Get yourselves strapped in and settle down for a helluva ride for this, dear readers, is 1984!
Yes – one of the decades greatest years is finally here. And we’re straight in with a bang! No, its not because this is the 20th Anniversary edition of TOTP but because of the band that opens the show. A band that arrived out of nowhere to dominate the year, that would burn so brightly that inevitably they would burn themselves out. Yes – behold the behemoth that was….Frankie…Goes …To…Hollywood!!!
1984 will forever belong to Frankie Goes to Hollywood or simply “Frankie” as they would become referred to as. Unless you were around at the time, you cannot appreciate the effect this band had on the consciousness of the country’s millions of pop fans. Their story was all the more remarkable for their starting position which was pretty much nowhere. Well, that’s not strictly true as at least one person had heard of them before this point and that person was the 15 year old me in my Worcester bedroom.
Yep – I had heard not only of them but also their song (the all conquering “Relax”) in late 1983. Now my recollection was that the song I’d heard wasn’t the Trevor Horn produced single we all know but the original version that I’m guessing I’d heard on a late night show on Radio 1 (Janice Long or Kid Jensen probably). However, this doesn’t seem to tally with the record books which show that the original version with attendant “orgy” video was first seen on the Tube in Feb ’83 while the Horn version was released as a single in October. Whatever, I’d liked whichever version I’d heard enough to write their name on my school jotter pad and everything. Not that anybody believed me when I pointed it out to them once “Relax” had entered the charts accusing me instead of jumping on the band wagon.
There is so much to wrote about the Frankie story that I can’t cover it all here and fortunately I don’t have to as they will be around all year (once the BBC ban is ..ahem..relaxed). But for now let’s remind ourselves of the seismic shift in the pop world that this debut TOTP performance ushered in…
Next is a song I don’t think I have heard since 1984 – it’s Rod Stewart with “Sweet Surrender”. After the massive turd yet somehow also a No 1 that was “Baby Jane” just a few months prior, Rod had gone for a more low key tune with the Xmas market in mind but it had backfired with “Sweet Surrender” only making No 23 on the charts. Hearing it back now it’s no surprise really as its a fairly weak , bog standard ballad that doesn’t really go anywhere. The video is pretty nondescript as well compared to the Rio-esque production that was the video for his previous No 3 hit “What Am I Gonna Do (I’m So In Love WIth You)”. Rod would be back later in the year with “Infatuation”, a song that desperately tried to copy the Frankie sound (especially the opening 15 seconds) but didn’t really succeed.
This being the 20th anniversary edition, the TOTP peeps had put together a montage of clips celebrating the artists who had featured on the show conveniently categorised by decade. I don’t recall this at all nor what I made of it at the time and frankly I don’t see the need to comment much on it here seeing as we are only concerned with all things 1984. Suffice to say there are some massive names and iconic performances in there. For the record the 80s clips only include three numbers which are Paul McCartney “Coming Up” and the best selling singles of ’81 and ’82 respectively in Soft Cell “Tainted Love” and “Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners.
Back in the world of 1984 we continue with a hit still lingering around from the back end of ’83 – Status Quo with “Margarita Time”. Now there wouldn’t be much more to say about this seeing as it has been covered in a previous post except….well do you remember that I commented on how much the bass player Alan Lancaster hated the song and analysed his demeanour during the Quo’s last run through of it on the show? Well this time round he’s only gone and flounced off altogether! Straight up! And not only that but he’s been replaced (albeit just for this performance) by Jim Lea from Slade! Really – check it out and also watch out for Francis Rossi taking one in the eye and Rick Parfitt’s “hilarious” drum kit stunt…
The “hilarity” continues with the next act which I don’t recall at all but which we now all know to be Father Jack from the TV series Father Ted…it’s Frank Kelly with “Christmas Countdown”. It’s basically a comic rewrite of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” carol put into a monologue. Its not that funny and is the sort of thing Sarah Kennedy would play on her Radio 2 show. Quite why the TOTP producers thought it needed an airing 12 days after Xmas had been and gone I’m not sure. Let’s remember Frank Kelly for Father Jack and not this.
Next we have the video Top 10 which this week’s presenters Peel and Jensen seems to be claiming as their own invention. There’s nothing included in it that we haven’t seen on the show already so there’s no need for any further comment. The countdown stalls at No2 where in an obviously slow moving chart we get another run through of “My Oh My” by Slade. I’m guessing its just a repeat of a previous performance as the studio audience all have cheap Slade banners to wave again. In return for their bought affection, Noddy seems to be conducting some sort of faith healing on them just stopping short of laying hands on individuals.
The No 1 this week is once again The Flying Pickets with “Only You” but this week they have to show the video as presumably the band were off performing in panto somewhere.
For a second time the play out music is “Straight Ahead” by Kool and the Gang.
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 that decades montage in full as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.
|Order of appearance||Artist||Song||Did I buy it?|
|Frankie Goes to Hollywood||Relax||Yes. Didn’t we all?|
|Rod Stewart||Sweet Surrender||Nah|
|Status Quo||Margarita Time||Nope|
|Frank Kelly||Christmas Countdown||NO!|
|Slade||My Oh My||Negative|
|Flying Pickets||Only You||Yes for my Dad for Xmas|
Some bed time reading?