03 June 2022

Week commencing 3 June 1991

There isn't a common theme binding this week in 1991's new top 150 debuts together that I can identify, so let's dive straight in.  But before we do, I have updated an earlier post with the following:
  • 23 April 1990 - a new bubbling WAY down under entry from Dina Carroll.
Ya Kid K wasn't the one on the Australian charts with her solo releases.
Top 150 debuts:
Number 120 "The Simple Truth" by Chris de Burgh
Peak: number 120
Peak date: 3 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
The simple truth is that Argentina-born British-Irish (make of that what you will) singer Chris de Burgh placed seven singles on the Australian chart between 1983 and 1989.  The simple truth is that "The Lady in Red" (number 2, December 1986) was the biggest one of those.  The simple truth is that I secretly like that song, along with Chris's other Australian top ten hit "Don't Pay the Ferryman" (number 5, April 1983).  The simple truth is that these two songs were Chris's only top 40 hits in Australia!  Chris's previous charting single in Australia, his last to reach the top 100, was "Missing You" (number 45, February 1989).
"The Simple Truth" was originally released in 1987, titled "The Simple Truth (A Child Is Born)", as an in-between albums single.  The single was re-released in 1991 to raise funds for Kurdish refugees.

"The Simple Truth (A Child Is Born)" originally peaked at number 31 in Germany in December 1987, number 55 in the UK in January 1988, and number 10 in Ireland.  The 1991 re-issue peaked at number 36 in the UK in May 1991, and number 50 in the Netherlands in June 1991.

I wasn't expecting to know this song, but the chorus was familiar to me.  I cannot place where I heard the song, however.  Perhaps some of the video below, showing footage of Kurdish refugees, was used as a TV commercial?

We will see Chris again in 1992.

Number 140 "Get It Together" by Redhead Kingpin and The F.B.I.
Peak: number 140
Peak date: 3 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
American hip-hop/new jack swing group Redhead Kingpin and The F.B.I. landed two singles that peaked in the 50's in Australia in 1990: "Pump It Hottie" (number 58, March 1990) and "Do the Right Thing" (number 56, July 1990).  Their debut album A Shade of Red peaked at number 102 on the ARIA albums chart in July 1990.

"Get It Together" was released as the first single in Australia from the second, and final, Redhead Kingpin and The F.B.I. album titled The Album with No Name (number 141, June 1991).  Internationally, "Get It Together" peaked at number 34 in New Zealand in June 1991.
The group split in 1993, and some of its members formed a new group, Private Investigators, which had a harder hip-hop sound.

We will see Redhead Kingpin and The F.B.I. again in August 1991.
Number 142 "Stand Up (Love Is the Greatest)" by Stephen Cummings
Peak: number 142
Peak date: 3 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks
We last saw Australian singer-songwriter Stephen Cummings in April 1991.
"Stand Up (Love Is the Greatest)" was the third and final single lifted from Stephen's fifth solo studio album Good Humour (number 40, March 1991).  "Stand Up..." was also the opening track on the album.

On the state charts, "Stand Up (Love Is the Greatest)" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 111.

I hadn't heard this one before.  It's not bad, but I can see why it wasn't a hit.  My then 12 year-old perspective would probably have been that Stephen was too 'old' to release this kind of dance-infused pop, even though he was only 36.

We shall next see Stephen in 1992.
Number 143 "Awesome (You Are My Hero)" by Ya Kid K
Peak: number 111
Peak date: 24 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks
Congolese (though it was Zaire when she was born) Manuela Kamosi, better known by her stage name Ya Kid K, experienced her first taste of chart success as the vocalist on Belgian dance/house music act Technotronic's "Pump Up the Jam" (number 4, February 1990), at the tender age of 17.  Only, a blue lipstick-wearing model going by the name of Felly lip synced Ya Kid K's vocals in the music video for that track.
Ya Kid K was revealed as the real vocalist on the second Technotronic single, "Get Up! (Before the Night Is Over)" (number 7, April 1990), and appeared in the video, together with Felly.  Ya Kid K also provided vocals on Technotronic's "Rockin' Over the Beat" (number 58, October 1990).  The three aforementioned tracks were sampled in Technotronic's "Megamix" (number 13, November 1990).

