June 1990.  My first birthday spent with Rachel.  She tried to book a last-minute trip to Italia 90 to take in Scotland v Brazil but there was just no room at the inn.  We ended up heading to Albufeira in Portugal where we watched a number of matches in various pubs that were packed with tourists from all parts of Europe – lots of great memories.

We weren’t the type to go clubbing as we felt ancient, but thinking on it now, we weren’t….it was just that the pure dance music of the era wasn’t our scene.  We were, however, enjoying some of the stuff that had a bit of an indie-bent to it, and many of the tracks that have been featured in previous editions of this feature, soundtracked that first happy summer together. As you’ll find out, June 1990 itself was a far from vintage month for new singles.

It began with EnglandNewOrder at the top of the pile.  It ended with Luciana Pavarotti battling for the #1 spot as folks rushed to buy his version of Nessun Dorma that had soundtracked the BBC coverage of the World Cup.  Football and music were now interlinked in a way that I hadn’t ever really experienced – interesting to note that the other #1 in the month of June 1990 was Sacrifice by Elton John who was one of the few pop superstars to have previously linked his fame with a love of the great game, having invested in his local and unfashionable club at Watford in the mid 70s and become its chair.

But’s that’s enough of the all-our-yesterdays stuff from me. Here’s the music.

Touched By The Hand of Cicciolina – Pop Will Eat Itself

See….I wasn’t bullshitting about the omnipresence of football and music in the month of June 1990.  PWEI had released eight singles prior to this, with only Can U Dig It ever scraping into the Top 40.  But they came to greater prominence with this magnificent celebration of Italia 90, combining a house tune, sampled football commentary and a lyric that paid homage to Italy’s best-known hardcore porn star.  The single came complete with a cheeky sticker on the sleeve that declared it the “unofficial World Cup Theme”.  Entered the charts on 3 June at #28, stayed in that position the following week and then dropped out quickly as soon as the tournament was over.

It’s still an incredible sounding piece of music.

Lazyitis – One Armed Boxer – Happy Mondays with Karl Denver

A single that had bummed on its initial release in May 1989 now re-entered the chart at #46 in June 1990, illustrating the huge interest in everything that was coming out of Madchester. Composed by a stellar and unusual cast – credits are rightly given to Lennon/McCartney, David Essex and Sly & The Family Stone as well as those who performed on the song.

Shall We Take A Trip – Northside

A third entry for Factory Records in the singles chart this week – possibly for the first and only time.  The debut single from Manchester band Northside hung about the lower end of the charts for a month or so, entering at #53 on 3June and rising to #50 the following week.  It’s a fairly impressive effort given that the single was banned by the BBC thanks to the drugs references.

I’ll mention in passing the appearance of an initial slow burner that eventually seemed to take over the nation.  Unknown American rapper MC Hammer sneaked into the charts at #66 on 3 June 1990.  Nobody was really paying too much attention – there was football to be watched.  Three weeks later, his infectiously catchy (i.e., annoying) U Can’t Touch This, propelled by a promo video dominated by a crazy dance and crazy trousers, went Top 20 where it stayed for a further 12 weeks.  There was barely a singles chart over the next year and a bit that didn’t have an MC Hammer song in the Top 75.

The chart of 10 June 1990 had plenty of new entries, but for the most part they should, mainly in the interests of good taste, also be skipped over:-

Step By Step – New Kids On The Block(#2)
Oops Up -Snap! (#13)
Nessun Dorma – Luciana Pavarotti (#22)
Whose Law (Is It Anyway) – Guru Josh (#32)
Thinking Of You – Maureen (#38)
Mona – Craig McLachlan and Check 1-2 (#44)
Move Away Jimmy Blue – Del Amitri (#54)
Love Is – Alannah Myles (#61)
Jack’s Heroes – The Pogues and The Dubliners (#64)
Ways Of Love – Claytown Troupe (#70)
Time – Kim Wilde (#73)
Chapel of Love – London Boys (#75)

Just typing out that list illustrates just how much money was spent by record labels on stuff that had no chance of ever recouping its cost. Utter madness.

There was one other new entry in the chart. Which sort of illustrated the point.

Won’t Stop Loving You – A Certain Ratio

ACR, had left Factory Records to sign with A&M in 1987. The major label obviously felt they had a success story on their hands but the Good Together album and the three singles lifted from it in 1989, had sold dismally.

They did, however, get their name into the singles chart in June 1990 with a new single, which benefitted from the fact that it had been remixed by a bloke whose band were at #1 in the charts. Yup, the friendship with Barney Sumner sort of paid off, and after entering at #69, the single climbed to the dizzy heights of #55. ACR were dropped soon afterwards by the label.

