Wednesday, 16 October 2013

This Week In 1988: October 16, 1988

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.

I always love an exciting chart week. Who wants only a couple of entries in the 40s when you can have half a dozen or more debuts bursting in as high as the top 5? 

Wendy James always did stand out from the crowd

This week in 1988, the ARIA chart was the most interesting it had been in a while with new songs by two of the world's biggest groups, the return of one of the decade's most successful singers, the second coming of Sabrina and the arrival of another sex bomb. Exciting stuff.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending October 16, 1988

What wasn't so exciting this week in 1988 was the stalemate at the number 1 spot with bloody "Simply Irresistible" still holding on for its fourth (of five) weeks on top.

Off The Chart
Number 82 "Mary, Mary" by Run-DMC
Peak: number 73
Taking on Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" had been a game-changer for the rap trio. Not so much their update of the song made famous (and taken in the Australian top 5 in 1968) by The Monkees.

Number 68 "Streets Of Your Town" by The Go-Betweens
Peak: number 68
Ten years after the release of their first single, the influential Brisbane indie band scored their biggest hit with the lead single from 16 Lovers Lane. "Streets Of Your Town" would later be sampled on Milky's 2002 dance hit, "Just The Way You Are".

Single Of The Week
"Rush Hour" by Jane Wiedlin
Peak: number 88
It didn't chart very well in Australia, but it was one of my favourite songs from 1988. A success in the US and UK, "Rush Hour" was the lead single from Fur, the second solo album by The Go-Go's guitarist but unfortunately it didn't lead to a Belinda Carlisle-like side career with it remaining her only hit single.

"Gary In The Tardis" by Gary Glitter & The Timelords
Peak: number 59
I had completely forgotten this track (a 12" release) existed. The Timelords' "Doctorin' The Tardis" was, of course, based heavily on the Gary Glitter track "Rock And Roll (Parts 1 & 2)" and this version featured input from the man himself. For all intents and purposes just an alternate mix to a pre-existing hit, it doesn't really justify its own chart appearance, but here it is anyway.

New Entries
Number 50 "I'm Sorry" by Hothouse Flowers
Peak: number 50
A second, albeit brief, chart appearance here from the Irish band who'd previously hit the top 40 with "Don't Go". I always associate Hothouse Flowers with Del Amitri, who we're yet to see on this blog, although I'm not sure why. I was never a big fan of this song, which sounds like something they'd play in one of those "speaking in tongues" tent churches in America's south.

Number 46 "Tougher Than The Rest" by Bruce Springsteen
Peak: number 35
Who knew The Boss released this many tracks from Tunnel Of Love? The fourth of five singles taken from the album, it followed "One Step Up" and came before "Spare Parts", both of which missed the Australian top 50. This track did better, though, and featured a memorable contribution from backing vocalist - and Bruce's future wife - Patti Scialfa, whose relationship with the recently separated singer was the cause of some controversy at the time. Also, who knew The Boss was an early supporter of relationship equality? Both gays and lesbians are shown among the montage of couples in the clip.

Number 41 "I Want Your Love" by Transvision Vamp
Peak: number 7
There was possibly no cooler band in 1988 than Transvision Vamp, led by the irrepressible Wendy James. "I Want Your Love" was actually the group's third release - with previous UK singles "Tell That Girl To Shut Up" and "Revolution Baby" flopping first time around. Those two songs would eventually be re-released and also make the Australian top 50, but "I Want Your Love" was definitely the stand-out track from debut album Pop Art.

Number 38 "Sexy Girl" by Sabrina
Peak: number 36
Appropriately becoming a two-hit wonder (boom tish!) in Australia, Italian sex siren Sabrina followed up "Boys (Summertime Love)" with this track, her debut single originally released in 1986. I slightly preferred "Sexy Girl" to "Boys", but without her bikini-clad pool antics, it made nowhere near as big a splash (thank you, I'll be here all week).

Number 31 "A Groovy Kind Of Love" by Phil Collins
Peak: number 2
After reuniting with Genesis for the Invisible Touch album, Phil was back on his own - and this time with a song from his first film. He played the title character, Buster Edwards, in Buster, the story of the Great Train Robbery in 1963, and contributed this cover of the song made famous by The Mindbenders in 1965 to the soundtrack. Phil's version was a chart-topper in the UK, but it had a near miss here in Australia, spending seven weeks in a row in the runner-up spot. The song it was stuck behind for most of those weeks was my most hated song for 1988 and is still to show up on the chart. Any guesses?

Number 29 "Wild, Wild West" by The Escape Club
Peak: number 6
Although this single was as Americana as it gets, The Escape Club were actually British, and this was their only big hit in Australia. "Wild, Wild West" is one of those songs with lyrics I can still recite all these years later (which, for me, in saying something since I rarely pay that much attention to the words). In the US, they managed one more top 10 single, 1991's "I'll Be There", but by 1992 the band was no more (although a version of the line-up did reunite in 2009). Fun fact: lead singer Trevor Steel would go on to manage and produce Australian pop/punk trio Short Stack.

Number 18 "Bad Medicine" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 4
It had been over a year since the final single was lifted from Slippery When Wet, so anticipation was high for this first taste of the New Jersey band's fourth studio album, which was named after their home state. I always preferred this type of Bon Jovi song than the overwrought rock ballads they'd churn out in the '90s - and "Bad Medicine" even came with a novel twist on their stock standard performance video. Fans (including a lot of barely clad girls) were given video cameras - check out how enormous they are! (the cameras, I mean) - and some of their footage is incorporated into the clip.

Number 4 "Desire" by U2
Peak: number 1

Hmmm, two debuts by the biggest bands in the world - it must've been getting close to Christmas. U2 joined Bon Jovi in releasing a new album just in time for the holiday period, with this future chart-topper the first taste of what Rattle & Hum had to offer. Having pretty much despised U2's last album, I was pleasantly surprised by "Desire", which hinted that perhaps they weren't so holier than thou as their Joshua Tree image had suggested. The extended mix of "Desire" also got a lot of play on music video shows, and I remember playing it in my music class - me on the piano and a friend on the drums. How rock'n'roll. 

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:

Next week: after a rush of new entries, the chart settled down the following week with only two songs making their top 50 debut - one, the latest by an Australian eight-piece group (how many of those exist?) and the other, the first appearance by one of the world's most famous lesbian performers.

Back to: Oct 9, 1988 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Oct 23, 1988


  1. I hadn't heard the 'Gary In the Tardis' track before... I love the Scottish accent voice (Bill Drummond?) introducing the remix.

    My first guess for your most hated song of the year (before reaching the end of the column) was U2's 'Desire' - one of my least favourite songs of 1988 (if only for blocking 'The Only Way Is Up' from hitting #1); but I think it's more likely to be a certain a cappella track.

    Trevor Steel of The Escape Club was also a replacement judge on the ill-fated Popstars Live in 2004.

    I remember not hearing Sabrina's 'Sexy Girl' until it debuted on Take 40 Australia, which I found a little odd, as I'd heard most singles at that time before they dented the chart. Perhaps a certain demographic rushed out to buy it purely because of the single sleeve; which, if I remember correctly, featured her wearing a wet, white bikini (the same shot used for the 'Sabrina' album) on the Australian pressing.

    1. You might be onto something with my most hated song prediction.

      I'd completely forgotten about Trevor Steel being on Popstars Live. Like most people, I've blocked that season (and the eventual winner) from my memory.

  2. Funny, I always associated Hothouse Flowers and Del Amitri together too.

    1. I didn't mind a couple of HF singles (although not the one above), but I couldn't stand Del Amitri!