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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1988: May 15, 1988

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

In the digital age, the theory is that you can buy any song you want from any era in music with a couple of clicks. The reality is a little different since there are huge gaps in what's available at online stores and on streaming services - but that's a topic for another post.

Louis Armstrong was 1988's most unexpected chart-topper

In 1988, however, music fans were only able to purchase what the record companies had on current release and, when it came to singles, that was a relatively small amount of tracks at any given time. So, the chances of a song from, say, 1967 entering the top 50 were pretty much zero - unless, of course, the song in question was given a timely re-release.

That's what happened this week in 1988, when a song from a couple of decades earlier started to shoot up the chart to number 1. Meanwhile, still at number 1 this week in 1988 was Billy Ocean's "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car".

Off The Chart

Number 97 "Rock Of Life" by Rick Springfield

Peak: number 92

After a three-year absence, Aussie expat Rick Springfield returned to the ARIA and Billboard top 100s for one last time, although this single from the album of the same name did much better in the US (number 22) than here.

Number 96 "Haunt You" by Do-Re-Mi

Peak: number 91

Also making a final chart appearance was Do-Re-Mi, with the second single from The Happiest Place On Earth (and one of their best songs). The album's title track missed the chart when released next and the band split during work on the follow-up LP. 

Number 94 "That's What Love Is All About" by Michael Bolton

Peak: number 92

This typically Bolton-esque ballad had been released back in March ahead of "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay", but thanks to the success of that remake, which shot up to number 14 this week, Michael's first US top 20 hit received a belated bump in interest here.

Number 83 "Family Man" by Fleetwood Mac

Peak: number 83

Australia followed America's lead and saved this Lindsey Buckingham track until the fifth single from Tango In The Night (as opposed to in the UK, where it came out ahead of "Everywhere"). A wise choice, with "Family Man" becoming the first cut from the album to miss the top 50.

New Entries

Number 49 "Underneath The Radar" by Underworld

Peak: number 5

Eight years before "Born Slippy", British dance act Underworld scored a top 5 hit in Australia with this track from the album of the same name. "Underneath The Radar" wasn't successful anywhere else in the world, which is odd since it's a great song that still sounds fantastic today, but the good times were short-lived, with nothing else from the group charting until the Trainspotting soundtrack hit reached the top 20 in 1996. In those intervening years, band members came and went, and Underworld's sound developed from pop/dance to a harder techno-based sound... so at least they kept busy.

Number 47 "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong

Peak: number 1

Here's the arrival of the song from 1967 I was talking about above, by an artist who'd passed away in 1971. A four-week UK number 1 in 1968, the track hadn't originally been successful in the US but its appearance on the soundtrack of the Robin Williams film, Good Morning Vietnam, changed that - with the song finally cracking the top 40 there.

In Australia, "What A Wonderful World" would go on to reach number 1 for one week in July 1988 - a vast improvement on its original number 22 placing in 1968. It wasn't the first time (and it wouldn't be the last) that a posthumous release charted in Australia. As recently as 1987, Jackie Wilson's "Reet Petite" had hit the top 20 here after it topped the UK charts at Christmas 1986.

Meanwhile, the Good Morning Vietnam soundtrack also hit the number 1 spot on the Australian album chart and was soon joined in the upper reaches by the first of several soundtrack albums for the TV series, Tour Of Duty, which was set during the Vietnam War as well.

Number 41 "Cars And Girls" by Prefab Sprout

Peak: number 41

Debuting where it would peak is this track by a British band I always group in with bands like Aztec Camera and Deacon Blue - they released a lot of sweet pop tracks but never really gained much traction in Australia. They're all also groups I own greatest hits albums by, but only ever listen to about two or three songs on them. "Cars And Girls" was the first single from the From Langley Park To Memphis album, which also included their biggest UK single (and only top 10 hit), "The King Of Rock 'n' Roll".

Number 40 "You're Not Alone" by Australian Olympians

Peak: number 18

It had become a tried and true method for raising money in the 1980s - get a group of musicians together, record a single, watch it fly up the charts and donate the proceeds to the good cause. In this case, the inspirational "You're Not Alone" was released to raise money for the Australian Olympics team, since sending them all the way to Seoul for that year's games was a pretty costly affair in a year when the government had spent a huge wad of cash on the Bicentenary.

Soloing on the track (in order of appearance) are Redgum's John Schumann, Keren Minshull (who'd be part of Euphoria a few years later), Ross Wilson, Kate Ceberano, Rick Price (who wouldn't release a record until 1992), Angry Anderson, Jon English, Brian Mannix, Richard Wilkins (yes, really), Paul Field, Grace Knight and Bernie Lynch from Eurogliders, Daryl Braithwaite and Julie Anthony. For some reason, comedian Vince Sorrenti, and presenters Jono (the one behaving like a dick down the front) & Dano and Michael Horrocks were also among the chorus.

The name of the female trio with the big hair escapes me - but I do seem to remember them popping up on shows like Midday and Good Morning Australia at the time. Anyone? 

EDIT: It's the Fabulous Singlettes - how could I have forgotten them?

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

Next week: eight songs to recap - spanning the full range of musical genres from heavy metal to pure pop.

Back to: May 8, 1988 <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 22, 1988

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