TOTP 12 JAN 1984

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….

*checks internet*

…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

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 Steve Wright apparently drunk as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08t16dm/top-of-the-pops-12011984

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Icicle Works Love Is A Wonderful Colour God yes!

2

Howard Jones What Is Love? Strangely no

3

Shaky and Bonnie Tyler Rockin’ Good Way Be gone with your foolish questions!

4

Roland Rat Rat Rappin’ Not even my sister bought this and she was 9 at the time

5

Snowy White Bird Of Paradise Nah

6

Lionel Richie Running With The Night Nope

7

Joe Fagin Breakin’ Away / That’s Livin’ Alright No bit too lame

8

Paul McCartney Pipes of Peace No it didn’t really do much for me

9

Billy Joel Tell Her About It No but I have it on Greatest Hits CD somewhere no doubt

Some bed time reading?

01-No-1-14-january-1984-218x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-14-january-1984/

 

 

 

 

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http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-5-18-january-1984/

TOTP 5 JAN 1984

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

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 that decades montage in full as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08t164k/top-of-the-pops-05011984

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Frankie Goes to Hollywood Relax Yes. Didn’t we all?

2

Rod Stewart Sweet Surrender Nah

3

Status Quo Margarita Time Nope

4

Frank Kelly Christmas Countdown NO!

5

Slade My Oh My Negative

6

Flying Pickets Only You Yes for my Dad for Xmas

Some bed time reading?

01-No-1-7-january-1984-218x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-7-january-1984/

 

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-5-18-january-1984-226x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-5-18-january-1984/

1984 – the prologue

Despite some reservations, I’ve decided to keep going with this blog and its theme of remembering 1980s pop music via the BBC4 repeats of TOTP. Having scrutinised, dissected and generally picked the bones out of 1983, we arrive in 1984 which could be argued was a pioneering and important year for pop. Why? Well, for one it was the year that pop developed a conscience. Secondly, it ushered in the rise of a new pop icon who would go onto dominate the decade and beyond. And lastly, the UK would see a band bestride the charts the like of which we had not seen since The Beatles.

And for me personally it was a year of firsts – my first ever live gig, the first time I witnessed my football team actually win something and, finally, the first time I had a date with a girl.

All of this and much, much more is to come. Want to tag along?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1983 – the epilogue

And that’s it! Well, I made it! It’s taken 38 posts and over 50,000 words but  TOTP for 1983 is finally over. I can’t lie – it’s been a struggle. Watching and writing about an hour or so of 80s hits doesn’t sound like too onerous a task does it? No, but dissecting the performances, trying to remember what I thought about them from 34 years ago, finding the clips, checking facts (well, looking things up on Wikipedia) etc…it’s all taken its toll. Should I carry on? Can the lure of 1984 sustain me?

Well, I’ll have a think about it. In the meantime, let’s have a think about what we have learnt:

  1. I am a very sad man who knows more and remembers more about the charts of 1983 than anyone would ever need to.
  2. The Radio 1 DJs were on money for old rope for the level of linking they provided.
  3. 1983 featured some awful records
  4. 1983 featured some great records

Anything else?

In my time working Our Price I was lucky enough to work with a guy called Pete who was the original bass player for the Stone Roses. One day he explained to me the 7 year cycle of music which was that every 7 years a movement or phenomenon would come around and change the musical landscape completely. Thus:

1955 – the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and the teenager

1962 – the emergence of the Beatles and Beatlemania

1969 – the counter culture hippy movement

1976 – the backlash of the punk movement

1983 – and that’s where it all falls down. As Pete advised – “nothing happened”*. And he’s right…sort of. There was no major cultural or musical shift but that’s not to say there was no good new music. 1983 seems to have been subject to some revisionism over the years and seems to have been allocated the label “new pop” to describe it with all its attendant negative connotations that follow the term “pop” around. It cannot be denied that the year’s biggest four acts (Duran, Spandau, Wham and Culture Club) were out and out pop. Even Spandau and Duran who started out as “new romantics” or even (Heaven forbid) “art rock” outfits (at a push) were full on mainstream at this point.

