Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Top of the Pops Age

Mike Read is the host this week for the 24th January 1980 edition of Top of the Pops. The big changes are yet to happen but the show is already beginning to hint at the direction in which the new decade is heading .....

The 80's are all about having your name in lights
24-1-80: Presenter: Mike Read

(21) AZYMUTH – Jazz Carnival (and charts)
(54) BUGGLES – The Plastic Age
(4) THE NOLANS – I’m In The Mood For Dancing
(45) THE BOOMTOWN RATS – Someone’s Looking At You (video)
(16) THE BEE GEES – Spirits (Having Flown) (danced to by Legs & Co) 
(12) JOE JACKSON – It’s Different For Girls ®
(50) SUZI QUATRO – Mama’s Boy
(9) DOLLAR – I Wanna Hold Your Hand
(15) THE SPECIALS – Too Much Too Young (video)
(53) BARBARA DICKSON – Caravan Song
(30) MATCHBOX – Buzz Buzz A Diddle It
(20) SHEILA B. DEVOTION – Spacer (video)
(22) THE REGENTS – 7 Teen
(1) THE PRETENDERS – Brass In Pocket ®
(29) KOOL & THE GANG – Too Hot (and credits)
Azymuth ~ from Brazil give us quite a chilled chart rundown this week with their only UK hit.
Buggles ~ are in the studio to perform their follow up to Video Killed the Radio Star, it wasn't as big a hit but did still make the top 20. Weirdly, lead man Trevor Horn and keyboard player Geoff Downes would soon join the band Yes, now that Jon Anderson had run off with Vangelis.
The Nolans ~ look most at home with the TOTPs orchestra behind them, with I'm in the Mood for Dancing just one place below its peak in the charts.
The Boomtown Rats ~ go for an army look for this noisy rocker interspersed with a freaky green eyed vampire Bob swinging around in an office chair.
Legs & Co ~ are delicate spirits this week swirling around to the no show Bee Gees.
Joe Jackson ~ this repeat showing was edited out of the 7.30 BBC4 broadcast.
Suzi Quattro ~ was also sadly edited out but you can watch it later tonight on BBC4 or on iplayer.
Dollar ~ a new performance of I Wanna Hold Your Hand from the lovey dovey couple, and brave of BBC4 not to edit out Mike Read's Jimmy Savile name check.
The Specials ~ this live video of Too Much Too Young was recorded at London's Lyceum, and was now poised to take over the number one spot.
Barbara Dickson ~ was edited out at 7.30 so you'll need to stay up late or catch it on iplayer.
Matchbox ~ perform a double bass leaping cover version of Freddy Cannon's rock n roll number Buzz Buzz A Diddle It.
Sheila B Devotion ~ another showing for the Spacer video, and Mike introduces her as Sheila and B Devotion, she seemed to go with both versions of her name at this time.
The Regents ~ had been slowly climbing the charts for over a month and now here they were for a second time on Top of the Pops with their only hit 7 Teen.
The Pretenders ~ and a final week at number one for Brass in Pocket.
Kool and the Gang ~ are Too Hot for the credits this week, on their way to 23 in the charts with this follow up to Ladies Night.
Next week then we reach the 31st of January 1980 in the company of David Jensen.


  1. Only two performances were the pick of the bunch for me this week.

    Joe Jackson - this song still sends chills down my spine when I hear it. It's one of the most under-rated hits of the 80's, with a lovely subtle guitar intro that is unforgettable, as is the video.

    Sheila B Devotion - the piano intro and brilliant video come up trumps once again on its second TOTP appearance, now having reached No.20 in the charts. Sheila is once again brilliant on Spacer, and the costumes on the team are just heavenly.

  2. Plenty of classy disco this week: Kool & The Gang, Sheila & B Devotion, and Azymuth - one of only 3 Brazilian acts ever to make the British Top 20, the others being Sergio Mendes and Morris Albert. (Dionne Warwick, now a Brazilian citizen, was American throughout her British chart career.)

    Trevor Horn CBE and Geoff Downes would indeed join Yes soon afterwards, the latter subsequently joining Steve Howe in the spin-off stadium rock band Asia. As a producer, Trevor would eventually get to work with an Anderson-fronted Yes line-up on the best-selling album '90125' - which included the US chart-topper 'Owner of a Lonely Heart'.

