Thursday, 22 February 2018

We Are the Top of the Pops

There is a time when we should hear the certain 25th April 1985 edition of Top of the Pops!

We are the ones you've never heard of..

25/04/85  (Gary Davies & Mike Read)

Bronski Beat & Marc Almond – “I Feel Love” (7)
A somewhat awkward looking and slightly self-conscious performance to get the show underway this week. Maybe Jimmy knew that this would be his final single with Bronski Beat? It peaked at number 3.

Phil Collins – “One More Night” (4) (video)
At its peak, and edited out of tonight's 7.30pm showing.

The Rah Band – “Clouds Across The Moon” (6)
Set '2000 years into the future' according to Mike Read, but it went no further up the charts.

New Model Army – “No Rest” (36) (breaker)
Their first of seven top 40 hits, this one peaked at number 28.

Debarge – “Rhythm Of The Night” (34) (breaker)
Their only top ten hit, peaking at number 4.

Eurythmics – “Would I Lie To You?” (31) (breaker)
Peaked at number 17.

Freddie Mercury – “I Was Born To Love You” (23) (breaker)
Featuring a £100,000 video - the song reached number 11.

David Grant & Jaki Graham – “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love?” (5)
At its peak.

USA For Africa – “We Are The World” (1) (video)
It's not as bad as I remembered it. Everyone jostling for the mic and desperately trying to out sing each other is even quite amusing!

Vikki – brief interview ~ This year's Eurovision entry didn't get much of a showcase tonight! Despite her confidence, her song Love Is came fourth, and peaked at number 49 in the charts. Mike Read sounded like he just couldn't care less!

Steve Arrington – “Feel So Real” (20) (audience dancing/credits)
His only top ten hit which peaked at number 5.

May 2nd is next and it's yet another Mike Smith one.


  1. I've not watched the show yet, but this must have been the first time for years that our Eurovision entry wasn't granted a pre-final studio outing. Maybe the powers that be thought it was too dull, or it shouldn't be on as it wasn't in the chart, or that the oh so vital breakers section should take precedence. Checking Popscene, it appears Vikki got a video clip (but not the whole song) in the next edition when the song had only just scraped into the top 75. I don't think the following year's Eurovision entry even got an interview.

  2. EuroNibble again!

    The UK entries for 1985 were showcased before "A Song For Europe" on the "Wogan" show. Des Dyer, drummer and falsetto vocalist for Jigsaw, had a crack at it (he also had a go as part of a group called Casablanca another year) and I much prefer his entry to our chosen one...

    There are a couple of glitches in the video, but Des does make an early mistake. In "A Song For Europe" Des also comes a slight cropper and appeared to mutter a swearword down the mic but, sadly, that clip's been removed from YouTube.

    1. I wonder if they will repeat this if they get to 96?

      I doubt it, because of the phone in information and the fact Jonathan King's name appears in the credits (I don't know if he appears) but I hope they do.

    2. Wasn't JK the UK's Eurovision supremo for a short while in the mid-90s? I recall interviews at the time where he was taking credit for introducing us to the likes of Love City Groove and Gina G.

    3. des dyer was also allegedly secretly hired to sing one if not both the lead voices for the recordings credited to actors-turned-pop stars robson & jerome!

    4. I recall him introducing Francis Ruffelle's songs in 1994 when the winning song was the excellent 'Lonely Symphony'. Funnily enough, one of the other songs was called 'One more Night'.

  3. Well, that was comfortably the dullest show of 1985 thus far. Our hosts didn't help much; while both capable, neither of them exactly ooze charisma, though at least neither do they irritate in a Smitty-type way.

    I suppose we do get off to a fairly lively start as Little Jimmy and Sheriff Almond, newly free of Soft Cell, give us one of their many hit cover versions. You're on a hiding to nothing covering such a seminal classic as this, but they make a decent enough fist of it, despite the two DJ-baiting false endings and the weird segue into Johnny Remember Me (not that it sounded anything like that 1961 chart-topper). I didn't really detect the self-consciousness Angelo did in this performance - both the leading men seemed to be enjoying themselves, as far as I could see.

