TOTP 6 OCT 1983

“When routine bites hard and ambitions are low…”

So sang Joy Division’s Ian Curtis and he had a point because here I am again with a backlog of TOTP repeats to catch up on despite just finishing last week’s. Well I can’t stop now as the end of the year (1983 that is) is on the horizon and we are now in October. Yes we have skipped another week and so we are back with the safe pair of hands that is John Peel and David “Kid” Jensen who seem to be declaring each show they do as fancy dress. The last time they were on it was cowboy costumes and this week they are dressed as Roman gladiators. It all seems fairly random (in the true sense of the word) but if it makes them happy eh?

First up tonight are Freeez who are back with the follow up to their massive No 2 song “I.O.U” with a little ditty called “Pop Goes My Love”. It’s nowhere near as accomplished as their big hit and accordingly only made it to No 26 in the charts.  It’s almost as if they’re trying too hard to repeat the recipe that was so successful before but have overcooked it slightly. There’s too much scratching (which was a thing in 1983 with Malcolm McLaren’s “Buffalo Gals” and “Rockit” by Herbie Hancock) and this really works against both the song and this performance as the backing dancers do some of the worst robotic dancing ever witnessed. The B-side was called “Scratch Goes My Dub” which sounds horrific. This would be the end of Freeze as the curse of 1983 claimed another band. I always thought lead singer John Rocca looked like TV personality and latterly DJ Tommy Boyd.

Next a video and yet again I fall foul of the BBC4 skipping episodes practice as we have David Bowie with “Modern Love” which I commented on in the last post. So what else can I say about this song? Well, the B-side to this was a live version of the song and the video (itself a piece of live concert footage) was filmed in Philadelphia during the Serious Moonlight tour. I recall that my perception of this era of Bowie (not that I knew much about his other periods at this point) was that the singles were great but the LP wasn’t. I might have been wrong. What did I know? I hadn’t even turned 15 when the album was released but that opinion has stuck with me all these years.  Bowie himself is reported as saying of the album:

“[It] was a good record, but it was only meant as a one-off project. I had every intention of continuing to do some unusual material after that. But the success of that record really forced me, in a way, to continue the beast. It was my own doing, of course, but I felt, after a few years, that I had gotten stuck.”

This point of view is supported by the fact that the other 80s Bowie albums that came  after “Let’s Dance” (“Tonight” and “Never Let Me Down”) were not well received critically and are widely seen as a low point in his otherwise mercurial career.

OK  – enough of the rock journalist shtick. Who’s next? Aha  – no not A-ha – aha… its Depeche Mode! We seem to have seen a lot of DM in ’83 but then with three hit singles and an album, it was a good year for them. This is the third of said singles “Love In Itself”. Or is it “Love In Itself 2”? Eh? Well I distinctly remember it being referred to as that in some magazines at the time so I did some research (if you can call the briefest of searches on Wikipedia research) and got to the bottom of it. The single contains three mixes of the song. “Love, In Itself.2” is the single edit of “Love, In Itself.1”.with “Love, In Itself.3” the 12-inch and “Love, In Itself.4” a piano version. So now you know and you can sleep soundly at night. OK, enough of the pedantry, was it any good? I liked it enough but it didn’t grab me like “Everything Counts” did and I didn’t buy it. I always thought it was quite sparse sounding at the time and not especially catchy (the 15 year old me was  very influenced by “catchy”) but hearing it back now it is a deceptive number, well structured and with some effective if not obvious hooks. And Martin Gore plays guitar on it which is not an image that immediately springs to mind when you think of Depeche Mode.

Another video now (although it is essentially just a clip of the artist performing the song on another music TV show) – it’s Meatloaf with “Midnight At The Lost And Found”. Now a bit of advice, if you ever find yourself as a contestant on the TV show Pointless and the category is Meatloaf songs, I’m pretty sure this song would guarantee you winning the jackpot. The 80’s weren’t great for the Loaf after his stratospheric success in the 70’s with “Bat Out Of Hell”. Apparently he’d fallen out with chief songwriter Jim Steinman at this point (and by doing so had missed out on “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” which ended up being given to Bonnie Tyler of course). As a result, the album, of which this song is the title track, was written by a host of different writers and accordingly sales were not good. This single was the only one taken from the album that charted in the UK. Now I can deal with a bit of soft rock but Meatloaf has essentially been doing the same song for 40 years now  – utterly melodramatic, over the top and usually with an improbable title. If you think “Midnight At The Lost And Found” is odd, try “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, “Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back” or my favourite “Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are”. Meat, of course, would rise from the nadir of his 80’s and return in 1993 to fool us all over again with the album “Bat Out Of Hell 2” which the public lapped up. The poor saps.

