TOTP 12 DEC 1985

It’s nearly Christmas again! Christmas in 1985 of course. In the real world it is early July 2018 and the England football team have just reached their first World Cup semi final for 28 years and the country is rejoicing against the backdrop of a continuous heatwave and non-stop sunshine. Now I can’t quite remember what the weather was doing 33 years ago in mid December but I’m guessing it was a tad colder.

I was 17 (and a half!) and locked into a routine of 6th form Monday to Friday followed by the weekend spent down “The Crown” pub in town followed by late nights at the local nightclub “The Barn”. I had resisted this pattern of behaviour that all my mates had been indulging in for most of the year but suddenly found myself drinking alcohol and being in the company of girls (sometimes) and it was was a heady cocktail.

Providing the soundtrack to this period of my life were the the chart hits being played on Radio 1 and TOTP so let’s see what some of them were. First the formalities – tonight’s Radio 1 DJ presenters are Gary Davies and Janice Long. Gary seems to be under the impression that it is 10 days until Xmas but this show was broadcast on the 12th Dec so surely that’s at least 12 days until Xmas (depending on how you count it).

Anyway…first act tonight are Bronski Beat with “Hit That Perfect Beat”. Or rather Bronski Beat Version 2.0 as this is the first single for the band post Jimmy Somerville who left earlier in the year to form The Communards. Jimmy’s place was taken by one John Foster who is very much a forgotten man of pop. There seems to be very little info on the internet about John and his whereabouts nowadays. He came over like a prototype Andy Bell of Erasure but only stayed with the band for one album – “Truthdare Doubledare” -and this was the first single from it and it fair stormed out of the blocks with its relentless back beat, thrusting synths and drum fills. It raced all the way to No 3 and it seemed as if the band had pulled off the great feat of moving on seamlessly from Somerville. However, after one more medium sized hit, that was pretty much it for them although they are still in existence today thanks to the persistence of founder member Steve Bronski.

For the record, I liked it and it was a staple of ‘The Barn”s weekend playlist. It always reminds me of my mate Neil (the Spandau fan) who seemed to take great delight in trying to thump me every time we were on the dance floor together and the DJ put it on. I guess he was hitting that perfect beat.

If it’s 1985 then it must be Madonna and here she is again with her 7th (!) hit of the year “Dress You Up”. This was the final single pulled from  her “Like A Virgin” album and I much preferred it to her recent offerings like “Angel’ and “Gambler”. On one hand you could say that it’s just a bog standard  pop song  that actually shows off the limitations of Madonna’s voice but it always seemed to be perfectly executed to me. Maybe it was the magic wand touch of Nile Rodgers who produced it and played guitar as well.

The video is just a concert performance from ‘The Virgin Tour’ but it neatly provides a snapshot of Madonna’s crucifix -heavy style at this time. The song’s lyrics were deemed so provocative by the Parents Music Resource Center that they included it in their “Filthy Fifteen” list mainly because of the line “Gonna dress you up in my love” which was accused of exemplifying ‘vulgar music’. Bloody Hell! It’s hardly “Too Drunk To Fuck” by Dead Kennedys is it?!

“Dress You Up” made No 5 on the UK charts to round off an incredible year for Madonna.

Meanwhile back in the studio, something very strange is happening…“She’s Strange” in fact by Cameo. We last saw Larry Blackmon and pals just a few weeks back with their hit “Single Life”. They seemed odd enough then but they have turned it up to 11 on the weird-ometer with this one. The song has an eerie quality to it  which is quite unsettling on its own but check out the bizarre thrashing up and down that they all do in unison at the start of the song! WTF?! They’re like some sort of demented garden party guest meeting the Queen. And then Larry comes forward and just says “Owww”. It’s all quite menacing but I bet Colonel Abrams wished he could have looked as cool and other worldly as these guys.

“Single Life” made it to No 22 on the charts but they would return a year later with their massive blockbuster Top 3 hit “Word Up!”. “Owww” indeed.

Here come the Breakers then…First up is Iron Maiden with another live recording  – this time it’s “Run To The Hills”. The band had not long released another live single (“Running Free”) and this one as also taken from their live album “Live After Death”. I get that the record company would have wanted to maximise sales of the album but two live Iron Maiden singles in the space of a couple of months? Did the world really need that?

I think I may have mentioned this before but when a friend from work got married they had “Run To The Hills” as the last song of the night at their evening disco which I think is just great.

Hands up everyone who thought Princess was a one-hit wonder? You’re all wrong as she had four Top 40 hits in total and this was the second one called “After The Love Has Gone”. In truth it doesn’t have the winning groove of her best known song “Say I’m Your Number 1” and petered out fairly quickly at No 28 in the charts.

The other thing I remember about this song is Dave Lee Travis introducing it on his radio show one day and saying when he saw that Princess was releasing a song called “After The Love Has Gone” he was worried it might be a cover version of Earth Wind & Fire’s 1979 classic of the same name but thankfully it wasn’t. Probably not the plug that her record label would have been hoping for.

The final Breaker is a song that was featured as the play out music from the other week – Starship with “We Built This City”. Rising like a phoenix out of the flames, this lot used to be San Francisco psychedelic rockers Jefferson Airplane of “White Rabbit” fame and then Jefferson Starship  before rebooting as just Starship in the mid 80s but I think by then the only original member was vocalist Grace Slick.

Voted on three separate occasions as the worst song of all time (by GQ, Rolling Stone and Blender magazines), this dumb ass rocker was unaccountably a No 1 record in the US but failed to make the Top 10 over here. Taken from the album “Knee Deep In The Hoopla” (a  line from the lyrics), they followed it up with a second US No 1 song called “Sara” which was a passable ballad but which didn’t even make the Top 40 in the UK.

We will be seeing them again in 1987 (assuming that BBC4 carries on with their TOTP repeats schedule ) when they finally break UK resistance with the soft rock standard and No 1 record “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”.

It’s the Top 10 now and oh crikey…here’s Shaky…

10. Shakin’ Stevens – “Merry Christmas Everyone”: Little did we know when this festive ditty from Shaky went up 28 places to No 10 on the chart that it would become seared into the nation’s Christmas consciousness and brought out along with the Xmas decorations and the tree each year from here on in.

As with any enduring Xmas song (Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody” and Wham!’s “Last Christmas” for starters) it was written in the Summer when nobody was contemplating the festive season at all…apart from those money mad record labels. It was originally planned for release in ’84 before but Shaky wisely opted to postpone it a year to allow the Band Aid phenomenon to run its course. That decision may have set him up financially for life as it would go onto beat all the competition to the Christmas No 1 spot of 1985 and become a staple of Christmas compilation albums for the next 30 years.

I thought it was pretty dreadful at the time- I still do – but my wife who is now a primary school teacher assures me that the kids at her school’s Christmas disco last year were mad for it. Presumably they haven’t a clue who Shaky is but they couldn’t get enough of the song. Kids eh? What do they know.

9. Pet Shop Boys – “West End Girls”: I name checked their first ever appearance in the singles chart in the last blog when they crept in at No 40 and just two weeks later they have crash landed inside the Top 10! What a song this is! Still one of their best ever in my opinion despite massive competition from the hundreds of songs they have released in the intervening 33 odd years.

The song’s backstory mirrors that of “Take On Me” by A-ha who had similarly just made their UK chart breakthrough in that it wasn’t a hit immediately. Originally only available as a 12″ import back in ’84 when the initial version was produced by New York producer Bobby Orlando, it became a massive No 1 hit when the band were picked up by EMI and it was given an official release in October ’85. The version we all know and love was produced by Stephen Hague but that wasn’t the band’s first ever major label single release. That honour went to “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” which despite only making No 116 first time around, would get its own re-release and be a Top 20 hit in ’86.

Back to “West End Girls” though, and I thought this sounded brilliant from the moment I first heard it. The were so many things going on in what was essentially just another synth pop song. Lots of little hooky sound effects, Neil Tennant’s dead pan vocal delivery and some rather arty lyrics that referenced T.S. Eliot and the Russian Revolution (not that I grasped that at the time) intrigued the Hell out of me.

I’m sure we will be seeing this one again so I’ll leave it there for now.

 

8. Lionel Richie – “Say You, Say Me”: Or maybe say nothing at all Lionel?

7. Feargal Sharkey – “A Good Heart”: A former No 1 still holding up well sales wise despite the Xmas rush

6. Band Aid – “Do They Know It’s Christmas Time”: A timely re-release for the record crushing juggernaut with the sales still going to the famine appeal

5. Madonna – “Dress You Up”: We saw her earlier on in the show

4. Phil Collins/ Marilyn Martin – “Separate Lives”: In a Top 10 full of ballads, this one was standing up well

3. Dee C. Lee – “See The Day”: But not as well as this one which was stuck at No 3

2. Wham! – “I’m Your Man”: A short stint at the top spot for what would become an enduring hit for them

1. Whitney Houston- “Saving All My Love For You”: She’s made it! A No 1 both sides of the pond, she beat out Dee C. Lee in the end to secure her first UK best seller. Watch out for Shaky though Whitney. he’s behind you….

The play out music this week is Wham! with “Last Christmas”. Well if it’s good enough for Band Aid…again I think all the proceeds went to charity.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

Bronski Beat Hit That Perfect Beat No but I easily could have

2

Madonna Dress You Up No but my sister has the album on cassette

3

Cameo She’s Strange Just a bit too weird for me 1985 me

4

Iron Maiden Run For The Hills (Live) Did anyone need this in their lives? I didn’t

5

Princess After The Love Has Gone Nah

6

Starship We Built This City And no

7

Shakin’ Stevens Merry Christmas Everyone Merry Christmas Yer Arse! NO!

