Thursday, 13 April 2017

Watching You Watching Top of the Pops

Well I'm having to hurriedly blog this show from August 11th 1983 without watching it due to me being on holiday! Normal service will be resumed next week :-)

Edward Scissorhands or Siouxsie Sue?

11/08/83 (Richard Skinner & Tommy Vance)

David Grant – “Watching You Watching Me” (34)
Became the first of two top ten hits for David when it peaked at number 10.

The Style Council – “Long Hot Summer” (8) (video)
The band's biggest hit, peaking at number 3.

Level 42 – “The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)” (33)
The first of six top ten hits for the band, reaching number 10.

Spandau Ballet – “Gold” (12) (video)
Won a silver medal when it peaked at number 2.

The Creatures – “Right Now” (17)
Went up three more places.

The Lotus Eaters – “The First Picture Of You” (21)
Peaked at 15.

Depeche Mode – “Everything Counts” (10)
Went up four more places.

Robert Plant – “Big Log” (11) (video)
At its peak.

KC & The Sunshine Band – “Give It Up” (1) (rpt from 28/07/83)
First of three weeks at number one.

Herbie Hancock – “Rockit” (15) (audience dancing/credits)
Became his only top ten hit, peaking at number 8.

Next up should be the 18th August, but DLT is one of the hosts.....


  1. David grant - Zoo dancer Julie dressed in a grey suit and white top underneath it, then also appeared on the KC sunshine Band at No.1 dressed in a summery outfit. Yeh she's the one with the dark beaded hair that reminds me of Jemima on Play School. Anyway, Julie seemed to be the most regular Zoo dancer in 1983, and she's such a cutie.

    The Creatures - easily the best studio performance this week, after their dramatic video from a couple of shows ago. I like it when Siouxie sings 'right now, put your lips at my command, right now, take me down to Lovers Land".
    Hmm, an opportunity not to reject, fellow bloggers!

    The Lotus Eaters - Ooh, what a great number, and I guess this was a repeat of the studio performance from a couple of shows ago, without having seen it on the early evening showing.

    Robert Plant - I don't remember ever seeing the video, but how this song is growing on me since their studio appearance a couple of shows ago. The video does the song a lot of favours, and getting to no.11 for such a dreary sound is reflective of Robert Plant's voice and his video effort. This song would not have got this high in the charts if someone else was singing it.

  2. like angelo i've not actually watched the programme itself, so no comment on mine hosts...

    david grant: giving this a listen on yt again as a result of having completely forgotten about it, i thought to myself that i should like it as it has all the elements of club/post-disco sound that i love. and yet it feels like something's missing

    style council - when this was a hit in the days before modfather-phobia set in, i have to admit i did actually find this quite soulful and groovy. but i'm glad to say the infatuation was short-lived, as further listening revealed it for the lightweight cod-effort it really was

    level 42: it was good that they finally broke through to the top 20, given they were on their fourth album by this point. but sadly it was with one of their worst efforts. as someone by chance mentioned to me the other day, it actually sounds like two completely different songs fudged together as one (which i also remember thinking at the time)

    spandau: like "true", i've heard this a million times now. and also like "true", at the time i couldn't decide whether i liked it or not. but unlike "true", i don't care if i never heard it again nowadays - especially the cringeworthy "you're indeSTRUC-tble" line! i wonder if gary kemp had the upcoming los angeles olympics (featuring the classic diana ross missing-open-goal routine in the opening ceremony - the funniest bit is the goal collapsing afterwards as if hit by a stuart pearce special, despite that!) in mind when he wrote it? if so then he was a real winner in that regard as to my recollection it got played relentlessly throughout the television coverage, even though ironically the track was only a runner-up chart-wise

    herbie hancock: i had real respect for this guy in the 70's, but i despised this cash-in on the emerging hip hop sound that i thought was far beneath him. and particularly given the keyboard line was so simple it could have been played by the woman in new order (even without bits of sticky tape on the keys!), never mind one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. so when he appeared on "the tube" performing it live, i really hoped he would make an arse of himself by messing it up!

