17 June 2022

Week commencing 17 June 1991

Nine of the eleven new entries this week in 1991 are from artists we have never seen before, which makes a refreshing change.  Let's take a look at them.
Rick Astley: moving right out of the ARIA top 100.
Top 150 debuts:
Number 113 "Droppin' Like Flies" by Sheila E.
Peak: number 113
Peak date: 17 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Sheila Escovedo, better known by her stage name Sheila E., first landed on the Australian chart in 1984 with the Prince-written "The Glamorous Life", which spent three weeks at number 11 in November of that year.  She followed it up with the less well-remembered but equally-good "The Belle of St. Mark" (number 16, February 1985).

Unfortunately for Sheila, those two tracks were her only big hits in Australia, and she only placed two other singles in the lower half of the top 100.  Sheila's previous single, "Sex Cymbal" (number 88, May 1991), was one of those.  It was her first top 100 entry in Australia since 1985.

"Droppin' Like Flies" was the second single lifted from Sheila's fourth studio album Sex Cymbal (number 117, June 1991).  "Droppin' Like Flies" did not chart on any other national chart that I can establish.  The track registered on three of the US Billboard subsidiary (and largely meaningless) charts, however: it reached number 77 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in June 1991, number 23 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in July 1991, and number 15 on the Dance Singles Sales chart in August 1991.

"Droppin' Like Flies" was Sheila's last single to enter the ARIA top 150.

Number 116 "Move Right Out" by Rick Astley
Peak: number 110
Peak date: 24 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks
Weeks on chart: 7 weeks

Rick Astley burst onto the Australian chart in October 1987 with the Stock Aitken Waterman written and produced "Never Gonna Give You Up", which spent seven consecutive weeks at number one between November 1987 and January 1988, and a mammoth 21 weeks in the top 10.  Rick followed up that release with another seven top 100 singles in Australia, five of which made the top 20.

While Rick penned the lead single from his second album, "She Wants to Dance with Me" (number 15, October 1988), he didn't gain the creative control he desired until his third album Free (number 20, April 1991).  Things looked promising with Rick's post-Stock Aitken Waterman career when "Cry for Help" (number 13, May 1991) reached the top 20 locally, and peaked at number 7 in both the UK and US.
"Cry for Help", which Rick co-wrote with Rob Fisher from Climie Fisher, was a radical departure in sound, with real instruments and a choir, and image (the long hair) for Rick.  Unfortunately, Rick could not sustain the initial success of his third album, and "Cry for Help" was his final top 100 single in Australia.

"Move Right Out", the second single from Free, only made the top 40 in Canada, where it peaked at number 36.  The single stalled at number 58 in the UK in March 1991, number 66 in the Netherlands in May 1991, number 52 in Germany in June 1991, and number 81 in the US in July 1991.

Within Australia, "Move Right Out" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 83.  The single peaked at number 96 on the Australian Music Report chart.

I have a memory of Rick performing this song on Hey Hey It's Saturday.  Coming to Australia to promote the single obviously did not work.

One thing I was not aware of until now is that there are two different edits of the music video for "Move Right Out" - a UK version and an international version, both of which I have embedded below.  However, I watched them side by side and could not spot a single difference between the two videos!  I then thought perhaps there is a slight difference in the audio mix used in both videos, but I couldn't detect one.

A third single from Free, "Never Knew Love", was issued in Europe but was not released in Australia.

Rick will join us next in 1993.

Number 123 "Make Out Alright" by Divinyls
Peak: number 105
Peak date: 24 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 8 weeks
Weeks on chart: 9 weeks

Divinyls lead singer Christina Amphlett is surely the most-famous (and legendary) person to have ever attended my high school - a fact I like to repeat.  "I Touch Myself" (number 1, January 1991) was the number one single in Australia during the week I started attending there, coincidentally; yet that achievement was not announced at school assembly.  Instead, the principal would often mention some former student who went on to become an astronaut.  Big deal!
At this point in 1991, Divinyls had placed 13 singles on the Australian top 100, with "I Touch Myself" obviously being the biggest one of those.  Somehow, the band only ever landed one other top 10 single in Australia, with their debut release "Boys in Town" (number 8, November 1981).  "Pleasure and Pain" (number 11, November 1985) narrowly missed the top ten.