8

Pet Shop Boys West End Girls Thought I did but can’t find it. No matter I have it on CD

9

Lionel Richie Say You Say Me I say…no!

10

Feargal Sharkey A Good Heart The singles box says no

11

Band Aid Do They Know It’s Christmas First time around yes, second time no

12

Madonna Dress You Up See 2 above

13

Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin Separate Lives Hell no!

14

Dee C.Lee See The Day No but I did like it

15

Wham! I’m Your Man No but we all have Wham’s Greatest Hits album…don’t we?

16

Whitney Houston Saving All My Love For You I preferred this to D.C. Lee but still didn’t buy it

17

Wham! Last Christmas See 15 above

 

Disclaimer

OK – here’s the thing – the TOTP episodes are only available on iPlayer for a limited amount of time so the link to the programme below only works for about another month so you’ll have to work fast if you want to catch the whole show as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b8kv3f/top-of-the-pops-12121985

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

 

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TOTP 28 NOV 1985

Time for another TOTP Rewind, where I, a 50 year old man, am trying to relive my youth by reviewing the TOTP repeats that BBC4 is broadcasting. Tonight’s Radio 1 DJ presenters are Peter Powell and Dixie Peach and Powell has donned his ‘matey’ persona again which is on display immediately in his very first words which are “Hi, welcome to the Pops”. Not “Top of the Pops”, not “the show” but “the Pops” as if he’s one of our schoolmates that we’ll be seeing tomorrow at school.

And who will we be talking about at school tomorrow? Well, the first act on are a duo comprising a rising star of the British soul scene and a someone who can’t believe they are still on our screen despite it being over two years since their 15 minutes of solo fame. Just in case there’s any doubt as to who is who here, the former is obviously Jaki Graham and the latter David Grant who are reunited once more for “Mated” which is their follow up to “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love”.

Since their first pairing, Jaki has had a solo hit in her own right with the Top Ten hit “Round And Around”. David though has released one single on his own which stalled at No 80. Hmm. I wonder whose manager floated the idea of doing the duo thing again? I never thought much of the song but the song is not what we would have been talking about at school the next morning. Oh no, we would have been discussing David Grant’s ludicrous hairstyle. What is that pony tail nonsense going on around the back of his head and more importantly why did he think it was a good idea?! It’s as if he’s channelled his inner Fletcher Christian.

“Mated” couldn’t quite repeat the success of “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” peaking at No 20 but it was the springboard for Jaki to achieve a further three hit singles the following year making her the first black UK female solo artist to chalk up six consecutive Top 20 hits. And David Grant? David would never return to the UK charts (so presumably this was his last TOTP appearance…finally!) but he would carve a career for himself as a TV celebrity (of sorts) appearing on shows such as Pop Idol, Fame Academy and…ahem…Carrie and David’s Popshop alongside his wife Carrie Grant.

Now then, up to No 9 and destined for the No 1 spot is Whitney Houston with “Saving All My Love For You”.

Of course we don’t get Whitney in the flesh but just a re-run of the video from the previous week’s show the plot of which follows the lyrics of the song  pretty closely. Whitney is in love with her married record producer and he strings her along until returning to his wife at the end of the video and…..hang on a minute! The woman who plays his wife…that’s the woman from the “Hungry Like The Wolf” video isn’t it? Wait there….

….I’m sure I’m right. Got to 2.42 in the Duran video. That’s her isn’t it? Anyway, whether it is or not, “Saving All My Love For You” would go onto be the 3rd best selling single in the UK for Whitney ever (only behind “I Wanna Dance WIth Somebody” and “I Will Always Love You”) and was the first of a record setting 7 consecutive No 1 songs in the US for her, a record that still stands today.

The Top 40 run down is next  and, as with A-ha previously, I pause briefly to remark upon the very first entry into the charts for an act that would dominate the 80s and still be releasing albums and touring to great critical acclaim today.  Yes, in at No 40 are Pet Shop Boys with “West End Girls”. To think Amazulu sold more records than them that week!

On with the Breakers then and first up is a great but almost forgotten record – this is Artists Against Apartheid with “Sun City”. In a year of charity records, this was a proper protest song that wanted change and freedom. The brainchild of E Street Band stalwart Steven Van Zandt, the song chose the controversial  entertainment complex Sun City as the focal point of its rage against the apartheid system in South Africa. It fused hip-hop and rock in a powerful hybrid with the “I, I, I, I, I, I ain’t gonna play Sun City!” rousing chorus hammering home the point. The collective featured some stellar names like Bruce Springsteen, U2,  Hall and Oates, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Grand Master Melle Mel and many many more. Sun City regulars Queen were notable by their absence.

Charity records and songs from films. They were everywhere in 1985 and here’s another of the latter. It’s Paul McCartney with “Spies Like Us”. This must be one of Macca’s least remembered tunes ever. Taken from the film of the same name, it’s a curious thing with its”ooh, ooh” opening and echoey production. It only really gets interesting during the extended outro when McCartney wigs out a bit but let’s be fair, it’s no “Live And Let Die”. I’ve never seen the film (a comedy with Chevy Chase and Dan Ackroyd about two bumbling secret agents) which apparently was a box office success despite being critically panned. To add to the curious nature of the whole thing, Macca’s song doesn’t feature on the official soundtrack to the film despite being a Top 10 hit in the US and making No 13 over here.

The last Breaker tonight is Go West with “Don’t Look Down”. Their last hit of a very successful debut year for the band, it sounded to me like a big improvement on their sluggish last release the turgid ballad “Goodbye Girl”. An uptempo track with punchy synth stabs to help it along, it even has its own “Layla” moment (if you can reference Eric Clapton and Go West in the same sentence!) with some squealing guitars as the song fades out. It possibly should have been a bigger hit than the No 13 placing it achieved but then it was the fourth single release from the album which was pushing it a bit.

The video is a straight forward in concert run through of the song with added “comedy” (and I use that word very loosely) extras of the lads arseing about backstage. Didn’t spot their regular backing singer in the video though – you know the one that looks like Tory MP Esther McVey.? Maybe they split over political differences.

Back to the studio now and a wonderful song from a wonderful band…it’s only Prefab Sprout with “When Love Breaks Down”. You know when you hear a song for the first time and it stands out immediately from all the other stuff around at the time as something special? That. It had already happened to me before in ’85 with “Life In  A Northern Town” by Dream Academy and this was a similar experience.

It has a  gorgeous melody but more than anything it had an air of mystery to it. First up you had that name. Prefab Sprout? What did it mean? I knew very little about the band though I had come across their name before. Once you were aware of it you were never going to forget it. Not sure that I had heard any of their actual music before this point but I  had seen adverts in Smash Hits for some of their earlier releases like “Lions in My Own Garden (Exit Someone)”, “Don’t Sing” and indeed “When Love Breaks Down” which had already been released twice before peaking at 89 an 88 on the chart. Record label Kitchenware must have known the song was too good not to be a hit though and so, similar to “Take On Me” by A-ha, it was released for a third and final time and bingo! Hello TOTP!

Secondly in the mystery stakes, the sound of the record was so dissimilar to most of the chart fodder at that time that it felt like it had arrived from another universe almost. It took its time to build from the atmospheric keyboard intro and then the sparse guitar work by lead Sprout Paddy McAloon comes in before the whole track kicks up a notch with the almost urgent sounding chorus. Added to all this were the breathy backing vocals of Wendy Smith who brought her own element of mystery to the band. There was something about the faraway look in her eyes that suggested she really had beamed down from another planet.

When I went to Poly a year later, I met my wife who had the 12″ that included their version of the Jim Reeves song “He’ll Have To Go” – a song I knew already because my Dad, who fancied himself as a Country & Western singer, had it in his repertoire of songs that he would bring out whenever the opportunity arose. I’ve never heard him sing “When Love Breaks Down” though. I’m sure he would have snorted in derision if he had heard the band’s name at that time.

“When Love Breaks Down” made it to No 25 on its third release and in my book is infinitely better than the song they are probably most well known for “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” which would be a Top 10 hit some 3 years later.

 

Right, into the Top 10 then….

10. Phil Collins / Marilyn Martin – Separate Lives: I said we might be seeing this song in a recent post when talking about “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie. That was from the soundtrack to the film White Nights and so was this which is typical Phil Collins ballad – by – numbers. Phil was on a roll in ’85 with this being his 5th hit that year. He was following his usual trick of releasing an uptempo track followed by a yearning ballad followed by an uptempo track etc. We’d already had the ballad “One More Night ” from Phil this year and this was almost identical and the symmetry continued when it reached No 4 on the charts as had “One More Night “. Phil also repeated the trick of doing it as a duet (as he had with the No 1 song “Easy Lover” which he recorded with Philip Bailey). His co-voclalist was someone called Marilyn Martin. I’d never heard of her before and never heard of her again after this. Who was she?

*checks Wikipedia*…

Marilyn Martin (born May 4, 1954) is an American singer and songwriter. She is best known for her 1985 hit duet with phil Collins “Separate Lives”. 

Ah-  that says it all really.

 

9. Whitney Houston – Saving All My Love For You: Already seen her erlier in the show

8. Queen – One Vision: A very well known Queen song and yet it only made it to No 7

7. Doug E Fresh – The Show: Oh please – is this turd still floating around in the toilet bowl of the charts?

6. Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere: Hitting a high of No 6 and thereby becoming the band’s biggest ever UK hit

5. Jennifer Rush – The Power Of Love: Still in the charts!

4. Dee C. Lee – See The Day: About to be eclipsed by Whitney in the race for the No 1 spot but still a fine song

3. UB40 – Don’t Break My Heart: Holding at No 3, you forget how big a hit this was

2. Feargal Sharkey – A Good Heart: He’s been toppled ….

1. Wham! – I’m Your Man:….by George and Andrew. Inevitable really.

The play out music this week is “We Built This City” by Starship. A song that has come to be derided as everything that is wrong with Adult Oriented Rock. Quite why the UK record buying public made this a hit remains a mystery. I quite liked the fake DJ bit in the middle though.

