TOTP 03 MAY 1984

After missing a couple of episodes in April we are on a run of 3 consecutive repeats and are now into May 1984. Be careful that your sides don’t split with this show as the presenters are Mike “King of Comedy” Read and Steve” I’m hilarious me” Wright. The latter still looks like he’s spent far too long in pre-show hospitality – he’s all over the place.

First on tonight are OMD with “Locomotion” and it’s another studio performance. As TOTP’s content was Top 40 hit singles based, it was easy at the time to believe that the albums said singles came from must have been similarly successful. Well it was for me. So in the case of OMD, I thought that 1984 was a good year for them as they had three Top 40 singles (including one Top 10 ) and a Top 10 Album (“Junk Culture”). However, Wikipedia tells me that although the album debuted at No 9, it gradually slipped down the charts after that despite small sales spikes around the release of subsequent singles  and it slipped out of the Top 40 charts altogether in August. So maybe not quite as successful a year as I first thought. Indeed they ended the year with the release of a 4th single from the album (“Never Turn Away” ) that only made No 70 in the charts. I suppose it’s all relative though. The previous year had seen the release of the “Dazzle Ships” album that had not been well received critically or commercially so 1984 was an improvement on that for the band.

Another synth pop duo again next (weren’t these two acts on the same show together the other week as well?)  – it’s the video of “Don’t Tell Me” by Blancmange. Like OMD, Neil and Stephen had made it into the Top 10 this week but also like OMD, their year would rather peter out after this success. Whilst “Don’t Tell Me” was/is a great pop tune, I’ve never understood the band’s decision to follow it up with a rather morose cover of ABBA’s “The Day Before You Came”. That single would stall at No 22 and effectively bought down the curtain on Blancmange’s 80s success ( a further album – “Believe You Me” – released the following year didn’t even make the Top 40). But for now, the boys are riding high in the charts and lapping it up by the looks of the video.

Despite a chaotic “live” version of “Blue Monday” the previous year, New Order have decided to give the whole playing live thing a go again with latest single “Thieves Like Us”. I’m not convinced that it goes any better this time to be honest. Peter Hook’s bass sounds distorted (unless maybe it was meant to?) and although Bernard Sumner’s vocals just about stand up, it’s hardly a dynamic performance. Certainly it didn’t help the single’s progress up the charts as it didn’t get any higher than No 18 which is the position we find them at for this outing. Were New Order bothered about chart placings? Certainly Factory Records will have been as the band were virtually propping up the label at one point. As for me, it didn’t really capture my attention at the time although I would learn to appreciate New Order later in life.

FOOTLOOSE KLAXON! Yes its that irresistible toe-tapper from Kenny Loggins with the theme tune from the film “Footloose”. Its one of those songs that you want to hate but you just can’t help but smile/sing/dance along to. I’d never heard of Kenny Loggins at the time and I didn’t go to see the film when it was out so for a long time my mental image of Footloose was the picture of the soundtrack front cover that appeared in the pop press. In later life I would get around to watching the film and it’s not half bad. OK – its no Citizen Kane but its good fun with a message in the plot (something about dancing is better than religion – no that can’t be right surely?) and a likeable turn from lead actor Kevin Bacon. The ultimate legacy of this song for me though is the childish way my wife and I still laugh at Kenny Loggins’ surname – you can’t beat a bit of toilet humour can you?

This next song inspires an enormous amount of love in some people  – it’s Jocelyn Brown with “Somebody Else’s Guy”. This soul /dance number has become something of a classic in certain circles despite only making No 13 in the UK charts. I was completely non-plussed by it back then but I can appreciate its qualities much more now. What I hadn’t realised until now is the amount of acts she has worked with from Bette Midler to Culture Club to..err…Right Said Fred! And…that line “I’ve got the power” in Snap’s No 1 hit “The Power”? That’s her as well. So now you know… if it ever comes up on the trivia machine down your local.

Ooh now this will have been quite an event back in 1984 – the return of Human League! This song – “The Lebanon” – was the lead single from the album “Hysteria” the long awaited and painfully gestated follow up to the era-defining “Dare”. Inevitably after such a level of success, the band’s second coming was an anti -climax. Despite maintaining their profile between albums with a pair of No 2 hits in “Mirror Man” and “(Keep Feeling) Fascination”, this single only made it to No 11. Much was made at the time of the heavily featured guitar sound throughout which the band had publicly decried previously as something they would never use. However for me, it wasn’t guitars that broke the band’s spell of success, it was Phil Oakey’s decision to go with the regulation mullet haircut that was prevalent at the time rather than his outrageous lop-sided wedge of ’81-’82. The Sampson effect anyone? I didn’t mind the single to be fair although I enjoyed the follow ups “Life On Your Own” and “Louise” more. If a week is a long time in politics, two years away from the world of pop proved too much a gap for the band to bridge and the album was nowhere near the success that “Dare” had been.

No 1 time now and Lionel Richie is no more. Phew! Those Duran boys have done us all a favour by deposing “Hello” and for that reason alone we should all cherish “The Reflex”. After last weeks studio outing, we get the video this time and this would have been a big deal back then when the band’s videos were akin to mini movies. Although it is essentially a straight concert performance, this being Duran Duran there were some special effects thrown into the mix such as white noise, split screens and of course the waterfall where the audience get soaked by a computer graphic shower,. This looks hideously dated now but back then it was a true gasp outloud moment. There are also some audience close ups showing besotted females in tears and one girl who visibly mouths “Wow!” at one point. I wonder if she dines out on that story now or is eternally embarrassed by it? And yes I so wanted my hair to look like Simon’s at this point…

 

After a cringeworthy Kid Jensen impression by Mike Read, the play out music this week is Nik Kershaw’s “Dancing Girls” which is a perfect excuse for the TOTP camera man to show us some..err..dancing girls!

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 be amazed at the comedy chemistry that exits between Mike Read and Steve Wright  as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b090tsr6/top-of-the-pops-03051984

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

OMD Locomotion No but it’s a tune none the less

2

Blancmange Don’t Tell Me Ditto OMD

3

New Order Thieves Like Us No but it’s on my copy of retrospective “Substance”

4

Kenny Loggins Footloose Nah

5

Jocelyn Brown Somebody Else’s Guy Not my thing in 1984

6

Human League The Lebanon No

7

Duran Duran

 

The Reflex Not the single but I had the album “Seven and the Ragged Tiger”

8

Nik Kershaw Dancing Girls No but I had the LP – look I was a pop kid OK?

Some bed time reading?

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http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-5-may-1984/

 

 

 

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-26-april-9-may-1984-226x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-26-april-9-may-1984/

TOTP 26 APR 1984

After the nudge-nudge-wink -wink pairing recently of boyfriend / girlfriend Peter Powell and Janice Long, the TOTP producers were not having anymore of that thank you very much and put Janice with the much err…safer Simon Bates for this show. Janice is still dressing as if it’s permanently New Year’s Eve in TOTP world.

