This Week In 1988: December 18, 1988
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.
After last week's bumper crop of 10 new entries into the ARIA top 50 (which I'm reliably told was one of only three times in the '80s when there were that many debuts), this week in 1988 there was a grand total of one new entry. Yep, one. And it wasn't even from a new artist or anything interesting like that.
Still, there are also two breakers to recap as well as that sole new entry, so let's get on with it (and I'll flip the chart over to look at the albums chart for good measure, too). Oh yeah, "Don't Worry Be Happy" was still number 1. Moving on...
Off The Chart
Number 98 "Take It So Hard" by Keith Richards
Peak: number 95
The lead single from The Rolling Stones' guitarist's debut solo album, "Take It So Hard" sounds pretty much like something his band would have released... just with an inferior vocal.
Peak: number 72
While Jimmy Barnes was riding high on the singles and albums charts this week in 1988, his former Cold Chisel band-mate Don Walker was having a tough time launching his new project, Catfish. We saw the band's debut single featured as a Single Of The Week back in May and now the second release from album Unlimited Address (which peaked at a pretty dismal number 50) actually cracked the top 100. It didn't get very high and it would be another ex-Cold Chisel member altogether who'd briefly rival Jimmy on the charts... but we'd have to wait until 1989 for that.
Peak: number 70
It wouldn't really be accurate to call Chris Rea's 1988 album, New Light Through Old Windows, a greatest hits collection since he hadn't had that many successful singles to date in his 10-year recording career. In Australia, he'd had two substantial hits: 1979's "Diamonds" (which wasn't even on New Light...) and 1987's "Let's Dance", which, by reaching number 9, was his highest-charting single here.
The lack of chart action might have been why Chris re-recorded his prior singles - it's not like many people would know the difference. One of those revamped songs was "On The Beach", which had been a single in 1986. This new version was a big success in the UK, but it didn't do the business in Australia - and the first I heard of the song was when it was remade by trance act York in 2000.
Peak: number 41
It may have given Guns 'n' Roses their second chart hit, but "Welcome To The Jungle" had actually been released prior to "Sweet Child O' Mine". A flop first time around, it became a US top 10 hit in the wake of the success of "Sweet Child..." but didn't do quite so well in Australia. I can't say I was upset.
Well, that was pretty boring, wasn't it? But, what sort of blogger would I be if I left you with only that dismal effort the week before Christmas. So, let's turn over and see what was happening on the albums chart during the year's peak record-buying season.
Greatest hits explosion
Nothing says Christmas like best of albums - and one of my all-time favourites was released in 1988: The Greatest Hits Collection by Bananarama, which even received Album of the Week billing on the ARIA chart. Finally I owned "Venus", "Cruel Summer" and "Shy Boy" - tracks I'd loved for years but had never bought. Other retrospective collections out for Christmas included ones by Bryan Ferry, the aforementioned Chris Rea, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon and, if you include live albums, Jimmy Barnes, whose Barnestorming spent a second week at number 1.
Until recent years, an easy Christmas gift for tweens and teenagers was the various artists compilation (now it's an iTunes voucher) - and that was never more the case than in 1988. This week 25 years ago, three various artists releases were in the top 10 - the biggest being future chart-topper Summer '89, which included "Two Strong Hearts", "The Only Way Is Up", "Bad Medicine" and "I Want Your Love" among many other big hits. Rival compilation 1989 Be Happy obviously contained Bobby McFerrin's abomination, but despite including the number 1 song in the country, as well as recent hits by both Kylie and Jason, the tracklisting was far inferior overall. The tracks on Smash Hits 88, meanwhile, were of a much higher standard (including chart-toppers "The Flame", "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" and "Perfect"), but spanned the year as a whole, so weren't as new as those on the other two releases.
Besides Barnesy, who held down the number 42 spot as well as topping the chart, there were 9 other albums by Australian acts (out of a total of 36 artist albums) in the top 50. Three of those were in the top 10, with INXS's Kick still going strong after 60 weeks on the chart at number 11. No wonder it wound up as the year's biggest seller. John Farnham also scored a double entry, with Whispering Jack (the week's 46th biggest seller) having passed two years on the top 50. Other Aussie artists in the top 50 included 1927, Noiseworks and Chantoozies.
Rock rules the roost
As usual, rock bands like U2, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi, Poison, Guns 'n' Roses and Def Leppard dominated the Australian chart. Right at the bottom of the top 50, there was even an entry by The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards - one of three guitarists to make the list (Joe Satriani and Robert Cray being the other two). Poor Barbra Streisand and Anita Baker - the week's only non-compilation debuts - couldn't compete with all that testosterone, only managing to creep in at the bottom of the chart.
Soundtracks stake their claim
Between Cocktail at number 5 and Buster at number 50, there were eight soundtrack albums in total on the chart - including two volumes of Tour Of Duty. Also making an appearance: the soundtrack for TV's The Comedy Company. It wasn't just TV and movies generating albums sales - the cast album for stage show The Phantom Of The Opera held strong after more than half a year on the chart.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next week: the final ARIA chart for 1988 - as well as that year's end-of-year countdown.