Three of the four artists debuting in the top 150 this week in 1991 are artists who achieved major commercial success in the 1980s, but who were struggling now to maintain this in the 1990s. The other artist debuting this week is a group who never achieved major success in Australia.
But before taking a closer look at this week in 1991's batch of new entries, I have updated some earlier posts with the following:
Top 150 debuts:
Number 123 "I'm Doing Fine" by Jason Donovan
Peak: number 123
Peak date: 4 March 1991
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks
Weeks on chart: 6 weeks
Former Neighbours actor Jason Donovan's recording career kicked off with a string of four consecutive top 10 singles - the first 3 of which went gold - and a platinum-certified album in Australia. Jason's Ten Good Reasons (number 5, June 1989) was the highest-selling album of 1989 in the UK, and spawned three number 1 singles there.
Jason's biggest hit in his homeland had been his duet with then-romantic partner, both on and off screen, Kylie Minogue, "Especially for You" (number 2, December 1988). Jason's biggest solo hit in Australia was his debut, "Nothing Can Divide Us" (number 3, November 1988), which topped the South Australia/Northern Territory state chart - a feat that "Especially for You" also achieved.
But then Australia seemed to fall out of love with Jason by the time of his fifth single, "Every Day (I Love You More)" (number 43, October 1989), which missed the top 40.
"When You Come Back to Me" (number 40, February 1990), released in the UK in time for Christmas - complete with Christmas chime instrumentation and lyrics such as "armful of presents", was stupidly not issued in Australia until late January 1990, and accordingly just scraped into the top 40.
Jason's Australian record label then seemed to get cold feet, and didn't even bother releasing his next two singles - "Hang on to Your Love", which only received a promo release, and "Another Night" - locally. By this time, Jason was also starting to struggle on the UK chart, with the aforementioned singles 'only' reaching numbers 8 and 18, respectively.
Jason's second album Between the Lines (number 77, December 1990) was belatedly issued in Australia in November 1990, almost six months after its UK release. "Rhythm of the Rain" (number 44, November 1990), a cover version, was released locally ahead of the album, and Jason again stalled in the 40s with it.
Mushroom Records gave Jason another go with "I'm Doing Fine", which was the fifth and final Between the Lines single in the UK. The song marked a departure in sound - and image - for Jason, being a homage to The Beatles' early sound in the 1960s, complete with Jason sporting a very 'Beatles' look in the accompanying music video.
In my interactions with Stock Aitken Waterman fans online over the years, there seems to be almost a universal dislike for "I'm Doing Fine"; but I actually like this one, and think it was quite fun. At least it was something different, for both Jason and SAW.
In the UK, where Jason's recording career was based, "I'm Doing Fine" was Jason's lowest-peaking single to date, reaching number 22 in November 1990. The single performed stronger in Ireland, reaching number 9 there. "I'm Doing Fine" crept into the top 40 in the Flanders region of Belgium, and the top 60 in Germany.
Locally, "I'm Doing Fine" performed strongest in Queensland, where it reached number 90.
Jason's next single, "R.S.V.P." (number 97, June 1991) appeared on his premature Greatest Hits (number 132, February 1992) compilation - released after only two albums proper, and was his final single produced by Stock Aitken Waterman to be released in Australia.
As you may know, Jason landed the lead role of Joseph in the stage production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1991. A single from the musical, "Any Dream Will Do" (number 92, August 1991), temporarily restored Jason's popularity in the UK, topping the singles chart there, but this was not to last.
Jason's next studio album, 1993's All Around the World - his first without Stock Aitken Waterman, was not even released in Australia.
Jason did, however, land another charting album down under... well, technically. Let It Be Me reached number 345 in November 2008.
Number 147 "Preacher Man" by Bananarama
Peak: number 147
Peak date: 4 March 1991
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks
Releasing a greatest hits album often seems to herald the onset an artist's commercial decline with their subsequent releases, and Bananarama are a text-book example, with their commercial fortunes plummeting following 1988's The Greatest Hits Collection (number 21, January 1989). We last saw the trio in 1989.
Bananarama's fourth studio album, the Stock Aitken Waterman-produced WOW!, topped the Australian albums chart in June 1988 and spawned four top 40 singles, two of which reached the top 5. But following the release of The Greatest Hits Collection, only one of the band's singles, "Help" (number 25, May 1989) - a Beatles cover recorded for charity at that, troubled the Australian top 40. The group, whittled down to a duo, came painfully close, though, when their comeback single "Move in My Direction" stalled at number 41 in March 2006.
Bananarama sought out new producers in 1990, working with Youth, who, coincidentally, was in the band Brilliant, who released two flop Stock Aitken Waterman-produced singles in Australia in 1986: "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" (released in Australia in March 1986) and "Love Is War" (June 1986).
Bananarama's first Youth-produced single, "Only Your Love" (number 51, October 1990), was a commercial disappointment, both locally and in the UK, where it peaked at number 27 in August 1990.
