TOTP 19th MAY 1983

I am, in many ways, a typical bloke in that I love football and music. Back in 1983, music (or more specifically pop music) had taken a hold of me and in some respects was edging ahead of football as my biggest passion. Added to that, May 1983 was not a good time for me in terms of the beautiful game as my beloved Chelsea endured their worst ever league season narrowly avoiding relegation to the old Division 3. However, being the age that I am (48 if you’re counting), I can recall when the biggest game of the season was the FA Cup final. The excitement of seeing a live game on TV, the day long build up, watching the teams get on the coaches to Wembley. Now its just another game on TV and lags well behind the Premier League and the Champions League in terms of profile.

Why am I banging on about football in an 80s music blog? Well, the BBC was using this TOTP broadcast to promote its coverage of the final as there was a time when both BBC and ITV simultaneously held the rights to broadcast the game so viewers had to choose which channel to watch ( our household always chose BBC of course). As such, this TOTP includes a lot of references to the “big game on Saturday” and this would be repeated in the following week’s programme as the game went to a replay but more of that in the next post.

This week’s presenters are Simon Bates and Gary Davies. Bates has a horrible striped jacket on which gives him the look of a holiday camp rep.Davies has obviously spent a lot of time on his overly styled hair. The first act tonight is D Train with “Music”. I remember the name but this really wouldn’t have been my cup of tea back in the day and perhaps accounts for my lack of recognition of the song in 2017. I wouldn’t have anything else to say about this lot were it not for the utterly bizarre comment Bates makes at the song’s finish which is “Let me tell you that two world boxing champions train to music like that so be one of the crowd”. What the actual f**k?  What on earth made him say that? Was he on drugs?

On with the music and its New Edition with “Candy Girl” on video. Yes yes we all know one of their number is a very young  Bobby Brown but actually lead Edition Ralph Tresvant returned to our charts in 1991 and the other 3 had a hit with “Poison” as Bell Biv Devoe round the same time. I’m pretty sure that  no conversation about New Edition ever took place in May 1983 that didn’t mention the Jackson 5 so strong was their resemblance to them but its a nifty little tune in its own right.

In recent week’s we have seen Phil Fearon rocking a sports wear look topped off with a rather fetching gilet (which one of this blog’s readers was quite taken with). This time around we see David Grant  – yes that David Grant whose wife Carrie we saw in Sweet Dreams in recent weeks – attempt a similar thing complete with head band. However, David gets it all wrong and just looks like a ridiculous clothes horse. The song is pretty crap as well. Back in May ’83 all anybody could say about him though was how much weight he had lost since his days as one half of British soul duo Linx.

Another video arrives after Grant’s turn and it’s “Blind Vision” by Blancmange. I really liked Blancmange and looking back now they were such unlikely pop stars. Firstly they were not blessed in the looks department and then there was that name.  Added to that was their distinctly indie beginnings (they were on the seminal Some Bizzare album). They were hardly mainstream and yet they somehow became regulars in the Top 40 around this time. This video didn’t do anything to soften their image as Neil Arthur looks like he’s auditioning for the part of a particularly manic version of Dr Who. There was a guy in the year above me at school who actually cultivated the Neil Arthur look and he did a pretty good job of it too. Anyway, this track is great.

Next up is a band that I was already aware of as they had been around a while as part of the Ska / Mod revival movement of a few years before. This would turn out to be their biggest hit but also their swansong as they would break up before the year was out. It is of course The Beat with their cover of the Andy Williams classic “Can’t Get Used to Losing You”. Its a decent version of it but I always saw them as one of my Weller obsessed brother’s bands and so I would reject them in favour of something I could call my own. Nice threads from lead singer Dave Wakeling though. Interestingly in this performance Andy Cox and David Steele, who would go onto be infamous for their crazy legs stage antics as members of Fine Young Cannibals, remain seated throughout.

Up next is the forgotten single of Wham!’s career – “Bad Boys”. Its mainly forgotten because George Michael completely disowned it in later years. Seems a bit harsh to me – not their best tune by a long way but I’m not sure I can see exactly where George was coming from. It made sense to me at the time coming as it did in the steps of “Young Guns” and “Wham! Rap”. It seemed to be complete that trio of singles and it would be their 4th single “Club Tropicana” that appeared incongruous in my book.