In addition to these tracks, Ya Kid K scored another hit in 1990 as the featured vocalist on Hi Tek 3's "Spin That Wheel" (number 5, July 1990), which also appeared on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie soundtrack album (number 7, July 1990).

"Awesome (You Are My Hero)", Ya Kid K's first solo release, was recorded for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze soundtrack (number 80, June 1991), with Dancin' Danny D, real name Daniel Poku, from D Mob.  Danny D also appears in the music video.
It may be partly because I started high school in 1991, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - who seemed to be hugely popular and inescapable in 1990 - seemed somewhat passe to me in 1991.  The soundtrack album for the sequel movie peaking 73 places lower than that for the 1990 movie confirms that.  Obviously, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have since had a revival in popularity, as even my nephews born this century know about them.
I never heard "Awesome..." at the time.  I'm not sure that it was a great move for Ya Kid K's solo career to kick off with a song partly about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  "Spin That Wheel", in contrast, was lyrically unrelated to the franchise, so you could still enjoy it even if you were not a 10 year-old boy.

Interestingly, I cannot find evidence of "Awesome (You Are My Hero)" charting elsewhere.
Ya Kid K returned to Technotronic in 1993, after her solo career was not a commercial success.

Ya Kid K will join us again, on her own, in 1993, and with Technotronic in 1994.

Number 144 "Only You" by Praise
Peak: number 131
Peak date: 1 July 1991
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks

English new-age group Praise were fronted by Miriam Stockley.  Readers who are fans of Stock Aitken Waterman will recognise her name as one of their often-used backing vocalists.

"Only You" was lifted from the group's only album Praise, although the album version features much sparser instrumentation, with no percussion.  The single reached number 4 in the UK in February 1991, and number 3 in Ireland.  The success of "Only You" stemmed from its use in a British TV commercial for the Fiat Tempra car.  The track was then remixed by Andreas Georgiou, George Michael's cousin, and Peter Lorrimer for the single release.

Despite being a Stock Aitken Waterman fan myself, I had never actually heard this one before.  It's very much in the same vein as Enigma, minus the Gregorian chants, and not at all like a Stock Aitken Waterman production.

Number 148 "Ooops" by 808 State featuring Björk
Peak: number 143
Peak date: 17 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
Weeks on chart: 5 weeks

808 State last graced our presence in April 1991.  They roped in Icelandic singer Björk, who then fronted The Sugarcubes, for "Ooops", the third single lifted from 808 State's ex:el (number 109, April 1991) album.  We've seen Björk previously with The Sugarcubes in September 1989.

Internationally, "Ooops" peaked at number 42 in the UK in May 1991, and number 24 in Ireland.

On the ARIA state charts, "Ooops" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 122.

I first heard "Ooops" in mid-1994, when the video was shown as part of a Björk/The Sugarcubes special on Saturday night rage.  I became a fan of Björk in 1993, during a flight to Hong Kong, where they played some tracks from her Debut (number 10, February 1994) album on one of the airline's in-flight radio stations (do they still have those?).  I picked up the album while I was in Hong Kong.

We will next see 808 State in August 1991, while Björk will join us next in 1994.

Number 150 "Dance Invasion" by Rococo
Peak: number 150
Peak date: 3 June 1991
Weeks in top 150: 1 week
Weeks on chart: 5 weeks

English duo Rococo were twin sisters Elaine and Evelyn.  The pair hailed from London.  For some reason, they were more successful in Australia than anywhere else, with their Italo house medley covering other artists's songs, "Italo House Mix", peaking at number 13 in Australia in February 1990, achieving gold certification from ARIA.  In contrast, "Italo House Mix" only reached number 54 in the UK in December 1989, and was the pair's only charting release in their home country.

The trouble with the success of "Italo House Mix", however, was that, watching the video, you wouldn't really know who Rococo were, as the video is mostly made up of graphics, the silhouette of a male dancer, and dodgy nightclub footage shot in Sydney.  I assume the video was made by the Australian record company, and that there was no 'real' video made featuring the girls for the UK release.  The video features some brief animated stills of the Rococo twins, but you wouldn't know that they were the singers.

Rococo were more clearly a singing duo in the video for their next single, "Inside Out" (number 64, April 1990).  Despite coming to Australia to promote the song, performing it on Countdown Revolution, "Inside Out" missed the ARIA top 50.

