soul II Soul featuring Kym Mazelle
Peak: number 166 
Peak date: 17 December 1990 (chart repeated 24 December 1990 and 31 December 1990)
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks
Soul II Soul are, as described on their Wikipedia page, a British "musical collective".  'Collective' is the right word, as the only constant in the band seems to have been founding member Jazzie B (real name Trevor Beresford Romeo).

Soul II Soul's first Australian release was their third single "Keep on Movin'" (number 77, September 1989), featuring Caron Wheeler - whom we saw last week - on vocals.  So far, Soul II Soul had placed five singles within the ARIA top 100, with "A Dreams a Dream" (sic) (number 27, June 1990), featuring Victoria Wilson-James on vocals, being the most successful of those.

"Missing You" was the third single lifted from Soul II Soul's second album Vol. II (1990 - A New Decade) (number 9, June 1990).  It followed "A Dreams a Dream" and "People" (number 90, October 1990).  This time, American singer Kym Mazelle was on vocal duties.

Kym had released a couple of solo singles in Australia at this point - "Wait" (a duet with Dr. Robert from The Blow Monkeys, released in Australia in March 1989), "Useless (I Don't Need You Now)" (July 1989), "Was That All It Was" (March 1990), and a remix of "Useless..." (July 1990) - but none of these charted.

Internationally, "Missing You" peaked at number 22 in the UK in December 1990, number 24 in Ireland in November 1990, and number 74 in the Netherlands in December 1990.

On the ARIA state charts, "Missing You" was most successful in Western Australia, where it reached number 130.

We will next see Soul II Soul in 1992, while Kym Mazelle will join us in 1994.

Number 168 "Soundtrack to a Generation" by The Human League
Peak: number 168
Peak date: 17 December 1990 (chart repeated 24 December 1990 and 31 December 1990)
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks
British group The Human League formed in 1977 in Sheffield.  Between 1981 and 1990, they placed eight singles on the Australian top 100, with "Don't You Want Me" (number 4, July 1982) and "Mirror Man" (number 4, February 1983) peaking the highest.  We first saw The Human League bubble under on the first ARIA singles chart to extend beyond number 100, in January 1989.

"Soundtrack to a Generation" was the second and final single from The Human League's sixth studio album Romantic? (number 115, November 1990), their first studio album since 1986.  Their previous single "Heart Like a Wheel" (number 64, October 1990) - my favourite Human League single - was the band's last to dent the ARIA top 100 singles chart.
In the band's homeland, "Soundtrack to a Generation" peaked at number 77 in December 1990, the only other place it charted.

I don't recall hearing "Soundtrack to a Generation" before.  You have to admire a song whose chorus begins with "holy cow"...

We will next see The Human League in 1995.

Next chart (7 January): Owing to the Christmas breaks ARIA took with the chart prior to 1997, the next chart survey conducted was not until 7 January 1991.  The new year kicks off with seven top 150 debuts and one bubbling WAY down under entry.
Here is a preview of some of the songs we will see in my 1991 chart recaps in 2022:

In 1991, we will see 251 singles peaking in the 101 to number 150 region of the chart, and (at the time of writing this) a further 87 singles debuting and peaking outside the top 150.  That's at least 338 songs I have to listen to and write about next year...
As with 1989, I will post a summary of all of all of the singles debuting on the ARIA singles chart in 1990 that peaked between numbers 101 and 150, before the year is out.

Thank you for reading my posts this year.  Hopefully you have discovered or re-discovered some new old songs you like!
< Previous week: 10 December 1990                                Next chart: 7 January 1991 >


  1. Had no idea Daryl covered Hall & Oates. I can only guess that Imagine was re issued to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Lennon's death

    1. I also never knew that 'Don't Hold Back Your Love' was a Hall & Oates cover.

      You are probably right about 'Imagine'.

  2. Great memories of alternative music stores in the 1990's. Gaslight Music which had stores at the top end of Bourke St and a smaller shop at Melbourne University were frequent destinations when searching for that hard to find single/album.

    1. I would also check Gaslight Records whenever I stopped in the CBD. I wasn't aware they had an outlet at Melbourne Uni, though (I didn't go there). I miss the days of walking into a record store like that and not knowing what you might find.

  3. Batman records was the other favourite hangout for music. Lot's of great finds of their 2nd hand items. I also made a lot of use of their lending system. I miss those days.

    1. I loved Batman Records! But didn't properly discover it until 1999, when it was in Elizabeth Street. I loved flipping through the 7" vinyl section, to see all of the 80s single sleeves, which weren't readily available to view online yet. I wasn't aware they had a lending system.

  4. The lending system may have only been in operation in the early 90's.

  5. Sad to read about Real Life - they started phenomenally strong but lost everything in the space of several years. They were a nice little band and deserved more prolonged success.

  6. Yeah, I remember Power Cuts. I remember thinking what a cool title for a music show that was. Ah, what fools we are when we are young.


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