Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Top of the Pops Cats

You've licked up your saucer of milk, wiped your whiskers and now there's a furry rug and a warm fire in the front room for you to curl up and enjoy a purrrrfect night in watching Top of the Pops from November 10th 1983, along with 9.4 million others ~ miaow........

This is not a cheesy pop song

10/11/83 (David Jensen & John Peel)

Musical Youth – “007” (26)
We get this live show underway tonight with a song now at its chart peak.

Adam Ant – “Puss ‘N Boots” (5) (video)
Loving this mousy video and the Kate Bush lookalike thigh high boots lady leading Adam around by the collar! But number five was its pussycat peak.

Marilyn – “Calling Your Name” (32)
This would become Marilyn's only top ten hit when it reached number 4 ~ but it was edited out of the 7.30 showing tonight.

Eurythmics – “Right By Your Side” (27)
Going a little bit gospel here and making it to number 10.

Limahl – “Only For Love” (20)
With a couple of nice girls to keep him from being too lonely now he had no band, this song went up four more places.

The Cure – “The Love Cats” (10)
Here's Robert and his happy gang, doing it once again with feline ~ and they clawed up three more places for their efforts. Following this performance we had the return of the Top Ten Video Show, with Jensen and Peel amusing each other by having a who can hold the mic in the most eccentric manner contest, and it also gave us a first glimpse of the epic video for Say Say Say, which had suddenly rocketed into the top three, after a couple of weeks of actually falling down the charts. That's the power of the Late Late Breakfast Show for you.

Billy Joel – “Uptown Girl” (1) (video)
Second of five weeks at number one.

Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (30) (audience dancing/credits)
Re-entering the charts all the way up to number 19.

Next up is November 17th, but one of the hosts is Jimmy Savile. So BBC4 will skip along to November 24th instead.


  1. Doubtless in a nod to the approach of panto season, the Rhythm Pals this week dress up as Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Sadly however, their verbal wit largely seems to have disappeared in favour of fancy dress and holding microphones in the silliest way possible. I thought Peel was slightly below par, actually, messing up his Eurythmics intro a bit and then trying unsuccessfully to reprise his "multi-talented" running gag over the chart rundown.

    Musical Youth ditch their DJs in favour of more casual gear for the opening performance, with flags and streamers to the fore. Adam Ant then proves that he could still make an inventive video with this gloriously OTT effort. "Puss" does indeed look a little like Kate Bush, but it was the giant mouse heads that left the biggest impression, I think because of the rather sinister glowing red eyes...

    Marilyn makes his debut, doubtless hoping to cash in on the success of erstwhile housemate Boy George, but while he certainly has "the look" he doesn't share George's abilities in the vocal department. Still, he is clearly enjoying himself and the song is pleasant enough in a sub-Motownish way - Claudia Fontaine, fresh from backing Elvis Costello, is well to the fore in this performance. Best song of the evening next, as Annie and Dave unleash this joyous gospel and calypso-tinged number, one of my favourites of theirs. In her leopard skin hat, gloves and wrap, paired with a sharp trouser suit, Annie couldn't really look any more 80s if she tried!

    Limahl's horrible hair gives him his own, less distinguished place in the iconography of the decade, but fair play to him for bouncing back so quickly from the Kajagoogoo sacking with this first solo hit. As with Marilyn, he and his two backing singers look to be having a good time, but it's another mediocre song - his finest solo moment would come the following year. Robert and his friends have another go at The Love Cats, and the presence of the furry mascots on the drums and keyboard was a nice touch. We then get the Top 9 Video Show, but given that pretty much all of the videos had been on before it wasn't very interesting. Shaky's was the only brand new one, and what we saw of that was quite dull with its suburban house setting - at least the Mackson clip was different from the one shown in the JK segment the previous week. The reissued Love will Tear Us Apart is a rather downbeat way to end proceedings, but the audience gamely try to dance along...

    1. With regard to John Peel as a host, it's beginning to wear me down with his dreary manner. Enough already, and does anyone know when he finally stops introducing TOTP?

