Thursday, 8 January 2015

Top of the Pops 1980 Calling

It's January the 3rd and the first Top of the Pops of the 1980's, hosted by Peter Powell, still with plenty of Christmas spirit to spare as he welcomes in not just a new year but a whole new decade...

.....and toy saxophone
3-1-80: Presenter: Peter Powell

(29) THE CLASH – London Calling (and charts)
(54) MADNESS – My Girl
(6) PAUL McCARTNEY – Wonderful Christmastime (video)
(5) THE PRETENDERS – Brass In Pocket
(12) DAVID BOWIE – John I’m Only Dancing (Again) (video)
(36) BONEY M – I’m Born Again
(17) THE BEAT – Tears Of A Clown
(3) FIDDLER’S DRAM – Day Trip To Bangor (Didn’t We Have A Lovely Time)
(30) KURTIS BLOW – Christmas Rappin’
(24) BILLY PRESTON & SYREETA – With You I’m Born Again ®
(21) CHIC – My Feet Keep Dancin’ (danced to by Legs & Co)
(58) DR. HOOK – Better Love Next Time
(1) PINK FLOYD – Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) (video)
(15) ROSE ROYCE – Is It Love You’re After (and credits)

The Clash ~ provide us with the first music of 1980, though they were still refusing to appear in person on the show.

Madness ~ so the first band we see are a white suited Madness, with 'their best single to date' My Girl.

Paul McCartney ~ at his chart peak now with Wonderful Christmastime, but festive records so quickly lose their appeal once the new year is here.

The Pretenders ~ a new studio performance of the song that would replace Pink Floyd at number one in a couple of weeks time.

David Bowie ~ Peter introduces it as John I'm Only Dancing Again, but it's the video of the 1972 original version of the song.

Boney M, The Beat and Fiddler's Dram were all edited out of the 7.30 show on BBC4, but all should be available to see later or on iplayer.

Kurtis Blow ~ another 'festive' offering and the second time now for one of these new fangled rap records on the show - must've given Will Smith a few ideas this one. Number 30 was its peak.

Billy Preston and Syreeta ~ a second showing for this classic love ballad duet climbing its way towards the top ten.

Legs & Co ~ begin their final full year on the show by disco dancing to Chic's last top 30 hit (not including remixes).

Dr Hook ~ had obviously recently become more available with this being their second TOTPs studio appearance since Christmas Day. Ray Sawyer looking a bit like a cowboy Bobby Ball, but with an eye patch instead of braces.

Pink Floyd ~ begin the 1980's still at number one in the charts having sold 'nearly a million records'.

Rose Royce ~ play us out with their final top 20 hit just two places below its peak in the charts.

Next up is the 10th January 1980 which will be on BBC4 in two weeks time (Sky at Night next week).


  1. As a new year and new decade arrive, the show brings a number of solid hits:

    The Beat - I did like this version better than the Smokey Robinson original, because they put some reggae and ska in it, and gives the whole tune a lift.

    Fiddlers Dram - The Day Trip To Bangor was in much demand from viewers all over the country by now. So much so, that it had leapt to no.3 already. Hey, wait for me!

    Billy Preston & Syreeta - I'm glad this was not edited out of the 7.30 show, cos Billy and Syreeta upstaged everyone else on this show in my opinion with this jaw-dropping classic of a ballad, as the song climbed its way towards the top ten by now.

    Pink Floyd - continued to send us a powerful message, in the first No.1 of the new decade.

  2. Bit of a Christmas hangover episode this one, but there's a strong hint of things to come when Madness show up, looking very dapper. Don't know if that is a toy saxophone, it looks as if it's possible to play it like a larger one. Whether it would make the same noises as the one on the record is a moot point.

    Paul McCartney, ah, the eternal mystery of who exactly continues to buy Christmas records after December the 25th. They never sound right in January. Still can't work out what that clockwork Santa is supposed to be - how many blue Santas have you ever seen?

    Pretenders, with Chrissie barely visible under her fringe. Then Dame Dave, what's with the anchor on his face? Was he sponsored by a butter manufacturer?

    Boney M go country, no wonder I don't remember this, what was Frank Farian thinking? We wanted disco from these guys.

