TOTP 11 AUG 1983

These BBC4 broadcasts from the TOTP archives are really jumping around now as we go forward two weeks in one leap missing out another programme presumably due to presenter issues. As such we arrive in mid August and the height of the long hot summer of ’83. This was a formative time for the 15 year old version of me and a lot of these songs feel like old friends. Unfortunately familiarity is in danger of breeding contempt as the skipping of episodes means that of the ten songs on tonights’ show, I have discussed five of them already. This is testing my writing skills to the limit.

More of that later though as we start the show with four brand new songs one after the other. Tonight’s DJ pairing is the competent but ever so slightly dull Richard Skinner and Tommy “The Voice” Vance who introduces the first act of the night – David Grant with “Watching You, Watching Me”. You may remember that we initially saw the ex Linx man in the Spring with his first solo hit “Stop And Go” which was a bit of a stinker. I remember thinking this follow up effort was so much better at the time but having watched it back with 2017 eyes, this pretty much whiffs as well. Vance makes a big deal of watching out for Grant’s dancing which I always think is a big clue that the act is probably not that hot on the vocals. So it proves with this song, as Grant’s voice is a bit whiny it seems to me. I don’t think his dancing is that much cop either. He’s no Michael Jackson, let’s be fair. Somehow this single made it all the way into the Top 10 (just) and he would only trouble it again once more as part of a duet with Jaki Graham two years later. The only other thing I remember about this record is that there was another single in the charts at this time that employed the “Watching You, Watching Me” hook in the chorus and that was “Watching” by The Thompson Twins. They tried to make it sound more mysterious by reducing the title to one word but in truth it is an awful song that nothing would save and rightly only made No 33 in the charts (yes I had to look that up – I’m not that sad!).

Next up is one of the year’s most controversial videos as we get our first glimpse of The Style Council’s “Long Hot Summer”. OK – so some product details about this one first. This was the lead track from the “Á Paris” EP which included three other songs on the 12″ format. However, you could also buy it as a two track 7″ (I’m guessing the completist in my Weller obsessed elder brother would have gone for the former). And the fuss about the video? Well, the premise of it was that it was meant to be a send up of the whole concept of machismo so we see a stripped down to the waist and oiled up Weller taking a punt on the River Cam with his mate Mick Talbot. Then they have a picnic and a dance about together and then – and this is the controversial bit – they lay down on the grass and caress each other’s ears! Except you won’t see that bit in the video broadcast on TOTP or indeed in any version I can find on the internet (including the one below) as there are cut and uncut versions. Apparently the record company weren’t happy at the lack of girls in the video and thought it might be off-putting for our uneducated minds in 1983.

What I did find though is a still of “ear-gate” from No 1 magazine and the views of a bemused Weller as to what the fuss is all about. Looking back at it now, it’s hardly front page news but I guess they were less liberal times back then. What I find more shocking is the recurring character who is depicted as a full on stereotype of a French person complete with beret, goatee beard and striped jersey! As for the song, I really liked it at the time and it certainly encapsulates a lot of memories and echoes of that era that really was the titular “Long Hot Summer”. 13-No-1-27-august-1983

After all that controversy, we have the relaxing strains of Level 42 who are back in the charts with their latest single “The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)”. Now I had forgotten this but Wikipedia has reminded me that after the success of “The Chinese Way” earlier in the year, the first single from their next album (“Out Of Sight And Out Of Mind”) had been a flop. I vaguely recall it but only just as it was a vapid and insipid number that pretty much did what it said on the tin if you know what I mean. Consequently, there was a lot riding on this next single for the band and it delivered in spades as it propelled them into the Top 10 for the first time in their career. I liked this one back in the day (don’t you judge me!) – it had a had a good beat and you could dance to it. No No No! Be gone middle aged Dad! This is 15 year old me in charge and I say it was a a kick ass tune with hooks a plenty. The fact that it had the word “sun” in the title during this heatwave of a Summer also helped.

Next up is another video this time from Spandau Ballet who have the unenviable task of trying to follow up their monster hit “True”. They gave it a good go with “Gold” which was the 4th single from the album. Apparently it had always been in the band’s plan to release both “True” and “Gold” as singles but by their own admittance, despite selling healthily and reaching No 2 in the charts, the latter was nowhere near the phenomenon that the former was. Having said that, the song is often trotted out for sports montages (especially around the Olympics) and must be a nice little earner for Gary Kemp.

