OK, now this is something of a cheat. This recap of the Easter Sunday chart from 1989 was first published here four years ago, but was done as one of the first retrospective chart recaps I’d done, hence the style was still to settle down properly. As one of my favourite old Top 40 shows from years gone past, I thought it deserved a slightly more in depth treatment, so in the absence of any completely new material here is a revised reworking of that original posting.
As ever the premise remains the same, this isn’t a complete rundown of every song on the singles chart, taking instead as a reference point the tape of the Radio One Top 40 show from the Sunday in question – March 26th 1989. The original version of this piece was written in the days before Spotify, so it is now possible to go back and compile as close a playlist as possible of the tracks from the chart, with the added bonus of including the songs that weren’t played in what was then a two hour format of the chart show.
Let us now set the time machine back to March 1989. To set the scene, the news was dominated by the Exxon Valdez vomiting oil over half of Alaska, two scientists mistakenly believed they had discovered how to perform cold fusion and earlier that day Nigel Mansell had won the Brazilian Grand Prix. Oh yes, and Bruno Brookes had the weekend off, so Mark Goodier was doing his usual safe pair of hands deputising job.
Quite how electronic geniuses Yello are little more than one hit wonders in this country remains something of a mystery. Few will disagree that Dieter and Boris sowed the seeds of modern day dance music, pioneering the idea that you can take a collection of sounds thrown together seemingly at random and create music from them. Their unique selling point however is that their records weren’t just bits of other people’s work thrown together in a new order but instead rhythms and instrumentation that they had created themselves, chopped up and sampled. ‘Of Course I’m Lying’ stands as their second and final Top 40 hit in this country, the third single from their 1988 album ‘Flag’ which also contained ‘The Race’, the one track by which the pair are perhaps best known. This single is a lush romantic ballad, albeit with a rather sideways look at the subject, replete with heavenly choirs and typically impenetrable lyrics detailing a romantic drive with “Julie” who apparently “[lies] so much better when you drive a car”. A new entry here this week, on its way ultimately to a Number 23 peak. In a better world chart history would be littered with Yello smash hits, but in a sense I’m kind of glad that they remain a well kept secret to those of us who know of their talents.
“Of course I’m lying, but I think I love you.”
Great hypothetical questions of our time: Would the Big O’s comeback album ‘Mystery Girl’ have become quite the hit it was had the legendary sixties star not died just weeks before its release? Orbison’s passing at the tail end of 1988 was an even greater tragedy given that after years in the shadows he had not only returned to the limelight as one fifth of the travelling Wilburys but had an entire album of new material ready to roll, created and crafted by some of the biggest names in music. ‘You Got It’ was the first single released and it had become a deserved Top 10 hit at the start of 1989. The follow-up was the song that served as the inspiration for the album’s title, and it was in a word, stunning. Almost forgotten these days is the fact that ‘She’s A Mystery To Me’ was written by Bono and The Edge with Mr Hewson himself on production duties. Essentially it is a U2 ballad which just happens to have Orbison on lead vocals. With those credentials it would have been fair to assume that it was set to be another guaranteed smash, but for some reason the track was only a minor hit, peaking at 27 the week after this new entry. With many tracks in the can which never made it to the running order of the finished album, there was enough new Orbison material left over for him to still be having hits in 1992, four years after his passing. Is this where 2Pac got the idea?
The one and only hit single (and one which had been three years in the making) for the Edinburgh group of whom great things were expected but which ultimately never really emerged. Essentially Runrig with less bagpipes and added cod-American accents, the group made FM friendly borders rock which the likes of DLT wanted you to love but to which the public (at least south of the border) remained indifferent to. Their greatest musical legacy – keyboard player and backing singer Shirley Manson whose later career was to turn out to be less Garbage (sorry) than that of her first band. Was the woodpecker sound effect in the instrumental breaks really necessary though?
Spotify whilst bereft of their studio work does have a live album from them available, so the version on the Spotify playlist is there for completeness rather than an exact representation of the version being bought at the time, sorry.
Oh Carol. Forever stuck in time as the ‘China In Your Hand’ group, T’Pau spent the next four years loudly insisting to the world that they were actually hardcore rockers and not the weedy balladeers that their most famous hit had pigeonholed them as. ‘Only The Lonely’ was the third single from “difficult” second album ‘Rage’ and was something of a chart comeback after previous single ‘Road To Our Dream’ had been swallowed by the Christmas market and missed the Top 40 altogether. I always thought this single was badly overlooked, treading a neat middle line between the screeching rock they wanted to perform and the intense balladry the public wanted to hear from them. More entertainingly the single version was a different mix from the album (which is frustratingly the only one on the Spotify catalogue), replacing organs with guitars on the basis that “they work better on American radio”, despite the fact that the States had lost interest in the two years previously. Following this minor hit they retreated to lick their wounds before mounting a mini-comeback two years later.