 

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

David Grant and Jaki Graham Mated Nah

2

Whitney Houston Saving All My Love For You I preferred this to D.C. Lee but still didn’t buy it

3

Artists Against Apartheid Sun City No – should have though

4

Paul McCartney Spies Like Us No – it didn’t even make it onto his “All The Best” compilation released just two years later, Says it all really.

5

Go West Don’t Look Down No but my sister had the album

6

Prefab Sprout When Love Breaks Down Got the album it’s from – the US version no less which includes “He’ll Have To Go”

7

Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin Separate Lives Hell no!

8

Whitney Houston Saving All My Love For You See 2 above

9

Queen One Vision Nah

10

Doug E Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew The Show No but inexplicably my younger sister (from the hood) did

11

Talking Heads Road To Nowhere No but my wife has the “Little Creatures” LP

12

Jennifer Rush The Power Of Love I think somebody in our house bought this for my Dad. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

13

D.C.Lee See The Day No but I did like it

14

UB40 Don’t Break My Heart Seems I didn’t

15

Feargal Sharkey A Good Heart The singles box says no

16

Wham! I’m Your Man No but we all have Wham’s Greatest Hits album…don’t we?

17

Starship We Built This City And no

Disclaimer

OK – here’s the thing – the TOTP episodes are only available on iPlayer for a limited amount of time so the link to the programme below only works for about another month so you’ll have to work fast if you want to catch the whole show as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b8hjp0/top-of-the-pops-28111985

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

 

Some bed time reading?

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TOTP 21 NOV 1985

Welcome back to TOTP Rewind where we have missed a show and find ourselves well into November and the record companies are frantically looking at release schedules with an eye on bagging the exalted and extremely lucrative Xmas No 1 spot.

Tonight’s hosts are Janice Long and that Paul Jordan guy who nobody remembers as ever being a Radio 1 DJ. After a rather stuttering introduction with plugs for BBC soap Eastenders we’re finally into the music….

…”Here they come again” sings Suggs and indeed they do as first act tonight Madness are back in the Top 40 once again with their latest single “Uncle Sam”. However, as this is 1985, the band are not the high flying charts stars that they were in the early part of the decade. Having lost main song writer Mike Barson from the line up the pervious year, the band’s commercial fortunes have faltered to the degree that they have not made the Top 10 since “The Sun And The Rain” two years before. “Uncle Sam” would not reverse that trend reaching No 21 and thereby becoming the band’s first ever single to fail to make the Top 20 after a run of 20 previous consecutive appearances.

After their last release “Yesterday’s Men” had ushered in a more mellow, wistful direction, “Uncle Sam” seemed to me like an instant return to that ‘nutty boys’ sound that made their name. Fair enough I thought seeing as reaction to “Yesterday’s Men” had been mixed. Give ’em what they want was my take on it. The relative failure of the single though was a massive flag to the band that maybe people had moved on and that the spell was broken. This certainly seemed to be the case when their next single (an ill advised cover of Scritti Politti’s “Sweetest Girl”) only just scraped int the Top 40. There would be just one more valedictory single in late ’86 and that was it for the 80s for one of the decade’s most prolific acts.

1985 had been a very quiet year for the ‘new pop’ big four acts of 1983. Duran Duran released just one stand alone single (Bond theme “A View To A Kill”) before splintering into side projects Power Station and Arcadia. Culture Club and Spandau Ballet could not muster even one single release between them. Only Wham! seemed to maintain their profile. “I’m Your Man” was their first release since cleverly flipping “Last Christmas” in the New Year to allow “Everything She Wants” to be a single in its own right and it seemed to tick all the boxes for their fan base. Still in that pure pop vein of “Wake Me Up Before You GoGo”, it’s an upbeat number with more than a nod to the Motown sound. In short, it’s a fun pop song. Moody and hormone driven 17 year old me wasn’t fussed. It wasn’t ...credible enough for me? Maybe. It was just a bit too uncool I guess but having just turned 50, I can see that it is in fact a damned good pop song.

The black and white video filmed at the legendary Marquee club and George Michael’s newly grown facial hair hinted that maybe the boys were trying to promote a more mature image. Little did we know that within six months they would have announced their split and be about to perform their “The Final” show at Wembley stadium where “I’m Your Man’ would be the last song George and Andrew performed together.

Straight in at No 2 this week, the single would go onto be Wham!’s third No 1.

Up next and maintaing that Wham! connection is the band’s original backing singer D.C. Lee with “See The Day”. After two upbeat numbers on the show, this is the first in a run four big ballads. We’d already seen Ms Lee on TOTP a few times this year due to her membership of the Style Council but this was her first and only solo success. It’s a massive, dramatic piece that could have been written for a film soundtrack or musical with a soaring chorus, kettle drum fills and strings a plenty. It’s a very assured ballad that D.C. (real name Diane Catherine Sealy – oh I see what she did there!) wrote herself and it would go onto sell 250,000 copies and make No 3 on the chart.

I liked it and given her Style Council connection and the fan base it brought with it,  I assumed it would be the springboard for her solo career. Unfortunately, follow up single “Come Hell Or Waters High” ( a Judy Tzuke cover) failed to chart and her stint as a star in her own right was over before it had barely begun.

D.C. Lee would eventually marry Paul Weller and have two kids with him before divorcing while the song itself was revived in 2005 by Girls Aloud but it peaked at No 9 despite it being tipped as a possible Xmas No 1.

Breakers time…and it’s a first appearance for an artist who would become a huge global star in the years that followed. This is Whitney Houston with “Saving All My Love For You”. You know how some songs seem inextricably linked with another that happens to be out at the same time? An obvious example would be Blur’s  “Country House” and “Roll With It” by Oasis but there are others (in my head anyway) like Cameo’s “Word Up” and Run DMC’s “Walk This Way”. Falling into this bracket is Whitney’s first UK hit and the song we’ve just heard “See  The Day” by D.C.Lee. Why? Well, I guess they are both big ballads by black female solo artists and they were both tipped as contenders to be No 1 songs. Ultimately Whitney would win that battle when “Saving All My Love For You” topped the chart in early December. Come May ’86 I would be going out with a girl who loved “See The Day” but whose sister preferred Whitney’s track and this cemented both songs place by each others side in my psyche forever more.

And me? Well I liked both but if pushed I did prefer Whitney. The production on it was just so smooth and warm sounding and added to Whitney’s almost unparalleled vocals it was a surefire winner. We’ll be seeing plenty more of Whitney Houston in the TOTP repeats to come but sadly not much of D.C.Lee.

Another ballad incoming! And not just another ballad but also another charity record! Coming some 12 months after Band Aid and following in the footsteps of USA For Africa, The Crowd and Marti Webb already in ’85, were we suffering from charity record fatigue when Dionne Warwick released “That’s What Friends Are For”? I say Dionne Warwick but it was actually promoted as “Dionne & Friends” with said ‘friends’ being none other than Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder.

Released to raise funds for AIDS research, it was a huge smash in the US making No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100  but we were a little more lukewarm in our reception to it over here with it peaking at just No 16 in the UK charts. See, maybe I had a point about charity record fatigue.

Up until now I had no idea it was a cover version but the stirling research of @TOTPFacts revealed the following….

Well, having listened to Rod’s version I have to say I prefer Dionne’s take on it. It suits her lush vocal stylings more than Rod’s raspings. You don’t hear it played on the radio much these days but if I do ever hear it, I am immediately taken back to late ’85 which is the case with a lot of these songs.

The last Breaker is yet another ballad, this time by Lionel Richie with his song from the film White Nights “Say You Say Me”. This was the first we had seen of Lionel since his amazing run of success with the 1984 “Can’t Slow Down” album and its attendant five hit singles and what an odd return it was. Odd? Well, it starts off sounding like standard Richie ballad material – all plodding synths and heart -string tugging melody but then….what the Hell happens in the middle eight?! Lionel goes all freeform dance on us and then before you can get your head around what is happening, it’s back to the rather dirge- like ballad. It’s literally two different songs cobbled together!

Not that any of that bothered US fans who lapped it up and, as with Dionne and Friends, sent it to No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and yet as also with Dionne and Friends it met with underwhelming success over here peaking at No 8. It did however win an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. As well as Richie’s track, the soundtrack to the film also features “Separate Lives” by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin which we might see on a TOTP repeat soon. Can’t say I’ve ever seen the film White Nights – something about a defecting Soviet ballet dancer – but I can say (you say me) that the song is not one of Lionel’s best in my book.

After all those ballads, something completely different. This is Doug E Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew with “The Show”. Now if Lionel Richie was odd, this was off the scale weird shit. Doug E Fresh was a beatboxer and along with his partner here MC Ricky D (latterly Slick Rick), recorded “The Show” which has gone onto be regarded as a hip hop classic (it says on Wikipedia). I thought it was just mental and didn’t get or like it at all. All that “Oh My God!” business and sending up of “Michelle” by The Beatles. Bah! American music magazine Spin described it as “the shit”. You could lose “the” for me. Even DJ presenter Paul Jordan doesn’t seemed convinced with his “really?” reply to Janice Long’s protestation that she “digs it”.

Amazingly, and this still perplexes me, my then 12 year old sister who previously had been into the likes of Bucks Fizz bought this single. WTF?!