*Of course, The Stone Roses formed in 1983 so quite a seminal year for Pete himself and proof that something did happen.

A quick check of the year’s No 1 singles would seem to confirm that it was a terrible year with some right stinkers in there.

Chart date
(week ending)
Song Artist(s) Weeks
1 January Save Your Love Renée and Renato 2
8 January
15 January You Can’t Hurry Love Phil Collins 2
22 January
29 January Down Under Men at Work 3
5 February
12 February
19 February Too Shy Kajagoogoo 2
26 February
5 March Billie Jean Michael Jackson 1
12 March Total Eclipse of the Heart Bonnie Tyler 2
19 March
26 March Is There Something I Should Know? Duran Duran 2
2 April
9 April Let’s Dance David Bowie 3
16 April
23 April
30 April True Spandau Ballet 4
7 May
14 May
21 May
28 May Candy Girl New Edition 1
4 June Every Breath You Take The Police 4
11 June
18 June
25 June
2 July Baby Jane Rod Stewart 3
9 July
16 July
23 July Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) Paul Young 3
30 July
6 August
13 August Give It Up KC and the Sunshine Band 3
20 August
27 August
3 September Red Red Wine UB40 3
10 September
17 September
24 September Karma Chameleon Culture Club 6
1 October
8 October
15 October
22 October
29 October
5 November Uptown Girl Billy Joel 5
12 November
19 November
26 November
3 December
10 December Only You The Flying Pickets 4
17 December
24 December
31 December

Fortunately, there were also some damn fine songs amongst the dross. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see some of these either because they didn’t sell enough to dent the charts or we missed out on seeing them in these TOTP repeats due to the omnipresent “presenter issues”. Well maybe we can do something about that….

Hits we missed

Aztec Camera  – Oblivious

What…a…tune! In Summer 1983 I heard a track on Radio 1 called “Walk Out To Winter”. It was by a band called Aztec Camera and it was wonderful. As it wasn’t a hit though, but I logged the name of the band for future reference. A few months later, a song called “Oblivious” was re-released and this time it made the Top 40 and my association with Aztec Camera was fully formed. I distinctly remember going to town with a guy from school called Mark around this time. We both bought the Assembly “Never Never” and whilst Mark opted for “Waterfront” by Simple Minds for his 2nd purchase  I bought “Oblivious”  which was a limited edition double pack (nice!). Here is the Boy Wonder looking 12 but sounding fab.

The Assembly – Never Never

Talking of The Assembly…..this was of course a collaboration between Vince Clark looking for a new project after disbanding Yazoo  and the Undertones lead singer Feargal Sharkey. It’s a marvellous piece of synth pop balladry with Sharkey’s distinctive vocals lending it a plaintive, beseeching quality. There was something about the voice and the lyrics which drew me in (the  latter probably appealing to my continuing lack of meaningful contact with the opposite sex). It ended up being a one-off as the planned project of getting in guest vocalists for each track on a planned album never (never) materialised. Shame.

Kajagoogoo – Big Apple

One of the year’s biggest stories next – it’s Kajagoogoo but the new, streamlined , Limahl-less version who were always more interesting I thought. This was their first single as a four-piece and it sounded good to my 15 year old ears. A stronger, less wimpy sound than previously.

As I remember there was a whiff of chart rigging about the single’s climb up the chart. However on checking the story, it seems they were incredulous that it had dropped down the charts and demanded a re-count! Whatever, it was to be a false dawn. They would make the Top 40 one last time early the next year but then it all fell apart and despite a name change to Kaja, the spell was broken. Still, it acts as a reminder that there was more to them than Limahl’s haircut and “Too Shy”.

05-No-1-15-october-1983

Carmel – Bad Day

Now I’ve thrown this one in just to dispel the myth that 1983 was just about pure, meaningless pop. Well here’s someone who was all about  gospel, blues and jazz. It is of course Carmel (which is the name of the band as well as the singer  – sort of like Blondie but only if Debbie Harry were actually called Blondie Harry). Now this wasn’t a massive favourite of mine (I’m no jazz fiend) but I liked it enough and I include it here as it is such an anomaly amongst its chart competitors of the time. The band were massive in Europe and are still going today.

