Right – we’re back to it after the madness of the Xmas rush and the race to be Xmas No 1. Time for the charts to settle down again. What will 1984 bring us? Well to start with it has brought us two Radio 1 DJs (Mike Read and Steve Wright) both wearing one white glove each in a supposedly comical homage to Michael Jackson? it’s so unfunny. Steve Wright literally comes across as if he’s pissed.
But never mind those two, here comes a brand new band that I would continue to be enthralled by throughout my life – it’s Icicle Works with “Love Is A Wonderful Colour”. This is a glorious song – sweeping, majestic, epic – all of those things. Grandiose – yes – lets throw that in too. Its a massive wall of sound. The band themselves were from Liverpool though I don’t think I had been aware of them before this point (not even via fellow Liverpudlian Janice Long’s show). They were kind of like a scouse version of The Jam. Kind of. Criminally this would prove to be their only Top 40 hit despite a canon of work that was of marvellous and consistent quality.
I’ve seen then a few times live although only once in their original line up back in 1987 at Newcastle Mayfair. I went with my mate Roy from Poly (also a scouser and fan of the band). Roy had a tape of theirs called “Seven Singles Deep” which I borrowed and played to death. I bought a tour T-shirt which I wore for years after until I got too fat for it to fit anymore. The band came on so late that we had to leave before the end of their set to get our last train back to Sunderland. Some 20 or so years later when I saw them again they started with the song that we had left during all those years before and it was as if the intervening time had never happened.
Enjoy them here as I’m not sure we will see them again on TOTP…
Next up is Howard Jones with “What Is Love?” which has risen to No 2 in the charts. This was a massive deal at this point in the 80s for a brand new artist to be just one place off the top spot with only their second ever release. This song is probably Howard’s most well known I would say and certainly retains a place in many a radio station’s playlist to this day.
My mate and HoJo superfan Rob was no doubt beside himself at his hero riding so high on the charts. For Howard the hits would keep on coming for another couple of years but his pop star stock was never higher than at this point. The video sees him mooching around Paris in some rather uncool threads and quite what his hair is doing who knows but whatever it was, Rob would have been sure to try and copy it.
FFS! Here comes Shaky and Bonnie Tyler doing an horrendous duet on a cover of 50s song “Rockin’ good way”. This is utter shite and everyone involved in bringing it into being should have been excommunicated from the world of pop immediately. No doubt it seemed like a good idea to the record company execs – two Welsh singers, both on a hot streak of success – what’s not to like? Apart from the fact that the whole shitty mess of a record gestated in the bowels of Hell itself nothing I suppose. Let’s never mention it again.
Please let there be someone good on next….oh for the love of God. It’s Roland Rat with “Rat Rappin'”. It’s hard to explain the appeal and popularity of this rodent puppet. His character was overly confident and brash and was forever telling people that he was a star. In his defence he did take TV-am’s audience figures from 100,000 to 12.8 million within two months of his debut on the show but did we really need a Roland Rat single? No, no we didn’t.
So here’s someone new – Snowy White with “Bird of Paradise”. I had no idea who this guy was in 1984 and in 2017 I still don’t know so I looked him up. Apparently he spent time as a guitarist with both Thin Lizzy and Pink Floyd but it’s this lumbering yet oddly atmospheric ballad that he remains most famous for. It’s inoffensive enough but that’s hardly a recommendation is it? That’s surely not how music should make you feel? Steve Wright introduces it as an “evocative” song and apparently “Bird of Paradise” is one of his favourite songs of all time. Again, hardly a recommendation is it? Next!
Don’t remember this at all, it’s Mike Read giving us a reminder of the videos that we might want to vote for as the Top British video in the up and coming Rock and Pop awards. There follows a montage of some of the contenders including Duran Duran, Elton John and Rod Stewart (seriously?!). Who won? No idea…hang on….
…just a minute….
*checks internet again*
…Bloody Hell I can’t find the answer! There’s no trace of the award in the list of BRITS winners on any website I’ve looked at. Surely someone must have voted?! What a scandal!
Well one video that definitely didn’t win it, him being American and all, was Lionel Richie with “Running With The Night”. This was his follow up to “All Night Long” and it’s nowhere near as good being just a mid tempo bog standard plodder of a song. It has none of the joy of “All Night Long” and has the feel of a filler track off the album if I’m honest. A few weeks later though, “Hello” would be unleashed on us and the world would never be the same again (and not in a good way).
Meanwhile back in the studio here’s a TV theme tune – no it’s nothing to do with Minder again – it’s Joe Fagin with “That’s Livin’ Alright”. This was, of course, the theme to the massively popular show “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet” which was pulling in huge audiences at the time. I loved this programme about some British brickies trying to earn a living in Germany and to think of it now immediately brings back memories of Friday nights with the weekend to look forward to. This was actually a double A side (the other song being “Breakin’ Away” ) which opened and closed the show. The music is a bit naff you have to say and who was Joe Fagin anyway? Well he wasn’t the manager of Liverpool FC (that was Joe Fagan confusingly) but he looked like a fat version of Jeremy Beadle and was actually musical director for Jim Davidson. Hmm. So many questions about that last bit of info not least why did Jim Davidson need a musical director?! And why does Steve Wright introduce it as a “classy” song and then say “OK Yaaah”? Is he actually trying to be ironic?
The Top 10 run down is up next and we get the sight of Mike Read delivering the news that Frankie Goes to Hollywood have gatecrashed the Top 10 and reside at No 6 up from No 35 following their performance on last week’s TOTP. It’s a seminal moment – not only because it chronicles the moment that the Frankie story really goes into overdrive but also because it superbly places Mike Read at the very heart of it. Read, of course, will forever be associated with the Frankie phenomenon as the DJ who banned the record from being played on Radio 1 once he realised what the lyrics were actually about. This of course had the opposite affect on Frankie’s career to what Read intended as it catapulted sales of the song into the stratosphere. Now there’s irony. Wikipedia tells me that:
“On 11 January 1984, he suddenly interrupted broadcasting the Frankie Goes To Hollywood song Relax halfway through playing the single, denounced the lyrics as “obscene” and refused to play it again”
If the date is right then this might have literally jut happened before this TOTP went out. There is no sign of the furore to come in the chart run down though.
This week’s No 1 is Paul McCartney with “Pipes Of Peace”. I remember being surprised as it didn’t seem like a No 1 record to me. A bit weak compared to even his previous single “Say Say Say”. I guess it must have been the power of the video.
The play out music this week is Billy Joel with “Tell Her About It”
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 Steve Wright apparently drunk as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.
|Order of appearance||Artist||Song||Did I buy it?|
|Icicle Works||Love Is A Wonderful Colour||God yes!|
|Howard Jones||What Is Love?||Strangely no|
|Shaky and Bonnie Tyler||Rockin’ Good Way||Be gone with your foolish questions!|
|Roland Rat||Rat Rappin’||Not even my sister bought this and she was 9 at the time|
|Snowy White||Bird Of Paradise||Nah|
|Lionel Richie||Running With The Night||Nope|
|Joe Fagin||Breakin’ Away / That’s Livin’ Alright||No bit too lame|
|Paul McCartney||Pipes of Peace||No it didn’t really do much for me|
|Billy Joel||Tell Her About It||No but I have it on Greatest Hits CD somewhere no doubt|
Some bed time reading?