Peak UK Chart Position: #18 in October 1992.
Essex dance act Sunscreem made their first impact on the top forty on this day in 1992, when the track “Love U More” entered at number 23. It was the first of four successive top forty hits out of eight in total.
Led by vocalist Lucia Holm, they achieved their biggest success with a cover of the Marianne Faithful song “Broken English”, hitting number 13 early in 1993. All of their first four hits came from the debut album O3, which also featured “Pressure” (which was remixed into “Pressure US” and became their fourth hit).
“Perfect Motion” has been remixed many times – from Carl Cox, Leftfield, and Heller & Farley back in 1992, to Way Out West and Starchaser in 2002, plus a version credited to James Fitch featuring Sunscreem in 2008. This, though, is the original radio version – sung live for Top of the Pops – and is an excellent performance.
Peak UK Chart Position: #1 in August 1983.
Climbing up the charts to number 19 on this day 33 years ago was a comeback of sorts for this American group.
Founded in 1973 by vocalist Harry Wayne Casey (hence KC), they scored a stack of disco and funk hits through the 70’s both sides of the Atlantic. “Queen Of Clubs” was their first UK hit, peaking at number seven in 1974. The following year, “That’s The Way (I Like It)” bettered that, reaching number four in the UK and number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 (their second chart topper there after “Get Down Tonight”).
At the very end of the decade, “Please Don’t Go” was released, peaking at number three in January 1980. The following year, the group split – but despite this, “Give It Up” gave them their biggest UK hit in 1983, topping the charts for three weeks. In many countries, the track was simply credited to KC himself.
I considered featuring the original Top of the Pops performance – which was a re-recording of the track especially for the show – but managed to find a much more recent rendition. Here from (what I gather is) the Netherlands’ “RTL Late Night”, possibly broadcast on 27th May 2015, this fantastic live performance. Casey turned 65 in January.
Peak UK Chart Position: #2 in August 1989.
Was this track one of those “wow” moments when you heard it for the first time?
It entered the charts at number ten on this day in 1989, from memory on 12″ sales alone. That was the first time I heard it, and Radio 1 didn’t shy away from letting Bruno Brookes feature it on the Top 40. It managed to appear as a playout on Top of the Pops too (on 10th August 1989) – conveniently ending before any female noises commenced.
Chicago house DJ and producer Marvin Burns was the man behind Lil’ Louis, who would have further chart success early in 1990 with the equally unique “I Called U”. Vocals on “French Kiss” – such as they are – were from (similarly) Chicago-born singer Shawn Christopher (biggest solo hit “Don’t Lose The Magic”, #30 in 1992).
Two videos were made, both featured below. Thanks to uploader “Zynsk”, who worked on many videos including these, the descriptions explain how video one was canned by the record company, and therefore was re-edited on a lower budget – meaning video two (as featured on TOTP) lasted just over two minutes.
Peak UK Chart Position: #13 in August 1990.
River City People were a four-piece, hailing from Liverpool. They were formed in 1986, but it wasn’t until 1989 that they released their debut single, the excellent “(What’s Wrong With) Dreaming?”. This was the track to ignite their chart career though, covering the Mamas and Papas classic (up to #16 on this day in 1990) before finally having moderate success with both their debut album and a re-release of their first single.
Lead singer Siobhan Maher also found time in the late 80’s to make her name as a television presenter: on both The Clothes Show and But First This!, a Children’s BBC summer holiday morning programme. Post River City People, she teamed up with the Bangles’ Debbi Peterson to form a duo called Kindred Spirit, who released a self-titled debut album in 1995.
This was a double-A sided single (ha, the memories) – “Carry The Blame” was always billed as the lead track, despite hardly gaining any exposure. At the time, this became the most successful version chart-wise, beating the original by ten chart places – until 1997, that is, when a re-release of the Mamas and Papas version got to number nine (thanks to exposure on a Carling Black Label commercial).
Here, from the 26th July 1990 Top of the Pops, Jakki Brambles brings us the track in question…
Peak UK Chart Position: #17 in June 2009.
Seven years ago, Paloma burst onto the scene – she had spent two years prior to that gaining exposure, almost joining Amy Winehouse’s band in the process, but instead choosing to write and perform her own material.
Born Paloma Faith Blomfield on this day in 1981, “Stone Cold Sober” was her debut single and became her first chart success. The debut album “Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful” was released in September of that year and managed a respectable number nine.
