TOTP 7th JUL 1983

Hello and step aboard the TOTP time machine which tonight is heading for July 1983. The weather is scorching as the UK embraces a heatwave and temperatures reach 33 °C in London. At Wimbledon, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova have just been crowned mens and ladies champions respectively in the last few days. Along for the ride tonight to act as our guides are John Peel and David Jensen (dressed as The Blues Brothers for the night for some reason).

And we start off with yet another new act from the endless source of brand new shiny pop stars that was 1983….It’s Roman Holliday with “Don’t Try To Stop It”. This was a classic Summer ’83 tune and I’m surprised that it stalled at No 14 in the charts. I always lump them in with JoBoxers in my mind in that they both appeared in 1983 with hit singles, both had a definite image inspired by films called “On the…” (“On the Waterfront” for JoBoxers and “On the Town” for Roman Holliday despite naming the band after a different film) and they were both gone by the end of the year. I was aware of this lot as they’d had a near miss with first single “Stand By” which the pop magazines had picked up on but it was this song that broke them. It’s a nice piece of swing meets pop which gave it a retro yet new feel. Judging by this performance, they looked like they were a gang of mates who were having the time of their lives on stage. Lead singer Steve Lambert had that cheeky twinkle in his eye and they looked fair set for more success. As for so many of those 1983 bands though, they didn’t sustain. The album achieved moderate sales and the follow up single “Motormania” only reached No 40. They attempted a badly misjudged comeback in 1985 with a Mutt Lange produced slice of glam pop and long hair but the spell was broken and they disappeared for good.

An 80s one-hit-wonder are next – Mary Jane Girls with “All Night Long”. Now despite being a 15 year old boy, despite the song being sassy and littered with saucy lyrics and despite the band being four sexy women (including one dressed as a dominatrix), this did nothing for me. I’m assuming I was distracted by Bananarama at the time. Anyway, having googled Mary Jane Girls I can reveal that they were protégées of top funkster Rick James and the band name (Mary Jane) was slang for marijuana  – both facts that are instantly more interesting than the song.

The first video of the night comes from Iron Maiden with “The Trooper”. I have a very clear memory associated with this song. It was nearing the end of the academic year and our English teacher obviously thought he could afford to stray away from the curriculum and decided we would have a lesson where we discussed the narrative within the lyrics of pop songs. We were all encouraged to bring in some lyrics (no easy thing in the pre-internet age). I’m guessing I probably copied some lyrics from my brother’s Jam albums (“Down In The Tube Station At Midnight” would have worked well) but I can’t recall. Anyway, someone brought in the lyrics to “The Trooper” and as the teacher read them out and it got the chorus, the whole class burst into a rendition of “Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh”. OK – its not a story that could get me a gig as an after dinner raconteur but it made me smile recalling it. This lot were far too Heavy Metal for my delicate pop ears and I don’t think I own an Iron Maiden record to this day.

After having our senses assaulted by Bruce Dickinson and pals, we have them rendered agog by the next section of the show. I don’t recall this spectacle (and I don’t use the word as in spellbinding) at all. What we get is the Hassani Troupe (who google tells me were / are Moroccan tumblers)  with resident dancing arses Zoo performing a routine to “I.O.U” by Freeez. Quite what the TOTP producers were thinking here I don’t know. Maybe they were offered massive money by the Hassani Troupe’s management to get them on the show because it just doesn’t work. So we get some human pyramids, some very bog standard juggling, some baton twirling, a woman in a striped leotard and shocking pink tutu free-styling, a bloke doing the Donald O’Connor walking up the wall trick and worst of all some pretentious knob in a red ring master coat doing the worst break dancing you have ever seen. It’s utter carnage – if I’d have been a member of Freeez I’d have been furious but somehow it didn’t send their single tumbling down the charts.

Some semblance of normality returns with the video for ELO’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King” single. I was aware of ELO as their records were always being played over the sound system pre match and at half time at St George’s Lane, home of my local non-league football team Worcester City. I also knew them from watching the comedian Jasper Carrott on TV who was friends with the drummer Bev Bevan. This though was the first time I had considered them using my new found “pop” faculties. The song seemed very old fashioned to the 15 year old me  – I think my Mum liked this one which, in classic teenager mode, was enough to put me off. The “45” (as Jensen introduces it) and video recall that era of 50s dancing and rock ‘n’ roll music which is fair enough but this theme was done so much better a few weeks later by another returning “heritage act” (to use Glastonbury speak) when The Kinks released “Come Dancing”.