Top 10 time…

10. Talking Heads – “Road To Nowhere”: Still on the road to nowhere but taking the Top 10 route to get there, its Talking Heads. Apparently lead Headster David Byrne’s recent live shows are something to behold. I caught one of his gigs in 2002 in Newcastle and he was pretty damn good then too. Unbelievably there was a music journalist in the seat next to me who was asleep for most of the gig.

9. Eurythmics -“Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves”: Up to 9 but it’ll go no further, it’s Dave and Annie…oh yeah…and Aretha.

8. Level 42 – “Something About You”: A solid chart performance from the bass slapping Mark King and his mates.

7. Queen – “One Vision”: Much like Lionel Richie earlier in the show, here are Queen who are another act we haven’t seen since their run of hit singles culled from their  LP of the previous year with their only single of ’85. Unlike their recent hits like “Radio GaGa” and “I Want To Break Free”, this was much more of a full on rock sound. Supposedly inspired by their stellar appearance at Live Aid, it’s an enduring track which became a staple of their live shows and indeed was the set opener for their ‘The Magic Tour’.

I quite liked it but of course what we all remember it for is the very last line of “fried chicken!” which Freddie just threw in for a laugh when the band were struggling for the right wording apparently.

6. Elton John – “Nikita”: On his way down but he’ll be back with a Geroge Michael backed new single “Wrap Her Up” soon enough

5. A-ha – “Take On Me”: Cheekbones A-hoy, it’s A-ha!

4. Jennifer Rush – “The Power Of Love”: The year’s biggest seller refuses to budge from the Top 5 just yet

3. UB40 – “Don’t Break My Heart”: You forget how big a hit this was. Overshadowed by No 1s like “Red Red Wine”, “I Got You Babe” and “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You”, it was still a massive song for the band.

2. Wham! – “I’m Your Man”: Straight in at No 2 when that wasn’t an everyday occurrence may have seemed like quite a feat but Janice Long says in her intro that she bets that all us viewers out there thought it would have gone straight in at No 1. Such was the still enduring popularity of Wham! at that time.

1.  Feargal Sharkey – “A Good Heart”: Still looking for a good heart and flicking that hair, Feargal stays in the top spot this week.

The play out music this week is Midge Ure with “That Certain Smile”. The follow up to No 1 “If I Was”, I’m sure that Midge and more importantly this record company were expecting a bigger hit than this No 28 song. I preferred it though.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

Madness Uncle Sam Nope

2

Wham! I’m Your Man No but we all have Wham!’s Greatest Hits CD…don’t we?

3

D.C. Lee See The Day No but I did like it

4

Whitney Houston Saving All My Love For You I preferred this to D.C. Lee but still didn’t buy that either

5

Dionne Warwick and friends That’s What Friends Are For No

6

Lionel Richie Say You Say Me It’s a No from me

7

Doug E Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew The Show No but inexplicably my younger sister (from the hood) did

8

Talking Heads Road To Nowhere No but my wife has the “Little Creatures” LP

9

Eurythmics Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves No but I have it on a Best Of CD

10

Level 42 Something About You Nope

11

Queen One Vision Nah

12

Elton John Nikita I think my Dad had it?

13

A-Ha Take On Me No but I have it on CD somewhere

 

14

Jennifer Rush The Power Of Love I think somebody in our house bought this for my Dad. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

15

UB40 Don’t Break My Heart Seems I didn’t

16

Wham! I’m Your Man See 2 above

17

Feargal Sharkey A Good Heart The singles box says no

18

Midge Ure That Certain Smile No but I preferred it to If I Was

Disclaimer

OK – here’s the thing – the TOTP episodes are only available on iPlayer for a limited amount of time so the link to the programme below only works for about another month so you’ll have to work fast if you want to catch the whole show as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b6v7pv/top-of-the-pops-21111985

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

 

Some bed time reading?

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TOTP 07 NOV 1985

It’s late 1985 here in TOTP Rewind world and a new group is taking the UK and indeed the rest of the globe by storm. The name of this new phenomenon? Why it’s A-ha of course! Or is it a-ha? Or a-Ha? Never did get to the bottom of that one. After knocking our collective socks off with their ground breaking video for “Take On Me”, the band are in the studio this time and the sight of them in the flesh seems to be whipping up a right storm with the TOTP audience. Of course, most of the attention is reserved for singer Morten Harket. Those cheekbones! That hair!

About six years after this performance, I saw them live at Manchester Apollo. They were on the way down from their pop idol peak by that point but they still were able to generate some swooning in the crowd that night. Despite being No 1 in five countries (as Peter Powell tells us), somehow they never quite got to the top spot in the UK being denied firstly by Jennifer Rush and then (improbably) by that geezer from the Undertones. Pop music eh?

So who remembers Far Corporation? I’m not surprised if you don’t. Their only claim to fame is this cover version of the Led Zeppelin classic “Stairway To Heaven” and who in their right mind would think covering the most holy of revered rock songs was a good idea? Frank Farian that’s who! If the name sounds vaguely familiar it’s because he was the guy behind Boney M and (the disgraced) Milli Vanilli. I know what you’re thinking because I thought it too. The man behind hits such as “Brown Girl in the Ring”, “Hooray! Hooray! It’s a Holi-Holiday” and …err…(tries to think of a Milli Vanilli hit)..err…”Girl You Know It’s True” (phew!) took on “Stairway To Heaven”? What? How ? Why? I do not have those answers. All I know is that it was one of the craziest one hit wonders of the decade.

It starts off faithful enough to the original but then goes full on air guitar-tastic with a nasty back beat and the throng assembled on the stage go at it full throttle. Exactly how may people were in this band by the way? To quote ‘Life Of Brian’, “there’s a multitude out there!”

Oh and you didn’t think I wouldn’t be mentioning the front guy’s hair did you? Dear readers, I give you the worst mullet of the whole decade. His name is Robin McAuley and my research of the internet shows that he still has fully functioning poodle rock hair to this day.

Toning it down slightly are Level 42 next with “Something About You”or “Something About You Baby” as Peter Powell insists on calling it (he did the same the other week). In his intro, Pete suggests to us that if we want to “get a new album, put it in your record collection and be proud of it then ‘World Machine’ is the one to get.” Brave words. Wonder if the music press agreed at the time…

This from No 1 magazine:

“They claim to be exploring beyond their jazz funk roots, I fear they’ve simply mellowed into a sort of mediocre pop -rock.”

Hmm…not the best endorsement ever. Still, the album does include their next single “Leaving Me Now” which I always liked so it wasn’t all rot in my book.

Into the Breakers we go and first up is a TV theme tune from the BBC’s waterways soap opera Howard’s Way performed by the Simon May Orchestra Not content with launching one soap already this year in Eastenders, the BBC inflicted this upon us which concerned the lives of the rich and wealthy boating communities down on the south coast. It proved to be hugely popular and hearing the theme tune immediately takes me back to Sunday nights and back to school blues after the weekend off. 

This is the instrumental version but such was its popularity that Marti Webb recorded a vocal over it, called it “Always There” and took it to No 13 when it was released the following year. I can’t find the montage that TOTP show so here’s the opening credits instead…

Massive tune incoming! Despite having secured their first and only No 1 single with previous release “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)” , Eurythmics follow up “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” is arguably as well known despite only grazing the Top 10. Widely regarded as a feminist anthem, the song is ostensibly a duet with Aretha Franklin although apparently Tina Tuner was the original choice of partner.

The third single from the “Be Yourself Tonight ” album, I hadn’t realised until now that it also featured on Aretha’s LP of the time “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”. Annie Lennox’s biography revealed that she hadn’t actually got on that well with the ‘Queen of Soul’ but the video doesn’t betray that.

In a twist of coincidence, one of the musicians who performed on the track was one Benmont Tench who was discussed in the last post as the writer of Feargal Sharkey’s “You Little Theif’ in response to Maria McKee’s “A Good Heart”.

As with so many of the songs from around this time, I’m pretty sure that this got played down my teenage nightclub of choice ‘The Barn” on a regular basis. I liked it enough but it’s nowhere near being one of my favourite Eurythmics songs.

And so we arrive at a truly great song that I never tire of hearing – “Road To Nowhere” by Talking Heads. All I knew of the band at this point was “Once In A Lifetime” from back in 1981 and that had sounded pretty out there to my early teenage self. Fast -forward four years and I am a mature music fan (ahem) who can now appreciate the more leftfield artists and their ouevre and “Road To Nowhere certainly fell into that category for me. The lead single from their album “Little Creatures”, this song just grabs you by the ear lobes from the first second and never lets go. From the  gospel choir opening that segues into  the military drum driven main body via David Byrne’s kooky style vocal delivery, the song is a perfect concoction of hooks and weirdness. Apparently, that gospel choir intro was added as an afterthought as Byrne considered the initial draft of the song too simple. Whatever the reason, it was inspired.

A year later at Poly, I fell in with a guy from Liverpool who was a big fan and he turned me onto other elements of the Talking Heads catalogue including the best live album ever “Stop Making Sense”. I would also became a big fan of their next project the True Stories film and soundtrack.

Around this time, I started going out on a weekend with a previously unseen commitment and regularly attended the aforementioned Barn nightclub. I even started to meet girls and ended going out with one (albeit very briefly) called Alison who loved this song. I resolved to buy her the single as a present but alas we broke up before I had the chance to. I still love the song though.

Back to the studio now for UB40 with “Don’t Break My Heart”. 

Not a lot else to say about this one on the back of last week’s post. However, looking back at the band in their pomp here, it makes the fate of this once group of family and friends look all the more sad. There are currently two touring versions of the band, UB40 and UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey. They fell out over the band’s finances and the rift is so bad that the two factions no longer speak to each other. You can watch the whole sorry tale here…

And now…the Top 10…

10. Arcadia – “Election Day”: Curiously, the chorus refers to a “Re-election day” rather than” Election Day”. I guess it just added to the general feeling of artiness.

