The History of Pop Music – 1988

Featured song:

The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother

This is a series of articles looking at pop music from 1955 when in my opinion proper pop music began up to 1999 when they stopped making it. One article for each year.

I am only going to select one featured song for each article, which makes it hard. I am going to try and select a different artist for each year.

For many people, and I include myself, you tend to still like the tunes you heard during childhood, which your parents often played. So rather than just pick the top 10 hits of each year, I shall let you know what they were, but also the tunes of that year not necessarily in the top 10 or so, what were in my view classics.  I also add a couple of events in history for that year, it helps bring back memories, and hopefully happy ones.

Not everyone will like my choices of course, and you may remember some from each particular year that you feel should have been included, so do please post a link to the song.

So, on we go with memories from 1988: (Thank you Wiki)

This year was about:  Unemployment going down, NHS in the usual crisis, lots of strikes of course.  The legal killing of IRA in Gibraltar, the Spycatcher book, more IRA atrocities targeting squaddies. Two big disasters, the Piper Alpha oil rig and Pan Am flight 103 blown up by the Libyans.  Another doom and gloom year.

What was I doing in this year?  – I was 33. Final army payment came through, we paid off all the bills and for one single day, and still is, I owed nobody nothing.  House sorted, job sorted, 4 kids.  Happy days working on the Channel Tunnel project, learning my craft, playing Bridge once a week with my newfound Bridge partner, and we still play to this day regularly. A good and happy year for me.

TV programmes included:  Fifteen to One started.  Also starting one of my all-time favourite shows, Red Dwarf on BBC2.  Another firm favourite of mine London’s Burning makes its debut as a regular series on ITV, having been developed from Jack Rosenthal’s original 1986 film.  Last appearance of Anita Dobson as Angie in Eastenders, also Anna Wing who played Lou Beale.  This Morning makes its debut, presented by Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.  No doubt we were all glued to the Neighbours wedding of Kylie and Jason.


Prime Minister – Margaret Thatcher (Conservative)

3 January – Margaret Thatcher becomes the longest-serving UK Prime Minister this century, having been in power for eight years and 244 days.

7 January – Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock calls for a further £1,300,000,000 to be made available for the National Health Service.  How times change hey.

14 January – Unemployment figures are released for the end of 1987, showing the eighteenth-successive monthly decrease. Just over 2,600,000 people are now unemployed in the United Kingdom – the lowest figure for seven years. More than 500,000 of those unemployed, found jobs in 1987.

28 January – The Birmingham Six lose an appeal against their convictions.

3 February – Nurses throughout the UK strike for higher pay and more funding for the National Health Service.

4 February – Nearly 7,000 ferry workers go on strike in Britain, paralysing the nation’s seaports.

5 February – The first BBC Red Nose Day raises £15,000,000 for charity

16 February – Thousands of nurses and co-workers form picket lines outside British hospitals as they go on strike in protest against what they see as inadequate NHS funding.

6 March – Operation Flavius: a Special Air Service team of the British Army shoots dead three unarmed members of a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) Active Service Unit in Gibraltar

9 March – It is revealed that the average price of a house in Britain reached £60,000 at the end of last year, compared to £47,000 in December 1986.

11 March – The Bank of England £1 note ceases to be legal tender.

15 March – Chancellor Nigel Lawson announces that the standard rate of income tax will be cut to 25p in the pound, while the maximum rate of income tax will be cut to 40p from 60p in the pound.

6 March – Milltown Cemetery attack: three men are killed and 70 are wounded by loyalist paramilitary Michael Stone at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast during the funerals of the three IRA members killed in Gibraltar.

19 March – Corporals killings in Belfast: British Army corporals Woods and Howes are abducted, beaten and shot dead by Irish republicans after driving into the funeral cortege of a IRA member killed in the Milltown Cemetery attack.

29 March – Plans are unveiled for Europe’s tallest skyscraper to be built at Canary Wharf. The office complex will cost around £3,000,000,000 to build and is set to open in 1992.

19 May – Unemployment is now below 2,500,000 for the first time since early-1981.

24 May – Local Government Act becomes law. The controversial Section 28 prevents local authorities from “promoting homosexuality”. Local authorities are also obliged to outsource more services, and dog licences are abolished.

15 June – Five British soldiers are killed by the IRA in Lisburn.

6 July – Piper Alpha disaster; the Piper Alpha oil rig in the North Sea explodes and results in the death of 167 workers.

20 August – Six British soldiers are killed by an IRA bomb near Belfast. Twenty-seven others are injured.

22 August – New licensing laws allow pubs to stay open all day in England and Wales.

19 September – Actor Roy Kinnear is seriously injured after falling off his horse during filming in Spain. He dies of his injuries the following day.  Liked him.

30 September – A Gibraltar jury decides that the IRA members killed in March were killed “lawfully”.

13 October – The House of Lords rules that extracts of the banned book Spycatcher can be published in the media.

30 November – A government report reveals that up to 50,000 people in Britain may be HIV positive, and that by the end of 1992, up to 17,000 people may have died from AIDS.

