TOTP 22nd SEP 1983

Right then! Just time for another post before those dastardly BBC4 types wheel out some more ancient footage of ye olde music show known as TOTP and I have to start all over again. As is their way, we have skipped another week so we are now well into September 1983. I will have been back at school listening to the other boys regaling the playground with stories of imaginary holiday romances (and more) which, with hindsight, obviously never happened but which would lead me to contemplate further my lack of any sort of progress with the opposite sex.

To console myself, I no doubt will have tuned into this episode of TOTP hoping for some distraction from my melancholy and guess what? It arrived in the form of some exciting new artists beginning with the first act of the night….the mighty Howard Jones!!

Now I really liked Howard but for my good mate Rob, tonight’s show would prove to be a seminal moment in his life as he experienced an epiphany of such magnitude that he would quickly become rather obsessed with Mr Jones. HoJo (as nobody called him at the time but Rob now uses when referring to the sainted pop star), emerged fully formed with an incredibly catchy number (“New Song”), a spiky hairdo and rather improbably a mime artist called Jed who joins in on stage for this performance. Watching it now, Jed seems completely incongruous with his (mental) chains, white face paint and maniacal grinning but we all just seemed to accept it back then. “No Howard, it doesn’t look silly at all – it’s perfect for  your debut TOTP performance” you can imagine Howard’s manager saying and maybe he was right. The aforementioned HoJo hairstyle would cause Rob many an irksome moment over the years as he tried to get his hair to imitate his hero’s. Multiple cans of “Cossack” hairspray would be used in his pursuit of the Jones look. We will see  and hear much more from Howard over the course of the decade (and possibly from Rob as well).

After the new comes the old…no not old…legendary as we get the video for the latest single from David Bowie. “Modern Love” was the third and final single to be lifted from his “Let’s Dance” LP and the 15 year old me finally crumbled and gave into the Bowie genius and bought the 7″ (having resisted the previous two singles). The video is just a straight forward piece of concert footage lifted from his “Serious Moonlight” tour but there was something about the way the band run on stage in slow motion until the man himself takes his bow that hooked me. It’s a great song and Bowie looks brilliant. I don’t think I need say anything else….

…except for this. Years later, I had to give my 7″ away to replace my wife’s friend’s copy after she sat on said friend’s record and broke it.

Ooh, I forgot to say that this week’s presenters are the seriously unfunny Mike Read and the forever gurning Simon Bates (you lucky people) and its the latter who introduces the next act who are Hot Chocolate with “Tears On The Telephone”. The last time we saw this lot was with “What Kinda Boy You’re Lookin’ For (Girl)” which was a pretty lame effort in all honesty. This one is equally nondescript and pretty much identical  sounding to its predecessor. Errol and the guys were really (ahem) phoning it in at this point it seems to me.

Moving on quickly, and here comes the return of a very well established pop star who we haven’t seen for a while…it’s Toyah with “Rebel Run”. I knew of Toyah mainly as that lisping singer with the crazy coloured punk hairdo. Indeed for a while she seemed to be everywhere as her acting career ran in tandem with her job as a pop star. 1981 had been a massive year for Toyah as she racked up three Top 10 singles and now she was back. I say she, but of course Toyah was the name of the band not just the singer, although that seems to be lost on Mike Read judging by his intro. Looking at the video now , it seems very much like she is the female version of Gary Numan who had launched his own comeback with an extreme new image just a couple of weeks previously. Toyah goes for a similar future world look coming on like some sort of extra from the 1975 film “Rollerball”. In truth, the single isn’t all that and Toyah would slip into a game of diminishing returns commercially which would see her visit the Top 40 just one more time two years later.

And now another of those exciting new acts that I mentioned at the start of the post…it’s The Alarm with “68 Guns”. This swashbuckling anthem completely grabbed my attention and the performance here with the three band members all stood in close proximity to each other (rather than leaving the spotlight to the lead singer) made for an arresting image. In short, I was hooked and immediately went out and bought the single. The lead singer was of course Mike Peters and whilst I never got to see The Alarm live, I did catch Mike on one of the Dead Men Walking tours (along with Kirk Brandon, Pete Wylie and Glen Matlock) years later in York. Some time after this, my wife and I had moved to Hull and into our first ever house after years of renting flats. It had a security alarm system and being new to all this, I used to set it religiously every time I left the house. This quickly got on my nerves and I would start to not bother with it. Around this time my friend Robin was visiting and as we left the house to go out for the evening I said “I don’t think I’ll bother with the alarm” to which Robin replied “Good job Mike Peters never said that!”. B’tsh!