      Musical Youth having children performing in the group, surely should not have been allowed on TOTP, as even the audience had to be over 18, so how did TOTP allow these kids called 'Musical Youth' into the studio to perform in front of 9.5 million viewers on TV. Oh please.....

    2. Peel's final TOTP was on 5 February 1987, so he's got a long way to go yet! We have seen plenty of child performers on TOTP during these reruns, so I would assume different rules applied to them than to the audience.

    3. Good Heavens, I cannot stand one more episode with Peel, let alone till 1987!

    4. let us not forget (if you see what i mean) the likes of the sparrows, st winifred's school choir, and brian and michael's chums appearing on the show!

      i do agree with dory though that peel's "i'm only doing this through sufferance" routine is starting to become somewhat wearisome. and it also dampens jensen's enthusiasm too, which is not a good thing

    5. How odd you lot think Peel was not enjoying himself doing TOTP, he fully admitted he loved it (and live TV in general) and only stopped when he felt he was becoming known as that bloke off the TV instead of that bloke off his beloved radio show.

    6. unlike most of my peers, i'm not a disciple of peel (who i regard as becoming a charlatan long before he started doing totp) anyway. and although i found his "i can't believe i'm presenting this lightweight pop show when i'm renowned for playing cool indie stuff on the radio" mildly amusing when he first appeared, it's beginning to wear rather thin now...

    7. To be fair, he does always mention when an act he introduces makes their debut and has gained their break from being on his radio show.

    8. The first child performer I recall on the show was Neil Reid with 'Mother of Mine'.

    9. Agree with Wilberforce in that if you look at David Jensen's solo style with enthusiasm before his regular double act with John Peel, it is clear that he has been dampened down by Peel's walking dead image. Even the one show that Peel did with Mike Smith a few months earlier, showed the same morbid style being mirrored by Smith, as they don't seem to stand up to him. Peel does not share his colleagues' upbeat style and instead drags them all down to his level. I wish he would have got off the bus ages ago.

    10. I suppose you either love or hate Peel's dry wit. At the time I loved it and thought it bought a breath of fresh air to the show which was in danger of taking itself too seriously. However viewed 36 years later I can see that he is overdoing it a bit and maybe was a bit of a control freak and wanted to do it his way.

  2. hosts: presumably the reason for tonight's fancy dress theme was in homage to the "robin of sherwood" series on the rival channel? peel calling several acts "multi-talented" in his portion of the chart countdown gets rather tiresome - ironically the one act (quo) who could really be called that in a justifiably facetious/tongue-in-cheek manner (delete as appropriate) was one of the few he didn't refer to in that manner!

    adam ant: another listen has not endeared itself any more to me. all i can add really is that the old guy in the video is comic actor lionel jeffries. perhaps as a result of his dad getting involved in such camp fare, his son ty is a professional drag queen!

    marilyn: talking of drag queens, here's the next in what is becoming quite a long line of gender benders to appear on the show, although none have as yet actually come out as gay at this point (i'm not sure if bronski beat or frankie goes to hollywood had the honour of being the first out-and-proud-of-it homosexual pop stars, but no doubt all will be revealed very soon). he might have been prettier than friend/rival boy george (although not as pretty as when he was a proper monroe impersonator in his younger days), but the similarity of both his singing style and music to culture club probably did for him in terms of chart longevity (and also that by all accounts he was not a very nice chap). that black female backing singer whose name temporarily escapes me (thanks for reminding me john!) pops up yet again - does she hold some kind of record in that respect?

    eurythmics: starting to stray from the synth-pop formula that made their name with this cod-african thing (that was already becoming passe). i think i actually liked this at the time, but realised soon after that their best days had come and gone, wiping my cassette recording of the "touch" album accordingly

    limahl: one that's completely escaped my memory. it starts off pretty weakly, but i grudgingly have to admit it gets a bit better as it goes on. i still want to smash his face in with a lump hammer though. unlike marilyn, i don't anybody at the time (other than industry insiders) had the remotest suspicion that he might have been gay

    joy division: why exactly did this re-enter the charts? possibly as some kind of protest against paul young's cover version?