    Kurtis Blow, it's often forgotten that while The Sugarhill Gang were in full swing, there was another rap record in the charts at the same time. Nothing special to modern ears, but something to play on the stereoo.

    The Beat, and Rankin' Roger making good use of one of those "fun" paper things that extended but nobody knows the name of and hasn't been seen at a party since 1985 anyway.

    If Floella Benjamin had caught Syreeta on this show she would have been green with envy. Must have taken her a whole day to get her hair like that.

    Legs & Co dancing to Chic, always a fine combination, not sure about the outfits, Christmas boots with body stockings? Were they supposed to be elfin?

    Dr Hook, with Ray very much the Davy Jones of the band. I do recall this, but can't say it pops into my head very often.

    Pink Floyd, never noticed this before but one of the kids falls straight over in the football kickaround at the beginning of the video. Not sure those girls are your most obvious Floyd fans, Pete.

  3. Never mind buying Christmas singles after the festivities, why bother showing two Christmas songs past their ‘best by’ the next year and wasting two slots best used for other artists? Reminds me of Tom Browne’s classic Sunday afternoon top 20 countdown show, where he only ever skipped three singles, one of which was “Bionic Santa” by Chris Hill - still in the top 20 in mid-January!

    TOTP really missed a trick here. They should have followed Billy Preston and Syreeta with Boney M, giving Peter Powell the chance to say “That was “With You I’m Born Again”, this is “Born Again”…again!”.

    1. There's a teaser - another skipped by Browne was M&O band - but apart from banned discs (Sex pistols, Donna Summer, Judge Dread) what was the third?

    2. I do know the answer to this, so I'll give it if you want. It was a novelty song from early 1976 just prior to these re-runs and, apparently, it was dropped from its last top 20 countdown play for timing issues, to make way for some lengthy new entries.

    3. Billy Howard? (btw It was me as anonymous above)

    4. i didn't know it at the time, but the m&o band's "cover" of eddie drennon's "let's do the latin hustle" was actually possibly the first case of sampling someone else's record, as m&o (who were brits i think) just filched eddie's backing track wholesale and added some percussion! i don't know if that's the reason it didn't get played on tom browne's chart rundown though...

    5. Had Eddie Drennon's version not already been played on the show, then M&O's would probably have been played, but it made sense not to play virtually the same thing twice in quick succession!

    6. i seem to remember both versions of "deck of cards" and "una paloma blanca" being played on the sunday evening radio 2 top 40 rundown even though they were in the charts simultaneously (i think the latter may have actually been played back-to-back at one point!), but at least they were different recordings of the same song (albeit with the same arrangement), rather than exactly the same thing but with a few overdubs!

      bythe way, welcome to the club nutty big d!

    7. Correct about Paloma Blanca, and right next to each other in the chart- but at least the vocals were different! However, Max made the 20 but Wink didn't with the deck of cards. Thanks - I've been around a while but through laziness my rare postings are often anonymous!

    8. I have a recording of the 26th October 1975 Tom Browne Top 20 show and it features both versions of 'Una Paloma Blanca' - no.13 was George Baker Selection and no.11 was Jonathan King. Both were cut off before the female vocals on the 3rd verse. The song in the middle was Esther Phillips 'What a difference a day makes'.

  4. Ah 1980 which - PEDANTRY ALERT- was actually the last year of the seventies decade , not the first of the eighties decade. And that kind of reflects the types of music we willbe hearing in the forthcoming 12 months with the more modern, up to date pop not kicking in fully untill the last quarter (apart from, that is the ska/reggae Midlands bands) .

    Anyways, the show.

    Presenter Peter Powell. One of the better DJs to grace the screen but would have been a whole lot better if he had curbed the whole 'talk-with-a-smile-in-your-voice' affectation.

    No change with the Clash refusing to appear so 'London Calling' plays over the charts.

    Madness - all suited and booted- with the really rather fabulous My Girl showcasing their song-writing talents.

    I'm gonna by-pass McCartney and Kurtis Blow because ALL Christmas songs should cease to exist the very moment the Queen opens her mouth on Christmas Day. Thats nothing to do with me - thats just the way it is. One can only assume a lack of new songs led to their inclusion.