    The retreat into snoozeville then begins with one of Phil Collins' most soporific hits. The tune is quite nice, but the song seems to last an eternity, making Phil's "can't wait forever" line somewhat ironic. The video is deathly dull too, though I suppose it does complement the song! A superfluous identikit new studio performance from The Rah Band to follow, when it might have been more interesting to see the video on the basis of the clip of it in the Top 10 rundown.

    The breakers will all be on again, though I did have a bit of a smirk at Mike's "Cromwellian Protectorate rock" comment when introducing The New Model Army; something tells me Cromwell would not have approved of this tired punk leftover! Back in the studio, another song we have already heard plenty of times as Grant & Graham get ever so slightly raunchy, and then to add insult to injury they play the vast majority of the interminable number 1. Following that very brief and highly dismissive interview with the unfortunate Vikki, the show does at least end on a high with the energetic and thoroughly danceable Feel So Real, almost the only real highlight to be had here.

    1. I think One More Night is as much about the groove and the feel of that and the expressive vocal in parts.

  4. Incidentally, if you are wondering why we didn't get a link into the number 1 on BBC4, here's why:

    1. There would have been much outrage from the Daily Mail had that been kept in!

    2. Mike Read should have stuck to impersonating Cliff - he was good at that...

    3. Sheesh! I wasn't expecting that. Thanks for the link!

    4. At the same time, TOTP must be commended for playing a whopping 5 minutes of the No.1 on video, which I think is a record for the show, the last ones being 4:50 for Foreigner's I Want To Know What Love Is, and way back in 1978 for ELO's Wild West Hero with 4:45 of the video. Well done to USA For Africa with a new TOTP record for length of video played on the show. Somehow I don't think this new record will be broken, considering the whole show's imminent (and permanent) reduction to 30 minutes in length.

    5. Thanks for that - thought it odd they didn't mention the number one.

  5. phil collins: about 20 years ago i did a popular music btec course, and there was a weekly class where a group of us students assembled in a rehearsal room to be presented by the tutor with a lead sheet for a song to put together and perform to a professional standard in an hour or so. at one such session it was announced the song in question was "one more night" , which drew groans and howls of derision from all around the room. to which the tutor responded: "if you want to make a living out of playing music, this is the kind of shit you have to play!"

    steve arrington: he was apparently once a member of funk/disco act slave, although he wasn't on their debut album (which i bought and learned the hard way was a waste of money, as there was nothing on it other than the two singles i had already acquired that was any good!). this solo effort is and was okay i suppose as mid-80's dance fare, but there were far better such tracks around at the time that sadly didn't do anywhere near as well chart-wise

  6. Crockett and Tubbs are our hosts. And some people sing some songs. That's almost all I've got for this limp, turgid edition. Apart from . . .

    Bronski/Almond. Hated the original and yet compared to this, its a work of unbridled genius. Repetitive hi-energy keyboard/drum, too-high-pitched vocals and an unexplained and inexplicable bit of 'Johnny Remember Me' shoe-horned in.

    Phil Collins. Horrible.

    Rah Band. Vocals are still weedy and what did the ToTP props dept use for that futuristic telephone?

    Breakers. Horrible x 4.

    Grant/Graham. Again! And still horrible.

    USA for Africa. Godawful. And horrible.

    (Is it just me or is the word 'horrible' starting to look weird?)

    We play out with Feel So Real which is the only reason that this week's music doesn't earn a big, fat zero. Instead its a 1.

    3 for the Miami Vice boys.

    God there has to be a good edition soon. In fact, average. I'd take an average show right now.

    1. shakey i think all words start to look weird (and kind-of meaningless) if you look at or use them too often. maybe for your next review you should type "horrible" into microsoft word and then use some of the thesaurus options? and you didn't actually use the word in question to describe "clouds across the moon", which i'm sure i'm not alone in thinking is perhaps the most horrible one of the lot?

      i too was appalled by this edition which in my view was possibly the worst one in the entire run, hence my rather brief review (i rarely if ever review crap if it appears more than once). and sadly the chances are that this is now what might be described an average show from this year. but fortunately i am aware that there are some diamonds among the dross in the pipeline for later on this year, that hopefully (unlike "this is not america" and "let's go together") will not be ignored by the show's producers?

  7. just to say for anyone wondering that the guy in the pic at the top is to my recollection the singer of journey, whose tedious and bland aor/stadium rock a la reo speedwagon, foreigner, pat benatar et al us brits were thankfully spared from!

