Friday, 6 October 2017

Top of the Pops & Servant

This unusual edition of Top of the pops from 30th August 1984 will not be shown on BBC4 because it features Jimmy Savile and Mike Smith. So a huge thanks goes to Neil B and Robert Thompson for making it available here at WeTransfer

Watch out for that train, Jay!

30/08/84 (Richard Skinner & Mike Smith, with Simon Bates & Jimmy Savile on a train)

Tears For Fears – “Mothers Talk” (17)
Went up three more places.

Bucks Fizz – “Talking In Your Sleep” (34)
Their penultimate top 40 hit, which peaked at number 15.

Stevie Wonder – “I Just Called To Say I Love You” (2) (video)
Number one next week.

Depeche Mode – “Master & Servant” (24)
50 Shades of Gahan! On its way to number 9.

Howard Jones – “Like To Get To Know You Well” (4) (at Bristol Temple Meads Station)
At its peak.

The Smiths – “William, It Was Really Nothing” (23)
Went up six more places.

George Michael – “Careless Whisper” (1) (video)
Final week at the top.

Ray Parker Jr – “Ghostbusters” (18) (audience dancing/credits)
Essential tune for Halloween peaked at number 2.

6th September is next on BBC4.


  1. bucks fizz: bobby & mike get their axes out for a new harder and rockier sound (by their standards, anyway)... which makes them sound like phil collins! i don't know if they were competent players or not, but mike appears to be familar with the workings of a guitar - even if he has to keep looking at the fretboard!

    stevie wonder: he had worked so hard over the previous 15 years to gain respect as a multi-talented songwriter and performer (not just on the soul scene, but from whiteys too), and then threw it all away in a moment of madness! not having heard it for many years now i had to take a listen just to see if it was as excruciatingly bad as i remembered it being, and a few seconds confirmed that. maybe whoever nicked stevie's gear at that wembley charidee gig a few years later did so in order to stop him making horrors like this?

    smiths: i wasn't taking any notice of them at the time thanks to the hype, so only got to hear this properly several years on. there's not much of it (it's less than 2 minutes long) but is obviously a case a quality of over quantity as one of their better tracks, and even morrissey is relatively listenable. apparently the william in question is the similarly sexually-ambiguous mr mckenzie of associates fame. but does that mean mozzer wanted him as the bride?

    1. Hype is definitely a turn off at times, I'd say the same of Madonna and Michael Jackson around this time too. But I liked Frankie and I guess they had hype.

  2. Altogether now. This is the age.........of the train. I wonder what happened to that loco? Probably scrapped by now I expect.

    Bucks Fizz - A good song which had failed to be a hit here in its original version by The Romantics. I wasn't that disconcerted at them being interrupted by the train's arrival though since I'd seen quite enough of Bobby's chest.

    Stevie Wonder - Quite simply one of the most dreadful songs ever made.

    DAYpesh Mode - Yes, a NEW pronunciation, thanks for that Mike. I think this is one of their weakest singles though I know all their fans think it's some kind of masterpiece. Also, retrospectively it's somehow hilarious that they 'got away' with singing this on kids TV / family shows. The thing is though, we've seen plenty of songs with dodgy subject matter on these re-runs that never get commented on (Alison Moyet's filthy tune a few weeks back fr'instance...)

    Weird having 2 songs in between the rundown segments, maybe Howard was originally meant to be on earlier and got shoved back as the train was early? Speaking of rundowns, that guitar riff heavy version of 'Yellow Pearl' sprung on us here is VILE.

    The Smiths - Yewtreed yet again! I do like this one, and Morrissey seemingly trying to outdo Bobby in the chest stakes (he was never going to win that one) which we know must have been rehearsed rather than spontaneous or Mike wouldn't have prepared his gag!

    Ray Parker Jr - A first sighting of this behemoth. I bought it on 7" and once in a while I don't mind hearing it.

