Thursday, 12 March 2015

Together we are Top of the Pops

For the second week running we have an edition of Top of the Pops that was originally broadcast on a Friday due to the BBCs coverage of the Winter Olympics. Let's hope that Peter's opening joke isn't the start of a slippery slope.....

Hello and welcome from Lake Placid...

Top of the Pops 22-2-80: Presenter: Peter Powell

(30) RAINBOW – All Night Long (and charts)
The follow-up to Since You've Been Gone plays over the chart rundown this week.

 (40) SHAKIN’ STEVENS – Hot Dog
Making his debut on the show here an act who went on to an unfathomably successful chart career in the 1980's...... But perhaps equally unfathomably, considering there are three repeat performances tonight, he was edited out of the 7.30 showing!

 (3) BLONDIE – Atomic (video)
The third and most successful single from their album Eat to the Beat.

 (48) THE BEAT – Hands Off She’s Mine
And talking of the Beat, here they are with their bouncy follow-up to Tears of a Clown.

 (18) BUGGLES – The Plastic Age ®
Now getting just as much, if not more, airtime on Top of the Pops than they did with Video Killed the Radio Star.

(10) THE TOURISTS – So Good To Be Back Home Again ®
A repeat showing of their performance of So Good to be Back Home Again, now just two places short at its chart peak of number 8.

(23) FERN KINNEY – Together We Are Beautiful
On her way to one hit wonderdom, with the help here of the Top of the Pops orchestra, but she did do better with this song than Steve Allan had done a year earlier, his version only reaching 67 despite his appearance on the show.

 (8) THE RAMONES – Baby I Love You ®
A big leap up the charts from last week's number 20 to number 8, but it was all downhill thereafter.

(2)  Legs & Co – go club dancing upon their own medal podiums this week to And The Beat Goes On by the Whispers

 (6) CLIFF RICHARD – Carrie (video)
Cliff certainly had his finger on the musical pulse of the time with this fine Joe Jacksonesque tune.

 (46) IRON MAIDEN – Running Free
The debut here of one of the most successful heavy metal groups named after a medieval torture device of all time, but of course it was edited out of the 7.30 showing, despite the repeats of Buggles/Tourists/Ramones.

 (1) KENNY ROGERS – Coward Of The County (video)
His second and final week at number one with this "soft and sentimental" song.

 (25) PETER GABRIEL – Games Without Frontiers (and credits)
On his way to his first top ten hit.

Next week then we move on to the 28th February 1980 hosted by David Jensen.


  1. So, effectively, five repeats if you include Cliff and Kenny, but no space for debuts by Shaky and the Maiden. Boo boo boo!

    I remember Shaky winning a pop revival TV series called “Hit Me Baby One More Time” some years back. There were eight heats with each act performing 90-second versions of their biggest hit and a cover, and each winner went into the final, with the outright winner having their two tracks released as a single. Tiffany (who’s grown up to be a stunner) came third – her cover was a stomping version of Girls Aloud’s “Love Machine” – and Shalamar finished an unlucky second despite a storming version of Outkast’s “Hey Ya”. Shaky won despite being the laziest act, getting the audience to sing half the chorus of “This Ole House”. His cover was a perfunctory stab at Pink’s “Trouble” and his half-hearted effort made number 20 in the charts.

    Talking of winter sports, advance notice – I’ll be late to the party next week as I’m going to a ski resort in France from Wednesday until Sunday. I’m 53, asthmatic and I’ve had knee trouble, and I’ve never skied before in my life, but sometimes you just have to try something different!

    1. Whoever had the biggest active fan club to ring in won that contest, hence Shaky's success. Shalamar were handicapped due to lineup changes (no Jodie!).

    2. tiffany was a bit "after my time", but having seen her in a couple of low-budget "mockbuster" films recently, she's certainly filled out a bit from the skinny teenager i vaguely recall! anyone who remembers the great "tiffany vs debbie gibson" debate of the late 80's may be interested to learn that the two of them indulge in a protracted scuffle in "mega python vs gatoroid" (in contrast to tiffany, ms gibson seems even skinnier these days than when she was a schoolgirl pop sensation)...

    3. Debbie's skinniness is partly down to her being afflicted by Lyme's disease.

  2. I managed to watch the first edition of ITV's "Pop Gold" on ITV iPlayer tonight. A few criticisms - way too many adverts in the show and you can't avoid them before moving to the next segment of the show, too many TOTP2 style facts on screen, and the record in the "Pop Gold" logo has a label too big for your normal seven-inch record (me being really pedantic there) - but there was some fascinating material, some from shows I'd never even heard of. A tasty supplement to our retro musical diet.