    1. Diana's infamous missed goal was in the opening ceremony to the 1994 World Cup.

    2. oops - looks like i've scored an own goal there!

    3. I actually admire much of Paul Weller's work with The Style Council, and 'Long Hot Summer' was not only the perfect chillout single for the era, but has barely dated. While his recent career has proved erratic, Weller has produced some very fine pieces of work in his time. Who would have predicted that he would cover 'Meet Me On The Corner' at a charity concert, though?

  3. First of all, many thanks to Angelo for your dedication by continuing to blog even while on holiday! The solid partnership of TV and Dickie gets a second outing, and both are smoothly professional and enthusiastic throughout. Tommy is in yet another loud jumper, while Dickie becomes the latest model for the new TOTP t-shirt.

    David Grant continues to sport that stupid headband for his new hit. Musically this is OK but a bit anonymous, though David sells it as well as he can with his energetic dance routine, which utilises Zoo and plenty of space in the studio. While the choreography is competent enough it is, needless to say, not exactly in the Jacko class. I had no idea that Long Hot Summer was also known as "A Paris," but Cambridge is the location for the video, appropriately shot on a hot sunny day. As Paul and Mick pass under the famous Bridge of Sighs, I caught sight of the window of the room, situated literally right next to the bridge, that I occupied in my final year at St John's College. This is probably the Council's best single, and its languid atmosphere successfully evokes a lazy day in the midst of a heatwave.

    Although I am no great fan of Level 42, as with the Council this song represents something of a career high for them, a great melding of synth pop with funk influences that still sounds original and fresh today. Mike Lindup has now wisely lost the tache, and takes centre stage with some aplomb in this enjoyable performance. One of the decade's most familiar songs next, accompanied by the stylish video filmed in Spain. Despite being just as ubiquitous as True, I think Gold is a far superior song, and it is one that I haven't yet tired of hearing. The video apparently features Sadie Frost, more than a decade before her star turn in Pulp's promo for Common People.

    The Creatures come to the studio this week, with Zoo trying to look cool in hats and shades while Siouxsie mimes into a retro microphone. The Lotus Eaters return, and this time it is much easier to see the whole band than on their first performance. The singer, unfortunately, still lacks a mic and once again is left looking awkward and self-conscious. Depeche Mode, by contrast, all appear very confident in this performance, with Dave flaunting some blonde highlights while Martin bares his chest, whether we like it or not...

    A moody, cinematic and dare I say it slightly pretentious video follows from Mr Plant, before a repeat of KC's performance from two weeks earlier is intercut with a new Zoo routine to celebrate his ascent to the top. Flick's guys 'n' gals are very prominent this week, and lead the dancing over the credits to Herbie Hancock, whose cutting edge percussive synth and scratching sound feels very dated and clunky these days.

    1. Cool Style Council video reminiscence, John!

    2. blimey - i didn't know we had an oxbridge scholar in our midst! and
      after the diana ross faux pas, i had to check and make sure my memory served me right in that sadie frost was gary kemp's squeeze!

    3. There is another Oxbridge scholar in the next TOTP show, which I have replied to your comment there - none other than John Du Prez on Modern Romance's final hurrah.

    4. dory i am referring to our fellow contributor john g - not pop stars appearing on the shows!

    5. I seem to recall that TimT, who occasionally comments on this blog, said that he also went to Cambridge, though he was there a few years before me.

    6. My brother went to Kings College Cambridge if that counts, but I wasn't academic enough and had to make do with London. John G, I'm not surprised, as considering your style of writing and humbleness, it figures, but on the other hand it never crossed my mind as to who on this blog is of Oxbridge calibre.