    1. Yeah, and true to Angelo's line at the bottom of the picture, I don't think anyone in Britain had even heard of Journey in 1985, and I remember also at the time wondering who that person was in the video, along with a few others like Willie Nelson who didn't get up to much in our charts if at all. Did anyone spot Smokey Robinson in the group singing, but with no starring line for himself like Springsteen, Jackson, Stevie Wonder?

    2. Willie had enjoyed a big hit with Julio Iglesias in the UK charts, fairly recently.

  8. I couldn't wait for this one to be over. Awful picture quality, too many video clips and We Are The World was a lot worse (and longer) than I remembered. 4 out of 10 at best.

    1. This was yet another show where I noticed red marks on the screen during one of the studio performances, this time while The Rah Band were on. It only happens in specific shots, suggesting that a particular camera was the problem, but if so why didn't they fix it, as it has been recurring over several months now? It could be down to subsequent deterioration of the tape, but it doesn't look that way to me.

    2. I did wonder if the Beeb had deliberately worsened the quality in parts of the show, as it looked particularly bad whenever a certain set of lights were strobing. But a lot of the 85 clips used on TOTP2 were pretty ropey as well, so maybe it was down to how they filmed it.

    3. The red marks I think you're on about was known as "comet tailing", and it was a problem that couldn't be fixed as it was a limitation of the technology used in the tube cameras at the time. Basically, it's charged current building up on the face of one or more of each of the three pickup tubes inside the cameras, and the charge resulting from the light shining on to it taking much longer to dissipate than is desirable, so the rest of the camera's circuits interpret that slowly-dissipating charge as light.

      As I said, it was an inherent problem in tube cameras that camera manufacturers did address with some success with technologies like Anti-Comet Tail (rarely employed within the BBC, I think, as this increased the wear on each tube's cathode and therefore shortened the life of each tube, which cost about £4000 each at 1985 prices!) and Highlight Overload Protection. I'm glad the BBC were using Link Electronics cameras from the late 70s and early 80s by this point, as the late 60s EMI 2001s they replaced were much more prone to comet tailing!

      Cameras using CCD chips, which were not at all prone to comet tailing (or microphony, another weakness of tube camera technology) instead of pickup tubes didn't generally start arriving into UK broadcasters until 1989/1990 and not into BBC TV Centre until 1991, with the last (the by then 18 year-old Link 110s) being removed in 1995.

    4. Thanks for the explanation. Curiously, I have only noticed this problem in shows from 1984 and '85, which must have all been made with the Link cameras.

  9. 2nd May show is here, courtesy of Neil B:

  10. As observed above, a lacklustre edition. Kicking off with the Jimmy 'n' Marc show, with the latter rooted to the spot, oddly, but the Hi-NRG production adds nothing except a reminder of how far ahead Giorgio was in his pioneering. Johnny Remember Me is a spooky song - bet it was Marc's idea to segue into it (he also likes The Days of Pearly Spencer, doesn't he? Same kind of thing).

    Phil Collins, it comes to something when the most exciting part of your video is Buster putting his jacket on. To liven this up in my mind, whenever I hear it I imagine Twiki from Buck Rogers saying "bidi-bidi" in the chorus, you know, "One more night", "bidi-bidi", "One more night", "bidi-bidi", "One more" - well, you get the idea. You'll all be doing it now.

    The Rah Band, finally something decent, only this is exactly the same performance as before, so I agree the video would have ben preferable. Maybe they were back because they were very available?

    The Breakers slightly better aside from the ever-turgid NMA (do DeBarge all go to the same stylist?), then Dave and Jaki enjoying themselves but another performance more or less the same as their previous.

    USA for A-shriek-ah, and this begs the question, was this Bob Dylan's only number one hit single? The Boss sounds like he's about to vomit. Cyndi sounds like she's trying to stop the recording Cheggers-style. And Whackson pointedly edited to be next to Miss Ross, who he was trying to look like via plastic surgery, before he settled on the horrorface to scare the kids.

    Steve Arrington, bad diction to drop your aitches, man. Anyway, this is brighter, but we only hear half of it and it's not enough to salvage what was very much a place-holder edition.