Since then, she has had mixed chart success – featuring on a number one track by Sigma (“Changing”) in 2014, and also scoring top ten hits with “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” (#6 in 2014) and “Picking Up The Pieces” (#7 in 2012), but missing the charts altogether with five of her releases. She won a BRIT Award in 2015 for best British female solo artist.
Here’s her debut single, as performed at Scotland’s “T In The Park” in 2015.
Peak UK Chart Position: #25 in October 1965.
Sixteen Billboard R&B Chart number ones, of which this was one – he had been scoring hits in America for almost ten years before this came along and gave him his first taste of UK success.
Born as Joseph James Brown Jr, in South Caroline, May 1933 – but due to a mistake on his birth certificate, the Joseph and James got reversed. He began singing on talent shows in 1944 (see, they’re not all bad!), and also went on to learn the piano and harmonica. He died on Christmas Day 2006 of heart failure caused by complications of pneumonia.
His success in the UK certainly wasn’t as strong as in his homeland, astonishingly only notching up one top ten hit – “Living In America” reaching number five in 1986 (and featuring in the film “Rocky IV”). His final chart hit was in 1999, “Funk On Ah Roll” (reaching #40) benefiting from an excellent 2-step garage version by English remixer Grant Nelson.
Here’s a performance from a legends concert in Chastain Park, Atlanta, in 1985. Brown may have been 52, but he still had the moves – and boy, were they moves – as this video clearly shows. Love the suit too…
Peak UK Chart Position: #4 in April 2012.
A rather odd anomaly with this one; yes, it’s categorised as peaking in 2012, but originally it hit the charts in 2005 – yes, eleven years ago – hitting a lowly number 27 back then. Interest was reinvigorated as a result of the song being performed on BBC’s “The Voice”, and the track managed a deserved top five placing seven years on.
Written together with will.i.am, the track won a Grammy in 2006 for Best Male Vocal R&B song. Legend was only four when he started learning the piano, with his first exposure to the mainstream being on “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” track “Everything Is Everything” from 1998.
It’s not the original that is featured here; instead, the excellent Johnny Douglas remix that sounds absolutely perfect on a sunny day – which hopefully it is if you’re in the UK today. Nothing to speak of video-wise here, just a still of Legend.
Peak UK Chart Position: #23 in June 1993.
As a member of Queen, Brian May chalked up 53 top forty hits, and this week saw Drake tie level with the number of weeks “Bohemian Rhapsody” spent at number one overall – fourteen.
As a solo artist, he has reached the heights of number two – although that was technically as a featured artist on the Dappy track “Rockstar” in 2012. “Too Much Love Will Kill You” reached number five in 1992, and “Driven By You” (remember the Ford commercial?) reached number six in 1991.
Cozy Powell, who died in 1998, was a legendary rock drummer, who performed with Rainbow, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, and many more. “Dance With The Devil” was his biggest solo success, a number three in 1973. He also covered the track “Theme One” in 1979 which had been used as the daily opening music in Radio 1’s early life.
Here’s “Resurrection”, with May (who turns 69 today) singing live. Random pop fact: he performed the guitar solo on Living In A Box’s “Blow The House Down”…
Peak UK Chart Position: #27 in July 1993.
“Automatic For The People” was the eighth studio album for R.E.M, going seven times platinum in the UK (over 2.1 million copies sold), and selling over 18 million units worldwide. It spawned six singles, of which this was the fifth.
Quite surprisingly, for a band of R.E.M’s magnitude, they only ever had one top three single in the UK – that was “The Great Beyond” in 1999 (peaking at #3) – but conversely, eight number one albums. It has been almost five years since they disbanded – September 21st 2011 seeing the announcement made on their website.
Here, from “R.E.M Day” on MTV (although I cannot seem to find out the date), a beautiful live performance of “Nightswimming”.
Peak UK Chart Position: #3 in June 2009.
Wait, what? Seven years ago?
Not just seven years ago, but I was also pretty certain it got to number one. Not so; Swedish-born Agnes Carlsson, winner of her homeland’s “Idol 2005”, bounced from 3-4-3-4 before drifting slowly down the chart. Her follow-up, “I Need You Now” (which I vaguely remember) baulked at number 40.
Far more success in her homeland: she has had twelve top forty hits there, one of which – in 2007 – was a cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (I’ll let you trouble YouTube for that if you so desire). She has also managed to make the top five with all five of her album releases back home (one of which was a greatest hits collection).
Here then is the early-summer smash, “Release Me”, taken from the ultimate daytime pop show, GMTV. Or what looks like the Lorraine segment, to be more accurate. Trust me though, it is one of the better quality performances all round.