This Week In 1988: August 7, 1988
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.
Sometimes it takes a while for a song to become a hit - and in the case of the highest new entry this week in 1988, three years passed between the single's original release and it peaking inside the Australian top 10.
That was one year extra than it took the song to reach the chart in the US - but in 1988, it wasn't unusual for Australia to take longer to catch on to musical trends than in Europe and North America. In recent years, that situation has often been reversed, with Australia among the first countries to champion the likes of Lady Gaga, Icona Pop and Passenger.
The chart champion this week in 1988 was still John Farnham, whose "Age Of Reason" single showed no signs of going anywhere. John also had the number 1 album, with Age Of Reason debuting at the top of the albums chart. The artist he had dethroned from the top of the singles chart, Kylie Minogue, entered the albums chart one spot behind him with Kylie.
The Australian release date of Kylie was a couple of weeks after the UK release, and I can't help but think that scheduling it to come out up against John Farnham was a bad idea - and Kylie may well have landed herself a number 1 with her debut album if Australia hadn't been made to wait.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 100
The album's title track would end up winning the MTV VMA for Best Video Of The Year, but it was this second single from This Note's For You which made a fleeting visit to the top 100.
Number 49 "Make Me Lose Control" by Eric Carmen
Peak: number 8
On a roll after his Dirty Dancing contribution, mullet-loving singer Eric Carmen landed back-to-back top 10 hits for the first time in his career, which stretched right back to 1972 when he was singer for Raspberries. The awesome "Make Me Lose Control" was a new track included on The Best Of Eric Carmen, released to capitalise on his sudden surge in fame.
Number 48 "Strokin'" by Clarence Carter
Peak: number 24
I don't know why more artists don't do it since it pretty much always guarantees a hit record. I'm talking about releasing a rude, overtly sexual or controversial song. From "I Want Your Sex" to "Gett Off" to "Closer" to "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)", explicit songs generally do very well. 1988's racy record was "Strokin'" by blind American soul singer Clarence Carter, who was 50 years old at the time and had last visited the Australian chart in 1970 with top 10 single "Patches". And, although a peak position of number 24 might not seem that impressive, "Strokin'" hung around the chart until Christmas, and even poked its head back into the top 50 in February 1989, as people around the country gradually discovered the track since radio and TV airplay was virtually non-existent. Listening to the track now, it seems fairly tame, but it was definitely titillating at the time.
Number 47 "Intimacy" by Machinations
Peak: number 40
There weren't many successful Australian synthpop bands during the '80s. Real Life, Pseudo Echo and Wa Wa Nee were probably the biggest in the genre, while Venetians, Kids In The Kitchen and INXS incorporated synth sounds into some of their tracks. Then there were the good old Machinations, who kept plugging away throughout the decade and, despite releasing some really great synthpop tracks, never landed a top 10 hit. "Intimacy" was the second single from the Uptown album (which didn't surface until October 1988) and would be the band's final top 40 appearance. Two more singles, "Do It To Me" and "Cars & Planes", were released from Uptown but neither made much impact (although I seem to remember the "Do It To Me" clip being the kind of racy video that MTV loved playing at the time).
Number 38 "Oh Yeah" by Yello
Peak: number 9
Here's some more synthpop - this time from Switzerland, and, as I mentioned at the start, "Oh Yeah" had originally been released in 1985, but it only became a hit song after its use in Ferris Bueller's Day Off in 1986 and The Secret Of My Success in 1987. A year after it started climbing the Billboard Hot 100, Australia finally started to take an interest in the quirky track and ended up giving the band a top 10 hit locally. Like "Strokin'", "Oh Yeah" felt a bit too much like a novelty record for me - and the clip always received the fast forward treatment when I watched the Rage top 50 back on a Saturday morning.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next week: another song flies straight into the top 10 and the arrival of rap's flyest females.