    1. Yes, I think this is Dylan's only UK number 1 as a performer, though he has written a few.

    2. mercifully in my view dylan (of whom the words "tune" and "bucket" always immediately spring to mind) rarely troubled the singles chart compilers - the last time he did before this was back in the late 70's with something i can't recall offhand now that i think scraped into the top 20?

    3. Not true, His Bobness had quite a few hits in the 1960s, often top ten (Like a Rolling Stone was his biggest), and was even getting into the singles charts of the 70s with material like Lay Lady Lay and The Hurricane (which I doubt got much radio play with its prominent N word and near-ten minute length. Brilliant, angry track, though).

      He was more of a hit album artist, however. And his latest stuff where he tries to be a crooner is dreadful.

    4. thx i should have made it clear i was referring to the period from which the totp re-runs started i.e. april 1976. i was aware he did have a few moderate hits in the 60's, although as you say his primary market was albums (for people who liked "real" music as opposed to pop rubbish). by chance i happen to have heard him sing (or to be more accurate, croak) on a more-recently recorded cover of an old rock n roll-era song called "red cadillac and a black moustache" and it was pitiful to put it mildly. and who would want to hear him laying waste to stuff written by others anyway - surely the only calling card he ever had was his supposed songwriting ability?

    5. Dylan seems to have concentrated on covers for a while now, bafflingly, considering his voice. He's a great singer with a terrible voice, so his songwriting was his strength; if he'd been like a Whitney Houston, a terrible singer with a great voice, it would have been a lot more understandable.

      Maybe he saw Rod Stewart raking in the profits from his Great American Songbook karaoke and thought, I'll have some of that! All this said, Bob's Must Be Santa is becoming a Christmas fixture and is lots of fun.

    6. THX, I think you have hit the nail on the head there with your descriptions of Dylan and Whitney's singing skills! Dylan would get back into the Top 30 with the Willburys in 1988.

    7. I wish I could lay claim to those descriptions of Bob and Whitney, but it's something I read 20 years ago on Usenet (20 years!) from a particularly smart poster (who I recently found out died a decade back), and it's always stuck with me.

  11. The last edition was much better (musically) than this and yet here's the one we got on BBC4...

    So many songs we've already heard that there's not actually a great deal to comment on!

    Bronski Beat / Marc Almond - At least this is decent enough though Marc is oddly understated here. Note how the rest of the band are relegated to way back. Hmmm....

    Breakers - I note that a couple of these are on the next show, so I'll just say that of these, the only one I really like is Debarge although that got overplayed on the radio at one time.

    And that just leaves Steve Arrington, which is a pretty good song I think.

  12. RAH Band Update!

    I've been checking through the 84 editions that I'd kept today, and the 'Intergalactic Operator Robot' definitely has the same head as the one seen in the legendary Pointer Sisters 'Automatic' routine.

  13. Shakey called this edition turgid. I’d take the ‘g’ and the ‘i’ out. Definitely the worst edition of the re-runs thus far. If this was Top Of The Pops, I’d have hated to see the middle or the bottom. I’d have preferred to hear ”Supergran” than most of this!

    Dickett and Throbs really drew the short straw for this show, but poor Vikki! A four second interview. What a smack in the face that was! Even Gary’s introduction of her was longer. Glenn Frey lost an ‘n’ from his name in the mugshots – this show was dreadful.

    Johnny, I don’t want to remember Marc and the Bronskis killing three songs at once.

    One more night, Phil? Forget it.

    The Rah Band made “Naughty Naughty Naughty” by Joy Sarney sound like a Wagnerian epic.

    Here we go with three lists in a row. I agree it was a dreadfully conceived show all round.

    New Model Army with “No Tune”.

    A perm and bumfluff convention – no, it’s Debarge with a bloke singer sounding like a woman.

    You cleaned the floor before walking out, Annie? Very considerate of you.

    I was born to fast forward Freddie Mercury.

    And here we see Howard Jones in his last ever week in the top ten.

    Interesting choice of outfit, there, Jaki!

    No intro for the number one, probably because it was indescribably bad.

    Quite a lot of United Kingdom hats in the audience – had they been led to believe Vikki was singing? She hardly spoke!