The video was shot on location in Carmona, Spain and it seems very obvious that Spandau had upped their game to try and compete with perennial pop rivals Duran Duran and their iconic exotic location shot videos. The action, as with most of their videos, centres around lead singer Tony Hadley with the rest of the band pretty much stooges to him, used mainly in traditional band performance shots. There are steals a plenty from various sources including (fairly unoriginally) a gold painted lady à la “Goldfinger” and a pool of molten gold (maybe less obviously) from the film “Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze”. Add to this, some very obvious Duran influences such as the partially glimpsed and therefore intriguing female (as per the “Rio” video) and Hadley searching for something and then stopping to talk to a child (possibly begging on the street) which is very reminiscent of John Taylor in the “Hungry Like The Wolf” promo. 

I still think its a good song and it made sense to me back in 1983 as a follow up to “True” maintaining as it did the band’s imperial phase.

And now we are into the batch of five songs that have already been featured in previous TOTP shows and therefore I have already blogged about. We start with “Right Now” by The Creatures. This single seemed to hang around the charts for ages (officially 7 weeks on the Top 40 – I checked) and in this studio performance, Siouxsie is rocking the Fenella Fielding from “Carry On Screaming” look. Certainly in this edit anyway, the song is only about 2 minutes long so presumably was not the go to song when DJs needed a waz back in the day.

Moving on and here come The Lotus Eaters  with “The First Picture Of You” (YES!). Now according to Wikipedia, the band had a hit with this before they had even played a live gig and maybe this brought a form of hype that the band just could not live up to hence their immediate decline after this. The reasons why some songs were hits and some were not back in the 80s was hard to fathom ( and I should know  – I wrote my dissertation at Polytechnic on the subject) but the case of The Lotus Eaters is certainly a curious one.

Staying in the studio for a third consecutive performance we have Depeche Mode with “Everything Counts”. In the last broadcast we saw the video for this song but here we have the group in proper performance (ahem) mode and watching it back it strikes me what a maverick character chief songwriter Martin Gore is. Here we see him stripped to the waist and playing a melodica  – not your average pop star behaviour. I always think Gore never receives the respect he so obviously deserves for his songwriting and for sticking to his artistic beliefs. Yes he has an Ivor Novello award (so Wikipedia tells me) but you don’t often hear him talked of as one of our most cherished songwriters do you?

Look out  – it’s another song I blogged about last time – Robert Plant with “Big Log” (snigger). Here we have the rather dull promo video which sees Plant wandering around some sort of deserted motel / gas station.  Then he’s all moody in a diner, then an empty school room. Then he does a bit of underwater swimming (in some pretty grubby looking swimming pants it has to be said). It’s all pretty uninteresting stuff and I’m pretty sure the 15 year old version of me would agree.

OK – its a new No 1 time with KC and The Sunshine Band nicking top spot off Paul Young this week. Now having seen KC do this only last week, I’m pretty sure the TOTP producers have just shown the very same clip but tried to fool us into thinking its an entirely new performance by editing in some new footage of the TOTP dancers. It doesn’t really make any difference as it’s still not a great record.

The play out music this week is Herbie Hancock with “Rockit”. I quite liked this at the time – which was quite a departure from my pop tastes. Maybe it was the award winning robot dancing video that did it for me. Now of course it is rightly recognised as a ground breaking work that was one of the first songs to fuse jazz with hip-hop and scratching. What I had no idea about back in 1983 was Hancock’s longevity. I presumably thought this was his first single when in fact “Future Shock” (the album that “Rockit” was taken from ) was in fact his 35th album! See that Kajagoogoo? That’s a career in music!

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 nausea inducing jumper that Tommy Vance is wearing and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08m9f47/top-of-the-pops-11081983

Normally,  for posterity’s sake I include the Top 40 run down but I can’t find one for this show on the internet. Sorry!

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

David Grant Watching You, Watching Me No it’s rubbish

2

Style Council Long Hot Summer No but my elder brother did so I owned a copy by proxy

3

Level 42 The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) No but my wife has the album its from “Standing In The Light” on vinyl

4

Spandau Ballet Gold No but I have it on CD for sure

5

The Creatures Right Now No sir

6

Lotus Eaters First Picture Of You Yes it’s brilliant

7

Depeche Mode Everything Counts Yep – its a tune alright

8

Robert Plant Big Log No  – Robert can take his big log and shove it back up his arse

9

KC and the Sunshine Band Give It Up I said no to this question in the last post but I have realised it was on Now Vol 1 so technically I did buy it. Bollx

10

Herbie Hancock Rockit No – I wasn’t that out there at 15

Fancy reading some more about the pop world in August 1983? Check these out then…

01-No-1-6-august-1983-218x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-6-august-1983/

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-4-17-august-1983-231x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-4-17-august-1983/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s