Kim Wilde – Love Blonde

Not quite jazz as Carmel knows it but here’s Kim Wilde with her own version of it. This performance had a massive effect on the 15 year old me. Can’t remember why now (ahem)…

King Kurt – Destination Zululand

OK here’s one again to prove that the charts weren’t all cheesy grins and cheesy tunes. Please excuse the presence of the hairy presenter and Tony Blackburn getting the band’s name wrong and then nearly forgetting the name of the song. It is of course King Kurt with “Destination Zululand”. I was not a member of the psychobilly fraternity by any stretch of the imagination but this lot were just fun I thought. Whilst we all remember the lead singer getting tarred and feathered, on watching this back my eyes are drawn to the male audience member dancing behind the band. He looks so out of place with his casual look and wedge haircut. Fair play though, he keeps on going to the end.

Songs that should have been hits

Just to show that not all my musical tastes in 1983 were shaped by the Top 40, here are some songs that I liked that never made the Top 40. A single cover denotes I bought it too.

Bloomsbury Set  – Hanging Around With The Big Boys

Tipped to be the new Duran Duran (indeed they had toured with them I think), this lot should have been huge. They had the looks and a great power pop record. I think it was this performance on Razzamatazz that hooked me.

the-bloomsbury-set-hanging-around-with-the-big-boys-stiletto

View From The Hill – No Conversation

Not sure how I got to know about this one, must have been played on the radio I suppose, but it’s a gorgeous bit of lilting soul-pop that deserved much wider recognition.

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 Intaferon – Steamhammer Sam

Intaferon are probably more remembered for the nearly hit “Get Out Of London” but this follow up is a great tune and is a forerunner of Blur in many ways.

Naked Eyes – Always Something There To Remind Me

What was it about this synth-pop version of this Bacharach and David classic that convinced me to buy it? Heaven knows. It’s not aged well. I think it was a big hit in the US hence its UK release. The band’s Rob Fisher would go onto be one half of Climie Fisher later in the decade – he must have liked being in duos.

 

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Haircut 100 -Prime Time

This was my last fascination with the band (now Nick-less) and here we find them in last chance saloon in terms of regaining former glories. At the time I was a little disappointed but I think its a fine slice of pop funk now. The album has just been re-released on Cherry Red Records after languishing in the vaults for 33 years. Check it out.

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1983 – their year in the sunshine

One of the other things that strikes me about 1983 was the amount of bands that came and went within the space of the year. OK some of these acts were around before the year and lasted slightly past the calendar 12 months but in terms of commercial success, this lot were at their peak in 1983 and then were just gone.

  • JoBoxers
  • Kajagoogoo
  • Lotus Eaters
  • Marilyn
  • Modern Romance
  • New Edition
  • Roman Holliday

Last words

OK – I’m nearly done. So then… 1983…phew…quite a year in many ways and one which I will always recall fondly. Hope some of my ramblings have conjured up some equally fond memories. See you in 1984?

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My 1983 in vinyl – for some reason I had decided that my singles required PVC covers!

TOTP 29 DEC 1983

Well, it seems that we were absolutely spoilt over Xmas ’83 for TOTP shows. As well as the 22nd Dec broadcast which included the announcement of the Xmas No 1, we were then treated to a show on Xmas day itself and this one from 29th Dec. The latter two shows were basically a two part review of the year’s hits. We don’t get to see the Xmas day broadcast due to presenter issues but thankfully, despite a herd of Radio 1 DJs in the studio, there was nobody unpalatable.

There doesn’t seem to be any structure to the show such as working through the year chronologically month by month and unfortunately we have seen all the songs before (i.e. they don’t show any that were missed out in the repeat broadcasts because the show they featured on was skipped). It’s a mixture of videos and especially recorded studio performances.