    We finish with some God squad disco, and though I’m not overkeen on the song, it was still the only half decent thing we heard along with the ballroom couple. Imagine waiting a week in anticipation for that lot.

    1. There was an intro to the number 1, as shown in the clip I linked to up above, but BBC4 cut it as it involved Mike Read doing a very bad Jim'll impression.

    2. arthur, great reference to "naughty naughty naughty"! in fact given the choice i think i'd rather listen to that again than anything that was on this week's show - which is really saying something

    3. also arthur: i didn't realise "feel so real" had anything to do with religion - i checked the lyrics out, and they could be interpreted merely as a love song as there's no direct reference to "the guvnor upstairs" (as one j savile esq., formerly of this parish might have put it). sadly unlike james ingram's similarly-themed (and vastly-superior music-wise) recent hit "yah mo be there" - if only the lyrics could be swapped around!

    4. Wilby, maybe you'd rather listen to "Really Saying Something" as well!

      I wonder if anyone watched The Rah Band and wondered where the bloke in the balaclava and bin liners had gone since they were on performing "The Crunch" in inimitable fashion?

      I'm pretty sure I once saw Steve Arrington on telly doing "Feel So Real" going down on his knees and thanking God during the performance, hence my assumption of the song's subject matter, but I assume the lyrics could possibly be taken either way as discussed?

    5. arthur according to wiki mr arrington later became a gospel minister, so his hit probably was actually all about what a groovy fucker god was

      also: sorry but i don't get the "really saying something" reference - is that something to do with religeous songs or just bad songs in general?

      and of course us long-term watchers are all completely aware that the rah band's previous hit was mimed to by a bunch of guys specifically hired in for the occasion in the absence of any actual band. but i wonder if they were they hoping to get a call to reprise their act eight years later?

    6. I don't think the Fake News Rah Band of a while back mimed, in fact I clearly remember them embellishing the track with stuff like the keyboard player intoning "The Crunch!" into a microphone!

    7. Wilby, it's just my sense of humour - you said "I'd rather listen to that again than anything that was on this week's show - which is really saying something", so I slipped in the option of listening to Bananarama and Fun Boy Three's cover of "Really Saying Something" instead! :-D

    8. i've taken another look at "the crunch" totp appearance, and my opinion now is whilst the rest are hired hands who never played on the original studio recording (but possibly did so on what sounds like something quickly reproduced at the beeb's basic recording studio to satisfy musicians union demands), the synth player in the ski mask and plastic jacket is actually "band" founder richard a hewson (who was also the guy in the baseball cap lurking behind keyboards at the back for "clouds across the moon")

      this reminds me of the time when bobby of boney m (who of course usually mimed) was forced to try to reproduce producer frank farian's sonorous voice under the same MU conditions for one show, and failed miserably!

    9. arthur, i get the "really saying something" comment now (must stay on the ball!)

  14. Boy what a rotten (or ‘horrible’ as Shakey observes) edition this was! Worst of 1985 for me.

    I won’t bother even mentioning most of the acts (they’re horrible!), save to say that a second appearance for the Rah Band and David Grant/Jaki Graham was surprising to say the least. Long gone are the days when the likes of Gillan got three showings for minor hits such as ‘New Orleans’ whilst we get no appearance at all for Chris Rea or Foreigner with REO Speedwagon already falling down the charts due to lack of decent exposure.

    What did I like then?

    Phil Collins – One more Night – Simple but effective video which actually features on the picture sleeve. It does still get a lot of airplay this song but remains an enduring ballad from Phil who could do no wrong at this point in time.

    …and that’s it really! Nice to see the Freddie Mercury video clip, hopefully we’ll see it in full soon and as for Tears for Fears at no2; let’s just say that the song remains an enduring classic whilst the no1 charity effort is largely forgotten and a painful experience, certainly compared to Bob’s Christmas effort.

    ….and yes Arthur….I was wondering where the bloke in the balaclava and bin liners had gone. I remember wondering that when watching in 1985 in the same way that I was wondering what happened to the singer of ‘me and you and a dog named Boo’ a few years earlier, when we had the Caribbean Disco show inflicted on us.

    1. No-one seemed to comment on the Freddie Mercury video costing £100,000 to make. I would say it must have all gone to the two hotties dancing with him at the beginning of the Breakers clip, haha, with a larger portion going to the one with the (very) high dark hotpants.

