Friday, 6 October 2017

I Just Called to Say Top of the Pops

Pick up the receiver and don't hang up because it is 6.55pm on September 6th 1984 and Top of the Pops is calling you!

I hope this isn't a reverse charge call, Stevie!

06/09/84 (Janice Long & John Peel, with brief appearance from Bruno Brookes)

Bucks Fizz – “Talking In Your Sleep” (21)
Getting the show underway this week, after being cut short last week due to a train, and the song went up to number 15.

Spandau Ballet – “I’ll Fly For You” (9) (video)
Not quite sure what was happening in this video, but the song flew no higher.

Sister Sledge – “Lost In Music” (32)
This song had peaked at number 17 five years earlier, but now this remixed version did much better and became their third of six top ten hits when it got to number 4.

Level 42 – “Hot Water” (26)
Mark is really working that thumb on this one and Hot Water peaked at number 18.

Alphaville – “Big In Japan” (11)
A second studio appearance and the song went up three more places.

Stevie Wonder – “I Just Called To Say I Love You” (1) (video)
Not the most imaginative videos this one ~ perhaps he could have at least made a giant plasticine sculpture of Lionel Richie's head? The first of six weeks at number one for Stevie.

Elton John – “Passengers” (5) (audience dancing/credits)
At its peak.

Next up should be September 13th with Bruno Brookes and Dave Lee Travis ...... so BBC4 will skip to September 20th instead.


  1. "Yes - don't do it like this!" Arf.

    Bucks Fizz get to finish what they started before they were so rudely interrupted, and while the ladies have changed outfits, the blokes seem to be stuck with the same fashion choices. The girls don't do very much on this do they? A couple of lines at the chorus? They're relegated to pouting 'n' posing duties in the studio.

    Ver Spands with a somewhat enigmatic video that starts with Tony re-enacting Southern Comfort and ends with the band springing a lady on the way to prison. I don't think police cars' rear doors can be opened like that once a suspect is inside, can they? Anyway, still like the tune.

    Sister Sledge with a rather pointless lite remix of one of their most recognisable songs, but the girls are game in the performance. One of the few songs where a cover is as good as the original - The Fall's version is great.

    Thunderthumbs starting his all-out assault on the charts, backed by a crack team of keyboards, guitar and drums - but an invisible saxophone too. Bubbles along well enough, quality pop as they say.

    Alphaville, and now I'm examining them, yes, the lead singer does look like Simon Amstell, you were correct after all! A bit better dressed this time around, song's still very decent.

    Steveland makes it to the top spot with yet another song from an 80s American movie in the charts, in fact he wrote the whole score to Gene Wilder's mediocre comedy remake of a French movie. This isn't the video I recall, the one with the "toast" presumably is soon to come? As for the song, almost insultingly simple in tune and lyrics. What happened?

    Hey, we get the whole of Elton to dance to. But I'm guessing we don't get to hear the sublime Aztec Camera and Kraftwerk tracks in the lower reaches of the charts?

    1. I believe we see Aztec Camera next week although not on BBC4. Sadly we never see Kraftwerk.

    2. Well, one out of two ain't bad, as Meat Loaf didn't sing.

    3. Ah, I'm relieved I'm not alone in thinking he looks like Simon Amstell! Though I didn't think he looked as much like him tonight as he did last time!

    4. I think it's the curly hair and mouth shape combination. Write in to Private Eye with a "Could they by any chance be related?" bit, is my recommendation.

    5. does "white lines" get to be seen or heard on a 1984 edition? apparently not only did it get into the top 10 despite minimal (if any) promotion on the show, but also outsold several no.1 hits of that year (not surpisingly given its popularity in clubs)

  2. I like Peel and Janice together, it seems right somehow even though he is doing his grumpy old man act and she sounds like his mum

    Fucks Bizz kick off proceedings and appear for the second show in a row because of last week's high speed train charade (has that ever occurred before?). Here we discover that Bobby G has a hairy chest and Mike can carry on singing even though he's having his thighs caressed. The two girls seem excess to requirements here and have a go at polishing the floor to earn their keep. This is actually a lot better than I remember it being but sadly a long way from the brilliance of their peak hits.