First up this week is one of the oddest combinations of the decade…Sandie Shaw and The Smiths with “Hand In Glove”. Sandie of course had been a major star in the 60’s but her profile was definitely on the wane by this point. Not so for The Smiths who were in the ascendency and who had added commercial success with their singles “This Charming Man” and “What Difference Does it Make” to their initial critical acclaim. So how exactly did this collaboration come about? Morrissey and Johnny Marr had long wanted to establish themselves not just as rock stars but as songwriters and top of their list of people to cover their songs was Sandie Shaw. Having initially been unsure, eventually Sandie’s services were secured and she recorded this version of the Smiths debut single which had only reached No 124 when released in 1983. I’m not sure I knew the original Smiths version of the song and only knew Sandie Shaw for the Eurovision Song Contest winning “Puppet On A String”. Consequently there wasn’t much appeal for me in this combo back in 1984. Looking back at the performance now though I am struck by three things. Firstly I’d forgotten that Morrissey does not appear on the record at all – its actually a Sandie Shaw solo release with Marr, Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke essentially acting as her backing band. Secondly, and somebody pointed this out on Twitter and he’s right, despite Sandie not doing anything for me back then, in 2017 the 1984 version of her is very attractive with her leather outfit and leopard print tights cavorting over the stage. Err…okay and thirdly, if you look closely, The Smiths are appearing without shoes in homage to Sandie who famously used to perform barefoot in her heyday. The single made No 27 in the charts so an improvement of 97 places on the original and giving Sandie her first chart hit since 1969.

Ok – so here we have the return of Phil Collins last seen over 12 months previous when he was at No 1 with “You Can’t Hurry Love”. Phil basically does two types of songs –  fast ones and slow ones. This is a slow one and was the theme tune to the film of the same name “Against All Odds”. I once went to a wedding where the music played whilst we awaited the bride’s arrival in the registry office was some sort of Phil Collins ballads collection. A safe choice you might think. Not really as the playlist went like this:

  • I Wish It Would Rain Down (Really?! On your wedding day?!)
  • Against All Odds (including the lyrics “You coming back to me is against all odds”)
  • Separate Lives (I don’t need to join the dots here do I?)

This would go all the way to No 2 for Phil (and one place better in the US). Unfortunately for us all, I fear we will be seeing lots more of Phil before the decade is out.

From one Eurovision legend (Sandie Shaw) to ….the UK’s 1984 Eurovision entry who trailed in 7th (hardly legendary in anyone’s book). This is Belle and the Devotions with “Love Games”.  In fairness, its a catchy enough Motown pastiche and apparently (though I had forgotten this), their disappointing showing at the contest (yes younger readers, there was a time when 7th place at Eurovision was seen as disappointing for the UK), was not their fault. The contest was in Luxembourg that year and the previous Autumn English football fans had rioted there which prompted some booing in the auditorium of the UK entry on the night. Strangely enough, the nearly 16 year old me was more taken with Belle and the Devotions and their day-glo outfits and mini-skirts than I was with Sandie Shaw. Amazing what 33 years does to your tastes.

Some reggae on TOTP next with a posthumous release from Bob Marley. Despite originally being recorded for the 1977 album “Exodus”,”One Love” was being released in April 1984 to promote the Greatest Hits package “Legend”. Simon Bates makes a big deal of the “star-studded celebrity package” so lets see who is in it then…Two members of The Belle Stars (no hits for over 12 months), Junior Giscombe (no hits since 1982), two members of Aswad (no hits at all at this point). Hmmm…not quite star studded is it Simes? Who else? Bob Marley? Oh come on, it’s his song, you can’t have him! OK – Paul McCartney is a big name, Suggs and Chas Smash from Madness were also well known at the time. And is the young lad in the lead role Ziggy Marley (Bob’s lad)? No it’s not actually. According to Wikipedia its someone called Jesse Lawrence. Enough star spotting. What about the music? Well, I’m no reggae buff but it’s a nice enough song I guess. Next!

Right, possibly the biggest band of the 80s up now…Duran Duran with “The Reflex”. This is a monster tune and would be their last (so far) No 1 record. We all know that the single version was remixed by Nile Rodgers and is very different to the album version which doesn’t have the “tra-la-la” opening or the weird belchy noises in the middle eight. Apparently EMI were not keen on the remix and didn’t want to release it but the band had absolute faith in it and they were rewarded with a huge international smash hit. Watching this episode with my wife, she remarked that this was the very worst of Duran Duran (and she had bought their first album back in the day). She went as far as to call it a “turd”. She is of course wrong.

Yeeeuuuuch! That is the only word for the next song…it’s “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” by Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson. “What fresh Hell is this?” I no doubt screamed at the TV screen back in April 1984. Julio Iglesias would have been known to me as that bloke who sang “Begin The Beguine” that my Mum liked back at the start of the decade and Willie Nelson was …well at the time I only knew him as that guy with the weird , trembly voice but of course I now know him as a Country legend (though still with that trembly voice). Let’s just say this did nothing for me then or now and move on….

…to a quality tune! Here are Echo and the Bunnymen with “Silver”. We have already missed seeing them perform the greatest song ever written (according to Ian McCulloch) which is of course “The Killing Moon” but we do get to see this the follow up which is also majestic in its greatness. McCulloch’s soaring vocals , the orchestral strings …just great…and there’s even a Byrds-esque instrumental guitar break which is given even more authenticity by Will Sergeant’s haircut. I saw them live for the first time a couple of months back supporting Priam Scream and, after a slow start, they were brilliant although they didn’t play this song. How this stalled at No 30 is beyond me.

Hands up all those who thought The Flying Pickets were a one hit wonder? You are all wrong. They had a follow up hit and this is it – “When You’re Young And In Love”. Another cover given the acappella treatment , this did very well to reach No 7 in the charts so soon after we had all been wowed then get bored of these guys when they scored the 1983 Xmas No 1. This would be the end of the road for the band though in charts terms but their place in Top 40 history is assured.

Finally, finally…its the 6th and LAST week at No 1 for Lionel Richie and “Hello”. This week’s “Hello” fact is that the song’s video was voted the worst music video of all time in a poll of 8,000 music fans by UK TV music channel The Box. And all 8,000 people are dead right.

The play out music this week is “Automatic’ by The Pointer Sisters whom I knew of from their 1981 Top 10 hit “Slow Hand” because they used to play it all the time on the sound system on match days at my local non-league club Worcester City.  This was a totally different sound though  – a disco-influenced dance track that heavily featured Ruth Pointer’s growling low register vocals. It would go all the way to No 2 in the UK charts thus becoming the band’s biggest hit here. The parent album “Breakout” would spawn a slew of hit singles which no doubt we will get to see in subsequent TOTP repeats. I liked it enough but it wasn’t really my thing in 1984.

 

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 check out Janice Long’s  party outfit as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08znbn1/top-of-the-pops-26041984

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

Sandie Shaw / The Smiths Hand In Glove No – I still hadn’t got The Smiths by this point

2

Phil Collins Against All Odds Ooh no

3

Belle & The Devotions Love Games No – credibility suicide beckoned if this was found on my person!

4

Bob Marley One Love No – not a big Reggae fan

5

Duran Duran

 

The Reflex Not the single but I had the album “Seven and the Ragged Tiger”

6

Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before I refer you to my earlier comment of Yeeeuuuuuch!

