Friday, 1 September 2017

Heaven Knows I'm Top of the Pops Now

Well praise be, it's June 1984 already, and it's paradise for 8.5 million viewers and another edition of Top of the Pops!

Gizza tune!

14/06/84 (Peter Powell & Mike Read)

The Art Company – “Susanna” (20)
Yosser Hughes gets the show underway this week it would seem, with the Art Company's only hit, which peaked at number 12.

Elton John – “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” (8) (video)
Went up one more place, but edited out of tonight's 7.30pm showing.

The Smiths – “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” (10)
Hearing aid in, blouse on and bush in back pocket, but this song just would not go any higher in the charts no matter how silly Morrissey dressed.

Rod Stewart – “Infatuation” (27) (video)
At its peak, and also edited out of the 7.30pm slot.

Scritti Politti – “Absolute” (33)
This follow up to Wood Beez peaked at number 17.

Ozzy Osbourne – “So Tired” (21) (video)
Looking like the disturbed lovechild of Barry Manilow and Kim Wilde in this crazy Phantom of the Opera video, Ozzy took So Tired up one more place.

Nick Heyward – “Love All Day” (31)
'The best song of the summer' got no higher in the charts.

Nik Kershaw – “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” (18)
Became Nik's biggest hit when it just failed to make it to number one.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood – “Two Tribes” (1)
And here's the song that stopped it, introduced of course by Mike Read, straight in at number one for the first of an incredible nine weeks.

Michael Jackson – “Farewell My Summer Love” (15) (audience dancing/credits)
Cashing in on his success, this 'long lost' recording of his peaked at number 7.

It should be June 21st next, but that show is being skipped, possibly because the opening act is Gary Glitter, so BBC4 will show June 28th next.


  1. This is the first show in a while to be longer than 30 minutes, so it’s a pity that much of the music this week is substandard. PP and Mike do a professional enough job, but don’t seem entirely comfortable in each other’s company - there’s a very awkward moment in the closing link where PP clearly expects Mike to start talking, only for his co-host to fail to respond and force him to continue. I have no idea either what Mike’s impression at the end was meant to be about, and PP was obviously very proud both of his legs and of those hideous trousers, given how keen he was to flaunt them for the cameras…

    I had never heard this Art Company song before, and I fervently hope I never do again. This lot were known in the Netherlands as VOF de Kunst, and looking at them that would seem an appropriate name! This is all over the place, and the semi-talkie bits are particularly excruciating. The moustaches are also terrible, and the crowd seem bizarrely excited by it all, or was the constant cheering just a recording played into the studio? The Smiths maintain their 100% record of never missing the opportunity of a studio performance, but this one is pretty much indistinguishable from the last - I still don’t like the song very much.

    Rod, naturally, is on video, but this is very much a third rate effort that is too shouty and weighed down by 80s production techniques that now sound badly dated. Still, good to see Rod get punched in the face for his voyeuristic behaviour throughout the video! Scritti Politti are back, and Green looks more androgynous and Princess Di-like than ever. He gives us a pretty, ethereal tune this time that does not sound as overproduced as the previous single, but is a bit too slight to really command the attention. The same could not be said of Ozzy’s video, which has great fun riffing on the cliches of Victorian melodrama, as well as indulging in a gloriously exaggerated restaging of the Lincoln assassination. It makes me wonder why Ozzy wasn’t cast by Andrew Lloyd Webber as the Phantom of the Opera a couple of years later, though to be honest Ozzy’s hair looks scarier here than any of the featured ghouls! The song itself is pretty anonymous fare, and completely overshadowed by its promo.

    So, which Nick (or Nik) is the best? PP would have us believe that Heyward is giving us the sound of the summer, but this is another song that simply sounds too anonymous to be a big hit, no matter how pretty a jacket Nick wears. Despite him being reunited at this point with Haircuts drummer Blair Cunnningham, this failed to climb into the Top 30, and indeed he would only have one more single that reached those dizzy heights. Kershaw, by contrast, was now at the peak of his career with perhaps his most famous record. It is very catchy, although I don't think myself that it is quite in the same league as Wouldn't it Be Good or The Riddle. Still, this is another performance where he gives his all, with a guitar on hand this time to give him something to do when he moves away from the keyboard.

