Jul 10

Popular ’88

Popular114 comments • 4,150 views

WELL DONE EVERYONE! We’ve made it through 1988. But the 80s still have more to throw at us. Let’s regroup and take stock of the year – use the poll to indicate which tracks YOU would have given 6 or more out of 10 to.

And use the comments to discuss the year in general – which, as has often been mentioned in the regular comments boxes, was actually pretty damn good.

Which of these Number One Singles of 1988 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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  1. 61
    Rory on 28 Jul 2010 #

    @58, amen. Their 2004 comeback album didn’t set me on fire, but Jesus, I sure did love the Fontana/butterfly album with all my heart. One of my early ’90s favourites, and it’s lasted well for me.

    (All this talk of Suede and House of Love and shoegazing only reminds me how utterly my tastes diverge from the UK number ones from here until about 1995. Mustn’t say more, or the Jive Bunny will be angry.)

  2. 62
    Mark M on 28 Jul 2010 #

    House of Love? Terrible band – sub-U2 nonsense. Saw them supporting the Primitives at the Marquee in ’86 and decided I wanted them to do well because I’d ‘discovered’ them. Quite liked the original version of Shine On. Liked every subsequent single much, much less, until I spent several weeks puzzling over the first album before I realised the reason I was struggling with it was that it was no cop at all: stiff, pompous, fun-free.
    Chadwick is a godawful singer and – as already noted – an absolutely shocking lyricist. Great comedy character, though – his embrace of E-culture is the high point of any account of Creation records.

  3. 63
    will on 28 Jul 2010 #

    I loved the first album, wasn’t really keen on anything post-Terry Bickers. They seemed a very ordinary band after he left.

  4. 64
    swanstep on 29 Jul 2010 #

    Semi-funny note about Suede’s boffo first single: I misheard The Drowners chorus’s ‘taking me over’ as ‘taking the anchor’. It made sense… drowning, boats, anchors, but it also supported smutty hypotheses about what sex act might be being alluded to. I was quite disappointed when I learned the real lyric just a few years ago.

    @BillySmart, 54. Well done on your early La’s-spotting.

  5. 65
    swanstep on 29 Jul 2010 #
  6. 66
    byebyepride on 29 Jul 2010 #

    @45, @46, @47

    re: Rock and Roll Friend. My memory is that this was just a matter of timing – the song was written after the album had been recorded, so was only available as a B-side. But I remember the sleeve notes for the beggars banquet best-of making a bit of a thing about how many great songs they’d ‘thrown away’ (perhaps we could say given away?) as B-sides so they may have been happy to build the legend up.

  7. 67
    byebyepride on 29 Jul 2010 #

    @57 re: The House of Love. I still listen to them, albeit partly for the memories, as I must know every note of the first album, and lots of the rest. I remember being very disappointed by the butterfly album / Fontana – on the grounds that I’d heard much of it before (peel sessions, blind from the cassette version of the first album) and that even I could see that the Beatles and the Stones was total drivel. The album Babe Rainbow a late high point, IMHO.

  8. 68
    Billy Smart on 29 Jul 2010 #

    Two amusing Stuart Maconie observations about ‘The Beatles & The Stones’;

    ‘”The Beatles and The Stones/ sucked the marrow out of bones” – Sadly no photographic evidence has yet been found to support this assertion.’

    ‘”The Beatles and The Stones/ Put the V in Vietnam” – So what was it called before 1962? Ietnam?’

  9. 69
    Billy Smart on 29 Jul 2010 #

    Re 64: God, I was disappointed when I read the lyric sheet for the first Suede album and discovered that the chorus of Metal Mickey was “She sells heart! She sells meat!”. My own version “She’s so hard! She’s so fleet!” fitted Suede’s perceived hallmark ambiguous romanticism much better.

  10. 70
    thefatgit on 29 Jul 2010 #

    I think HoL’s glorious moment in the sun was more to do with Alan McGee and his hyperbole rather than any lasting talent. Although “Destroy The Heart” does have a soupcon of jangly charm.