    The Regents were one of the most distinctive British new wave bands there has ever been - and surely the nearest any British band has come to The B-52s in sound and approach. The debt owed to the latter band is even more obvious on The Regents' second single 'See You Later', which had a fuller, harder rock sound but peaked at No.55. That single was issued on Arista - whose parent company Ariola distributed their previous label Rialto in Germany (see the website 45cat); it would appear that Ariola came up with a more lucrative deal than Rialto could offer them. Still, it would not be long before Rialto would score its long-awaited first Top 10 hit in the form of The Korgis' 'Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime', which was apparently Richard Thompson OBE's favourite single of the 80s.

    1. Apparently, "See You Later" was slated for a TOTP appearance but missed out due to The Great Strike of 1980. I didn't know until this week that "7Teen" was released in two versions - the original lyrics mentioned a permanent erection, and this word got changed to reaction to avoid an airplay ban.

    2. I'd no idea Dionne Warwick had taken out Brazilian citizenship - anything to do with her recent financial difficulties?

  3. Spacer has to be one of the great camptastic ! Didn't appreciate this Rats tune at the time, I now think it's great. Buzz buzz a diddle it - great fun.Suzi Q - anyone notice the dubious lyrics at the end of the clip ?

    1. Apparently Shelia & B. Devotion stands for Sheila & Black Devotion. I didn't know that until now, 2015, even though I remember when Spacer charted in January 1980.

  4. I remember seeing an interview with Trevor Horn about his time in Yes, and the way a Jon Anderson-missing audience would shout expletives at Trev during the quiet bits in the songs. Anyway, Plastic Age wasn't as immediate as Video Killed, but I still think it's off a really solid album. Was Elstree ever on TOTP? Thought that would have been a stronger follow up.

    A very shouty Nolans, didn't look like a TOTP performance, though, it looked more like a live one for a concert show, no idea what.

    The Boomtown Rats, this seemed to go on for ages, there's a lot in it. Not bad, but the 80s pretentio-video syndrome was starting to kick in.

    Legs & Co, nice to hear the chorus to this Bee Gees number at last, though the director cut it off in its prime, possibly because the girls' costumes were about to disintegrate.

    Suzi Quattro, geez, those lyrics! No wonder this wasn't a hit, who wants to listen to that tale of romantic woe? Except it wasn't really romance that was on her mind, was it?

    Still think of The Terminator when I see David van Day. Thought Tereza hadn't shown up for about the first minute.

    The Specials, with the only chart hit to reference Alf Garnett. Great tune, excellent pissed off lyrics, but once again the terrible quality concert video for TOTP.

    The eternally mumsy Barbara Dickson with Ray Mears' favourite song. When Mike Read mentioned Mike Batt had written this, all I could think of was the resemblance to Bright Eyes. Should have been Ronnie Corbett introducing this one for the full 80s experience.

    Matchbox, rollicking away, but leaving little impression. Was the lead singer the same bloke as in the Regents? They could have been brothers. Extremely unfortunate intro by Read to 7 Teen, I know everyone seeks out double entendres nowadays but someone should have said something.

    1. No sighting of top 55 "Elstree", I'm afraid, though we are treated to an outing for top 38 smash "Clean Clean".

  5. Right then - based on the TV listings description, I have to confess that I am not filled with eager anticipation for this edition. Oh well, lets see.

    Host - Mike Read , bang on trend fashion-wise with his Two-Tone shirt. Back in the day Mr Read was one of the DJs I liked. None of the forced silliness of DLT or Tony Blackburn; none of the strangeness of Saville. He was good in front of the camera and he knew his music. It makes you wonder who the hell he has upset or offended to have become pretty much persona non grata at the Beeb.

    Buggles.Not as 'hooky' as Video Killed The Radio Star and Horn sings with a variety of accents which is irritating. Not as irritating as the nonsensical lyrics, but still....

    Nolans. Lead Nolan starting off with a rather risky high-speed pirouette which kind of affects her vocals early on, but not a bad effort all told especially considering they were up against the ToTP orchestra. (And like the Buggles, this fades before its time is up to what sounds like canned applause)

    Boomtown Rats in a video performance. I thought I knew this song. I thought I would be singing along with it all the way. Turns out I was wrong. I knew the chorus but that was it. I reckon this was Geldof's most Jagger-like perfomance. And again, canned applause over the too-early fade-out.

    A chance to enjoy Spirits Having Flown in full following last week's far-too-brief outing, this time in the company of the ethereal looking Legs & Co. Oh my God, that gets the over-eager scissor treatment as well. What the hell is going on here? It's like an advert for Now Thats What I Call A Brutally Curtailed Song.

    A twee link, now, into a repeat showing of the brilliant Different For Girls. (Cut song -cue applause)

    Suzi Q - and I have to admit I'm still a little in love with the bass-wielding cutie. Poor song though.