"I Touch Myself" gave Divinyls their first major international hit outside of Australasia.  Unfortunately, it was to be their only real hit in Europe and North America, and the band are largely thought of as being one-hit wonders outside of Australia.
"Make Out Alright" was Divinyls' second single to miss the top 100 in Australia, following "Punxsie" (released in October 1988).  "Make Out Alright" was the third release from the Divinyls (number 5, February 1991) album, following "Love School" (number 43, April 1991).
"Make Out Alright" did not chart on any other 'real' chart, to my knowledge, but reached number 19 on the US Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

On the ARIA state charts, "Make Out Alright" performed equally-strongest in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory and South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 91.
I am not sure why "Make Out Alright" flopped so badly.  It sounds to me like it could have been a much bigger hit.

A fourth and final single from Divinyls, "I'm on Your Side", which is my favourite from the album, peaked at number 92 in October 1991.
We lost Christina Amphlett in 2013, following a long illness with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, aged 53.
We shall next see Divinyls in 1993.
Number 125 "Hunger" by Red Not Blue
Peak: number 125
Peak date: 17 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 10 weeks
We have seen Sydney band Red Not Blue previously in April 1991.  "Hunger" was the second single from the band's only album Red Not Blue, which missed the ARIA top 150.  "Hunger", which I had not heard before, was the band's final single.

Number 135 "Waiting for Love" by Alias
Peak: number 135
Peak date: 17 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 2 weeks
Canadian supergroup Alias formed in 1988.  Freddy Curci from Sheriff, whom we saw in March 1989, sang lead vocals in the band.
Alias landed a sleeper hit in Australia with "More Than Words Can Say", which took twenty weeks to reach its peak of number 30 in April 1991.  Despite its modest peak, the single was the 98th highest-selling single of 1991 in Australia, owing to its chart longevity.

"Waiting for Love" was Alias' second and final single release in Australia.  The single peaked at number 4 in Canada, number 13 in the US, and at number 87 in the UK in March 1991.

Both "Waiting for Love" and "More Than Words Can Say" were lifted from Alias' debut album Alias (number 121, June 1991).  The band recorded a second album that was due to be released in 1992, but it was shelved due to changing music styles and the rising popularity of grunge.  Freddy Curci released a solo album in 1994.  Never Say Never, the album recorded in 1992, was eventually released in 2009.

Number 136 "American Music" by Violent Femmes
Peak: number 118
Peak date: 1 July 1991
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks
We last saw American rock band Violent Femmes in May 1989, and here they are again with some more... American music.

"American Music" was the lead single from the Femmes' fifth studio album Why Do Birds Sing? (number 26, July 1991).  The single did not chart anywhere else that I can ascertain, though peaked at number 2 on the US Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

I remember hearing this one quite a bit at the time, probably catching the video on rage or hearing the song on Triple J when switching stations.  I am surprised it did not chart better in Australia; although I guess they're the kind of act for whom you would buy the album instead of the single, if you wanted the track.

We will next see Violent Femmes in 1993.
Number 140 "Soul Reason" by Mondo Rock
Peak: number 140
Peak date: 17 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
Between 1978 and 1991, Melbourne band Mondo Rock placed 17 singles on the Australian chart, with three of those reaching the top ten.  Their Aus rock classic "Come Said the Boy" (number 2, February 1984), which reminds me vividly of starting primary school, was the band's biggest hit.
"Soul Reason" was the third single released from Mondo Rock's sixth and final studio album Why Fight It (number 102, April 1991).   It followed title track "Why Fight It" (number 96, October 1990) and "I Had You in Mind" (number 94, March 1991).
"Soul Reason" would be Mondo Rock's final single, as the band split soon afterwards, although they reformed in 2006.  Mondo Rock would land one further charting single, however, when "Come Said the Boy" formed the basis of Damon Boyd vs Mondo Rock's "The First Time" (number 79, May 2004).
I don't recall hearing this one before; it's nice.

While we won't see Mondo Rock again, we will see front man Ross Wilson's earlier band Daddy Cool in 1992.
Number 146 "Down in Splendour" by Straitjacket Fits
Peak: number 146
Peak date: 17 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 2 weeks

Dunedin band Straitjacket Fits were signed to New Zealand independent label Flying Nun Records, which has been in the news recently, due to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern exchanging some Kiwi records on the Flying Nun label with new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.  We have previously seen The Chills and The Bats, who were also signed to the same label.

While Straitjacket Fits placed five singles on the New Zealand chart between 1988 and 1993, curiously, "Down in Splendour" was not one of them.  The single did not chart anywhere else, and was the band's only release to enter the ARIA top 150.

Commercial success, however, is not everything, and while "Down in Splendour" may not have been a big chart hit, it placed 32nd on the Australasian Performing Right Association's (APRA) 75th anniversary poll of the best New Zealand songs of all time in 2001.

I have actually heard/seen "Down in Splendour" before, as rage have aired the music video several times; usually during a New Zealand artists/Flying Nun Records special.