9. John Parr – “St.Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)”: Wait…What?! St Elmo’s Fire is a weather phenomenon created by a coronal discharge from a sharp or pointed object in an electric field?! So it’s not just an 80s soft rock tune by a guy from Doncaster? You live and learn don’t you?

8. Madonna “Gambler”: To say this is one of her least remembered tunes, it certainly hung around the Top 10 long enough.

7. UB40 – “Don’t Break My Heart”: Just seen ’em

6. Level 42  – “Something About You”: And them

5. Colonel Abrams – “Trapped”: Anyone remember what the Colonel’s follow up single was called? No me neither so I’ve looked it up for you. It was a ditty called “I’m Not Gonna Let You” and guess what? It sounded exactly the same as “Trapped’!

4. Feargal Sharkey – “A Good Heart”: We saw him in the studio last time but here’s the video. It’s pretty simplistic being mostly a run through of the song in a live concert setting, Are the two female drummers the same ones that featured in the Communards line up for “Don’t Leave Me This Way” a year later? Maybe not but I bet Jimmy and co nicked the idea.

3. Elton John – “Nikita”: Did this plodder really get all the way to No 3? Don’t remember it being quite so big a hit.

2. A-ha – “Take On Me”: Around the turn of the century, I decided to try and learn to play the guitar and went to some group sessions with a proper teacher. He was keen on us doing solo spots which I quite liked. For one such spot I prepared an acoustic version of “Take On Me”. I’d decided to slow it right down and finger pick the chords and I’d got it down pretty well. Unfortunately on the night of the class, nerves got the better of me, my fingers froze and I cold hardly pick a string at all. Some years after that non-performance, A-ha released an acoustic album including “Take On Me”. I think I must have been ahead of my time. This is what I wanted my version to sound like….

1. Jennifer Rush – “The Power Of Love”: A fifth and final week for Jenny from the block (Queens, New York in fact). I’m pretty sure that TOTP have just used the same studio performance for each week meaning she probably only actually appeared on the show once in person.

Jennifer wasn’t quite the one hit wonder she’s made out to be. Her follow up single “Ring Of Ice” made No 14 and at the end of the decade she hit the Top 40 again with a duet with Placido Domingo called “‘Till I Loved You”.

The play put music is Paul Hardcastle with “Just For Money”. For his follow up to No 1 smash “19”, Paul recorded a musical tribute to The Great Train Robbery of 1963. An odd choice of subject but the track features a voice over from Bob Hoskins and Laurence Olivier which was entertaining. The video features  both actors but it is Hardcastle himself who does a great cameo as an East End gangland mobster.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

A-Ha Take On Me No but I have it on CD somewhere

2

Far Corporation Stairway To Heaven Let me think….NO!

3

Level 42 Something About You Nope

4

Simon May Orchestra Theme From ‘Howard’s Way’ A definite no

5

Eurythmics Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves No but I have it on a Best Of CD

6

Talking Heads Road To Nowhere No but my wife has the “Little Creatures” LP

7

UB40 Don’t Break My Heart Seems I didn’t

8

Arcadia Election Day Call the singles police! Where’s my copy of this?!

9

John Parr St Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion) Guilty pleasure or no, it’s not in my singles box

10

Madonna Gambler No

11

UB40 Don’t Break My Heart See 7 above

12

Level 42 Something About You See 3 above

13

Colonel Abrams Trapped Not really my bag

14

Feargal Sharkey A Good Heart The singles box says no

15

Elton John Nikita I think my Dad had it?

16

A-Ha Take On Me See 1 above

17

Jennifer Rush The Power Of Love I think somebody in our house bought this for my Dad. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

18

Paul Hardcastle Just For Money Cor blimey guvnor – what two and eight. That’s a no by the way

Disclaimer

OK – here’s the thing – the TOTP episodes are only available on iPlayer for a limited amount of time so the link to the programme below only works for about another month so you’ll have to work fast if you want to catch the whole show as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b61x50/top-of-the-pops-07111985

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

 

Some bed time reading?

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http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-9-november-1985/

 

 

 

 

 

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TOTP 31 OCT 1985

Happy Hallowe’en! Its All Hallows’ Eve in 1985 which is where we are up to in TOTP Rewind world. Not that anybody really noticed back then.  Hallowe’en wasn’t the big deal it is these days. There was no roaring trade being done in the supermarkets on pumpkins and all things ghostly. It just wasn’t the big business that it is now. I can remember dunking apples maybe one time growing up and that was it. Bonfire night was a much bigger deal but those dates seem to have swapped places in terms of profile these days. As it’s Hallowe’en though, the BBC have chosen one of their most terrifying presenters to co-host the show. Yes, it can only be Simon Bates. Trying to keep him from scaring the kids is the definitely more palatable Janice Long.

Now if you’re thinking that we jumped to the end of October pretty quickly then you’re right as we’ve skipped a week due to the Mike Smith issue (see @TOTPFacts tweet below)

Up first tonight is a future No 1 and like Midge Ure before him, I don’t think many people saw this one coming. This is Feargal Sharkey with “A Good Heart”. After previous band (and John Peel faves) The Undertones split in ’83, Feargal decided to have a go at that solo artist malarkey with varying degrees of success before “A Good Heart” made him a bona fide pop star for a short while. A good start (see what I did there) was made when he contributed the vocals to Vince Clarke’s The Assembly project and its No 4 hit “Never Never”. Things slowed down a bit with his next two releases “Listen To Your Father” and “Loving You” which only reached Nos 23 and 26 respectively. So a No 1 with his next release must have been beyond both his and his record label’s wildest dreams.

The song’s story has been told many times before but in case you’d forgotten, it was written by the then unknown Maria McKee (who would score a No 1 herself five years later with “Show Me Heaven”) about a failed relationship with Benmont Tench of Tom Petty’s band, the Heartbreakers. Bizarrely, Sharkey’s next hit single (“You Little Thief”) was the riposte by Tench to “A Good Heart”. Quite how both songs came to be recoded by Feargal, I don’t know.

I don’t think I knew about any of the song’s backstory when “A Good Heart” was tearing up the charts. All anybody was talking about at school was Feargal’s miraculous hair. Having had it punky short throughout his time with The Undertones, he decided on a new image for his solo career and let it grow…and grow…and grow. Long hair on men was of course the fashion back then but not the peculiar style that Feargal had cultivated. His luxurious locks had taken on a life of their own and he seemed engaged in a constant battle with them as they bounced around his bonce. No amount of flicking and head shakes would keep them from obscuring his face though. In all my life, the only person whose hair has come close to this creation is the comedian Ed Byrne on the occasions that he grows it long.

As for the song itself, I liked it. It had a warm appeal to it (even of the lyrics were a bit spiky) and was a pleasant sound. Again it’s one of those songs that instantly transport you back to late ’85 when you hear it and we shall be hearing it a few more times I’m guessing over the next few repeats.

The first video of the night is “Nikita” by Elton John. Directed by controversial film maker Ken Russell, its plot revolves around a relationship between John and a female East German border guard that can never happen because he cannot enter the country. This despite the fact that Elton is gay and ‘Nikita’ is actually a man’s name. To be fair, I don’t think he was out at the time as he had married a woman (Renate Blaue) the year before but even so.  The fantasy sequences of them dancing together, bowling and watching a Watford FC match are just dreadful. I’m thinking that Ken Russell phoned this one in.

Time now for one of those sporadic chart appearances by Latin jazz pedlars Matt Bianco. This time they’ve gone for the old record label trick of doing a cover version in order to score a much needed hit and it worked for them peaking at No 13 in the UK. The song in question is “Yeh, Yeh” which was a hit in 1965 for Georgie Fame.

The group has gone through a few personnel changes since we last saw them with the major casualty being female vocalist Basia. Front man Mark Reilly is still there though and I always thought he looked pretty cool in a retro kind of way. I seem to remember my pal Neil really liking this one which was a surprise to me as he was a committed Spandau Ballet fan.

At the song’s end, Simon Bates tries to stir up some Hallowe’en goriness by telling the viewers an anecdote about the keyboard player having been ravaged by his pet rabbit on his way to work. WTF?!

Here’s the Breakers…

First up are Siouxsie and the Banshees who are back on the show for the first time since the previous year’s frankly disturbing single “Swimming Horses”. This time they give us an apocalyptic song detailing the destruction of the city of Pompeii by a volcano in 79AD. This is “Cities In Dust”. I never clicked at the time that’s what the subject matter of the song was about (although the title was a massive clue) but checking out the lyrics about petrified bodies etc it seems pretty clear to me now. For example:

“Hot and burning in your nostrils
Pouring down your gaping mouth
Your molten bodies blanket of cinders
Caught in the throes”

yeah…think I’d rather have Matt Bianco given the choice.

The song’s sound is the usual doom-laden stuff we would expect from the band, all tortured vocals and twisted electronic sounds. I wasn’t really having it as you’ve probably guessed by now although supposedly it is one of Brett Anderson of Suede’s favourite songs. “Cities In Dust” made No 21 in the UK charts.

In a year of memorable videos, here’s another one – Kate Bush with “Cloudbusting”. The second single from her comeback album the “Hounds Of Love”, this was based on the real life story of Wilhelm Reich and his son Peter’s close relationship that Bush had read about in the latter’s 1973 memoir “A Book of Dreams”. Wilhelm had designed a device that he claimed could precipitate precipitation (oh OK make rain then!) – the titular cloudbusting. The video features Donald Sutherland as Wilhelm and Kate herself as Peter (in a rather unconvincing wig) trying to get a reproduction of the ‘cloudbuster ‘ machine to work. It’s all rather affecting I always thought and the song itself is really quite unusual with its prominent cello driving it along throughout. Very (ahem) atmospheric.

