26 August 2022

Week commencing 26 August 1991

There seems to be something for everyone among this week in 1991's debuts outside the ARIA top 100, with everything from middle-of-the-road ballads your mum would like, to rave anthems, ragga, guitar-based songs your dad would enjoy, to ABBA pastiches.  Let's take a look.
The Shamen (no, that's not Slugworth on the left) were not quite moving mountains on the Australian chart in 1991.
Top 150 debuts:
Number 114 "Time, Love and Tenderness" by Michael Bolton
Peak: number 111
Peak date: 23 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Weeks on chart: 7 weeks
We last saw Michael Bolton in October 1990.
"Time, Love and Tenderness" was the second single and almost-title track (note the use of 'and' vs. '&') from Michael's seventh studio album Time, Love & Tenderness (number 11, August 1991).  It followed "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" (number 25, June 1991).
Internationally, "Time, Love and Tenderness" peaked at number 27 in Sweden in July 1991, number 28 in the UK in August 1991, number 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in September 1991, number 4 in Canada in September 1991, and number 74 in Germany in October 1991. 

Within Australia, "Time, Love and Tenderness" was most popular in Western Australia, where it reached number 52.

I remember hearing this one numerous times on the American Top 40 radio show, and - a couple of years later - on easy-listening Melbourne FM radio station TT FM (as it was then known).  I am surprised it couldn't even dent the ARIA top 100, but I guess people bought the album instead.
Michael will join us next in November 1991.

Number 118 "It Hit Me Like a Hammer" by Huey Lewis & The News
Peak: number 106
Peak date: 9 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks
Weeks on chart: 6 weeks
We last saw Huey Lewis & The News in February 1989.
"It Hit Me Like a Hammer" was the second single from the band's sixth studio album Hard at Play (number 61, July 1991).  It followed "Couple Days Off" (number 40, July 1991), which would be Huey Lewis & The News' final top 40 hit in Australia.
Overseas, "It Hit Me Like a Hammer" peaked at number 51 in Germany in August 1991, number 21 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in September 1991, and number 9 in Canada in September 1991.

Domestically, "It Hit Me Like a Hammer" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 86.

I am not sure whether I heard this one at the time.  While it's pleasant enough, there's nothing particularly memorable about it.  The song sounds like it belongs in the 80s more than the early 90s.

We'll see Huey Lewis & The News again in 1994 for one final appearance.

Number 120 "Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me" by Scritti Politti featuring Sweet Irie
Peak: number 113
Peak date: 2 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
British band Scritti Politti formed in Leeds in 1977.  During the band's tenure, Welsh front man Green Gartside (born Paul Strohmeyer) has been the only constant member.
Between 1984 and 1986, Scritti Politti placed four singles on the Australian chart, although only one of those, "Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)" (number 25, July 1984), peaked higher than number 70.  Their most-recent single to chart in Australia was "She's a Woman" (number 82, June 1991), on which Jamaican artist Shabba Ranks was featured.  The band's last album to chart locally was Provision (number 97, June 1988).
"Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me" peaked at number 47 in the UK in August 1991.  The song is a cover version of a song originally released by Gladys Knight & The Pips in 1967.  A studio album did not follow, and the band went on hiatus soon after, eventually reforming in 1999.

I heard this one for the first time in the early 2010s when it showed up on a UK VHS compilation I was digitising.

Number 130 "Move Any Mountain - Progen 91" by The Shamen
Peak: number 104
Peak date: 24 February 1992
Weeks in top 150: 18 weeks
Weeks on chart: 30 weeks
Scottish band The Shamen formed in Aberdeen in 1985.  Initially, the band's music was guitar-driven and inspired by 1960s psychedelic music.  In 1987, however, founding member Colin Angus was inspired to experiment with electronic sounds, and the band evolved into a rave party act.

"Pro>gen", the first release of the song later re-titled "Move Any Mountain", was The Shamen's first UK singles chart entry, peaking at number 55 in April 1990.

Two further singles made ripples on the UK chart: "Make It Real" (UK number 42, September 1990) and "Hyperreal" (UK number 29, April 1991).  The latter was The Shamen's first single released in Australia, in July 1991, but it failed to chart.  "Hyperreal" also featured the voice of Plavka, who went on to later chart success with Jam & Spoon, notably on "Right in the Night (Fall in Love with Music)" (number 2, May 1994).