    1. The Limahl offering looked a a lot like Tight Fit in dress and style, with the two jungle outfit girlies feeling up Limahl in the second half of the performance. It was a case of The Limahl (Lion) Sleeps Tonight, but unfortunately no No.1 was due for him with this effort, as I thought it was a very good tune which deserved to do much better.

    2. I doubt the Rhythm Pals' costumes had anything to do with Robin of Sherwood - although the first series had been filmed by this point, it wasn't broadcast until the spring of 1984. On the subject of pop stars coming out, Tom Robinson did so back in the 70s, though he did later marry a woman...

    3. ah, yes john - i'd forgotten about tom, who of course had recently made a comeback after his punk years and "sing if you're glad to be gay". despite tom's urging, the likes of marilyn, marc almond and boy george were all rather coy about their sexual leanings (the latter famously commented that he "preferred a cup of tea to sex") even though their appearance and demeanour made that fairly obvious to most followers of the pop scene...

  3. The Cure's 'The Love Cats' was one of my favourite singles from that period, actually. Somehow the double bass - which Phil Thornalley plays instead of his usual bass guitar - seems to swing more than the latter instrument. Lol Tolhurst had moved to keyboards by this time, his former drum seat being taken by the experienced Andy Anderson.

    With Carmel's 'Bad Day' and The Creatures' 'Right Now' also charting high in '83, it looked as though a jazz revival was on the way - but that would not happen until the late 90s.

    Limahl's offering is competent enough, though hardly earth-shattering. Carol Kenyon - who famously sang on Heaven 17's 'Temptation' - provides vocal support, which is mimed here by the former Kajagoogoo frontman's two backing dancers.

    Adam Ant - whom my dear Mum loved - scored his final Top 5 hit with his pantomime-inspired offering. His next single, 'Strip', with a spoken cameo by Abba's Anni-Frid Lyngstad, was banned by many British and American radio stations because of its suggestive lyric. Both singles were culled from Adam's critically slammed second solo album, 'Strip', which was co-produced by the once ubiquitous Phil Collins.

    1. I must say that this Adam Ant offering, as you rightly say was his last ever top ten hit, was a good one to go out gracefully, and was actually a favourite of mine, mainly due to brilliant video on display here.

      The video got a fair old play on the show this week, I mean a whole 4 minutes of the video, which is quite a humungous amount for TOTP, who were being very generous this week. Adam Ant always seemed to make very good videos, and this one seemed to have everything, i.e., comedy, fashion, sex appeal, and lots of colourful characters.

    2. Julie - there was big jazz revival at this time. The Style Council's first album was very jazz influenced and they played at Ronnie Scott's in late '83. Everything But The Girl's first releases were in a jazz mode and there were more jazz bands around (some of whom charted) inc Animal Nightlife, Rip Rig and Panic and Working work. I loved the latter's Venceremos single which featured Tracy Thorn and Robert Wyatt on vocals.

    3. bama actually means working week, who were a spin-off of an earlier less-jazz oriented group weekend. and of course the biggest of all with regard to these "jazz" acts was sade. but my problem (which became much more apparent in retrospect than at the time) was that most if not all those concerned started out playing in three-chord punk bands, and thus never really knew how to play jazz properly!

    4. Yes I had forgotten about Sade. You're right that not all the bands were adept at playing jazz but as you say we didn't know that back then.

  4. Had to laugh at Peelie cracking himself up. Silly man.

    Dress down Thursday for Musical Youth with their upbeat cover that doesn't add much except a talky bit from the most diminutive member. Waving those flags about must have been tiring.

    Adam Ant's not lost his knack for the novelty video, and this time the ageing guest star is Lionel Jeffries, who could carry a tune himself as you'll know if you've heard him performing POSH in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

    Marilyn with a pretty confident turn of a not bad pop song, though it does peter out at the end. Not sure why he was called Marilyn when he doesn't look much like Miss Monroe, maybe you had to see him in the Seven Year Itch get-up? Nice to see he and Boy George have kissed and made up on that BBC2 documentary earlier this year.