    Fiddlers Dram - back down to a more manageable size from their football-team-sized peak a couple of weeks ago. (Anyone else think the singer bears a resemblance to comedic actress Arabella 'does my bum look big in this?- Weir)

    Boney M. This one passed me by completely and no wonder. A limp, quasi-religious drone with Liz looking highly pleased with herself as she sings 'Im born again'.

    The Beat - with Dave Wakelin playing his guitar with an odd, open handed strum and thats about it.

    The first show of the year would - I suspect-- always be a lack-lustre affair with the charts being pretty stagnant and ToTP maintaining their rule of only playing chart climbers.
    But after checking out some of the songs that lie ahead of us I have to say I'm really looking forward to the year.

  5. Not related to this show, but it's a retro comment so I thought I'd chuck it in anyway.

    I went to a panto last night - oh, yes I did! - and, apart from some girl out of Harry Potter, Postman Pat (!!!), some comic turn out of "Britain's Got Talent" and an operatic runner-up from "X Factor" who was actually very good, the other stars were Basil Brush (Boom boom!), Sally Geeson - yes, Sid James's daughter in "Bless This House" - and Sheila Ferguson as the wicked witch. Even at 67, Sheila's still got that ample figure and she can belt the notes out good and proper. She also showed some good comic timing and took the mickey out of herself for screwing up one of her lines. Far funnier than that ill-fated Thames TV sitcom Sheila was in, "Land of Hope And Gloria". Anyone remember that?

    1. I do remember Land of Hope and Gloria, but remember thinking the trailer was so bad I wouldn't watch the actual programme! I don't think I missed much...

    2. It lasted one series of six episodes and a second wasn't made...not because it was rubbish (which it was), but because a key actress in the plot, the brilliantly matriarchal Joan Sanderson, had passed away, and they couldn't envisage the series without her.

  6. I really don't know why BBC4 didn't edit out Macca and Kurtis Blow from the 7.30 showing; besides being past their festive sell-by dates, both songs are rubbish, and the latter is interminably long. Also far too long was that strange Boney M offering - I assume this is one of their final TOTP appearances, and it's as if they had completely forgotten who they were by performing such a solemn, downbeat song. No wonder their career was going down the plughole by this point!

    On the positive side, Madness were an excellent choice to kick off the new decade, given that My Girl is arguably their best song and they would go on to be one of the most successful bands of the 80s. Suggs was rather disparaging about that "New Year" set on the documentary last week, but I rather like it. Talking of sets, it looks as if the Dr Hook performance may have been filmed before Christmas, as they were on the set that was being used during December. In any case, another good pop tune from them - they were really on a roll at this point.

    The Legs costumes were certainly interesting, particularly with the ill-matched tinselly boots, but at least the leotard look they are sporting here does prefigure the Keep Fit craze that would dominate a significant chunk of the decade.

    1. We do get Boney M once more this year, with a video (a video! Can't be arsed to come to the studio any more) for a single which didn't even make the top 50.

      Without meaning to give the plot away too much (sorry again, Angelo), be afraid...if you thought the introduction of Simon Bates was bad enough, in a handful of shows' time we get the debut of one of the smuggest, most egocentric and ugliest DJs ever, and probably the first UK example of a DJ bringing in the oh-so-hilarious 'zoo' style of radio show which meant more 'laughs' and way fewer songs per hour.

    2. Goodness me, are we talking about somebody "in the afternoon"?

    3. As Hong Kong Phooey used to say, "Could be".

    4. i'd rather have him "in the afternoon" than mr "our tune" any day of the week! i don't know if it was on totp or another tv show, but i do recall one of the other radio 1 dj's introducing him (when he was still virtually unknown) and (ironically) getting his name wrong!

    5. Hey, Arthur, that makes two of us! Can't stand the guy, but it will be interesting to see what he was like when new to the BBC.

    6. But did anyone 'love his show' ?

  7. i settled down at a friend's house to watch this show on iplayer/smart tv, but sadly it all packed up just as the first new thing i was actually interested in watching (the beat) started! hopefully i can catch the rest at the library in the next couple of days. of what i saw (for what it's worth):

    always thought the clash hideously over-rated; seen madness already on "1980 big hits"; seen macca already from last year (and like others was thinking "what the hell was the point of that when xmas has been and gone?"); seen (the) pretenders already on "1980 big hits" (but special mention for pete farndon's bouncing quiff); couldn't see the point of showing an old video (or "promotional film" as it was probably known when made) for the original of "john i'm only dancing" when it was the disco version that was the (only) reason for its chart presence; and as for boney m, most of their disco stuff is nauseating - never mind cod country and western!