    1. It was a little unfortunate for Bucks Fizz to be interrupted with less than half of their song and studio performance played. Imagine at the time when the group would have taped the show to see themselves on it and then seen the cruel interruption for the high-speed train progress in Bristol. I don't think something like that has ever happened on a TOTP show. Pity, cos I thought that the Buck Fizz girls were looking good on this performance, especially Jay Aston.

  3. Thanks ever so much for that. I was sailing around the South Devon coast in an MFV when this edition of TOTP went out.

  4. I imagine if the Top of the Pops train is still around, its nameplate will have been quietly prised from its side and brushed under the carpet. Why name a train TOTP anyway? Blue Peter I could understand. Was Jim'll's endorsement of the transport cause for a brainwave at British Rail's head office? It's like a different world.

    Anyway, there is music on the show too, and Tears For Fears kick things off as they had before. Interesting structure if nothing else, that frequently slowed down bit of the chorus especially.

    Bad luck Bucks Fizz, cut off in their prime by a speeding locomotive. I thought I didn't recall this but then the chorus arrived and it was "oh, yeah" time again. Expertly choreographed as usual, but the attempt to rock out strained for a credibility that was beyond them.

    Stevie Wonder, not the toast version of the video I notice. More on this later...

    Depeche Mode go all S&M on us in a chaotic staging, all flashing lights and shaky camera moves. Best bit is the Ivor the Engine sound effects at the very end.

    I do hope Howard brought his wetwipes. Actually, this is quite good fun, because it has a sense of occasion about it, makes watching a train pull into a station more of an event if there was a proper pop star present. The crowd are certainly into it.

    The Smiths with their cameo of a song, this is one of my favourites of theirs, short and bittersweet with some wonderful strumming by Johnny Marr. I bet Moz with his legendary sense of humour was delighted at Mike taking the piss.

    George back on video to end his run, and then Ghostbusters for the credits - I'm presuming we get to see the video proper soon?

    1. I thought the Howard Jones performance was the best part of the show, cos it was a studio performance live from Bristol, and I think another first time for TOTP where one song on the show was performed at the same time in another location. It seems that Frankie Goes To Hollywood with their Two Tribes antics in the TOTP studio three weeks earlier, i.e., walking around the studio, had inspired Howard Jones, including on his video, and it seemed to come off very well in the Bristol part of the show. Who is next to go walkies among a studio audience and sing at the same time?

  5. This is somewhat painful to watch. And a shame because you've got some great acts here inc The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Howard Jones and Tears For Fears all denied an airing on BBC4 because of the train naming nonsense. If it offends thee, then pluck it out, to paraphrase the Bible.

    Wasn't too keen on this TFF song but it's nice to hear it again. Roland Orzabal always looked a bit like a control freak to me so its small wonder that he took over on vocals but he did write some great songs. Never too keen on his hair though.

    Wasn't too sure about the Bucks Fizz song but it's better than I recall it being. Not sure what's going on with the girls' performance and of course the end is cut off (but amazingly they're back next week).

    The Depeche Mode song is actually not as good as I remember it being. And I bought it at the time. And I'm surprised that Martin Gore didn't appear in a harness or a gimp mask as this is crying out for something naughty like that. Dave does his best by whacking the old cymbal with a drum stick but it needs a whip or a martinet. I expect they weren't allowed to in case it corrupted someone.

    Can't work out if Howard Jones and his band are singing and playing live or they're miming because I don't recall steel drums on the record but it's a good performance. The people at Temple Meads station seem happy and it must have made up for the double dread dose of Savile and Slimey being there. I hope they washed the platform afterwards.

    Loved The Smiths at the time. I had a quiff and a big old coat I bought in Camden market. Them was rotten days. I wonder which lucky person caught Moz's blouse after he threw it into the crowd. And where is it now I wonder? This was of course Moz's plea to Associate's singer Billy McKenzie after he revealed that he was thinking of getting married. I expect Moz wasn't being all right on and standing up for gay rights by persuading his gay mate not to be pressured into conformity by marrying a woman. More likely he was simply against sharing his life (and worldly goods) with anyone. Bit tight is Moz.