First up is JoBoxers with “Boxerbeat”. The band had come off the rails by Xmas with their downturn in fortunes confirmed by 4th single “Jealous Love” stalling at No 72 in the charts. I wonder what the band were thinking when doing this particular TOTP? That it was a chance for them to remind the record buying public that they were still around and jump start momentum or that it was a valedictory swansong? Unfortunately for the band it was the latter. Fare thee well JoBoxers….

Right, a video next which I don’t think we saw in the previous repeats – Mike Oldfield with “Moonlight Shadow”. The video seems to be based around singer Maggie Reilly recounting a tale to her bandmates whilst all sat around in a stately home with the tale depicted in a number of scenes which call to mind an episode of Poldark or some such period drama. I can’t believe I was duped into buying this because of the video surely?

And now here come the Thompson Twins with “Love On Your Side”. The band had been riding high in the charts with current single “Hold Me Now” at this time which was just starting to drop down the Top 10 so they must have been loving the chance to maintain their profile with an additional TOTP performance. In a few short weeks their appeal would rocket with the release of “Doctor Doctor ” which was another massive hit so we catch them here just about to ride the crest of the wave.

The next video is Tracey Ullman with “They Don’t Know” which we have seen before so we won’t delay too long here other than to note the very daring bowling ball through the legs as Tracey straddles the rail shot! Not sure the 15 year old me picked up on that!

Back to the studio for The Cure with “The Love Cats”. It’s a standard Robert Smith performance:

  • Shades √
  • Badly applied lipstick √
  • Fidgeting about √
  • Looking uncomfortable √

Still a great song though and they would be back in the Spring with the equally idiosyncratic “Caterpillar”.

Here comes the year’s first No 1 – Phil Collins with “You Can’t Hurry Love”. Again we have seen this video lots of times before so let’s not bother again. What is rarely mentioned about this song is that the follow up “Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away” flopped at No 45 and therefore qualifies as one of the decade’s worst performing follow up singles to a No 1 hit (see also “It’s the Same Old Song” by KC and the Sunshine Band and “E.S.P.” by the Bee Gees).

Back in the studio, here are a band probably going through the same thought processes as JoBoxers. It’s The Belle Stars with “Sign Of The Times”. Now I haven’t checked for sure but I’m pretty confident that this would have been the last time on TOTP for both these bands. In the case of the Belle Stars that’s a shame as I think they had more to offer. Indeed, in the latest edition of the excellent Classic Pop magazine, the band came a creditable 9th in their list of the Top 40 girl groups of all time which given their small discography is quite something.

 Another No1 video that we have seen may times before is up next – Paul Young with “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)”. Like The Thompson Twins previously, Paul is about to go super nova in terms of his commercial appeal and he would return in 1984 with another two hit singles which would pave the way for the 1985 No 1 album  “The Secret of Association” (which I bought).

Two studio performances follow, “Dear Prudence” by Siouxsie and the Banshees and “True” by Spandau Ballet (or “the Spands”) as Richard Skinner introduces them. Siouxsie is covered up for this one  with a neck high black leather outfit (except for the backless bit!) ensuring there would be no repeat of the hairy underarms horror of the promotional video. Meanwhile, Spandau pretty much recreate their original run through of “True” complete with suits and ties.

As with Paul Young, another of the year’s breakthrough artist is next – it’s Howard Jones with “New Song”. Howard has been ubiquitous on the show of late and here he is again  and …oh no…he’s bought mime artist Jed with him once more. As it’s Xmas, Jed has combined some tinsel with his “mental” chains. but if you actually watch him, I have no idea (“preconceived” or otherwise) what he is actually trying to convey with his mimes. Surely thats the point of mime? That it’s a form of communication? Thankfully, I don’t think we ever see Jed on TOTP again after this.

Another No 1 video from Rod Stewart (“Baby Jane” ) is next and despite what DJ Adrian John (who?!) says in his introduction, it doesn’t still sound great, it still sounds shit. Next.

Here comes The Style Council to get us back on track with “Long Hot Summer”. It’s a studio performance and Weller and co seem to be having some fun with Paul taking on the keyboard duties rather than Mick Talbot who is playing a banjo?! Weller’s haircut here would be my brother’s chosen style for the next 30 years.