Does everyone remember the Brother Beyond story? Can’t miss, Smash Hits friendly pop group who spent 1987 terminally hitless to the ever-mounting despair of their label who had invested thousands in them, but who had new life breathed into their career when they emerged the winners of a charity auction to have a single produced by Stock/Aitken/Waterman. After the Hit Factory fulfilled their side of the bargain with not one but two Top 10 hits ‘The Harder I Try’ and ‘He Ain’t No Competition’ in 1988 it was time to see if their own material could stand on its own two feet. ‘Be My Twin’ was a new year Top 20 hit and it was followed by this much improved remix of their last-chance-before-we-drop-you third single which had bombed out at Number 56 just over a year earlier. A Number 22 peak was as good as this got though and two flop albums later the dumper beckoned despite a late flowering of hope when ‘The Girl I Used To Know’ became a surprise US hit in 1990. Lead singer Nathan Moore was last seen as Lisa Scott-Lee’s manager on her MTV reality show, holding back the tears when it was suggested she best try her hand at Japan as nobody in Britain cared any more.
Another chart new entry and a track that went on to become a very famous hit single indeed. After a long overdue chart breakthrough in 1988 with ‘I Want Your Love’ and to a lesser extent ‘Revolution Baby’, post-punk rockers Transvision Vamp rode the coat tails of their photogenic lead singer Wendy James and kicked off the promotion of their most successful album ‘Velveteen’ with this commercial as it gets pop track. Everyone who heard it knew it was ‘1999’ mixed with ‘Louie Louie’ but somehow it didn’t matter, they had created and instant and for all we knew long-running party smash and would be milking the PRS returns from it for years. Strange then how you hardly hear it any more, but trust me at the time it sounded for all the world like the greatest record ever made and to this day is one of the defining musical sounds of the spring of 1989. Also of note: playing bass on the single is Dave Parsons who as a member of Bush would become a member of the most internationally successful British group of the 90s.
Spring 1989 was the era of Deep House, which fused the original Chicago house sound with warmer funk and soul rhythms and proper melodies – ones which required actual singers to do them proper justice. Our first example on this chart is this all but forgotten hit from New York producer Paul Simpson, distinctive not just for Adeva’s acapella vocal introduction but also the “Move To The Left” spoken instructions gruffly intoned by what we must assume was Simpson himself. This was effectively Adeva’s second hit, hard on the heels of her rendition of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ which had been a hit just a few weeks beforehand.
An early and to be honest all but forgotten minor hit single for someone who I could safely describe in 2008 as “the future Celebrity Fit Club star” without worrying that it was a cultural reference which would sail over everyone’s heads four years later. Kym Mazelle hailed from Indiana and much was made at the time of her origins in the same small town of Gary which the Jackson family called home. By the same logic then I should become a TV reviewer as I live in the same town as Garry Bushell. This single charted on the back of Mazelle’s own chart breakthrough, a hit duet with Robert Howard on ‘Wait’ which had peaked at Number 7 a month before. As smooth and silky and radio-friendly as they come, believe it or not kids this was the height of R&B back then.
Had it really come to this? The man who gleefully sang about doing rude things to other men and the futility of war, performing a cheesy (albeit slightly tongue in cheek and satirical) ditty about the joys of life Stateside? If there was indeed a deep political message in the lyrics, barely anyone noticed and indeed the ‘Blast’ album was all about the former Frankie Goes To Hollywood frontman playing with barely disguised glee at being the mainstream popstar you always suspected he wanted to be. This was his second solo hit and a worthy and equally massive hit followup to the glorious ‘Love Train’ which would go on to equal the Number 4 peak of its predecessor. Possibly the first ever single to mention Oreos, although as just about the only word in the English language to rhyme with the title it is hardly surprising.
To the surprise and delight of many, this first single in two years from Matt Johnson’s legendary ensemble became their first ever Top 20 hit and caused every fifteen year old I knew at the time to sing about being “reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation”. Only 1994s re-recording of ‘This Is The Day’ beats this out as their biggest ever hit single. Is it wrong to admit I prefer ‘Infected’?
If you believe in the concept of “priority aritists” then Andrew Roachford was one. Nothing, I mean nothing, was going to prevent the soul-rock star from having his share of hits, even if that meant releasing them over and over again. After a series of flops, ‘Cuddly Toy’ finally became a Top 10 hit in early 1989, to be swiftly followed by this rather more understated but to my ears infinitely better single. To the frustration of everyone involved it still climbed no higher than the position we found it at on Easter Sunday. As a solo star, Roachford still records and performs to this day, even if it has now been a decade since he last tickled the charts.
So to round off this rapid sprint through the lower end of the Top 40 this week, here is what is curiously enough the highest new entry pof the week. When first writing up this chart in 2008 I confessed I’d all but forgotten this single existed and the truth of the matter is the same holds true today. Whilst research tells me that it would go on to peak at Number 15, the first hit single for Bradford’s most famous rock export (sorry, Terrorvision but it’s true) since the memorable ‘Wild Flower’ in 1987, I’d be hard pressed to tell you what it sounds like but for the fact it is blasting out of the stereo as I write this. Maybe everyone was just keen to move on to the follow-up ‘Edie (Ciao Baby)’ which was hailed as an instant rock classic and we were was certain to be their biggest hit ever. It made Number 39.
Part One complete, although please don’t forget to check out the Spotify playlist which thus far has a pleasing 100% strike rate of these 23 year old hit singles and which is also recommended as it features most of the other tracks which were skipped by the chart show, including classics from Simple Minds, New Order and Texas.