Wednesday, 20 March 2013

25 Years Ago This Week: March 20, 1988

Last week, I promised there'd be more laughs - and as Morris Minor & The Major catapulted up the top 50 this week 25 years ago, the highest new entry came from one of Australia's biggest comedy acts.

Nice aprons, Big Pig

These days, it's only really The Lonely Island that manages to crack the singles and albums charts (unless you consider LMFAO to be a comedy act) and you're more likely to find comedians in the DVD section of JB Hi Fi. But, back in the '80s, artists like Kevin "Bloody" Wilson, The Twelfth Man, Kylie Mole, The D-Generation and Jacko all achieved chart success.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending March 20

At the top of the singles chart this week in 1988, Kylie Minogue made it two from two with "I Should Be So Lucky" dethroning Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes from the number 1 spot. She'd stay on top for six weeks.

"Heaven On A Stick" by James Reyne
Peak: number 59
Single number four from James's top 5 self-titled debut album didn't even get a proper video - a live performance was played on the music TV shows - so it was no surprise when the single didn't make the top 50. I actually liked "Heaven On A Stick" more than "Fall Of Rome" or "Rip It Up", but then I was never an Australian Crawl fan and only had a passing interest in James, so who was I to judge?

"Cruel World" by The Manikins
Peak: number 52
I was a fan of the previous single by Perth band The Manikins, "What Are You On", but this track, which was released back in late 1987, was the closest they came to the top 50, slowly climbing to its peak over a period of months.

New Entries
Number 50 "On The Turning Away" by Pink Floyd
Peak: number 48
I don't know about you, but between Roger Waters' solo record and Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, there always seemed to be some dull, ponderous rock ballad clogging up the lower reaches of the chart. "On The Turning Away" was no exception and would only climb two places higher. Moving on... 

Number 46 "Check It Out" by John Cougar Mellencamp
Peak: number 22
Another decent sized hit for JCM with the third single from The Lonesome Jubilee. More "Cherry Bomb" in style than "Paper In Fire", it was the last top 50 hit from the album - a fourth track would just fall short.

Number 45 "Man In The Mirror" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 39
It took more than 20 years - and the death of the King Of Pop himself - for "Man In The Mirror" to become the hit it deserved in Australia. When it was released in 1988 as the fourth single from Bad, it was a chart disappointment in Australia, although it did give him another US chart-topper. The lack of a big budget music video and the fact that most Australian fans had bought Bad already didn't help matters. Then, in mid-2009, the song was one of four tracks by Michael to surge into the ARIA top 10 after his death, and reached a new high of number 8.

Number 44 "Breakaway" by Big Pig
Peak: number 8
A song that got to number 8 in 1988 was this third single from the distinctive seven-piece Australian band who'd previously hit number 18 with debut single "Hungry Town". Sounding like nothing else on the chart, "Breakaway" would be the biggest hit from the amusingly titled album, Bonk, and, after popping up on the soundtrack to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, reached number 60 in the US. What I never realised until now is that "Breakaway" started life in 1973 as "I Can't Break Away" by Chuck Jackson. Another fun fact: lead singer Sherine Abeyratne is the twin sister of Zan of I'm Talking fame.

Number 43 "Highway Corroboree" by Austen Tayshus
Peak: number 43
For the second week straight, a comedy release is the highest new entry in the top 50 - but this time, the record would get no further than this initial chart position. Austen Tayshus (born Alexander Gutman) was, of course, famous for releasing the number 1 single of 1983, "Australiana" (which had been written by Billy "The Twelfth Man" Birmingham) but where that performance played things purely for laughs, "Highway Corroboree" tackled the topic of Australia's white settlement and the subsequent treatment of the Indigenous population. It was certainly topical, released at a time when the 200th anniversary of colonisation was being celebrated, but not a massive hit. Whether it was because the political content of the record wasn't as accessible as "Australiana" or it just wasn't as funny, I'll let you decide...

Next week: the arrival of a future number 1 hit and another Australian classic that was not as big as you might expect.

Back to: Mar 13, 1988 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 27, 1988


  1. Andy - troubled late 80s teen23 May 2013 at 22:09

    Man in the Mirror was one of the best MJ songs in my opinion, and considering the quality and breadth of his collection, that's saying something. I also could never understand why it didn't chart well in Aust - it deserved a lot more, but has since gone on to prove its longevity and prominent place in any MJ collection.

    1. Ballads didn't always work in Australia - and MITM also suffered by being fourth single and, given the small population at the time, there just weren't enough MJ fans who didn't already own the song.