    Can't believe this Spands record got so high in the charts, it's nothing special. Flashy video though filmed in the Florida everglades. But I don't want to see close-ups of fat-face sax player Steve in a vest thank you. I've just had me din-dins.

    Sister Sledge finally turn up to the studio, sadly not to perform Thinking of You but the remix of Lost In Music which of course performed a lot better than the original chart-wise. It must be odd though miming to a recording you made 5 years earlier.

    Oh no they've still using that guitar-heavy re-recorded Chart theme, I thought it was just a one-off for the train (not-so) special. It reminds me of Paul McCartney's guitar-driven version of the Crossroads theme.

    I remember selling copies of the Level 42 single in Our Price at the time and thinking what a boring cover it had. And I disagree with Peel that it's their best yet. In no way is it as good as The Chinese Way or The Sun Goes Down. Many years later when I worked with my dad on designing holiday brochures I remember a photographer we worked with who told us that he had been to Mark King's house to photograph it and said what a nice guy he is. Not sure where the house was but I remember reading somewhere that he owned a pub in the Isle of Wight.

    Alphaville again and not looking a lot different from last time at the same time the lead singer looks like a different person. I liked Peelie and Janice's cheeky reference to the band Big In Japan and "where are they now?".

    Stevie Wonder with what is probably the most boring, tedious video ever made. And the audience are so bored they can't even bring themselves to clap in time. Funny how when he finally got round to making videos that the songs got less and less interesting. I was a massive fan in the 1970s but always hated this. It sound like a demo recorded on a Bontempi home organ - it's awful!

    Bruno Brooks looks worrying like a fat Cheggers here. Was he really another one of Janice's siblings?

    Playout with Elton's Passengers which proves to be highly danceable. A lot of the cheerleaders seem to be on holiday this week but there's still a few to fill those podiums, well they can't inflict the ordinary public dancing on us can they?

    1. "Alphaville again and not looking a lot different from last time at the same time the lead singer looks like a different person" ~ Simon Amstell?

    2. During TOTP's first decade, it was actually quite common for the same song to be featured two weeks in a row, though by the period covered by these reruns it would normally only happen when songs were used as chart rundown backing or playouts, in which case they might feature in the main body of the show the week before or after. Off the top of my head, I can't think of an occasion since 1976 when a Bucks Fizz-style situation has occurred, except of course for songs which got to number 1 the week after their debut appearance.

    3. Neither can I, but there was of course the All About Eve incident a few years later.

    4. Not quite the same rules, but I'm pretty sure earlier in this re-run "Magic Fly" by mysterious French disco act Space was shown at least in part for five weeks out of six. That was in the days when the chart was run down at the start of the show with a top 30 single played over it.

      At the other end of the scale, the longest gap between showings in the same top 50 chart run that I know of was six weeks for "Ships In The Night" by BeBop Deluxe in early 1976.

    5. There was also If You're Looking For A Way Out by Odyssey in 1980 which was lodged at No.7 for an eternity.

    6. Arthur - yes, Magic Fly featured on the show for 4 consecutive weeks, alternating between playout music and being part of the main line-up.

    7. blimey john - did you know that anyway, or did you put some legwork in? by the way, does anyone ever go through the archives of this and the related blogs for fun?

    8. I look at some of the very early Simon blog entries (re-run years 1976 and 1977), partly for fun and partly for nostalgic reasons.

      By the way, the bespoke and just as invaluable Popscene site shows the show listings for every episode

    9. ...And it is from Popscene that I got my information about Magic Fly!

    10. I've probably mentioned before that I got to interview Mark King in my radio days and he is indeed a very nice guy. A fair proportion of my 15 minute slot was unbroadcastable as he was sending it up something rotten. It was over the phone but he was in the Isle Of Wight then (this would have been Summer 98)

  3. if you include the rather redundant remix of "lost in music" (which was hardly the chic organisation's finest moment), then everything with one exception has already been on the show. that being level 42's "hot water", a rather infectious groove that certainly took them to a new level popularity-wise, if perhaps away from their jazz-funk roots (although ironically the riff was lifted from one of their early instrumental recordings). visually mike lindup has pleasingly transformed himself from nerdy afro/kaftan guy into a preppy casual, although the gould brothers look like they've taken inspiration from the alarm. does anyone know of any other song that contains the word "extrapolation"?