And now its Nick Heyward again with his song “Blue Hat Far A Blue Day but it’s a different studio performance from the last one we saw recently. Nick seems a bit more relaxed this time sans jacket (though still with a smart shirt and tie combo). He’s also guitar-less and indeed band-less so quite exposed but he does a decent enough miming job this time around complete with exaggerated finger clicking. In truth though, there were better songs that he could have released from the accompanying album “North Of A Miracle”. Check it out on Spotify of you have a free moment.

Another case of deja vu is up next when we get Howard Jones and “New Song” (albeit the video rather than the studio performance we saw previously). I can’t recall this video at all so it was enlightening watching this with 2017 eyes. In case you can’t be bothered to watch it for yourself, this is what happens.  Our hero starts off at work in a pickles packing factory but then decides he’s had enough of this and when the boss man turns up he and his fellow co-workers dance out of the factory for a day off. Annoying mime artist / dancer  Jed is of course present doing his “thing”  throughout. Howard (and Jed) then appear on Holborn tube station trying to get the commuters to forget their 9-5 rat race lives and join him for some fun but gets short shrift from most of them. To be fair one sight of Jed would have put me off. Finally Jones and Jed end up in a school and mesmerise some unruly pupils who end up following him outside for a dance in the grounds. Times must have been more innocent in 1983 as we all blithely accepted that a pied piper figure would turn up unannounced in a school with a half dressed bloke in chains in tow and lead the kids out of the class for a day of fun. In the tube station scene, there is a close up of Howard playing keyboards which my mate Rob (HoJo obsessive at this point) would no doubt have been studying closely. Rob was/is a keen keyboard player himself and would go onto play on the first Carter USM album a fact I often like to trot out when playing a game of musical oneupmanship.

And now after 28 or so blogs I have found it. I present to you the most boring, tedious, vapid and downright unmusical song of 1983…..David Grant with “Love Will Find A Way”. This is utter, utter tripe. Garbage. There is literally nothing to it. If you thought his previous two singles weren’t up to much, then this stinking pile of odious crap will not change your opinion of Mr Grant one iota. There really is nothing to see here. Let’s move on.

And again with the songs I have only just blogged about. This time it’s The Alarm with “68 Guns”. They must have enjoyed their first trip to TOTP as they are back in the studio again with a change of clothes but a very similar performance with Mike Peters again flanked by his band mates for a pose of defiance and togetherness. Excellent stuff.

OK, this is totally unfair. At a time when I am struggling to comment on repeat performances I have only just blogged about, they only go and show a a band that I wrote about back in March. The very same performance! To be fair it is an iconic performance but even so! Yes, it can only be New Order with “Blue Monday” which has remarkably become a hit all over again 6 months on from its initial release. And the iconic clip? Well it’s the live version that they recklessly did. Why was it a hit twice in 1983? Well, Wikipedia says its because the single did not feature on the UK version of the group’s subsequent album release “Power, Corruption & Lies”. Maybe. It might have been something to do with the 12″ single revolution that was happening or the fact that it had been re-energised by the release of their follow up single “Confusion”. Or maybe it’s just a bloody good song. The 15 year old me just accepted it at the time but it was a phenomenon we would not see a lot of during the rest of the decade. Anyway, here’s that legendary clip again….

From the sublime to the ridiculous now as we see Culture Club still squatting in the No 1 position before they curl out the massive turd that is “Karma Chameleon”. How did this occupy the top spot for six weeks? Six weeks!!!

And finally (Cyril)….at last a song we haven’t had on before. “(Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew” by Rock Steady Crew was a hip hop record (of sorts) by what were essentially some breakdancers. Breakdancing would go onto become a massive dance craze across the US before filtering over here and this song was a sort of introduction to it for the UK audience. I liked it and I am sure that even now amongst people of a certain age,”you the rock steady crew” is an automatic reply if someone greets them with “Hey”.

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 all those acts you’ve only just seen last week all over again and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08ndh0r/top-of-the-pops-06101983

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

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Freeze Pop Goes My Love Not for me this one

2

David Bowie Modern Love Yep indeedy

3

Depeche Mode Love In Itself 2 No but its on my LP of the greatest hits

4

Meatloaf Midnight The Lost And Found Nah

5

Nick Heyward Blue Hat For A Blue Day Yes of course

6

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

7

David Grant Love Will Find A Way NOOOOO!!!

8

The Alarm 68 Guns YES! Massive song!

9

New Order Blue Monday No but its on my CD of Substance

10

Culture Club Karma Chameleon I don’t care if its on Now 1, I did not buy this!

11

Rock Steady Crew Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew Its on Now Vol 1 so yes (and I do know I have changed the rules since the entry above!)

Some bed time reading?

01-No-1-1-october-1983-218x300

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-29-september-12-october-1983-231x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-29-september-12-october-1983/

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