  8. here's the rest of my thoughts on this week's show:

    the beat: i don't know if this was a different recording or if it's just my ears, but this sounded better this time. the band were probably already negotiating another record deal elsewhere at this point, so were the 2-tone threads their idea or that of their label boss jerry dammers? also, does dave wakeling only know that particular guitar chord inversion, or is he doing it for show? i love the way bassist david steele (his name caused some mirth in the music inkies due to sharing it with the then-liberal party leader) is jerking around behind dave's shoulder...

    fiddlers' dram: only the six-a-side line-up this time, but there's still room for the air-oboeist. also the singing lady seems to have made more of an effort with her hair and make-up than last time - i thought she had dreadlocks at first, and then realised it was ringlets!

    kurtis blow: rap may have been the happening thang, but in his 3-piece suit with aircraft-carrier lapels kurtis definitely looks old-school (as opposed to "old-skool"). he sounds and looks like he was actually doing this "live" - either that or he's one hell of a mimer. i do remember owning this (having got it from a bargain bin) but haven't heard it for decades and coming to despise (c)rap had no inclination to refresh my memory. but i have to admit i still like the funky backing track, and don't even mind kurtis himself. rap however a minus mark for "stere-u" - in my (middle-aged middle-class whitey) view that's not a new hip expression but just lyrical laziness!

    billy & syreeta: quickly moving on...

    chic/legs: if this was the best that chic could offer at this point, then no wonder their chart days were numbered - it sounds like someone trying to impersonate them and failing. ironically the next "chic" were already on the scene in the shape of the italian collective change. with regard to legs: rosemary's costume seems to have a lot lower back than the rest - presumably they were one-size-fits-all and she just happened to have a different body shape? also, did they choose their own boots for the occasion? unless one of them joins this blog i don't suppose we'll ever find out...

    dr hook: i have no recollection of this at all - maybe i just zoned them out after "beautiful woman" and "beautiful woman part ii" aka "sexy eyes"? this could well be described as "beautiful woman pt iii" - trying to listen to it without prejudice there's nothing really wrong with it, but i've forgotten how it goes already! i did think there were hints of earth, wind & fire about it... which is a hell of a long way from "the cover of the rolling stone"! in contrast to the anodyne nature of the sound, mr eyepatch gets a bit aggressive in his maraca-shaking at times!

    rose royce: readers my have noticed my obsession with modulation (songs with a change of key in them, if that explains it any better) and i've just noticed this is another example! also, nice woozy camera tricks going on behind the credits...

  9. Can anybody help? I am in a real predicament, thanks to technology and BBC4. I set my TV recorder to record the 3-1-80 edition which was broadcast on BBC4 early Friday morning. However, it failed to record (fangled technology). "OK", I thought, "I've got another chance - I've still got the early Sunday morning showing on BBC-4." This time, it worked - BUT, only to find that this was an edited down version. Look out, folks - BBC4, not content with showing edited down versions of the show on Thursday evenings, are now also showing edited down versions late at night! I've missed the single showing of the full edition! Big please: can anybody be kind enough to upload the full edition somewhere?

    1. No need to upload it, pop along to BBC iPlayer and the full length edition is on there for four weeks.

    2. Thanks for this. Shame about the four-week limit, though. After that, I'll be stuck with the chopped down version. Oh why do they make life so difficult?

    3. I've also had the same problem. When setting recordings on my Sky+HD box, each of the three showings failed to record, yet other programmes even on the same night on BBC4 did record. I smell something fishy from BBC4......and this is on top of the banning of episodes of certain DJs!

  10. I've said before how I've enjoyed tracking my childhood through these repeats but from this point it becomes as close I'll probably ever get to time travel, since my mother used to keep an annual wall planner in the kitchen and 1980 is the earliest surviving example. So not only can I re-live the music scene of the time but I also have details of what we were doing that very week. Although I may mention salient events, fear not, I will refrain from posting the day to day minutiae of the young Relic-to-be's life, like a timewarp Twitter!

