TOTP 28th JUL 1983

OK – just a quick reminder of what we’re up to here. I, a 48 year old man, am going through an almighty nostalgia rush in an attempt to ward off a mid-life crisis. To that end, I am reviewing every TOTP broadcast currently being shown on BBC Four having started in 1983 which was the year of my full on pop awakening.

We have skipped a week (presumably due to reasons of sensitivity) and so we are almost at the end of July. The TOTP party theme in the studio is in full effect and this week’s presenters, an incredibly young looking Janice Long and Mike Read, are doing their bit with some natty Summer threads. The first song of the evening has presumably been chosen for the top of the show slot to supplement this theme as it is certainly a Summer party record – it’s KC and the Sunshine Band with “Give It Up”. I’m pretty sure I knew little of this lot at the time but I would get to know some of their back catalogue subsequently not least because of the Dead or Alive cover of “That’s The Way (I Like It)” some 9 months later. I say “lot” but its actually just main man Harry Casey (get it?) and a couple of leggy dancers for this performance. Harry looks like he thinks he is auditioning for the lead role in “Joseph and the amazing technicolor dream coat” by his choice of jacket; still he does his best soft shoe shuffle moves and just about delivers. I could never quite work out why this was such a big hit in the UK (it would go onto be No 1 for 3 weeks in August). Was it a massive holiday hit in the rest of Europe? Wikipedia tells me it had some success elsewhere but only in Ireland did it also reach No 1. It was a sizeable hit in their native US (No 18 in 1984) but again nothing when compared to the UK. Dunno then really…it does what it says on the tin but it’s hardly a classic is it? The British public eh?

The first video of the night is the antithesis of a party record – Depeche Mode with “Everything Counts”. I loved this song – there was something about the hook that pulled me in and I duly bough the 7″ (possibly from Woolworths).  It seems to be about corporate greed  with its “grabbing hands” line. As a 15 year old in 1983, I possibly wasn’t  politically energised enough to connect with this but I think I knew even then that the lyrics had a bigger and deeper meaning to them than…well… KC and the Sunshine Band’s effort for example. It would turn out to be their 2nd highest charting single of the decade and indeed of their career. Seeing as it maxed out at No 6 that seems utterly incredulous. We will of course be seeing much more of DM in subsequent broadcasts.

As we have jumped a week with these repeats, we have the recurring issue of seeing the same acts that were in the last show I posted about. So here is Elvis Costello again with “Everyday I Write The Book”. Not that it’s a bad thing of course and this is definitely not just a re-screening of the past studio appearance as Elvis is wearing a different outfit. This time he is much more casual in a two tone blue and white sweatshirt. “Sweat” appears to the word in this performance as Costello is perspiring profusely. Maybe the studio lights were especially hot that night. Whatever, it’s still a great song.

The Creatures return to the charts next with a cover of Mel Torme’s “Right Now”. I much preferred this to their previous single “Miss The Girl” which had all been a bit too spooky for me but this was much more tuneful. If you listen carefully there’s something about it that reminded me of the old Captain Scarlet TV show theme tune (Honestly there is! Have a listen!). I mean, I was never going to buy it, but I didn’t mind at all when it got played on Radio 1. The video was a bugger to track down on t’internet by the way.

Oh yes!  I am so pleased that we didn’t miss out on this next act due to being on one of the shows that are not being screened because of presenter issues. This lot are far and away the best one-hit -wonder of the decade and possibly of all time (OK OK – along with Althea and Donna). It’s only The Lotus Eaters with “The First Picture of You”!  This is a glorious tune, rich in melody and with a soaring chorus that transports me instantly back to the Summer of 1983 whenever I hear it. The band were from Liverpool (as Janice Long gleefully lets us know in the introduction) and despite some pretty good follow ups, were never able to dent the Top 40 again. They are still going to day, after disbanding for many years, but this song is what they will always be remembered for. I loved this from the first moment I heard it and rushed out to buy the 7″ single immediately. Just a superb piece of shimmering pop.

Another of those songs that we only saw in the last show now but this time instead of the video we have a studio performance. Well kind of. Its Malcolm McLaren with “Double Dutch” – except Malcolm is nowhere to be seen and what we have is a an exceptional exhibition of synchronized skipping from the Ebonettes live in the studio. Seriously  – just watch this – amazing. Not sure about the two baby oiled up tossers in the background though.

Heh! Next up is the song that spawned much laughter amongst young boys every where. It’s Robert Plant with *sniggers* “Big Log”. Now according to t’internet, chances are the song’s title was meaningless and had nothing to do with the rest of the lyrics. Other sources say it meant the log book of tractor trailer drivers. Whatever…for me and many teenagers across the land it meant only one thing  – massive turd. Thinking about it now, it puts me in mind of some of the graffiti that adorned the men’s toilets in the Market Street branch of Manchester Our Price where I worked in the early 90s. These were some of the inspired ramblings that emerged form the minds of my colleagues:

  • Deacon Poo
  • Ruthless Crap Assassins
  • Iggy Plop
  • Inspiral Crapets
  • Crappy Mondays

There were many more but I can’t recall them all now. Anyway, as for Robert Plant, I never got the boat going to Led Zep island despite working with many people over the years who adored them but I didn’t mind this solo effort at the time. And that’s as much commitment as you’ll get from me on the subject. By the way, the backdrop for this performance absolutely screams the 80s don’t you think?

Next up are the TOTP dancers doing their thang to George Benson with “Feel Like Makin’ Love”. Why Mike Read introduces the song whilst arm wrestling with a member of the studio audience I have no idea but its in keeping with all the lame jokes  that he has inflicted on us throughout the show (many involving the hilarious prop of a skipping rope). As for George Benson, we’ve already established that slick 80s soul was not my cup of tea but like all the singles from his “In Your Eyes” album, I thought this was OK.

We stay in the studio for another song that I have already posted about previously as it’s Bananarama with “Cruel Summer”. The last time I noticed how much that Siobhan strayed away from what the other two girls were doing and that this was a sign of their impending split later in the decade. Now that I’m watching another (but different) studio performance I’m obsessed with this idea. So…in this version of the song, Siobhan:

  1. Again has a slightly different outfit to Sara and Keren despite all of them being in black and white
  2. Just runs across the gantry in the instrumental break whereas the other two do some sort of pre-agreed bunny hop
  3. Hardly acknowledges that there is anybody else on stage with her whilst the other two are constantly turning to each other and laughing

There you go – solid proof that a split was inevitable. Probably.

The top 10 run down finishes with the video for this week’s No 1 which is Paul Young and “Wherever I lay my Hat (That’s My Home)”. I saw somebody tweet about this video recently that this song doesn’t seem like its that old until Paul steps into a telephone box and it suddenly looks like its something from WWII which I though summed it up nicely.

The play out music is Heaven 17 with “Come Live With Me”.

Links and things


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 full hilarity of Mike Read and his skipping rope japes and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

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

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?


KC and the Sunshine Band Give It Up No I didn’t


Depeche Mode Everything Counts Damn straight I did


Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Everyday I Write The Book No but my wife has the album its from “Punch the Clock” on vinyl


The Creatures Right Now No sir


Lotus Eaters First Picture Of You YES! YES! YES!


Malcolm McLaren and The Ebonettes Double Dutch Yes – there is a 7” of this in my singles box.


Robert Plant Big Log Nah


George Benson Feel Like Makin’ Love Not for me


Bananarama Cruel Summer No I didn’t – not even for the picture sleeve


Paul Young Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) Yes indeed


Heaven 17 Come Live With Me No but I have the album it came from (“The Luxury Gap”)

Want to read some more about all of this….








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