The last performance of the show is reserved for the biggest selling single of the year and as we all know that is “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club and I’m not wasting any more time or words on this song…

The play out music is “Say, Say, Say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.

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 if you remember who Adrian John was and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08rc78m/top-of-the-pops-29121983

Order of appearance Artist Song Peak Chart Position

1

JoBoxers Boxerbeat

3

2

Mike Oldfield Moonlight Shadow

4

3

Thompson Twins Love On Your Side

9

4

Tracey Ullman They Don’t Know

2

5

The Cure Love Cats

 7

6

Phil Collins

You Can’t Hurry Love

1

7

The Belle Stars

Sign Of The Times

3

8

Paul Young Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)

 

1

9

Siouxsie and the Banshees

 

Dear Prudence

3

10

Spandau Ballet True

1

11

Howard Jones New Song

3

12

Rod Stewart Baby Jane

1

13

Style Council Long Hot Summer

3

14

Culture Club Karma Chameleon

1

15

 Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson Say Say Say

2

Some bed time reading?

01-No-1-31-december-1983-218x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-31-december-1983/

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-22-december-4-january-1984-226x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-22-december-4-january-1984/

TOTP 22 DEC 1983

IIIIIIIIT’S CHRIIIIISTMAAAASSSSS! No it really is – in BBC4’s world of TOTP repeats. Xmas 1983 to be precise. Do you remember it? Let’s see if you do….

Our hosts tonight are John Peel and David Jensen – as they never seemed to work with anyone other than each other and therefore are not subject to the dreaded “presenter issues” which have forced so many of these shows to not be broadcast, we have seen an awful lot of these two guys.

So who’s on first tonight, it’s Slade with “My Oh My”. Hang on no it’s not….IIIIIIIIT’S CHRIIIIISTMAAAASSSSS! Yes, Slade were back on the show but to perform their Xmas No 1 “Merry Christmas Everybody” from 10 years previous which had been re-released in the wake of the success of “My Oh My”. Such a re-release was an unusual event back then, not like today where due to streaming  it’s possible to manipulate the charts so any song can gatecrash the Top 40 ( do they even have a Top 40 nowadays?) so long as it is available digitally – no official release required. Not so in ’83 – this was quite unusual. Not that Slade seem to mind  – its a bonus for them as they ham their way through the song. At this time, the market wasn’t flooded with Xmas compilation albums let alone Spotify so you didn’t have access to Christmas songs, only whatever the radio stations played in that small window of opportunity in the weeks prior to the 25th Dec. So this really was quite an odd thing. 34 years on of course “Merry Christmas Everybody” is as essential an ingredient to Christmas as turkey and wrapping paper. Disappointingly, if you watch closely, Noddy mistimes his miming of the iconic IIIIIIIIT’S CHRIIIIISTMAAAASSSSS! line. Shame.

Also a shame is the way that Jensen pretty much gives the game away re: the identity of the Xmas No 1 when he let’s slip that two of the three biggest contenders haven’t made it. Firstly, he advises that Slade are also in the charts at No 2 with “My Oh My” and then introduces the video for the other hopeful Culture Club who are at No 3. No tension there then. To be fair I think the chart would have been announced on the Tuesday (so the 20th) before this broadcast on the Thursday (22nd) so we presumably all knew already. We have already seen and discussed the “Victims’ video so let’s move onto……

…Tears For Fears with “The Way You Are”. Again, we have already talked this song through previously. It really jars in a Christmas edition of TOTP with its mechanical, spare sound and even though  it’s one of the band’s poorer efforts, compared to some of the shite in the charts at this time it was almost ambrosia-esque.

A video next and it’s ….another bloody one we’ve already dissected! Do me a solid! For the record it’s Billy Joel with “Tell Her About It”. Trawling the internet for  something else to say about this song, I found that it was written about how, when Joel first met Christie Brinkley, she was the first person he could ever just talk to, and they would spent hours doing so.

“It’s simply about an a-ha moment for Joel when he realised that you could actually have a soul mate.”.