3 December – Health Minister Edwina Currie provokes outrage by stating that most of Britain’s egg production is infected with the salmonella bacteria, causing an immediate nationwide decrease in egg sales.  She resigned 16th December.  That’s hatefacts for you.

15 December – Unemployment is now only just over 2,100,000 – the lowest level for almost eight years.

21 December – Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over the town of Lockerbie, killing a total of 270 people – 11 on the ground and all 259 who were on board.

The Top 10 Singles with a You Tube hyperlink on the title:

Top tip: Right-click and open in new tab

Top Hits of 1988
   1 Cliff Richard Mistletoe And Wine
   2 Yazz & The Plastic Population The Only Way Is Up
   3 Kylie Minogue I Should Be So Lucky
   4 Kylie Minogue & Jason Donovan Especially For You
   5 Tiffany I Think We’re Alone Now
   6 Glenn Medeiros Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You
   7 Phil Collins A Groovy Kind Of Love
   8 Wet Wet Wet With A Little Help From My Friends
   9 Hollies He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother
   10 Womack & Womack Teardrops

Great year again for Stock, Aitken and Waterman, I did not like much of their stuff, but is was pop music and some were tolerable.  Kylie had 4 hits and another with Jason Donovan.  Bros had 4 hits, most of us will only know one though.  Rick Astley had 2 hits. Phil Collins had 3 hits.  You may notice a lack of quite a few SAW songs.

I have always been a big fan of the Hollies and have waited for this year to feature them as 1969 was The Rolling Stones.  “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” is a ballad written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. Originally recorded by Kelly Gordon in 1969, the song became a worldwide hit for The Hollies later that year and again for Neil Diamond in 1970. It has been recorded by many artists in subsequent years. The Hollies’ and Rufus Wainwright’s versions of the song were featured in the film Zoolander.

The Hollies’ recording, which featured Elton John on piano, was released in the UK on 1 September 1969 and on 1 December 1969 in the US. It reached No. 3 in the UK and No. 7 in the US. The song, paired with rarity “Carrie”, was re-released in late 1988 in the UK following its use in a television advertisement for Miller Lite beer. It reached the No. 1 spot in the UK chart for two weeks in September 1988.

More writings on this song here:  He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother

From the top 10 sellers, only the featured track and Tiffany stand out.

In my view the best songs of the year, after the featured track

Aztec Camera – Somewhere In My Heart – Would have been the featured track, but I could not miss The Hollies.  This is a superb tune.

Deacon Blue – Real Gone Kid – Another contender for featured status,  Awesome.

Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere – Yet another contender, Fleetwood Mac will have to be featured at some point.

The Primitives – Crash – Another band that learned to play instrument and stop the shouty stuff.  Helped having Joey Ramone on guitar though!

Enya – Orinoco Flow – live version for you.

INXS – Need You Tonight – On of their best.

Elton John – Candle in the Wind – I think his best song ever.

Everything But the Girl – I Don’t Want To Talk About It – wonderful cover this.

Erasure – A Little Respect – I really like this.

Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is A Place On Earth

Belinda Carlisle – Circle in the Sand

Salt-N-Pepa – Push It

Wet Wet Wet – Angel Eyes – These guys were very big, one of their best here.

Robin Beck – The Very First Time – Coca cola advert, but decent tune

Bananarama  – I Want You Back

Robert Palmer – She makes my day

Pet Shop Boys – Heart – Always like their stuff.

Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind

Fairground Attraction – Perfect – Super song, perfect  in fact

Fairground Attraction – Find My Love – lovely

Natalie Cole – Pink Cadillac

New Order – Blue Monday 88

Eddy Grant – Gimme Hope Jo’Anna – A happy song.

Yello – The Race – Soundtrack for quite a few thing this.

Vanessa Paradis – Joe-Le-Taxi – one of not very many foreign language songs to do well in the UK.

Desireless – Voyage Voyage – Another good non-English one

Danny Wilson – Mary’s Prayer

Kylie Minogue – The Loco-motion – I have to confess I do like some of Kylie’s stuff.  Good cover song this.

Hazell Dean – Who’s Leaving Who – Put this in as I remember seeing her live not that long after this came out.

Angry Anderson – Suddenly – Very powerful ballad from this strangely named man.  Deserved to have more hits.

Transvision Vamp – I Want Your Love – By this time they had learned to play instruments, good tune.

Tiffany – Could’ve Been – It’s not that good, but I liked her one big hit.

Billy Ocean – Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car

Bros – When Will I Be Famous? – It’s not that bad a song, heard worse.

Taylor Dayne – Tell It to My Heart – very much of the 80’s

Climie Fisher – Love changes everything – another very 80’s, found a live version

Yazz – Stand Up For Your Love Rights

Bill Withers – Lovely Day

Fun Song: – The Timelords / KLF – Doctorin’ The Tardis – I quite like this, touch of the glitter band as well.

Fun Song: – Morris Minor & Majors – Stutter Rap – Is it wrong that like this as well?

Just 40 songs for 1988 in my favourites list, another shite year for good tunes.  I think I found a few gems though.

Hat tips to:  these give the top 100 selling charts for each year   these give the top 10 songs for each year  you know them.

Next Time 1989.

© Phil the test manager 2019

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file