TOTP 10 NOV 1983

We’ve just had Bonfire night in TOTP repeat land and its still 1983 (just). Yet this week’s presenters – the ever reliable John Peel and David “Kid” Jensen – are once again in fancy dress as Robin Hood and Will Scarlett for some reason. It’s starting to grate a bit if I’m honest. I’m not sure the joke was funny in 1983 and I’m really not getting it in 2017.

To the music….or rather “musical” as tonight’s first act are Musical Youth with their cover of Desmond Dekker’s “007”. Despite them being on Donna Summer’s recent hit single “Unconditional Love”, I was surprised to see them in their own right here as I thought the game was up for the lads by this point. This remember is a full 12 months on from the triumph of “Pass The Dutchie”. A quick scan of their discography shows I didn’t jump the gun by much. They would return to the Top 40 only one more time after this in 1984 and that was it. They do a decent enough version of the reggae classic here but it seems a rather cynical ploy to resurrect their career – release a cover in an attempt to build on the little bit of momentum the Donna Summer collaboration had given them. The Musical Youth story had a tragic element to it of course when their bassist Patrick Waite, who had slipped into a career of juvenile crime after the band broke up, died of a heart condition in 1993. Although they still continue today pretty much as a two-piece, perhaps we should remember them as they are here looking like they are having a good time on stage performing music.

And now another artist trying to resurrect their career. Heeeeeeeere’s Adam! It’s sometimes easy to forget what a phenomenon Adam Ant was. His chart record alone boasts three No 1s and 5 other Top 5 hits (both with The Ants and as a solo artist). But aside from his commercial success, the actual sound of his records was so different and still stands up well today I feel. Also, the impact he made visually and stylistically was enormous. When people talk about 80s music videos and the rise of MTV, they aways name check Duran Duran but rarely Adam who was just as trailblazing in his own way. By this point however, it seemed as if he had reached the top of the hill and was beginning the descent down the other side. The writing had been on the wall when the previous year’s single “Desperate But Not Serious” had only reached No 33 in the charts. This track – “Puss ‘N’ Boots” stemmed the flow of diminishing returns by reaching No 5 but the second single and title track off the parent album “Strip” failed to make the Top 40 at all. But for now, things were OK in Adam’s world and the 15 year old me quite liked this one.

Following Adam, comes someone who was tipped to emulate him and was talked of as being a massive star in the making…..Heeeeere’s Marilyn! Despite the rather teasing reveal in this performance when Marilyn finally turns around to face the camera, the effect was nowhere near as dramatic as Boy George’s emergence  some 12 months earlier. By this point we had all rather got used to the phrase “gender bender” and Marilyn’s profile had been high for a while even before this debut single was released. He was of course a part of the New Romantic movement at the start of the decade  (his stage name originating from his love of Marilyn Monroe and the copying of her style) and by 1983, with record companies looking for the new Boy George, here was his best mate and fellow squatter (real name Paul Robinson) making his own tilt at the pop star game.

As a 1983 pop kid, I knew of Marilyn from his cameo in Eurythmics “Who’s That Girl?” video earlier in the Summer. So by the time of this TOTP appearance, I already knew what he looked like. The song however was a surprise. “Calling Your Name” was a great slice of sophisticated pop with more soul than the likes of “Karma Chameleon” could ever have achieved. In fact, “Calling Your Name” is probably the song that “Karma Chameleon” wanted to be. It’s infinitely better than its much bigger selling rival. And rivalry is also the basis of the song’s lyrics. By this point Marilyn and Boy George had fallen out and the single’s words are about how the former was fed up of hearing the latter everywhere he went. Marilyn would take this debut all the way to No 4 but the predicted superstardom never materialised and subsequent singles reached only No 31 and No 40. By the time his album “Despite Straight Lines” came out in 1985, all momentum was gone and Marilyn disappeared. His personal life was beset with drug and mental health problems (much like Boy George) but his story has a happy ending as he is now clean and made a return to the world of music with the single “Love Or Money” in 2016.

Taking of Eurythmics as we were , here is the follow up to that “Who’s That Girl?” single  “Right By Your Side”. Having broken through in 1983 with a trio of synth heavy pop songs, this one was quite a surprise to the 15 year old me. Its calypso feel (including steel drums and whistles) and a gloriously uplifting vocal from Annie Lennox meant that even my Elvis obsessed Mum liked this one and thereby defying the media who were making out that all parents liked “Karma Chameleon”.  Also defying the media is Annie whose exuberant performance and costume here rubbishes the prevailing  media portrayal of her as some sort of androgynous synth maiden. Years later I would see that outfit again while visiting her exhibition at the V & A in London. Sadly Annie herself was not there that day  – some days she would astound visitors who found her sitting at a desk at the centrepiece of the exhibition.

I think it’s fair to say that it is unlikely that the next act would ever have an exhibition devoted to them….