  11. 71
    Billy Smart on 29 Jul 2010 #

    The thing about ‘Destroy The Heart’ at the time though, was that it sounded Sturm und Drang dynamic, rather than Soup Dragons weedy-jangly. It was often played along with ‘You Made Me Realise’ and ‘Gigantic’ on the 1988 Billy turntable and didn’t sound out of place next to those singles.

  12. 72
    Rory on 29 Jul 2010 #

    @62, fair enough that you don’t like HoL, I know many don’t, but in what way are they “sub-U2”? They sound nothing like U2 to me: Chadwick was nothing like Bono as a singer, they never aspired to stadium-filling rock, they didn’t do sub-ambient, roots rock or pomo reinvention… apart from both being guitar rock of some kind, I can’t see it.

  13. 73

    I have a bunch of early HoL stuff on vinyl, sent to me for free and unrequested, so assiduous was Mr McGhee about getting easily swayed critics onside. I don’t think I played any of them more than a couple of times ; maybe I should sell them and make lots* of unearned money.

    *Yes I know.

  14. 74
    punctum on 29 Jul 2010 #

    HoL – absolutely tremendous live*, always rather disappointing on record, due I think to undernourished production.

    *I once went to see them do three London gigs in one night – 1990 or possibly 1991 – at UCL, the Town & Country Club (I think; it could have been the Camden Underworld) and finally the Dome in Tufnell Park. Entirely different set lists for each gig and they were splendid.

  15. 75
    Stevie on 29 Jul 2010 #

    The HoL Peel session with ‘Love in a Car’ soundtracked my A-level revision so their corny majesty will always have a place in my heart. Saw their reunion gig a couple of years ago and Mad Terry B was still great. Funny how everyone expected them to be huge around the end of 88, they appeared on the end of year South Bank Show special and I remember Bill Drummond writing an article in Blitz magazine saying they would be the next Pink Floyd or something. Also predicting that a shapeshifting S-Express would set the agenda for the next 5 years of UK pop.

    By 88 I had finally kicked the NME habit and taken up full time with MM – not because I liked the Young Gods or whatever, but just because Reynolds, Stubbs, Wilde, Roberts etc were so clearly leagues better writers, whatever they were getting worked up about, than Maconie etc. The terrible fall off in the second half of the year must have contributed to me finally packing in my Smash Hits subscription in favour of the Face/Blitz/i-D etc.

  16. 76
    punctum on 29 Jul 2010 #

    …whereas what happened was that a shapeshifting Bill Drummond would set the agenda for the next 5 years of UK pop! Respect to Mark Moore though; he was in on the ground floor with the vogueing thing (see McLaren’s remarkably underrated Waltz Darling album) and one of his S’Express colleagues makes a return to Popular at the turn of the millennium.

    We recently found a used copy of the second S’Express album, Intercourse (which I don’t recall ever seeing new in the shops at the time – was it even reviewed anywhere?) with “Mantra For A State Of Mind,” “Nothing To Lose,” etc. Fine stuff.

  17. 77
    pink champale on 29 Jul 2010 #

    re 69 “she sells meat” is a tremendous line, i’ve always thought – one of suede’s very best stabs at the unspecifiably dirty.

    on the disappointing butterfly album, i seem to remember that when ‘never’ first came out it was scorned by fans as an act of terrible betrayal, like it was ‘self portrait’ or something (or at least ‘ouija board, ouija board’). HOL were indeed great live though – their show at the hummingbird in birmingham (supported by some have fins, aficionados will note) was the third proper gig i ever went to i think and made a big impression.

    i get the feeling from this thread (and my general sense of the majority demographics here) that i’m not the only one for whom the next few years saw the charts as an interesting sideshow to cud b-sides that were at the centre of the pop universe. it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the comments threads.

  18. 78
    Billy Smart on 29 Jul 2010 #

    ‘Never’ was like a dress rehearsal for the great Stone Roses ‘One Love’ letdown of 1990… And both of those singles have got fantastic B-sides (‘Soft as Fire/ Safe’ and ‘Something’s Burning’) that outshine their slapdash public faces.

