Thursday, 31 May 2018

If I Was Top of the Pops

I'm away all week so I'm posting the next three blogs prior to seeing the editions, starting with this one from October 3rd 1985.

The Colonel wins his only top ten medal

03/10/85 (Gary Davies & Paul Jordan)

Colonel Abrams – “Trapped” (10)
Peaked at number 3.

Iron Maiden – “Running Free” (20) (live clip)
Went up one more place.

Cameo – “Single Life” (21)
Peaked at number 15.

John Parr – “St Elmo’s Fire” (27) (breaker)
His only top ten hit, peaking at number 6.

The Smiths – “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side” (26) (breaker)
Peaked at number 23.

The Cure – “Close To Me” (24) (breaker)
Got no higher.

Rene & Angela – “I’ll Be Good” (22)
At its peak.

Midge Ure – “If I Was” (1)
First and only week at number one.

Five Star – “Love Take Over” (28) (audience dancing/credits)
Peaked at number 25.

Next up is October 10th, but it's a Mike Smith edition.


  1. Many thanks to Angelo for his continued devotion to blogging duty, even while on holiday. A first sighting here of the lesser-spotted Paul Jordan, like Dixie Peach a DJ I have no memory of whatsoever. He seems a bit more natural in front of the camera than Dixie, though his incessant Wrighty-like movement suggests he was more nervous than he was trying to sound; still, a mostly competent debut appearance overall. Gazza loooked very tanned and oily here, but was in good form, and seemed to gel well with the new boy.

    Gazza also deserves some credit for pronouncing Colonel Abrams’ name correctly! As the Top 10 countdown later on confirms, he uses the same robotic dance moves in the studio as he did in the video, and he makes the most of his name by dressing as if he really was a colonel. The song itself is to my mind one of the better dance tracks we have heard on the ‘85 shows, though the verses sound uncannily like The Pointer Sisters’ Automatic. Sadly, it would all end rather badly for Abrams; he died in 2016, seemingly broke, homeless and diabetic.

    Having been their first hit single five years previously, pre-Bruce, Iron Maiden now issue a live version of Running Free from their Live After Death album. The performance seen here is pretty good for what it is, but I am never going to be much of a metal fan. Back in the studio Paul provides a tautologous introduction to Cameo, as he talks of their “first television debut” in the UK. No red posing pouches in sight here for a slickly choreographed but unremarkable performance of an unremarkable song, chiefly notable for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly motif that they would reuse in Word Up the following year. They had been around for a decade by this point, but it was only now that they were finally breaking in a significant way into the mainstream pop charts after years of being confined to the American R&B and Dance listings.

    Perhaps surprisingly, The Cure would not feature on the show properly with this quirky but catchy little tune, so we will have to make do with this brief clip from the equally quirky (and claustrophobic) video, which sees the band taking the song title literally by being supposedly jammed in a wardrobe. The other breakers will be on again, so we proceed to Rene and Angela with a decent enough pop-soul tune, complete with funky bass line. The performance is notable for synths playing themselves and for Rene’s outfit, which I am guessing may have been influenced by Prince’s Purple Rain get-up but feels more 1968 than 1985. Midge rocks the mic, and another long coat (in spite of the unseasonably warm weather at the time) as he celebrates a solitary week at number 1, in the process laying to rest the ghost of Joe Dolce, at least to a degree. The audience clap along enthusiastically, and then dance to another limp Five Star hit over the end credits, with the cameraman trying to inject some life into proceedings by spinning his camera through 360 degrees.

  2. Not much to comment on this episode, apart from the fact that that it was a largely black edition, with the only white performer in the studio being Midge Ure at No.1, and Iron Maiden on video. Of the numerous black artists on the show, the highlight for me was Rene & Angela, with a great dance tune, with Angela sporting a nice outfit with nice figure, not arff!

    On the playout, I really didn't enjoy it, as the girls in the studio audience were dressed like men. The only way I can excuse it, is the fact that winter was probably setting in now in Britain as we reached the last quarter of 1985, but Good Lord, they could have dressed a bit more sexy than that!

  3. So, a new boy, with his jacket sleeves rolled up and none-more-commercial radio style - he should have been on The Roxy. No surprises commercial radio is where he ended up not too long afterwards. Must admit, I didn't recognise his voice at all.

    Anyway, on with the music, and Colonel Abrams storms and shimmies his way through a performance of Trapped, still one of the best dance singles of the year, the decade even. As John mentions, a poignant performance given how he died in reduced circumstances. Fickle fame.

    Iron Maiden with their trademark concert video next, the only appearance of Eddie a bloke in the crowd wearing a mask (does that count?). Must have taken them ages to write the chorus.

    Cameo, another great 80s funk/dance/soul sound, love the whistly bits here and the whole thing is so professional, dance moves and all. They'd paid their dues and now it was paying off. They get the audience moving, too.

    The Breakers, and another great Tim Pope video for The Cure, nice to hear this and not Love Cats for the billionth time (albeit truncated). A case for the Curtis file, there.

    Hey, we're over here, Rene! He was more captivated in staring at his partner Ange than he was with performing. I'm warming to this, it's light but a bit of fun, no harm in that.

    Midge Ure with a kind of forgotten 80s No.1, it's nice enough with gimmicky lyrics and solid production, and I do prefer it to the No.1s that bookended it.

    Five Star to play us out as George Hamilton - sorry, Gary Davies bids us farewell and flubs his line.