7

Echo and the Bunnymen Silver No but I have it on their Greatest Hits CD

8

Flying Pickets When You’re Young and in Love Nah

9

Lionel Richie Hello

 

No!   No! No!

10

Pointer Sisters Automatic Nope

Some bed time reading?

01-No-1-28-april-1984-218x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-28-april-1984/

 

 

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-26-april-9-may-1984-226x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-26-april-9-may-1984/

TOTP 19 APR 1984

This post is dedicated to the memory of my old school friend Roger “Bod” Osborne who passed away suddenly. Bod loved his music (Weller and The Jam were faves at school as I recall) and was also a musician himself playing bass in local bands. He had told me recently via FaceBook that he had been reading and enjoying my blog. Rest In Peace my old friend.

After the BBC4 schedulers have very kindly been gentle with me in the last few weeks with TOTP being replaced by the Proms and some best choir in the world competition (or something), the heat is back on with two shows this week and I now only have a few days to knock two posts out before the next shows are repeated.

We’ve skipped a couple of programmes so we are now well into April 1984 and its another of those “live” broadcasts with hosts Peter Powell and Gary Davies. Somebody arty was obviously directing the cameras that day as we go straight into the acapella intro of “Free Nelson Mandela” by Special AKA from the opening titles before a swooping camera shot brings Powell and Davies into view. It probably worked well back then but now its effect is disturbing as we have zero warning before we see the DJs shockingly nasty outfits. Is that some sort of white Elvis -style jump suit Davies is wearing? Not to be outdone Powell has gone for something similar in denim. Davies is clearly shitting himself at the prospect of doing this “live” as he stumbles over his words twice in the space of a few seconds including nearly forgetting who the opening act are….

….its Special AKA Gary! Its another studio performance of “Free Nelson Mandela” the anti -apartheid anthem written by Jerry Dammers. Apparently Dammers finally met Mandela in person at a celebratory concert at Wembley in 1990 just weeks after his release. On being introduced to Dammers as the man who wrote the song, Mandela just said “Ah yes, very good”. No doubt coming from Mandela that would have felt like he’d just told Dammers that he was the 2nd greatest human being of all time (after Mandela of course). Thanks to TopOfThePops facts for that story. Loads more great stuff from that twitter account here:

https://twitter.com/TOTPFacts?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Right, Thompson Twins next with “You Take Me Up” on video. Like Special AKA, we have seen this lot just the other week (though not the video)….ah this is where my chain-gang mental image must have come from as the video depicts the band as some sort of captive labourers working for an unspecified totalitarian regime. Tom Bailey really hams it up throughout but the whole thing is not a bad effort at doing something different if truth be told. The Twins were denied a No 1 by the ubiquitous “Hello” by Lionel Richie and their chart placings following this single were a classic case of diminishing returns as they never made the Top 10 again (11 – 13 – 15 – 22 then zip if we’re counting). Shame.

Brilliant! Blancmange are back! Gary Davies tells us in the intro that the last time they were on TOTP was about a year ago with the song “Blind Vision”. However, they also made No 33 in the charts at the back end of 1983 with “That’s Love, That It Is” and yes I am a pedant. This time the song is “Don’t Tell Me” and it sees the band in full on pop mode. It’s a bit like “Living On The Ceiling” part II  – there’s still the Eastern influence with a sitar player accompanying the guys on stage and Neil Arthur has opted for a bindi on his forehead. It’s a great record full of hooks and catchy keyboard riffs plus Arthur’s peculiar vocal inflections which always render their songs the right side of interesting. I always liked Blancmange. I liked their one extrovert / one introvert duo line up (see also Yazoo, Erasure,Pet Shop Boys etc). I liked Arthur’s uninhibited dancing (almost Morecambe and Wise-esque here) and of course I liked the tunes. However, despite some healthy charts numbers, they never seem to be mentioned along with the decade’s real big hitters. They are still going although Stephen “the quiet one” Luscombe has not been part of the band for some time due to health issues.

Oh crap! Queen are back! Yes, after returning  so successfully with “Radio Ga Ga”, the band follow it up with “I Want To Break Free” and yes it’s the one with that video. I never liked this one much (although I think my Dad did – I’m guessing he never saw the video!). Of course, the most shocking thing about the video was not Freddie Mercury’s fake breasts nor his thick moustache sitting atop his lip despite being dressed in a leather mini skirt and 60s style wig. Oh no, it was the fact that drummer Roger Taylor looked attractive dressed as a schoolgirl! The outrage! The single would make No 3 and is still well played on radio today…and I still don’t like it much.

YES! YES! YES! I’m so glad we didn’t miss out on this one due to presenter issues…it’s only The Bluebells with “I’m Falling”! This is just a superbly crafted song from it’s slowly building phased intro to the scratchy guitar riff to the joyous chorus – pure pop perfection. The Bluebells hailed from Scotland coming on like the cheeky younger brother of siblings acts such as Orange Juice and Aztec Camera. I had heard of them via their 1983 single “Sugar Bridge (It Will Stand)” which had made the lower end of the Top 100 but this was the song that broke them becoming a No 11 hit. This song isn’t of course what they are remembered for though. It isn’t even that they made the Top 10 with their next single “Young At Heart”. No, what the Bluebells are really remembered for is that “Young At Heart” was used in a Volkswagen advert some 9 years later and went to No 1 off the back of it. I never liked “Young At Heart” – even the pop obsessed kid that I was in 1984 could see it was too twee for it’s own good. “I’m Falling” though was a different proposition altogether and I also loved minor hit “Cath” and non-hit “All I Am (Is Loving You)”. I also loved the fact that founding member Robert Hodgens went by the pseudonym of Bobby Bluebell and looked nothing like an 80s pop star was meant to.

Ah its that little fella again….Nik Kershaw with “Dancing Girls”! Having confessed my love of Kershaw in a recent post, I have to say that this follow up to “Wouldn’t It Be Good” did disappoint. I recall expecting the record company to have re-released “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” in the immediate aftermath of his breakthrough success but they instead went with this rather tame number from the album. It just didn’t have that irresistible appeal of its predecessor. It had all the tinkling synth effects (the blips and bleeps) of “Wouldn’t It Be Good” but it kind of feels like Kershaw by numbers and crucially it didn’t have that killer chorus. The fans weren’t quite convinced either and it stalled at No 13 in the charts which must have been a major cause for record company alarm who saw sense and subsequently did re-release the much catchier “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” as the next single which stormed to No 2. But for the moment we leave Nik (and the record company suits) pondering his next move….

And not one but two synth pop duos making a return to TOTP tonight as here come OMD with “Locomotion”. We last saw these guys over a year previously with “Genetic Engineering” from their much- slated -at -the- time- but -since -in -receipt -of -some -well deserved- favourable -revisionism LP “Dazzle Ships”  This was the lead single from their next album “Junk Culture” and it was quite a departure from their former sound. “This is almost jolly sounding” I remember thinking on hearing the track initially with its perky brass section, slinky rhythm and steel drum interlude. The UK took this new care free OMD to its hearts and duly made this a Top 5 single. Andy McCluskey is still dad-dancing throughout though.