    7. yes john you are right - i had forgotten about tim t! of course, i could well have gone to oxbridge had i put my mind to it. but instead i just drifted between the dole and shit jobs for many years after i left school, before going to uni as a mature student. and even then that was salford, which hardly gives oxbridge sleepness nights in the realms of academia of repute!

    8. Thanks for the compliments Dory! I moved on to London later, as I did a Masters at UCL.

      Wilberforce - I just checked the latest university league table, and while Salford isn't especially high up the list it is some way from the bottom!

    9. Salford is where John Virgo (snooker commentator) comes from, as well as where the studio for the BBC Breakfast news on BBC1 is transmitted from every morning.

    10. the campus i attended at salford was in an old soap factory that was surrounded by a sink estate, and i don't think a day went by when i walked there from the student halls without seeing piles of glass on the pavement where unsuspecting students and/or visitors cars had been broken into by local youths. so it was hardly the dreaming spires of oxford or cambridge! when i was there i once tried to get on their team for "university challenge" (that rarely if ever makes the televised stages). but the questions on the entry form were actually much harder to answer than many they ask on the programme itself!

  4. Tommy persists in sporting a cosy jumper on a hot summer's day, and he also gets a fright at some glitter, the wuss.

    He seems to think David Grant's routine is in the Jeffrey Daniel league, when it's more Geoffrey from Rainbow. What is he wearing on his legs?! As for the song, this actually pops into my head sometimes, though now I wonder if it was inspired by the end of show catchphrase on Game for a Laugh.

    The Style Council - did we really need to see Paul Weller's nipples? He obviously thought we did. Kept expecting Mick to fall in the river, but he denies us that pleasure. Quite a nice lazy day vibe about the song, though, despite the overwrought lyrics it does make you want to relax.

    Level 42, now there's a thin line between footstomper and plodder, and I'm not sure if they were going over it with this one. If you don't want to go to war, Mark, then don't (resists right on current affairs comment).

    Spandau Ballet with an overplayed and kind of pretentious pop standard, and that's a very poor jigsaw, but it's not the worst thing they ever dreamt up. Gold sax, too. Or maybe the same metal saxes are always made of.

    The Creatures with a performance as stripped back as their sound. Quite a dynamic number forcefully presented, and Siouxsie looks cool. They really like that Mel Torme fact, don't they?

    The Lotus Eaters with the lights on this time. Lead singer still gulping away between every line, but it doesn't detract from the ethereal sound.

    We're back to Depech-ay Mode, are we, Tommy? Another sighting of male pop star nipples - Peter Andre never seemed so far away. Not sure blond hair suits Dave. Nice to see them looking more confident with each successive appearance.

    Robert Plant, hey, I was sort of correct about that video, it is desert-set, and I think there's a motel in it. The video goes on for ages, too, a lot longer than the extract we were offered here. Somehow the pretentiousness succeeds here where the Spands just looked naff.

    Well deserved No.1 for KC, great summer tune, but still with the nasty synth rerecording from last time, I prefer the original incarnation off the record.

    Herbie Hancock to end on with the dancing, I suppose they didn't show the video because of the mechanical rudeness? Though I do recall it from the time, so someone must have shown it pre-watershed. Anyway, terrific, pared down dance record, probably dashed off in five minutes but sometimes you don't need to overthink these groovy things.

    Lots of big balloons this episode, Katy Perry would be impressed.

    1. a couple of things about mel torme):

      1 - bill tarmey's stage name was inspired by mel, as like "the velvet fog" he was also a nightclub singer before gaining fame as jack duckworth in "coronation street". apparently it was actually meant to actually be "torme" but either he or a club promoter mis-spelt it!

      2 - it might interest you that he did not one but two covers of songs from donald fagan's brilliant "night fly" album:

    2. i seem to remember that the video for "rockit" barely featured herbie himself, as apparently his record company wanted it to be a staple of MTV... and black faces weren't very welcome at the time!