    Dollar. Please God this gets cut even earlier than everything else tonight...... Nope - virtually to the end for that one.

    The Specials. At last something decent. This is great. A live perfomance filled with energy and excitement and a song with a message ( dont eat currant buns for tea, if my memory is right). And yet again, it is cut short.

    Barbara Dickson - yawnnnnnnnnnnnnn. An apt title for this dirge. Did Mike Read go on to write a musical with Mike Batt ( who he name checks as the brilliant writer/producer/arranger of this). Because that would seem to suggest that they were friends and this is the only song so far tonight which isn't butchered at the end. Thats just a coincidence, right?

    Matchbox - AWFUL. No redeeming features whatsoever. So obviously we have to hear this all the way through.

    Sheila B, Regents and the Pretenders at number one and Kool & The Gang play us out.

    Mike Read gets a solid 7 for his presenting duties. The show gets a 4 - points deducted for Matchbox, Dollar, and Barbara Dickson and the bizarre fading out/cutting/botching. Lets hope this was a one-off experiment and normal service is resumed soon

  6. Shaky, following your hankering for Suzi Q, here's a clip courtesy of the bespoke 45cat website where you get to see Suzi in a short mini skirt and showing her pins off!

    1. arthur i looked at that link, but in the only pic i could see of suzi she was wearing dollar-style satin trews, not a mini-skirt... short or long!

  7. host: mr read firmly nails his colours to the 2-tone mast (if that makes sense) but as ever he seems rather stilted in his presentation

    azymuth: i remember people (including myself) going mental when this got played in discos, dancing like dervishes. it still sounds good today, but it does go on a bit long. not to be confused with "azimuth", a british jazz-rock band that was active around this time...

    buggles: does the keyboard player really need all those synthesisers surrounding him? perhaps he's limbering up on readiness for taking rick wakeman's place in yes...? personally i think musically this is a stronger effort than "video", but obviously without the novelty element it wasn't going to emulate that success. does trevor horn sing with a "cor blimey" accent on the record? whatever, that's hardly futuristic is it? i think the drummer is richard james burgess of landscape and early spandau ballet production fame, but have no idea who the rather cool looking guitarist is - perhaps if he had fronted the band rather than the boffin-like horn they might have had a longer shelf life?

    nolans: if i were an ice-skating/diving judge i would have to mark bernie down a bit for nearly coming a cropper with her spin and consequently missing her first vocal cue (still, at least it proved she was singing "live"). the beeb orchestra doesn't actually sound too bad on this. but then again at least some of them probably played on the original recording! was it me, or did the visuals seem a touch on the dim side...?

    boomtown rats: i don't have much if any recall of this, but after the nightmare that was "i don't like mondays" (that unfortunately i know only too well) this was almost blessed relief. i will still never own any of their recordings though. yes, the video is a good signpost of what's to come in the 80's, even though geldof is trying his hardest with his "keef" impression. what a waste of a perfectly-good vinyl jacket...

    suzi quatro: in relative terms this is quite good compared to her other recent offerings. i like the fact that the drummer is determined to duplicate every single thing he (presumably) did on the record. in fact he was so good it looked like he was playing live, but that couldn't have been the case as there was no way the "pub joanna" sound being heard could have come from the fender rhodes the pianist was pounding!

  8. it's another two-parter...

    dollar: blimey - not only are they somehow still hanging around, they've even broken into the top 10! i still find this arrangement bizarre (or should that be "bazar"? ho ho), but i have to acknowledge that mr dollar's multi-layered harmony vocals are quite impressive (i don't think mrs dollar spent too much time in the studio for this one though!). as well as sharing coiffeurs, this time they also have matching pairs of skin-tight satin pants (were his pair "men's" satin pants, in the same way bowie had his "men's" dress?)

    barbara dickson: she's an odd-looking woman - as someone says above she's usually very mumsy-looking, yet in some pictures i've seen of her she's quite foxy! this really was dire - if it had been done by some heavy metal band it would have been "cigarette-lighters-held-aloft" central

    matchbox: obviously it was a close-cut thing for the builders to complete the stage, as one of them was still on it when the cameras started rolling... oh, hang on - that's one of the band! as mr read says, rock 'n' roll will never die - no doubt there are plenty of people making a living out of it even now. although r 'n' r revivalism does nothing for me this was pleasant enough, and i enjoyed the guitarist walking up the side of the double-bass, although that probably shortened its lifespan by several years!

    regents: i never knew what to make of them at the time, and i still don't now. it's a good job it wasn't mr savile's turn to compere this week (although from what people claim, it sounds like 17 might have been a bit long-in-the-tooth for him)...

    kool & the gang: i had no idea of what this was until the chorus kicked in. i actually thought up to that point it was a bunch of white guys - it was that bland! the point where kool and his chums and i headed in the opposite direction...

