TOTP 12th MAY 1983

And so with much fanfare, we arrive at the landmark 1001st TOTP broadcast…”Hang on what happened to the 1000th episode?” you may reasonably ask. Well after TOTP 999 was covered in the last blog, we unfortunately are unable to see the anniversary show due to it including some very unsavoury characters that nobody wants to dwell on. So let’s quickly move on and get back into the party mood with….Modern Romance! Yes straight out of the traps tonight are those cheeky scamps who bought us “Best Years of our Lives” and “High Life” and are now bestowing upon us a decidedly mambo flavoured number entitled “Don’t stop that crazy rhythm”.  This was slap bang in the middle of the groups’s most commercially successful period (within a year they would most definitely be in the 2nd division of pop acts) and its an odd single and indeed performance. Even back in 1983, it sounded very retro to me (although I definitely wouldn’t have used that adjective). It wouldn’t be out of place blaring from the open windows of Broadway’s Palladium Ballroom in 1950s New York. For this performance the band accessorised by adding a tap dancer (presumably to distract from the lead singer’s dreadful stage outfit). Said lead singer is Michael J. Mullins who if you look closely you may recognise as one of the backing singers in the video for Cliff Richard’s “Mistletoe and wine”. The great Morrissey once reviewed a Modern Romance single in Smash Hits thus:

“There are indeed worse groups than Modern Romance. But can anybody seriously think of one?”. Ouch!

Who’s presenting this week? Oh sorry – tonight its Mike Read and the late great Tommy Vance. Tommy was of course much more of a rocker than a pop fan  – he hosted the Friday Night Rock Show for many a year – but he displays admirable enthusiasm for all of tonight’s acts – a sort of antithesis to John Peel’s barely concealed disdain for most of the TOTP turns he introduced.

Tommy seems genuinely excited to be introducing the first of tonight’s videos which is “Family Man” by Hall and Oates who I didn’t really know at this point but who I would go onto appreciate greatly. Now this is interesting…Mr Vance informs us that this is in fact a cover version. Really? I didn’t know that. A quick search of the internet reveals that the original was by Mike Oldfield. The internet also tells me that the song is about a chance meeting between a prostitute and a married man who is tempted but insists he is not interested in her services. I think even the little innocent 1983 version of me had figured that one out!

Of course you cannot mention Hall and Oates without referring to John Oates’s monstrous moustache and it’s here in its full glory in this video. Its sort of his calling card; a bit like Nena’s armpits if you will but not quite as hairy.

Back to the studio now and a band who have flown back from a tour in France to perform for us on the TOTP stage. Its the Belle Stars and “Sweet Memory”. This was the girls follow up to the whopping hit “Sign of the Times”. I remember liking it enough at the time but it didn’t have that touch of stardust that “Sign” had and it would only graze the top 20. It was also the last time they would trouble the chart compliers which was a shame as they had some other good tunes. Still, nice baseball outfits.

Now this is an odd thing. A 1983 episode of TOTP that has Pink Floyd in it?! Yes, you read that right. The Floyd released the Final Cut album back in ’83 and this was the lead single from it. Of course the TOTP producers get Tommy to introduce this one and its a strange thing as I remember this song being in the charts but I’m not sure that I have ever heard it until now. Of course I knew of Pink Floyd from that video for “Another Brick in the wall” of a few years earlier and that frankly terrifying cartoon teacher. However I have to confess that I never got the boat going to Pink Floyd island. One of my mates was into them mainly due to the influence of their elder brother’s record collection. My everlasting memory of Pink Floyd though is of the night in 1985 that 4 of us stayed at Kev Harris’s house and stayed up well into the night watching a double bill of “Apocalypse Now” and “Pink Floyd – The Wall”. That was a fun packed night! Having sat through “Apocalypse” and started on “The Wall”, myself and Simon gave up and went to bed at the point when Bob Geldof shaved his eyebrows off! Ratty and Dave (he of the elder brother Pink Floyd fan) stuck it out though and when we came down the following morning, they were still there having watched both “The Wall” and then  “Apocalypse”over again. There was also some sort of symbol adorning the carpet that they had created out of shoes and other stray objects they found lying around. I’m not sure but I think some weed may have been involved.

Back to the pop party then and those chart staples Hot Chocolate with “What kinda boy you looking for (girl)”.  Now I don’t mind a bit of Errol and the boys but the most interesting thing about this song is the curious use of brackets in the title.

Staying in the studio, we have another chance to see hit sound No 5 which is Galaxy and “Dancing Tight”. I think I said all I could about this record in a previous post. After racking my brains to extract something of what I remember of it in 1983, I came up with this…I think I used to amuse myself by changing the lyrics in my head to “gonna squeeze spots all night”. I’m here all week….

And still in the studio its The Creatures with “Miss the girl”. This is a different performance to the one I reviewed last time. Presumably because it was quite a minimal piece, the show’s producers tried to beef it up by getting the TOTP dancers to go all arty and there follows a long pull back camera shot where they all lean into view just with just their heads visible on screen. Just in case we were not getting how artistic this was, it’s in black and white. Viewed in 2017 it looks pretentious and very 6th form student.

And yet another studio performance and another where Mike Read bangs on about how the act has flown in especially for TOTP this time from Japan. This is actually quite a rare piece of footage as its Men at Work but not doing “Down Under”. Yes they were in fact a band and not a song and here’s the proof as they do “Overkill”. And it’s not bad as it goes although I remember being very underwhelmed back then. Its actually very similar to their massive US hit  but UK flop “Who can it be now?” but without the killer chorus. Its unusual in that it meanders along quite nicely but without ever reaching anything approaching a height.

We then get the Top 10 countdown but before we get to the No 1 (still Spandau Ballet with “True”) we get this incongruous appearance in the studio by ABBA’s Agnetha who is promoting her solo single and album. There follows another of those excruciating “interviews” where nothing very much at all is gleaned from the guest. In the end Tommy Vance gets a hug and Mike Read introduces the No 1 in Swedish. Well that was all worth while then…

The play out music is …Kissing the Pink with “The Last Film”! Their plugger must have been doing some stirling work for the band as this is the song’s …what …4th outing on the show? The dancing in the studio looks weird and then we have the final image of Mike Read miming along and playing up to the camera. He looks like a prat.

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 be amazed at the multilingual Mike Read and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08h9j0j/top-of-the-pops-12051983

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

 

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Modern Romance

 

Don’t stop that crazy rhythm

 

I stopped the crazy beat by not buying this one

 

2

Hall and Oates Family Man A quick check of the track listing for the Chart Stars album reveals this was on it so technically I bought this.

 

3

The Belle Stars Sweet Memory Nope

 

4

Pink Floyd Not now John That was never happening

 

5

Hot Chocolate What kinda boy you looking for (girl) Nah

6

Galaxy Dancing Tight This was on Chart Stars so technically I bought it *clenches teeth *

8

Creatures Miss the Girl The “arty” sequence didn’t entice me to purchase this

9

Men at Work Overkill No

10

Spandau Ballet True Not on 7” but defo in my CD collection

11

Kissing the Pink Last Film No – I may have got bored of it by this point
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