  19. 79
    Martin Skidmore on 29 Jul 2010 #

    I ticked 7, 2 or 3 of them very marginal. I was listening to indie, hip hop and house back then, and I probably saw a few of the bands in some of those lists – Wedding Present probably, maybe the Fall, almost certainly the Flatmates, who I knew very slightly.

  20. 80
    Mark M on 29 Jul 2010 #

    Re 72: chiming guitars (as opposed to the fuzzy or jangly option taken by their Creation contemporaries) and stentorian vocals plus grandiose yearning equalled U2 to me. And I think Chadwick aspired very much to stadium filling…

  21. 81
    Mark M on 29 Jul 2010 #

    What I think I mean is if you stand them next to the actual U2, they don’t sound that epic. If you place them alongside early Primal Scream or Slaughter Joe, they do…

  22. 82
    Steve Mannion on 29 Jul 2010 #

    Interesting to see the stark difference between the disco fodder at the top and the big blustery ballads at the bottom here.

    So what WERE or are people’s favourite ballads of 1988?

  23. 83
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 29 Jul 2010 #

    Was Maconie writing much for NME in 88? I know he’d arrived because I remember him — very amiable fellow — but I don’t recall that he was setting its tone and agenda yet. Though it’s really strange how distorted your idea is of how a magazine comes across to readers, when you’re actually on the inside.

  24. 84
    Tom on 29 Jul 2010 #

    I made pretty much exactly the same switch as Stevie at almost the same age – gave up on NME, then when I got back into the music press it was Melody Maker circa early 92: I decided I preferred style over content (where content = the specific bands covered, not the ideas about those bands) and MM had all the style.

    Maconie did set a lot of the tone on the NME in 89 – he, Andrew Collins and Swells were the joke-tellers. Back then I liked his comedy pieces a lot.

    This Maconie review is of indirect nostalgic relevance http://home2.btconnect.com/iconic-trash/trigger-happy.html though I wouldn’t rep for the writing on it.

  25. 85
    Tom on 29 Jul 2010 #

    Surely everyone’s favourite ballad of 1988 is the one I should be writing about right now instead of thinking about the House of Love ;)

  26. 86
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 29 Jul 2010 #

    NME was very much in transition in 1988: there’d been a very significant management purge of the editorial team in 1987, and the new editor was putting together a new team and establishing a new direction which very likely didn’t gel until 1989. I actually applied for the job that James Brown got — assistant editor — but I didn’t get it: possibly because I was interviewed IN THE PUB which totally threw me (I doubt I was seriously in the running: as I recall part of my pitch was “raise the quality of writing”, which wouldn’t actually have excluded “funny”). A whole bunch of contributors quietly left at this point; I was able to fashion a noisy exit because I am a massive drama queen.

  27. 87
    taDOW on 30 Jul 2010 #

    fave ballad of 88

  28. 88
    mike on 30 Jul 2010 #

    From the archives: these were my favourite singles of 1988:

    1. left to my own devices – pet shop boys 
    2. right back to you – ten city 
    3. alphabet street – prince
    4. buffalo stance – neneh cherry 
    5. can you party – royal house 
    6. fast car – tracy chapman 
    7. teardrops – womack & womack 
    8. reachin’ – phase II 
    9. fairplay – soul II soul 
    10. ye ke ye ke – mory kante (original/afro-acid remix) 
    11. it takes two – rob base & dj e-z rock 
    12. first we take manhattan – leonard cohen 
    13. it’s alright – sterling void 
    14. the only way is up – yazz & the plastic population 
    15. theme from s-express – s-express 
    16. follow the leader – eric b & rakim 
    17. jenifa (taught me) – de la soul 
    18. know how – young mc 
    19. cars and girls – prefab sprout 
    20. every day is like sunday – morrissey

  29. 89
    punctum on 30 Jul 2010 #

    And DJ Punctum’s token classic ’88 single waiting to be rediscovered: “Don’t Scandalize Mine” by Sugar Bear.

    I miss Champion Records; the label was always a guarantee of quality, like ECM.

  30. 90
    Tom on 30 Jul 2010 #

    #89 I’m sure it gets rediscovered every 10 years or so and never takes, which is a shame – I first heard it in the mid-90s thanks to some “how on earth were these not smashes” feature or other.

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