04 February 2022

Week commencing 4 February 1991

Ah, readers, we're into February 2022 and what a joy this year has been so far!  Let's step back in time to 1991 to remember the 'good old days' with another six Australian chart flops served fresh for you here.  Except, one of the six songs is from 1977, and two are from albums released in 1989.  Not exactly '90s', hey?  But here's what the Australian public were buying... or rather, not buying in bucket loads, this week in 1991...
Peter Gabriel sporting a hair-don't that looks like it came from the 70s, just like his latest single, in 1990.
Top 150 debuts:
Number 125 "Storm Front" (live at Yankee Stadium) by Billy Joel
Peak: number 114
Peak date: 11 February 1991
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Weeks on chart: 7 weeks
Despite Billy Joel's Storm Front (number 1, November 1989) album topping the Australian albums chart, the singles released from it after "We Didn't Start the Fire" (number 2, November 1989) were all flops, with "I Go to Extremes" (number 48, February 1990) being the only other one to crack the top 100.
That didn't stop the record company issuing umpteen singles from the album, however, and "Storm Front" - this time, an Australian exclusive live single to coincide with his early 1991 Australian tour - was the fifth (!) in a row to miss the top 100... with still one more single from the album to come!  We last saw Billy bubble under in December 1990.

Technically, this live version of "Storm Front", performed at Yankee Stadium, was taken from disc two of Billy's Australian-only Souvenir: The Ultimate Collection (number 1, February 1991) compilation box set, which contains two Greatest Hits discs, the Storm Front album, a disc with five live tracks at Yankee stadium, an interview disc, and a free set of steak knives.  OK, well, not the last one, but they might as well have include those too.

Still, with both Souvenir and Storm Front topping the ARIA albums charts, I doubt the record company were too bothered by most of the singles flopping... and so they kept churning them out.

"Storm Front" performed strongest in Queensland, where it reached number 72 on the state chart.
You can listen to the studio version of the track, for contrast, here.

We will see Billy again in early 1992 with the eighth and final single lifted from Storm Front, and (spoiler alert... though not really, as I wouldn't be writing about this song otherwise), yes, it was another one to miss the ARIA top 100.

Number 133 "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel
Peak: number 121 (in 1991); number 45 (in 1977)
Peak date: 4 March 1991
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks (1991 release)
Weeks on chart: 11 weeks (1991 release)

Prior to Phil Collins taking over vocal duties, Peter Gabriel was once the lead singer in the English progressive rock band Genesis.  He left the group in 1975, embarking on a solo career.  "Solsbury Hill" was Peter's debut solo single, released in 1977.
Surprisingly, "Solsbury Hill" only peaked at number 45 in Australia in July 1977.  I say "surprisingly" because the song was still in high rotation on radio during the 1980s.  I knew the song for years, aged in single digits, before I knew the song's title or who performed it.  That's not something I can say about many singles from 1977 that missed the top 40.

"Solsbury Hill" fared much better in Peter's native UK, reaching number 13 there in May 1977.  The song was an apt choice to launch Peter's solo career, as its lyrics deal with, in Peter's own words, "being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get... It's about letting go."
At this point in time, Peter had placed seven singles on the Australian top 100, with his biggest hits being "Sledgehammer" (number 3, June 1986) and "Don't Give Up" (number 5, April 1987); the latter being a duet with Kate Bush.  Both tracks were lifted from Peter's fifth studio album So (number 5, June 1986).  Peter also bubbled under with "Red Rain", another single from So, in August 1987, and we last saw him teaming up with Youssou N'Dour in July 1989.

"Solsbury Hill" originally appeared on Peter's debut album Peter Gabriel (number 25, June 1977).  The single was re-released to promote Peter's greatest hits compilation album Shaking the Tree (Sixteen Golden Greats) (number 41, December 1990).  This time around, a music video was made for the song, although Peter does not appear in it.
Internationally, the re-issue of "Solsbury Hill" peaked at number 57 in the UK in December 1990, and number 26 in the Netherlands in January 1991.

On the ARIA state charts, "Solsbury Hill" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 90.

We shall next see Peter in 1993.

Number 145 "Think" by Information Society
Peak: number 132
Peak date: 18 February 1991
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks
Information Society hail from Minnesota, and formed in 1982.  "Think" was the lead single from their second studio album Hack, and the band's second single issued in Australia, following "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)", released in December 1988.
"Think" peaked at number 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 20 in the Netherlands in March 1991.

I have heard this one before.  Someone on a music forum recommended it to me about a decade ago, but I've got a feeling that I probably heard it on the American Top 40 radio program at the time.  I like the song, but don't love it.

