Wednesday, 22 May 2013

25 Years Ago This Week: May 22, 1988

It was a real mixed bag 25 years ago this week on the Australian singles chart - and there are a lot of songs to talk about, so I'll get (more or less) straight into it.

Nat King Cole's daughter finally scored a big
Australian hit in 1988

Still holed up at number 1 in 1988 was Billy Ocean, whose "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" was unshakable, spending its fourth week on top.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 22, 1988

Single Of The Week
"Nothing But Flowers" by Talking Heads
Band member Jerry Harrison was still riding high in the top 10 with solo track "Rev It Up", but Talking Heads were struggling with the singles from what would be their final album together, Naked. Lead single "Blind" missed the Australian top 100, as did this second track lifted from the album, which wasn't as accessible as their mid-'80s output - a period during which the band had enjoyed three top 20 singles locally ("Road To Nowhere", "And She Was" and "Wild Wild Life"). Talking Heads wouldn't last much longer, although an official announcement about their split didn't come until 1991.

"Tell It To The Moon" by Martha Davis
Peak: number 65
The former Motels frontwoman was still at number 31 (after reaching number 8) with her first solo hit, "Don't Tell Me The Time", this week 25 years ago, but despite being written by hitmaker Diane Warren, this follow-up couldn't manage anything like that. I don't actually recall the song from the time but it's not a bad track - even if it didn't come from Diane's top drawer (presumably her best songs were reserved for Cher and Belinda Carlisle at that point in time). Martha would squeeze another single from the Policy album, but "Don't Ask Out Loud" would perform even worse.

"Can I Play With Madness" by Iron Maiden
Peak: number 58
My enduring memory of Iron Maiden is hearing their 1982 track "Run To The Hills" being played at our local rollerdisco. So rock'n'roll! If I'd grown up in the US, I might've had quite a different experience of the heavy metal group, whose records were thought to be loaded with Satanic exhaltations and burnt by Christian groups. Naturally, the controversy didn't do the band much harm and they had a massive following throughout the decade - a fanbase that has stuck with them to this very day.
"Can I Play With Madness" was the first single from Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, an album title that had its own religious connotations. The song peaked outside the top 50 in Australia, a country where the British band didn't ever make massive chart appearances, but was one of four top 10 singles from the album in the UK.

New Entries
Number 49 "I Want You Back" by Bananarama
Peak: number 3
This is more like it! My favourite single of all time by my favourite girl group of all time - and it was the first to feature new band member Jacquie O'Sullivan (although, bizarrely, the girls' Australian record company still had one single featuring departed member Siobhan Fahey up their sleeve for later in the year). Their highest-charting single in Australia since "Venus", "I Want You Back" would get almost all the way to the other end of the chart. The album it was from, WOW, would even spend a single week at number 1 in June making 1988 one of the best years for Bananarama in this country.

Number 48 "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" by Whitney Houston
Peak: number 48
The problem with having a massive selling album in the '80s (if it can, in fact, be called a problem) is that after the initial singles were released, subsequent singles often failed to register that highly in Australia. We've seen it with Michael Jackson songs like "Man In The Mirror" under-performing and here is where Whitney peaked with the fourth single from Whitney - a track that became her seventh consecutive number 1 single in the US.

Number 46 "Get It On" by Kingdom Come
Peak: number 39
You couldn't swing a cat in the late '80s without hitting an American hard rock band with lots of hair - and although they didn't all cross over in Australia (I wasn't that bothered we missed out on Cinderella, Dokken and Ratt), Kingdom Come made a small impact with this single from their self-titled debut album. I don't think I've ever heard the song before now and always assumed it was a cover of the T.Rex/Power Station hit. It's not.

Number 42 "What's It Gonna Be" by Rockmelons
Peak: number 41
Another great single from Tales Of The City. Another disappointing chart performance, with this ballad only climbing one more spot. Rockmelons would register one final top 100 placing from their debut album, with the Wendy Matthews-sung "Jump" reaching number 81 on the Australian Music Report later in the year. What's the Australian Music Report? Oh, don't worry - we'll get to that in a few weeks' time.

Number 39 "Pink Cadillac" by Natalie Cole
Peak: number 6
The daughter of music legend Nat King Cole had been releasing records since 1975, a year in which she'd scored her first Australian chart hit with debut single "This Will Be" (it reached number 28). But, that was it for Natalie until 1988 and this inspired cover of the Bruce Springsteen B-side. I was never a massive fan of the song, and especially not the extended mix video which rage always seemed to play instead of the radio version. It wouldn't be quite as long a wait for Natalie to register another appearance on the ARIA chart, with her biggest hit of all just three years away.

Next week: the first chart appearance of a certain shaven-haired singer and the return of one of the decade's most prolific artists.

Back to: May 15, 1988 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 29, 1988

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