30 September 2022

Week commencing 30 September 1991

I can't find a theme uniting this week in 1991's new entries that peaked outside the Australian top 100, so let's just dive straight in.
The Prodigy: Australia wasn't ready for the Prodigy experience in 1991.
Top 150 debuts:
Number 122 "I Can't Wait Another Minute" by Hi-Five
Peak: number 112
Peak date: 7 October 1991
Weeks in top 150: 5 weeks
American R&B vocal quintet Hi-Five formed in 1989.  Their debut Australian single, "I Like the Way (The Kissing Game)", topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for one week in May 1991, and scraped into the ARIA top 50, peaking at number 47 in July 1991.
"I Can't Wait Another Minute" was the follow-up release, lifted from the band's debut album Hi-Five (number 102, July 1991).  The track was written and produced by Eric Foster White, who also wrote Whitney Houston's "My Name Is Not Susan".

Internationally, "I Can't Wait Another Minute" peaked at number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in August 1991.

I heard this one several times on the American Top 40 radio show, and while I don't have a particular fondness for 90s R&B vocal groups, "I Can't Wait Another Minute" is one song from the genre that I enjoy.
As too often seems to be the case with teen pop stars, two members of Hi-Five have died at a relatively young age since the band's heyday.
The group's lead vocalist Tony Thompson died in 2007, aged 31, after inhaling a fatal amount of freon from an air conditioning unit.
Roderick "Pooh" Clark was paralysed from the chest down following a car accident in 1992, soon after the band's second album Keep It Goin' On (number 130, November 1992) was released.  He died in April 2022, aged 49.
We will next see Hi-Five in 1992.

Number 134 "Into the Great Wide Open" by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Peak: number 112
Peak date: 14 October 1991
Weeks in top 150: 7 weeks
Weeks on chart: 8 weeks
Tom Petty last joined us in December 1989 as a solo artist, and with side project Traveling Wilburys in April 1991.

Following these releases, Tom regrouped with his regular backing band The Heartbreakers.  "Into the Great Wide Open" was the title track and second single from the band's eighth studio album Into the Great Wide Open (number 28, August 1991).  It followed "Learning to Fly" (number 44, August 1991).
Internationally, "Into the Great Wide Open" peaked at number 92 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in November 1991, number 48 in the Flanders region of Belgium in November 1991, and number 54 in Germany in January 1992.  It's interesting - to me, anyway - that "Into the Great Wide Open" peaked almost two months earlier in Australia than anywhere else.
Within Australia, "Into the Great Wide Open" was most successful in Western Australia, where it reached number 82.
Listening to this track for the first time as I write this post, it's another obvious Jeff Lynne songwriting collaboration/production.  My dad liked Electric Light Orchestra and Traveling Wilburys - though, oddly, did not delve into Tom's separate work that I recall - so, I can pick a Jeff Lynne song anywhere.
Tom will next grace our presence in 1993.
Number 136 "The Quiet's Too Loud" by Lamont Dozier and Phil Collins
Peak: number 136
Peak date: 30 September 1991
Weeks in top 150: 4 weeks
While researching this track, which I had not heard (or heard of) before, I was intrigued that there was an early 90s Phil Collins single (of sorts) that a. I did not know about (given how much radio loved him at the time), and b. I can find no record of it charting anywhere else!

Lamont Dozier was one third of the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting and production trio, who were behind many of the songs released on the Motown record label.

Lamont (since I prefer to be on a first-name basis with others) had previously collaborated with Phil on "Two Hearts" (number 13, February 1989), with its unmistakable Motown sound, for the Buster soundtrack (number 35, March 1989).
"The Quiet's Too Loud" appears on Lamont's Inside Seduction album, which was released in Australia in August 1991 but missed the ARIA top 150.
Lamont is another one (we seem to be on a roll this week...) who recently died.  He passed on 8 August 2022, aged 81.
While Lamont will not have another solo top 150 'hit', we shall next see Phil Collins with Genesis in 1992, and as a solo artist in 1993.

Number 143 "Silver Thunderbird" by Marc Cohn
Peak: number 107
Peak date: 14 October 1991
Weeks in top 150: 9 weeks
American singer-songwriter Marc Cohn released his debut single, "The Heart of the City", on a minor label in 1986, but it failed to chart anywhere.  There is also no trace of it on YouTube.

Skip forward five years, and Marc landed a decent-sized hit with his first major label single "Walking in Memphis" (number 11, August 1991).  I am surprised to learn that "Walking in Memphis" did not top the US Billboard Hot 100, but 'only' peaked at number 13 on it in June 1991.
"Silver Thunderbird" was the second single lifted from Marc's debut album Marc Cohn (number 31, September 1991).  It was less-successful than its predecessor, both locally and internationally, peaking at number 28 in Ireland in August 1991, number 54 in the UK in August 1991, number 63 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in September 1991, and number 87 in Germany in March 1992.
It's quite possible I heard this one at the time, given how keen radio was to play "Waking in Memphis", but I have no recollection of it.  The song is decent enough, but perhaps not sufficiently different from "Walking to Memphis" to stand out.
Marc would never trouble the ARIA top 100 again, but will bubble under it on a few occasions, with the next one being in 1992.