    Eurythmics with a jolly, sunny number that doesn't sound very autumnal, unless the approaching winter meant a trip to the Caribbean. Always think Dave is one of those people who suits glasses and looks weird without them. Annie doing a Roger Daltrey impersonation with the microphone there.

    Limahl, yeah, that wasn't very good, was it? Unimaginative at best (one line repeated for the chorus?), fortunately for him West German film producers were watching...

    The Cure with their feline-obsessed ditty, but how did they make the noise of the miaowing on the record? Good balloon popping action from Bob at the finale.

    The video chart less impressive than before, mainly because we'd seen most of them before, some on this very show. Shaky's video looks like he was aiming for the lonely housewife market, a big change from that video last year when he was being adored at a concert by a bunch of kids. I really must check out the Say Say Say video in full, don't think I've ever seen it - unless it's on properly in a later show?

    Billy revving up for the long haul, then the Joy Division classic that joins the ranks of the overplayed so much that I'm not bothered if I ever hear it again. Full marks for the attempt at dancing cheerily to this, audience.

    1. marilyn looks a lot more like monroe here:

    2. the above link doesn't seem to be working, but i've found a better pic anow anyway:

    3. Thanks, but I couldn't get that link to work, though I did a Google search and found a pic where Marilyn looks like Norma Jean, so I'll admit there was something to his nickname. There's also a lot of photos of Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani, which presumably they're delighted about (Rossdale used to be his boyfriend, briefly).

      There's a very good Guardian interview with him where he says he basically sat in his room in his mum's house getting high and watching the Alien films for 20 years, not because he was so rich he could be a slacker, but because it was all he was capable of. He admits too that he was really horrible to people when he was in his Marilyn guise, though he seems to have calmed down a lot now with the passing of time. A character.

  5. I remember the jukebox in the student union bar at Kingston Polytechnic had a copy of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" which was meant to be played at 33⅓ rpm and regularly got chosen on purpose for its sped-up virtues.

    Marilyn has indeed turned out to be a nasty piece of work. I didn't like his follow-up "Cry And Be Free" but I did think the next single "You Don't Love Me" had a chorus which would have sounded better belted out by Tom Jones.

    1. My local pub jukebox had the same problem with the B-side of Love Will Tear Us Apart. Whenever someone played it on purpose, or by accident as I did, the barman would angrily stomp over to the jukebox and unplug it. If you asked for your money back you were told to piss off.

    2. one has to ask: why was "love will tear us apart" put on a 7" single to be played at 33rpm anyway? after all, it was only about 3 minutes long

      also: even if it was, why was such a record put in jukeboxes when it could only play the things at 45rpm?

      thirdly: no one has yet answered the question i posed before: why was it re-released a mere three years after being a hit?

  6. regarding the tv shedule for this evening: a few months ago i reported on the death of my peer mark farmer who was in "grange hill" and "minder". and as a result discovered he was also in something called "johnny jarvis" that i had never heard of, even though i was sure it would have appealed to me at the time. well now i know the reason why: it was broadcast on thursday nights, and as with totp i never got to see it due to rehearsing with a band on that evening practically every week throughout 1983!

    although i missed watching totp, one dared to miss rehearsals at the expense of being sacked from the band, which was creating a real buzz locally at the time - to the point where we even deluded ourselves it was only a matter of time before we appeared on the show ourselves. so it was considered worth the sacrifice (none of us had video recorders back then). i remember the bassist once having to choose between going to see one of his favourite bands that were appearing locally (U2), or coming to rehearsal - he chose the latter, which really emphasised how things seemed at that point!

    anyway, back to "johnny jarvis": despite turning out to be an expensive investment (the beeb wiped their copies of it!), i bought a dvd if it and it was well-worth watching as a document of the bleak political and social landscape of the thatcher era. although the title is misleading, as it was as much if not more-so about jocular everyman jarvis's pseudo-intellectual chum alan lipton who unlike johnny didn't even try to look for a non-existent job in the witch's "brave new world". as such the series really should have been called "alan & johnny", or perhaps "johnny and i"?

    1. I find it hard to believe that the Beeb would have wiped this, unless it was by accident! I thought the only things that they were still junking by the early 80s were certain live shows like Saturday Superstore.