"Preacher Man", remixed by Shep Pettibone, performed marginally better than its predecessor in the UK, reaching number 20 in the quieter post-Christmas market in January 1991. It would be Bananarama's only single to reach the top 20 in the UK during the 1990s; 13 fewer top 20 hits than they achieved there in the 1980s.
Elsewhere, "Preacher Man" peaked at number 11 in Ireland in January 1991, number 40 in the Flanders region of Belgium in March 1991, and number 46 in Germany in April 1991.
On the Australian Music Report singles chart, "Preacher Man" peaked 47 places higher than on the ARIA chart, spending a solitary week at number 100.
On the ARIA state charts, "Preacher Man" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, reaching number 130.
Both "Only Your Love" and "Preacher Man" would go on to appear on Bananarama's fifth studio album Pop Life (number 146, August 1991), which peaked 145 places lower than WOW! in Australia. That is some fall from grace!
Having a thing for liking flops, I bought both the "Only Your Love" and "Preacher Man" singles, on cassette. I otherwise did not hear "Preacher Man" at the time, other than a 30 second preview shown on Video Smash Hits, where you could telephone a number to vote for whether it was to be shown in full the following week, competing against another new release video. I didn't tune in to find out who won.
I think the four year-gap between albums, and not striking while the iron was hot with new band member Jacquie O'Sullivan and Stock Aitken Waterman's commercial peak in 1989, hindered Bananarama's career; although many '80s' acts struggled to maintain their popularity once 1990 clocked over.
"Preacher Man" was one of two Jacquie O'Sullivan-era Bananarama tracks performed on the group's 2017 tour with original member Siobhan Fahey, who exited the group in 1988. You can view a live performance of this here.
We shall next see Bananarama in July 1991.
Number 148 "Ride the Wind" by Poison
Peak: number 113
Peak date: 15 April 1991
Weeks in top 150: 9 weeks
Weeks on chart: 10 weeks
Another '80s' act struggling to maintain their career into the 90s - although they didn't do too badly in 1990 itself - was American glam metal band Poison. While their third studio album Flesh and Blood (number 2, July 1990) was their highest-peaking album in Australia, it did not have the staying power of Open Up and Say ...Ahh! (number 7, September 1988), which spent 70 weeks on the chart and landed the group four top 25 hits locally.
Poison's previous single, "Something to Believe In" (number 44, October 1990) fell short of the top 40, and "Unskinny Bop" (number 7, July 1990) was the only track from Flesh and Blood to reach the ARIA top 40.
The group also seemed to be falling out of favour in their native US, where "Ride the Wind" peaked at number 38 in March 1991. The single also reached number 31 in Canada.
On the ARIA state charts, "Ride the Wind" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 70.
"Ride the Wind" peaked higher on the Australian Music Report singles chart, where it reached number 85.
One reason "Ride the Wind" may have underperformed on the chart is that it seemed to receive minimal promotion. I don't recall hearing the song at the time, though did see the single in the record stores.
Even though grunge music had not yet made its commercial breakthrough - that would come later in 1991 - metal bands seemed to be struggling to score major hits by this point, with the 'alternative' music invasion looming. Off the top of my head (please correct me if I am wrong), Warrant's "Cherry Pie" (number 6, January 1991) was the last 'hair metal' song to reach the top 10 in Australia.
A fourth single from Flesh and Blood, "Life Goes On", was released in Australia in July 1991, but failed to chart.
Poison would not land another top 50 single in Australia, though crept into the lower region of the top 100 in 1993 with "Stand" (number 80, March 1993). The band will, nonetheless, bubble under on a few more occasions, with the next one being in 1992.
Two members of Poison have experienced serious health problems in more-recent years. Lead singer Bret Michaels (real name Bret Sychak) had a haemorrhagic stroke and a separate transient ischaemic attack (mini-stroke) in 2010, from which he recovered, and drummer Rikki Rockett (real name Richard Ream) was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2015.
Number 150 "Fly to the Angels" by Slaughter
Peak: number 140
Peak date: 18 March 1991
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
Weeks on chart: 5 weeks
Another American glam metal band, Slaughter, made their debut on the Australian singles chart this week in 1991.
"Fly to the Angels" was the second single lifted from Slaughter's debut album Stick It to Ya (number 130, September 1990). While I hadn't heard this song before, I am familiar with the band's previous single, "Up All Night" - thanks to hearing it on the American Top 40 radio show. "Up All Night" was released in Australia in July 1990 but failed to chart.
Internationally, "Fly to the Angels" reached number 19 in the US, and number 55 in the UK in February 1991.
Locally, "Fly to the Angels" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 116.
Listening to "Fly to the Angels" for the first time, lead singer Mark Slaughter's (yes, that's his real name) voice reminds me of 70s Australian band Skyhooks' Shirley Strachan in his upper register. Yes, really. While I think this song is OK, I much prefer "Up All Night", and am surprised that one was not a bigger hit.
Slaughter will join us again in 1992.
Next week (11 March): A mere two top 150 debuts, but there are five bubbling WAY down under entries.
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