This Week In 1988: May 22, 1988
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.
It was a real mixed bag this week in 1988 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.
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.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 98
A few years earlier, this slush-fest from the man who gave the world "Sometimes When We Touch" might've done better. In 1988, it didn't follow "Can't We Try" into the top 50.
Number 97 "Ideal World" by The Christians
Peak: number 89
In the UK, this fourth single from the brothers Christian improved on the performance of their previous release to give them their first top 20 hit. In Australia, it was a different story.
Number 88 "I Need A Man" by Eurythmics
Peak: number 78
It had to happen eventually, especially if Eurythmics insisted on releasing songs like this - "I Need A Man" became their first single to miss the top 50 since back in 1983 when "This Is The House" bombed.
Number 86 "Girlfriend" by Pebbles
Peak: number 86
The new jack swing sound of LA Reid and Babyface was yet to break in Australia, but this breakthrough hit for the future Mrs Reid was a top 10 smash in the US and the UK.
Single Of The Week
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.
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 in 1988, 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.
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.
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.
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. Still, it did better than the two next singles Rockmelons released from their debut album. They both registered in the top 100, so we'll see them in the Off The Chart section in the coming months, but the album and the band deserved better.
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.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next week: the first chart appearance of a certain shaven-haired singer and the return of one of the decade's most prolific artists.