    2. If you liked Johnny Jarvis you should check out comedy drama series Prospects which starred Gary Olsen and Brian Bovell as two unemployed young men who try their hand at various jobs. It was on C4 in 1986. Equally good was the BBC's Give Us a Break with Paul McGann and Robert Lindsay. Both are available on DVD

    3. john i don't know if the beeb got rid of "johnny jarvis" by accident or design, but there's no way of getting it on dvd other than a rather iffy unofficial copy that's doing the rounds

      bama thanks for mentioning "prospects", one i'm adding to my "must watch" list - even if like "JJ" it might be a bit bleak! not too sure about "give us a break" though. partially because robert lindsay is one of those actors who i put in the "del boy syndrome" category i.e. despite their many popular roles over the years, i can only imagine them in the one that made them famous in the first place (in his case it's wolfie from "citizen smith" - now thatsomething i wouldn't mind watching again!)

  7. An average edition with John Peel a bit all over the place and some middling tunes.

    Adam Ant - Nice to see the video which as usual is a good laugh, and I loved the robot mouse heads.

    Marilyn - I think I like this song more now than I did at the time, though it's not one I have an urge to listen to very often.

    Eurythmics - This is alright, another one that I don't mind hearing once in a while.

    Limahl - I bet this was expected to be a huge hit, certainly the compilers of the first 'NOW..' album thought so as it made the cut along with 2 Kajagoogoo songs (!) but I agree with most of the posters on here that it's pretty average fare.

    Top 10 video show gives us Wacky Macca & Jacko at last, why didn't they show the video previously (other than in the JK segment) exactly? Other than that, we've seen most of it bar Shaky who gives us something extremely tragic to represent his not particularly interesting song.

    Joy Division - Always good to hear this, and I have danced to it at student discos in my younger days!

  8. Only For Love has much more emotion and atmosphere to it than the Marilyn song which also sounds rather languid in comparison. Never got the appeal of Calling Your Name.

  9. Return of the dynamic duo from Sherwood Forest…

    Musical Youth – 007 – Oh-oh, FF time again…

    Adam Ant – Puss in Boots – I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the drumming sounded like Phil Collins, even if Phil wasn’t appearing the studio. After Julie’s comments above I checked and, yep, it’s him on drums! I do love this video though. What a treat and who is the sexy lady?

    Marilyn – Calling your name – Has not aged well. Just trite and an image gimmick.

    Eurythmics – Right by your side – Just not my cup of tea…I know it’s popular but give me ‘Love is a Stranger’ any day.

    Limahl – Only for love – As Marilyn, just trite. You certainly don’t hear this on ‘Magic’.

    Cure – Love Cats – Meow! Still sounds good. Again we get two feline songs on the same show – Pussycat anyone?

    Video rundown – As noted above, the Shaky video was the only one of real interest….and I found myself wandering onto YT after it to compare the backing track of Madonna’s ‘True Blue’. I have to say it’s similar and the song is one of my favourites of hers that doesn’t get played as much as the likes of ‘Like a Virgin’, ‘Papa don’t Preach’ and (sigh!) ‘Vogue’. Cheesy video as well.

    Billy Joel – Uptown Girl – I will never get tired of the song or the video, so watched it through again.

    Joy Division – Love will tear us apart – I prefer Paul Young’s version with the spoken female voice on it.

    It would have been nice to have featured the Olympic Orchestra with the theme tune to the series ‘Reilly – Ace of Spies’ starring Sam Neil. The single stayed in the charts for an incredible 16 weeks, rising no higher than no26, see-sawing up and down. It’s an atmospheric piece of music and I would have much preferred hearing that to the likes of Marilyn and Limahl.

    1. Adam's lady in the Puss video was Karen Landau, Michael Praed's wife. A pity Ad never got around to a Robin Hood panto in video form.

    2. Thanks for heads up on puss n boots lady. Been searching through Google to no avail! :-)

  10. After a period of long hours at work and illness (not unrelated), I've been catching up at a rate of one show a night this week, and I'm finally up to date.

