Monday, 16 October 2017

If Top of the Pops Happens Again

This edition of Top of the Pops from September 27th 1984 will not be shown on BBC4 because it features Mike Smith. So many thanks to Gia, and here it is on WeTransfer

Sade shows off what she won in last year's Christmas cracker

27/09/84 (Peter Powell & Mike Smith)

UB40 – “If It Happens Again” (17)
Their only top ten hit of the year, it peaked at number 9.

Shakin’ Stevens – “A Letter To You” (10) (video)
At its peak.

Sade – “Smooth Operator” (29)
The third single from her number 2 album, Diamond Life, and it reached number 19.

U2 – “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (3) (different video)
At its peak.

Animal Nightlife – “Mr Solitaire” (32)
Their biggest hit, peaking at number 25.

Stephanie Mills – “The Medicine Song” (33) (video)
Her final top 30 hit, reaching number 29.

Big Country – “East Of Eden” (27)
From their number one album, Steel Town, this single reached number 17.

Prince – “Purple Rain” (16) (video)
The follow up to When Doves Cry reached number 8.

Stevie Wonder – “I Just Called To Say I Love You” (1) (video + brief interview)
Fourth of six weeks at number one.

Ray Parker Jr – “Ghostbusters” (2) (audience dancing/credits)
Couldn't quite make it to the top.

Back to BBC4 next for October 4th.


  1. Thanks to Gia for this edition. That looked more like that Gill Sward out of Shakatak instead of Bet Lynch early doors.

    I’d never noticed before that UB4w0’s Ali and Robin Campbell are both left-handed. Poor old Robin was in the pink (spotlight) for most of this song. Look at all those instruments. That’s the definition of full employment, Showaddywaddy!

    What a bizarre premise for Shaky’s video. That plane had been parked too close to that building for my liking. Why didn’t Biggles Stevens storm the building with a box of Milk Tray and release the poor girl?

    It’s Slade – er, Sade with some estate agent jazz. Superb sax, and – oo! – some unseen but clearly audible triangle in the instrumental passage.

    No no NO, Shitty, number 3 is NOT straight to the top of the charts! It’s the ever slappable Bono in ‘feeling that emotion’ mode. Oh dear.

    Time for some estate agent disco with even more sax! How did Animal Nightlife’s song go again? Reminded me for some reason of a complaint in a music paper about Suede’s “Animal Nytrate” but the complainant had misheard the song title as “Animal Night Rate”!

    Interesting to see Jeffrey Daniel’s ex-wife Stephanie Mills have a less successful crack at his moon dance. So, Stephanie, what’s that medicine you want to give? Viagra?

    Big Country with a track that was anonymous even by their standards. “East of Eden” was west of nondescript.

    Never mind Purple rain, we had a yellowy sky and a salmon pink sun the day I watched this oh so interesting video.

    FF the last two, only to stop betwixt the tracks to catch one of TOTP’s trademark incisive interviews. I’m surprised neither presenter got round to proposing a toast. See what I did there? Toast – harrumph.

    1. Do you remember the song by Status Quo in 1986 called Red Sky? I was certainly singing it to myself today, seeing that yellow/salmon pink sky today, thanks to the freak temperature and sahara dust on our shores. It was a little eery and probably a once-in-a-lifetime occurence.

  2. I thought that Smitty might get on PP's nerves in this one, but they seemed to gel and PP was in one of his better moods. In fairness, Smitty was less irritating this week - perhaps he was following in his co-host's footsteps and gradually calming down his presenting style?

    I prepared to start stifling a yawn when UB40 came on, but I actually don't mind this one. It has a bit of life and energy to it, unlike so much of their music, and the brass section works well. Rather poignant seeing them having a good time too, given how much they hate each other's guts now. Shaky is on video, presumably not flying that plane in real life. You have to ask, why was he spending his time showing off writing messages in the sky rather than trying to rescue his girlfriend from her presumably illegal imprisonment?