The  Top 10 rundown follows with some good stuff (Scritti Politti, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Depeche Mode), some OK stuff (Captain Sensible) and some dire nonsense (Phil Collins, Shakin’ Stevens) before we get to Lionel Richie who is at No 1 for a fifth week with “Hello”. This week’s “Hello” fun fact is that it has been covered by Swedish country singer Kikki Danielsson who came 3rd in the 1985 Eurovision Song Contest with the magnificently titled track “Bra Vibrationer” which translates as “Good Vibrations” but really sounds like it should mean something else.

Before we get to the play out music  which is Kool and the Gang with “(When You Say You Love Somebody) In the Heart”, we get some unbelievable gratuitous sexism when Peter Powell presents his mate Gary Davies with an Easter present …cue an attractive woman in a full on bunny girl costume who Davies proceeds to pretend to snog. Sheesh….

Back to Kool and the Gang, I always quite liked this one – it’s an uplifting slice of pop funk with an almost spiritual theme which tied in nicely with its Easter release date and indeed Kool apparently attributes the band’s success to The Creator. Well that’s nice.

 

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 gasp as Gary Davies grapples with a bunny girl  as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08yfkxv/top-of-the-pops-29031984

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08zn99n/top-of-the-pops-19041984

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

Special AKA Free Nelson Mandela Don’t think I did actually

2

Thompson Twins You Take Me UP No but I think it on an 80s compilation somewhere

3

Blancmange Don’t Tell Me No but I have their greatest hits LP “Second Helpings” on vinyl and its on there.

4

Queen I Want To Break Free Nah

5

Bluebells

 

I’m Falling Oh yes!

6

Nik Kershaw Dancing Girls No but I had the “Human Racing “LP its form – No you shut up!

7

OMD Locomotion No but I have it on their Greatest Hits CD

8

Lionel Richie Hello Err hello….NO!

9

Kool and the Gang (When You Say You Love Somebody) In the Heart

 

No but it’s a pleasant enough tune

Some bed time reading?

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http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-21-april-1984/

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http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-12-25-april-1984/

TOTP 29 MAR 1984

Ooh! Exciting! Apart from the No 1 (spoiler alert – its Lionel Richie again folks!), none of the songs on tonight’s show have been on before! Finally I don’t have to think of something else to say about Sade! My joy is slightly tempered by the fact that this week’s presenters are Andy Peebles ( a man so achingly nondescript I can’t think of anything at all to say about him) and Mike Read (a man so achingly unfunny yet believes himself to be the King of Comedy). A serious let down after last week’s love birds in the shape of Peter Powell and Janice Long.

Now, although 1985 is widely regarded as a watershed moment for 80s music what with Live Aid and pop music finding its political conscience and all that, we actually had a massive happening in 1984 when pop music and politics collided and no I don’t mean Live Aid’s forerunner Band Aid. For here are the mighty Special AKA with “Free Nelson Mandela”. To my shame, I’m not sure if I knew who Nelson Mandela was when this single was released in March 1984 but I would soon become aware of him, his plight and political significance.  The band were of course what rose from the ashes of The Specials when Terry Hall, Neville Staple and Lynval Golding defected to form Fun Boy Three. Main songwriter Jerry Dammers was still there though and it was he who penned this song that would become synonymous with the anti-apartheid movement. Given the subject matter, it’s a remarkably upbeat and jubilant sound yet retaining its political edge. In 2010, it was listed in New Statesman as one of the Top 20 political songs ever. Despite all of this, it didn’t stop one wag writing into Smash Hits complaining that he’d bought the new Special AKA single but was disgusted to find out when he got it home that it didn’t include his free Nelson Mandela. Some 1984 humour for you there. Thinking about it, it was probably Mike Read who wrote that letter…

Another artist closely associated with political activism next – it’s one time FBI surveillance target John Lennon with “Borrowed Time”. This was another track released posthumously from his “Milk and Honey” LP following “Nobody Told Me ” earlier in the year. The song is actually incomplete as Lennon had attempted to record it for his 1980 album “Double Fantasy” but wasn’t happy with the sound and discarded it. It does have a rather spare feel to it as if it’s a demo and it didn’t really chime with me in 1984 and my full on synth heavy production tastes. The video, like “Nobody Told Me” before it, is a montage affair featuring home footage of Lennon  combined with some Beatles clips which is always an interesting watch. Of course, the song’s title imbues it with a more portentous flavour taken in conjunction with Lennon’s death in 1980. It would get no further than No 32 in the charts and the “Milk and Honey” release project would peter out after this.

Now here’s a tune you don’t hear on the radio much, possibly because it is dwarfed by the artist’s Number 1 from a couple of years before this…here’s Captain Sensible with “Glad It’s All Over” and guess “Wot” (see what I did there?), it’s another political song. Yes it’s a protest about the Falklands War apparently. I suppose the lines about “submarines in the harbour”, “people who never never go to war” and the celebratory lyric “we’re glad it’s all over” kind of give it away. I think even the 15 year old me got that. I always quite liked it and its easily so much better than the dreaded “Happy Talk” of two years previously. The good captain pursued a political career later in life when he formed a new British political party known as the Blah! Party. Some of their policies included making John Prescott lose weight and “stopping the idolisation of airhead celebrities like the Beckhams, Paris Hilton and Jade Goody”. Seems sensible enough.

A great song up next and the second one in the charts at this time to name check Robert De Niro – it’s Simple Minds with “Up On The Catwalk”. I loved this and I think it was the clincher for me to buy the album it came from (“Sparkle In The Rain”). I was already very taken with the previous two singles “Waterfront” and “Speed Your Love To Me” but this song was the pick of the three for me. With its reverb-heavy keyboard hook running throughout it and obligatory crashing drums, it’s that classic stadium rock sound that the band were firmly placing themselves in at this time.

My favourite section of the song though is the outro where Jim Kerr starts reeling off famous names –  some historical and some contemporary. I have never worked out what the connection between them is. So we get the afore-mentioned Robert De Niro, Michaelangelo (or Michaelangeeelo as Jim sings it), Martin Luther and Nastassja Kinski (I love how Jim annunciates her name but we don’t get to hear it as the song is cut off before then in this performance). Quite why the TOTP producers had the band mime the song on the world’s smallest stage I’m not sure. Bizarrely the song itself is not one of their best remembered tunes – maybe because it only reached No 27 in the charts possibly also because it was omitted from their first Greatest Hits compilation -1992’s “Glittering Prize 81/92”.

Now I like to think I’m pretty good on 80s pop music (I do write a blog on the subject after all) but the next song I cannot recall at all. Does anyone else remember “Swimming Horses” by Siouxsie and the Banshees? In truth it’s a bit of a dirge but then the subject matter, I’ve just discovered, is horrifying. I don’t think this blog is the right forum for it so you’ll have to look it up yourself. I’ll just leave it here and move on…

…to Madonna! Here’s her Madge-sty with her second ever hit in the UK after the success (the first time around anyway) of “Holiday” which we didn’t get to see on TOTP as they skipped some broadcasts. I’d forgotten that this was actually a re-release  – it reached No 171 when originally released in 1983 (I didn’t know the charts went that low!) – and although it only peaked at No 14 second time around, it’s the video that is probably more important than the song in terms of establishing Madonna’s image. This is the point when the classic 80s persona was fully unleashed on the world. Witness the leggings, ankle boots, exposed midriff, black miniskirt, cut-off gloves and bangles. Then of course there is the crucifix. Despite saying that “…the crucifixes seem to go with my name.” this was of course a very deliberate ploy to create attention for herself. How many teenage UK girls would attempt to copy this look in the wake of watching this video?