    3. Without looking it up, I think Herb appears on the TV set that the robots are "watching". Donna Summer's recent She Works Hard... had just been the first black female pop video to go on rotation on MTV when he released this, but his low profile might have been because the video concept was better than watching him tap out the melody on his keyboard.

    4. yes, also without watching i remember herbie appearing on a very small monitor from time to time. the other thing i remember was lots of (mechanical?) legs swinging about

      i don't know if herbie's low profile was to stop him being blacklisted (ho ho) on MTV, but i think there was a bit of kerfuffle over what was seen as discrimination (deliberately or otherwise) at the time (i always thought it was wacko that broke through that particular barrier... and he was still pretty black at the time!). i also remember the weekly rock papers being accused of not featuring black musicians on their covers - apart from the fact they and their readers were generally disinterested in black music, an excuse proffered was that black faces didn't stand out very well in grainy black & white pics!

    5. I don't think newsprint did black faces many favours, but with the increasing use of glossy paper in the 80s there was no excuse. Ten years later almost every black artist was using high contrast black and white in their videos to look classy.

      But yeah, Whackson was the first to break MTV's colour bar, apparently because Beat It sounded so rock (the solo!).

  5. Vance and Skinner work quite well together in this, sometimes enthusiastic edition. I love the way the girl standing to the left of Richard just before the all-important chart rundown from 20 – 11 is announced keeps a fixed smile; obviously take ‘whatever’ of that intro as I’m sure it’s a fixed smile and she’s not really that overjoyed by the charts. I wonder where she is now and what she’s doing?

    David Grant – Watching you watching me – I watched for a bit and despite the dancing, hit FF.

    Style Council – Long Hot Summer – lead track is LHS but the EP was called ‘A Paris’ and featured all its notes from ‘The Cappuccino Kid’ in French! Very sleepy video with Weller punting on the Cam and (like THX) I kept expecting the punter to do the inevitable and fall in the water! Much better than ‘Money go round’.

    Level 42 – Living it up – The Levellers are on the roll now. Not too many vocals from Mark King on this song as Wally sings most of it, but it’s a crowd pleaser no less.

    Spandau Ballet – Gold – Second four letter titled track in a row (Elton John did an album called ‘Made in England’ where ten of the eleven tracks had one word titles; the only exception being the title track). ‘Gold’ is just a fabulous follow up to ‘True’ and its ‘James Bond’ themed video is a cracker too. Has someone been watching ‘Goldfinger’ by any chance?

    Creatures – Right Now – Not too bad I suppose, but surprised it kept selling. Very short.

    Lotus Eaters – The first Picture of you – You’re not kidding that this was played to death on R1. But wasn’t every chart hit? I worked in the stockroom at W H Smith for a spell one summer and R1 was on all day and it was when ‘Pass the Dutchie’ came out, anyway……

    Depeche Mode – Everything counts – Great single and the band put on quite a show in the studio with the weird oboe like instrument and the topless keyboard player blowing into a green, what looks like a toy keyboard thingy. The mimed vocals at the end looked wrong to me.

    Robert Plant – Big Log – Big expanse in this video. Reminded me of ‘The Martian Chronicles’ where there is hardly anyone around except in a cafĂ©. Bob wanders around and occasionally joins in the lyrics. It’s a great moody single though and we get to hear a good chunk of it here, although the full five minutes I don’t believe made it to the single cut.

    KC – Give it up – Nice flipping between very enthusiastic studio dancing from this edition to when KC was on the show a couple of weeks ago. Definitely a summer ‘feel good’ single, just right for dances in Brighton, Margate etc.

    Herbie Hancock – Rockit – Great piece of techno dance music to finish up with and continue the party in the ToTP studio.