    1. There was that "Belouis" "Some" hit "Extrapolation" with the saucy video.

    2. thx i think you are thinking of "imagination" that was a hit in 1985. the band imagination were still just about active then - perhaps in order to sustain their career they should have done what arthur keeps suggesting and released a "response" song called "belouis some"?

      further to my query i have discovered that jazz guitarist john mcalughlin released an album called "extrapolation" which had a track entitled as such on it, although i do believe it was an instrumental...

    3. Er, yeah, I know, I was only joking!

  4. i'd like to put in a mention for bunny sigler, who checked out yesterday - i don't think he ever appeared on the show in person, but i'm sure he was involved in stuff that was featured via the philadelphia international and salsoul labels - which included his pet project instant funk and their ace "got my mind made up" single. he also had a career as a solo artist, and i remember buying the 12" of this track - which not only ripped-off marvin gaye's "got to give it up" in terms of style, but length as well!:

  5. JP finally finds his ideal Kid replacement in Janice, although their partnership would not become a regular one until the following year. They clearly have a good chemistry, though Janice seemed unusually nervous here to me, as if overawed at being in Mr Ravenscroft's presence - her slow, deliberate enunciation of every word in "I'll Fly For You" was particularly odd. Bruno Brookes makes an unpromising first appearance at the end, sounding as if he was trying to do a bad impression of somebody...

    Bucks Fizz get compensated for the events of the previous week with another appearance, using pretty much the same routine. The girls do feel like spare parts here, despite their attempts to inject some raunch, and I'm not keen on Jay's shorter haircut - the song isn't bad, though. Incidentally, this is the last time we will see Jay on TOTP, as she would have left the group by the time they appeared again in 1986. They would also suffer their bus crash about three months after this, which would leave Mike fighting for his life. The Spands splash out on an extravagant, Duran Duran-style video. I'm not entirely sure what the story is meant to be, but the video is cut off before the end, which sees Tony and his blonde femme fatale on the brink of being involved in a head-on collision while driving along a lonely road.

    The Sledge Sisters are in the studio to promote this rather pointless remix of Lost in Music, though it paid off for them chart-wise. They appear to be having a good time, though they clearly got fed up with the coordinated arm movements as they abandon them by the end of the performance. Level 42 next, and this is actually a pretty good track, full of energy and matched by quite a dynamic performance from the band. I agree with Wilberforce that Mike Lindup's new image is a considerable improvement on the old one.

    A new appearance from Alphaville follows, and while I still don't think the singer looks much like Simon Amstell he may have had ambitions to be a clown, judging by the trousers he sports here. Perhaps he knew he sounded a bit like Robert Smith and wanted to develop his own clown image! Stevie's boring video in full to celebrate his ascent to number 1, before Passengers proves itself to be a decent choice as a playout track, irritating as I still find parts of it.

    1. 50 something here. As I was away from home I watched this on i-player with subtitles. Clearly the subtitler was packing for his holidays as there were errors all over the place. Most amusing was to rewrite Elton's lyric to mean the exact opposite of what he actually sang....

    2. My view on this Sister Sledge re-release or remix, is that they had seen the resurgence of the Pointer Sisters to a very high level in 1984, and wanted a piece of the action again, even though Sledge Sisters had no new music to offer at this point. Funny coincidence, don't you think?

    3. i would say it had nothing to do with the success of the pointer sisters, and much more likely that it was remixed and re-released as a hasty cash-in opportunity to follow in the wake of the recent and unexpected "thinking of you" hit (that i think had become popular on the "rare groove" scene, having previously been an album track on their 5-year-old "we are family" LP)

      i always thought it by far the weakest of the three singles originally released from that LP, but better that (even a remix) than the horror of "frankie" that was to follow the next year!

    4. @John G: I always remember reading Blue Suede Views on 4-Tel and someone wrote in to complain he had been at a Status Quo gig when they announced from the stage that Bucks Fizz had been seriously injured. He was complaining about the huge cheer that went up!