    It's a delicious irony that Mike Read should have to introduce Frankie as they crash straight in at the top - I wonder if any words were spoken backstage? Yet another warning of Armageddon, but it's brilliantly done and a perspiring Holly looks good in his Hovis cap. I remember my Dad was given a job lot of the various single mixes at the time, and as a 4-year-old I was quite bewildered by all the different versions! A remixed version of an old 1973 Jacko song to close, as Motown predictably sought to cash in once more on their former artist's ascent to megastardom. It's pleasant enough, and the audience seem to enjoy dancing to it, but it's yet another underwhelming track in a show with rather too many of them for my liking.

    1. Definitely not Nick Kershaw's best, but in the context of this music it's ok, catchy tune. Actually I don't hate anything on this episode. And I love the Nick Heyward song.

      Susanna was a popular song in quite a few countries, there's an Italian an Arabic version for example. I didn't like it at the time but if given some energy it's ok.

  2. art company: if not for these re-runs, my memory would surely have confused this lot for mathew wilder as they're another one hit wonder peddling yet more cod-reggae. was the annoying added crowd noise just for the show, or on the record itself?

    rod: yet another attempt to ride the synth-pop bandwagon, but he persists in chucking in the hoary old rock guitar riffs (presumably as some sort of concession to his longer-term fans?) that sound quite absurd when juxtaposed against the tinny synth-brass stabs

    scritti - the last single promised much, but this one really delivered. absolutely essential listening and an almost certainty for my 1984 "crackers" list, for the full effect, i recommend the 12" "version" remix. sadly there's no sign of this totp appearance on yt, but no doubt green looked as divine as the track sounded

    ozzy: quite bizarrely there's no recording of this by the man himself on youtube, just amateur guitarists showing people how to play it. not that i'll be so tired as a result of lying awake all night worrying about that

    nick hayward: i had given up on him by this point, so certainly have no recollection of this. listening now it's probably the best of his solo efforts (even if nothing to rival his haircut singles), but sadly it seems i wasn't the only one who had lost interest by now. maybe to arrest flagging sales he should have dropped the "c" from his name (see below)? despite leaving his former band in acrimonious circumstances (who had ploughed on without him for a while, but to no avail), it seems drummer blair cunningham was still happy to give his ex-colleague a helping hand

    nik kershaw: did he and arch-rival howard jones ever actually appear on the same show? i suppose given the choice i'd have to go for nik, but to be honest it reminds me of that joke made about us and the argies tussling for the falklands i.e. two bald men fighting over a comb. like his previous efforts, it sounds like to different songs badly stitched together

    frankie goes to hollywood: or to be more precise - trevor horn with his machines and sessioneers, featuring holly johnson. you could almost cut and paste what little melody there was from "relax" into this, and few would notice any difference. but then again that would be no surprise given it's all about the production. like "relax" i've got it in my mp3 collection, but i don't think i've actually ever played either of them

    wacko: motown dredge up yet more stuff from their archives to cash in on the phenomenon, but in my view that was where this should have stayed!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. 'Farewell My Summer Love' was one of a whole pile of previously unreleased recordings by The King of Pop. An album of that title, issued by Motown, collected nine of these rarities, all of which were remixed and overdubbed to suit an 80s audience. While not as dynamic as his work for Epic, it stands up reasonably well as a soul-pop collection.

      As for experienced session drummer Blair Cunningham, he may well have been 'on the fence' with regard to Nick Heyward's acrimonious split from his former bandmates.

    3. yes, blair was the "ringo" of haircut 100 in that unlike the original line-up who were chums that started up a band, he had already become a successful pro musician (originally in a 70's american funk act!) when he replaced their equivalent of pete best. it seems drummers are often the first casualty of a band that was formed for fun by a bunch of mates once they sign a record deal (those from modern romance and sade both got the chop shortly afterwards), but the fact is that while the rest of those concerned can have a suspect playing technique and get away with it, the drummer cannot!

    4. I hate the 'King of Pop' moniker. Partly because it's silly anyway, but I don't even think it suits him.

    5. i agree with you starry, but i heard or read somewhere it was actually wacko's own idea to be referred to as such (based on a reaction to elvis presley's nickname "the king of rock n roll"). and i thought the thing with nicknames was that other people gave them to you - you don't choose them yourself! as footballer paul ince allegedly once found out to his cost when he joined manchester united and instructed his new team mates to refer to him as (the self-appointed nickname) "the guvnor"!