I’m pretty sure this got shown (without the sound) on the video screen down at The Barn nightclub in Worcester and my memory is backed up by Wikipedia telling me that the video was shown at some cinemas as an accompaniment to the main feature so that kind of links up.

The other thing to mention about this track is of course Utah (U-U-U- Utah) Saints who sampled the lyric “I just know that something good is going to happen” for their 1992 hit “Something Good” which is just great. Forgotten how it goes? Remind yourself….

Last of the Breakers tonight is the appropriately titled “Don’t Break My Heart” by UB40 or “Don’t Smell My Fart” as it was renamed in playgrounds up and down the country. Talking of farts, after the utter stinker that was “I Got You Babe” this was a real return to form for the Brummies (in my book anyway) as they seemed to mine a very deep dub feel with this one. Similar in a way to “Cloudbusting” – not in musical style of course – but in terms of a hypnotic almost mantra vibe, this sounded …well…authentic I guess to my reggae innocent ears. I’m sure there are lots of reggae aficionados screaming at the screen after reading that but I can only call it as I heard it.

The black and white video added to the feel and the stuck juke box gimmick in the middle is well played. “Don’t Break My Heart ” would go all the way to No 3.

Meanwhile back in the studio here’s King with their 4th hit of the year “The Taste Of Your Tears”. Eschewing the tried and tested two fast numbers then a slow one record label strategy, King went for three fast tracks and then a ballad. On the face of it , “The Taste Of Your Tears” is a fairly straightforward, unremarkable song with a standard musical structure and obvious lyrics…but somehow, it just works (for me anyway). I think it might be the prominent keyboard riff throughout that is its main appeal. That and the final guitar flourish as it comes round the bend into the final straight.

You can tell that this is the designated slow song as Paul King’s performance is vastly toned down. No jump kicks, no over elaborate prancing about just some understated tambourine slapping and twirling.

“The Taste Of Your Tears” made No 11 and would be their penultimate chart entry before they were banished to a kingdom far away never to return.

Here’s the Top 10…

10. Simple Minds – “Alive And Kicking”: Still just in the Top 10 but no amount of ressucitation will stop them sliding down the charts

9. Level 42 – “Something About You”: Bass slapping his way into the Top 10 it’s Mark King and pals

8. Jan Hammer – “Miami Vice Theme”: Season 2 is on our TV screens but the guy behind the theme tune is going down the charts

7. Arcadia – “Election Day”: The second of the Duran splinter groups of ’85 is amongst us! After Power Station earlier in the year, Arcadia was the other three having a go at branching out. The other three were off course Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor although Roger doesn’t feature much on the promotional side of the project (he’s not in the band’s videos) and restricts himself to the recording of the songs.

Arcadia had much more of an art aesthetic than Power Station’s all out rock manifesto. Nick Rhodes is on record as saying he wasn’t into the Power Station vibe at all and its no surprise that the Arcadia project was a complete rejection of that.

The album (“So Red The Rose”) was supposedly the most expensive album ever recorded at the time and with that amount of expectation was bound to fail. Although lead single “Election Day” made No 7, subsequent releases “The Promise” only reached No 37 and final single “The Flame” didn’t chart at all.

Personally, I loved this new direction and thought “Election Day” was great (complete with Grace Jones talk over interlude). I think I am right in saying it was the first song I ever danced to at a nightclub. I distinctly remember getting up to the dance floor after being inspired by a guy from school called John really getting into it and nearly pulling off his actual shirt at the “pull my shirt off and pray” line.

My old Poly pal Andy reviewed all the Duran and off shot project albums on his blog and believed this was the direction the band should have stuck with. You can read all about it at:

http://andysrockodysseys.blogspot.com/2014/

6. John Parr – “St.Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)”: The man in motion has stalled at No 6

5. Madonna – “Gambler”: She’s lost her gamble and gone down the charts….

4. Elton John – “Nikita”: Elton dirges his way up to No 4

3. Colonel Abrams – “Trapped”: Still sticking around at No3 (well he is trapped after all)

2. A-Ha – “Take On Me”: So close to top spot. Don’t worry lads, you’ll be there soon enough with the next single

1. Jennifer Rush – “The Power Of Love”: Still there. still belting it out, still wowing the UK hordes.

The play out music this week is Shakin’ Stevens with “Lipstick, Powder And Paint”

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

Feargal Sharkey A Good Heart The singles box says no

2

Elton John Nikita I think my Dad had it?

3

Matt Bianco Yeh Yeh Nah Nah

4

Siouxsie and the Banshees Cities In Dust No thanks

5

Kate Bush Cloudbusting No but I have her Whole Story Best Of with it on

6

UB40 Don’t Break My Heart Seems I didn’t

7

King The Taste Of Your Tears Pretty sure my sister had this one

8

Simple Minds Alive And Kicking No but I have it on a CD somewhere I’m sure

9

Level 42 Something About You Nope

10

Jan Hammer Miami Vice Theme No – I wasn’t that big a fan of the show

11

Arcadia Election Day Call the singles police! Where’s my copy of this?!

12

John Parr St Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion) Guilty pleasure or no, it’s not in my singles box

13

Madonna Gambler No

14

Elton John Nikita I think my Dad had it?

15

Colonel Abrams Trapped Not really my bag

16

A-Ha Take On Me No but I have it on CD somewhere

17

Jennifer Rush The Power Of Love I think somebody in our house bought this for my Dad. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

18

Shakin’ Stevens Lipstick, Powder And Paint Of course not

Disclaimer

OK – here’s the thing – the TOTP episodes are only available on iPlayer for a limited amount of time so the link to the programme below only works for about another month so you’ll have to work fast if you want to catch the whole show as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b61wt4/top-of-the-pops-31101985

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

 

Some bed time reading?

 

01-smash-hits-23-october-5-november-1985-226x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-23-october-5-november-1985/

 

 

 

 

01-No-1-2-november-1985-218x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-2-november-1985/

TOTP 17 OCT 1985

We’ve skipped a week here at the 80s music time machine that is TOTP Rewind and find ourselves rushing headlong into the middle of October 1985. Manchester United are top of the old First Division after winning their first 10 games of the season and look a certainty for the title (spoiler alert – they didn’t, finishing a distant 4th to Liverpool – that’s right kids, Liverpool used to win the league title back in the 80s!).

But never mind the football, tell us about the tunes! First up tonight is someone who was as consistent at racking up hits as Liverpool were at winning football matches back then –  here’s Shakin’ Stevens with “Lipstick, Powder And Paint”. Amazingly, some four years after Shaky went mainstream and scored a No 1 single with a cover of an old Rosemary Clooney song in “This Ole House”, the guy was still able to regularly get into the charts by just repeating the same old (or should that be ‘ole’?) trick of releasing a cover of a 50s hit. “Lipstick, Powder And Paint” had originally been a hit for Big Joe Turner and his orchestra in 1956 so it was prime fodder for the Shaky treatment.

In this rendition, the Welshman seems to be performing on a mini trampoline but it’s just a small circular stage. It doesn’t stop him bouncing around on it though and pulling out his trademark Shaky moves. Said moves must have been second nature to him by this point and indeed it does look like he’s phoning it in a bit. The single made No 11 in the chart which was the second consecutive release to miss the Top 10 but if you thought his appeal was on the wane, just wait until Christmas comes along.

From something old (Shaky was 37 at this point which was pretty old for a pop star) to something brand new and well, let’s have it straight, cutting edge. This is A-Ha with “Take On Me” and that video. By 1985, pop music videos had become pretty established as a marketing tool for artists (MTV had been launched back in 1981) and we had become used to the likes of Duran Duran cavorting about in exotic locations in the name of self promotion. We had also become accustomed to the videos becoming bigger and bigger productions with massive budgets and special effects. Indeed, 12 months earlier we had witnessed the mini movie that was Duran’s “Wild Boys” and earlier IN ’85 had been left open mouthed at the technical wizardry of the “Money For Nothing” video for Dire Straits.

Nothing though had prepared us for the onslaught of our senses that we were about to experience. It was just incredible! The combination of the pencil sketch animation with the live footage of Morten Harket and his leading lady was inspired. Apparently the technique is called rotoscoping and took 16 weeks to make. In his introduction, presenter Peter Powell advises that “it’s reputed that £100,000 was spent on the video” which seemed like an enormous amount of money at the time but now would be seen as a pretty average weekly pay packet for a top Premier League footballer.

Of course this wasn’t the first release of “Take On Me” but actually the third and as well as the original video being pretty different so was the song. Over to @TOTPFacts:

The original release sounds so tinny and struggled to No 137 in the UK. It wasn’t until the US arm of their record company Warner Bros saw the potential of the band and the song and ploughed money into the rotoscoped video and a beefed up production of the song by Alan Tarney that things took off.

Had I been aware of them before October ’85? I don’t think so. There may have been an advert for the original release in Smash Hits perhaps but that  would have been it. They emerged looking like a fully formed pop phenomenon. I soooo wanted Morten Harket’s hair (I still do to be fair) and spent many months cultivating my version of it. It started a run of 13 Top 40 hits (including 7 Top Tenners and a No 1) over the next 5 years so we will be seeing much more of these Norwegian lads in future repeats.

Moving from the brand new to the established pop royalty now – here’s Elton John with “Nikita”. This was the lead single from a new album (“Ice On Fire”) and I recall there being a big fuss in the press about what a return to form it was. Since “Passengers” over a year previously, Elton had suffered some singles failures and his only Top 40 entry in ’85 up to this point had been a duet with Millie Jackson (“Act Of War”) which only made No 32. Listening back to it now though it sounds like a bit of a dirge to me. A lot was made of the Cold War imagery in the lyrics and the accompanying video and I think my Dad liked it which said it all to the 17 year old me really.