An album, Are You Ready, was belatedly released in Australia in October 1991, containing "Dance Invasion" as an extra track not on the earlier 1990 European release of the album.  The album failed to chart.

Rococo presumably hoped to bottle lightning twice by releasing "Dance Invasion", which was another medley of cover versions of other dance artists' songs.  The songs featured in the medley are Twenty 4 Seven "I Can't Stand It!" (number 130, February 1991), Bass-o-Matic "Fascinating Rhythm" (number 145, December 1990), Deee-Lite "Groove Is in the Heart" (number 1, November 1990), Snap! "Ooops Up" (number 4, November 1990), Technotronic "Rockin' Over the Beat" (number 53, October 1990), The KLF "What Time Is Love?" (number 73, October 1991, after originally peaking at number 76 in February 1991), and "I Can't Get Enough (Get on the Beat)", which appears to be an original composed by one of the songwriters involved with Rococo's Are You Ready album.

On the state charts, "Dance Invasion" peaked highest in Western Australia, where it reached number 124.

I didn't hear, and was not even aware of, "Dance Invasion" at the time.  Information on the twins online is scant, but I remember a short interview article in the Australian edition of Smash Hits where the twins declared emphatically that they were not the new Mel & Kim.  While there may be some slight visual similarity to Mel & Kim, who were not twins, vocally, Rococo remind me more of Mozaic - they of "Nothing in the World" (number 20, February 1995).

Rococo released a further single in Australia, "Are You Ready", in October 1991, but it failed to chart.  "Dance Invasion" was the duo's final charting entry in Australia.
Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 181 "Too Late (True Love)" by The Real Milli Vanilli
Peak: number 181
Peak date: 3 June 1991
Weeks on chart: 1 week
For anyone who was around in the early 90s and not living under a rock, you would know that German group Milli Vanilli were a laughing stock, synonymous with lip syncing, once it was revealed in November 1990 that the two guys fronting the group, Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus, were not singing a note on the records or in their 'live' performances.

To cut a long story short(-ish), Rob and Fab, were dancers/models spotted by German studio producer boffin Frank Farian (who was behind Boney M. and the real voice of that group's male vocals - notice a pattern emerging?).  They had dreams of becoming famous, and pop stardom was one way to achieve that, but they were close to being broke.  Frank offered Rob and Fab a sum of money, which they wrongly assumed was a gift.  Frank later advised the pair that the advance he had given them was to be recouped, and coerced them into signing a contract where they agreed to be the front of a musically-talented-but-not-photogenic studio group - or else be forced to pay the money back.  Too young, dumb and poor to fight back, Rob and Fab felt they had no choice but to agree to Frank's terms.

And so the short-lived pop phenomenon that was Milli Vanilli happened.  Top 5 singles across Europe, North America and Australasia, a number one album in the US and Australia - among other countries - a successful worldwide tour, and even a Grammy Award for Best New Artist (which they later returned, after being exposed); it seemed that the pair had the world at their feet, before it all came horribly crashing down.

In Australia, Milli Vanilli landed two top 5 singles - "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" (number 3, March 1990) and "Blame It on the Rain" (number 5, April 1990), a number 1 album in March 1990 with All Or Nothing: The U.S. Remix Album.  Another top 20 single, "Baby Don't Forget My Number" (number 17, November 1989), spent 45 weeks on the chart - 38 of those inside the top 50.
My favourite Milli Vanilli single was, as you might guess, the one that flopped the hardest in Australia, "Girl You Know It's True" (number 88, February 1989).  Despite its low peak, it managed to reach number 29 on the South Australia/Northern Territory state chart.

I was one of the 140,000 or so Australians who bought All Or Nothing: The U.S. Remix album.  I copied the cassette album for about 6 or 7 people from my class in grade 6 in 1990.

The scandal around Milli Vanilli not singing on the albums broke just as the first single and title track from what was to be the duo's second album Keep on Running was being released in Europe.  By revealing they were not the actual singers, Frank Farian effectively fired Rob and Fab from the group, and 'The Real Milli Vanilli' emerged.

Brad Howell and John Davis, who were the real voices on the All Or Nothing album, were part of the group, along with some new, younger, and conventionally better looking members who were, I assume, there to look pretty and take the focus off the older, plain looking ones with the actual musical talent.  The new younger guy even looked a bit like Rob and Fab.  I suspect that one, if not both, of the new members did not perform any vocals on "Keep on Running", with Frank continuing his 'let's fool the public by hiring models who can perform and dance' modus operandi.

