Part 5 of this monthly feature should, if I wasn’t incompetent, feature and tell the stories of all the new singles to chart in the month of May 1990.  The thing is, I stopped a week early last month, mistakingly putting in 7, 14, 21 and 28 April as the date of entry when in fact that was the last date of the chart week.  The piece has subsequently been corrected to ensure with dates of 1, 8, 15 and 22 April now been applied, but this means that the chart announced on 29 April has had to carry over to this piece.

April ended with Madonna still sitting on top of the pile for a fourth successive week with Vogue.  Here’s the new entries worth drawing attention to

A Dream’s A Dream – Soul II Soul

Soul II Soul had enjoyed a stellar year in 1989 – the album Club Classics Vol.1 had gone triple platinum on the UK and double platinum in the USA, not to mention the incredible sales right across Europe. It would go on to spend 60 weeks in the album charts in the UK. The year had ended with a number of personnel changes among the collective, particularly on the vocal side of things, but Jazzie B was adamant that the replacements would be every bit as stylish, classy and popular.

A Dream’s A Dream was the first of the new material and it entered the charts at #8 on 29 April. Jazzy’s prediction was a tad wide of the mark as that was the peak position for the single and its follow-up, Missing, stalled at #22 on its release some six months later. The parent album, Vol II: 1990 – A New Decade while far from a flop, had less than one-third of the sales of the debut. It’s fair to say that the collective’s popularity would decline with each passing year in the decade.

I’ll mention in passing that a previous hero and later racist released his fifth solo single around this time and it entered the chart on 29 April at #13. It’s a pity he’s now persona non grata around these parts as November Spawned A Monster is a very fine 45

Looking all the way down to #41, and you will see this:-

Soon – My Bloody Valentine

It must have been a bit of a sore one for MBV and Creation Records that the media buzz didn’t quite translate to mainstream chart success. A few more sales and Soon might well have cracked the Top 40 and possibly led to Kevin Shields & co. being invited onto Top of The Pops. Now, THAT would have certainly become a legendary and much-repeated clip. The single spent two more weeks in the Top 100 before dropping out. It would take until the following year for MBV to hit the higher echelons of the singles chart for the one and only time (To Here Knows When – #29, Feb 1991)

Stepping Stone – The Farm

The Farm, from Liverpool, had been recording and touring since 1984, although their output till this point in time had been four singles on four different and small independent labels. Nobody really took them too seriously, but then they began to be lumped in with the baggy sound that was coming out of nearby Manchester and their t-shirts became fashionable, out of which, they began to sell music in increasing quantities as will be shown in a future posting within this series.

Hippychick – Soho

Soho comprised of sisters Jacqui and Pauline Cuff, together with producer Timothy London. Formed in 1988, nobody had paid too much attention to the release of any of their material, even this, their fifth single, a dance-infused number that sampled one of the best and most popular tunes recorded by The Smiths. It sold only enough copies to reach #68. Later that year, it became very popular in the clubs of big cities in America, leading to it being ‘re-discovered’ over here and re-released in January 1991 when it went Top 10.

And so, at last, we reach May 1990. The month that saw me settle into a daily commute between Glasgow and Edinburgh with the routine involving lots of cassette tapes and a Sony Walkman. It was over these pieces of plastic that myself and Jacques the Kipper truly formed a friendship that remains just as strong today.

The first chart of May 1990, announced on Sunday 6 May, is not the finest. Adamski took over at the top from Madonna and Killer would hold that position for the entire month. The Top 20 is packed with things that have become the staple of Smooth Radio stations – Paula Abdul, Alannah Myles, New Kids on The Block, Heart, En Vogue, Natalie Cole and Phil Collins. Somehow or other, this managed to be a new entry at #20

Circlesquare – The Wonder Stuff

The Stuffies were another who had burst through in 1989, enjoying three Top 40 hits, two of which had been lifted from Top 5 album, Hup. The introduction of Martin Bell to play fiddle and banjo had changed the sound from fast and frantic indie-style guitar to something that wouldn’t have sounded out of place at folk festivals, albeit folk festivals in which the audience would be charged up on amphetamines. Circlesquare was the third single lifted from the album….the band hitched its wagon to what was happening elsewhere in the UK indie music scene with this remix for the 12″

Circlesquare (Paranoia Mix) – The Wonder Stuff

Maybe a little dated some 30 years on, but it was a welcome burst of energy back then. Other indie bands, such as Soup Dragons, were also paying attention….

The next new entry worth drawing attention to came in at #35.

How Was It For You? – James

James, in 1990, was another band more famous for t-shirts than chart hits. How Was It For You was their biggest success to date, with previous singles such as Sit Down and Come Home not cracking the Top 75. It would be 1991 when their world turned upside down (although a couple more minor hits will feature before this ongoing look at 1990 comes to an end)

Keep On – Cabaret Voltaire

As with The Cramps a few months ago, I had to rub my eyes in disbelief that Cabaret Voltaire had seen a 45 graze the middle section of the singles chart, with this coming in at #55. It was their highest ever success, albeit a later single in 1990 did reach #61. But that’s for another time.

There were 23 new entries into the singles chart in the first week of May 1990, an indication that record labels of all shapes and sizes had that time of the year marked down as one to pay particular attention to. The rest of the month was a bit quieter.

