I have thought long and hard in recent days about what to do with the blog. The extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in got me wondering about making it that bit more relevant to what’s happening out there, using this platform for the occasional comment or observation about politicians (there would be criticism), community spirit (there would praise), those most directly affected by tragedy (there would be sympathy) and some reflections on the state of the world when it all comes to pass (there would be much head-scratching).
But I came to the conclusion that there’s enough of that sort of stuff out there already and that TVV should remain a place where folk can come to escape from it all for a few minutes or for as long as they wished. I hope you’re all OK with that, but if any of you do want to get something off your chest, then feel free to drop me a line with a guest posting. As you know, they are never turned down…..
So, where was I?
April 1990. The month that my life changed forever as I moved in with Rachel, the two of us deciding to make a real go of things having walked out on the folk we were married to. A number of our close friends were sure it wouldn’t last and that one or both of us would go crawling back full of apologies to look to mend the broken relationships. Thirty years on and we are still together.
Moving in with Rachel meant that I went back to live in Glasgow, making a daily commute by train to Edinburgh. The Sony Walkman proved to be my saviour, that and the mixtapes that Jacques the Kipper was putting together for me containing a mix of the new, the fairly recent and the old classics, all accompanied by a series of cryptic clues from which I had a week to come up with the names of the songs together with the singer/band involved. To be fair, I was setting him similar challenges and, as a result, both of our knowledge bases would increase over the successive months and years.
So who and what were rockin’ the charts 30 years ago this months?
The month began with Snap! holding down the #1 spot for a second successive week, but the remainder of the month belonged to Madonna with Vogue giving her a seventh #1 in five years.
Here’s a few notable songs that made the rundown throughout the month, albeit it’s all stacked at the beginning with very little at the tail end.
Step On – Happy Mondays
Yup, it’s now thirty years since the song most associated with Shaun, Bez & co was unleashed on the listening public. It entered the charts on 7 April at #14, and climbed to #5 the following week, which proved to be its peak position. It took a really long time, however, for the song to fall out of the charts. There was an initial 11-week run in the Top 75 before it briefly disappeared from view at the end of June. It re-entered the Top 100 in early July and over the next six months, could often be found lounging around the 80-99 mark. All told, it would spend 27 weeks in the official chart (which was a Top 100 by the this time) across six separate spells. Not bad for a song that was originally intended only for inclusion on a tribute album for their American label, and was recorded only to get Tony Wilson to stop moaning at them. I think it’s fair to describe it as a bona-fide classic.
Real Real Real – Jesus Jones
JJ had hit the crossbar a few times in 1989, with three singles stalling just outside the Top 40. The music press continued to big them up and Food Records never gave up on them, cleverly associating them indirectly with the baggy/Manchester movement but distancing them just far enough to argue they were an electro band that incorporated elements of indie-pop. This was their breakthrough hit, entering at #26 on 7 April after which it edged its way up the charts for the next five weeks to peak at #19. America would eventually go nuts for the band – I have to be honest and say they never really did it for me.
Beatles and The Stones – House of Love
The second chart hit of 1990 for The House of Love. It entered it #43 on 7 April and a couple of weeks later it had crept up to #36. This proved to be the last time they would get their name mentioned during the Top 40 rundown on Radio 1 and/or Top of the Pops.
911 is a Joke – Public Enemy
As mentioned in an earlier posting in this series, Welcome to The Terrordome had taken Public Enemy into the Top 20 despite very little mainstream airplay. The formula didn’t quite work out for the follow-up single which entered at #50 on 7 April and only got as high as #41 a couple of weeks later. A similar fate awaited their third and fourth singles of 1990, although there was the consolation of the album Fear of A Black Planet, also released in April 1990, entering the UK charts at #4, which was an incredible achievement for a hip-hop album in those days.
Pro-Gen – The Shamen
The Shamen had a low-key arrival into the UK charts, with Pro-Gen entering at #55 on 7 April and dropping like a stone immediately. All but two of their subsequent fourteen singles over the next six years would go Top 40.
Like A Daydream – Ride (from the Play EP)
The growth in popularity of Ride continued, with their second EP entering the charts at #32 on 14 April, a very substantial improvement on the #71 peak of the debut some three months previously. I’m guessing this would be have been played quite a lot in an Our Price record store down in the Gillingham area of England…….but they were still some 12 months away from their commercial peak.
Love Child – Goodbye Mr Mackenzie
The Rattler had been a slow-burning hit single in 1989 for the Edinburgh-based combo and hopes were high that 1990 would bring more mainstream success. They were, to some extent, the victims of politics and bickering at their major label home, finding themselves shunted off Capitol Records and onto Parlophone (both, at the time, being part of the larger EMI conglomerate) with unrealistic expectations place on them. Love Child came in at #52 on 21 April and then disappeared from view, and when its follow-up 45 also bombed two months later, the label decided not to release an already recorded album and dropped the band. It was the beginning of the end, although one of the band, Shirley Manson, would find fame and fortune a few years later (with the highlight being a chance meeting with this blog’s favourite and most friendly lawyer)
Left Us To Burn – Martin Stephenson & The Daintees
No singles of note made their entry into the Top 75 on 28 April, so I’ve gone a little deeper to mention this 45, a more than sideways swipe at Margaret Thatcher for the way her policies had decimated so many working-class communities, including those in the north-east of England where Martin Stephenson and The Daintees had grown up. It entered at #85, continuing the run of undeserved flop singles. Little did any of us know that Thatcher’s reign was soon to come to an end……………………