Thursday, 24 January 2013

This Week In 1988: January 24, 1988

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.

There we were, a full month after Christmas 1987 and the majority of the week's new entries on the Australian top 50 were songs that had been kicking around since early- to mid-December.

Belinda Carlisle scored her biggest solo hit in 1988

These days, most songs have a much quicker trajectory into the upper portion of the top 100, but it was normal in 1988 for a single to make a steady climb before bursting into the printed top 50. This week that year, there was one exception: a track which only made its top 100 debut in January, and, not surprisingly, would end up as the biggest hit out of this week's seven new entries.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 24, 1988

Speaking of big hits, Rick Astley finally surrendered his seven-week stranglehold of the number 1 position, making way for George Michael, who leapfrogged a patiently waiting George Harrison to spend a week at the top with "Faith".

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Miracle" by Willy DeVille
Peak: number 100
Continuing on from their collaboration on The Princess Bride soundtrack, this title track of the Mink DeVille frontman's official solo debut was produced by and featured guitar from Mark Knopfler.

Number 99 "Nothing Changes In My House" by Ed Kuepper
Peak: number 99
The first top 100 solo appearance for The Saints co-founder was taken from second album Rooms Of The Magnificent. Ed Kuepper wouldn't be back on the singles chart until 1994.

Number 98 "Amazing World" by Venetians
Peak: number 77
A bit rockier than the synthpop stylings of "So Much For Love", but another great single for an under-rated Australian band and the title track of their third album.

Number 95 "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" by Aerosmith
Peak: number 95
Following their Run-DMC collaboration, the Aerosmith renaissance was in full flight - in the US, at least - with this lead single from Permanent Vacation. Australia would get on board with the band's next album.

Number 89 "In The Middle Of The Land" by Hoodoo Gurus
Peak: number 79
After two top 50 hits from Blow Your Cool!, Hoodoo Gurus faced the inevitable drop-off with this stomping third single, which was about evangelical preachers.

New Entries
Number 50 "Don't Shed A Tear" by Paul Carrack
Peak: number 33
The problem with having a wildly successful (at least in Australia) cover version is that often your original material won't be as big - and so it was for Paul, who'd taken "When You Walk In The Room" into the top 10 in 1987, but lucked out with this follow-up, which I preferred. In the States, it was quite a different story, with "Don't Shed A Tear" (which charted first there) reaching number 9 while "When You Walk..." struggled to number 90. In his home of the UK, neither were hits.

Number 47 "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" by Belinda Carlisle
Peak: number 2
It had been released in the US back in September 1987, and, finally, Australia got in on the act with this slice of pop perfection, which would zoom all the way up to number 2, before spending many weeks stuck at numbers 2 and 3 behind "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" and "I Should Be So Lucky". Although her debut solo album, Belinda, had only resulted in one hit, 1986's "Mad About You", this was the first of a trio of big worldwide singles. Australia pretty much lost interest after "Heaven Is A Place On Earth", however, and it wasn't until the Runaway Horses album in 1989-1990 that the Go-Go's frontwoman maintained a more consistent strike rate.

Number 46 "Put Down That Weapon" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 32
"Beds Are Burning" had been Midnight Oil's biggest single - both locally and around the world - so following it up was always going to be tough. Add to that the fact Oils fans had already snapped up the LP, Diesel And Dust, sending it to number 1 and keeping Michael Jackson's Bad from the top, and it's little surprise "Put Down That Weapon" peaked where it did. I haven't listened to it in years and actually quite like the verses, but the song loses me in the chorus, especially the way Peter Garrett sings the song's title.

Number 41 "Tunnel Of Love" by Bruce Springsteen
Peak: number 41
The second single and title track from the Boss' 1987 album peaked at this very position, a big drop from the number 17 peak of "Brilliant Disguise". The performance of both songs fell somewhat short of that achieved by the singles from his previous studio album, Born In The USA, which included Australia's biggest single of 1984, "Dancing In The Dark" (a track which, interestingly, never got higher than number 5). I don't know if it's just because I'm a lot older now, but I don't dislike this song as much as I would have back in 1988.