    As for TOTP, I can only guess that those orange tags with 'RETAIN' (I think) on them, as seen on the Madness and Fiddlers Dram performances, were some kind of in-joke, and the latter band's guitarist playing his instrument back-to-front may have been related. This Madness song looks like the one where Suggs established his subsequently well-known singing voice and style. One of those songs that's genius because of its simplicity.

    Otherwise it was a show full of stuff which had either been on before or quite clearly went in one ear and out the other. I've no recollection of these Boney M and Chic records, and I can only remember the name Kurtis Blow and nothing of the 'song' (if you can call it that). I do remember the Dr. Hook number though, and as has already been mentioned it looks like it was a speculative recording done at the same time as WYILWABW for the Christmas show.

    Despite the above, I can clearly remember this show because of the way it ended - you just KNEW that PP was going to whack that cymbal!

  11. Not one of the better shows, but nice to have TOTP back, and good to have an effervescent host kicking off the new year. Woohoo indeed! Not a good start for The Skids, though -only down to a trio in their mugshot. Sadly, one of the three’s that prick Jobson. Last year’s Andy McCluskey!

    Interesting to see Madness and The Beat put in front of the numerical backdrop as if they were seen as the future of 1980. Certainly in Peter Powell’s eyes at least. I went down the pub last night, and they had “The Sound of 2015” on a continual loop on the video system. I kept looking up and catching some act called Kwabs, which simply gave me a vision of Elmer Fudd down the clinic.

    Loved the way Lee Thompson played the toy sax to full effect, plus the Paddington Bear labels effect from Mark Bedford. Mind you, I was always worried Suggs shouted “Sieg Heil” before the instrumental bridge. What exactly is he shouting?

    Paul McCartney and Kurtis Blow’s dated efforts simply made me pine for the pilot episode’s stars to be on in their place. Potential catchphrase this year for any crap act on TOTP…bring on the extras!

    Interesting to see The Pretenders’ Martin Chambers wearing a black and white football scarf in tribute to his home town football team, Hereford United. Such a shame the club was run into the ground and wound up in the High Court three weeks ago.

    Did David Bowie have a “W” on one cheek and an anchor on the other? You’ll get the pun, honest.

    Boney M’s ‘at best a B-side” mush would have been a fine follow-up single for Lena Martell. Hang on, I shouldn’t encourage her! Can’t get used to Bobby dressed smartly for a change. Bring back the Rasputin clobber!

    Someone had obviously put higher charge batteries into The Beat’s David Steele. Nice to see whatsisname the drummer get a higher profile, but poor old Saxa deserved better than the left back role.

    So, Fiddler’s Dram had 13 in their photo. Where had the rest gone from this appearance, and why? Couldn’t the stage take all their weight? Did they decide who’d be on this show with a game of musical chairs? That earlier comment about Arrabella Weir ruined this for me - I started singing in my head “Look at my bum, voluptuous bum, does it look big in this outfit?”

    A poor effort by Chic and awful pre-Green Goddess outfits for the gals. Did Sue screw her nose up at them and pre-empt the Musicians’ Union by going on strike? Still, I thpught Pauline’s outfit colour enhanced her complexion.

    Another forgettable song to follow, from the Hook boys. Did Ray Sawyer play any other instruments or ever sing any solo lead vocals? He reminded me of a cross between Sid James and Bez.

    Shame there wasn't a syndrum for Pete to bash at the end to be in sync with the Rose Royce tune Talk about production values. Who's this Michael Hurll?

    1. No need to worry, Arthur, the shout before the solo in 'My Girl' is "Piano!".

    2. Thanks for that, Stratosphear.

      They were really struggling to push that Boney M single. Turns out it appeared on TOTP during its fourth (yes, fourth week) in the chart and climbed a whole one place to its peak of 35 after that effort.

  12. David of Stourbridge13 January 2015 at 02:51

    Thinking about the likes of Wonderful Christmastime and Christmas Rapping still being prominent - this show was based on the chart for Monday 24th - Saturday 29th December. There'd be no sales on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and I can't recall how strong retail would have been on 27th and 28th, back in 1979. But with the 24th and 29th being the days with biggest sales potential, it is possible that these yuletide singles could have relatively high positions in this chart from their performance on Christmas Eve.