At the time I thought the song was pretty pedestrian but I can now appreciate it for what it is – a quality dance tune. We won’t see Madonna again until the next seismic event in her career..”Like a Virgin” at which point it all went bonkers. But for now…

Now here’s a band at there absolute commercial peak – pray silence for the Thompson Twins with “You Take Me Up”. After two consecutive No 3 singles, this release would go one better finally settling at No 2 thus becoming their highest ever placing hit. It’s a bit more of an organic sound than on those previous two singles (“Hold Me Now” and “Doctor! Doctor!”)  – and yes I know that sounds a ridiculous thing to say about the Thompson Twins sound  – with a harmonica prevalent throughout (as emphasised by Mike Read’s puny attempt at humour in the intro). The sound and the lyrics always seemed to conjure up images of a chain gang prisoners singing and the silhouette figure in the backdrop to this performance kind of supports this. The other thing to comment on in this performance is Tom Bailey’s hair. He seems to be going through a Flock of Seagulls phase and when he twirls round half way through the song we get a full on close up of his pony tail. And a pony tail has never looked good on any man ever.

OK – its time to say Hello to Lionel Richie again. This week the video had been edited so we don’t get the talkie bits at the start and end of it (presumably Points of View was inundated with complaints on the grounds that they were just too awful to broadcast again). This week’s Hello fact is that the clay head from the video has its own FaceBook page. And what does the clay head post on its Facebook page? It posts “HELLO” a lot. Of course it does.

https://www.facebook.com/theclayheadfromthelionelrichiehellovideo/

The play out music this week is “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” by Michael Jackson. This was the sixth and final single to be released in the UK from the “Thriller” album and it never did anything for me. It was pure Jacko – funk- workout- by-numbers in my eyes. Surely “Human Nature” was the song that should have been released if indeed you can actually make a case that any artist should ever release SIX singles from the same album. Staggeringly it still managed to get to No 11 in the our charts.

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 relive some seminal political pop songs as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08yfkxv/top-of-the-pops-29031984

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?

1

Special AKA Free Nelson Mandela Don’t think I did actually

2

John Lennon Borrowed Time Nah

3

Captain Sensible Glad It’s All Over No – think the stink of “Happy Talk” was still on him so it would have been playground suicide

4

Simple Minds Up On The Catwalk No but this song convinced me to buy their album “Sparkle In The Rain”

5

Siouxsie and the Banshees

 

Swimming Horses Far too dark for me pop sensibilities

6

Madonna Lucky Star No but like most people I have it on the “Immaculate Collection” CD

7

Thompson Twins You Take ME UP No but I think it on an 80s compilation somewhere

8

Lionel Richie Hello Err hello….NO!

9

Michael Jackson PYT (Pretty Young Thing) I hadn’t bought any of his previous singles form the Thriller album and this one certainly wasn’t going to buck the trend

Some bed time reading?

01-No-1-31-march-1984-218x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-31-march-1984/

 

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-29-march-11-april-1984-226x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-29-march-11-april-1984/

TOTP 22 MAR 1984

Well here’s something we haven’t come across before  – if you exclude John Peel and ‘Kid’ Jensen that is – a genuine TOTP presenter romance! I swear down! Any fool can see it – although I’m pretty sure the 15 year old version of me didn’t notice back in 1984. Yes – Peter Powell and Janice Long were going out together at this point. Now I had either completely forgotten this or  never knew in the first pace but as soon as this episode was rebroadcast, Janice confirmed the relationship on her Twitter feed. Witness her intro at the top of the show:

“Hey, do your realise that this is the first time that ah…*nudge nudge wink wink* we’ve done it together?”

Cue Powell looking to the heavens and blushing furiously. We’ll see some more outrageous flirting later in the show but first the return of a band that had a good 1983 and would consolidate with a great 1984….it’s Depeche Mode with “People Are People”. I liked this  – its catchiness made it immediately accessible and it would become their joint highest charting single ever (No 4). However songwriter Martin Gore does not share my enthusiasm for the track and it is one of his least favourite Depeche songs. Apparently the lyrics lack that subtlety that allows listeners to form their own ideas as to what the song is about  – well it’s certainly true that there is no doubting the song’s meaning with its rather clunky lyrics imploring us to self-examine our racial intolerances. Even the not yet politicised 15 year old me could pick up on that. The band seem to be enjoying themselves in this performance though giving it plenty of energy and Dave Gahan showcasing his new blonde streaked flat top haircut. 1984 would see them have two further hit singles whilst the parent album “Some Great Reward” would go top 5.

Now, not content with bagging herself Peter Powell, Janice Long introduces the next song – “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls – by saying it would be great if men were just falling out of the sky as she would be spoilt for choice! Shocking behaviour! The video for this one is quite literal with its of images of men falling to earth from the heavens though why they would be dressed in flasher macs and speedos…

…well… let’s move on quickly as indeed the show does as we literally get just two minutes of this one before we are onto the next  act who is…. oh Christ it’s Shaky! Yes, Mr Stevens is amongst us again this time with a drippy ballad called ” A Love Worth Waiting For”. This is yet more syrupy shite from Shaky with some rip-off Buddy Holly strings and its filler track from an Elvis movie feel (the internet won’t tell me if it’s a cover version or not). This enormous turd somehow made it all the way to No 2. Shaky’s less than enthusiastic dance moves suggest even he thinks this is money for old rope.

Some more shameless flirting between Janice and Pete next as she asks him whether he can move like Shaky. Then, with head tilted, she gazes up longingly at him. It’s quite sweet really. OK – it’s Culture Club next with “It’s A Miracle” and its the Monopoly video. I certainly know the song – it was the final release from the “Colour By Numbers” album and despite being the 4th single taken from it, still managed to reach the Top 4.  I also vaguely remember the video but watching it back, there’s lot’s to it I had forgotten. As Peter Powell says, its the story of the band so far and it tracks their rise using the motif of playing a game of Monopoly. Quite a neat idea really. I’d forgotten that it includes clips of previous singles (which presumably cut down the production costs) but what really sticks out to me is the camera time that  Mikey Craig, Jon Moss and Roy Hay get. Presumably they were a bit miffed with their blink – and – you’ll – miss- them appearances in the video to previous hit “Victims” and had a word with their management to sort it out. It’s a bouncy feel good tune but a bit light weight compared to “Victims” (their best song for me). It could be argued that this song represents the last vestiges of their pomp and majesty period. Their next release after this would be the calamitous “War Song’ which was the beginning of the end for the band (in the 80s at least).