"Think" was Information Society's only single to dent the ARIA top 150.
Number 147 "If I Have to Stand Alone" by Lonnie Gordon
Peak: number 147 
Peak dates: 4 February 1991 and 11 February 1991
Weeks in top 150: 2 weeks
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks

American-born though at this point English-produced (hello Stock Aitken Waterman!) Lonnie Gordon graced our presence in September 1990, with her second single released in Australia.  Here she is again, with the third.
"If I Have to Stand Alone", the title track from Lonnie's debut album If I Have to Stand Alone (number 173, April 1991), was an uptempo number more akin to "Happenin' All Over Again" (number 33, August 1990) than her previous single, which was a ballad.  Not that it helped Lonnie's chart fortunes - here or in the UK - where the single stalled at number 68 in November 1990, leading to the album being shelved by the much more-fickle/risk averse UK record company.
You have to love Australian record companies from this era, seemingly releasing whatever product they could license, regardless of its success on the chart (or were they just clueless, rather than being good-willed?).  I remember seeing loads of copies of Lonnie's album in a bargain bin at JB Hi-Fi, which had just opened in my city, in early 1992 - although I did not purchase the album until the 2009 expanded, remastered re-issue.

Working against "If I Have to Stand Alone"'s favour was the fact that Stock Aitken Waterman were definitely perceived as being 'uncool', if not much worse things, at this time.  Their commercial heyday had well and truly passed.

Speaking of 'uncool', I loved a comment I read on the music video embedded below (which turns out to be one of my YouTube uploads) some years ago, which referred to Lonnie's "office lady look" in the video.

On the ARIA state charts, "If I Have to Stand Alone" performed strongest in Queensland, where it reached number 104.
I didn't actually hear this track at the time, though remember seeing the single in the shops.

We will next see Lonnie in July 1991, with a new sound and a radically different look.

Number 150 "Too Tired" by Gary Moore featuring Albert Collins
Peak: number 130
Peak date: 4 March 1991
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Weeks on chart: 9 weeks
By this point, Northern Irish singer and guitar maestro Gary Moore had landed two decent-sized hits in Australia, with a cover version of The Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" (number 25, September 1987), and the original "Still Got the Blues (For You)" (number 18, July 1990).  Gary last joined us in April 1989.  My favourite Gary Moore track that I know is "Over the Hills and Far Away" (number 94, April 1987).

"Too Tired" was the fourth and final single lifted from Gary's eighth studio album Still Got the Blues (number 5, July 1990).  It followed "Oh Pretty Woman" (number 50, June 1990), "Still Got the Blues (For You)", and "Walking by Myself" (number 55, November 1990).  This time, Gary teamed up with American blues guitarist Albert Collins, covering a song originally recorded by Johnny Guitar Watson.

Internationally, "Too Tired" peaked at number 71 in the UK in December 1990.
On the ARIA state charts, "Too Tired" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 87.

Sadly, Albert died from lung cancer in 1993, aged 61.  Gary has also since passed on, aged 58, following a heart attack linked to alcoholism, in 2011.

We will next see Gary in 1992.

Bubbling WAY down under:

Number 169 "It's OK (It's Alright)" by Fine Young Cannibals
Peak: number 169
Peak date: 4 February 1991
Weeks on chart: 1 week

British band Fine Young Cannibals have joined us twice previously, in February and April of 1990.  After a ten month gap, "It's OK (It's Alright)" was issued as the sixth and final single from The Raw & The Cooked (number 1, July 1989) in Australia in January 1991.  It came just short of two years since the album's first single "She Drives Me Crazy" (number 1, March 1989) was released in Australia, in early February 1989.
"It's OK (It's Alright)" was, however, presumably released as a single at this point to promote the band's remix album The Raw & The Remix (number 114, March 1991).

"It's OK (It's Alright)", while being a decent track, presumably did not chart that well because it was from an already two years-old album that most people who liked the band probably already owned.  I also did not hear the track at the time, so it presumably received very little promotion.
No proper music video was filmed for "It's OK...".  In lieu of a video, a live performance was used.  The studio version of the track is embedded below.
"It's OK (It's Alright)" did not chart in any other country.  On the state charts, "It's OK (It's Alright)" performed strongest in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory, where it reached number 154.
Fine Young Cannibals quietly disbanded in 1992.  I was unaware of any official announcement of their split happening.
The group returned in 1996 for a best-of compilation The Finest (number 56, December 1996) - despite only having released two studio albums.  They also had one further charting single in Australia with "The Flame" (number 85, November 1996).

Next week (11 February): Six top 150 debuts and four bubbling WAY down under entries.
< Previous week: 28 January 1991                                     Next week: 11 February 1991 >

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