    1. This has prompted me to get the book out... There was no chart published for the week ending 29/12/79 (the previous week's chart was repeated), the one shown here is w/e 05/01/80, so was presumably released on New Year's Day (Tuesday).

      I don't know if it did indeed cover two weeks' worth of record sales, but as Angelo mentioned, the Paul McCartney and Kurtis Blow singles were at their peak positions (6 and 30 respectively), as well as the Greedies with their sole week in the Top 40 at No. 28.

    2. The chart was based on sales wholly prior to Christmas, the sales week being Monday 17 to Saturday 22 December 1979. Back in the 70s the chart compiler would frequently compile a chart based on pre-Christmas sales which was dated to the first Saturday in the new year. If Chistmas Day fell on a Wednesday or later then Radio 1 would play the new chart on a Tuesday as normal but it wouldn't be published in Music Week until the first issue of the following year, hence the late week ending date. If Christmas Day fell on a Monday or Tuesday then the chart wouldn't be compiled until after Boxing Day and would then be announced on Radio 1 around New Year time. Again it would be published in Music Week in the first issue of the new year. All these charts covered only one sales week - BMRB, the chart compiler, never compiled a weekly chart based on more than a week's worth of sales. As for sales that took place between 24 to 29 December - it's likely that as no chart was going to be compiled based on sales in this period that no sales diaries were completed for that week. This happened every year, a week's worth of sales around the Christmas / New Year period would just not be collected.

      The next chart we will see featured on Top Of The Pops 1980 (week ending 12 January 1980) is the first chart of the 1980s to be based on sales in the 1980s (31 December 1979 to 5 January 1980). It would be another week still before a chart in the 1980s was wholly based on sales in the 1980s.

  13. Intriguing - this website suggests a chart was compiled but not published, which would have seen John Lennon topple "Grandma" off the top....

    1. The chart that refers to has something of a mythical status about it. Many people (including myself at one time as well as the owner of think that back in 1980 the BMRB compiled but never published a chart that had 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)' by John Lennon at number 1. Whilst it would be intriguing had this happened the truth is less exciting. A chart fanzine called Chart Watch compiled and published in the 1990s a series of Christmas / New Year charts to cover the period 1969 to 1983 when BMRB (and for 1983, Gallup) didn't compile a chart based on sales for one week around the Christmas / New Year weeks. The charts were compiled by averaging out the chart positions of singles from the last chart of one year and the first chart of the next year. The chart for 1980 had 'Happy Xmas' at number 1. The charts were compiled for a bit of fun but due to a misunderstanding of how they were compiled chart followers began to think they were the real deal - and these charts then took on a life of their own.

      I have these "missing" charts and the top 5 for the averaged out chart dated 3 January 1981 is:


      The top 2 were most likely the two biggest sellers of the week, though as to which one would have been at number 1 had the BMRB compiled a chart for that week is open to debate and it's something we are never going to be able to find out...

    2. By an amazing coincidence, I was only talking to someone about Chartwatch earlier this week. I subscribed to it for many years. They used to do a run down of the scoring in the Eurovision. They had a pullout in each issue which ultimately showed the entire chart run of every act (where chart was the 'full' chart, not just Top 30).

    3. My random comment about Eurovision was because that was what we talking about this week

  14. David of Stourbridge14 January 2015 at 08:27

    Excellent info, all.
    And I have just looked in my old Top Twenty Book (compiled by Lee Jasper). The last week in December is not featured each year..until 1984, where chart positions for 29th December are shown. I guess the system improved that year.

    1. David of Stourbridge14 January 2015 at 08:29

      Correction: Tony Jasper, not Lee. Now that would have been an, erm, interesting tome...

  15. I've finally got round to watching this.

    Madness and The Beat were the pick of the bunch for me. The 2 Christmas songs I could've done without - I didn't mind Kurtis Blow until it started appearing on the TOTP2 festive show every year.

    I had never heard the Chic song before, it's almost like a 'Greatest Hits' in a single song. There's a superior Rodgers / Edwards production coming up next week, I see.

    I'd never heard the Boney M track either. Turns out I wasn't missing much - Bobby in a suit is wrong wrong wrong. And the song sounds like bloody 'Mull of Kintyre'. One of those is quite enough, thanks.

    1. I know the Chic tune isn't their best known, but I really like it, that insistent chorus is just great.