Number 38 "Say You Will" by Mick Jagger
Peak: number 21
Given how enormously successful The Rolling Stones were, it's always interested me how unsuccessful their singer's solo career has been. Unlike many singers, who strike while the iron is hot and launch a solo album when their band is at its peak, Mick waited until 1985 to release his first LP on his own. It was a long time after the band's '60s and '70s heyday, and four years since their last massive hit, 1981's "Start Me Up". 1987's Primitive Cool had already delivered one minor hit in "Let's Work" and although this song did slightly better, it's not a song that's stood the test of time. In fact, I couldn't even remember how it went until I watched the clip below. My verdict: besides the music in the chorus sounding a little bit like Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days", it's largely forgettable. Besides, there was another song called "Say You Will" to get more excited about that week...

Number 35 "Say You Will" by Foreigner
Peak: number 6
Three places higher than Mick was a US band who'd struck platinum on their previous album with globe-conquering power-ballad "I Want To Know What Love Is". "Say You Will" was the lead single from Inside Information, which also followed singer Lou Gramm's first successful foray into a solo career (see, striking while the iron was hot!) with "Midnight Blue". Foreigner's "Say You Will" performed much better than Mick Jagger's, hitting the top 10 in Australia. I've always been quite partial to a bit of Foreigner and this was one of my favourites of the time as well.

Number 34 "Rip It Up" by James Reyne
Peak: number 34
Here's another former frontman for a rock band who launched a solo career a lot closer to his group's period of greatest success. And, up until this point, James Reyne had been rewarded with two big singles: "Fall Of Rome" and "Hammerhead". With "Rip It Up" making the highest debut of the week, things looked promising, but this was actually as high as the song got and by the end of February, it had disappeared from the top 50. 
"Rip It Up" is another song I haven't listened to in years - in fact, I completely forgot it existed. I can see why it faltered, since it's nowhere near as good as James's previous hits. Fourth single "Heaven On A Stick" might well have been a better choice - but by the time that came out, it couldn't even crack the top 50. It wasn't over for the ex-Australian Crawl singer, however. He'd return later in the year with one of his biggest solo hits, "Motor's Too Fast".

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:

Next week, there's only a handful of new entries so I'll also flip the chart over and take a look at what was happening on the albums side of things. Before that: the conclusion to my 1990 countdown.

Back to: Jan 17, 1988 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 31, 1988


  1. I was randomly thinking the other day that 'Dude (Looks Like a Lady)' is not a very politically-correct song title, and probably wouldn't work today. The title is somewhat ironic, given Steven Tyler himself looks a bit androgynous in the video.

    The Paul Carrack track was another not-yet-hit included on the 'Celebrate '88' compilation. Though I seemed to know it already when my sister bought it in late '87.

    Belinda was really at her peak, both song and looks-wise, with 'Heaven Is a Place On Earth'. There's an amusing (or so I think) interview she did with David Letterman to promote it where he can barely contain his lust for her - - starting from just after 2 minutes in. If I remember correctly, she (or the song's writers, more probably) was sued by Bon Jovi over this song, with them claiming it plagiarised 'You Give Love a Bad Name'. There is definitely some similarity in the chorus, but I wouldn't say it was blatant.

    'Put Down That Weapon' would be one of my favourite Midnight Oil songs... other than the middle 8, which I find jarring. Peter does look rather Freddy Krueger-esque in the video, to my eyes.

    I couldn't recall how the Mick Jagger song went either until it cropped up on a VHS I got several years back. I wonder how many people (more likely) bought this when they actually wanted the Foreigner version? Though Mick sounds nothing like them.

    Oops, I had thought Lou Gramm/Foreigner were English all these years. It's odd they don't appear in the video (that I can see, anyway) - because they were deemed too old/not hot?

    1. The fact they thought "Heaven is a Place on Earth" plagiarised "You Give Love a Bad Name" is a real stretch. They are in similar relative major/minor keys. They use dead common I-IV-V-I(or VI) chord progressions. They move by step up and down the scale (and not even in the same pattern). So what? By that theory, a majority of pop music is a rip off. I hope they lost the case! (Despised that Bon Jovi song anyway!)

  2. Speaking of plagiarism - the melody progression in the intro to Amazing World by the Venetians is exactly the same as the verse melody in the 1986 Janet Jackson Control album track "You Can Be Mine" - I wonder if anyone else spotted that one?

  3. The whole Tunnel of Love album by Springsteen is a good one and worth coming back to but it suffers a bit from some dated production. The title track was the best of the bunch.