Well after last week’s err…eclectic mix of performers, here comes some proper bona fide artists. This week’s pair of presenters are Gary “medallion man” Davies and Keith Chegwin’s sister otherwise known as Janice Long. Now I’ve always liked Janice – she was another of those “its all about the music” DJs in a later time slot and up until a couple of weeks ago was still on national BBC Radio until the powers that be decided they didn’t need actual people presenting shows anymore and they booted her off unceremoniously to be replaced by streamed shows of concerts and documentaries. This country etc….
As for Davies, he became amazingly popular in the lunchtime slot on Radio 1 what with his housewives choice good looks and features such as his “sloppy bit in the middle” love song section – think a watered down version of “Our Tune”.
No doubt my 14 year old self was sat in place on the sofa eagerly awaiting this week’s pop picks. So who’s first? Oooh its that new band with the daft name and the incredibly catchy song. Yes it could be none other than Kajagoogoo. Now I can’t remember if I knew what they looked like before this momentous appearance but we all did after this. Where do you start? I guess inevitably with Limahl’s hair which was quite shocking at the time even though we had already just got used to Boy George’s gender bender image. Then of course there was Nick Beggs’s beads – dangling at the bottom of his peroxide explosion atop his head. In all my years I have never seen anyone try to recreate either look so preposterous were they and yet they somehow seemed ….exciting? Well to this 14 year old’s eyes anyway -bearing in mind that my own hair was probably some sort of lego man blob at this point no wonder I was impressed. Anyway, as for the song, you can scoff all you like but this is a magnificent example of a well crafted mid 80s pure pop masterpiece. It builds steadily and seductively to an insanely catchy hook. Briefly they would become a pop sensation (no doubt drawing ill judged Beatles comparisons) and we would see much more of them in the following months. Inevitably it all went horribly wrong….
Next up is a poll topping exclusive video Janice informs us as Joe Jackson appears on our screens with “Steppin’ Out”. Now at this point I don’t think I knew who Joe Jackson was – which seems incredible to me now – but this was probably my first taste of his work. And what a song it is with that lazy yet driving beat it’s an unusually structured song but it has stood the test of time well to these ears. I’m pretty sure he would have been one of those artists that I did my research on so as to look knowledgeable to my mates at school – Joe Jackson – oh yeah its good but I prefer “Is she really going out with him?”. What a pretentious nob – me not Joe.
As for the video, there’s some nice shots of NY but not a lot to else to say about it but make up your own minds…
Back to the studio for a genuine stand out moment – my first glimpse of Echo and the Bunnymen with their massive anthem “The Cutter”. This song is immense although this version has that curious specially recorded backing track feel to it. A rerecorded backing track? Yep it was all to do with a ban on miming which was introduced in 1966 following discussions with the Musicians Union. In an attempt to spare the blushes of acts actually trying to play live and failing, a compromise was reached whereby a specially recorded backing track was permitted – as long as all the musicians on the track were present in the studio. Anyway, that isnt what we were all talking about at school the next day, it was the fact that Ian McCulloch, or Mr Echo as I may have thought he was called at the time, does some sort of primal half -strip with both bare shoulders and a glimpse of nipple exposed. If my Dad was in the room at this point, no doubt he would have called him a “rum bugger”.
This segues curiously straight into Melba Moore with no link from Janice or Gary. Similar to Sharon Redd last week, I have no recollection of this song at all – I think its obvious even at this early stage of my pop appreciation that 80s soul divas were not my thing.
Janice is back to introduce the next studio act and its another iconic performance – two in the same show – this time “New Year’s Day”by U2. It’s dawned on me that this must be the reason why this song and “The Cutter” always go together in my head. Its an odd sensation watching the 1983 version of U2 – all bad hair and wide eyed wonder – Bono is still a bell end though. At the song’s end Janice does a terrible Irish accent as she proclaims “its the luck of the oirish”. Shocking stuff.
After a quick chart run down we are back to the videos and its American songstress Laura Branigan and “Gloria”. I recall not minding this song at the time but more importantly it is forever linked in my head with Coventry City vs Worcester City (my hometown team) in the FA Cup 3rd round tie from the same month that this was a hit . It was played on the PA system before the game and as this was a big day in my young life at the time I have retained fond memories of this song even if my liking of it has waned over the years.
Then we’re back to the chart run down with Janice before she introduces
The Stranglers in the studio with “European Female”. What a curious song this is. Very understated but with a haunting quality to it. The band themselves of course have had curious (and very long) career. Still its nice to see them on screen with Hugh Cornwell still in their number at that time.
The final chart run down concludes with Phil Collins still at No 1 and still on video – still no sign of Phil actually getting his lazy arse down to the TOTP studio then.
The fade out song is by Billy Griffin and “Hold me tighter in the rain” No me neither.
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 won’t work come 20th Feb so you’ll have to work fast if you want to see Garry Davies and his chest hair and I cant find the full programme on YouTube.
However for posterity’s sake I include the Top 40 run down below also.
|Order of appearance||Artist||Song||Did I buy it?|
|1||Kajagoogoo||Too shy||It was on my copy of Now Vol 1 so technically yes|
|2||Joe Jackson||Steppin’ Out||Yes – on CD later in life|
|3||Echo and the Bunnymen||The Cutter||Yes on CD later in life|
|4||Melba Moore||Mind up tonight||Obviously not|
|5||U2||New Year’s Day||I own this – what of it?|
|7||Stranglers||European Female||Yes – on a greatest hits CD|
|8||Phil Collins||You can’t hurry love||On Now Vol 1|
|9||Billy Griffin||Hold me tighter in the rain||Uh uh|
Some bed time reading?