    It ends with the GM video again and then play out with the terminally annoying Ghostbusters. The cheerleaders out in force tonight. I wish they'd sack Not Duncan Norvelle. He really gets on my nerves.

  6. Well, where do you start with this one? It is actually quite a landmark edition, as it was the final regular TOTP to feature Jim'll after 20 years, which perhaps helps to explain the risible train business. He doesn't get to do very much expect babble excitedly and name the train, overshadowed by Master Bates at his insufferable worst patronising everyone in sight at Temple Meads. It was especially amusing/annoying when he talked rudely about the "nobs in suits" towards the end, as if he was some kind of man of the people! Was that train driver really called Dave Rail?

    Back in the studio Smitty and Dickie try manfully to be excited about the record attempt, though Smitty is evidently far more interested in his Mozza take-off, as he lifts his shirt more than once for our delectation. As Noax mentions above, that new guitar-heavy version of Yellow Pearl over the rundowns is appalling, and very distracting as well.

    There were some actual hit singles in the show too, though they felt a bit of an afterthought on this occasion. Mothers Talk starts proceedings once again, with Roland looking a lot more comfortable this time with a guitar and mic to hold. Poor old Bucks Fizz get cut off abruptly as Jim'll and Norris arrive in Bristol, but Bobby and Mike did not convince as moody rockers, and all that writhing on the floor from Cheryl and Jay looked more silly than sexy to me...

    This Stevie Wonder mega-hit is another I remember vividly from the time, and it was the first song of his I ever heard. Perhaps because of that I don't hate it as much as many people do - while it is nowhere near being his best song, I find it pleasant and inoffensive enough. What does get on my nerves is Stevie singing into the phone throughout that annoyingly static video! Some attempted kinkiness from Depeche Mode next, with their gothic industrial sound now fully developed. There is a decent tune in here struggling to be heard, but it gets swamped by the clunky, dated production.

    Howard Jones loved performing this song in public spaces, didn't he? This is actually much less cringey than the time he did it in a hospital, and the crowd at Temple Meads seem to enjoy it, but he might have been well advised to take a leaf out of the Queen's book and wear some gloves. Back in the studio, Mozza finally ditches the vegetation and reveals scrawled chest messages to be his new gimmick. This is another Smiths song that leaves me largely unmoved - once again there is some pretty guitar, but not much else to my ears.

    We end with some enthusiastic bopping to Ghostbusters in both London and Bristol. Another song that was inescapable at the time, and one that I wouldn't mind never hearing again, though it is undeniably an accomplished pop record. The film was massively hyped at the time too - when we got our first VCR in 1985, I think it was one of first tapes that we hired from the local video shop.

    1. The first film our family rented on VHS was The Ice Pirates - on my recommendation. It was utter shit, and I was mortified, especially at the sex scene.

    2. i have a chum who saw that film (seen by critics as a "star wars" knock-off) when it was released (either on video or even at the cinema), and who still thinks is brilliant!

      i did have access to a video recorder where i lived around this time, but it wasn't until 1987 that i could afford to acquire my own. i was living in a shared flat at the time and didn't have a tv licence, and knew that the authorities would come after me if it was purchased in my name. therefore i got my girlfriend (who still lived at home) to "buy" it!

    3. I also did not like the new guitar version of Yellow Pearl in the chart rundowns, and I hope it is a one-off, cos I'm sure that Phil Lynott would also not have liked it. Can you imagine of every week from now on we have to endure this hijacked version for our chart rundowns? It's enough to put me off watching the show.

      It's also interesting that Ghostbusters was playing in t background of all of Simon Bates's clips on the show, and not just on the playout for this week. The last time this happened was in 1981 when Stars On 45 also got the background treatment during the show and then on the playout as well. It doesn't often happen.

    4. This guitar riff version of Yellow Pearl over the chart rundowns will last until early 86. I liked it, after the 81-83 version of YP.

    5. That means in total over the two versions, it had a five-year run between 1981-1986. Not bad at all. What happened after early 1986?

    6. Paul Hardcastle's The Wizard became the new theme tune in 1986, though I've always thought it was massively inferior to Yellow Pearl (the original version of YP, that is).