Another video next – Bananarama with “Robert De Niro’s Waiting”. So the first thing to say is that Robert De Niro does not feature in the video. Apparently the girls did meet him at the time when he took them for a night out to say thank you for writing a song that name checks him. The details of said event are lost in the mists of alcohol fuelled time although there are some photos on the internet to corroborate its happening. Secondly, as mentioned in my last post, there is a dark side to this song as it is about date rape and the video itself has some menace to it when it shows the girls being followed at night time back to their flat by a mafia styled man. The ending though is completely harmless as he turns out to be the pizza delivery guy. The girls would maintain this more serious side to them in their next single “Rough Justice” which was about social injustices such as poverty and starvation.  Bananarama as social commentators – who knew? 

Man-fond Janice is back after this saying how she wouldn’t mind waiting in for Robert De Niro before she does a chart rundown. Scandalous! She goes onto introduce another band testing the patience of their record buying fans by releasing a fourth single from their album – UB40 with “Cherry Oh Baby” taken from their “Labour of Love” LP. It is of course another cover version (originally a hit for one Eric Donaldson) but interestingly (and I didn’t know this until researching the song) had already been covered by none other than the Rolling Stones! No really they did…come look here….

If you enjoyed that and it has encouraged you to explore more of the Stones back catalogue, then check out my old pal from Poly Andy’s blog below as he has just finished reviewing every Stones album.

http://andysrockodysseys.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/the-rolling-stones-out-of-control.html

Back to UB40 and I always thought they were pushing it with this release – they had stumbled upon the mega- successful covers formula and ridden it for all it was worth in 1983 but to carry on releasing singles from the parent album some 3 months into the new year seemed…cynical I suppose. My misgivings about the song didn’t stop it making the Top 20 although this was still in the ball park of diminishing returns since the massive No 1 “Red Red Wine” (subsequent single chart placings were 10, 16 and 12). They would however be back before the year was up with some new material of their own.

OK, we have another studio performance by Sade next who we only saw the other week. By this time her single (“Your Love Is King”) had gone top 10 and the whole world seemed to be falling in love with her. One such person was Peter Powell. In his link into the chart rundown this exchange with Janice Long occurs:

Janice: You really enjoyed every moment of that didn’t you?

Peter: Totally crushed on her  – beautiful 

Janice uses the exchange to put a proprietorial arm around her man. You can almost smell the chemistry.

Right then, new No 1 time and this one really should come with a warning so here it is:

LIONEL RICHIE “HELLO” KLAXON!….LIONEL RICHIE “HELLO” KLAXON!…LIONEL RICHIE “HELLO” KLAXON!….LIONEL RICHIE “HELLO” KLAXON! …LIONEL RICHIE…

Its one of those songs that is so huge that its transcended just being a pop song and crossed over into something that has stamped itself on popular culture. Where to start? OK, well there ‘s the “Hello….is it me you’re looking for” lyric as a kick off. How many times a year do we all hear someone use this for comedic effect in conversation? Check out the memes on the internet that use that line. Then of course there is this little thing that went viral after Adele released a song called “Hello”…

Then of course there is that video with that sculpture. The video’s plot revolves around our Lionel playing a drama teacher who has fallen in love with one of his students who is blind. The love seems to be unrequited until she sculpts a likeness of his head….which looks nothing like him! This set up has been parodied countless times but I think I like this one best with Richie himself joining in with the piss-taking.

OK – enough already. This blog is meant to be a serious appraisal of 80s music! This video is full of deeply dubious moments though, none more so than when Lionel creeps up on Laura from behind at lunchtime, seemingly about to stoke her hair before he recoils as her friends approach her. Some friends by the way! Why didn’t one of them challenge him and say “WTF man! What are you doing?!” The scripted parts at the start and the end of the video are what completely jar though and lend the whole thing an element of creepiness. The fact that TOTP included them in the broadcast I think was meant to mark it out as what we would now call a “water-cooler moment”. Did you see that Lionel Richie video last night? I did and I’m still having nightmares….

And from one set of love birds to another as we go back to Janice and Peter to do the goodbyes. There’s more arms around each other and Powell is so distracted he gets the name of the play out song wrong when he announces it as “Do What I Do” instead of “What Do I Do?”. It’s Phil Fearon and Galaxy of course and here’s the video….its crap by the way.

 

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 witness the blossoming Powell / Long romance for yourself as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08yfkt4/top-of-the-pops-22031984

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Depeche Mode People Are People Not the 7” but it’s on my vinyl copy of their first Greatest Hits

2

Weather Girls It’s Raining Men No

3

Shakin’ Stevens A Love Worth Waiting For I would rather have eaten my own arm

4

Culture Club It’s A Miracle Pleasant enough but no

5

Bananarama Robert De Niro’s Waiting Catchy but not enough to catch my attention (or money)

6

UB40 Cherry Oh Baby No but it’ll be on a Greatest Hits CD somewhere in the house

7

Sade Your Love Is King That would be a no

8

Lionel Richie Hello Only if I’d wanted to be laughed out of the school gates every night on my way home – that’s a no for the record

9

Phil Fearon and Galaxy What Do I Do?

 

Oof no!

Some bed time reading?

01-No-1-17-march-1984-218x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-17-march-1984/

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-15-28-march-1984-226x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-15-28-march-1984/

TOTP 08 MAR 1984

An observation: re-watching these old TOTP broadcasts, reviewing them, analysing them, writing about them…does all this spoil our memories of them? After all our memory shifts and re-edits and our recollections do not always stand up to rigorous examination when confronted with the facts. Are we destroying our own histories?

Too deep? Ok, f**k that s**t, let’s do TOTP! This week we have the return of Richard Skinner and Gary Davies. They are dressed in black and white which Davies uses for a particularly weak pun. They both look apalling even by 80s standards. Also making a return is someone we haven’t seen for a while – Phil Fearon and Galaxy! The last time we saw Phil he was wearing a gilet and was going under the name of Galaxy. Now he’s wearing a vivid red suit and has promoted himself to take top billing for this new song which is “What Do I Do?”. Given that he’s been away nearly a year, the sound he has come back with is very similar to his previous hits. Well, it is Phil Fearon we’re talking about here not David Bowie so he was hardly likely to surprise us with some goth rock number was he? Even so, this is almost identikit pop by numbers. As usual though, the British record buying public were deceived into basically buying the same record over and over again thereby sending this single to No 5 in the charts. Phil still has his faithful backing singers with him but this time they are armed with maracas (indeed Phil uses one as a fake microphone at one point- what a card!). It all has the look of a cheap UK version of Kid Creole and the Coconuts. The whole sorry affair finishes with Phil leading his coconuts Galaxy and the studio audience on a conga through the set. Just awful.