We are bang up to date with the next act though who are The Cure with “The Walk”. This, I’m sure, will have been my introduction to Robert Smith and co. Whilst hardly being a superfan, I have come to truly appreciate The Cure over the years and respect them for ploughing their own peculiar furrow of music. But right here in July 1983 I really wasn’t sure. This wasn’t the type of pop star I had come to expect from TOTP  – Robert is dressed head to toe in black, never lowers his shades throughout the performance, is wearing badly applied lipstick and seems non plussed that he’s actually there on stage judging by the lack of effort he’s putting into miming. And the song itself has a hard edge to it with that discordant keyboard riff in place of a chorus. In short, this wasn’t for the 15 year old me. I would completely change my mind when the next single “Love Cats” was released of course, but for now I would pass.

When I started with this blog, in the very first post (The Prologue) I wrote:

“sometimes as I would casually drop in some names at school of acts that were yet to break into the Top 40 to impress my mates. “Yeah I’m going into town on Saturday to buy that single by This Mortal Coil…” I would let slip. Of course when I got to town what I actually bought was Jimmy the Hoover or some such.”

Jimmy the Hoover….Come on down! Your time is now! Yes, we have arrived at the very first TOTP appearance from this one-hit-wonder and their single “Tantalise (Wo Wo Ee Yeh Yeh)”. And yes that is the full title of the song. I remember Peter Powell going completely overboard about this single and championing it to the hilt which is probably how I became aware of it. I thought it was great and duly went out and bought it. Essentially the band were a vehicle for the front man Derek Dunbar who was a model and obviously someone had plans to make him the next big thing. Now either I had forgotten this or I never knew but Wikipedia tells me that the “someone” in question was none other than Malcolm McLaren who was their manager! McLaren was always someone who I found endlessly fascinating and I am intrigued by the fact that essentially Malcolm failed with this project as his band could not follow up on this initial success. It remains however a great one-hit -wonder.

A chart run down from 30 to 21 follows before we go back to No 29 for Eurythmics with “Who’s That Girl?”. Now watching this back, it doesn’t look like the performance takes place in the TOTP studio so maybe it was a clip from a European pop programme. Whatever, this was the point where, in my mimd, Annie and Dave started to go mainstream after the cutting edge of their previous two hits. It was the lead single from their album “Touch” and seemed to me to be a definite turn down the road marked “pop”. Although Annie is still in full on scary mode appearance wise with her aggressive make up and orange crop haircut and Dave is still doing his weirdo thing, the song just seemed so much more conventional to my ears. This apparent business decision to go pop was backed up in my opinion by the promo video which featured all sorts of cameos from established pop stars like Bucks Fizz and Bananarama. Mainstream by association in other words. Hopefully a future TOTP broadcast will include a viewing of said video. I still liked the song enough at the time but it isn’t one that stands out in their cannon of quality work.

Back in the proper TOTP studio are another one-hit-wonder in Funk Masters with “It’s Over”. I thought this bouncy taste of funk pop was OK-ish and I am shocked to discover when doing the research on them that the lead vocalist was Juliet Roberts who went onto sing with British jazz dance group Working Week (who I quite liked). Well I never!

Finally we go into the Top 10 countdown to this week’s No 1 which is still Rod Stewart. Boo! Get Off! The play out song this week is “Moonlight Shadow” by Mike Oldfield which I have already fessed up about in a previous post so don’t expect me to comment any further on this one.

Links and things

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 the Hassani Troupe doing their thing and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08kvpwj/top-of-the-pops-07071983

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

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Roman Holliday Don’t try To Stop It No but it’s a good tune

2

Mary Jane Girls All Night Long N to the O

3

Iron Maiden The Trooper No chance

4

Freeez I.O.U Nope

5

ELO Rock ‘n’ Roll IS King Not this 7” but we al have a bit of ELO in our lives don’t we?

6

The Cure The Walk No but my way cooler wife had the “Japanese Whispers” album with it on

7

Jimmy the Hoover Tantalise (Wo Wo Ee Yeh Yeh) Yes sir I did

8

Eurythmics Who’s That Girl? No but I have it on CD somewhere

9

Funkmasters It’s Over Not really my thing

10

Rod Stewart Baby Jane No but its on Now 1 so technically yes (sigh)

11

Mike Oldfield Moonlight Shadow Yes (double sigh)

Some bedtime reading?

01-No-1-2-july-1983-218x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-2-july-1983/

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-7-20-july-1983-231x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-7-20-july-1983/

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