Bubbling WAY down under:
Number 160 "Feel Every Beat" by Electronic
Peak: number 156
Peak date: 14 October 1991
Weeks on chart: 5 weeks

On paper, English 'supergroup' Electronic should be a band I like a lot.  Its members consist of New Order's Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr - formerly of The Smiths, and (occasionally) Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant.  I like all three of those acts to an extent (Pet Shop Boys and New Order more so than The Smiths), but I've never delved into Electronic beyond the singles, and only really know and like the two singles they did with Neil Tennant, "Getting Away with It" (number 40, July 1990) and "Disappointed" (released in Europe in 1992, but oddly not issued in Australia - although I caught the video on rage as a new release, despite being their highest-peaking single in the UK).

I did see/hear "Feel Every Beat" at the time, along with the previous Electronic single "Get the Message" (number 71, June 1991), but couldn't tell you how either went if my life depended on it.  Not to say they're necessarily bad songs - they just don't... stick in your mind like most Pet Shop Boys or New Order singles from this era did, and to be honest, I find them a tad boring, and not nearly as good as the collaborations the group did with Neil Tennant.

"Feel Every Beat" appeared on the first Electronic album Electronic (number 42, July 1991).  Internationally, the single peaked at number 39 in the UK in September 1991.
Domestically, "Feel Every Beat" performed strongest in Western Australia, where it reached number 130.
Electronic will join us again in 1996.  Before then, we'll see New Order again in 1994 and The Smiths in 1992.

Number 161 "Charly" by The Prodigy
Peak: number 161
Peak date: 30 September 1991
Weeks on chart: 6 weeks

Essentially the brainchild of Liam Howlett, English dance/rave band The Prodigy formed in Essex in 1990.  "Charly", their debut single, samples dialogue from a 1970s BBC public information cartoon about not talking to strangers, Charley Says, where the Charley in question is an animated cat.

With 'rave' music spawning several top 10 hits in the UK In 1991, it's little surprise that "Charly" peaked at number 3 there in September 1991.  The single also reached number 9 in Ireland.

Closer to home, "Charly" performed strongest in Western Australia, where it reached number 86.

The commercial success of "Charly" resulted in several 'copycat' rave songs that sampled children's TV shows, including, notably, Smart E's "Sesame's Treet" (number 6, September 1992), which was the first (and really only) of its kind to take off in Australia.  We'll see another one of these 'toytown techno' rave songs bubble WAY down under in 1992.
The Prodigy, meanwhile, would have to wait until 1994 for their commercial breakthrough in Australia, with "No Good (Start the Dance)" (number 45, July 1994) and "Voodoo People" (number 24, November 1994) becoming top 50 hits.  The band would land a major, enduring hit in Australia with "Breathe" (number 2, March 1997), which spent 24 consecutive weeks in the top 10 (a mammoth run in the pre-streaming era).

A different mix of "Charly" appears on The Prodigy's debut album Experience (number 163, January 1997), which peaked on the ARIA albums chart more than 4 years after its release.  The album initially debuted at number 245 in December 1992.

I first became aware of The Prodigy through listening to the UK Chart Attack radio show in 1992.  Australia was not ready for their sound in 1991-2, which is a shame, as I quite like the band's early singles.

The Prodigy will next join us in 1992.

Number 169 "You Are the Way" by The Primitives
Peak: number 169
Peak date: 30 September 1991
Weeks on chart: 1 week

English indie pop band The Primitives formed in Coventry in 1984.  While the group landed four top 40 singles in the UK, only one of their releases dented the top 100 in Australia - the single "Way Behind Me" (number 91, January 1989).
"You Are the Way" was the second and final Primitives singles to dent the ARIA chart.  The track was the lead single from the band's third studio album - their only one to chart in Australia - Galore (number 156, February 1992).
"You Are the Way" found greater, though still only modest, success in the UK, where it reached number 58 in August 1991.
Within Australia, "You Are the Way" performed strongest in Victoria/Tasmania, where it reached number 152.

I hadn't heard this one before.

Number 173 "Come on and Dance" by Hi Tek 3 featuring MC Shamrock
Peak: number 173
Peak date: 30 September 1991
Weeks on chart: 4 weeks

Belgian production trio Hi Tek 3 landed a top 5 hit in Australia with "Spin That Wheel" (number 5, July 1990), which featured Ya Kid K - who came to fame with Technotronic - on vocals, and was featured in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

"Come on and Dance" was the follow-up release, featuring MC Shamrock on vocals.  The single peaked at number 88 in the UK in December 1990.  I am not sure why the Australian release was delayed for so long.

Domestically, "Come on and Dance" peaked highest in South Australia/Northern Territory, where it reached number 130.

I don't recall hearing this one at the time, though the bassline seems vaguely familiar.  It was Hi Tek 3's final charting entry in Australia.

Next week (7 October): Two new top 150 debuts and six bubbling WAY down under entries.

< Previous week: 23 September 1991                              Next week: 7 October 1991 >

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