    7. it was no surprise that paul hardcastle got to supply the new theme in 1986 as he was very popular at that point. i think it works much better as a 30 second jingle than a three minute-plus single, where little else happens other than some ancient-sounding guy (the wizard in question) popping up and intoning every now and again. at the end he commands the listener to "buy this rotating plastic demon, or i will curse thee to the end of time" - the irony being that only circumstance he was likely to be heard was if the record had already been bought, as opposed to being heard on the radio or in clubs!

      talking of mr hardcastle, he had a few chart flops (if club hits) before his big breakthrough with "19" in 1984, including the excellent "rain forest". this is my favourite mixof it (even if the orchestral hit bit near the end time-stamps it as 1984!):

    8. sorry, typo error - "19" was of course a massive hit in 1985!

    9. i'm guessing the "orchestral hit" synth sound (as featured on "rain forest") was one of the pre-set patches on the new yamaha DX7 digital synth? i had access to one at the time, and the problem was that unless you were a tefal head (which most musicians weren't) then you couldn't work out how to adjust the pre-sets through the tiny multi-level LED display - rather than just twist knobs and push sliders until a sound you liked materialised, as was the way on analog synths. therefore many records at that time featured the presets on that synth that absolutely set them in stone time-wise!

      apart from "rain forest", we've already heard the orchestral hit patch on two singles recently on the show ("mothers talk" and "hot water") - can anyone think of others that feature it?

    10. With regard to 19, it was also recorded in german, Japanese, and Spanish - the 12" Spanish version is a superb mix of the recording.

  7. It's a pity nobody asked Norris "What is the biggest leaf?" We could do with a laugh.

  8. Ah, the train one. I've previously mentioned that I don't think I was watching TOTP during this period - certainly, nothing jogs the old memory in the shows chronicled here - but I did see this one. Having said that, it's only the Howard Jones performance that I can remember.

    There appears to be very little imformation available about this event - talk about airbrushing history! - but I have managed to unearth the following...

    The name was applied to power car 43002 (the number can actually be discerned on the video, when the train arrives at Bristol), the first of the production run. This is still running on its original route and now carries the name of the designer of the front end and has been repainted in original livery:

    I've no idea how long the 'Top Of The Pops' nameplates were carried but British Rail appointed a new advertising agency from January 1985: out went 'This Is The Age Of The Train' and in came 'We're Getting There'. Apparently they dropped Jimmy Savile when they heard reports that he was a necrophiliac!

    1. According to Rail UK ( the loco 43002 was named Top Of The Pops between 30 Aug 84 and 1 Apr 88, and again between 30 Jun 91 and 30 May 98.

  9. An astonishing landmark edition for so many reasons, some good and some not so. Huge thanks to Neil and Robert. The sound wavered, but the pictures and sound told a story.

    Dear oh dear, Shitty, Slimes and the evil one on the same show. I wonder who’d have been kicked off if Heaven 17 could have made it?

    Who thought of and agreed to that chart countdown racket? Bloody awful row.

    If that train driver was on air as we saw, with that surname he was Live Rail. Boom boom tish!

    Trust the Beeb to put f#cking Timecheck Bore Slimes on stopwatch duty for this show. By the way, how could this be a WORLD record for the quickest time between London and Bristol? Are there any other countries with cities called London and Bristol who could compete?

    Shame D-Train weren’t in the charts for this edition.

    A full 133 seconds into the show we finally get some music. Obvious to have a band from somewhere en route to Bristol first on. Very wide mouthed singing by Roland. I enjoyed this song more second time around.

    After 7:13 and a second f#cking timecheck we get the start of the second song from Bucks Fi… ah. Cheryl thought she was Mike Read in those shades. Jay thought she was hot. Seconded.

    Once the train gets to its destination, “I wonder what London are saying?” says Slimes. Bucks Fizz are saying “Bollocks!” for starters.