Elton’s performance here is pretty pedestrian as well He’s grown his hair long at the back as was the fashion at the time but hides the top of his head with a trademark hat. Was he in the middle of one of his hair transplants? Can’t remember. There’s that baroque style synthesizer bit in the middle and apparently George Michael did background vocals whilst Nik Kershaw played guitar on the track but none of that rescues it from being a plodder in my book. “Nikita” would make the Top 3 though so what did I know?

Breakers time….first up are Level 42 with “Something About You” and they are about to enter their most commercially successful period ever that would peak with the release six  months later of their biggest hit “Lessons In Love”. In many ways “Something About You” was the precursor to that song showcasing the band’s very obvious decision to go for a more mainstream  sound with an eye on bigger sales. It was very Radio 1 friendly and, as ever, Mark King’s slap bass is to the fore supplemented by Mike Lindup’s falsetto vocals which provide the counterpoint to King’s more lower register delivery. The single made No 6 which at the time was their highest chart placing. There’s also a nice cameo in the video by Cherie Lunghi who I recall I was rather a fan of. Err… let’s move on….

…to Grace Jones with “Slave To The Rhythm”. What a monster this was! The song wasn’t just a single but a whole concept album produced by Trevor Horn and featured radically different  re-workings of the same track. Apparently the whole idea had been earmarked for Horn’s protegees Frankie Goes To Hollywood as a follow up to “Relax” but ended up with the rather unique Ms Jones. The single we all know has the customary Horn production values and positively shimmers with effects.

I already knew of Grace via her near miss single “My Jamaican Guy” from ’83 but this was a different thing altogether. The single seemed destined to me to be massive but it only got to No 12 on the UK chart. Maybe it was just too much for people and certainly the utterly bonkers video, complete with the huge recreation of Grace’s head with car emerging from her mouth as used in the Citroen CX advert, only added to the madness. The video incorporates footage from her previous videos and includes many of her iconic and very extreme looks.

I must admit that I’ve never sought out any of the other versions of “Slave To The Rhythm” from the album but they might be kind of interesting don’t ya think?

1985 will be remembered for many things including Live Aid, the rise of Madonna and lest we forget ‘Miami Vice’. The TV show that convinced a generation of young men to wear their jacket sleeves rolled up (that was me) and loafers without socks (I drew the line there) also made its mark on the music scene mainly due to this guy. Jan Hammer was the man responsible for not one but two hit singles from the soundtrack of the show and this, the “Miami Vice Theme” was the first.  It’s a dramatic piece, all tumbling synth drums and spiky keyboard parts and is one of those songs that instantly transports you back to this very year whenever you hear it.

I can’t say that I was an avid watcher of the show itself although I used to catch it occasionally and certainly knew who Crockett and Tubbs were though. The exotic setting was miles away from the gritty realism of ‘The Sweeney’ that I’d been brought up on in the 70s but you can’t deny the influence that ‘Miami Vice’ had.

Oh great! It’s Colonel Abrams.…again. Because we skipped a show, this is the second repeat on the bounce in which the good Colonel has featured. He’s still got the epaulette-heavy jacket but he’s dispensed with the roll-neck top in favour of a garishly yellow conventional shirt with casually unbuttoned collar. He looks like he’s arrived late and got straight on stage. Maybe he was… ahem…“Trapped” in the studio toilet. More likely it was just hot under the studio lights though.

Here’s the Top 10…

10. Jan Hammer – Theme From Miami Vice”: We’ve already seen him in the Breakers section. What was it in 1985 with anonymous men playing theme tunes from cop films and TV shows? We’d only just had Harold Faltermeyer with “Axel F”and now Jan Hammer. Wonder if the’ve ever been seen in the same room together? Just a thought.

9. Billy Idol – “Rebel Yell”: On it’s way down, we won’t see Billy back in the UK charts for another year when he returned with his “Whiplash Smile” album and lead single “To Be A Lover”.

8. Simple Minds  – “Alive And Kicking”: Let’s ignore Peter Powell’s frankly unforgivable intro where he calls them “The Simple Minds” (*gets out “you had one job” face again*). Jim and the boys are back in the charts with a huge sounding song that seemed to me to very similar in style to their previous hit “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”. Curious then that the band tried to disown that song at the time and then, with their very next release, ushered in their ‘stadium rock’ era that “Don’t You” seemed to suggest was coming anyway.

Whatever, I thought this was great back in ’85. It sounded so epic and had that full, rich sound to it, almost like a Phil Spectre wall of sound but for the 80s. On reflection though, I don’t think it’s aged as well as it might have. It’s all bluster and bombast and a bit too knowing. Fair play, the band took a decision to go in a very commercial direction and it paid off – a No 7 hit over here and a No 3 hit in the US – but for some people it was a step too far and the inkies of the music press weren’t impressed. Pretty sure it got played down at The Barn nightclub in my hometown of Worcester on a Saturday night though.

7. Madonna – “Gambler”: If it’s 1985 then it must be Madonna and his her Madgesty with yet another hit song. This one must surely be one of her least well remembered singles though. Like “Crazy For You” before it, “Gambler” was featured in the ‘Vision Quest’ film and it fairly rattles along. There’s not much to it though and its all pretty repetitive. The single went all the way to No 4 in the UK but oddly wasn’t released as a single in her native US.

6. John Parr – “St Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)”: The man in motion is moving up to No 6

5. A-Ha  – “Take On Me”: On their way to No 2, it’s those Norwegian gods of pop. Enough with the “one under Parr, one over Parr” lines though Mike Read, deeply unfunny man that you are.

4. Red Box – “Lean On Me”: They’ve peaked!

3. Colonel Abrams – “Trapped”: And so has he! No no 1 for the Colonel. No 3 would be as high as he got.

2. Midge Ure – “If I Was”: Holding at No 2. Presumably it would have had a couple more weeks at the top spot if he hadn’t been up against Jennifer Rush having the biggest selling single of the year.

1. Jennifer Rush – “The Power Of Love”: Talking of whom, here’s the lady herself being interviewed on ‘American Bandstand” by Dick Clark. Her speaking voice wasn’t what I was expecting in comparison to her powerful singing….

…told you!

The play out music this week is Madonna with “Gambler” despite it already having featured in the video Top 10.  I say once more – Madonna in 1985? Overexposed? Surely not.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

Shakin’ Stevens Lipstick, Powder And Paint Of course not

2

A-Ha Take On Me No but my sister did

3

Elton John Nikita I think my Dad had it?

4

Level 42 Something About You Nope

5

Grace Jones Salve To The Rhythm No – wish I had now

6

Jan Hammer Miami Vice Theme No – I wasn’t that big a fan of the show

7

Colonel Abrams Trapped Nah – not my bag really

8

Jan Hammer Miami Vice Theme See 6 above

9

Billy Idol Rebel Yell Turns out I didn’t but I have his Greatest Hits on CD somewhere

10

Simple Minds Alive And Kicking No but I have it on a CD somewhere I’m sure

11

Madonna Gambler No

12

John Parr St Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion) Guilty pleasure or no, it’s not in my singles box

13

A-Ha Take On Me See 2 above

14

Red Box Lean On Me Don’t think I did

15

Colonel Abrams Trapped See 7 above

16

Midge Ure If I Was Glad to say I didn’t

17

Jennifer Rush The Power Of Love I think somebody in our house bought this for my Dad. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

18

Madonna Gambler See 11 above

 

Disclaimer

OK – here’s the thing – the TOTP episodes are only available on iPlayer for a limited amount of time so the link to the programme below only works for about another month so you’ll have to work fast if you want to catch the whole show as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b5bj2g/top-of-the-pops-17101985

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

 

Some bed time reading?

01-smash-hits-9-22-october-1985-226x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-9-22-october-1985/

 

 

 

 

01-No-1-19-october-1985-218x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-19-october-1985/

TOTP 03 OCT 1985

After what seems like weeks of just one TOTP repeat a week, the bosses at BBC4 have decided that they’re all done with events like Eurovision semi finals and Young Choir of the Year shows (or whatever it is) and have cleared the broadcasting decks to allow for 2 TOTP shows a week! Bugger! Right, better crack on then!

Tonight’s Radio 1 DJ presenting team are Gary Davies and Paul Jordan. There are a couple of things to say immediately here. Firstly, what on earth is going on with Davies’s tan?! That can’t all be natural surely?! Maybe when he quipped a couple of months earlier that black DJ Dixie Peach was the only man at Radio 1 with a better tan than him (cringe!) that he could actually do something about that and is seriously trying to out-tan him!

The second thing to say is who the Hell is / was Paul Jordan?! I certainly don’t remember him. Over to the ever reliable @TOTPFacts for an answer…

OK then. No – nothing coming back to me about him at all. Wonder what happened to him…

*checks t’internet*

Well, apparently he’s still a DJ currently appearing on the airwaves for  SandGrounder radio serving Southport, Sefton and the Liverpool city region. His story sounds a bit Alan Partridge to me. Wonder if he lives in a Travelodge? Anyway, he seems confident enough and next to Gary Davies and his implausible tan, seems like the safer pair of hands of the two.

First up tonight is Colonel Abrams with “Trapped”. The Colonel is up to No 10 and has put on his best jacket with braided epaulettes for the occasion. Presumably it’s to reinforce the ‘Colonel’ image. He looks ridiculous frankly. His moves aren’t much better  – all stiff backed and jerky. Lots of hand movements with not a lot going on feet-wise. The TOTP audience seem to be lapping it up though.