    5. thx that reminds me of the supposed story of the yorkshire police making an appeal over the PA system at leeds united's ground for information on the yorkshire ripper, with the crowd chanting in response "you'll never catch the ripper! you'll never catch the ripper!"

  6. Shame we got the Buck Fizz version of Talking in your sleep. The Romantics version was much better and hit #3 in the USA

  7. Great early interplay with Janice “Kid” Long as the previous edition’s train to Peelie’s Bucks Fizz in the first intro. Such a shame her “to cut a long story short” line wasn’t followed by Spandau Ballet.

    Was Glenn Gregory still ill? Contrary to what Janice “Kid” Long stated, Heaven 17 weren’t a new entry as they were 39 from memory last time out and could’ve been contenders this week too.

    There was some left handed bassist singing in Bucks Fizz while Jay and Cheryl took control of the senses with some pouty posturing. I’m going to miss Jay Hilda Aston.

    Next, we see another in the Steve Norman vest catalogue range. Such a shame there wasn’t an alligator in that swamp to snap up Tony Hadley or on land to devour that smug bastard on the porch.

    I listen to Jazz FM quite a lot and they’ve been giving loads of play recently to Debbie Sledge’s anaemic ‘jazz’ version of “We Are Family”. Stilll, at least it isn’t f#cking “Frankie”. As for this show, I see the least Sledge-like sister looks-wise got lead vocals and the one stage left with really thin legs was first to boycott the dance routine.

    Here comes Level 42’s best ‘funky’ disco number. Shame the drummer didn’t say “What?” when the camera caught him on that vocal. Now, what’s better? Mark King’s chin-high bass or New Order bassist Peter Hook’s knee-low strap? There’s only one way to find out...

    It’s Simon Von Amstel with a cummerbund (Ambassador!) and jacket sleeves rolled up. Was this the 1980’s by any chance?

    FF Stevie Wonder’s worst ever song to catch Trevor ‘Bruno’ Brookes, demonstrating how shite he was and would be.

    I never realised Elton John’s tune was anti-Apartheid till the recent mention on this blog and a check of the lyrics. The end shot on iPlayer showed just how sparse that studio audience actually was.

    1. The Good Old Days starts up again on BBC 4 this week, so if you stay tuned after TOTP you might get to see Jay's parents.

    2. i've said this before, but: if the beeb are showing "the good old days" again then it's seems okay in their view for joe public to watch the mc leonard sachs, who was charged and sentenced for "importuning men for an immoral purpose" (ironically in "this year" of 1984). but not DLT on vintage totp's, due to the "crime" of fondling some media whore's breasts for a few seconds? i don't know about the law being an ass, but the beeb certainly qualify to be described as likewise!

    3. Don't blame the BBC, blame the tabloids, they've been controlling the scandal narrative from the start and jump on the BBC any chance they get. The Beeb are damned if they do and damned if they don't. It worries me that a small group of megalomaniac newspaper owners want to run the country, and that they're pretty much being allowed to as well.

    4. Yes but don't forget that it was people (actually a couple) very much connected with the BBC who stitched up DLT in the first place.

      I've found the infamous podcast:

      It's from 39m 35s. Does this sound like someone intent on pressing charges?

    5. I don't know the circumstances of the case she brought, so cannot comment. But it is clear the tabloids wanted DJs swinging from the lampposts after Savile, and DLT was a victim of them. Tony Blackburn got off very lightly (probably because the accusation against him was so obviously bullshit).

    6. If you had the subtitles on, they said he was Bruno BRUCE!

  8. A good show despite there being an awful lot of songs we've already seen & heard. Not sure why Heaven 17 (with one of their finest singles) and Malcolm McLaren are being ignored in the meantime. It was made more enjoyable by the Peel / Long double act, although the former seemed even more grumpy than usual and the latter incapable of distinguishing between a chart entry and a climber on several occasions.

    Bucks Fizz - Fair enough that they get another go I suppose, and how lucky for BBC4 that the gag at the start meant that Peel didn't actually refer to the previous week's events in detail!

    Spandau Ballet - Funny how people guffaw at their 'rivals' Duran Duran's videos when this is probably more pretentious and nonsensical than anything they did!