Richard Skinner then reappears and says “If you fell like dancing, this is the show for you.” but instead of some massive dance anthem he goes onto introduce “Joanna” by Kool and the Gang! Now it may be a pleasant enough mid tempo ballad, but would this be anyone’s first choice of a song to dance to? I suspect even narcissistic brides called Joanna would baulk at choosing this as the first song to dance to at their wedding. We’ve already seen this video once so lets move right onto…

….ah…its the Weather Girls with “It’s Raining Men”. So after having gay anthem “I Am What I Am” in the charts recently, we get another one straight away. The Weather Girls were disco legend Sylvester’s backing band (originally called Two Tons O’ Fun as name checked by Gary Davies) and this song was a massive hit all around the world in the previous 18 months with the UK finally succumbing in 1984. I mean I get its status as a camp classic and everything but for me its become one of those unlistenable songs caused by overly err…”heavy” rotation on radio playlists. It was revived by Gerri Halliwell in 2001 who took it to No 1 (one place better than the original) no doubt aided by her “Flashdance” inspired video. It didn’t really resonate with the 15 year old me but again, I probably wasn’t the target audience.

OK  – here comes Tracey Ullman attempting to follow up her massive commercial success of ’83 with more of the same in ’84. You’ll recall that she scored huge hits with covers of Kirsty Maccoll’s “They Don’t Know” and Doris Day’s “Mover Over Darling” and the formula is repeated here with a cover of the Madness song “My Girl” retitled “My Guy’s Mad At Me”. Its a decent attempt but it doesn’t really add anything to the original and seems to rely solely on another humorous video with obligatory celebrity cameo. So after Paul McCartney in “They Don’t Know” we get Neil Kinnock in this one. With all due respect to Neil, he was never going to have the same wow factor as Macca and the whole things falls a bit flat as reflected in its peak chart position of 23. For any one reading this young enough to not know what that odd shaped thing Tracey keeps holding to her ear is, that’s an old style telephone and no it’s not funny.

Now we get our first glimpse of a major new star who would go onto have a career full of longevity and success. This is Sade with “Your Love Is King”. The word had been out on Sade for some time – so much so that when she finally emerged into the glaring lights of the charts, it was as if she was a fully formed, bona fide pop star. I say she, but Sade were actually a band just like  Blondie, Toyah and Nena before them. This was their debut single and would also go onto be their biggest ever hit. Of course, Sade were more about albums than singles and the LP this song came from (“Diamond Life”) was the ultimate must -have album of 1984. It was the torch bearer of sohisti-pop – a horrible term that seemed quite wide in its parameters including everyone from Bryan Ferry to The Style Council to Simply Red. It became known as the “coffee table” album so called because it was supposedly on every social climbing wannabe cool cat’s coffee table. The term became derogatory in its meaning and today “coffee table music” is even in the Collins English Dictionary, defined as “unadventurous”. What did I make of it? Well, it was a nice enough sound but it didn’t really inspire me – it didn’t grab you like, I dunno, “68 Guns” by The Alarm or something. It was just…well…nice I suppose. I preferred the other big single from the album (“Smooth Operator”) but even then only marginally. Maybe I just wasn’t sophisticated enough – well I was only 15 at the time to be fair to me.

A quick chart rundown follows full of new entries most of which are on the show but that’s not the reason to pause for a moment. No, its to wonder at the caption for the aforementioned Sade at No 37. In big bold letters above Sade’s picture it says SLADE! Unbelievable! Richard Skinner is so embarrassed he has to draw even more attention to it by trying to make out its a deliberate mistake. Its not quite up there with the whole Dexys /Jocky Wilson fiasco of 1982 but its pretty bad.

OK – one of those new entries next and its possibly this act’s most well known song – “Robert De Niro’s Waiting” by Bananarama. We’d not seen the girls since last Summer but now they were back with this catchy ditty. In recent months, as part of the massive media operation that has surrounded the reunion of the original band, it’s emerged that this song is actually about date rape which I’m pretty sure none of us ever knew at the time. Siobhan seems back in line in this performance with regulation matching outfits to the fore and no rogue dance moves. I don’t mind it but I much preferred the other chart hit to namecheck an actor at this time  – “Michael Caine” by Madness. The song would make No 3 in the charts and remains their joint biggest hit.

Right, maybe we should now address the shameless self promotion going on in this show by one Gary Davies. You’ll recall that Davies liked to style himself as Radio 1’s eligible young bachelor with his “young , free and single” catchphrase and housewives choice appeal. In this show, he cultivates his “medallion man” image not once but twice though why, in brand new and shiny 1984, he thought a decidedly uncool image from the 70s was a winner only he will know. That said, I didn’t mind him and his lunchtime show although the USP for that was the fact that he got to give the new Top 40 chart its first airing on a Tuesday lunch time rather than Davies himself.

OK – bit of a treat coming up – an artist performing live rather than miming. The artist in question is Howard Jones and the song is “Hide and Seek”. When this show was shown again as part of BBC4’s archive schedule, there was not a lot of love for HoJo’s performance on my Twitter timeline. Personally I think it’s great. Some sweeping piano playing, a haunting melody and a plaintive vocal…what’s not to like? Ok, he could have lost the dry ice, I’ll give you that. My guess is that the record company were panicking as the single had only got to No 12 after the previous two had made No 3 and No 2 so they wanted something special to give it an extra push hence a live performance on the biggest pop music show around. Unfortunately for Howard (and his record company execs) it didn’t work as the single stalled at No 12 and would get no further. Shame.

The No 1 is next and it’s Nena with “99 Red Balloons” on top of the pile for the 2nd of a respectable 3 week run. After the revelation in the last post that the band hated the English language version of the song, my research tells me that despite giving over 500 concerts over a 30 year period, Nena has never performed  “99 Red Balloons” live, preferring to always do the German version (“99 Luftballons”). Take that Brexiteers!

The play out music this week is Mel Brooks with “To Be Or Not To Be (The Hitler Rap)”. After last week’s comedy effort by Alexi Sayle, we get another example of the genre, this time by American comedian and director Brooks. This was taken from his film of the same name and I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what to make of it at the time. Nowadays I am much more familiar with the Brooks cannon with “Blazing Saddles” a personal favourite. TOTP shows some of the video then cuts away to the studio audience dancing along  – it looks a bit odd to be fair.

 

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 another chance to behold Gary “Medallion Man” Davies in his full glory as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08y3km0/top-of-the-pops-08031984

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

 

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Phil Fearon and Galaxy What Do I Do?

 

Oof no!

2

Kool and the Gang Joanna Nope

3

Weather Girls It’s Raining Men No

4

Tracey Ullman My Guy’s Mad At Me It’s OK but why buy this when you could have the original?

5

Sade Your Love Is King No – ah I see my wife has the LP though. Err…delete what I said about wannabe cool cats from your minds

6

Bananarama Robert De Niro’s Waiting Catchy but not enough to catch my attention (or money)

7

Howard Jones Hide and Seek How did I not buy this?

8

Nena 99 Red Balloons No

9

Mel Brooks To Be Or Not To Be (The Hitler Rap)

 

Take a wild guess

Some bed time reading?

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http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-10-march-1984/

 

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-1-14-march-1984-226x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-1-14-march-1984/

TOTP 01 MAR 1984

Do you know what you were doing on 1st March 1984? Well, if you are reading this and you are Sting (he might be!), you had just played your last concert with The Police for 23 years Mr Sumner. If, however, you were me (and I was) then you were watching the latest TOTP after a long hard day at school with “O” level exams looming.

