This Week In 1988: November 6, 1988
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.
What was it about Australia in 1988? The nation was clearly having a hilarious time of it thanks the constant deluge of novelty tracks to invade the chart - and it wasn't just music that had people in stitches. Two of the biggest TV shows of the time were sketch comedy The Comedy Company and variety show Hey Hey It's Saturday, while "Crocodile" Dundee II kept the good times going at the cinema.
This week in 1988, one of the most popular characters from The Comedy Company debuted on the ARIA singles chart with a song that was, if we're being honest, absolutely terrible. That hardly mattered, since the series was a ratings smash and the character in question the breakout star of the show. The upper reaches of the chart beckoned.
At the very top of the chart this week in 1988, U2's "Desire" successfully held off challenges from several big hits all vying for the number 1 slot - but not for long!
Off The Chart
Number 96 "I've Been To Expo Too" by Baz & Blue
Peak: number 96
World Expo 88, which had just drawn to a close in Brisbane after six months, had attracted over 15 million visitors. Thankfully, this novelty single, a parody of Redgum's "I've Been To Bali Too", didn't interest anywhere near that amount of people.
Single Of The Week
Who? You may not be familiar with this Australian pop/rock band from the late '80s - especially since this track and the album from which it was taken, 1989's Elementary, didn't set the charts on fire. In fact, "Real Love" didn't even crack the ARIA top 100. But, it's likely a lot of you will have heard of the band they became once singer Jack Jones was added to the line-up: Southern Sons. Before Jack came along, guitarist Phil Buckle was vocalist for The State and penned pleasant tunes like this one.
Number 43 "You Came" by Kim Wilde
Peak: number 34
I'm still devastated that I was overseas in October and missed seeing Kim Wilde (and Nik Kershaw) perform in Sydney. This, my favourite of Kim's songs, would no doubt have been a highlight of the show. The second single from the recently re-released Close album (yes, I bought the 25th anniversary remastered, repackaged 2CD set), "You Came" returned her to the UK top 10 after lead release "Hey Mister Heartache" bombed. In Australia, "You Came" didn't do anywhere near as well, despite the fact that I bought the 7" single and fully expected it to shoot up the chart as a result.
Number 39 "Love Bites" by Def Leppard
Peak: number 21
British rockers Def Leppard had a slow start to their Hysteria campaign here in Australia, with none of the album's previous five singles making much of a mark locally. The biggest hit to date had been "Animal", which had peaked at number 46 a year earlier. "Love Bites" finally got the ball rolling and, as a result, some of those earlier tracks would end up charting in the subsequent months. Then, in July 1989 - almost two full years after it was originally released - Hysteria climbed all the way to the top of the albums chart here. Better late than never!
"Love Bites" itself was a chart-topper in the US (the band's only number 1 there) - and it was one of a handful of rock songs I liked from 1988. In fact, I've always had a soft spot for '80s Def Leppard (I lost interest by 1992's "Let's Get Rocked") and went to see them play in Sydney a couple of years ago (on a double bill with Heart). I'm happy to report anthems like "Love Bites" and "Animal" sounded just as good as they did back in the '80s.
Peak: number 8
The Comedy Company was so big in the late '80s that it even challenged current affairs powerhouse 60 Minutes for ratings supremacy on a Sunday night - and one of the characters responsible for the show's runaway success was teenager Kylie Mole, played by the childlike Mary-Anne Fahey (who was aged 33 at the time).
Besides releasing this double A-side abomination on the world, Kylie was also responsible for popularising the word "bogan", which at that point wasn't heard that much in Sydney (we used "westie" for the same effect). Some legacy, hey?
Like Morris Minor & The Major's "This Is The Chorus", "So Excellent" was a reasonable attempt at parodying the Stock Aitken Waterman sound - and Kylie Mole was obviously named in honour of Australia's most famous Kylie, who even appeared on The Comedy Company as school friend Rebecca.
Peak: number 3
Speaking of Kylie Minogue... here's the music debut of her then-boyfriend and Neighbours co-star, who also turned to SAW for their musical Midas touch. Originally offered to Rick Astley, "Nothing Can Divide Us" smashed its way into the top 5 here - although its release came almost two months after the single was issued in the UK. By reaching number 3 in Australia, "Nothing Can Divide Us" (for which Jason was still in full mullet mode) actually did better here than in Britain, where it only managed to get to number 5. I say "only" because Jason was about to embark on a string of UK chart-toppers, while his Australian chart fortunes quickly declined.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next week: a new/old hit from Jimmy Barnes as well as the debut of nu-Barnesy.