This track always seemed to be played down at ‘The Barn’ which was my local nightclub of choice through my teenage years. It usually ‘dropped’ pretty early on to get the room going as I recall. I’m pretty sure I never danced to it.

Bit of an oddity next, a live version of an old Iron Maiden hit from 1980 called “Running Free”. It was taken from the band’s live album “Live After Death” and chronicled their ‘World Slavery’ tour. I cannot for the life (or death) of me recall this song but I’m guessing it was released to promote the live album – plain and simple. To be honest, I can live (or should that be die) without it in my life (or death – OK I’ll stop it now!).

“Running Free” made it all the way to No 19 on the chart and was followed up with a live rendition of “Run To The Hills” which peaked at No 26. A friend from work had “Run For The Hills” as the last song of the night at their wedding do. Marvellous stuff.

Newbie Paul Jordan introduces the next act who are Cameo with “Single Life”. We saw them as a Breaker the other week but they are in the studio tonight for, as Paul tells us, “their first television debut in this country”. I might be being unkind here but do you think the nerves may have got to Paul on his TOTP debut here as surely the notion that it is the first of something is implicit in the word ‘debut’? So a first television debut?

OK, OK – enough with the pedantry. Cameo put in a pretty visually arresting performance here with their synchronised moves and lead singer Larry Blackmon’s captivating confidence on stage. He seems to have the same hairstyle and facial hair as Colonel Abrams but that’s where the similarities end as Larry’s moves are so much better than the Colonel’s.

A quick run down of the Top 40 is next and normally I wouldn’t dally over this section but I pause to comment this time on the new entry at No 36 which is by a new band called A-ha. This is the moment when the new guard replaced the old royalty of premier pop acts such as Spandau Ballet, Culture Club and Duran Duran. The three fresh-faced boys from Norway would embark upon a three year period of pop majesty and ruled the charts and hearts of many a young girl (my sister included at one point) and brought to an end the peak period of ‘new pop’ that dominated ’83.

OK – onto the Breakers and a song that has become one of the most instantly recognised of the decade. John Parr (for it is he) originally wrote St Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion) for Canadian paraplegic athlete Rick Hansen who was travelling the world in his wheelchair to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries. The event was called ‘The Man In Motion’ tour. Quite how it then got used on the soundtrack to the ‘brat pack’ movie St. Elmo’s Fire directed by Joel Schumacher I’m not quite sure but it did and the rest is history. The song hit the No 1 spot in the US Billboard chart and rose to No 6 in the UK. I quite liked it in a guilty pleasure sort of way (there – I said it!)

The video we see here features footage from the film which was a coming -of-age drama following the lives of seven University graduates as they struggle with the transition from care-free students to the worlds of adulthood and work and the responsibilities they come with. It probably doesn’t deserve the regard which it has engendered over the years  but it’s one of those films you always tend to watch if you come across it whilst channel flipping late at night (in my house anyway).

Although I, along with everybody else I would imagine, believed Parr to be American, he was actually born in Worksop in Nottinghamshire. Brilliantly, he still has that mop of poodle rock hair to this day.

Now here’s a sight we hadn’t seen before – a video by The Smiths! Unbelievably this was the first film that the band ever did to promote one of their singles nearly two years into their chart career. “The Boy WIth The Thorn In His Side” was taken from the band’s magnum opus album “The Queen Is Dead” and reached No 23 on the UK Top 40 but I wasn’t that fussed (there I said that too!). In my humble opinion, there are certainly better songs on the album  – “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” for example. The video was hardly worth the wait either being just a straight band performance of the song but then I wasn’t a paid up member of the Mozza army so maybe I was missing the point.

From a nothing video to a genuinely great video…and the song’s pretty good too! This is The Cure with “Close To Me”. The second and last single released from the “Head On The Door” album, the promo for this was directed by prolific music video guru Tim Pope who has worked with everyone from Bowie to Paul Weller to err…Men Without Hats. Anyway, he also worked extensively with The Cure making over 37 videos for them and this was one of the best. Taking the title of the single very literally, the band are shown performing at close quarters locked in a wardrobe and obviously under duress. Their mood is not lightened by Robert Smith tormenting his band mates with voodoo dolls. Eventually, in a climatic turn of events, the wardrobe falls over the edge of a cliff with the band still inside. It puts me in mind of the finale of The Young Ones TV series. You know…this….

“Close To Me” the song  (as opposed to the video) is typical The Cure material. All quirky, edgy and in the case of this one definitely claustrophobic . It kind of makes you want to scratch yourself after hearing it. I thought it was great but it only made No 24 on the charts. Shame.

Oh Lord! It’s dull-as-dishwater soul pop duo Rene and Angela with “I’ll Be Good”. Laughably, Rene has turned up in full on Prince 1999 style garb. Who did he think he was kidding?! Wanker.

Before we delve into the Top 10, it’s time for me to try and remember what I was doing back in the day (aside from watching TOTP that is). Well,  around about this time I somehow got involved in a school drama production and briefly became a thespian. I say somehow but I know how it happened. I wasn’t meant to be a part of it at all but when my mate Rob (the massive HoJo fan) fell out with Steve (the play’s director and prime mover) and left the group, I was asked if I wanted to replace him. After a chat with Rob to make sure he was OK with it, I was on board.

Now Steve was quite a creative type and also a bit left field. He liked avant-garde music made by bands such as industrial metalists Einstürzende Neubauten  and Fad Gadget. Steve was never going to put on a middle of the road production like an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical or ‘Grease’. No – what Steve had in mind was much more out there. Yes, Steve had us all performing in a Theatre of the Absurd piece called ‘The Bald Prima Donna’ by Eugene Ionesco. I played the part of Mary the maid and had no idea what it was all about. The plot (if you can call it that) revolved around two couples spending an evening together and basically talking shit  – sorry non-sequiturs – to each other all evening. I recall that I had some lines where I had to explain that someone had a white right eye and a left red eye, while someone else had a white left eye and a red right eye and therefore they couldn’t be husband and wife. As I said, just talking shit really. I think Steve may have pulled me up for my delivery of that bit of dialogue saying it was a really funny line and not to just throw it away. Really funny?! Like I said, Steve was a bit out there. I don’t recall doing any of this though but I guess it was 33 years ago now….

Supposedly the play was about the the futility of meaningful communication in modern society but it was all lost on me. Still, it went down pretty well with the audiences on the two nights we performed it. Indeed so well did we do that we followed it up with a Tom Stoppard play called ‘Every Good Boy Deserves Favour’ in which I played a school teacher.

OK, after that brief interlude, it’s Top 10 time….

10. Colonel Abrams – “Trapped”: We saw him earlier

9. Marillion  – “Lavender”: One of five songs in the Top 10 on their way down the charts

8. Billy Idol – “Rebel Yell”: Still crying out for “more, more, more!”, it’s Sir Billiam of Idol!

7. Bonnie Tyler – “Holding Out for A Hero”: Despite a valiant tilt at a No 1, Bonnie peaked at No 2 and is taking her leave of the Top 10

6. Madonna – “Angel”: It’s peaked at No 5 and is on its way down already and therefore doesn’t follow “Into The Groove” to the top spot

5. Stevie Wonder – “Part Time Lover”: Another song on the way down is this piss poor effort. Stevie’s ’80s output wasn’t great was it?

4. Red Box – “Lean On Me”: An update on that Red Box story from the other week about Simon Toulson-Clarke playing football against my mate Robin back in the ’90s. I saw Robin at the weekend and he told me that the game was a 2-2 draw with both him and Mr Red Box grabbing a brace each. They compared goalscoring notes in the pub afterwards apparently. Something along the lines of “well, we did our jobs didn’t we?”.

3. David Bowie / Mick Jagger – “Dancing In The Street”: No 1 no more. I think we were all rather relieved by this point.

2. Jennifer Rush – “The Power Of Love”: Up from No 15 last week, Jennifer is beaten to the toppermost of the poppermost but her ascent is only delayed. She’ll be on the top of the pile next week.

1. Midge Ure – “If I Was”: Midge! You’re No1! Why haven’t you learned some better dance moves yet?!

The play put music this week is Five Star with “Love Take Over”.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

Colonel Abrams Trapped Nah – not my bag really

2

Iron Maiden Running Free (live version) Some live heavy metal sir? No – I’m good thanks

3

Cameo Single Life Intriguing but no

4

John Parr St Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion) Guilty pleasure or no, it’s not in my singles box

5

The Smiths The Boy With The Thorn In His Side This was never going to convince me of all things Mozza

6

The Cure Close To Me No but I think my wife had the LP

7

Rene & Angela I’ll Be Good Dear God no!

8

Colonel Abrams Trapped See 1 above

9

Marillion Lavender No but always quite liked it

10

Billy Idol Rebel Yell Turns out I didn’t but I have his Greatest Hits on CD somewhere

11

Bonnie Tyler Holding out For A Hero No

12

Madonna Angel No – not one of her best

13

Stevie Wonder Part Time Lover It’s a no from me

14

Red Box Lean On Me Don’t think I did

15

David Bowie and Mick Jagger Dancing In The Street Charity or not, I was never buying this

16

Jennifer Rush The Power Of Love I think somebody in our house bought this for my Dad. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

17

Midge Ure If I Was Glad to say I didn’t

18

Five Star Love Take Over Hell no

Disclaimer

OK – here’s the thing – the TOTP episodes are only available on iPlayer for a limited amount of time so the link to the programme below only works for about another month so you’ll have to work fast if you want to catch the whole show as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b5b8mf/top-of-the-pops-03101985

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

 

Some bed time reading?

 

01-No-1-5-october-1985-218x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-5-october-1985/

 

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-25-september-8-october-1985-226x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-25-september-8-october-1985/