This week ‘s presenters are yet again Jensen and Peel who seem to have pinched Paul King (from the band King)’s suit a good 12 months before we even knew who Paul King was. Now that’s what  I call being trendsetters.

First up tonight are Matt Bianco who we only just saw for the first time the other week. As such, it’s hard finding something new to say about the group. C’mon think man! Matt Bianco…Matt Bianco…Heh! Of course, there’s always this….

Yes , long before Five Star were the victims of abuse live on Saturday morning kids TV, Matt Bianco endured the harshest of put downs courtesy of one Simon Roberts who matter- of -factly informs them that they are “a bunch of wankers“. This episode is the stuff of legend but I can’t remember now whether I witnessed this as it was broadcast live or whether my memories have been falsely implanted by its appearance on numerous nightmare TV moments shows. Whatever, it was funny as Hell.

Next is a band I hadn’t seen before despite the fact that they had been releasing records since 1978. It’s Van Halen with “Jump”. This was the US No 1 song at the time and it would also go Top 10 in this country. It was a departure from their usual sound in that it featured a synthesizer and it was this break with tradition that would see the lead singer, David Lee Roth, ultimately leave the band – musical differences and all that. We would not see Van Halen back in the charts until 1986 by which time Sammy Hagar was on vocal duties. I wasn’t that impressed by it at the time – it seemed like a dumb rock ‘n’ roll song to me…..

…however in the hands of someone else it turns into this piece of gold…

The boy wonder himself there of course. Anyway, back to TOTP and one of the strangest chart entries of the decade if not all time….here comes Alexi Sayle with “Ullo John Got A New Motor”. This is just bonkers. I, along with most teenagers in the country at this time, knew Alexi Sayle from his roles in The Young Ones which was just the funniest thing ever..ever…EVER!…when I was 15 at least. This …rap(?) though is basically random lines repeated twice so you get:

Ullo John! Gotta new motor? (x2)
He can’t half play the bongos (x2)
He’s got a record by Billy Joel (x2)
Them locks are easy (x2)
Here’s my calling card: WALLOP! (x2)
That’s a piece of balsa (x2)
You can make a model out of that (x2)
He stuck his head in a dustbin (x2)
And then ran through the launderette (x2)
Ullo John! Gotta new motor? (x2)

I didn’t get it then and I’m not sure I do now either. You have to say though that Alexi gives it his all in the performance and when he slides off the car bonnet at the song’s end, you really do believe it’s because he is exhausted.

A milestone release next as we say hello but wave goodbye to Soft Cell. This song (“Down In The Subway”) was their last single release before the band were wound up and Marc Almond continued with his cultish solo career. It seems almost anachronistic to be mentioning Soft Cell in 1984 so closely are they associated with that golden period of 81-82 when they racked up five Top 4 hits including the best seller of 1981 the ever ubiquitous “Tainted Love”. This one passed me by a bit at the time but I can really appreciate it’s value now with its gothic take on a Motown theme and woah oh oh refrain. The duo did reassemble at the turn of the century to do some new material but they will forever be associated with the 80s.

Next it’s those band wagon jumpers Break Machine again with “Street Dance”. This was just a load of old tosh and is it me or is the break dancing really lame as well? Booo! Get off!

Now this next link shows that Radio 1 DJs could be funny and clever at the same time (are you listening Mike Read?). At the top of the show John Peel had made a point about the show not featuring anything French. Now I ‘m not sure what that was all about but they return to the theme in the link into the chart rundown when Jensen says that Break Machine are No 1 in France. There then follows this:

Peel: “Don’t mention France”

Jensen: “Hey! Relax!

Peel:  “Don’t do it”

Apparently, the pair of them had continued to play Frankie’s “Relax” throughout the Radio 1 ban and here they subversively name check them at a time when the show wouldn’t have them on despite being No 1. Excellent stuff.

The chart rundown itself features some really terrible entries including:

  • Mel Brooks
  • The Fraggles
  • Manhattan Transfer
  • Alexi Sayle
  • Juan Martin
  • Theme from Bolero (Torvill and Dean)

Dearie dearie me.

What’s in a name eh? Well quite a lot actually. The next band on had to change their name in order to get into the charts. It’s only Wang Chung with “Dance Hall Days”! They had previously gone by the name of Huang Chung but changed it as DJs didn’t know how to pronounce Huang. That seemed to do the trick and they scored their only Top 40 hit with this track. A few things to say about this lot. Firstly, they  would go onto have a curious career recording film soundtracks (“To Live and Die in LA”), becoming stars in the US with hits such as “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” and “Let’s Go” and getting name checked in an episode of TV sitcom Frasier for the infamous lyric “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight”. Secondly, they managed to get a gig on this TOTP despite not actually being in the Top 40 which must have broken at least one of the show’s appearance criteria. Some serious deal must have gone down somewhere along the way. Thirdly, I remember a kid at school nicknamed ‘Paddy’ really liking this song. Why was he called Paddy? Because his surname was ‘Murray’ which sounded a bit like ‘Murphy’. Ah schooldays full of illogical low level racism weren’t they?

OK, nearly at the end of this show now and here comes Slade!!! This video, wikipedia advises me, cost £16,000 which may not sound like much today but was a lot of money in 1984. Apparently you didn’t get much for that kind of sum back then though. The production values look cheap, there is a hackneyed Scottish theme to it (tartan, kilts and cabers) and the drummer Don Powell doesn’t feature at all. A poor effort.

OK – much to the BBC’s relief I suspect, Frankie’s seemingly never ending run at No 1 with “Relax” is finally over after five weeks and we have a new song on top of the pile from Nena with “99 Red Balloons”. In the UK we had an English language version of the song and the band hated the way the translation changed the original German meaning apparently. They have a point. Check out the link below for a side-by-side translation:

http://www.inthe80s.com/redger3.shtml

Anyway, the UK record buying public took Nena to their hearts (for all of 15 minutes until they saw her armpits)  and the song remains a well played 80s staple. Ah the armpits, it always comes back to the armpits doesn’t it? What does Nena herself have to say about it all? This from her 2005 memoirs:

“Can a girl from Hagen, who dreams of the big wide world and is in love with Mick Jagger have no idea that girls can’t under any circumstances have hair under the arm? Yes she can. I simply had no idea!”

So now you know.

The play out music this week is Julia and Co with “Breakin’ Down (Sugar Samba)”. I didn’t recognise this name at all but when I heard the track it came back to me. I never really liked it. The singer (Julia?) always sounded like she was on helium.

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 another chance to witness that classic bit of Jensen  / Peel banter as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08wzzp9/top-of-the-pops-01031984

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Matt Bianco Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed

 

I was no Simon Roberts but I also didn’t buy this either

2

Van Halen Jump Nah

3

Alexi Sayle Ullo John! Gotta New Motor? As if

4

Soft Cell Down In The Subway No but it’s a good song

5

Break Machine Street Dance No it was shite

6

Wang Chung Dance Hall Days No but someone did me a copy of their greatest hits CD years later

7

Slade Run Runaway Nope

8

Nena 99 Red Balloons No

9

Julia and Co Breakin’ Down (Sugar Samba)

 

I did not

Some bed time reading?

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http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-3-march-1984/

 

 

 

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