Number 147 "No Woman No Cry" by Londonbeat
Peak: number 109
Peak date: 1 July 1991
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Weeks on chart: 7 weeks
British band Londonbeat formed in 1988.  Neither their debut album Speak (released in Australia in February 1989) nor the three singles released from it locally - "There's a Beat Going on" (September 1988), "9 A.M." (February 1989), "Falling in Love Again" (April 1989) - charted in Australia.
The band experienced their commercial peak with "I've Been Thinking About You", the lead single from their second album In the Blood (number 12, March 1991), which topped the Australian singles chart for four weeks in February and March 1991.  Oddly, "I've Been Thinking About You" only reached number 2 in the UK, despite topping the charts in many European countries and in the US and Canada.
Jimmy Helms, who sang lead on most Londonbeat singles, was 44 years old when "I've Been Thinking About You" was released, and 45 when it hit number one in Australia, which seems unbelievable now.  Just as Mondo Rock's "Come Said the Boy" mentioned above reminds me of starting primary school, Londonbeat's "I've Been Thinking About You" takes me back to the time when I was starting high school.
The follow-up to "I've Been Thinking About You", "A Better Love" (number 25, April 1991), was a much smaller hit.  Londonbeat's rendition of Bob Marley and The Wailers' "No Woman, No Cry", minus the comma, was issued as the third and final single from In the Blood.
Londonbeat's version of the track peaked at number 64 in the UK in March 1991, number 25 in the Netherlands in March 1991, number 24 in the Flanders region of Belgium in March 1991, number 23 in Germany in April 1991, and number 41 in New Zealand in June 1991.
Within Australia, "No Woman No Cry" performed equally-strongest in Victoria/Tasmania and Western Australia, where it reached number 89.
I thought I had heard Londonbeat's version of "No Woman No Cry" before, but I hadn't.  In my mind, their version was a straightforward cover of the song, but they have reworked it substantially.  While the sound is updated for the early 90s, I am not sure that it works.
We shall next see Londonbeat in 1992.

Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 167 "That's Why" by The Party
Peak: number 155
Peak date: 29 July 1991
Weeks on chart: 12 weeks
The Party are an act I recall reading about in one of those 'next big thing' articles in the Australian edition of Smash Hits magazine, but have never, until now, heard any of their music.  What I remember about the band are the serious early 90s hair styles they were sporting, and that they were part of The All New Mickey Mouse Club - not that I have ever seen that (I don't think it aired in Australia).  "That's Why", co-written and produced by Stephen Bray, was The Party's first single released in Australia, although it was their third single in their native US.
Despite having a clean-cut image that you would think appealed to younger teens, if not tweens, The Party did not achieve much commercial success.  "That's Why" peaked at number 55 in the US, and I cannot find evidence of it charting anywhere else.  The group seemed to me like very much a 'big in Japan'-type act, except I don't know that they were actually big there.
Within Australia, "That's Why" performed strongest in Western Australia, where it reached number 108.
"That's Why" is lifted from the band's debut album The Party (number 189, June 1992).

We will see The Party again in 1992.

Number 187 "Your Swaying Arms" by Deacon Blue
Peak: number 187
Peak date: 17 June 1991
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
Scottish band Deacon Blue's commercial breakthrough in Australia came with the lead single from their second album When the World Knows Your Name (number 39, July 1989), "Real Gone Kid" (number 18, February 1989).  That song was to become the only Deacon Blue top 50 hit in Australia, although three other singles of theirs registered a place in the lower half of the top 100 between 1987 and 1989.
"Your Swaying Arms" was the lead single from Deacon Blue's third studio album Fellow Hoodlums (number 148, August 1991).  In the gap between their second and third albums, a compilation album of B-sides and unreleased tracks, Ooh Las Vegas (number 149, November 1990), was released and dented the lower end of the ARIA top 150.
"Your Swaying Arms" peaked at number 23 in the UK in May 1991, and at number 6 in Ireland during the same month.
Within Australia, "Your Swaying Arms" was most popular in Western Australia, where it reached number 144.
While Deacon Blue would never make the Australian top 100 again, they had several more singles and albums peak outside the ARIA top 100.  The band split in 1994, before reforming in 1999.
The band's guitarist during their most commercially-successful period, Graeme Kelling, passed away in 2004, aged 47, following a four year illness with pancreatic cancer.
We will next see Deacon Blue in September 1991.

Next week (24 June): Six new top 150 debuts and two bubbling WAY down under entries.
< Previous week: 10 June 1991                                       Next week: 24 June 1991 > 

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