    1. JS was hosting when the Regents made their first appearance, just before Christmas.

  9. For me this was probably the most entertaining show of the year so far. The Plastic Age was a decent follow-up single for Buggles, and, listening to it, I can understand why Horn got the Yes gig soon after - his vocals do sound distinctly Andersonian in places. Not a bad effort by the Rats either, though I initially thought they were in the studio! Conversely, the Nolans at first seemed to be on video, until it became clear it was the Orchestra behind them.

    Suzi Q carries on in the same vein as her recent offerings, but to diminishing returns by this point - I don't suppose we will see much more of her now, if at all. The Specials still sounded good, even if the video quality was murky, and Matchbox were at least quite fun to watch even if the song was instantly forgettable - shame the audience failed completely to get into the spirit of things on that one.

    It was also a pity that Barbara Dickson got chopped from the early showing - she is a great singer and Caravan is a lovely song, done justice in this performance. Weird that Dollar got left in, given that we've seen it before and that Mike Read mentions Jim'll in his introduction, though that does at least show that the Stalinist airbrushing of history at the Beeb does have its limits! Mind you, I don't suppose we'll be seeing any further Gary Glitter performances, if the repeats last that long.

    I thought Mr Read did another fine presenting job overall, despite his dubious dress sense and the first signs of his mullet developing...

    1. I think the Rats performance was part in the studio and part clips from their video

    2. Yes, I was wondering if that was the case - seems a bit of a weird thing to do if so!

  10. By now at the start of 1980, ELO had finally slid out of the charts in their spaceship for the final time to finish up all the Discovery album offerings of 1979, and were getting ready to team up with Olivia Newton John for the 1980 soundtrack of Xanadu. Roll on the rest of 1980!

    Following the completion of the Discovery album, the spaceship was rested for good, and would never again be featured for the next 6 years of ELO's remaining new album offerings, until Lynne's comeback in the new millennium.

    1. Unless BBC4 decide to broadcast that pilot episode for the new-look show made during July, the MU strike means we won't be seeing or hearing anything of Xanadu. It didn't appear in the Xmas shows either, even though it got to no. 1.

    2. It was refreshing to see Jeff Lynne at the weekend performing at the 57th Grammys with Ed Sheeran on Mr Blue Sky. In fact this link here shows the great Paul McCartney standing up dancing to Evil Woman. This only three days ago in LA. Brilliant stuff!

  11. A curious anomaly on the chart rundown. The No.2 still displays Billy Preston & Syreeta in a different typeface to the rest of stills. Did the graphic designer run out of Berthold City Letraset?

    1. Excellent spot regarding the rogue font. Reminded me of that wonderful find earlier this week, when a set of typeface for a font, thrown in the River Thames in 1917 by its creator to avoid it being used in new technology, was recovered by frogmen.

      No intro for Azymuth –the only chance we get to hear this, so we’ve adynuff! (had enough, you see…oh well) and no namecheck either for the runout tune. Kool? Too hot? It felt like somewhere between the two – luke warm or tepid.

      Never mind Jon Anderson, Trevor Horn sounded more like Suggs in the verses of this track. Loved the guitarist's jacket for some reason.

      That off centre Nolans spin reminded me of a local band I watched fervently back in the 80's. One night they played The Rock Garden (a venue close to Covent Garden) and, at the start of one song, the lead singer tried to do a Terence Trent D’Arby type twirl and fell head first off the stage, only making it back for the last line of the song while the band played on in stitches.

      Another Boomtown Rats single where it takes five minutes to get to the first chorus. I loved this song, but thought that was the weirdest Oxo advert I’ve ever seen.

      Shame we got a truncated Bee Gees (with a delightful Leggers routine), a slightly reduced Joe Jackson complete with The Kid on podium in the background, and a spliced Specials video showing the very essence of a vibrant gig, yet suffered a long dollop of Dollar (Thereze probably thought “Bugger, those dancers have taken my 60’s look. On with the trousers, I guess.”) and a Barbara Dickson song which made me feel like a fast car stuck behind a caravan on a single carriageway.

      Suzi Quatro with backing singers? Blimey! Shame they weren’t used to drown out Matchbox’s horrible vocalist who couldn’t even mime that initial scream properly. Best miming moment of the show had to be The Regents’ Martin Sheller, dropping his guard with that “Oops” moment when he forgot a line.