Suddenly we are back to the football theme as in the studio we have some of the Brighton & Hove Albion squad brandishing their cup final song and about to endure the most excruciating interview of their lives. Now I’m not even sure if the two teams contesting the FA Cup final even bother to record a song to commemorate the event these days but back in 1983 it was certainly a de rigueur practise. Somewhat meanly, Simon Bates advises the viewers that they had been hoping to have the Manchester Utd team on the programme who, obviously due to their much bigger fan base, had a sizeable hit in the Top 40 with their cup final song. However, as they were not available, they were slumming it with Brighton – at least that’s the impression Bates gives. He and Davies then conduct “interviews” with striker Gordon Smith who looks like he would rather eat his own arm than be stood where he is at that very moment and also with veteran Jimmy Case who has been to Wembley “about eight times” and says that he sometimes gets nervous. This prompts another weird Bates comment which is ” Alright well that’s it – thats how we look at it”. Eh?

Thankfully we leave it there and get on with the music which is JoBoxers and their 2nd big hit in recent months “Just Got Lucky”. Its very much in the same vein as “BoxerBeat” – both the song’s sound  and the band’s performance – and given that I liked that one, I was also quite taken with this latest offering. It makes you wonder where it all went wrong for them after this – was it a poor choice of 3rd single (“Johnny Friendly” was a relative flop reaching only No 31 in the charts)? Maybe they just got replaced in the nation’s affections by some of the other big breakthrough artists in 1983 like Paul Young and Howard Jones? We will never know.

Not content with one embarrassing interview, Bates next appears with all three members of The Police who are there to plug their new single “Every Breath You Take” which we will see them perform the following week. Didn’t they have a quick run through of what they would talk about before the show aired? It looks and sounds so stilted but it at least captures a moment in time when the band are all in the same place with a purpose  before the days of travelling to gigs in separate limos befalls them.

Talking of bands who fell out, here comes Yazoo with their final ever single (whilst they were a going concern at least)”Nobody’s Diary”. Not that we knew that at the time of course and seeing as this was the lead single off only their 2nd album, we all thought they would be around for a good while longer. Yazoo were coming off the back of their massive breakthrough year in 1982 and this single looked set to continue their success. The album duly appeared but then …nothing. No more singles were taken from it and they split before the end of the year.. Basically , although creatively they were good together, personally they never really hit it off. I remember thinking in a very simplistic way that their crown had been pinched by Eurythmics seeing as they were essentially the same (female singer /freaky bloke duo). I always quite liked this song even though I considered it vastly inferior to the likes of “Only You”.

In this seemingly marathon episode we are into our 9th act of the evening and we still haven’t got to the Number 1. However, the pop mad me  would not have been complaining back in 1983 especially as the 9th act on is Fun Boy Three with “Our Lips Are Sealed”. This song, written by Terry Hall and Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin, is a magnificent slice of pop in my view and indeed Rolling Stone magazine named it as one of the 100 Greatest Pop Songs of all time in 2000. Its rolling beat coupled with Hall’s brilliantly downcast vocals make it a pop gem which really should have been a No 1 hit. The Go-Go’s version is also great but this is version is a masterpiece. And of course there is also the miracle of Hall’s amazing hair.

Finally we reach the Number 1 song which is yet again Spandau Ballet with “True”. As they have squeezed in so many acts tonight, this also serves as the play out music.

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 see some footballers looking completely out of their depth and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08hzrdx/top-of-the-pops-19051983

However for posterity’s sake I include the Top 40 run down below (inclues The Police interview)

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

D Train

 

Music

 

Obviously not

 

2

New Edition Candy Girl It was on the 1st volume of “Now that’s what I call Music” so technically yes.

 

3

David Grant Stop and Go What do you think?

 

4

Blancmange Blind Vision Not the 7” but I had the Greatest Hits LP

 

5

The Beat Can’t get used to losing you No but my brother probably did

6

Wham! Bad Boys No and George hated it so much that it was not included on my Greatest Hits CD

7

JoBoxers Just Got Lucky No but it’s a good tune

8

Yazoo Nobody’s Diary No

9

Fun Boy Three Our Lips Are Sealed Yes – it was one of the tracks on the Charts Stars various artists LP and one of the reasons I bought it

10

Spandau Ballet True I have this song – what of it?
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