    1. agreed arthur - i had trouble fast-forwarding through the stuff i didn't like either (which was much of it!). it was far too much like hard work so i probably won't bother again...

    2. It is somewhat strange that it has taken ITV 19 years to copy the TOTP2 format in showing clips from shows with captions in the middle, considering that TOTP2 was first launched in 1996.

      It's nice to see though that ITV has found their old shows of the 70s and 80s and pulled out some interesting performances.

      I watched this week's Pop Gold show, and my pick of the bunch was Robert Palmer with Some Guys Have All The Luck, as it started with a non-politically-correct cartoon caption of the OTT show, which women would object to nowadays, but OTT was apparently a spin-off of Tiswas!

    3. I would think that ITV's music archive has a similar mid-'70s 'cliff edge' to the BBC's TOTP holdings, bearing in mind that almost all editions of Lift Off With Ayshea have been wiped. I saw a newly-discovered edition at Kaleidoscope a few years back, and it's well worth tracking down for the presenter alone! Think of a young Baroness Warsi (presumably without the attitude problem) in groovy '70s attire....

    4. don't forget that you can see ayshea as a SHADO operative in most episodes of "UFO"...

  3. It's an Arthur Nibble hat-trick! Sorry, folks.

    Just thought about Ranking Roger's contribution to "Hands Off She's Mine" which, to my mind, implies parental dislike of a mixed-race relationship. Apart from Hot Chocolate's "Brother Louie", can anyone else think of a song where the parents disapprove in this way?

    1. Yes, but it's subtle and gets completely lost in Buddy Holly's hit version, but Brown Eyed Handsome man by Chuck Berry deals with this by not mentioning his skin colour.

    2. Embarrassment by Madness. I seem to remember it's bout the sister of one of the band members

    3. There is a very obscure early track by The Strawbs called "Indian Summer," where an old British army officer in India, retired back to England, objects violently to his student daughter becoming engaged to an Indian man she has met at university.

  4. Weird that they'd edit out who I believe was the biggest selling singles artist of the 80s, fair enough at this point Shaky wasn't that much different from Matchbox (better vocals, of course) but whatever you thought of his warmed over fifties rockers he was a huge star. I suspect Richard Madeley has been exercising his sinister influence.

    Post-apocalyptic with Blondie, which naturally means a solarised landscape and a man on horseback wearing a crash helmet. Not exactly Mad Max 2, was it? Plus Debs dressed in a bin bag for that extra futuristic wasteland touch. Didn't distract from the song, which features the simplest lyrics of any top ten record until the house hits started coming. Or maybe since Mouldy Old Dough.

    Jaunty little number from The Beat, I wonder if they're a little forgotten these days, which would be a shame, they found a winning formula and stuck with it. Also, was someone trying to save on the electricity bill?

    The slightly strangulated vocals of Fern Kinney duelling with the TOTP orchestra, heralded by Peter Powell doing his patented "respectfully lecherous" routine. I suppose it's a sweet song, but it's a bit drippy.

    Oh gawd, not another repeat of the Grease dance from a couple of years ago - oh, no, it's Legs & Co merely dressed up like Olivia once again for reasons best known to themselves.

    Iron Maiden, was never a huge fan of heavy metal but you can't deny these guys had it down to a fine art. Although, were they truncated or was the single really that short? Also weird they cut this from the 7.30 showing.

    Fairly average episode, then, I prefer the nuttier ones.

  5. shaky shakerson13 March 2015 at 05:55

    Peter - talk-with-a-smile-in-your-voice- Powell takes possession of ther presenter's microphone tonight, whilst Rainbow have the honour of accompanying the world's most yellow chart countdown.

    Up first is Shakin' Stevens with the appalling Hotdog. Doesn't he hold the record for most ToTP performances? This is just watered-down 50s nostalgia for people with no taste. As indeed are hotdogs themselves.

    Delicious Debbie and the boys - Atomic. Past their prime now but still capable of outshining everyone else on the show.

    The Beat filling a tiny studio stage for an energetic run through of one of their best tunes.

    Buggles (again) featuring a (male) guitarist with a Princess Di hairstyle. Nice work from the director in demanding a guitar close-up during a keyboard run.

    Peter Powell then hits the hyper-button on his cringeometer, coupling a faintly disturbing 'compliment' to Fern Kinney with a bit of dad-dancing-while-sitting to her singing (which was pitchy at best). Incidently, what the hell was happening to the orchestra toward the end of this? All in all three minutes of acute embarrassment.