The 1991 re-release of "Move Any Mountain" peaked at number 4 in the UK in August 1991, number 17 in Ireland in August 1991, number 21 in Sweden in September 1991, number 17 in the Netherlands in September 1991, number 8 in the Flanders region of Belgium in October 1991, number 4 in Switzerland in October 1991, and number 38 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in February 1992.  "Move Any Mountain" would be The Shamen's only single to register on the Hot 100.

In Australia, "Move Any Mountain"'s top 150 chart run was split into four separate runs, and the single did not reach its peak until six months after its debut.  The single peaked in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory in August 1991, and in February 1992 on all other state charts.  "Move Any Mountain" performed strongest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 85.  The single peaked within the top 100 on all state charts except Queensland.  Despite never breaking into the top 100 nationally, "Move Any Mountain" spent a mammoth 30 weeks on the ARIA singles chart, straddling the occasionally blurred line between 'hit' and 'flop'.

"Move Any Mountain" was lifted from The Shamen's fourth studio album En-Tact, which was released in Australia in January 1992, but did not chart.

A new music video, shot in Tenerife, was filmed for the 1991 release of "Move Any Mountain".  Tragically, band member Will Sin (real name William Sinnott) drowned on 23 May 1991, aged 30, while swimming off the coast of La Gomera, while on location to shoot the video.  Will's scenes were included in the video, but his death resulted in the surviving members of the band contemplating whether or not they should continue.

The Shamen did go on, and would achieve their commercial breakthrough - if only fleeting - in Australia towards the end of 1992 with "Ebeneezer Goode" (number 14, January 1993), which was certified gold.  Interestingly, that single only spent 25 weeks on the chart in comparison to "Move Any Mountain"'s 30.  "L.S.I. (Love, Sex, Intelligence)" (number 53, January 1993) went one better, though, racking up a tally of 31 weeks on the ARIA chart.

I was not aware of "Move Any Mountain" until late 1995, when the rage top 50 chart went on hiatus for three months, due to a dispute over paying the major record companies royalties to play their videos.  During those months, rage aired (and re-aired!) music videos on minor labels, including those distributed though Liberation Records in Australia, which The Shamen were.  "Move Any Mountain" received several spins during this period.

We shall next see The Shamen in 1993.
Number 132 "So Like Candy" by Elvis Costello
Peak: number 129
Peak date: 2 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 6 weeks
We last saw English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello (born Declan MacManus) in July 1989.
"So Like Candy" was the second single lifted from Elvis' thirteenth studio album - and third where he receives sole credit - Mighty Like a Rose (number 37, June 1991).  It followed "The Other Side of Summer" (number 96, June 1991).
Internationally, "So Like Candy" peaked at number 66 in the Netherlands in August 1991.  The single missed the top 75 in Elvis' native UK.

I first heard/saw this one on rage in the late 2000s or early 2010s, when the music video was chosen by a guest programmer.

We'll next see Elvis in 1994.
Number 143 "Hero" by Steeltown
Peak: number 143
Peak dates: 26 August 1991 and 2 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
I had assumed that Steeltown must be an Australian band, given that the music video (embedded below) has fewer than 1000 views in the ten years it has been on YouTube, and I could find no evidence of this charting elsewhere.  That assumption is only partially true, however.  While based in Australia, Steeltown formed from members of the Scottish group The Technicians, who relocated to Australia in the 1980s, and had two minor 'hits' here with "Hot for Love" (number 90, July 1987) and "Clockwork Clown" (number 96, April 1988).

Listening to "Hero" for the first time as I write this, the track sounds more like Frankie Goes to Hollywood - to my ears - than the typical pub rock sound Australian bands were churning out in the early 90s.
Number 145 "I Write You a Love Song" by Izabella
Peak: number 140
Peak date: 2 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 3 weeks
Here's one I didn't hear until a few years ago, but remember reading the single review in the Australian edition of Smash Hits magazine, and seeing the cassette single in the shops.
Izabella, full name Izabella Skorupko, is a Polish-born model, actress and singer who was based in Sweden for her career.
"I Write You a Love Song" peaked at number 10 in Sweden in March 1991, and at number 93 in Germany in September 1992 - somewhat belatedly.
"I Write You a Love Song" sounds rather ABBA-ish, and I think it could have been a decent-sized hit if it received more exposure.  It was Izabella's only release in Australia.

