There were some minor classics bubbling under the top 40. Listeners to Terry Wogan's show will know Freiheit's
Keeping The Dream Alive; listeners to his commercial radio rival know Londonbeat's
9AM (The Comfort Zone). No one seems to play A Tribe Of Toffs'
John Kettley Is A Weatherman, the song that namechecks everyone who was anyone in late 80s pop culture, which may or may not be a good thing.
Following the untimely death of Roy Orbison during the sales week, the Traveling Wilburry's
Handle With Care was moving back up at 34. New at 31 came Neneh Cherry's debut,
Buffalo Stance, all stacatto beats and lycra shorts, perhaps the ultimate late 80s pop song. Sounds of the Sixties were represented, with the Four Tops and Beach Boys performing new tunes, Bananarama covering
Nathan Jones, and an unneccesary remix of Petula Clarke's
Downtown just out of the ten.
Radio Romance spent its last week in the top 20, falling out of the charts entirely in the first week of 1989. She had had one number one single, two more top fives, and this top 20 single, all in a 52 week span. Since then - nothing.
Also falling out of the top ten this week:
The First Time (Robin Beck), the soft drink commercial that launched a one-hit wonder career. And
Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson), the (count 'em!) seventh of nine hit singles from his
Bad album. At this time, the clown prince of pap was in his plastic surgery and still black phase.
10 (NEW) Angel Of Harlem: U2
The second of four singles from U2's underestimated
Rattle And Hum album, and a bit of a corker. Capturing the gospel feel of uptown New York in a tribute to Billie Holliday, this has become a standby for that awkward week in early December when it's just too early to go to Christmas music. Peaked at #9 the following week.
9 (20) Burning Bridges (On And Off And On Again): Status Quo
By the late 80s, Status Quo had perfected the routine of having one huge hit every couple of years, then flogging an album and two retirement tours off the back of the hit. The zenith of the art came in 1990, when
The Anniversary Waltz Part One, a live version of Jive Bunny, came within a gnat's crotchet of the number one slot. This jaunty number would prove to be a firm favourite at Old Trafford, at that time home to perpetual football underachievers at Old Trafford. In spring 1994, with a league and cup double under their belts, and some slightly changed lyrics, the Manchester United Football Squad took
Come On You Reds to the top for a fortnight.
8 (8) Take Me To Your Heart: Rick Astley
Producer Pete Waterman reckons the world forgets how big Rick Astley was. He has a point. The tea boy with a voice like Luther Vandross had had the biggest seller of 87 with
Never Gonna Give You Up, and become a teen pinup faster than one could say "Phillip Schofield." By the end of 88, Astley was co-writing the difficult second album, and this single could get no higher than this position. After promoting his work, Astley parted with Waterman to record his own work, culminating in 1991's
Cry For Help single. Chalk him up as the Darius Danesh of his day - a talented singer and songwriter, but not right for the teenybop mould.
7 (6) Two Hearts: Phil Collins
The second and final track to be lifted from the BUSTER soundtrack, a film about the Great Train Robbery of 1963. Phil had deliberately set out to recreate the Motown and Phil Spector feel of that era, and this track effortlessly brings to mind any uptempo Diana Ross song ever.
6 (22) Good Life: Inner City
Chicago house at perhaps its finest. DJ Kevin Saunderson and vocalist Paris brought a calm yet upbeat feel to proceedings. Ten years later, the track would return to the top ten, in a latino-tinged
Buena Vida mix.
5 (4) Cat Amongst The Pigeons / Silent Night: Bros
Bros were everywhere in 1988. Saturday morning television, radio roadshows, newspapers, you name it, they were there. But there was trouble at the mill, and Craig Logan had had to leave the group, leaving Matt and Luke Goss to run the show themselves. This had been the group's fifth top 4 hit of the year, and was the third to peak at #2.
Cat... was a squeakily-voice ballad, ostensibly paying woeful tribute to their lost third of the royalties but actually a woeful woeful attack on him.
Silent Night was a ham-fisted rendition of the carol that would make Mariah Carey cringe. 140,000 teenyboppers shelled out £1.55 for the seven-inch single, so the Westlife of their day had to be doing something right. Shame it wasn't music.
These days, Matt and Luke Goss have vanished back into obscurity. Craig Logan is managing Natalie Imbriglia, Pink, and shares hobnobs with Dannii Minogue.
4 (7) Crackers International EP: Erasure
The biggest hit so far for Andy and Vince, and crowning a year that would see them voted Best Band at the Brit Awards. That was the ceremony famously compered by Fleetwood and Fox, and compared to The Worst Television, Ever. Lead track on the ep was
Stop, a tightly packed funk workout that has become a major gay anthem. Covered in 1992 by Abba tribute band Björn Again on their
Erasure-ish ep, but that followed Erasure's
Abba-esque ep of Abba covers.
3 (3) Suddenly: Angry Anderson
Why is a power ballad by an Australian rocker gracing the upper reaches of the chart, giving indie label Food For Thought their first and only top 10 hit? Read on...
2 (2) Especially For You: Kylie Minogue & Jason Donovan
...because 1988 was the year that Australian soap NEIGHBOURS became the epicentre of British popular culture. If we weren't reading about Charlene's on-screen romance with Scott, we were reading about Kylie's off-screen romance with Jason. Any tittle-tattle about the show from down under was good to sell newspapers, and promote the show's brand. Twelve million watched Scott and Charlene get married, amazing viewing figures for an episode that aired at 5:35 in the afternoon.
Inevitably, there were records made. Kylie was first out of the blocks, taking
I Should Be So Lucky to number one for five weeks in the spring, and having three more solo #2 hits by the end of the year. Jason had only had one solo single so far, and his glory days would come in the new year. The Will and Gareth of their day inevitably took their record to #1, but not until the new year lull.
Jason Donovan has since taken up a role in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and this not-quite million seller remains his biggest hit. Kylie has had something bigger, 2001's
Can't Get You Out Of My Head, but is now best known for having chocolates stolen from out of her arse. Kylie and Jason is another Pete Waterman production.
1 (1) Mistletoe And Wine: Cliff Richard
So, what denied K&J the Christmas number one slot - and also became the best seller of the year? Well, 1988 doesn't look to be much of a year for Christmas hits: Bros's pisspoor cover, U2's not-proper-Christmas record, and Alexander O'Neill's remake of
The Christmas Song are as much as we get. Apart, that is, from Cliff.
"Mistletoe and Wine isn't the greatest Christmas song by the King Of Pop - look to 1990's
Saviour's Day for that honour. But it is a perfectly good song in its own simple way, complete with a singalong chorus and choirboy solo at the end. The song had been written for the seasonal musical
The Little Match Girl in 1976, and Cliff had spotted the song after the show was remade for television in 1986. Amongst the co-writers of the show was one Keith Strachan, who went on to sit down with son Matthew and write the memorable tunes and themes for hit tv show
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in one day.
Mistletoe And Wine became Cliff's only number one hit of the 80s, and the only time he's had the biggest selling single of the year. Listen out for it on a radio station near you for the next dozen days - the Twelve Days of Cliffmas.