The chart of 17 June was similar to that of the previous week. The new entrants included Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Bruce Dickinson, and Magnum (an indication that some sort of hard rock festival was in the offing). It also saw Bob Geldof‘s appropriately titled Great Song of Indifference enter at #43 only to fall out of the charts altogether the following week.*


* CORRECTION :  I hadn’t spotted that Bob Geldof’s single in fact climbed the charts in the filling weeks and went on to be a Top 20 hit.  Happy to put the record straight…in my defence, I’ll just say that I can’t recall the song at all…


Two songs worth mentioning. The first of which saw a third chart single (#46) in 1990 for the biggest rap act on the planet, while the second saw a song enter at #67, a full 34 years after it had been a #1 hit:-

Brothers Gonna Work It Out -Public Enemy
Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones

The Stones single had been re-issued on the back of it being the title tune to the hit TV series Tour Of Duty.

The new chart of 24 June was just as depressing in terms of the majority of new singles. Indeed, the whole thing was pretty stagnant with only the aforementioned MC Hammer being a new song inside the top 20, with the others all hovering around the previous week’s positions.

These four, however, are rare rays of light, entering respectively at #40, #48 #49, and #75

She Comes In The Fall – Inspiral Carpets
Put The Message In The Box – World Party
Dangerous Sex – Tack Head
Anyway That You Want Me – Spiritualized

This was Tack Head‘s only ever brush with the singles chart.

The cover of a Troggs song was the debut single from Jason Pierce‘s new band following the break-up of Spaceman 3.  And one of SWC’s favourite songs of all time.

I bet these facts are making a few of you shake your heads and wondering where the time has gone.

(aged exactly 57 years)


22 thoughts on “THE BIG HITS…..30 YEARS ON (6)

  1. Many happy returns JC
    I was at Italia 90
    A great trip- apart from the football

  2. I remembered “The Great Song Of Indifference” as a bigger hit than that. And now I check, it was. It didn’t drop straight out, it climbed and peaked at #15 two weeks later.

  3. First things first- Happy birthday Jim, hope it’s a good one despite the current situation. Currently pissing down in Manchester.

    Second- what a summer 1990 was, being 20 years old might have played a part but still. Mine started with Spike Island in May, ‘our music’ hitting the top of the charts (Adamski, New Order) which felt significant, then Italia 90 which remains a great tournament in my mind. Obviously for those of us down here in England it was memorable for all sorts of reasons. When we lost the semi shoot out someone said to me ‘don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll be in another one soon’. Ha. In the middle of Italia 90 I went to Glastonbury. Happy days.

  4. And some great songs in your post I meant to say too, not least Won’t Stop Loving You which is ‘lifetime top 20’ stuff for me. Cicciolina is ace as well. Lazyitis. Public Enemy.

  5. Cheers Adam

    I think you’ve nailed the reason I’ve got hooked on this blogging nonsense…it acts as a reminder of great times of the occasionally dim and distant past, but more than anything it throws up some memorable tunes.

    Played Cicciolina at full tilt on the new turntable the other day….it was a real ‘wow’ moment and I really did feel like a young un again.

    1990 was Scotland’s fifth successive World Cup finals appearance. We’ve been to one since…….😂😂

  6. Happy Birthday good sir! That list of music reminded me of the coming of the Dark Times [a.k.a. The 90s] where I didn’t really like anything that was popular. It had been trending that way for a few years in the UK. Finally hearing The Associates when the “Popera” CD was available [they were not a band I encountered in Florida earlier except in print] conspired to make me turn away from the present music scene and instead look into that which I had missed earlier on in the abundance of incredible sounds vying for my attention in the ’78-’86 period, and thus pointed the way towards making me the Post-Punk Monk. It’s not exactly a bat flying in the window whilst brooding about my murdered parents, but there we are.

  7. Happy Belated Birthday JC! I hope the lemonade you made with the lemons at hand was tasty!

    My memories of the Summer of 1990 are based around purchasing loads and loads of house music, making mixtapes for friends and spending thursday – sunday night in nightclubs from Giant Step in Union Square to Limelight, The Roxy and Sound Factory. Most of the bands I loved were dormant or letting the side down and House filled the gap.

  8. It now seems that, whenever anyone puts a link within a comment, it goes into a ‘Pending’ folder where it sits till I release it for publication. Which is fine if I check things on a very regular basis.

    It’s taken three days to ‘free’ SWC’s comment which means I wasn’t able to pass on the news about the Frank Turner fund-raising effort.

    Apologies to all concerned.

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