    I've said this before, but it's amazing Smooth Operator only just scraped into the Top 20, given what a ubiquitous radio staple it has been in the years since. Despite the overexposure I still enjoy its slinky groove, but when it comes to Ms Adu's image Angelo is spot on with the Christmas cracker joke! A different video from U2 to follow, holed up with Eno in a stately home. Wikipedia says that The Unforgettable Fire album was partly recorded at Slane Castle in County Meath, so is that where this was filmed?

    Unfortunately, things get a bit dull from this point. Animal Nightlife's limp offering is forgettable enough in itself, and isn't helped by the singer's flat, tuneless vocals. Given that the drummer was called Paul Waller, I wonder if anyone at the time thought this was a new venture from the Modfather? Stephanie Mills had obviously decided to vamp up her act since we last saw her on TOTP - from the moment she appears in that unflattering nurse's uniform, you just know she is going to have a sexy makeover! The song is an acceptable dance track, but it doesn't linger in the memory. Steph's backing dancers, meanwhile, seem to have the same nasty disease Nik Kershaw had on the Wouldn't it Be Good video...

    Back to the studio for Big Country, but while this has their typical epic production it doesn't stand out much and goes on a bit too long - I see Stuart has succumbed to the fad for message t-shirts, as well. I've always found Purple Rain a bit tedious, so was quite relieved it got cut short here. Prince's Hendrix pretensions in the video also get on my nerves, as do his creepily intense audience! As Stevie is in the studio, why didn't he perform? Instead, we get an embarrassingly pointless interview in which he does little more than recite the title of his number 1 again and again. Ghostbusters is the playout track for a second time, featuring both Bet Lynch (I bet she loved Smitty for that wisecrack), and a striking lady in green who clearly wanted to be Grace Jones...

    1. Diamond Life was released at the end of July and Smooth Operator (surprisingly to me) was only the 3rd single, maybe that explains the sales partly. The album entered at no2 and didn't leave the top 5 till November. It kept in the top 100 till June 1986 (91 weeks).

    2. The U2 video was filmed in the library at Slane Castle. An amazing place. I was at a 50th birthday party there around 13 years ago. A friend of mine rented it out of the night. Fabulous place. Incidentally that was one of three versions of this video. Another black and white one was filmed around Docklands in Dublin, and another colour video was shot in London somewhere

    3. Thanks for confirming that, Anonymous!

  3. The only points of note on this show was the return of UB40 after a long break, and now into their fifth year gracing our charts. Also it was nice to see the top three in the chart all featured on video or playout. Finally, two medical songs in the chart with The Medicine song at no.33, and Dr Beat at no.11. I think I got a cold coming on

    1. I'll raise you with a slick surgeon - "Smooth Operator" - and something the midwife might ask for - "Hot Water". Boom boom tish!

    2. Could I add a cheeky 'Apollo 999' to the list? or should I just keep taking the pills?

    3. "I Just Called to Say the Results of Your Blood Test Are In"?

  4. sade: presumably the christmas cracker joke is referring to those fake bright red novelty lips? otherwise it's over to you noax to make comment

    animal nightlife: like sade (that was the name of the band you know - not the singer. well it was too, but i hope you see what i mean?), they were achingly hip at this point in the capital and and the press. they were also pretty similar musically, and both even featured a be-quiffed saxist. but whilst sade's guy is now a multi-millionaire, this one might well be signing on these days. shows what a difference it makes having an exotic female singer rather than an effete male one

    stephanie mills: the first of two i have no recollection of. this humdrum dance effort is definitely too pale and insipid to be adding to my collection

    big country: where are the bagpipe guitars? without that there's no wonder they became the equivalent of animal nightlife to U2's sade!

  5. UB40 return with a jolly little number, taking a leaf out of the Madness book of music presentation. Good brass, nice keyboard twiddles, a bit tinny otherwise but not bad. Not sure about the flasher's macs, though.

    Shaky, at first I thought his video would be more appropriate to The Zombies' Care of Cell 44. Anyone hoping he would follow up that A with the letters RSE? Or better, PLAY AWAY. Anyway, fun concept for an OK tune.

