11 March 2022

Week commencing 11 March 1991

I've written previously that many 80s artists were struggling to score hits in the early 1990s, and this week in 1991, all but two of the acts peaking outside the top 100 had been releasing material for at least 10 years.  Let's take a look at them.
Duran Duran were seriously flopping in Australia in 1991.
Top 150 debuts:
Number 124 "I Will Be Here" by Steve Winwood
Peak: number 121
Peak date: 18 March 1991
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks
Weeks on chart: 5 weeks
English singer-songwriter Steve Winwood notched up 10 Australian top 100 singles between 1981 and 1990, with "Higher Love" (number 8, September 1986) being the biggest of those.  His most-recent charting singles, however - "Don't You Know What the Night Can Do?" (number 94, September 1988) and "One and Only Man" (number 100, January 1991) - languished at the bottom end of the top 100.

"I Will Be Here" was the second single lifted from Steve's sixth studio album Refugees of the Heart (number 45, March 1991), following "One and Only Man".

Interestingly, "I Will Be Here" does not appear to have charted anywhere else; though if we are counting charts with dubious methodology, it did reach number 40 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in March 1991.
Within Australia, "I Will Be Here" was most popular in Queensland, where it reached number 97.

Steve would not land another top 100 single in Australia where he receives an artist credit.  However, Steve landed a massive hit (of sorts) when he re-recorded the lines from the chorus of his 1982 single "Valerie" - which originally peaked at number 98 in Australia in January 1983 before being remixed and re-issued in 1987, reaching a much higher peak of 19 in February 1988 - for Eric Prydz's "Call on Me" (number 2, October 2004).

Steve will join us again in 1997.
Number 148 "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers
Peak: number 129 
Peak date: 1 April 1991
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks

As a 12 year-old in late 1990, I couldn't really grasp the popularity of The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" (number 1, November 1990) - a song recorded in 1965, meaning it was ancient to me - following its inclusion in the movie Ghost.
As an 'oldie' myself now, I can appreciate the song, but couldn't (and still can't, really) imagine the kids rushing out to buy the single in record stores in 1990.  Perhaps they weren't, and enough oldies flocked out to buy it instead?

Re-releasing decades-old songs because they were used in a movie, on a TV show, or even a commercial, and sending them to the top of the charts, seems to me like it was very much an only-in-the-UK phenomenon, rather than an Australian one, in the pre-digital/streaming era.

Somebody obviously thought they should follow-up the runaway success of "Unchained Melody" in 1990 with another Righteous Brothers re-release; this time, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", a song that originally came out in 1964.  Somehow, I already knew this track back then; I guess through a combination of cultural osmosis and exposure to oldies' music on radio stations.

Lightning didn't strike twice - at least, not on the Australian chart, where the re-issue of "Lovin' Feelin'" stalled at number 129.  Yay for Australian record buyers showing some restraint with embracing all things bordering on novelty (back then, anyway), unlike their UK counterparts.

In the UK (of course!) it went all the way to number 3 in December 1990, and followed suit in Ireland, where it reached number 2.

Bubbling WAY down under:

Number 161 "Serious" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 152
Peak date: 18 March 1991
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
British band Duran Duran last bubbled under in March 1990.  We also saw them in 1981.
"Serious" was the second, and final, single from the band's sixth studio album Liberty (number 86, October 1990).  It followed "Violence of Summer (Love's Taking Over)" (number 59, October 1990), which also underperformed on the Australian chart.

For the Liberty album, Duran Duran had recruited two new band members, guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and drummer Sterling Campbell, although they did not tour to promote the album.
Like many artists and groups strongly associated with the 1980s, Duran Duran's popularity took a dive in the early 1990s - at least for a coupled of years.
In a 2015 interview marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Liberty album, Duran Duran lead singer Simon Le Bon himself said "(t)he album came at a difficult time, when a lot of the world was saying, 'We don’t want any more Duran Duran, we’ve had enough of you.'"
Internationally, "Serious" peaked at number 48 in the UK in November 1990, and number 69 in Germany in December 1990.
Domestically, "Serious" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it peaked at number 113.
I hadn't actually heard "Serious", or seen the music video, until writing this post.  My initial thoughts are that it's not bad, and I would listen to it again.
Simon Le Bon says of the song: "I think “Serious” is one of the best songs we’ve ever written."  He also said that it was Robert Palmer's - who collaborated with the band's John and Andy Taylor for The Power Station in 1985 - favourite Duran Duran song, which is high praise.
In 2005, the melody and Simon Le Bon's vocals from "Serious" were sampled on Ferry Corsten's "Fire" (number 61, March 2006), which was a number 24 hit in the Netherlands in November 2005, and reached number 40 in the UK in February 2006.
We will next see Duran Duran in 1995.