    1. Man, The Martian Chronicles scared me when I was little! Has a great space disco theme tune, too.

    2. i was vagely aware of "the martian chronicles" but have never seen it. so thanks for the tip - i'll be adding it to my list of vintage tv series to catch up with on dvd

      the last time i was exposed to radio 1 for several hours daily was in the summer of 1996 when i worked in the kitchens of a holiday camp. two things i remember being punished on what seemed an hourly basis were cover versions of "killing me softly with his song" (an apt title there) and "how deep is your love" by the fugees and take that respectively. every time they came on i used to think "for fuck's sake, why don't you play the far-superior original recording for a change?"! still, even that was preferable to radio local (and its virtually non-stop adverts) that one of the chefs would sometimes insist on having on!!

    3. Wilberforce - 'thanks' for reminding me of the Fugees. I had managed to airbrush them from my mind for years!

    4. it's my pleasure sct! what really annoyed me about their version of "killing" was that it started off in the same manner as i recalled the original that i hadn't heard for many years with the massed acapella vocal harmonies. but instead of some pleasant acoustic guitar strumming, it then all fell away into virtually nothing, leaving only the ridiculously exposed lead vocal and a hip hop beat - that is if you take out the prat rapping in the background. and i would have loved to have taken him out - in more ways than one, but i'm not talking about going on a date with with the guy!

    5. The Fugees were the biggest covers band of the 90s. Unless you count Undercover or KWS - two reasons I was listening to Ministry in 1992.

  6. wally? is that a mistake or a joke? level 42 actually had two keyboard players, one "official" one in mike lindup and one "unofficial" one in wally badarou (who had originally played with mark king and phil gould in M and was co-currently part of the compass point house band (backing grace jones among others) with sly and robbie. i'm not sure who exactly did what on the level 42 recordings, but wally had a trademark riff (involving using a portomento lever at a guess) that can often be heard on whatever he was involved in...

    but then again, maybe sct just thinks that mike looks like a wally?

    1. bah - that should have been a reply to sct's post!

    2. The mistake is all mine.... Thanks for the rapid correction wilberforce!

  7. Shakey Shakerson14 April 2017 at 10:56

    Hosts. Skineeeeer!! is his usual pro self.TV, however, still looks uneasy, makes a couple of gaffes, wears a weird collection of ill-matching items, and - to top it all - just looked plain awkward at the end with his foot up on that railing. It is mainly his fault that the pair pick up a 5.

    David Grant. It's just not very good is it? He might have been the voice of Linx but obviously Sketch was the man with the ear for a good tune.

    Homeo-erotic alert! There is more than a touch of 'the love that dare not speak its name' in this video, and I'mguessing Weller was overly-proud of his physique at this time. It does, however, fit well with this glorious summer song that, coincidently, has been playing a fair bit on the Shakey in-car entertainment these past few weeks. Excellent stuff.

    Level 42. Hate this song.

    Spandau write their own James Bond theme and although I liked it back in 83, it hasn't worn well. In the video the Kemp brothers sing backing vocals into an invisible mic for some reason.

    Already bored with The Creatures - FF.

    Lotus Eaters. Brilliant.

    Depeche Mode ( or Depech-ay as both our hosts call them) Martin Gore tries to out-do Weller in the top-off-immac-ed-chest stakes. And fails. Put it away. son.

    Big Log. Tedious video.

    A surprise number 1 for KC and Herbie Hancock to see us out.

    The summery Lotus Eaters/Style Council double was the peak of the show and enough to get us up to a score of 7.

  8. David Grant - Too much of this bland type of stuff around in 83 if you ask me!

    Style Council - I could do without Weller's skinny pale chest on display, but this is one of their better efforts. Since it's back tomorrow, here's a Doctor Who reference for you - it's lucky that the band didn't get attacked by a black obelisk while doing their punting!

    Level 42 - I wouldn't switch it off if it came on the radio, but I'm not a huge fan either.

    Spandau Ballet - Not as bad as True but still overplayed. And played to death on the BBC coverage of the LA Olympics the following year.