    6. There's a good interview with Nick Heyward in last month's issue of Classic Pop in which he talks about being kicked out the band. Blair later went on to be Paul McCartney's drummer in the early nineties.

    7. from what i have heard and read, nick heyward may well have been kicked out of haircut 100 by the rest of teh band. but he only had himself to blame, in that (due to apparent personal problems and issues with coping with fame) he kept not bothering to turn up to rehearsals and recording sessions!

    8. According to the interview he had to return to the band after being kicked out to fulfil a TOTP performance, he said it was a strange experience performing with a bunch of people who didn't want you there!

  3. i've just looked at the tv listings for that night, and unbelievably there are not one but two royal family parasites featured! but sadly even today there seems to be a fascination within this green and pleasant land for what i see as a bunch of freeloading non-entities that just happened to be born or married into privelege. still, at least there's some decent sport on with the european football championships (eng-er-lund weren't involved to my recollection, but we had the pleasure of watching the amazing french team of platini et al), plus the england cricket team getting another bombardment from the massed ranks of west indian fast bowlers!

  4. So which band were first with the white T-shirts emblazoned with the bold phrases, Wham or Frankie?

    Anyway, to start with we have one of the most irksome "heard it on holiday" records of the decade, unbelievably smug and pleased with itself. The song equivalent of canned laughter was indeed all over the recording, putting it on a par with Ray Stevens' The Streak for unconvincing endorsement of an artist's material. It would be great if they'd played this live and the TOTP audience sat in silence, it's all it deserves. The lead singer looks as if he's a light ent impressionist about to launch into his Basil Fawlty routine.

    Anything would be better than that, and Elton thankfully is not too bad, but surprisingly (maybe) he didn't show up in the studio for this one.

    The Smiths, with Morrissey employing an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to his performance by dressing and acting exactly the same way as last time. The sarky lyrics are nicely offset by the Marr guitar.

    Rod Stewart, the grubby little pervert, spying away. Lowest point of this video is his impassioned "YEAH!" when the object of his desire whips her bra off. Nasty sounding bluesy rock with synth updates. No wonder this was relegated to the late slot.

    Scritti Politti, as with most of Green's stuff I enjoy it as much for the pin-sharp production as I do for the tune. He looks like Kimmy Robertson from Twin Peaks to me, here. He doesn't talk like that, you know.

    That paragon of good taste, Ozzy Osbourne, making like a balladeer with swooping strings and world weary lyrics, but they only go so far therefore the video is a succession of kitschy horror imagery, plus an action movie version of the Lincoln assassination that must be up there with pissing on the Alamo for insulting the Yanks. It reminded me of the start of Police Squad.

    Nick Heyward, didn't remember this from the time, and don't remember how it goes half an hour after hearing it now. What happened to those effortlessly catchy tunes of before?

    Nik Kershaw with one of his strongest singles, this was impossible to get out of your head at the time if you heard it on the radio, its repetitive chorus a serious earworm. Two instruments for Nik to not really play very much this time.

    Difficult to recall now how exciting Two Tribes sounded in '84, we were being told doomsday was right around the corner and they were saying, what the hell, let's party till the bombs drop! Impeccable Horn production makes the whole thing sing, naturally. Holly probably should have taken that overcoat off, he's sweating buckets. Slightly different mix to the familiar one here (not surprising when there were about a hundred versions, I suppose).

    Lastly, Whackson sounding very anaemic after that previous bout of gallows humour, with a tinny remix of a bland song. Still a hit, though.

    1. although i wasn't familiar with the non gender-specific name, i guessed that kimmie robertson might have been a woman rather than a man! i was well into "twin peaks" when originally broadcast (apart from the surreal bits), but i have no recollection of her in it. anyway, thx you're certainly not wrong about the similarity in looks to green, and apparently she has a high-pitched girly voice to boot too ha ha:

    2. Rod Stewart's antics once again get him on as a main play listing on TOTP, and by now this recurring theme has not abated in his videos, and I could just imagine him putting the word 'lover' or 'girl chaser' in application forms asking for his occupation instead of 'singer' or 'celebrity'. He did make some changes with this video though, in offering it in black-and-white to change things up a little, but that was all, cos it was nothing different to his 1981 videos Tonight I'm Yours and Young Turks.