Aww what a nice sentiment …until the next sentence:

“Joel and Brinkley met in 1982, married in 1985 and divorced in 1994.”

Soul mate? Hmmm…

Finally! A song we haven’t seen before! And guess what? It’s a bloody awful novelty song! Funnily enough, this never comes up on any Xmas compilation albums or any of those Xmas clips programmes – it’s rather a forgotten thing. Maybe rightly so as well. This, of course, was a deliberate attempt to cash in on the huge popularity of the TV series “Minder” with Waterman and Cole playing their TV characters in the …err…song. To be fair, they’re pretty much word perfect in this performance but it’s no “I Could Be So Good for You” which is one of the great TV theme tunes (yes it is Jane Emson!). Of course, the year before, so popular and established in the nations’s psyche was the series, that it had inspired the Top 20 “Arthur Daley (E’s Alright!)” hit by The Firm so I guess it made sense to do their own “official” series tie-in song but really they shouldn’t have bothered.

OK  another “new” song….Paul McCartney with “Pipes Of Peace” and it’s a second consecutive video epic following on from the mini movie that was “Say Say Say”. As with the Pretenders’ “2000 miles” single in last week’s show, this song is now forever inextricably linked with Xmas although it’s lyrics are not overtly seasonal and are more about humanity, tolerance, peace and unity. The video though is what formed that unbreakable yuletide link,  depicting the famous 1914 Christmas truce between British and German troops. McCartney plays the roles of both a German and British soldier who meet during the truce, exchanging photos of their loved ones. A spontaneous game of football breaks out until a shell blast sends the troops running for cover back to their own trenches where both men realise that they still have each other’s pictures. It was a very affecting video at the time and its influence resurfaced in 2014 when Sainsburys based their Xmas advert on the same events and whose look sharply resembles that of McCartney’s video. Enough of all that though, we all know that story anyway – what did the 15 year old me think of it? Well, I wasn’t that impressed to be honest. I didn’t think there was that much to it  – it all seemed a little too simple and trite, not that I would have used that word at school :

School mate: “Have you heard the new McCartney song?”

Me: “Yeah but its a little too trite for my tastes”

In reality, I probably said “Yeah it’s OK” which indeed it is with its trademark McCartney melody and saccharine feel. If I remember correctly it would go onto be the first No 1 of the new year which took me by surprise a little. Nowadays of course, you can pretty much guarantee you will hear it played on the radio or in the shops every December.

Right, on with the show and its Howard Jones with “What Is Love?” which is making steady progress up the charts to be this week’s No 11. It would go onto be a No 2 hit for Howard and as well as being one of his seminal songs, it would also be his biggest ever hit. My good mate and super fan Rob was deep, deep into his Howard Jones world at this point, and I think this song probably was the one that sealed the deal on a fixation that would last another 3 or so years until he went to University and left Howard behind him.

We arrive at the Xmas Top 10 countdown, and after all the promotion, TV appearances and record plugging, the 1983 Xmas No 1 is by a group of actors doing an acapella version of a song that only just been a hit 12 months previously. Yep, the Flying Pickets managed to hold off all their rivals including the hugely tipped Slade and Culture Club to secure the coveted spot. The British public eh? You just can’t fathom them.

The play out music  is another novelty song “Rat Rapping” by Roland Rat who was the puppet that saved TV-am from being a ratings disaster. Thanks for that Roland.

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 get excited all over again about the race for the 1983 Xmas No 1 and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08rc663/top-of-the-pops-22121983

 

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

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Slade Merry Christmas Everyone Not this ’83 re-release but we all have this on some Xmas CD or other don’t we?

2

Culture Club Victims No but it’ s probably on a Greatest Hits CD somewhere

3

Tears For Fears The Way You Are It’s in my box of singles but I think that it’s my wife’s copy

4

Billy Joel Tell Her About It No but it’ s probably on a Greatest Hits CD somewhere

5

Dennis Waterman and George Cole What Are We Gonna Get For Christmas For ‘Er Indoors? What do you think?!