OK – who’s next? Why it’s the saintly Nick Heyward of course. This time he’s back with his new single “Blue Hat For A Blue Day”. Its a nice song and was originally lined up to to be the title track from the never completed second Haircut 100 album. There is a bootleg of that album on t’internet if you look hard enough and on there is the Haircut version of this song (albeit without any vocals) and it’s a much slicker, fuller sounding cut. Nick’s solo version always sounded every so slightly twee (not enough to deter me from buying it though obviously). Nick looks decidedly uncomfortable in this performance – he obviously didn’t like miming and struggles through it with some grimacing and embarrassed “whatcha gonna do?” shrugs. This would be the top of the arc for Nick in terms of chart placings and it was all a little downhill from here. He would produce a number of albums throughout the 80s and 90s which were cruelly ignored by the British public but he has a new one completed and soon to be released by PledgeMusic. Hurray!

Back to the videos now and its another song I’ve already blogged about – Status Quo with “Ol’ Rag Blues”. Not renowned for the quality of their videos, this is a particularly dull affair about some glamourous rock chicks getting ready for a Quo gig and managing to get back stage to meet the band. There is no way on earth those girls would have been been interested in watching a Quo concert let alone in meeting the band. Utter baloney! At the song’s end, Mike Read thinks he’s hilarious with his kazoo version of the song. Tosser.!/play/status-quo/videos/dreamin

There’s a quick chart rundown before the next act (who the Hell were Unique and Hot Streak by the way?) before we get a studio performance from the not -seen – around -this -parish -much lately Soft Cell. Of course I knew about Soft Cell – we all knew about Soft Cell at school because of that urban myth – but they hadn’t been around the charts for a little while. Having burst onto the scene with the biggest selling single of 1981 in “Tainted Love”, the duo had teared up the charts with a string of hit singles in 1982 but by 1983 the wheels were starting to come off. This song, “Soul Inside”, was the lead single from their “This Last Night in Sodom” LP and as the title suggests was quite a dark affair with song titles like “Mr. Self Destruct”, “Meet Murder My Angel” and “The Best Way to Kill”. By the time the album was released , Soft Cell had already announced that the band were to split. In this performance, Marc Almond looks altogether more gothic and frankly strung out than we were used to seeing. Having read his autobiography, its a wonder he is still with us given the, by his own admittance, gargantuan amount of drugs he had taken. But still with us he is and we should cherish this remarkable free spirt and pop survivor. Laughably, at the end of the performance, Simon Bates says” Now you know why he’s so thin” referring to Almond’s on stage energy – err no Simon… that will be the cocaine.

And now here comes another one of those songs I have already just discussed in a previous blog – Heaven 17 with “Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry”. It’s an interesting video with some snappy graphics and Glenn Gregory still looks great with his peroxide blonde slicked back hair. Maybe my mate Rob should have gone for that look rather than Howard Jones!

Finally , after a cringeworthy link from Read and Bates (who make John Peel and Kid Jensen look like Morecambe and Wise), its time for the No 1 song and I’m afraid dear friends that the time is upon us – the time we have all been dreading…its “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club. This song is truly dreadful. I thought so at the time and after hearing it a million times in the intervening 34 years,  I still think so now. Utter garbage. Apparently the rest of the band also hated it but George knew best and the rest was history. After this performance the studio had to be fumigated as the song stunk the place out so much.

This week the play out music is Hot Streak and “Work That Body” …oh so that’s who Hot Streak were. I have absolutely no recollection of this song. Thank God.

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 guffaw at the comedy genius that is Mike Read 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?


Howard Jones New Song No but is on Now Vol 1 so technically yes


David Bowie Modern Love Yes but …oh check the blog post


Hot Chocolate Tears On The Telephone No – I don’t think even the band’s mothers bought this one


Toyah Rebel Run Nah – too screechy for my liking


The Alarm 68 Guns YES! Massive song!


Nick Heyward Blue Hat For A Blue Day Yes of course


Status Quo Ol’ Rag Blues Hell no


Soft Cell Soul Inside No – bit too intense for me at the time


Culture Club Karma Chameleon Balls – it’s only on Now Vol 1 so I kind of did (I didn’t really)


Hot Streak Work That Body WHOOO???

Some bed time reading?












Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s