This Week In 1988: February 7, 1988
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.
It has to be said: the charts for the first few weeks of 1988 had been a bit hit and miss. Actually, more miss than hit - for every "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" (which climbed to number 1 this week) or "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" (up at number 6) there had been several non-event singles to enter the top 50.
That changed as we came into February, with every one of this week's new entries a future top 10 hit. Plus, in weeks to come, some of the year's biggest singles made their debuts.
The year's biggest single of all was the aforementioned theme from Dirty Dancing, which ascended to number 1 this week in 1988 for Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, who would spend a total of six weeks on top.
Off The Chart
Number 100 "The Motive" by Then Jericho
Peak: number 89
The first of two UK top 20 singles for the pop band who always seemed to be in the English music magazines I bought on import but never crossed over locally.
Number 94 "Don't Make Me Wait For Love" by Kenny G
Peak: number 94
Originally the lead single from Duotones, this smooth jazz track featuring Tower Of Power's Lenny Williams on vocals made number 15 in the US on re-release and returned the saxophonist to the ARIA top 100.
Peak: number 92
Another minor top 100 entry from Elton John's Live In Australia album, which made up for its lack of singles success by getting to number 5 - the same position reached by both this single in the UK and the original 1974 version in Australia.
Peak: number 64
If at first you don't succeed, try again. If you still don't succeed, try one more time - and maybe break through in America in the meantime. That was the story for Scottish band Danny Wilson, whose first two attempts to turn "Mary's Prayer" into a hit in the UK came up short. Only after it had started climbing the US chart did the British public get on board, with the song finally reaching number 3 there. Perhaps a re-release or two might have helped in Australia as well?
The concept of reissuing a single until it became a hit strikes me as a very '80s concept - with Pet Shop Boys, Wham! and Bros just some of the acts that benefitted from the practice, although in those cases, it was the re-release of an earlier single once they'd had success rather than the repeated re-release of the same song.
Number 49 "Some People" by Cliff Richard
Peak: number 7
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sir Cliff a few weeks back to talk about his upcoming Australian tour and it's easy to forget just what a chart phenomenon he once was because, apart from the odd seasonal release, he hasn't really had that many hits in the last couple of decades. In the '80s, he was still on a roll that stretched right back to 1958. With "Some People", he added yet another top 10 hit to his tally, returning to the upper reaches of the chart for the first time since 1986's remake of "Living Doll" with The Young Ones, which remains his only number 1 hit in this country. But Cliff's impressively long era of hit-making was about to come to an end - he wouldn't return to the top 10 for over a decade and when he did so it was with 1999's polarising "The Millennium Prayer".
Peak: number 3
From one of England's most established stars we now come to that nation's newest success story. Like Cliff Richard, Rick Astley was about to become very accustomed to scoring hit records, albeit for a much shorter span of time. Not quite as big as his debut effort, second single "Whenever You Need Somebody" quickly jumped up to its top 3 peak and would end the year as the 12th biggest hit of 1988. The song itself, which was the title track of his debut album, was actually a cover version - originally recorded by soul singer O'Chi Brown in 1985 (and also produced by songwriters Stock Aitken Waterman). Rick's version was much more successful, despite a lack of support from local music video show Rage. I distinctly remember that Rage often didn't play the clip for this song or another big 1988 hit, Billy Ocean's "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car", during its ARIA top 50 countdown. I'm reliably informed it wasn't musical snobbery, but the reason remains a mystery to me.
Number 46 "Should've Known Better" by Richard Marx
Peak: number 9
One good Dick deserves another, and making his first top 50 appearance was this American pop/rock singer who'd score a couple of Australian number 1s, "Right Here Waiting" and "Hazard", during his hit-making years. I didn't really like either of those songs and much preferred his more upbeat songs like this debut single and "Satisfied". I had forgotten "Should've Known Better" was as big as it was - although it leapt to its chart peak of number 9 from number 22 and dropped back to number 17 the week after, meaning its top 10 status was limited to one week.
Number 25 "Heatseeker" by AC/DC
Peak: number 5
Here's another song with a fleeting appearance in the Australian top 10. In fact, the first single from the Blow Up Your Video album would only have an eight-week run in the top 50 which went: 25-9-12-5-7-16-29-34. However, Australia's greatest rock export has always been much more of an albums act than a singles act, and in the '80s, all of their albums reached the top 4, while "Heatseeker" was one of only four singles that made the top 10. I don't think it will come as any surprise to anyone who's explored this blog that I don't own a single AC/DC track, but many people in Australia do - a lot more now their music has finally been released on iTunes. In December, eight of the band's songs jumped into the ARIA top 100, although "Heatseeker" was not among them.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next week: five songs make their debut on the top 50.