  5. An edition that for me is pretty good, but then nosedives….

    Art Company – Susanna – Very topical for me at the time as my sister had a good friend of that name who I really liked but sadly was always out of my reach. Dutch band following in the footsteps of Pussycat whose back catalogue I cannot recommend high enough. This song is a bouncy (cod reggae?) start to the show and one I haven’t heard for ages. Everybody seems to be having fun.

    Elton John – Sad Songs – Still good, but nothing more to add to previous comments.

    Smiths – Heaven knows I’m miserable now – Still with that tree….very strange. It’s quite a pleasant song really.

    Rod Stewart – Infatuation – I don’t really recall this but it’s good! The girl Rod is after in the video is Kay Lenz and we don’t get to see the end where Rod is left riding the merry-go-round whilst she is driven off by someone else! Nice bit of Jeff beck guitar. Surprised that this was not a bigger hit. But there again…..(see later….).

    Scritti Politti – Absolute – Reminds me of the Honeycombs with a female drummer and a much better song that the previous hit. I don’t recall this at all. I don’t think I was watching TOTP at this point in time in disgust….(see later…)

    Ozzy Osbourne – So tired – Title reminds me of the Beatles but that is where the similarity ends. Macabre video but surprisingly good song which, like Scritti, I don’t recall.

    Nick Heywood – Love all Day – Like Angelo, I’m puzzled by the ‘best song of the summer’ tag from PP. Again, I don’t recall it and it’s no more than pleasant and Nick and his pals are enjoying themselves.

    Nik Kershaw – I won’t let the sun go down on me – Nik follows Nick with a re-release of his first single from September 1983 and it really should have been a hit first time around, but this issue came with a poster sleeve. Wow! Not to be confused with Elton John’s ‘Don’t let the sun go down on me’.

    Frankie goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes – So (…to later), we have 9 weeks of this to endure. I’ll make my views known once and then I’ll just say ‘next’ in future editions. I could not and cannot to this day get the appeal of Frankie and/or this song. To me it’s a masterpiece of marketing, remixing and hype, and Trevor Horn has done immensely better things with Yes. My ‘Guinness Book of no1 Hits’ observes (and I agree) “contributing to sales of Frankie product was the wheeze of putting out as many as seven different mixes of the singles. Some Frankie fans bought the lot”. It’s funny that in all the polls we get of people’s favourite songs, this never, ever figures. You would have thought with a sojourn at the top to equal Queen’s timeless ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Two Tribes’ would have a special place in people’s musical hearts. But no, like the Charity shops full of Susan Boyle CDs that you see these days, Frankie were merely a passing fad and phase. I always wanted a T Shirt that said ‘I don’t give a f*** what Frankie says’. End of Sermon.

    Michael Jackson – Farewell my summer love playout – Where the hell did this come from? Ah, Mowtown digging the vaults again! Three years peace now until ‘Bad’.

    1. I noticed this edition of TOTP was as morbid as one could get, with Sad Songs, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now, and Two Tribes. It's as though everyone was waiting for something bad to happen. Ozzy Osbourne was So Tired also, and ended the video with a line of morbid characters, like you get at the end of Les Miserables in the West End. Good Lord, I'm 'so tired' of all this now.

  6. I wonder if these viewing figures mentioned by Angelo every week are going to stay this low at around 8.5 million viewers? It's looks like the product life cycle of the show has passed its 'peak' viewing figures of around 11 million in the pre-1984 era, and was now in its 'decline' phase. It will be interesting to see if the rest of 1984 will continue in a downward path and inevitably below 8 million.

    1. The viewing figures would be lower in the Summer anyway and I think 1984 was a particularly warm one (by British standards) which would also have affected the ratings. The show was still in the BBC's top 10 so presumably other programmes weren't rating that highly either.

      It wasn't until the end of the eighties that TOTP's ratings really dropped particularly when they forced acts to sing live. They were back at 7 million in 94/95 when Ric Blaxill was producer then dropped off a cliff when the show got put up against Corrie on Friday nights.

