The second month of the new feature. Many thanks to those of you who commented last time out and for joining in with the fun by revealing your own ages.
As I mentioned previously, 30 years no longer feels like a long time ago, although back in 1990 it was impossible to not think of 1960 as being anything other than ancient history. The top of the singles chart in February 1990 was dominated by Sinead O’Connor and it was heart-warming to read there remains a great deal of affection for Nothing Compares 2 U, notwithstanding it becoming one of those songs that suffered from over-exposure at the time, and as FFF deftly pointed out, has subsequently been lost to revisionist wankery by nonentity talking-heads.
Of the hits that first entered the charts in February 1990, none have proven to quite have any similar longevity, although there is a more than decent track that later went all the way to the #1 slot and is still wheeled out for consideration by the sorts of talking-heads whom FFF called out previously, but this time in terms of ‘guess what he did next’ sort of way. I’ll get to that in due course……let’s start things off with an indie classic:-
Shine On – House of Love
Three years after it had been released on Creation Records to critical acclaim and commercial failure, a new version of Shine On was recorded and released on Fontana Records. It was A-listed on Radio 1 and crashed into the charts at #22 on 3 February 1990, providing The House of Love with, by far, their biggest hit. It climbed two places and thus ensured the label, could boast of having a Top 20 band on its rota. Still sounds great all these years later doesn’t it?
Sleep With Me – Birdland
A high number of music-paper championed bands enjoyed a modicum of success in 1990. A lot of this could be linked back to 1989 when the likes of Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and James burst onto the mainstream after years of being restricted to small, often derogatory coverage in NME/Melody Maker/Sounds/Record Mirror and nobody wanted to be accused of missing the boat this time around.
Birdland were very much a music papers band to begin with and a couple of singles in early ’89 had brushed the outer edges of the charts. Out of nowhere, Sleep With Me was played on daytime Radio 1 as well as being championed on the early evening shows, leading to it selling enough copies to enter the chart at #32 on 3 February, only to drop out of the Top 40 the following week. It remains the only time the band got mentioned in the weekly rundown on Top of The Pops.
Probably A Robbery – Renegade Soundwave
Another of the bands that had been championed by the music papers. The difference between this and the Birdland 45 was that Probably A Robbery entered the charts on 3 February at #48 and actually climbed a few places and hung around for a bit, eventually reaching a peak of #38 three weeks later. There’ll be a few of you out there who danced a lot to Renegade Soundwave, but I have to admit to knowing next to nothing beyond this hit, which itself was mentioned on the old blog back in 2008 and repeated in 2016, thanks to my old friend ctel (aka acidted).
No Blue Skies – Lloyd Cole
Lloyd Cole had pulled the plug on The Commotions with ambitions to make it big as a solo artist. His record label, Polydor, believed in him too, making a fairly decent sized recording budget available for the debut album which was recorded in New York. The sound was a huge departure from the indie-pop of his old band, offering a harder more rock-orientated edge to go with the all-knowing lyrics to which we had become accustomed, but it didn’t go down well with the record buying public. No Blue Skies limped in at #64 on 3 February and thanks to a bit of intensive marketing and some airplay, climbed to #42 the following week before it began a rapid descent. A huge disappointment for all concerned, and it would take until 1995 before any solo LC songs bothered the Top 40….and even that proved to be a one-off.
Dub Be Good To Me – Beats International
This entered the chart at #15 on 10 February 1990. It went to #3 the following week, then up to #2 and finally to #1 at the beginning of March, taking over from Sinead O’Connor. It spent four weeks at the top and didn’t drop out of the Top 40 until the month of May.
The samples include Just Be Good To Me by the SOS Band, The Guns of Brixton by The Clash, Once Upon a Time in The West by Ennio Morricone, and Jam Hot by Johnny Dynell. Lead singer Lindy Layton would enjoy a solo chart hit later in the year with a cover of the lovers-rock classic Silly Games. Composer and mixer Norman Cook became very rich and very famous in subsequent years.
Bikini Girls With Machine Guns – The Cramps
I had to shut my eyes and open them again as I thought I was seeing things. And I still can’t believe that The Cramps had a single which went Top 40 in the UK. A full eleven years after they had become the second live act I’d ever seen in my life, they could have appeared on Top of The Pops after Bikini Girls entered the charts on 10 February at #35. If only……………………………..
This soon dropped down the charts and disappeared altogether after three weeks. The Cramps hadn’t cracked the Top 75 previously and wouldn’t do so again.
Enjoy The Silence – Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode have been hugely popular and successful for decades, but for the most part I’ve struggled to see the attraction. I enjoyed the disposable electro-pop of some of the early singles and a few of the later 45s have been passable, but I don’t have any vinyl or CDs in what is an extensive collection in Villain Towers. I don’t think that makes me a bad person but some of you may violently disagree.
Enjoy The Silence entered the charts at #17 on 17 February and was the band’s 17th single to make the Top 40. I was hoping that I could add they would have a further 17 singles do the same to create a perfect bit of symmetry, but the fact is they would enjoy 18 more Top 20 hits, the last being Martyr in November 2006.
Brassneck – The Wedding Present
In at #24 on 17 February and featured extensively just a couple of weeks ago on the blog including the legendary Top of the Pops appearance that saw the song plummet out of the charts the following week.
