The hat, the hair, that winning grin: it’s a quarter of a century since Kylie Minogue's very first album debuted in the charts.
If 1988 was anyone’s year it was Kylie Minogue’s. She was still appearing in British homes twice a day in hit Australian soap Neighbours as plucky mechanic Charlene, she was the focus of no end of speculation about her relationship with Jason Donovan – her co-star in the hugely successful soap – and, oh yes, she was the most exciting thing to happen to pop for quite a long time.
By the time it was released, Kylie’s first album – which didn’t need a name of its own because, look, this was Kylie and everybody knew who she was and this was all about her, really – already had two and a half hit singles appearing on it. In prime position and opening up the ten-track opus was, of course, I Should Be So Lucky, the hymn for the brokenhearted everywhere and penned by the masters of ‘80s pop, Stock, Aitken and Waterman. The track was Kylie’s first hit in the UK and spent 5 weeks at Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart.
Closing off side one of Kylie was her follow-up, the mighty Got To Be Certain, sadly denied the top spot for three consecutive weeks by Wet Wet Wet’s charity cover of The Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends. And the half? That honour goes to The Loco-Motion, not yet released as a single in the UK, but Kylie’s first hit in Australia a year earlier, albeit in a very different pre-SAW guise (lots of synthesisers and robotic stuttering if we remember rightly). The track was eventually let loose on the singles-buying public a month later, again slightly rejigged, and became the highest new entry for a female artist ever on the UK Official Singles Chart, storming in at Number 2 (kept off the top by Yazz’s The Only Way Is Up).
One final single followed in the UK, Je Ne Sais Pourquoi, which was teamed up with new, non-album track Made In Heaven for a double-A side extravaganza, with the intention to ‘flip’ sides and focus on the lesser-known track on the radio midway through its chart run. There was still life in the Kylie track yet, though, and Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi remained the dominant A-side.
Two more album tracks ended up being singles in other countries. It’s No Secret got an outing in North America, Japan and New Zealand, while Turn It Into Love got to strike out on its own in Japan. An undisputed fan favourite, Turn It Into Love was never going to be a Kylie single in the UK, but Who’s Leaving Who singer Hazell Dean took a shine to the track and had a Top 40 hit with it on the Official Singles Chart in late 1988.
Speaking before her appearance alongside Jason Donovan at last year’s Hit Factory Live extravaganza, Kylie fondly remembered recording her debut album at PWL over Easter 1988: "I stayed with my Mum in Pete’s apartment… This way I couldn’t have been any closer to the studio!"
Watch the video for I Should Be So Lucky:
Other notable tracks include Love At First Sight, which shares its name – but nothing else, sadly – with Kylie’s massive 2002 hit from the Fever album.
Tracks aside, the album’s other standout was its cover, with the now iconic hat of hair, hair-hat or hat-hair, depending on who you’re talking to. Like many classic PWL images and the company’s output as a whole, the look was an in-house collaborative effort between the artist and a creative ‘dream team’ – in this instance, photographer Lawrence Lawry, PWL MD and designer David Howells, hair stylist-to-the-stars Lino Carbosiero and stylist Clair Hall. But Kylie wasn’t the first PWL star to sport a hatful of hair on a record cover. Mel and Kim beat her to it on the cover of their 1987 single FLM!
Kylie seemed to be on the cover of every magazine throughout 1988 – usually wearing very big shoes – and that fact coupled with four stonking Top 2 hits and six further minty fresh pop gems available on the album made it a massive hit. Kylie – The Album managed to sell over 1.2 million copies in its first year on sale, and was the biggest selling album of 1988.