*checks wikipedia for existence of a Limahl Museum. Nope  – nothing*

…here’s Limahl with “Only For Love”. What? Limahl from Kajagoogoo? Where are the other guys in the band? Of course the 15 year old me knew only too well what had happened. Just six months after being on top of the pop charts and indeed the pop world, the other four band members had decided they could dispense with their lead singer and sacked him.

05-No-1-13-august-1983

The repercussions and anger would fester for years. A short lived reunion on VH1’s Band Reunited in 2003 showed that the band still had not resolved their issues with each other and it wasn’t until the end of the decade that they finally reunited without acrimony to record new material and do some live gigs. But here in November 1983, we find Limahl braving it on his own with his debut solo 45. In retrospect it’s a fairly lightweight effort but no doubt exactly what we would have expected of Limahl at the time. There was very little re-styling to launch him as  a solo entity going on here. Same trademark daft haircut, same cheesy grin and a functional frothy pop sound. I always thought it was the remaining members who carried on the Kajagoogoo name that did the more interesting stuff. We missed their first Limahl-less single “Big Apple’ due to presenter issues but it was a much more convincing pop song than their previous output. Limahl would score a No 16 hit with “Only For Love” which I recall seemed like small change at the time. He would return 12 months later with a much bigger hit “Neverending Story” from the film of the same name and then his expiry date was well and truly up.

From a lacklustre and easily forgotten song to an 80s classic  – The Cure with “The Love Cats”. This is the point at which I started to take more note of Robert Smith and friends after being a tad non-plussed by previous hit “The Walk”. It’s a gloriously (ahem) scatty song that rips up the pop song formula (it features a double bass prominently FFS!)  yet still manages to be absolutely one of the catchiest hits of the year. What I love about it is that the band manage to retain their non -mainstream credentials whilst going more commercial than ever before. Smith’s performance of the song here is suitably underplayed  – there’s no way he wants to be associated with the likes of Limahl – and it’s all the better for that.

An exciting moment for us ’83 pop kids next when we get the Top 10 chart run down with all the videos! Brilliant! We’ve seen most of the videos in previous shows so I won’t dwell too long except to note a couple of things. Firstly there is the return of Duran Duran who are at No 6 with “Union Of The Snake”. They were possibly the biggest band in the world at the time and this new single was seen as a very big deal indeed. The critical reception though was muted  and I distinctly remember an “Is that it?” reaction. There were also accusations of stealing Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” sound and even his vocal inflections for the “oh – oh oh” bits from “Starman”. The accompanying video was some over produced nonsense which didn’t help. For all that though, I think it stands up as one of their better efforts some 34 years later.

Secondly, we have the strange story of the video at No 3 which is “Say, Say, Say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. I’d completely forgotten the controversy over this until David Jensen announced in the chart run down that it had been going down the charts but was now going back up. A quick search of Wikipedia reminded me what it was all about. When the single was released the video wasn’t ready and by the time it was available the song was going down the charts. TOTP had a strict policy that no single that had dropped in position could feature on the programme and refused to show it despite protestations from McCartney who threatened to withdraw all his music from the BBC. A compromise was reached with the BBC airing it on the Noel Edmonds vehicle The Late Late Breakfast Show on the condition that McCartney appeared live and gave an interview. A stilted interview followed with McCartney (with wife Linda) being very unresponsive to Edmond’s questions.

However this did the trick and the single went back up the charts all the way to No 2. The video itself has McCartney and Jacko playing conmen selling a miracle potion and also includes footage of them doing a turn as vaudeville performers. It’s a nice enough little film and the impact of two major stars performing together was quite a thing at the time but it probably doesn’t warrant all the fuss that it generated.

The No 1 is again Billy Joel with “Uptown Girl” (boo!). The play out music is more interesting as it is  re-release of the Joy Division classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” which was originally a hit in 1980. I must admit to not knowing the song until its re-release three years later but you cannot deny its quality. Why was it re-released in 1983? Don’t know for sure – to cash in on the success of New Order? Or to educate people who may not have know that the version of it on Paul Young’s album “No Parlez” was not the original? Probably the former.

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 John Peel and Kid Jensen’s Robin Hood impressions and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08q2w97/top-of-the-pops-10111983

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

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Musical Youth 007 Nope

2

Adam Ant Puss ’n’ Boots No but I have it on a CD of his hits somewhere

3

Marilyn Calling Your Name No – but It’s only in later life I’ve come to appreciate this one

4

Eurythmics Right By Your Side No but I have it on CD

5

Limahl Only For Love Not the 7” but its on Now Vol 1 so technically yes (gulp)

6

The Cure The Love Cats Not the 7” but its on Now Vol 1 so…

7

Duran Duran Union Of The Snake No but I bought the album a few months later

8

Paul McCartny and Michel Jackson Say Say Say No

9

Billy Joel Uptown Girl Not likely – but it’ s probably on a Greatest Hits CD somewhere

10

Joy Division Love Will Tear Us Apart My singles box says no – damn!

Some bed time reading?

01-No-1-5-november-1983-218x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-5-november-1983/

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-10-23-november-1983-231x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-10-23-november-1983/

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