    Jim’ll tells us the train was full of his lovely friends which made my skin crawl, and Slimes gives an incorrect record breaking time of 62 minutes 40 seconds – and this is the prick who gives us all those punctual timechecks - before we get to the real low point for me. Thanks to a dreadful phone call which heralded the end of my first serious relationship a couple of months previous to this show, Stevie Wonder’s basic slop is and probably always will be my least favourite record of all time.

    Daypeche Mode’s synth hook reminded me of “Let’s Go To Bed” by The Cure. Definitely the point where The Mode grew up, and then some. So, Dave Gahan, domination’s the name of the game? Tell the late Bruce Forsyth that. Astonishing this got on the show – loved Dickie’s dominating pun afterwards.

    All roit moi luvver? It’s showman Howard Jones in Brizzle, ignoring his keyboard almost completely and hoping no-one’s sneezed into their hand, scratched their nethers or picked their nose before all that body contact.

    More Marr majesty on one of The Smiths’ shorter, snappier, sublime songs. Morrissey’s chest message reminded me of that recent event when a farmer ploughed “Marry Me” into a field of corn to propose to his fiancĂ©e. Bless. I quite enjoyed Shitty’s chest pun afterwards in all honesty.

    Slimes calling British Rail executives knobs? Definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black. It takes one to know one

    As for the outro tune, I ain’t afraid of no goat!

    1. Simey-wimey wasn't calling the execs knobs, he was calling them nobs (no k), slang for those with high status or class.

    2. I realise about Slimes calling the execs nobs, I just thought some people watching might not have realised and thought he said knobs - my poor attempt at humour.

    3. Ah, no worries, Arthur! Just my poor attempt at helping!

  10. Well big thanks to Neil and Robert for letting us see this unusual edition being denied to BBC4 viewers. This is the age of the train indeed!

    Tears for Fears – Mother’s Talk – I played ‘Songs from the Big Chair’ the other day as I hadn’t played it for years. This track is longer on the album and in fact the album is as good as I recall it bar the last track ‘Listen’ which I can’t stand. Particularly love the Broken/Head over heels segue.

    Bucks Fizz – Talking in your sleep – Anyone think of Crystal Gayle when the title popped up? Bet they were well chuffed to get blotted out by a speeding train. In fact, the Fizz missed out completely with their previous single ‘Rules of the Game’ with a Cheryl on lead sounding like Hazel O’Connor and Toyah and I absolutely love it….

    Stevie Wonder - I just called to say I love you – OK, I confess. I bought this at the time (sorry). Now, I cannot stand it. In fact every time I see the video I am reminded of Ronnie Corbett’s take off (which I cannot find on YT). I also heard a longer version which picks up again after the ‘de-de-de’ ending with another chorus refrain with the vocoder. I have just realised that we’ve got six weeks of this to come now at no1. I’m not a Stevie fan by any means, but I’d rather listen to the likes of ‘Boogie on Reggae Woman’.

    Depeche Mode – Master and Servant – Very strange sounding single and another new haircut for the lead singer.

    Howard Jones – Like to get to know you well – Howard recreates his London walkabout on Bristol Temple Meads and everyone is really enjoying it. My favourite ‘Temple Meads’ flavoured track is ‘Rudy’ by Supertramp.

    The Smiths – William it was really nothing – FF

    George Michael – Careless Whisper – So, no repeat of the studio performance. Cut short too. Shame.

    Ray Parker Jnr – Ghostbusters – Great dance playout.

    Chart rundown – Like everyone else, I’m bewildered by the reworked ‘Yellow Pearl’. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it…

    1. Yeah, I feel like going on strike because of the reworked Yellow Pearl, but then I thought it was not worth it, cos I would be away from the blog for too long till early 1986.

    2. I'm with you regarding 'Rules Of The Game' - it's a great song (with an admittedly slightly odd vocal) which deserved to make the 40.

    3. I definitely like the Crystal Gayle song more. The Bucks Fizz song I Hear Talk was decent this year.

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  12. I may be in the minority but I prefer the rockier version of Yellow Pearl far more than the previous versions.

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    2. I think you're in the majority actually

  13. No longer available on WeTransfer. Know of any other links?