6

Paul McCartney Pipes Of Peace No but it’s on my Wingspan CD for sure

7

Howard Jones What Is Love? No

8

Flying Pickets Only You Yes for my Dad for Xmas

9

Roland Rat Rat Rapping Yes, yes I did – NO OF COURSE NOT!

Some bed time reading?

01-No-1-17-december-1983-218x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-17-december-1983/

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-22-december-4-january-1984-226x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-22-december-4-january-1984/

TOTP 15 DEC 1983

There’s only 10 days until Xmas! In TOTP repeat land where it’s 1983 that is and where the big day is not far away now. Yes, we are very nearly close to knowing what the Xmas No 1 will be. Acts are jostling for position and the timing of that final push is crucial. The exposure from TOTP this close to the final chart before Xmas cannot be underestimated. Leading us through tonights numbers are Simon Bates and Janice Long.

First up are a band who have been there and done it all before – it’s Status Quo with “Marguerita Time”. The Quo have been regular on TOTP since the end of the Summer with a rash of releases and this is the latest. And its an odd one for sure. I recall thinking at the time that this isn’t what Status Quo sound like. I wasn’t alone in my thinking as bassist Alan Lancaster hated this song with a passion and vociferously opposed it’s release as a single. Of course I didn’t know this at the time but watching this back in 2017 with that knowledge, I’m observing the bass player very carefully during this performance. And sure enough he doesn’t look happy. There ‘s some lackadaisical bass playing and he keeps his distance from Rossi and Parfitt who are grinning and laughing their way through it. He manages a solitary smile towards the song’s end (presumably because it’s nearly over) but that’s it. Apparently he was already pissed at the rest of the band and their management for releasing a version of their recent single “Ol’ Rag Blues” – a song Lancaster had written-  with Rossi’s vocals rather than his own on it. His anger would not dissipate and he left the band in 1985 after the Live Aid gig. Confirming my point about TOTP exposure being critical, this appearance saw the single leap from 25 to 5 but ultimately they would fall just short of the Xmas No 1.

As for me, yes it’s a bit cringeworthy in its jollity and it’s nursery rhyme childishness but I always quite liked it. Also, it always reminds me of travelling back from Shrewsbury in my mate Tim’s Dad’s car after attending my very first live Chelsea game on Boxing Day 1983. Rather generously, Tim’s Dad had Radio 1 on the car stereo and this song was played. No doubt I would have heard loads of other songs on that journey but this one sticks out for some reason. The memory is an odd thing isn’t it?

A video next and it’s another band who have been on TOTP incessantly since the Summer  – it’s UB40 with “Many Rivers To Cross”. Like Quo, this is their third hit single on the bounce and as with the other two it’s a cover version  (the original being by Jimmy Cliff in 1969). This is another song that always conjures up Xmas ’83 in my mind. Not that it was a massive favourite and I didn’t buy it but it just does. Of course I didn’t know the Cliff original in 1983 so I had nothing to compare it to but I always quite liked this. I know – sacrilege. For the record the Cliff version (now that I know it) is brilliant. The video features Muscial Youth in the congregation. I’d forgotten this and had to do a double take to make sure it was them but sure enough there they are. It’s an odd cameo as they seem rather underused but after the Donna Summer collaboration maybe it was another calculated attempt to establish links with anyone who was enjoying success at this time. And they were both from Birmingham of course.

Here comes another band who have seen it all before and quite literally in the Xmas No 1 stakes – it’s only Slade with “My Oh My”. As Simes informs us with his little pop history lesson in the intro, Slade were at No 1 ten years prior to this with the Xmas standard “Merry Christmas Everybody”. Now they were back with a song written so deliberately to be another Xmas No 1 they may as well have called it “The Xmas No 1”. It’s a massive ballad  which builds slowly to a rousing sing-a-long swing-a-long chorus. There’s even a false ending thrown in before the drums kick in again. In fact, both this and the other song strongly tipped to be the Xmas No 1  – “Victims” by Culture Club – both featured false endings and then a drum fill. It was the height of fashion in Dec ’83. For this TOTP performance the band (or their management) supplied the studio audience with Slade banners to bump up the sing-a-long effect. They seem to be made of the cheapest, nastiest looking material known to man but they pre-date the practice of football clubs leaving flags on every seat or massive games by about 30 years. Did it do the trick and propel Slade to No 1? The next post will reveal all….