With the single release of "Keep on Running" (number 62, March 1991) delayed in Australia until February 1991, it was issued here under the band name of The Real Milli Vanilli.  An album, The Moment of Truth (number 128, April 1991), was released, form which "Too Late (True Love)" was the second single.

Internationally, "Too Late (True Love)" peaked at number 26 in Austria in April 1991, number 36 in the Flanders region of Belgium in April 1991, number 54 in the Netherlands in May 1991, and number 65 in Germany in May 1991.
Within Australia, "Too Late (True Love)" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 155.

I hadn't heard "Too Late (True Love)" before.  This one more-heavily features the two new group members on the verses, with the chorus sung by the studio musician who performed Rob's vocals in Milli Vanilli.  It's hard to take this seriously, though, when you see the Rob/Fab look-a-like mouth lines that obviously aren't his in the music video, embedded below.
While The Moment of Truth was a flop in comparison to the success of the All Or Nothing album (which was titled Girl You Know It's True in North America), the album contains the original version of "When I Die", a song that would go on to be a number 2 hit in Australia for fellow Frank Farian-produced act No Mercy in 1997.

Milli Vanilli - real or otherwise - would not bother the Australian singles chart again, but had one further charting album.  Their Greatest Hits compilation peaked at number 410 on the ARIA albums chart in April 2007.

Sadly, Rob Pilatus died in 1998, aged 32, from an alcohol and prescription drug overdose.  More-recently, John Davis, one of the studio artists behind Milli Vanilli, died from COVID-19 in 2021, aged 66.

Number 186 "Lelore" by Boxcar
Peak: number 186
Peak date: 3 June 1991
Weeks on chart: 1 week
We last saw Australian electronic band Boxcar in February 1990.  Since then, they landed their biggest hit and only ARIA top 100 entry with the rather good "Gas Stop (Who Do You Think You Are)" (number 82, January 1991), and had released their debut album Vertigo (number 118, February 1991).
"Gas Stop" also gave the band a second US Billboard Dance Club Songs hit.  While I would normally say that doesn't count for much, it kind of does when you're an Australian band who had limited chart success.
The mostly-instrumental "Lelore" has obvious ahead-of-its-time, especially for Australia, production from Robert Racic, who was associated with many artists on Volition Records, such as Severed Heads.  The vocal samples are not dissimilar to something Enigma or Deep Forest might have used; again, very avant-garde.  Unfortunately, this pioneering approach to Australian dance music did not yield significant commercial success.

"Lelore" was most-successful in Western Australia, where it reached number 146.

While I am not sure if a music video was made for the regular, album/single version of "Lelore", embedded below (as some of Boxcar's videos are blocked on YouTube), a video exists for a remix of the track, which you can view here.
We will next see Boxcar in 1992.
Number 187 "Playing with Knives" by Bizarre Inc
Peak: number 158
Peak date: 10 June 1991
Weeks on chart: 17 weeks

English group Bizarre Inc started out as a duo between DJ's Dean Meredith and Mark "Aaron" Archer, but Archer left and was replaced by Andrew Meecham and Carl Turner in 1990.  While they had a couple of underground releases in 1989 and 1990, "Playing with Knives" was the group's first Australian release.
"Playing with Knives" initially peaked at number 43 in the UK in March 1991, before being re-issued and reaching a much higher peak of number 4 in November 1991.
In Australia, "Playing with Knives" spent an impressive - especially for a single that did not even make the top 150 - 17 weeks on chart.  I do not have evidence of the single receiving a second, later release in Australia, following its UK success.  On the state charts, "Playing with Knives" performed strongest in Western Australia, where it reached number 103.

I wasn't aware of "Playing with Knives" at the time, but I am sure that it must have been big in the clubs and at raves.  The song is definitely what generations younger than me would call a "banger".

Bizarre Inc never landed a top 100 single or album in Australia, but we will see them again on a few occasions, with the next one being in November 1991.  We will also see a song from another artist that was a spin-off of "Playing with Knives" in 1992.
Next week (10 June): Three top 150 debuts and four bubbling WAY down under entries.
< Previous week: 27 May 1991                                         Next week: 10 June 1991 >

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