This Week In 1988: May 1, 1988
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.
You couldn't have asked for two songs more diametrically opposed than a couple of the new entries on the ARIA chart this week in 1988. One was the debut solo single by the former vocalist of an '80s band known for its politically-charged music, the other was the breakthrough hit for an Italian singer famed for her large breasts.
We'll get to those and the other debuts in a bit, but with five songs going into the top 50, one of last week's new tunes slipped back out for the time being. Despite "Sweet Little Mystery" by Wet Wet Wet descending the chart, it registers as one of this week's breakers - a somewhat curious status to give to a song going the wrong way (the track would re-enter the top 50 in a couple of weeks' time).
One song going the right way was the week's new number 1 single. Billy Ocean's "Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car" knocked "I Should Be So Lucky" from the summit and would go on to spend five weeks in the top spot.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 100
If anything was going to give this British band a hit, it was a song that featured the hook "yabba dabbo doo time" and lead singer Bill Carter emulating Fred Flintstone's "Wilmaaaa" scream. It only grazed the ARIA top 100, but went top 30 in the UK.
Number 99 "In Dreams" by Pete Bardens
Peak: number 99
I've never heard this solo single by the singer/keyboardist from prog rockers Camel before, although its beat reminds me of Amii Stewart's version of "Knock On Wood", which is no bad thing.
Peak: number 75
It's unfortunate none of the dance-pop singles released by one-time Madonna producer, remixer and boyfriend John Benitez made much of a dent on the Australian chart. This, his biggest hit - a number 16 in the US and number 10 in the UK - featured former Star Search winner Elisa Fiorillo, who would make an impression locally in 1991 with "On The Way Up".
Peak: number 68
I guess most Acca Dacca fans had Blow Up Your Video by now, with this second single from the album falling some way short of the top 5 peak of predecessor "Heatseeker".
Single Of The Week
The career of his former bandmate, Jimmy Barnes, was firing on all cylinders, but it was a much more modest start to life after Cold Chisel for keyboardist Don Walker, who recorded under the name Catfish. This track, which didn't crack the top 100, was the first single from the project, but it would take until November and the release of "The Early Hours" for Catfish to break into the top 100 - and then, with only a number 72 hit. The album, Unlimited Address, which also surfaced in November, grazed the top 50 at number 49.
Number 49 "Shake Your Love" by Debbie Gibson
Peak: number 27
She'd been landing hits in the US throughout 1987, and finally Australia caught up and gave 17-year-old singer Debbie Gibson her first chart entry. Her second single, "Shake Your Love" would be the only song from debut album Out Of The Blue to make the top 50, but bigger things were around the corner for her locally...
Number 48 "Boys (Summertime Love)" by Sabrina
Peak: number 11
Speaking of big things... I know, it's a cheap gag, but come on, Sabrina Salerno knew exactly what she was doing when she donned a too-tight white bikini and struggled to keep it on in the clip for this big pop hit. "Boys (Summertime Love)" quickly climbed into the top 20 and, just like the model/singer did in that swimming pool, spent weeks bouncing around the top half of the chart. The music video was probably the major reason the song became a hit in this country - who didn't record it off Rage or MTV and press pause at just right the moment? - with continued plays ensuring the track stayed in the top 100 for over half a year.
Peak: number 3
It's interesting that a singer/songwriter who'd already penned hits for Laura Branigan and Cher (and recorded four albums of his own) made his first chart appearance with a cover version - but it was indeed this song, originally recorded by Otis Redding, that turned mullet-loving Michael Bolton into a star in his own right. Michael's version of the 1968 track was particularly big in Australia, where it held the number 3 spot for three weeks. He soon made up for his slow start and would dominate mainstream music over the coming years.
Number 46 "Suedehead" by Morrissey
Peak: number 45
Here he is: the musical antithesis to Sabrina (I'm sure that's how he'd describe his role in music history as well!). With The Smiths having disbanded in late 1987, Steven Morrissey wasted no time cracking on with a solo career - and this debut single did something his band had never managed: it made the top 50. 1984's "This Charming Man" had narrowly missed (it peaked at number 52) but "Suedehead" even managed to climb one more spot from this entry position.
I was never a fan of The Smiths (although I eventually warmed to "This Charming Man" and "How Soon Is Now" many years later), and the only things I knew about Morrissey were that I found his music pretty depressing and that he'd once appeared on the cover of Smash Hits with Dead Or Alive's Pete Burns. Despite the latter to recommend him, I wasn't interested at all in "Suedehead" and I can't say the song has grown on me since 1988.
Peak: number 5
When it comes to the guys, it really is all about the hair this week! From one British singer with a distinctive quiff to another... the week's biggest debut was the latest hit from Rick Astley, which had been a Christmas release back in the UK. The double A-side paired Rick's cover of Nat King Cole's "When I Fall In Love" with a brand new track not available on Whenever You Need Somebody.
For me, "My Arms Keep Missing You" was the much better song, but since it didn't have a video, many people only ever heard the dreary "When I Fall In Love", which came with a clip featuring Rick mostly standing around like a lemon in the snow. Despite his unwillingness to get indoors, Rick could do no wrong in the eyes of the public and the single returned him to the top 5 for a third time in a row.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next week: it's not as eclectic a line-up as this week, but we will remember two hit singles from bands who'd been around since the '70s.