Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In 80s Music, October 15th

On this day in 1988: Bon Jovi started a four-week run at #1 on the U.S. album chart with their fourth release, ‘New Jersey.’ The album produced five Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 singles, the most top ten hits to date for a hard rock album. ‘Bad Medicine’ went to #1, ‘Born to Be My Baby’ went to #3, ‘I’ll Be There For You’ went to #1, ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ went to #7, and ‘Living In Sin’ went to #9.

Also on this day in 1988: UB40 went to #1 on the U.S. singles chart with their version of the Neil Diamond song ‘Red Red Wine’. It would spend one week in the top spot.

When Diamond left the Bang Records label in 1968, the label continued to release Diamond’s singles, often adding newly recorded instruments and background vocals to album tracks from Bang’s two Diamond albums. For the “Red Red Wine” single, Bang added a background choir without Diamond’s involvement or permission. Diamond’s version reached #62 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968. Billboard described the single as a “compelling, original folk-flavored ballad.” A live version was released on Diamond’s The Greatest Hits (1966–92), but the 1968 single version has never been issued on a vinyl album or CD. However, according to the liner notes in the booklet included in the 1996 box set “In My Lifetime”, the version of “Red Red Wine” in the set is indeed from the 1968 Bang single #556. Jamaican-born singer Tony Tribe recorded a reggae version of the song in 1969 that reached #46 on the UK singles chart.

UB40 recorded their version of “Red Red Wine” for their album of cover songs, Labour Of Love. According to UB40 member Astro, the group’s former vocalist and trumpet player, the band were only familiar with Tony Tribe’s version and did not realize that the writer and original singer was Neil Diamond. Astro said “Even when we saw the writing credit which said ‘N Diamond,’ we thought it was a Jamaican artist called Negus Diamond.”

UB40’s version features a lighter, reggae-style flavor compared to that of Diamond’s somber, acoustic ballad. The UB40 version adds a toasted verse by Astro, opening: “Red Red Wine, you make me feel so fine/You keep me rocking all of the time,” which was edited from the single that reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1983 and #34 in the United States in March 1984.

In 1988, UB40 performed the song at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Concert. Soon after in June 1988, Guy Zapoleon, program director of KZZP in the Phoenix, AZ market, believed that the song should be given a second chance and put the full version, including Astro’s “rap”, on the station’s playlist and it soon became the station’s most popular song. With UB40 ready to release Labour Of Love II, Virgin Records promotion man Charlie Minor asked UB40 to hold off on releasing the album so that the label could reissue and promote “Red Red Wine”. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart of October 15, 1988 the song hit #1 in the U.S.

Here’s a look at the Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1988:

1 2 RED RED WINE –•– UB40 – 25 (1)
2 1 LOVE BITES –•– Def Leppard – 10 (1)
3 6 GROOVY KIND OF LOVE –•– Phil Collins – 7 (3)
4 4 DON’T BE CRUEL –•– Cheap Trick – 12 (4)
5 9 WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND (PURE ENERGY) –•– Information Society – 14 (5)
6 3 DON’T WORRY BE HAPPY –•– Bobby McFerrin – 12 (1)
7 13 DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT THE NIGHT CAN DO? Steve Winwood – 9 (7)
8 11 DON’T BE CRUEL –•– Bobby Brown – 13 (8)
9 20 WILD, WILD WEST –•– The Escape Club – 9 (9)
10 8 I HATE MYSELF FOR LOVING YOU – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – 17 (8)

11 5 ONE GOOD WOMAN –•– Peter Cetera – 13 (4)
12 14 FOREVER YOUNG –•– Rod Stewart – 11 (12)
13 15 TRUE LOVE –•– Glenn Frey – 9 (13)
14 18 NEVER TEAR US APART –•– INXS – 10 (14)
15 7 I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU –•– Taylor Dayne – 19 (3)
16 25 KOKOMO –•– The Beach Boys – 7 (16)
17 19 THE LOCO-MOTION –•– Kylie Minoque – 8 (17)
18 22 ONE MOMENT IN TIME –•– Whitney Houston – 6 (18)
19 10 PLEASE DON’T GO GIRL –•– New Kids On The Block – 17 (10)
20 21 CHAINS OF LOVE –•– Erasure – 12 (20)