      And check out that flavoursome Freddie Mercury snog at the end of that clip! Good Lord, he must have to justify the £100,000 budget for the video outside of the Queen confines, which one would have thought was more worthy for this high amount of video budget, which in today's money would be not far off £1 Million.

    2. Just think: if We Are the World had mentioned Christmas in the lyrics, we'd be hearing it every year... shudder.

  15. Despite most people calling this the most disappointing edition of the year so far, I quite liked the stat that this show featured the No.4, 5, 6, 7 hits as main feature plays on the show, like a sequence in a pack of cards, although not necessarily of the same type (hearts, diamonds, spades, clubs). What's more, I thought there were a couple of 'diamonds' this week on the Breakers section:

    Debarge - I remember loving this song all year in 1985, with its feelgood sound which was to be a dance-floor monster number for years to come, especially in those summer holiday parties in particular.

    The Eurythmics - best song from them for a while, and a very punchy alpha-male type of sound, a perfect dance-floor offering (unusually for The Eurythmics), and Annie Lennox at her very peak at this stage, considering it was now six years since 1979 when she arrived first on TOTP with The Tourists.

    As Angelo mentions, this was the last of Bronski Beat as a such-named entity, getting to No.3 eventually with this collaboration with Marc Almond. It was a good opener to the show, for its surprise combination of past songs and current performers. Almond had run full circle with Soft Cell by early 1984, and this seemed to be his experiment as a soloist without the boys from Soft Cell, and seemed to succeed well with it, which was then to kickstart a brief solo career for him shortly after.

    No doubt Jimi Sommerville was thinking of new projects himself at this point with Bronski Beat's last effort here, although not as a solo performer, but an entirely new venture called The Communards.....and with female vocal additions!

  16. Here we again then. 2 good presenters and 17 songs! Wow!

    First up BB and MA. Wasn't keen in this last week in the breakers and OMG it's bloody awful isn't it. What a racket.
    How was this ever a hit?? They both look they are just going through the motions as well.
    This has to be one of the worst records I've heard since this started,
    It kept finishing and starting again as well..go away please...

    Phil back so soon. This is another strong song from Mr C. Video suits the song well in black and white (or grey).
    What's with the empty glass? Has his new girlfriend run off with a barman?

    The Rah Band back again and I still can't get on with this song. Just yuck really..

    An early look at the chart this week. Not sure I like it here. They split the chart up again soon I believe.

    Let's pray for some good breakers?
    NMA - Nope - just noise.
    Debarge - Hooray, a decent song. Always reminds me of Gloria and the Miami Sound Machine this one.
    Eurythmics - another great track from them - they can do no wrong for me.
    Freddie Mercury - wasn't familiar with this one. Wonder why he needed to go solo, he could have done this with Queen surely as it sounds the same as one of their hits.

    And now the Top Ten - short show this week??

    Grant/Graham with a decent song and a big hit. Amazingly the best thing on the show tonight.

    USA for Africa number one again. I don't mind this one either even I have no idea who some of them are/
    I love the way they are all dressed up and lined up ready to sing. I think a bit more planning went into this than Band Aid! Probably why it took them so long.
    Took at least a week to get those tights stretched over the microphones..
    Were Prince and Madonna not invited?
    Does Bruce need the toilet?

    Hello Vikki. Not going to win - and what an in depth interview. She didn't even get to perform.

    Didn't recognise the name Steve Arrington but of course know and like the song.

    Well that wasn't up to much was it.. moving on..

  17. Bit late, but here's a restored version of 25/4/85 with the missing parts of the final link (courtesy of Neil B.) inserted into the BBC4HD version:

    TOTP 25/04/1985

    As others have said, the picture quality of the BBC4 version left a lot to be desired this time around. In particular there were strange shifts in brightness from shot to shot; not sure why exactly. I haven't attempted to fix this as frankly it would've been a massive amount of work.

    Full list of previous restorations:

  18. Oops after uploading that I realised that there was another edit made by BBC4 (Mike Read's Savile impression before USA For Africa, which hasn't aged well admittedly) so I've gone back and re-added that too. The download link is still the same, but if you downloaded it yesterday then you might want to re-download to get the new version.