Wednesday, 24 April 2013

This Week In 1988: April 24, 1988

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

If you're a regular reader (there are a couple of you, right?), you'll know I'm a big fan of UK music and the UK charts in general - and four of the songs we'll look back at this week were all massive hits in Great Britain. The same wasn't the case in Australia, with only one of the four reaching our top 10.

Taylor Dayne's dress made it easy to take her up on her offer

It always struck me as pretty random which British hits made it big in Australia and which didn't. Even though it's likely there are logical reasons behind what was and wasn't successful locally (radio and TV airplay, and whether the act in question could be bothered coming to the other side of the world for a promotional visit, for example), it did seem a bit more haphazard than that... as we'll see this week.

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

At number 1 this week in 1988, Kylie Minogue was coming to the end of her run at the top with "I Should Be So Lucky", which spent its sixth and final week at the summit.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "There Ain't Nothing Like Shagging" by The Tams
Peak: number 100
Sixteen years after they topped the UK chart, American soul group The Tams got a boost in Britain due to the fact that this song theoretically about the Carolina shag (a type of dance) was banned by the BBC because it sounded like it was about sex (which, let's face it, it probably also was).

Number 96 "Protection" by The Montellas
Peak: number 89
I've never come across this British sophisti-pop meets rock group before, probably because this track from debut album Conscience didn't make the UK chart (and didn't do much locally).

Single Of The Week
"Beat Dis" by Bomb The Bass
Record company BMG made good use of their turn in the Single Of The Week slot promoting not one but two UK dance hits. While "Rok Da House" by Beatmasters featuring Cookie Crew would eventually crack the top 50 (and will rate a mention on this blog when it does), the debut single by Tim Simenon's project Bomb The Bass did not. In fact, the former UK number 2 hit performed dismally here, not reaching the ARIA top 100 (although it peaked at number 91 on the AMR in July). It was a surprising failure given Australians weren't opposed to sample-heavy dance music, as evidenced by "Pump Up The Volume" spending its 18th week in the top 50. Just another of those random chart anomalies I was talking about at the start.

"China In Your Hand" by T'Pau
Peak: number 53
Here's another situation where Australia broke ranks with the UK. T'Pau's debut single, "Heart And Soul", had been a hit in Britain (number 4) and in Australia (number 18).  Second single "China In Your Hand" did even better back home, spending five weeks at number 1. In Australia, it didn't get any further than number 53 and the group led by Carol Decker never saw the inside of the top 50 here again. Although I much prefer "Heart And Soul", it's a shame "China In Your Hand" didn't reach a wider audience in Australia, since it's a great '80s power ballad, the likes of which they just don't make anymore.

New Entries
Number 49 "Sweet Little Mystery" by Wet Wet Wet
Peak: number 33
In the '90s they would become known - and hated - for their long-running chart-topper, "Love Is All Around", but in 1988, British four-piece Wet Wet Wet were much more fun. Lumped in (to their annoyance) with the likes of Brother Beyond and Bros, the Wets did a fine line in breezy pop tunes like this track. In the UK, "Sweet Little Mystery" was one of four big singles from debut album Popped In Souled Out, but Australians wouldn't give the group another hit until "Sweet Surrender" eventually charted in 1990, six months after it was originally released. By that stage, much of the fun had been wrung out of the group, who seemed to want to be taken more seriously by that point.

Number 41 "Tell It To My Heart" by Taylor Dayne
Peak: number 10
Our second and final new entry for this week comes courtesy of the singer born Leslie Wunderman. While Taylor Dayne has a much better ring to it overall, Wunderman is still a pretty awesome surname - shame it went to waste. A top 10 smash in the US and UK, Taylor's debut single repeated the feat here. It would be the first of a number of appearances Taylor would make on our chart over the next few years. These days, she makes regular appearances in small venues around the country on live concert tours of Australia. I'll have to check her out one of these days.

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

Next week: one of the best music videos of 1988 - for 13-year-old boys, that is. Plus, one of my most hated artists released their first solo single.

Back to: Apr 17, 1988 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 1, 1988


  1. Andy - troubled late 80s teen23 May 2013 at 22:00

    Living now in London, T'Pau's China in Your Hand is played VERY regularly on the most popular mainstream commercial radio stations (whose typical target markets are female and aged 35 to 55). I was aware of it back in 1988 but as it didn't break into the Top 50 in Aust, I never saw it on Rage and so never heard it until 20 years later.

    Yes it was slightly random why some charted so well in UK but not in Aust. Radio was very conservative in Aust at the time - soft rock and nothing else, certainly anything dance-related was viewed with a lot of suspicion. I think the radio execs, worried about advertising money, actually totally misunderstood their audiences. The interesting thing was many of the most successful groups of the time - Bananarama, for example, were successful despite receiving no airplay.

    1. Very conservative! It was a wonder any pop or dance stuff made the top 50 at all.

    2. UK radio at the time may not have been all that different, if the lyrics of the Reynolds Girls' 'I'd Rather Jack' are to be believed.

  2. 'Protection', which I've never heard before, is OK. Surprised it didn't chart at all in the UK.

    I didn't actually hear 'China In Your Hand' until it was shown on a repeat of 'The Factory' during rage retro month in 2012. It's a nice song, though perhaps highlights Carol Decker's vocal limitations. It did have a fairly decent top 100 chart run though despite its low peak. The video embedded as I write this seems to be blocked in Australia.

    Wet Wet Wet is kind of a naughty band name, and funny, given how tame their music is.

    Coming out of America from this era, the Taylor Dayne track is surprisingly dance-orientated. It's funny how she pulled off a transition from the 'severe' big hair image dance diva of 'Tell It To My Heart' to the more 'safe adult radio' sounds and 'classy' look of the second album (minus its hideous cover art).

    1. T'Pau video updated - thanks for the heads up.

  3. "China in Your Hand" is fantastic and deserved to do so much better. I remember being stunned when it missed the Top 50 (it's one of the very few 80s singles I own that didn't make it). Bananarama scored a lot of airplay in SE QLD, so I guess the lack of airplay mentioned by Andy above was a southern states issue (go QLD!! :-).

    I saw Taylor Dayne live about eight years ago and she was fantastic! While I barely recognised her when she came on stage, her voice was unmistakable and she gave the performance of her life, even though there were barely 100 people in the 1000 seat venue. Kudos to her for not cancelling, and kudos to her for performing as though we were an audience 10 times the size. She also hung around for a meet and greet afterwards, taking photos and signing merchandise. A class act.