    Ramones get the repeat treatment AND the over-zealous Powell treatment as well."So big its gonna' be massive" according to Mr P. Well, actually, no cos this was the highest they would get. And the curse of Mystic Meg strikes another ToTP presenter.

    A strange Legs performance this week - filmed from afar with far too many optical effects and whoever was dancing at the back, second from the left, was out of time with the others for most of it.

    Surprise runner in the 'best-song-of-the-show' race is Cliff with a decent tune slightly spoilt somewhat by his overblown acting at the mic. Good sax break as well.
    Oh, and there is no S on the end of his name Mr Powell!

    Iron Maiden. I mentioned recently that my memory had 1980 down as a year when hard rock made many appearances in the top thirty. I have since checked the charts and I was right - every band worth their salt had at least one hit single this year. This was one of them. . . . and thats all I have to say about it.

    The marks this week are. . . 6 for the music (Blondie, the Beat, The Whispers, Cliff and Peter Gabriel being my personal favourites) And a 3 for Peter Powell. I don't like his presenting style, he got Cliff's surname wrong and he also dropped points for his 'dancing' and his moment of Mystic Megness.

    1. Shaky's certainly up there with 44 TOTP studio appearances, but Cliff Richards (as I'm sure Jim'll called him on several occasions) holds the record with 75.

  6. A much, much, better edition this week, and with three of my favourite singles of the year (Blondie, Cliff and Peter G), plus some other decent offerings it is my favourite of 1980 thus far. As others have said already though, what were BBC4 thinking cutting out Shaky and Iron Maiden from the early showing, while leaving a load of repeats in? I actually quite enjoyed both songs, though I still find Shaky's chart ubiquity in the 80s totally mystifying. It was fascinating to see Maiden in pre-Bruce Dickenson days - was singer Paul Di'Anno's short-haired look an attempt to compete with Rob Halford from Judas Priest?

    The highlight of the show for me was the mighty Atomic, Blondie's finest achievement and one of the greatest tracks of the New Wave era. The video looks a bit naff now, but this is a band at the height of their powers - sadly, from here the only way was down. Fern Kinney did a pretty good job of her live vocal, but she didn't look terribly happy - was this because of the close proximity of smarmy Peter Powell, or the Orchestra's dubious accompaniment, or both?

    Another impressive single from the Beat, meanwhile. As has already been suggested, they are not as well remembered these days as many of their contemporaries, but I greatly prefer their bouncy, to-the-point sound over bands like UB40 and Madness - good to see the crowd getting into it too. The Legs performance was quite striking this week. Although the decade had only just begun, it had a very 80s feel to it and seemed a lot more contemporary than some of their other recent outings - it also suited the music admirably.

    And at the end, after another snoozefest with Uncle Kenny (I don't get the impression PP was that keen on it either) we get the fantastic Games without Frontiers to play out. I love the sparse production and air of menace enveloping this song, and the parent "melting face" album is probably Gabriel's finest hour. Kate Bush of course is on backing vocal duties here.

    1. I've often listened out for Kate's backing vocals on Games Without Frontiers but can't say I've ever pinpointed them ~ they must be mixed in there pretty deeply.

    2. I can definitely make her out on the "jeux sans frontieres" bits - the intonation is in her kooky style.

    3. I suppose we should be glad the It's a Knockout references didn't stop Pete getting played in the current climate!

    4. Revelation #1 :
      That's Kate Bush singing BV's on there (rather than Pete in falsetto).

      Revelation #2 :
      That Kate/ Falsetto Pete is singing 'Jeux sans Frontiers' - rather than "she's so popular" which was what I always heard in my head (actually, it was more like she's so ffopular - whatever THAT meant!)

    5. It also sounded like "She's so funky, yeah" to my cloth ears.

    6. To my mind Atomic's stock only rose after the Sleeper cover on the Trainspotting soundtrack and until then it was well below Heart of Glass, Denis etc in the public consciousness, and I think we'll find it introduced in the Christmas show as the forgotten Blondie number 1 of the year, "Do you remember Atomic?"

    7. When you have three number 1s in the course of a year I guess it can be quite easy to forget them all. Slade's Skweeze Me Pleeze Me from 1973 has suffered this fate, though Atomic is a far superior track and gets a lot more airplay these days...

    8. There's a tragic reason of course why Skweeze Me has suffered that fate (and is excluded from the Slade video collection) - the car accident in which Don Powell was injured and his girlfriend killed happened while that was on the charts - the one video recording that they made for TOTP was repeated while it was at number 1, and later got erased.