    Sade with the song that always reminds me of Lenny Henry's Lathe Operator spoof. Neat touch, placing the album title in the first line. Schmoove soul for the wine bars, but it didn't excite me much at the time.

    Skipping over the Utes, Animal Nightlife with more of that wine bar soul, and one of the blandest efforts we've heard in some time. They're energetic enough, but this is almost painfully undistinguished.

    Steph with her medical theme, if that's supposed to be a sexy nurse uniform it fails miserably, but she looks better once in that red outfit. Verses not up to much, but there's a pretty decent chorus. She does run out of things to do before the end.

    Big Country, this one doesn't half go on, and there's no tune to discern whatsoever. They must have had one seriously loyal fanbase to put its parent album to no 1.

    Prince, now you can't deny this one has a tune, a histrionic rawk ballad, though maybe the most notable aspect of the video is the amount of smoking the audience are getting up to. Another song from a US movie, there's at least one on the show weekly by this point.

    Steveland makes it to the studio! And true to TOTP interview form, has bugger all to say for himself. He wrote I Just Called seven years before, he says? But seven years before he was producing quality, wasn't he? The 1970s was his golden era. Makes this even more baffling.

    Ghostbusters to end on, and the floor manager yelling his head off at the audience tends to take away from the fun element.

    Anyone listen to Smitty's compilation on Radio 1 Vintage? Brought back some memories, and he was more palatable there, even made me laugh a bit which he hasn't on these TOTPs so far. Peter Powell has an hour on there too, but I haven't listened to that.

    1. Perhaps it was because Stevie was producing quality seven years earlier that it took him so long to record this - even he might have thought it was a lesser effort that could be dug out when inspiration ran low.

  6. UB40 - loved this then and still love it. Really upbeat, them at their best. One of the grooves of the year for me, along with Hot Water, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go...

    Stephanie Mills - it's ok, but this rnb like groove sounds an earlier era to me, and if updated I'm not sure it's been done well. Goes on a bit. For groove definitely outshined by UB40.

    Animal Nightlife - liked this back then and still do. I just liked it as a nice smooth catchy song, I never thought of any comparison to Sade as made here.

    Sade, it's a surprise to me that this was the 3rd single, I remember it being something like my introduction to them (the first one that stuck out anyway). I didn't listen to Radio Luxembourg much at all, but I remember Mike Hollis I think playing it and saying after it would be big (and me thinking exactly the same). A signature tune from a great album. The words flow in a way that suit her voice perfectly.

    East of Eden - sounds a very decent rock song, with a decent chorus hook. Maybe the production could be clearer with the guitars, but it might just be me needing to get used it.

    Purple Rain - never liked it, camp, overblown.

    1. I must admit that I do like the trumpet mix at the start of UB40's If It Happens Again. Pity it only got this one and only showing on TOTP, and could have done a lot better in the charts.

      I also like the title of this week's blog, "If Top Of The Pops Happens again." Well we say it every week on these reruns that we have been enjoying since 2011. Lol, and TOTP will "Happen Again" on Thursday as we now enter October 1984 with Bates and Skinner, with the summer of '84 now firmly behind us.

    2. The trumpets are great it's part of the higher pitched louder joyous section which contrasts with the lower pitch quieter vocal in the verse. The fadeout is good too.

  7. Some very big albums obviously didn't quite make it to no1 (Diamond Life, Songs from the Big Chair etc). Maybe it's just harder than for singles for various reason including greatest hits and VA compilations.

  8. I feel like it's been a bit of a TOTP overload for me lately, so for the first time in ages I'm going to skip one. This is partly based on the tracklist - although by UB40 standards their song isn't awful, it's still UB40. Sade is dull, dull, dull, Animal Nightlife don't do anything for me either, and you know my opinion on Big Country by now.

    So the only good one for me really would be Stephanie Mills.

    1. Oh, I forgot Prince. I know that 'Purple Rain' seems to be loved a great deal but it's never done anything for me I'm afraid....

