03 December 2021

Week commencing 3 December 1990

Before we dive into this week's post, I have updated the following earlier posts with newly-uncovered bubbling WAY down under entries:
* 2 October 1989 - new bubbling WAY down under entry from Pixies.
* 6 August 1990 - new bubbling WAY down under entry from Pixies.
* 26 November 1990 - new bubbling WAY down under entry from Pixies. 

Now onto this week in 1990... we have another mixed bag, including a song from a two-years-old album that would not reach its peak on the Australian albums chart until 2015 (!), two obscure Australian artist songs that were not on YouTube until I uploaded them for this post, a song from the 1960s by an artist who had been dead for almost 20 years, and the first failed comeback attempt from a teen-pop idol who was ruling the charts just two years prior.  Phew!  Let's take a look.
Johnny Gill: it took 3 years for him to learn how to rub the Australian record buying public the right way.
Top 150 debuts:
Number 141 "Gangsta Gangsta" by N.W.A.
Peak: number 141
Peak date: 3 December 1990
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
While rap was finally enjoying a commercial breakthrough on the Australian singles chart in 1990, the harder-edged style of rap as delivered by N.W.A. was still largely an underground phenomenon.  Nonetheless, N.W.A. placed two singles on the ARIA top 100 in 1990, with "100 Miles and Runnin'" breaking into the top 40.

"Gangsta Gangsta" appeared on N.W.A.'s seminal 1988 debut album Straight Outta Compton, which eventually peaked at number 8 on the Australian albums chart in September 2015, after originally peaking at number 51 in July 1990.
Internationally, "Gangsta Gangsta" peaked at number 70 in the UK in September 1990.

On the Australian Music Report singles chart, "Gangsta Gangsta" reached number 84.

We will see two members of N.W.A., Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, bubble under in 1992 and 1993, respectively.

Number 142 "Fairweather Friend" by Johnny Gill
Peak: number 142
Peak date: 3 December 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
American teen pop boy band New Edition landed a top 10 hit in Australia with "Candy Girl" (number 10, August 1983).  Johnny Gill joined New Edition in 1987, following the departure of Bobby Brown, more than three years after the group landed their second Australian top 100 single, with "Popcorn Love" (number 73, November 1983).  New Edition landed no charting singles or albums during Johnny Gill's original tenure with them, from 1987 until the group split in 1990.  New Edition reformed in 1996, however, and with Johnny as part of the group, scored a number 16 single in Australia with "Hit Me Off" in October 1996.
As I watch the "Fairweather Friend" music video for the first time, hearing the song for the first time since early 1991, two things immediately spring to mind: 1. the production is very 'Bobby Brown'-sounding, and 2. the 1930's gangster chic wardrobe is very similar to the Pointer Sisters' "Dare Me" music video from 1985.

"Fairweather Friend" was the second single released in Australia from Johnny's second solo album titled Johnny Gill (number 110, September 1990).  The album was Johnny's first issued on Motown Records, and his third solo album.  Johnny previously released a Johnny Gill album in 1983, when he was a mere 16 years old.  "Fairweather Friend" followed "Rub You the Right Way" (number 59, September 1990).

In the US, "Fairweather Friend" was the third single from Johnny's 1990 album, where it peaked at number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1990.

Within Australia, "Fairweather Friend" performed strongest in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory, where it reached number 127.

Johnny would have to wait until 1993 to score a major hit in Australia, his only one, with "The Floor" (number 6, October 1993).  Oddly, "The Floor" was a much bigger hit in Australia than anywhere else, and the only other country it reached the top 40 in was New Zealand, where it peaked at number 29 in August 1993.

Johnny will join us next in February 1991.

If watching the music video below, be aware that "Fairweather Friend" does not start until 50 seconds in.

Number 145 "From a Distance" by Cliff Richard
Peak: number 101
Peak date: 7 January 1991
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks 
Weeks on chart: 8 weeks
We have seen Cliff bubble under on two previous occasions, in January 1990 and April 1990.

Cliff's version of "From a Distance", a song originally recorded by Nanci Griffith in 1987, was recorded at a live concert in June 1989, released as the album From a Distance: The Event (number 21, December 1991).  Bette Midler's version of the song was number 22 on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1990, and reached a peak of number 8 in January 1991.

In Cliff's native UK, both versions of "From a Distance" debuted on the chart in the same week.  Cliff's version initially won out, peaking at number 11 in October 1990, while Bette's version stalled at number 45 during the same month.  However, Bette had the last laugh when her version climbed to number 6 in June 1991 after being re-issued.  Bette's version of the song was closely associated with the first Gulf War.
Elsewhere, Cliffs version of "From a Distance" peaked at number 16 in Ireland in October 1990.
On the state charts, Cliff's version of "From a Distance" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 63.  On the Australian Music Report singles chart, Cliff's version of "From a Distance" reached number 99.
Interestingly, Cliff had another single, "Saviour's Day" (number 97, December 1990), which entered the ARIA top 150 next week, before sliding into the top 100 for the Christmas week chart, fittingly.

We will next see Cliff in November 1991.