    2. Same thing happened to... you guessed it, Doctor Who, on Wednesday nights.

    3. At the time the beeb claimed that TOTP's move waa temporary, but then they also said that its move to BBC2 was not a final sidelining of the show.

  7. Anyone got the 21st June edition which will not be shown by BBC this week? We might as well also get 28th June while we're at it, cos BBC4 will edit out the JK slot on the 28th June show this Thursday, as we close out June 1984 this week.

    1. Neil B has put 21st June on 4Shared:

  8. Art Company - Cheesy as hell, but for some reason I really like it. Possibly because (like many songs lately) it was on NOW 3 which I played a lot. I'm not sure the laughter and audience reaction IS canned, I believe that the original recording was done with an audience present. The direction of this performance was dreadful, constantly going to long shots when the singer was doing his big reaction pieces (especially the 'NO!' bit) Although possibly the director just hated it.

    The Smiths - Nice to see this, though I think Morrissey's shrub is a little more wilted compared to last time. Nice blouse though.

    Rod Stewart - Awful, overproduced garbage.

    Scritti Politti - One of those songs that sneaks up on you, not full of obvious hooks but a good one nonetheless.

    Ozzy Osbourne - Awful, laboured vocal on this plodder, livened up a bit by the silly video.

    Nick Heyward - He remembers some of the words when he's miming, but certainly not all of them. It's not the most memorable of tunes, so maybe even he had forgotten it?

    Nik Kershaw - Yet another song about nuclear war, and placed just before one that is more explicit about its subject matter! A great pop song, worthy of a re-release to make it a hit.

    FGTH - I agree with some of what sct353 says, in that you don't tend to get this regarded as a classic of the time as with 'Relax'. And certainly it was only No.1 for so long because of the gimmicks. But even without those it would have topped the chart, and I think it sounds great. It really is about time we called him Sir Trevor Horn, but just like John Surtees (too late for him now) I don't suppose it'll ever happen.

    Jacko - Terrible song, and an awful choice for a playout too, hardly danceable is it? Interesting that Read & PP didn't announce next week's hosts, so lucky for BBC4 that they didn't need to get the scissors out for this excellent link (sarcasm)

    1. I think next week's hosts were announced by Mike and PP. I was a bit surprised that bit was left in by BBC4, but presumably it was on the basis that neither Gazza nor Master Bates were Yewtreed.

    2. I thought they'd have chopped the announcement out too, but I don't suppose it was worth the effort of getting the scissors out.

    3. Oh, I must have missed that, apologies. I think it was too busy trying to interpret Mike Read's frankly incomprehensible impression of whoever it was supposed to be. As you say John, I guess neither host is banned so that's why it was kept.

  9. Hi folks! Back after taking the old girl on a weekend cruise to Bruges for her birthday.

    Interesting mugshot points – Melle Mel appeared to be the first act both mispronounced and mis-spelt during the mugshots, and you could tell the lead singer of Art Company as he faced the opposite way to the rest of the band. Talking of which…

    It’s Paul Rutherford’s queasy looking brother fronting a band whose song made “Live Is Life“ by Opus sound like an opera. Hmm, a green bass – not seen one of those in The Quo or The Smiths yet. One hit I recall with what sounded like awful canned laughter was the just as awful “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” by Billy Connolly.

    Great casual amp sitting by Johnny Marr but I could see why this oh so similar performance didn’t propel The Smiths any higher. By the way, Pete, they were into the 10 last week. Duhhh!

    An awful row by Rod Stewart which could quite easily have been called “Peeping Tom “ or “Stalker”, complete with a subliminal 69 in-joke when the door number unhinges. Oh, my sides.

    It’s the return of Scriiti Politti with Princess Green and The Most Gorgeous Drummer In The Re-Run™. More ethereal than “Wood Beez” and I much prefer this.

    Ozzy’s tune sounded like it could have been written by Jeff Lynne. But it wasn’t. Ozzy looked creepier with the slicked hair, specs and handlebar ‘tache in my view.

    Young Nigel Farage with the number 31 of the summer, though I thought it deserved to go a bit higher. Nice matching instruments, lads.

