TOTP 14th APR 1983

We’re well into April now with our our continued time hops back to 1983 and that means that a certain annual event is looming….yes Eurovision time is upon us. Of course, 34 years ago, the UK’s standing in this competition didn’t have the joke status that we have today. Indeed, only two years previously we had won the damned thing via wholesome foursome Bucks Fizz’s skirt routine. The following year we tampered with the formula slightly by going for a boy / girl duo in Bardo who limped in 7th. And in 1983? Well we will see soon enough but first…

…this weeks presenters are a real beauty and the beast pairing with housewives choice Gary Davies as the former and the rather scary Andy Peebles – a man with the definitive face for radio –  the latter. Harsh? Maybe. True? Definitely. Anyway, back to Eurovision…

In 1983 the line up format was adjusted again with a one boy / two girl combination called Sweet Dreams. Maybe they were trying to ape the Tight Fit blueprint that scored a Number 1 with “The lion sleeps tonight” 12 months previously. The song, it barely warrants the use of the word in truth, was “I’m never giving up” and it is resoundingly dreadful. As a 14 year old at the time, even I could hear how bad this was. Accordingly, they finished 6th in the contest and disappeared without trace. The guy from the trio would go onto fulfil his inevitable destiny of joining 3 of the original Bucks Fizz troupe (the version who don’t own the rights to the name) and they are touring currently apparently. One of the girls turned out to be Carrie Grant who married 80s popster David Grant and worked on BBC noughties talent show Fame Academy. The other girl? Not even Wikipedia knows…

Back to some proper music next with Eurythmics and “Love is a stranger”. As Mr Peebles informs us, this was a re-release on the back of the mega success of “Sweet Dreams” and it’s a worthy follow up. As with its predecessor, the video was very challenging and subversive for 1983 with Annie Lennox messing around with gender stereotypes and Dave Stewart perfecting his weirdo beardo bloke persona. The song itself is very edgy and would be the peak of the band’s avant-garde phase as they would move inevitably further into the mainstream peaking with their only number one “There must be an angel (playing with my heart)” just two years later. Eventually they would return to a more experimental sound with the album “Savage” at the end of the decade.

If you want to read more about Eurythmics and indeed lots of other artists then please check out a pal’s rather great blog below:

http://andysrockodysseys.blogspot.co.uk/

Andy is doing Eurythmics as the next artist to receive his album retrospective treatment.

The alternative vibe continues with Bauhaus and “She’s in parties”. The link for this is very strange. We go straight from the Eurythmics video into a shot of the band on a dry ice filled stage with the song’s intro playing and there’s even a close up of the drummer. Suddenly the camera pans back to Gary Davies who introduces the band. It just comes across as distinctly odd. Also quite odd are the band themselves – their goth sound allied with the otherworldly looks of front man Pete Murphy made them seem almost alien to me at the time.  Murphy’s appearance in the adverts for Maxell audio cassettes (“Break the sound barrier”) only augmented my opinion. I found it all quite unsettling.

Much more to my liking but still definitely in the new wave bracket are Kissing the Pink who are next up in the studio. I really liked this at the time. It was very quirky and had that military drum beat and whistling hook that drew me in. For some reason I remember them being a Scottish band but Wikipedia assures me they were from London. I really couldn’t recall what they looked like so watching this performance back was illuminating. The lead singer has clearly modelled his stage craft on Joy Division’s Ian Curtis and he is backed by, appropriately, some guys who “wore suits and ties”. There is also a female band member who does a solo bit without looking to camera once and maintains a very “disturbed” front throughout. Finally there’s the guy on keyboards. His image seems to have been inspired by the Gumbys from Monty Python and he plays his keyboards with a drumstick. The whole band seemed to be suffering from Saint Vitus Dance. It’s all totally bonkers but utterly compelling.

A chart rundown leads into a one hit wonder – Sunfire with “Young, free and single”. Once more there is the odd link with the band starting to perform before Gary Davies suddenly appears, positioned as if he’s actually on stage with the band, before delivering this intro:

” And we go back to No 28 in the charts with a song all about me…young, free and single…”. Cringe! Davies was actually 28 at the time…

As for Sunfire themselves, there is very little info about them to be found on the internet. I remember  the song as it was on the copy of that K-Tel “Chart Stars” album I had. It’s also fairly cringeworthy featuring as it does the lyric “Well I’m young free & single, I just want to mingle with you lady”. Bleeuuurrgh!

Another chart recap with Peebles follows including him making a claim for being “Young, free and single” (!) and then we get those Kajagoogoo boys with the video for “Ooh to be Ah”. Its a confused mess of a thing featuring some split screen graphics, some terrible acting from the band and cameos from Christopher Timothy (“All Creatures Great and Small”) and, maintaining his then very high profile, Kenny Everett.

That’s just about it apart from the Top 10 rundown with David Bowie still on top of the heap with “Let’s Dance” and the play out music which this week is “Blue Monday” by New Order.

Looking at the acts on this episode, it’s a very indie / alternative line up with Eurythmics, Bauhaus, Kissing the Pink and New Order turning the TOTP pop party format on its head. Only Sweet Dreams and Kajagoogoo are truly pop fluff. Whilst it’s hardly The Old Grey Whistle Test, it’s certainly one in the eye for those who dismiss the 80s (and especially this period of the decade) as manufactured pop nonsense.

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 2 weeks so you’ll have to work fast if you want to see Andy Peebles and his definitive face for radio and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08gk6z6/top-of-the-pops-14041983

However for posterity’s sake I include the Top 40 run down below.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Sweet Dreams

 

Never giving up

 

Oh Hell. I’ve just checked and this garbage was on that K-Tel Chart Stars album of mine so technically I bought it. WTF!

2

Eurythmics Love is a Stranger

 

I’ve got it on a greatest hits somewhere

3

Bauhaus She’s in parties Nope – I hadn’t reached my semi goth era at this point

 

4

Kissing the Pink The Last Film No but I really should have

 

5

Sunfire Young, Free and Single It’s on the Chart Stars album so technically I bought it. I’m really sorry.

6

Kajagoogoo Ooh to be Ah That would be a no

 

8

David Bowie Let’s Dance No

9

New Order Blue Monday Not the 12” but I have a version on the Substance compilation
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