"Brando Moves" is another Izabella song I have heard, and is well worth checking out if you enjoy this one.
Number 149 "Daddy Freddy's in Town" by Daddy Freddy
Peak: number 121
Peak date: 2 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Daddy Freddy, born S. Frederick Small (we don't know what the S. stands for) is a Jamaican ragga artist.  The chorus of "Daddy Freddy's in Town" is taken from Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog".
"Daddy Freddy's in Town" peaked at number 33 in New Zealand in October 1991.  The single performed better on the Australian Music Report singles chart, where it reached number 94.
I hadn't heard this one before.
Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 177 "Runaround" by Van Halen
Peak: number 169
Peak date: 2 September 1991
Weeks on chart: 3 weeks
American rock band Van Halen last paid us a visit in January 1989.  At this point in 1991, Van Halen had placed ten singles on the Australian chart, with "Jump" (number 2, March 1984) being their biggest hit.  The band's most successful track locally with Sammy Hagar leading the group was "Why Can't This Be Love" (number 8, June 1986).  My favourite Van Halen track is "Dreams" (number 51, September 1986).
"Runaround" was the second single released from Van Halen's ninth studio album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (number 5, July 1991).  It followed "Poundcake" (number 55, July 1991).
Internationally, "Runaround" peaked at number 50 in Canada in September 1991.  The song also topped the essentially meaningless US Billboard Mainstream Rock Airplay chart for four weeks in August 1991.
Within Australia, "Runaround" was most popular in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 138.
I hadn't heard this one before, though I don't seek out heavy rock music.
Van Halen will next join us in November 1991.

Number 180 "Lift"/"Open Your Mind" by 808 State
Peak: number 153
Peak date: 2 September 1991
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks
English band 808 State last visited us in June 1991. "Lift"/"Open Your Mind" was the band's fourth single in a row to peak outside the ARIA top 100 singles chart, and their second double A-side single to do so.

"Lift" was... lifted from the band's ex:el (number 109, April 1991) album, but "Open Your Mind" was a new track.

"Lift"/"Open Your Mind" peaked at number 38 in the band's native UK in August 1991.

Domestically, "Lift"/"Open Your Mind" was most successful in Western Australia, where it reached number 134.
I hadn't heard either track before.  Both are notable for making use of samples that would appear on later hits for other artists.  "Lift" samples a string rift from Love Unlimited Orchestra's "Love's Theme", which was used on Dannii Minogue's "Baby Love" (number 26, April 1992).  "Open Your Mind" samples dialogue from the 1990 movie Total Recall, which was later used on Usura's "Open Your Mind" (number 29, May 1993).

808 State will next join us in 1993.

Number 195 "Hello Afrika" by Dr. Alban
Peak: number 180
Peak date: 2 September 1991
Weeks on chart: 2 weeks

Here's one I did hear at the time, through seeing the music video on the SBS music video TV show M.C. TeeVee.

Nigerian-born Dr. Alban, born Alban Uzoma Nwapa, relocated to Sweden in the early 1980s to study dentisty.  Dr. Alban supported himself through his studies by working as a DJ.  After qualifying as a dentist and starting his own practice, Dr. Alban continued to work as a DJ on the side.

In 1990, Dr. Alban met Swedish DJ, songwriter and producer Denniz Pop (real name Dag Volle), who went on to produce many internationally-successful acts such as Ace of Base, *NSync and Backstreet Boys.  Denniz co-wrote and produced "Hello Afrika" with Dr. Alban, and Swedish rapper Leila K, who scored a couple of minor hits in Australia in 1990 with Rob 'n' Raz, including "Got to Get" (number 57, July 1990).  Denniz sadly died in 1998, aged 35, after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.  Backstreet Boys dedicated "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" (number 19, February 2000) to him.
Internationally, "Hello Afrika" peaked at number 7 in Sweden in October 1990, number 2 in Germany in February 1991, number 1 in Austria in March 1991, number 3 in Switzerland in March 1991, and number 25 in the Netherlands in May 1991.
Domestically, "Hello Africa" performed strongest in New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory, where it reached number 161.
Dr. Alban would eventually score his breakthrough hit in Australia in 1994 with "Sing Hallelujah!" (number 5, March 1994), which went platinum.  Before then, "It's My Life" crept into the top 100, initially peaking at number 97 in November 1992, before reaching a higher peak of number 43 in May 1994, after being re-released following the success of "Sing Hallelujah!"

"Hello Afrika" appeared on Dr. Alban's debut album Hello Afrika, which was issued in Australia in November 1991 but did not chart.  A second single from the album, "No Coke", was also released locally in November 1991, but failed to chart.

Dr. Alban will next pay us a visit in 1993.

Next week (2 September): Four new top 150 entries.
< Previous weeks: 19 August 1991                                     Next week: 2 September 1991 > 

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