Right, we’ve missed another week but it means that we are getting to see more and more “new” songs with the charts changing rapidly at the moment. Presiding over proceedings this week are Peter Powell and Simon Bates. Despite some less than generous comments on past posts about Mr Powell, I was a fan back in the day. I used to like that jingle his show used during the Summer. You know the one, “Summerrrr Radioooo on the Peee-ter Pow-ellll show”. Oh for goodness sakes, this one…
Anyway, I liked his show as it was a mix of chart sounds and some less mainstream stuff. He did the voice over on a tape that was given away free with Record Mirror magazine that I had. Brilliantly, there are clips of it on a post on YouTube. Check this out for the very definition of a man reading a script but trying to make out that he’s doing this for the love of the music and not for the money at all…
Enough of Peter Powell though, lets get on with the music (after all that’s what Pete was all about!). First up is a band enjoying a glorious Indian Summer around this time…it’s Slade with “Run Runaway”. Yes, not content with clogging up the Xmas charts with “My Oh My”, Noddy and the boys are back with the follow up which is a sprightly little number that springs at you straight out of the traps. With its staccato riff beginning and unrelenting beat, it fair whips along. I liked it back in 1984 although on reflection it really is just their impression of the Big Country sound which was popular at the time. Bit of bandwagon-jumping? Maybe but it did the job and returned the band to the Top 10. It was also their biggest US hit (No 20) which is incredible when you consider the run of hit singles they enjoyed in this country in the 70s but which failed to make an impression Stateside.
A video next from the band of the moment (well… after Frankie Goes To Hollywood anyway)….it’s Thompson Twins with “Doctor! Doctor!”. I don’t recall this video at all but it has the feel of having been produced by a sixth form art student. There’s some obligatory dry ice, a moon backdrop (which seems to have been employed purely for including some silhouettes) and some “characters’ in the background who are either ice skating or just dicking about theatrically. In short, a right load of nonsense.
Quality tune up next from the Style Council who are back with their latest single “My Ever Changing Moods”. Despite releasing four singles in 1983, none of them were on the band’s official debut album “Cafe Bleu” (although three of them were included on the mini LP “Introducing The Style Council” that was never given an official release in this country). So in effect , this was the lead single from their debut Long Player and it’s a corker in my view. It has a really full sound – there seems to be a lot going on in the production – including a full on brass section and a vaguely wah wah guitar sound. Uncannily echoing Slade earlier in tonight’s show, this was Weller’s biggest hit in the US despite the massive success of the Jam between ’77 and ’82. Tracie had long gone by this point but the visual image I will always associate with this song is the professional cyclist look Mick Talbot models in this performance and which forms the plot of the accompanying promo video. I played my Cafe Bleu CD before writing this post, (I don’t just sling it together you know!) and I’d forgotten that the LP version is just Weller and a piano. It’s great – check it out on Spotify.
A brand new act next who would achieve sporadic success over the course of the decade – Matt Bianco with their debut single “Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed”. Just as Radio 1 could not resist the pull of Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga” single for including the word radio, so radio breakfast shows up and down the land (including Radio 1’s Mike Read) could not get enough of playing this one early in the morning. To be fair, it was not without charm with its latin jazz infused sound and female vocalist Basia’s wide vocal range, it sounded like a breath of fresh air amongst the more familiar chart stylings to the 15 year old me. I always thought lead singer Mark Reilly (not Matt Bianco – that was the name of the band) looked pretty cool in a retro kind of way as well. The band would have an inconsistent chart career with hit singles punctuated by flops but we might get to see them again although not in this original line up as Basia left after the first album to go solo.
A song on its way to No 1 next – Nena with “99 Red Balloons”. Of course we had already seen a clip of this lot on TOTP back in ’83 as part of the show’s ill fated European chart slot but I must admit to not making that connection when this was climbing the Top 40 in Feb ’84. The curious thing about this song is that it was the German language version (“99 Luftballons”) that was a simultaneous hit in the US but in the UK it was felt that a version recorded in English was required to make it a success and sure enough it did the trick. UK audiences were wowed by the looks of lead singer Gabriele Susanne Kerner otherwise known as Nena (which was also the name of the band – think Toyah) and this catchy allegory about nuclear war. It remains on heavy rotation on radio stations across the planet to this day although the band were almost paralysed by its success and came to be defined by the song. That and Nena’s armpits. Damn I wasn’t going to mention them….
Frankie Goes to Hollywood remain at No 1 but of course we aren’t allowed to see that as it may corrupt us so instead we get Break Machine with “Street Dance”. This lot were some American chancers cashing in on the breakdancing phenomenon that was sweeping the planet. It did nothing for me – breakdancing wasn’t a thing in Worcester (well not down the street where I lived anyway) and it still doesn’t.
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 reminisce about breakdancing as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.
|Order of appearance||Artist||Song||Did I buy it?|
|Thompson Twins||Doctor! Doctor!||Actually I didn’t|
|Style Council||My Ever Changing Moods||No but my brother did so I owned a copy by proxy|
|Matt Bianco||Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed||No – Mike Read played it so often I didn’t need my own copy|
|Nena||99 Red balloons||No|
|Break Machine||Street Dance||No thanks|
Some bed time reading?