    Sister Sledge - You can hear a floor manager at the beginning of this bellowing 'Come on, give it more down there!' or somesuch. It's barely a remix, but at least it's a good song.

    Level 42 - Not their best single, but not their worst. Very much a median effort.

    Hey, I'll stick up for Bruno - yes, he was cheesy but I loved him on the Top 40, he was just right for that show and got me listening to it again after Skinner's dreadful reign. Plus the Radio 1 Vintage output reminded me how much fun his weekend breakfast show with Liz 'acceptable member of the family' Kershaw really was. And welld one BBC4 for not editing his appearance out, though I suspect that's more because it would be very difficult to have done so.

    Oh, and that's our first playout in full on the late edition for quite some time!

    1. Yes, I agree, I started listening to the Top 40 regularly when Bruno started, he was really good at it (a few well-publicised gaffes aside). Preferred him to Mark Goodier.

  9. I am so late to the party this week so can’t add a lot more to the above. Rather than my usual blow by blow account I’ll mention these:-

    Sister Sledge – Really enjoyed this and the girls looked like they were enjoying performing it too.

    Level 42 – Hot Water – Left me cold at the time but when I bought the ‘Lessons in Love’ single a couple of years later a live cut was on the B Side and that was soooo much better.

    Alphaville – Big in Japan – Sublimal Alphaville promoted me to buy ‘The best of Japan’ CD from a charity shop the other day. Funny I can’t get this out of my head as Jeff Lynne would say.

    Elton John – Passengers playout – As noted above, no ‘Tour de France’ playout but a complete playout of this. I’m sure I spotted Janice and Bruno having a slow dance when this started up. Janice looking very trendy in an 80s way btw.

    The comments above lured me to this which I enjoyed seeing again, especially this remastered and hi-res version… Love the drummer!

  10. The Bucks Fizz is ok, not that different to the original. It's a catchy song so I can see why it was covered, but I wouldn't say it's great song.

    I always liked Hot Water, much better than the rather repetitive Chinese Way song.

    And I always liked Passengers, unusual sounding and based on an African song (Isonto Lezayoni). The video with the strange dancing figures makes it look like it was done in the same shoot as I'm Still Standing.

    I'm not sure that the Lost in Music single was a remix.

    Alphaville decent song. Another good one they did was Jerusalem from 86, maybe their best

    Spandau Ballet – “I’ll Fly For You” not aware of this at the time, but the Parade album turns out to be a very consistent effort. It didn't have the mammoth hits of True or Gold but good stuff.

    Stevie - a much derided song, I didn't like it at the time. It has a warm backing and the verse has some feeling, the chorus though is very repetitive and predictable to me.

    Other recent songs
    Depeche Mode – “Master & Servant”
    I liked this at the time, the only song of theirs that made that big an impression on me.

    Self Control - when I saw the video in the mid 2000s it reminded me of the Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut (masks, orgy)

    Smiths – “William, It Was Really Nothing” - wasn''t aware of it at the time but I like it now. Livelier than most Smiths songs I know.

    Dr Beat - didn't like at the time much, is ok. A bit repetitive for me perhaps.

    Break Machine - ok but definitely sounds like a 3rd single or so as the chorus is dull to me.

    1. The Lost In Music 1984 release on 7"was identical to the 1979 release, only the 12" was a remix.

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  12. With all the fuss about Sister Sledge, and for that matter Nile Rodgers and Chaka Khan also coming back in 1984 after their late 70s heyday, its pleasing to know that later this month on 27th October at the O2 in London, it will be "Sister Sledge, Nile Rodgers, with special guest Chaka Khan", so this coincides very well with the current 1984 reruns of TOTP on BBC4. Could not have been timed better really. Any takers?

  13. totp 13th September 1984 (thanks to Neil) is here:

  14. Bucks Fizz - Great song (especially by The Romantics). They were recently featured on Pointless (and this was a Pointless answer). My friends were all amazed that they had 15 top 40 hits - most honestly thought it ws 2 or 3.
    Spandau - the video looks like a romantics version of the stones 'undercover of the night'...
    Most of the rest was FF (except Stevie who got the skip button!)

  15. I wonder what Cheryl did to Bobby when she ran her hands down his leg. He definitely corpsed!