This Week In 1988: May 8, 1988
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.
As exciting a year as 1988 was for new music and emerging genres, there would still be weeks like the one in which two bands from the '70s and one new artist debuted songs that were about as middle of the road as it gets.
I like a bit of soft rock as much as the next senior citizen, but in some ways, Australia was stuck in a timewarp and still had a long way to go to catch up with the US and UK, where house, R&B and rap were dominating.
At least there was some pure pop on top of the Australian chart this week in 1988, with Billy Ocean hanging on for a second week with "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car".
Off The Chart
Number 100 "Never Die Young" by James Taylor
Peak: number 79
Never able to recapture his '70s chart success in the '80s, James Taylor made his final top 100 appearance with this track, which, even in 1988, sounded pretty dated.
Peak: number 79
Initially released in some countries ahead of "Walk The Dinosaur", this less gimmicky slice of funk/pop from Was (Not Was) performed much better in the US (number 16) and the UK (number 21).
Number 94 "We All Sleep Alone" by Cher
Peak: number 76
Not even the fact that this was written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child could help this follow-up to "I Found Someone" repeat its US top 20 success locally.
Number 92 "Trick Of The Light" by The Triffids
Peak: number 77
Previous single "Bury Me Deep In Love" would turn out to be the only top 50 for the Australian indie band, with this second track lifted from Calenture missing the mark.
Single Of The Week
Peak: number 86
Before we get to the new entries, here's another single by the British group who'd scored big with "Shattered Dreams" but proved unable to follow it up with another hit in this country. "Heart Of Gold" was the lowest charting track from Johnny Hates Jazz, performing even worse than previous single "I Don't Want To Be A Hero" (which reached number 76).
In the UK, "Turn Back The Clock" had come out between "I Don't Want To Be A Hero" and "Heart Of Gold", but it was skipped over here and eventually released after "Heart Of Gold", although it didn't make the top 100.
Lead singer Clark Datchler quit the group after promotion of the Turn Back The Clock album was complete and replaced by Phil Thornalley, but none of the releases by Johnny Hates Jazz version 2.0 were successful here or in the UK.
Number 49 "Love Is A Bridge" by Little River Band
Peak: number 6
Despite having more line-up changes than your average girl group, Australia's own LRB had been chart regulars since 1975, hitting a peak two years later with the number 1 single, "Help Is On Its Way", before racking up a string of hits like "Reminiscing" and "Lonesome Loser" that were bigger in the US than back home.
In 1988, former vocalist Glenn Shorrock, who had been replaced for a couple of years by John Farnham, returned to the fold and "Love Is A Bridge" became LRB's biggest Australian single since "Help Is On Its Way". The track was the first single from the album, Monsoon, and would be something of a last hurrah for the band, who never troubled the top 50 again.
Number 40 "Endless Summer Nights" by Richard Marx
Peak: number 16
With his debut hit, "Should've Known Better", on its last legs in the top 50, mullet-haired wonder Richard Marx wasted no time following it up with this track. What became evident from this song was that Richard loved a bit of a ballad - something that hadn't been evident until now, but something he'd establish over and over again with hits like "Right Here Waiting", "Hazard" and "Now & Forever". I mostly preferred Richard's faster tracks, since his ballads were a little on the wimpy side for me - but I was a bit of a minority voice on that front.
Number 27 "The Flame" by Cheap Trick
Peak: number 1
Speaking of rock ballads, they didn't get bigger than this - a four-week number 1 hit for Cheap Trick in 1988. The band hadn't had a hit single in years - six years, in fact, since "If You Want My Love" had taken them to number 2 in Australia. It hadn't been for want of trying, with three albums released since 1982's One On One, but it wasn't until 1988's Lap Of Luxury that they struck platinum again. I wasn't a fan of "The Flame", but again, I was completely outnumbered on that score with the single serving as a career reboot for the band - well, for a couple of years anyway.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next week: some of the oddest new entries in a while, with a future number 1, a long-forgotten charity record and a song that was only successful in Australia by a group who'd be briefly huge around the world in the mid-'90s.