    9. "skweeze me pleeze me" (have i mis-spelled it correctly?) was one of the first then-current chart singles i could afford to buy with my newly-allocated pocket money. although i listened to it many times over (to get my money's worth!) i never thought it was as good as the two singles that preceded it ("gudbuy t' jane" - now that SHOULD have been a number 1! - and "mama weer all crazee now") that i had previously only got to hear on the radio. maybe others felt likewise which is why it's been overlooked? and that's despite (or maybe because) those gobshites oasis did a cover of it...

  7. I agree that it was mind-boggling as to why the only two songs edited out of the 7.30 show were the debuts of two legends of the entire 80s decade - Shakin' Stevens and Iron Maiden.

    It's also the first time I think that BBC4 has edited out the first song of the show. Traditionally, the first one after the chart rundown is always a fresh studio performance rather than a video, so this made it all the more strange from this week's scissor team, to go straight from the chart rundown to a promo video by Blondie with no appetiser first from the studio.

    Shakin was capitalising on the previous week's opening act - Matchbox, in a similar hillbilly style, so why they kept in Matchbox as an opening act the week before, and not Shaky for this week's opener, is somewhat baffling to say the least.

  8. not one of the better shows this week with all the repeats and whatnot, so not too much to say...

    shaky: i remember much being made of the fact that he was already over 30 when he first made chart inroads. but sadly that didn't kill his career off...

    blondie: was this video made at the same time as another one of theirs? it's very similar anyway

    beat: always good to see them, but this first original hit is only a warm up for what's to come next. i wonder if the fill-in sax player was a real musician or just a friend of the band? i remember reading that saxa used to play all the right fingerings even though he was miming!

    fern kinney: i am unable to comment on this as my hand automatically went to the fast-forward button as if it had a mind of its own

    maiden: when you hear "heavy metal" stuff like this it all sounds so tame these days. the singer is not helping his cause by shunning the de rigueur long hair look - i wonder if a: that was a factor in his departing the band not that long afterwards, and b: in the light of their enormous consequent success if he ever regrets having done so?

  9. I see that the edition of TOTP that's listed for Thursday week is from the 13th of March 1980, so the policy of skipping shows hosted by DLT looks set to continue.

    1. that's bad news - looks like they will wait till his two years suspension is over ~ would have been much better for our purposes if he'd just been locked up for 3 months, he'd be out now and sentence would be served!

    2. Sadly, I don't think they will EVER show him again - even after the suspension has been served.

      He's been linked with the Yewtree investigation, and for many that's tarred him with the Savile brush - so telly poison basically.

    3. It'll be interesting to see if the repeat run continues into the era when Jonathan King was on it every week.

    4. I think the Beeb have stated pretty categorically that they will not repeat any more DLT editions, so I fear we will just have to rely on online sources for those.

      Jonathan King is an interesting case - he has nothing to do with Yewtree, and he was promised by a former DG, no less, that his TOTP appearances would be repeated. That promise was kept for his last performance on the show in 1978, but whether the Beeb will have the stomach to show those American slots week-in, week-out is another matter. This is of course assuming that the repeats continue for that long.

    5. The Jonathan King slots on TOTP were in 1985 - 86, so there is a long way to go before we need to concern ourselves with this.

    6. Sooner that that -

      There's two at the end of 81, nothing in 82, pops up once a month in 83, and half a dozen times in 84.

  10. 50 something here.

    To my mind the best songs this week were the two bookends - Rainbow and Peter Gabriel. I loathed that Blondie number at the time and I still expect them to start singing Three Blind Mice. How this got to number one whilst the far superior Union City Blue didn't still mystifies me.

    As regards PP why did he refer to the Ramones as a West Coast Band?

    And on this week's Pop Gold we were informed that Prince, Princess and Queen all had number one hits in the eighties. Well - Princess never made it, the purple one didn't get there until 1994 and as for Freddie and co it depends on whether you count Under Pressure as a Queen single. Still, nice try ITV.

    1. Pop Gold also referred to The One and Only as an 80s chart-topper - shame that it was released in 1991...

    2. By two wooden bookends, I presume you are referring to Bagpuss?

      I thought Atomic was better than Union City Blue, and even if Union City Blue was superior, the problem is that it faced too much competition for the Xmas 1979 No.1 slot from Pink Floyd, which in itself was superior to Union City Blue, and hence the lovely Blondie was denied No.1.