*Spoiler alert* No it didn’t

OK – next up is….Barry Manilow? Yep – its that bloke with the girly-curly hair and the massive nose. And he’s doing a huge ballad (another one) which is no surprise as it was written by Jim Steinman for Meatloaf originally. What can you say about Manilow? Well although he seems to have been around  for eternity and must be as old as time itself, Bazza has only had a handful of Top 40 hits in the UK and of those only one ever went Top 10. And yet we all know the songs…”Mandy”, Bermuda Triangle” and of course the majestic “Copacabana”. You know what, I think I have a soft spot for him. This (ahem) weepy ballad made the Top 20 and yet again is one of those songs that I associate with a particular event – this time it’s Christmas Day morning as this song was on the radio in my parents’ room as I was getting up. Good old Barry. The video is a crock of shit, mind.

OK – here comes a stone cold Xmas classic next- The Pretenders with “2000 miles”. What’s interesting about these repeats is that we get to see these songs at the point they were launched and before they had become enshrined in the public consciousness as is the case with “2000 miles”. Because of course it wasn’t a Xmas classic at this point – it was just the new song by The Pretenders and it was the lead single off their new album “Learning To Crawl” not a Xmas single as such. Yes it does use the words Christmas and snow in the lyrics but it’s a lament for their former guitar player who died the year before. What’s a shame in retrospect is that future generations (and indeed the present one) may just know the song and not the band. I always liked it (and the subsequent singles off the album are good too)  and my Mum loved it and I ended up buying it for her for Xmas. In this performance Chrissie Hynde goes all Noddy Holder with her choice of headgear. Funny that.

Right – two country legends next. It’s Dolly and Kenny with “Islands In The Stream”. This is another song that is ingrained in our psyche and its not altogether welcome. We all know now that it was actually penned by the Bee Gees but I’m not sure I realised that at the time. It’s so middle of the road that they should have called it “Islands In The Mainstream”. What is interesting about the video though is that we get a reminder of what Dolly Parton looked like before all her plastic surgery. But if you thought that transformation was astonishing, check the internet for what Kenny Rogers looks like now – ouch!

And so we arrive at the No 1 which is the Flying Pickets for the 2nd week running. This performance is the one with the snowman outfits where they “melt” at the sing’s finale. Genius.

The play out music this week is “Straight Ahead” by Kool and the Gang. When I worked for Our Price in the 90s, one of the Manchester shops was closed down whilst I was working there. In the build up to the final day of trading, there was some discussion about what the last song to be played over the shop’s speakers should be. There were some classic songs proposed but as the moment arrived, we all forgot about it and there was some random 70s disco album playing. The final song we played was “Ladies Night” by Kool and the Gang. I’m pretty sure nobody wanted that.

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 get excited all over again about the race for the 1983 Xmas No 1 and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08qkzst/top-of-the-pops-15121983

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

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?

1

Status Quo Marguerita Time Nope

2

UB40 Many Rivers To Cross No but it’ s probably on a Greatest Hits CD somewhere

3

Slade My Oh My Nah

4

Barry Manilow Read ’em and Weep Hell no! Can you imagine being caught by your mates buying that down Woolworths?

5

The Pretenders 2000 miles Yes for my Mum for Xmas

6

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton Islands in the Stream See Barry Manilow above

7

Flying Pickets Only You Yes for my Dad for Xmas

8

Kool and the Gang Straight Ahead No

Some bed time reading?

01-No-1-10-december-1983-218x300

 

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/no-1-magazine/no-1-magazine-10-december-1983/

 

 

 

01-smash-hits-8-21-december-1983-226x300

 

http://www.shanemarais.net/smash-hits-magazine/smash-hits-8-21-december-1983/