    2. When Doves Cry is easily the best Prince song of the period for me.

  9. Funnily enough, the original Ghostbuster film from 1984 in tandem with these re-runs, is actually now showing on SkyScFi channel 311 5.15-7.00pm, and an excellent frontrunner for tonight's next TOTP show of 4th Oct 1984, which was the third week at No.2 for Ray parker Junior. Happy viewing gents!

  10. Thanks to Gia for the opportunity… Smithy again. I recall him doing the new chart every Wednesday at around 07:45 on BBCs Breakfast Time in this era. I used to look forward to it. Won’t be long before Chicago appear on these reruns. I definitely recall him introducing that classic.

    UB40 – If it happens again – After their labours of love it sounds like rewind back to the same old stuff. Not a bad record though. Someone’s overdone the pink lighting.

    Shakin’ Stevens – A letter to you – Never seen this video before; shades of ‘Reap the Wild Wind’. But I love it!!!! If that biplane is a ‘Stamp’ then it goes well with the song’s theme.
    Slade – Smooth Operator – FF. As dreary as the first one.

    U2 – Pride – Never knew that there were two videos. Prefer the first one as there’s lots of standing around on this one and do we need the subtitles, but the song reeks quality.

    Animal Nightlife – Mr Solitaire – Funny word ‘solitaire’. A bit like ‘millennium’, it’s often misspelt with the second ‘i’ missing (‘n’ in Millennium of course!). The original sleeve for the Carpenters ‘Only Yesterday Greatest Hits’ CD featured ‘Solitaire’ misspelt. Anyway, I don’t recall this and its nothing to write home about (just to continue the ‘Shaky’ theme) and the beeb do get the spelling right.

    Stephanie Mills – The Medicine Song – Didn’t realise Steph was still going at this point in time. Like the Animals this is a complete blank to me and I don’t particularly wish to hear it again. Very shrieky.

    Big Country – East of Eden – never realised Big Country had a no1 album; thanks Angelo. Must have been propelled by the previous massive seller ‘The Crossing’ which only made no3 but was the 40th bestselling album of 1984 whereas ‘Steel Town’ didn’t feature in the top50….and this song shows why.

    Prince – Purple Rain – Not in the ToTP studio funnily enough. His audience look either transfixed or bored in this video. I’m looking forward to ‘Kiss’.

    Chart rundown – Grandmaster and Melle Mell still in there. I checked the year chart and yep, sold more than several no1 hits and ended up no13 for the year. Not bad for an ignored single on ToTP.

    Stevie Wonder – I just called to say I love you – Still another two weeks to endure. Great interview! So why didn’t he perform the song?

    Dig that ‘Ghostbusters’ music playing throughout….and then we get to dance out to it once again! But it is a great one for this even though the dancing duo hog the camera.

    Off the radar completely was a 7 week chart run peaking at no48 and ending on 11/08 for the wonderful ‘To France’ credited to Mike Oldfield and Maggie Riley. Not one to tickle the fancy of our ToTP production team at the time but a great song and one of my favourite singles of 1984 from the ‘Discovery’ album.

    1. There were a number of occasions over the last few years where a pop star would come in to the TOTP studio for a quick interview between songs, but never perform his/her own song on the same show. We saw that with Olivia Newton John, Elton John, The Police, Paul McCartney, KC & The Sunshine Band, Kids From Fame, to name but a few between 1980-1984.

    2. To France (inspired by the life of Mary Queen of Scots) should have been a much bigger hit than it was. The whole Discovery album is class, Mike's strongest effort of the 80s in my view.

    3. Not to be confused with the brilliant same-titled album by ELO in 1979 of course.

    4. Both are worth 'discovering'....

    5. seeing as totp apparently never played "white lines" and as seemingly nobody else has done so here yet, it falls to me to tell the story of yet another case of plagiarism:

      sugarhill records had already ripped off the bass line for "rappers delight" hook line and sinker from "good times" (and even initially tried intimidating the chic guys with visits from heavies when they pointed that out!). but despite eventually losing the case, they still did likewise with the record below. sadly this time those who were robbed never got their just recognition and consequent royalties (despite apparently trying) as sugarhill records went bust not long afterwards:

  11. The WeTransfer link is deleted. Please can someone upload it again?