      But by the time Atomic got to No.1, it was only competing with Kenny Rogers and The Whispers, and so it was a much easier journey to No.1 for Blondie in Feb-Mar 1980.

  11. So now we have a new tenant in the ‘Waddy’s car park trailer, and who’d have thought it after this dinky little offering (Dinky? Matchbox? Geddit?). How many musicians does it take to concoct that weedy backing? Still, interesting to see a right handed guitarist with his watch on his right wrist.

    25 units of what to watch Blondie? Must be 25 units of something narcotic, judging by that weirdly dressed audience. You wouldn’t get that with “Soul Train”. Nice tights, Debs.

    They should have given Ranking Roger a xylophone to mime the instrumental bit. Where was Saxa? Shame they cut this before we find out that Dave loses the girl.

    Talking of cuts, they could easily have chopped those three repeats in the middle and Fern bloody Kinney while they were at it. If ever anyone wanted to concoct a torture CD for me, this dross and “Ring My Bell” would be early starters in the track listing.

    A migraine inducing effort for Legs & Co this week – and it’s Rosie’s turn to bow down to the frizz Goddess.

    Iron Maiden’s vocalist looked too happy for heavy metal. I see the bassist did the “We’ve been on TOTP” air punch at the end.

    I wonder if Peter was tempted to call Kenny Rogers’ song “Bit soft, bit sentimental, bit shite”?

    I couldn’t hear Peter Gabriel without thinking of Simon Day’s spoof Gabriel, Brain Pern, singing “Chinese Meal”. I bet he played his joker.

    1. Good point about Legs & Co Arthur, but without their two separate routines on TOTP, The Whispers would not have got to No.2, as in those days, there was no promo video made for the Whispers, and nor did they bother coming into the TOTP studio, and so it's thanks to Legs & Co, that the Whispers made it to No.2 slot, only to be denied by Blondie with Atomic.

  12. So it's the TOTP debut of Shakin' Stevens - good to see him doing a live vocal, which I don't think he ever did in the Hurll era, although he didn't strike me as particularly shakin' - he was almost as static as Marti Webb during the instrumental break!

    Blondie's contribution to the 'look at me I'm miming' hall of fame, with Debbie holding a leadless mic.

    'Get your 'ands off me darta, ow!', great stuff. I think the reason why the Beat are not so well remembered these days is because Andy Cox and David Steele found arguably greater fame and fortune and probably higher critical acclaim with Fine Young Cannibals, relegating their former band to just that - a former band. Did Dave Wakeling have a different guitar for each key, I wonder? No idea who the guy on sax was...

    Two repeat showings well worth seeing again, then they got out the old splatty snare drum for Fern Kinney's live performance. This can be heard on several live performances from the 1970s shows. You don't get splatty snare drums any more, they just go 'pop' or 'crack'. And a John Henshall thingy on the camera. I don't think that any of this made a significant contribution to the record reaching the top of the charts, however....

    The Ramones back again on their freezing cold set (well it makes me feel cold watching it) and, I only noticed it this time, with half a hi-hat.

    The Legs & Co effort this week must have been quite impressive back in the 625-line days but all those superimposed images and spangly trousers played havoc with iPlayer! All I saw was a blocky mess. But something which wasn't iPlayer-friendly got me thinking about those early days of colour TV. Remember when presenters used to wear shirts with fine patterns or stripes which would burst forth into a dazzling array of colours?

    And then the first live band of the 1980s (were there only two, New Order being the other?). A rather lacklustre sound, I thought, but credit where it's due all the same.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. That 'dazzling array of colours' phenomenon was called the moiré effect, and it was also prevalent with herringbone suits. I believe it's one of the reasons Harlech Television changed their logo (and name to HTV) back in the day- their initial black and white logo had the company name made up of two sets of interlocking letters in a criss-cross grid effect, which caused a lot of green and mauve flashes on a colour set while the black and white name comprised itself.

    3. But surely the moiré effect would have occurred in black & white as well? As far as I can tell it was caused by the TV set mistaking the fine pattern for 'chroma dots' and generating random colours.

      Just seen that Harlech ident on YouTube - it's something else! Can't help feeling that, with colour already on BBC2 and just around the corner on ITV, it was designed by someone who knew what they were doing - a colour ident from a b&w image. Perhaps it was a case of a good idea not working very well in the real world?

  13. Talking about the Beat, Dave Wakeling found recent fame and fortune (well, to some degree) writing and performing songs for my son's favourite Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated episode. It's worth YouTubing You're Dead Right, Mate, which is unmistakably Mr W...