    I loved the way the camera work missed out nearly all of Nik Kershaw’s guitar ‘solos’. I think we need Harry Hill to determine who’s better out of Nik and Howard. By the way, I think the duo were only on the same TOTP once, the Christmas ’84 offering.

    It’s Norman Wisdom! There’s a band behind all those flags. “Two Tribes” didn’t sound right to me without the orchestral pomp sequences. Was there ever a T-shirt made which said “Frankie Says Up Yours Mike Read”?

    Did Mike go all shy on Pete at the end after realising his non-impersonation was crap? And so we finish with an early era Wacko before he was Wacko and a tune which was okay but clearly from a halcyon era.

    1. I think Billy Connolly's number one had a real audience on it, though there may be other versions by him.

  10. A bit late but here's my thoughts...

    I have no memories of The Art Company song and I'm glad I don't. It's awful. They have clearly nicked the tune from the Police's Wrapped Around Your Finger and listened to a few drinking songs. The crowd whooping and cheering just adds to the awfulness. And I have never seen anyone pull faces while playing an accordion that's usually the reserve of guitar heroes.

    Oh it's Duncan Norvelle's turn on the podium tonight. Enough to put anyone off.

    Reg on video.Still a great song but what dates it, and was even old fashioned at the time, is the laboured backing vocals where producers just can't help themselves. Reg looks just a little too ecstatic is those close-up shots where he's wearing the straw boater like he had been sniffing the old devi's dandruff or something.

    Morrissey, another day, another blouse. Like Madness The Smiths made good use of every TOTP appearance with Steven making good use of his props and doing that bizzare finger-point dance while the rest of the band pretend that nothing odd is going on. Pure magic.

    Bad video but acceptable Rod song which I had no memories of proving how blinkered I was back then. Here Rod is clearly trying to be modern writing a song around a heavy rock riff but it works Did Mike Read say the song was inspired by Bella Emberg? So where's Russ Abbot and Les Dennis then?

    Scritti Politti, probably my fave single of his even if his androgynous look was a bit off-putting. The bit before the last verse where his voice is distorted still sends a shiver of the back of my neck.

    From the sublime to the ridiculous Ozzy with a something that sounds like rejected ELO song. Funny video though with a bit of Monty Python and a bit of Busby Berkeley thrown in form good measure.

    The Charts and once again there are a few tracks we'll never see/hear inc Sade and Grandmaster Flash.

    Nick (with a C) Heywood with a "new" line-up but who's playing then sax? Not much to write home about but it's okay but no way as good as his earlier stuff.

    Who's that hiding behind that balloon? It's little Nik (with no C) Kershaw. This is brilliant. The verses having a similar riffy feel as the Rod Stewart song but the way it slips into the chorus with a key change is genius.

    Frankie go straight to the top. I loved this at the time and got into Frankie Fever spending a lot of my hard-earned cash on remixes, picture discs and other stuff. Even after all these years it still makes me smile thinking how I was back then and how little it took to make me happy.

    Playout with some laboured dancing to an acceptable Jacko track. Of course there's no video but it goes to show that even the stuff he rejected back in the day is still better than some of the crap that made it into the chart.

  11. "sniffing the old devi's dandruff"? bama please elucidate...

  12. A patchy show, brightened by the onscreen sparkle between powell and reid

    I remember Susannah well, but don't think I've heard it since 1984.

    Infatuation is a better tune than i remember. I quite liked him in this period, which went against my 'punk' principles....

    Ozzy - don't remember the video - rather enjoyed it. Liked the tune.

    Two tribes - nice to see them playing 'live'. Strangely i thought they always played the video, whilst it appears that they always appeared in person.... Ironic it was introduced by Mike Reid - I am always amused by Mike Reid rewriting history on his Relax ban. I was listening the morning he refused to play it, and i definitely remember it as an unscripted rant.

    1. I remember at the time frantically trying to find the Frankie Goes To Hollywood video, which was not shown on any of the TV channels for being too violent. None of the VHS pop collections in the shops ever had this one on them, and it took years till the 90s even, until I finally found it somewhere on some collection or on its own.

      There may have been a short 30-second clip of it on The Tube or an ITV show but even they did not show it in full. Of course nowadays you can see it in all its glory on YouTube: