It doesn't matter how big you are - everyone flops at some point, and we'll see that is definitely the case this week in 1991, when one of the most successful recording artists in the world - at the height of her popularity, no less - lands outside the ARIA top 100. Shall we take a look?
Top 150 debuts:
Number 121 "When Love Comes Down" by The Slow Club
Peak: number 121
Peak date: 15 July 1991
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks
Australian band The Slow Club were fronted by Andrew Sefton, and also contained the lead guitarist from English band Japan, Rob Dean. Surprisingly, Japan never landed a charting single in Australia, but their album Gentlemen Take Polaroids (number 86, March 1981) dented the top 100. Japan's biggest hit in the UK was "Ghosts", which reached number 5 there in April 1982.
The Slow Club scored two ARIA top 50 hits with their first two releases, "Shout Me Down" (number 36, November 1990) and "Rosalie" (number 46, March 1991).
"When Love Comes Down" was issued as the third and final single from The Slow Club's only album World of Wonders (number 101, November 1990). I don't recall hearing this one before. A music video probably exists, but has not yet been uploaded online.
Number 148 "Holiday" by Madonna (re-issue)
Peak: number 144
Peak date: 22 July 1991
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
Weeks on chart: 6 weeks
This single originally peaked at number 4 on 14 May 1984, and spent 22 weeks in the top 100.
Madonna Ciccone made her understated debut on the Australian chart in November 1983, when "Burning Up", her second single but first Australian release, spent a solitary week at number 95. "Burning Up", which did not chart anywhere else, would go on to reach number 13 in June 1984 following the success of the next single. And that next single in question would be... you guessed it, "Holiday", which peaked at number 4 in May 1984.
"Holiday" was the first in a string of 20 consecutive Australian top 40 hits for Madonna, with only one of those missing the top 20. Madonna's hit streak in Australia came to a crashing halt with "Oh Father" (number 59, January 1990), which, ironically, was the first Madonna song I really connected with. Yes, you read that right. Madonna's ubiquity in the 1980s put me off her a bit; she seemed inescapable. In retrospect, I can appreciate most of Madonna's pre-"Oh Father" singles, but I really liked "Oh Father"... shame the record buying public didn't.
Madonna followed up "Oh Father" with another flop I enjoyed, "Dear Jessie", which spent two consecutive weeks at number 51 in March 1990. Just when it seemed like Madonna's chart fortunes were waning, she quickly bounced back with one of the biggest hits of her career, "Vogue", which spent five weeks at number one in April and May 1990, becoming the third highest-selling single of 1990 in Australia. It would, however, be Madge's last Australian number one single for a decade, and none of her other 1990s singles peaked higher than number 4 in Australia.
Madonna's first greatest hits compilation The Immaculate Collection (number 1, November 1990) was released towards the end of 1990, with her film Truth Or Dare (titled In Bed with Madonna in Europe and Australasia) premiering in Australia on 27 June 1991. Madonna seemed to be the biggest pop star in the world in 1991, despite only releasing two singles that year - one of which was a re-release - and nothing else on the musical front.
Following the controversial music video for the lead single from The Immaculate Collection, "Justify My Love" (number 4, December 1990), the follow-up release "Rescue Me" (number 15, March 1991) was released without any promotion, and no music video - though a montage video was put together for the UK market.
The 1991 release of "Holiday" in Australia was an even more-understated affair - I was not aware of its release at the time. In fact, I had a 'debate' with a Madonna fan over whether "Holiday" was even released here in 1991, despite there being 7", 12" and CD singles listed in The ARIA Report's weekly list of new release titles on 8 July 1991. Of course there had to have been a local release - whether an Australian pressing or just European imports - for "Holiday" to have registered enough sales to chart in 1991; albeit lowly.
A bunch of earlier Madonna singles were issued on CD in Australia (European imports, I am assuming) on the same date as the 1991 release of "Holiday", but only "Holiday" received vinyl releases at the same time.
The CD single for the 1991 release of "Holiday" was titled The Holiday Collection, and contained two of Madonna's earlier hits that were excluded from The Immaculate Collection, "True Blue" (number 5, November 1986) and "Causing a Commotion" (number 7, November 1987) - although the latter is, annoyingly, titled "Causin' a Commotion" on this release. Only Madonna could leave off international top 10 hits from her greatest hits collection!
Internationally, the 1991 release of "Holiday" peaked at number 5 in the UK in June 1991, number 3 in Ireland, number 24 in the Netherlands in July 1991, number 40 in the Flanders region of Belgium in July 1991, and number 37 in France in August 1991.
The 1991 issue of "Holiday" was the third time the single had reached the UK top 10, after originally peaking at number 6 there in February 1984, and at number 2 in August 1985. That must be some kind of record - in the pre-streaming era, anyway. Only in the UK.
Within Australia, the 1991 release of "Holiday" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 107.
Madonna will join us on a surprising number of occasions over the next two and a half years, with the next one being in February 1992.
Number 150 "Borrowed Love" by Bingoboys featuring Arnold Jarvis and Princessa
Peak: number 104
Peak date: 12 August 1991
Weeks in top 150: 9 weeks
Austrian dance music trio Bingoboys came out of nowhere to land a number 3 hit in Australia with "How to Dance" in May 1991, featuring Princessa on vocals. It would be their only single to register a place in the ARIA top 100.
The act's second single, "Borrowed Love", featured vocals from both Princessa and Arnold Jarvis. Both tracks were lifted from The Best of Bingoboys (number 72, June 1991), which, despite the title, was the group's first album and was not a compilation. I recall seeing an infographic over the "How to Dance" music video on Coca-Cola Power Cuts, similar to the format Pop-Up Video later used, explaining that the album was titled The Best of because "it's the best", according to the band. Hmm.
While "How to Dance" had been a hit across Europe (minus the UK) and even crept into the top 30 on the US Billboard Hot 100, "Borrowed Love" did not follow suit, and the only other place it charted was the US, where it reached number 71 in July 1991. That being said, only Australian and American pressings of the single are listed on discogs, so perhaps it did not receive a release in Europe. Europe did receive "No Woman No Cry" which, despite sharing a title with a famous Bob Marley song, is not a cover version. It was not issued as a single locally.
"Borrowed Love" performed better on the Australian Music Report singles chart, where it peaked at number 93.
I don't recall hearing "Borrowed Love" before. It's very different to "How to Dance", but I like it.
Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 177 "Whenever You Lay Your Hands on Me" by Clive Young
Peak: number 177
Peak date: 15 July 1991
Weeks on chart: 1 week
We last saw Australian singer-songwriter Clive Young in July 1989. In the interim, Clive switched record companies from EMI to Mushroom, and the album that was scheduled for release in 1989, Naturally, was shelved.
"Whenever You Lay Your Hands on Me" was the lead single from Clive's debut album When the World Goes 'Round, which did not see the light of day until September 1992 (it did not chart). "Whenever You Lay Your Hands on Me" was released on 29 April 1991, and took almost three months to dent the ARIA top 200 for a solitary week.
On the ARIA state charts, "Whenever You Lay Your Hands on Me" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, as Clive's previous two singles had done, reaching number 154. The difference between state and national chart peaks for Clive's earlier singles was stark, with "Something Special" peaking at number 15 in Victoria/Tasmania vs. number 50 nationally, and "Naturally" peaking at number 50 in Victoria/Tasmania vs. number 102 nationally.
A music video was filmed for "Whenever You Lay Your Hands on Me", but nobody seems to have their hands on it...
Clive will join us again in 1992.
Number 179 "Long Train Running" by Bananarama
Peak: number 179
Peak date: 15 July 1991
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks
Bananarama, whom we last saw in March 1991, really were in chart strife at this point in their career. None of the four singles lifted from their fifth studio album Pop Life (number 146, August 1991) peaked higher than number 20 in the UK, and none of the album's singles dented the top 50 in Australia. A combination of being perceived as an 80s act and the Bananarama girls now being in their 30s were probably factors. The group had also made a deliberate attempt to move away from the Stock Aitken Waterman sound that permeated their work between 1986 and 1989, to lukewarm commercial results.
Although Bananarama made a point of not including any cover versions on their second album Bananarama (number 99, July 1984), which spawned the top 40 hits "Robert de Niro's Waiting" (number 40, August 1984) and "Cruel Summer" (number 32, February 1985), each of their studio albums since had included a cover version, which also ended up being released as a single. The girls' attitude to releasing covers probably softened following the massive success of "Venus", which resurrected their career and was number 1 in Australia for seven weeks in September and October of 1986. "Venus" also topped the US Billboard Hot 100 in September 1986.
The Nanas' fourth studio album WOW! (number 1, June 1988) contained a version of The Supremes' "Nathan Jones", which was not a huge hit in Australia, peaking at number 59 in March 1989, after being re-recorded with new band member Jacquie O'Sullivan and tacked onto their The Greatest Hits Collection (number 21, January 1989) compilation.
A version of The Beatles' "Help!" (number 25, May 1989) was then recorded with French and Saunders' Bananarama parody act Lananeeneenoonoo, including Kathy Bourke as the third member, to raise funds for Comic Relief.
Bananarama covered The Doobie Brothers' 1973 single "Long Train Runnin'", adding a 'g' to the title, for their Pop Life album. The Doobie Brothers' version peaked at number 58 on the Kent Music Report, but this was on the charts David Kent later compiled retrospectively (they were not published at the time), so I do not consider these official. The 1993 Sure Is Pure remix of "Long Train Runnin'" peaked at number 67 in Australia in March 1994.
Released as the third Pop Life single, "Long Train Running" peaked at number 30 in the UK in April 1991, number 18 in Ireland in April 1991, number 47 in the Flanders region of Belgium in June 1991, and number 45 in Germany in June 1991.
Domestically, "Long Train Running" performed strongest in Western Australia, where it reached number 122.
I was (and still am, to a large degree) a Bananarama fan when this track was released. The only place I heard "Long Train Running" at the time was on the Hot 30 Countdown on Fox FM, which was supposedly voted for by listeners. I tuned in part-way through the song, and recognised that it was Bananarama quickly. The song seemed familiar to me; I must have heard the original on the radio when growing up.
"Long Train Running" was somewhat different for Bananarama, featuring castanets and flamenco guitars performed by Gipsy Kings, using the name Alma De Noche. That's the kind of thing Stock Aitken Waterman would never have done, and one of the Nanas commented in a Smash Hits interview in 1990 that their new producer Youth was open to things like putting seagulls on a track, whereas Stock Aitken Waterman would have "laughed that idea out the window".
For whatever reason, Bananarama's music was not connecting with the record-buying public in the early 1990s in the same way it had - albeit inconsistently - during the 1980s. Following this album's era, the more-experimental sounds of Pop Life would be abandoned, and the girls would return to Stock Waterman (Aitken left in mid-1991) for their next album, which was creatively a step backwards.
But before then, a fourth single was released from Pop Life in Europe, "Tripping on Your Love", which was the first Bananarama single to miss the UK top 75 since "Aie a Mwana", their debut release in September 1981. Jacquie O'Sullivan also quit the group around August 1991, after three and a half years, and there's a solo interview with Keren Woodward from that month where she admits they don't know where Jacquie is right now. Jacquie speaks of her time in Bananarama in this interesting podcast interview from 2020, which is well worth checking out. Sara Dallin also gave birth to her daughter Alice towards the end of 1991.
Bananarama have continued on as a duo since 1992, with original band member Siobhan Fahey (who went on to form Shakespears Sister) rejoining them for a live tour in 2017. Bananarama have a new album Masquerade scheduled for release next week, with the video for the title track, which is the best new Bananarama track I have heard for some time, premiering last month.
We shall see Bananarama next in 1992.
Number 181 "Crazy" by Daisy Dee
Peak: number 156
Peak date: 22 July 1991
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks
Daisy Dee, born Desiree Rollocks, is a Dutch "singer, actress, TV host, stylist, and television producer" (thanks Wikipedia). She was a featured vocalist on MC B's version of Technotronic's 'This Beat Is Techntronic", which was a top 20 hit in the Netherlands, Austria and Germany in 1990. That single was released in Australia in April 1990, but missed the top 150.
"Crazy" was Daisy's first solo release in Australia, was lifted from her 1992 debut album Daisy Dee. "Crazy" peaked at number 29 in the Netherlands in September 1990, and number 73 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in April 1991. The song was used in the Vanilla Ice movie Cool As Ice, but did not make its way onto the accompanying soundtrack album.
On the ARIA state charts, "Crazy" performed strongest in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory, where it reached number 145.
Daisy would land her biggest chart success in Australia with a remixed version of this track, "Crazy 96", which reached number 38 in September 1996. This would be Daisy's only top 100 entry in Australia, although she came within a whisker of the top 100 again in 2000.
Number 182 "Piece of My Heart" by Tara Kemp
Peak: number 156
Peak date: 19 August 1991
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks
American r&b/new jack swing singer Tara Kemp landed her first chart 'hit' in Australia with her first release, "Hold You Tight", which peaked at number 68 in May 1991. That single was vastly more successful in the US, where it reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1991, becoming the first of two top 10 hits Tara would land in her home country.
"Piece of My Heart" was the second of Tara's US top 10 hits, reaching number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1991. It was the second single from Tara's debut album Tara Kemp, which peaked at number 140 on the ARIA albums chart in April 1991. Internationally, "Piece of My Heart" peaked at number 81 in Canada in August 1991.
Within Australia, "Piece of My Heart" was most successful in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 136 on the state chart.
I remember hearing both "Hold You Tight" and "Piece of My Heart" on the American Top 40 radio show.
A third single from Tara Kemp, "Too Much", was released locally in September 1991, but failed to chart. "Piece of My Heart" was Tara's last single to chart in Australia.
Next week (22 July): Four top 150 debuts and one bubbling WAY down under entry.