It’s My Life – Talk Talk

This proved to be a big hit for Talk Talk at the third time of asking. It had reached #46 when originally released in 1984 and #93 the following year when the record label misjudged the public’s appetite for it. It was chosen to promote the release of a ‘best of’ compilation and decent amounts of radio play saw it come into the charts on Sunday 13 May at #46. It would go on to enjoy a nine-week stay, peaking at #13, just one of four occasions that Talk Talk would make the Top 30.

The Desperate Hours – Marc Almond

I’ve previously had an in-depth look at the singular career of Marc Almond, and pointed out that he tended not to enjoy chart success unless he was covering someone else’s song. His previous effort, A Lover Spurned had managed to make the Top 30 – this flamenco style follow-up came in at #49 climbed three places and then disappeared from view.

Doin’ The Do – Betty Boo

The first chart solo sighting of the 20-year old Alison Clarkson, aka Betty Boo. Her vocal on Hey DJ – I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing) by The Beatmasters, a top 10 hit in late 89, had catapulted her to fame and she was tipped for big things as a solo performer. The record label did it the right way…no huge hype and instead justlet the pop music speak for itself. In at #58, from where it climbed all the way to #7, and the week it finally dropped out of the charts some three months later, the follow-up was released along similar lines, meaning a total of 22 successive weeks in the Top 75 and constant radio play. Boomania indeed….

Express Yourself – N.W.A.

One viewing of the excellent film-bio Straight Outta Compton will demonstrate that N.W.A. weren’t really ever going to worry about their profile in the UK. The fact that their 45s were wholly unsuitable for radio play was never a real factor. Express Yourself had originally been released to little fanfare in September 1989 but it would go on to crack the Top 30 at the second time of asking, having entered the charts initially at #42 on 20 May 1990. Can’t ever recall hearing it on daytime radio, but I’m sure one or more of the ‘wacky’ Radio 1 DJs would have picked up on it.

World In Motion – EnglandNewOrder

Italia 90 was looming. Football wasn’t yet a sport that was being embraced by the middle-classes – the tragedies of Heysel and Hillsborough still saw it as something that appealed only to the hooligan element in society. England reaching the semi-finals of the tournament went a long way to changing attitudes. It’s worth remembering that long before the tournament kicked-off, the best ever pop song by a football team had conquered the charts. This crashed in at #2 on Sunday 27 May…it went to #1 the following week and created history for Factory Records and New Order. It spent eight weeks in the Top 10. Things were never ever the same again.

And I just realised that the charts in May 1990 had two songs featuring the phrase ‘express yourself’…..

Chad Jackson – Hear The Drummer (Get Wicked)

A true one-hit-wonder for DJ and mixer, Chad Jackson. Something of a cash-in and novelty style effort, it entered the charts at the end of May 1990 at #12 and would peak at #3. It would likely have been a #1 hit if it hadn’t been for EnglandNewOrder.

The Only One I Know – The Charlatans

Seriously? 30 years?? If it hadn’t been for the fact that Indian Rope had come and gone without any clamour whatsoever, this would go down in history as one of THE greatest debut singles in the entire history of pop music. In at #24, it peaked at #9 in one of the weeks that EnglandNewOrder were at #1. And, to my utter disbelief, the first time I’ve ever posted the actual single to the blog.

As ever, I hope this has stirred a few memories for y’all.  There’ll be more reminiscing this time next month,

(aged 56 years and 11 months)

12 thoughts on “THE BIG HITS…..30 YEARS ON (5)

  1. As an American, quite a few surprises here, but none more than It’s My Life being a bigger hit here than in the UK when it came out in ’84. I just assumed it was a smash in your neck of the woods. Peaked in these parts at No. 31 in April. It was my favorite song for weeks until my ears heard Whisper to a Scream by Icicle Works at the end of May. That one just broke into the top 40 at No. 37.

  2. A lot of good memories from some cracking tunes ,
    Hard to believe it was 30 years ago !!!


  3. Summer 1990 – a new car, a particular girl, World Cup parties, and 8 of the above entering my record collection. Very little spare change, but good times.

  4. Enjoyed that, JC. And ‘Soon’ still sounds every bit as astonishing
    today as it did back then.

  5. I own 5 of those, 6 if you include To Here Knows When. I agree with Strangeways re: Soon. Oh, how we danced…

  6. I have a massively scandalous story I could tell you about Betty Boo a bottle of port a hotel room in Brighton and drummer from a mid nineties indie pop band….but I might get sued….
    If do and I do get sued…you will have a whip around for me yeah???

  7. A whip round is so last decade

    I’ll kick off the crowdfund effort.

    Spill them beans, SWC.


  8. Good selection. Summer 1990 was a great time. Killer at no. 1 then World In Motion, seemed like the underground had gone overground and it was good.

    Soon is an astonishing record. The Weatherall remix isn’t too shabby either.

  9. It seemed that way to some point…..but there really was a lot of dreadful music in the charts as well. The piece that will look back at June 1990 will offer an illustration……..

  10. I’d like to preface this by saying that New Order had plenty of great singles from 1993 on…HOWEVER, if there were any justice on this planet “World In Motion” should have ended their career. It would have ended any other group’s. It is just dreadful on so many levels. “En-ger-land”. UGH.

  11. This is a reminder that the chart’s weren’t all lost to NOW compilation type chart acts. Lot’s of jockeying for position for genres that were about to break. Kinda makes 1990 look like the bubbling under before the real explosion of sounds the next two years would bring.

  12. Great observation, Rich. Wait till you see June’s offerings on new singles hitting the charts……

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