    So, a few comments/questions:

    1) What the hell were those body-poppers doing in the Uptown Girl video? They ruin the period vibe completely. Also, did Billy's fellow 'mechanics' ever win an award for their over-emoting? Every look, gesture and movement is completely OTT, to the point where they make Billy look like a professional actor. Or maybe that's the point...

    (I love the song and video, btw, especially the look of undisguised joy on Chrissie Brinkley's face when she gets to join in the dance routine near the end.)

    2) Was this the golden age of female backing singers? On this show alone, we had them for the Eurythmics, Limahl and Marilyn, and of course all Paul Young's hits of the period featured them.

    3) Whose stupid idea was it to make Joy Division the studio play-out song? It's hard to think of a less suitable song.

    4) I know this is a bit late, but like I say, I'm catching up: does anyone know what 'Karma chameleon' is actually about? I must have heard it 100 times, and I'm none the wiser.

    My best guess is that it's something to do with the difficulty of being gay in a society where that isn't widely accepted - lines like "I'm a man who doesn't know/How to sell a contradiction" suggest that interpretation. But I've never seen a definitive explanation.

    1. I remember Boy George saying that the "every day is like survival/you're my lover not my rival" lines are a reference to his turbulent relationship with Jon Moss, but I'm not sure if the whole song is about that.

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  12. Not sure I need to see Musical Youth massacring a reggae classic, UB40 are better at doing that.

    The Adam Ant video with Lionel Jeffries. The robotic mice looked like futuristic Wombles with scary eyes. Funnily enough the Wombles film was on London Live today and that was directed by Lionel Jeffries. The video certainly helps sell the song more than last times studio appearance.

    I remember the Marilyn effort as a song without a proper chorus, it's okay but doesn't really go anywhere. I like the way they wisely kept the older, less cool session musicians way, way over the back out of sight with only the Kirk from Coronation Street-lookalike pianist in close up.

    Walking Vogue cover Annie Lennox and her beardy partner Dave give very good value for money changing their image with every release. She was like a female Bowie in that respect. This was an excellent upbeat calypso song with some nice guitar work. Beautiful!

    Limahl I thankfully have no memory of and I wish it had stayed that way. It's pretty bad. I can't believe this got to number 16.

    Seeing The Cure again made up for the not-so-good stuff. Not sure why the Rhythm Pals called it The Top 10 Video Show when they only showed the Top 9. Getting a bit bored with the Upturned Girl vid now but that's because I've seen it 6 times in 6 days. Totally wrong to play out with the crowd happy-clapping along to Joy Division. Is nothing sacred?

    1. You might like the Limahl song more, when you consider that one of the backing girls on stage with him this week (the slightly slimmer one to his immediate left) played his girlfriend in the video for his next top ten hit a year later in 1984, called Never Ending Story, where she takes on a completely different appeal:

      Note that this was one of two videos made for Never Ending Story, which was not the one shown on TOTP, but is the one available on iTunes for purchase, which is a great addition to anyones pop video collection.

    2. one can assume that with regard to what is known about limahl these days, that she wasn't his girlfriend for real?

    3. Pity, cos she was looking quite tasty in this week's TOTP studio on Only For Love , and the above mentioned second video made for Never Ending Story. Wonder what she is doing now?

  13. Having the top ten video show reinstated for at least one week here showcased some very high profile pop videos. Kara Chameleon and The Safety Dance back-to-back brought home the splendour of the 80s with colour, costumes and fun that never seemed to end at that time in our history.

    Puss 'n'Boots then showcased sheer BritPop talent with one of the best videos ever made by Adam Ant, and then a top 3 that was all-American, taking in Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson (ok, with Macca), and Billy Joel. The Americans took the whole top 3 in Britain this week, and boy did it come across well on the return of the top ten video show!

  14. Missus is out, so taking the opportunity to begin to catch up. Nothing really caught my ear, but hardly did any FF.

    Unlike others on here I enjoy Mr Peel's dry humour.

    Never seen the Puss h Boots video - really enjoyed it!

    Watching the cure reminded me of a video they did where they are all in a cupboard that falls in the sea and fills with water - anyone else remember that (or am I hallucinating?)