96 Tears – The Stranglers
Got to be honest and say that I couldn’t recall this one which came into the charts at #31 on 17 February and in climbing to #17 the following week would give The Stranglers their 12th Top 20 hit. Yes, it’s a cover of the 60s cult classic of by ? and the Mysterians and it would prove to be the final time The Stranglers enjoyed such mainstream success….coinciding with the departure of Hugh Cornwell.
Talking With Myself – Electribe 101
In at #33 on 24 February. It climbed to #23 the following week. I know next to nothing about house music, so please feel free to fill in the gaps via the comments section. All I do know is that this, like The House of Love song which opened up this posting, was the re-release of an earlier flop single from the late 80s. Oh, and there’s a connection with Depeche Mode as Electribe 101 provided support on a 38-date European tour from September – November 1990….an experience that proved to be less than a stellar one.
Tune in next month for a look back at March 1990.
(aged 56 years and 8 months)
PS : Posted today to enable SC from Florida to drop in and say he is 54 years exactly. Happy birthday bro.
8 thoughts on “THE BIG HITS…..30 YEARS ON (2)”
Some crackers here . Shine on is still a great pop song and I didn’t mind the added sheen on their 2nd lp.
Enjoy the Silence and the violator is the last time I loved Depeche mode from then on the rock god took over and pop didn’t get a look in.
I still love the Lloyd Cole song but when I got the lp I thought it an odd choice for lead off single and still do
Today’s post felt a bit like unwrapping someone else’s birthday present. I could get used to it.
What an incredible list of singles. I’m absolutely sure that I will have danced to:
Sleep With Me
Bikini Girls With Machine Guns
all in the same night in one indie dive or another. Memories, wonderful memories.
The House of Love: the first 6 singles are to me, incredible. The debut LP is an absolute keeper. Superb live (at this time).
Birdland: I recall them getting quite a bit of flack about being fake. In my collection they nestle between Bikini Kill and Blancmange. Superb live (at this time).
Bikini Girls With Machine Guns: oh, those bullish psychobillies with their ‘slamming’. Great fun. I joined in. Shhh …
Brassneck: The Wedding Present possibly at its indie/crossover peak? The song had a kind of euphoric feel to it and many more people danced to it than they had to previous offerings. Superb live (at this time).
Enjoy the Silence: I have to admit to being forced onto the dancefloor of Level 8 by a colleague. What she didn’t know was, I didn’t need forcing. ‘Pull Shapes’, indeed.
96 Tears: I recall this but, on further listening this morning, feel as though I should have listened more at the time. Converted.
Yikes, 1990. I was incarcerated in Wall St. and didn’t listen to anything. I vaguely remember Shine On and I know that 96 Tears was the nail in the coffin of my beloved Stranglers, but that’s it.
Happy birthday, SC
Some good singles there, even in 1990; not the best of musical times. I liked the first Lloyd Cole solo album but didn’t buy any others for ages [since corrected]. I loved The Cramps and this was the period where I finally saw them live after a decade of fandom. What seemed to be a huuuuuuuge time to me then [laughs at all ].
Electribe 101 were immediately transfixing when I saw the brilliant video for this one and I immediately became a Billie Ray Martin Fan. Quite a talent, there. I typically was bored by house music. The Blow Monkeys did rather well with that style, but E101 were tops in that regard.
Depeche mode. You’ve opened up a can of worms, there. I was an early listener, buying the album as soon as it came out and being non-plussed. I liked the second one a lot better but there was always something second rate about Depeche Mode to me, even as I bought every thing I could find from 1983-1990. They would never come within a million miles of bands like Simple Minds, OMD, and Ultravox in my mind. They were watered down electropop. They got better but were a 3rd generation band that just didn’t mean that much to me. I stopped buying their stuff after “Violator” because it was a huge drop in quality to my ears. They went from being a second rate band I collected to a fourth rate band of no interest at all to me.
The Stranglers ceased to exist for me once Hugh Cornwell left. Even that last album was weak sauce, but I had always loved “96 Tears” from childhood, and this was a decent version, but obviously indicative of the well running dry, or US label influence. Either one a bad sign. I’m with Hugh as a solo act but I bought the first post-Cornwell Stranglers single and that was that! Had they simply gotten a guitarist and had J.J. Burnel sing all leads, I would have been more than fine with that. Half of my fave Stranglers tunes were sung by J.J. but they didn’t. And that was that.
I think Hugh Cornwell left as he saw the direction Stranglers were heading – supporting Simple Minds at the worst concert I have ever been to in 1991 with Roachford. OMD (so disappointing) and enough rain to drown us!
I went to see Birdland at Reading After Dark club many years ago.
Expecting a decent crowd as they had recently had an NME cover, we located ourselves near the stage of the sparsely populated room.
However, at the point they started there were probably only a dozen people in the room with everyone else hanging by the wall at the back.
They were very energetic and very angry, but not very good.
About half way through we motioned to each other that maybe we should goto the bar, however on turning around we realised that the 3 of us were now 60% of the audience and if we left they might get really upset.
So slightly scared, we stayed until the end.
Happy Birthday SC!
Thanks, JC, for opening and closing with the best two songs on your travel through February 90! Shine On, released at any time or in any format is a classic to me.
Talking With Myself is one of the greatest Electronica/House tracks of all time. Billie Ray Martin’s dusky, sexy, powerful vocal over a lazy House beat can take you to so many amazing places. It relies heavily on a reworking of Julian Jonah’s 88 release, Jealousy and Lies and a magical sample from the Theme from Mission Impossible tv series.