Number 164 "I Like You" by Culture Beat featuring Lana E. and Jay Supreme
Peak: number 164
Peak date: 11 March 1991
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks

Like most Australians, I was not aware of German eurodance act Culture Beat until their smash hit "Mr. Vain" (number 1, October 1993) in 1993.  But Culture Beat had actually been releasing singles for nearly four years by that point; just none of them had crossed over in Australia from the club scene to the pop chart.

Culture Beat's first single released locally, in May 1990, was "Cherry Lips", an English version of the German "Der Erdbeermund" from 1989.  That song, featuring Jo Van Nelsen on vocals, was quite different to their later releases, and failed to chart locally, though reached number 11 in Germany in January 1990.

"I Like It", featuring singer Lana E. (short for Lana Earl) and American rapper Jay Supreme (real name Jeff Carmichael), was the second single issued from Culture Beat's debut album Horizon (number 150, August 1991).  While Lana would be replaced for their second album, Jay would remain with the group during their most commercially successful period, and performs the rap on "Mr. Vain".
Internationally, "I Like It" peaked at number 96 in the UK in August 1990, number 30 in Germany in September 1990, number 22 in the Netherlands in November 1990, and number 40 in the Flanders region of Belgium in January 1991.
Domestically, "I Like You" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 138.  
I hadn't actually heard "I Like You" until writing this post.  The video is notably lower budget than those produced for their later hits.

We shall next see Culture Beat in June 1991.

Number 171 "Dull" by Hard-Ons
Peak: number 171
Peak date: 11 March 1991
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks

We first saw Australian band Hard-Ons back in January 1991.  "Dull" was the second single lifted from the band's fourth studio album Yummy! (number 93, January 1991).  The single performed strongest on the Western Australia state chart, where it reached number 133.

We shall see Hard-Ons again in 1993.

Number 181 "Chasin' the Wind" by Chicago
Peak: number 181
Peak date: 11 March 1991
Weeks on chart: 1 week

American band Chicago last bubbled under in May 1990.
"Chasin' the Wind", which I had not heard before, was penned by Diane Warren, and was the lead single from the album Twenty 1.  Confusingly, this was only the band's seventeenth studio album, in spite of the title; I guess their greatest hits compilations were also included in the numbered chronology.  The album failed to chart in Australia.
Internationally, "Chasin' the Wind" peaked at number 39 in the US in March 1991, and number 50 in Canada.

Locally, "Chasin' the Wind" peaked highest in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory, where it reached number 169.

Chicago would have one further single chart in Australia, which we will see in 1997.

Number 183 "World in My Eyes" by Depeche Mode
Peak: number 153
Peak date: 18 March 1991
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks

Here's one I have heard before, because I'm a casual Depeche Mode fan and own their The Singles 81-85 (number 135, March 1994) and The Singles 86>98 (number 42, October 1998) compilations.  I also bought the studio album this track is from, Violator (number 42, September 1990), from which this was the final single, and yet another flop in Australia.

Truth be told, "World in My Eyes" is not one of my favourite Mode singles, although I don't mind it - it's just weaker than most of the others, "in my eyes" (ho ho ho).  Had I been in charge of making single release decisions, I would have gone with the Violator album closing track "Clean".

We last saw Depeche Mode in December 1990.  "World in My Eyes"' belated release in Australia (it was out in the UK in September 1990) was due to "Personal Jesus" being re-issued following "Policy of Truth".

"World in My Eyes" peaked at number 17 in the UK in October 1990, number 7 in Ireland, number 7 in Germany in October 1990, number 46 in the Flanders region of Belgium in October 1990, number 5 in Switzerland in November 1990, number 49 in the Netherlands in November 1990, number 30 in France in December 1990, number 52 in the US in December 1990, and number 74 in Canada in December 1990.

Locally, "World in My Hands" performed strongest in Western Australia, where it reached number 124.

We shall next see Depeche Mode in 1993.

Next week (18 March): Seven top 150 debuts and three bubbling WAY down under entries.

< Previous week: 4 March 1991                                      Next week: 18 March 1991 >

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