    2. i played at the rock garden a couple of times in the mid 90's - to my recollection the stage was not only at least a foot high, but also very small. so physical activity of any kind was not advisable...

    3. arthur what is the name (if any) of the font in question, and is it now in use? a fascinating piece of historical trivia that i'd like to know a bit more about...
      i worked in an office 30 years ago where (before computers took over) everyone had to write out patients' details onto GP medical cards. one woman had such unusual handwriting (she was of chinese ethnicity but raised in this country, which may have explained her style) that there were a lot of complaints that it couldn't be read clearly. i thought it looked fantastic and mused how great it would be as a font (or "typeface" as known as back then)! sadly (not being a clairvoyant and realising how important such things would become in the near future) i never took the opportunity to ask her to write down the alphabet for me...

    4. Wilb, it's called Doves Type.

    5. thanks arthur! here's some more info for anyone interested - apparently the reason for (surreptitiously) dumping the type blocks in the thames was that if the co-owner concerned could no longer use it (he had fallen out with his partner and the company was dissolved), then no-one else would either!:

  12. Thanks for that Arthur. Yeah, Wilberforce I had problems initially in finding the clip but if you go to the linkpage there should be a pic of - presumably- the single cover with Suzi in leopard print. Scroll down a fair way and there it is. My suggestion would be to watch with the sound muted because not only is the song not the kind you associate with her, but it is alsobloody awful to boot!

    1. This shouldhave appeared higher up this post in reply to Arthur/Wilberforce.

    2. apologies arthur - i didn't think to scroll down the page! i have to disagree with shaky - i think the record is actually quite good, even if it is a rather desperate move on her part to keep up with the times. it's certainly more listenable (to me anyway) than that stuff she was churning out in 79/80, and at least as good as anything belinda carlisle was releasing at the time to great acclaim. sadly not even the leather mini-skirt could make this as successful - in fact i don't think it even got a UK release...

  13. Finally a good picture on iPlayer! When I first watched this it was not only in stretchyvision (necessitating monitor adjustment) but also very low-res and 'blocky' (particularly bad between Matchbox and The Regents, or was that just me...).

    I have always thought of the Buggles as a duo but here they are as a full band, with Geoff Downes in typical pose, as he would go on to do in Asia (why have one keyboard when you can have five on three sides?).

    This Nolans performance was intriguing - it was clearly TOTP because of the circular thing overhead, but why was this recorded with no audience and why was the tape damaged (the audio dropouts suggest edge damage, which, since the rest of the programme was OK, was on the insert tape back in 1980)? They should have just repeated the December '79 performance which was more polished anyway (if you could ever call live TOTP 'polished'!).

    A big budget for the Boomtown Rats - this is not the official promo which, looking on YouTube, features live concert footage. Like Rat Trap, the single version has never been released on CD.

    This is the last Suzi Quatro single I remember, indeed it was her last Top 40 hit. For someone who burst onto the scene during the 1973/4 glam rock era she has certainly done well to continue having hits into the 1980s - just. Great raw-sounding recording, makes the single version sound somewhat anaemic.

    Don't know about Barbara Dickson looking 'mumsy' but she had mastered the art of negative ageing - by this time she looked like a woman in her early 30s (which she was) but back in 1976 she looked positively middle-aged! Couldn't work out if her backing band were playing live here or miming to tape.

    Matchbox - ah, so many memories. I can remember this young lad appearing on J**'ll F** I* playing the squeezy horn thing along with the band, after which the double bass player gave his instrument to him, saying he was getting a new one. I wonder if this now fortysomething chap still has it? And then there's the singer's rather tame pronunciation of 'operator' here - on the record there is a very heavy emphasis on the last syllable, and I can recall a contemporary radio DJ commenting that even Freddy Cannon didn't say it quite like that!

    So The Regents are now a full band are they? It seems like an age ago when the 'incomplete' line-up appeared. This, together with Dollar, the Nolans, the Pretenders and Billy & Syreeta last week would suggest a slow-moving chart around this time?

    1. The Regents had finally made the top 30 after stealthily climbing the lower reaches. I think in essence the band was just the two male songwriters (lead singer and bassist, who played everything in the studio between them) and the two female singers. The picture used for the cover of the follow-up single and their album suggests this.

    2. Thanks for the info Arthur - I can't say that they're an act I've ever looked at closely. It's (somewhat unfortunately) one of those numbers which some 10 or 20 years later became a cheap and easy track to include on the cheapest of budget 'Hits Of The '70s' CDs, even though it only charted in the last month of the decade!