Number Ones: #140


  • CHRIS REA On The Beach (WEA)
  • Week Ending 27th August 1988
  • 1 Week At #1

Ah, amazinglyfewjukeboxes‘ favourite son, Mr Chris Rea, gets himself into our Number Ones hall of fame with the “Summer 88” reboot of his title track to 1986’s On The Beach album.

This incarnation marked the third take on the song, after the original LP version and the single remix that was more like a re-recording. The latter only reached #57 on the UK charts, but hung around for several weeks in the lower reaches and built up a bit of a cult following.

When he signed with WEA in 1988, Rea had just enjoyed his most successful album (the UK #2 Dancing With Strangers) and his highest-charting 45, Let’s Dance (#12). His first project for the new label was a Best Of, with a twist. 13 of his best-known songs, recorded afresh in the studio using the latest technology (Rea had, justifiably, never been happy with the way his Magnet albums had sounded, and how they were often done on the cheap).

It was, in a sense, the best of both worlds….his strongest material, sounding like it should and could do in 1988 at the height of the pristine Compact Disc era. New Light Through Old Windows (a great title) would appear in October, but its first single came almost three months earlier, the re-made On The Beach drawing heavily on the 1986 “Special Single Mix” and adding a lush coda on the full-length version.

That recognisable clipped guitar motif dominates, but the syncopated rhythm is warmer and the whole thing feels more expansive than ever. It’s the version which ended up appearing on just about every Chris Rea compilation thereafter (and, my word, there have been a few!), and so effectively became the definitive one.


    • I’ve definitely heard it too many times myself. The 1986 single mix took longer to appear on CD, so I’ve not played it nearly as much, but that would also be my go-to version.


  1. I grew up in the U.S., where the “Summer ’88” version of “On the Beach” reached adult-contemporary radio the following summer. And the version of the “Summer ’88” version that was played, at least in Macon, Georgia, on WPEZ 107.9 FM, was four and a half minutes long, an edit of the full-length version (six minutes and 50 seconds) that isn’t listed on the song’s Wikipedia page. That between-single-length-and-full-length version is my go-to version of “On the Beach,” but it seems to have only made it to CD once, on a Warner Music Argentina compilation from 1997:

    I tracked down that four-minutes-and-28-seconds version on Soulseek last year, but it sounds like it has some snap, crackle, and pop in it, so it’s possible that Warner Music Argentina just made a vinyl transfer of the “Short Version” of “On the Beach,” from the Canadian seven-inch promo:

    Thank you for indulging this unnecessary detective work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No worries Robert, these are the things which also occupy far too much of my own time, when trying to put together iTunes playlists and homemade Deluxe Editions! Interestingly, the length of that inbetween edit is about the same as the 1986 UK 7″ “Special Remix” (which runs approx 4.23). The 3.43 (ish) edit of the Summer 88 version is a little bit too short, really.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point! (I have yet to read about your Fantasy Deluxe Edition of “Meet Danny Wilson” but will do so soon.)

      Also, I agree that the 3:43 edit of “On the Beach (Summer ’88)” is too short — the listener needs at least a taste of that lush coda you mentioned, which the “Short Version” provides for about 45 seconds (although I’m sure numerous American radio DJs in the summer of ’89 talked over that part of the song before throwing to commercial).


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