    I wasn't bothered about seeing The Creatures again, but very pleased to see The Lotus Eaters and Depeche Mode.

    The rest is forgettable, I'm not keen on that Herbie Hancock song. Nice Partridge pose that TV sports at the end though!

    1. i can't claim to be the world's foremost authority on dr who, but i believe the black obelisk reference is to "the five doctors" - where tom baker wouldn't play ball and join in, so they just used archive footage of him punting on a boat and a few then-fancy special effects to trap him in some sort of time vortex?

    2. The footage used in 'The Five Doctors' was taken from a story called 'Shada' that was never completed due to strikes etc. At the time, this was unseen and hence ideal for insertion in 'The Five Doctors' due to Tom Baker not wishing to appear. A later scene of Tom and Lalla Ward running back to the TARDIS, also from 'Shada', was similarly used.

    3. Shada written by Douglas Adams pre Hitchhiker

    4. Adams adapted Shada for his second Dirk Gently novel, The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.

    5. Yes, you got the reference - The Five Doctors was the story I was referring to!

      As 'sct353' says, footage of 'Shada' represented Tom in that story, while his Madame Tussauds waxwork appeared in his place at the photocall!

  9. Oh,forgot to say - musician experts feel free to correct me, but the instrument that Alan Wilder of Depeche Mode is playing (which is also the one on the recording) is a cor anglais, is it not?

    More impressive than Martin Gore's cheap Yamaha / Casio / whatever it was...

    1. Martin Gore was playing a melodica but the other wind instrument was a shawm (it's the dual reeds that makes the wobbly sound when you blow between them), and was played by Andy Fletcher.

  10. Belated thanks for the namechecks. I was in fact studying at Cambridge in 1983, but I don't remember the Style Council filming this video - presumably because it was shot in the summer holidays.

    Contrary to popular opinion, we didn't spend all our days punting up and down the Cam, though I did have a few goes and more or less mastered it. I certainly never exposed myself like Mr Weller, though.

    1. I must admit that I never went punting during my time in Cambridge. I did try rowing once, but once was enough...

  11. As others have pointed out, I'm not sure why Rock On Tommy is wearing a thick pullover in the middle of the summer but I suppose he was getting on a bit at the time and probably felt the cold, poor thing.

    Remember the David Grant track from the time and liked it a lot. He's obviously got a lot of pairs of those button up boots in different colours. He probably thought they'd help improve his dancing, they don't. His dancing is okay but nothing special.

    Loved the Style Council and liked Long Hot Summer a lot. Never 100% behind the video which was a pastiche of Brideshead Revisited but it's good to see it again.

    The Sun Goes Down. Short summer weren't it! Another group I gradually learned to love although I didn't buy this at the time. A great performance, I love the shared vocals between keyboard player Mike and bassist Mark.

    Spandau's Gold, such a classic now it's hard to judge it one way or another. The video has a whiff of Duran Duran about it.

    The Creatures doesn't quite work in the studio without a visible brass section but Siouxsie gives a superb performance as usual while Budgie just bangs away at the drums.

    Nice to see The Lotus Eaters back but didn't realise that it was such a slow climber. A few years later they would have called this shy sensitive lot shoegazers. This was a superb song that really summed up the summer of 83 for me and it deserved to do better.

    Depeche Mode present the perfect pop song with all the band taking part in the vocal duties. Martin rivaling Weller in the topless, hairless chest department.

    Robert Plant, great song, dreadful title. And not a bad video but the story behind it is lost on me.

    Repeat of the KC performance intercut with new footage of the ever-changing Zoo dancers and playout with a song about lettuce.

  12. Lot of seen before.
    Trivia on Herbie Hancock Rocket - In 1983, until Michael Jackson forced their hand, MTV were still primarily only showing white bands. Herbie's video only appeared on a TV screen in the background - result it got played on MTV.

  13. what type of shawm is being played in the song everything counts in small amounts?