Number 147 "Fine Time" by Solange
Peak: number 147
Peak date: 3 December 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Solange, not to be confused with BeyoncĂ©'s sister (who was 4 at this point in time), was an Australian recording artist whom I know next to nothing about.  I had to go to the lengths of tracking down the cassette single of this release (it was only released on cassette and vinyl, through small/independent dance label Colossal Records) so that I could even hear the song, which I have embedded below.

All I can tell you about this track is that it was produced by Jumpin Jive Crew, mixed by D.L. Roland, and remixed by D.J. Fly.  "Fine Time" was recorded in Sydney.

Number 149 "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Maurie Fields
Peak: number 149 
Peak date: 3 December 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
I often think that nobody loves trashy novelty records as much as the UK, when you look at some of the questionable number one singles there over the years, including St Winifred's School Choir "There's No One Quite Like Grandma" - another song about 'grandma' - which supplanted John Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over" for the Christmas number one in 1980, just a few weeks after his untimely death.  Yes, really.
In Australia, mercifully, novelty records like the aforementioned 'song' were not usually that big.  Not usually, that is.

Here's a novelty song - and a Christmas one to boot - that was a flop, by none other than Maurie Fields, who was best known (at least to my generation) as the stand-up comedian old guy on the TV variety/light entertainment program Hey Hey It's Saturday.

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" was lifted from the album Cheers (number 81, January 1991).  The song was a cover version of an Elmo & Patsy track from 1979.

Maurie passed away a week before Christmas in 1995, aged 69.

Number 150 "Hey Joe" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Peak: number 150
Peak date: 3 December 1990
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Jimi Hendrix is a name most people would know, even if you're not familiar with much (or any) of his music.  Jimi died in 1970, aged 27, after asphyxiating on his own vomit following a drug overdose.
Hit singles are not so important for an artist of Jimi's cultural capital.  Nonetheless, Jimi placed three singles on the Australian top 100 between 1969 and 1979, although none of these peaked higher than number 53.
"Hey Joe" is a track Jimi recorded in 1966 with his band The Jim Hendrix Experience.  The single reached number 6 in the UK in February 1967, and also made the top 10 in the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway, while peaking just outside the top 20 in Germany.

"Hey Joe" was presumably re-issued to promote the Cornerstones 1967-1970 compilation album, which was released in the last quarter of 1990, but did not reach its peak of number 32 on the ARIA albums chart until August 1991.
Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 155 "Wherever Would I Be" by Cheap Trick
Peak: number 153
Peak date: 10 December 1990
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
We saw Cheap Trick bubble under in April 1989.  "Wherever Would I Be" was the second single lifted from the band's eleventh studio album Busted (number 36, September 1990).  It followed "Can't Stop Falling into Love" (number 26, September 1990).

Internationally, "Wherever Would I Be" peaked at number 50 in the US in December 1990, and number 59 in Canada.  The song was written by beige songwriter extraordinaire Diane Warren, although I don't actually mind this one, listening to it here for the first time.

We shall see Cheap Trick next in 1997; but, before then, lead singer Robin Zander will join us solo in 1993.  In the interim, Cheap Trick released a compilation, The Greatest Hits (number 170, December 1991), and another studio album, Woke Up with a Monster (number 152, May 1994).

Number 159 "New Inside" by Tiffany
Peak: number 159
Peak date: 3 December 1990
Weeks on chart: 1 week 

Tiffany landed three top 15 hits in Australia with her first three singles released locally: "I Think We're Alone Now" (number 13, January 1988), "Could've Been" (number 8, June 1988) and "I Saw Him Standing There" (number 10, June 1988).  But then it was all downhill, with none of her later singles peaking higher than number 65.  We first saw Tiffany bubble under in March 1989.

It was a similar story on the albums chart, with Tiffany (number 6, June 1988) reaching the top 10, while the follow-up, Hold an Old Friend's Hand (number 56, January 1989), stalled outside the top 50.

"New Inside" was the title track from Tiffany's third album New Inside (number 142, November 1990).  As a sign of how over Tiffany was by 1990, the single actually did not chart anywhere else.
I remember reading about "New Inside" in the Australian edition of Smash Hits magazine, where either the album or single (possibly both) were reviewed, but I never heard the track... until now.  The song marks a change in sound for Tiffany, as it is much more r&b-sounding than her previous releases.
If I remember correctly, Tiffany was supposed to be dating Jonathan Knight (who was outed as a gay man in 2009) from New Kids on the Block around this time.  Dating a teen heartthrob is one way to get yourself hated by your target audience of tween and teenage girls.
If a music video for "New Inside" exists, it does not appear to have found its way to YouTube.  Instead, the video I have embedded below is a German TV performance - though the song does not begin until around 30 seconds in.
Tiffany will next join us in 1993.
Next week (10 December): Seven top 150 debuts and one bubbling WAY down under entry.
< Previous week: 26 November 1990                                   Next week: 10 December 1990 >


  1. Id say the Hey Joe re entry may have had something to do with the Cornerstones album being released

    1. Thank you! I will amend the post with that info.


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