  4. Paul who? I remember Paul Burnette but not Jordan….sorry! Did I watch these shows I wonder? This edition was ably assisted by my trusty FF button!

    Colonel Abrams – Trapped – Disposable dance music but not too bad. Rather the Colonel than Father…

    Iron Maiden – Running Free (live) – With what looks like a completely male audience, Maiden treat us to a live version of their debut hit. Despite all the histrionics and live posturing it’s not a memorable tune. Score an extra point with me however for donating all profits to the Anti-Heroin campaign. Never no1 material though.

    Cameo – Single Life - …nor is this. FF

    Breakers – I like the John Parr hit which no doubt will be on a future show. Less said about the other two the better.

    Rene and Angela – I’ll be good – FF

    Chart rundown – Jennifer Rush poised at no2. It’s the original mix of the song that accompanies the video – those drums are not bombastic here.

    Midge Ure – If I was – Well done Jim for getting to the top spot with a thoroughly enjoyable tune. A lot of loud audience clapping threatens to drown Jim out at some points! (Perhaps the audience have “got no respect”!).

    Five Star – Love take over - FF

  5. hosts: probably like most i have no recollection of paul jordan whatsoever - did he ever actually have a radio 1 show of his own? he certainly doesn't seem to have any personality of his own going by his show intro - vocally more a blend of existing jocks (with shitty to the fore) and stylistically a mini-gary. but at least he doesn't either seem like a rabbit under spotlights and/or make a mess of things like other recent debutantes

    colonel abrams: i thought i'd give this one last try to see if it could possibly rub off on me at all, but no joy there. visually i noted that colonel does some air clapping before he starts singing, and lyrically that the first verse doesn't rhyme in the slightest. the only other thing of interest to say is that he wasn't the first of military rank to make the charts - that was general johnson of chairmen of the board (who had an almost eponymous hit was "chairman of the board" btw). or it might have been lieutenant pigeon?

    maiden: sounding exactly the same as all their other stuff, regardless of when it was recorded. still, in their defence at least this is a live rendition of something they did five years earlier (with their original singer paul di'anno, who i remember reading that after maiden gave him his cards that he later set up a chain of cyber cafes)

    cameo: unlike "trapped" this may be genuine american dance music. but it's equally bad if not worse with it's sluggishness, lack-of-tune and unrelenting crunching snare beat. worse was actually to come though with "word up", but at least in that case we got the red codpiece as comic relief - unlike here

    rene and angela: compared to colonel abrams and cameo this is brilliant. but it's still hardly the cream of 80's dance/club music with it's aimless melodies, and demonstrates the downward turn that genre was taking. before i listened to this i was actually thinking it was "i'll be good to you" by quincy jones and his all-star guest singers - which again is hardly first division dance fare, but at least it had a decent chorus hook

    five star: when an act like this have the best dance record on the show, that tells you a lot about the way things were going. the reason this is better than the rest is because production-wise it's actually a year or two out of date!

  6. Wilby, it's tenuous but, on the military chart theme, Major Lance made number 40 with "Um Um Um Um Um" in 1964.

    1. well done arthur - i bow to your greater knowledge on that front (ho ho). of course there were various captains as well (& tenille, sensible, etc), plus the guitarist in echo & the bunnymen was a sergeant!

    2. Don't forget General Levy of the storming Incredible fame - booyaka!

    3. Perhaps the best example is Sgt. Barry Sadler, of Ballad of the Green Berets fame - he really was a sergeant, and served in Vietnam.

    4. nice one john - i really like it that despite having been involved in this blog for the best part of 10 years now, fresh pop-related trivia like this still crops up!

  7. I actually do remember Paul Jordan! I seem to recall he had the Sunday afternoon shift in Autumn 85 - the slot given to Philip Schofield around six years later.

  8. Devotion above and beyond, Angelo. Many thanks!

    Well, I was pleasantly surprised by Paul Jordan. Having seen some doom and gloom comments on t’net before we saw his re-run debut, I thought he was perfectly adequate. A bit Kwiksave “No Frills” and Ronseal “does what it says on the tin”, his voice was a bit grating, and he liked to do loads of oohs, aahhs and hoorays, but Paul stuck to the task amiably and he was far more preferable than Shitty and Nodding Dog. By the way, where HAD Gary Davies been on holiday to come back with a tan that dark?

    Here comes Father Abrams with some frenetic moves. Was “Trapped” about having an under-age girlfriend and possibly getting her in the family way? Nice ‘grabbing the other wrist’ motif to denote being trapped.

    A bombastic live outing by Iron Maiden. No denim here – let’s stick to the lycra, literally!

    Not much love for Cameo, so I’ll stick up for them. I loved the grove and enjoyed the performance with the choreographed moves which even the bassist joined in, with followed by the Gay Byrne Show / Westlife style freeform wobbling during the instrumental breaks.

    For some reason, the chorus of John Parr’s tune always sounded to me like a bombastic jingle for a coffee like Red Mountain.

    Next up, three lovable Smiths and the lead singer, who we’ll see in the contraband edition.

    I’d forgotten how poorly The Cure’s perky tune did in the charts, especially as it’s one of their more played canon on the radio these days. I hoped the lads washed their armpits before tackling that cramped space.

    Looking at Rene (who was looking at Angela), Now I see where Mike Myers got his idea for Austin Powers’ outfit. Disco soul which was in one ear and out the other immediately.

    Two military outfitted singers at 10 and 9 in the videos. Shame Billy Idol didn’t keep the theme going and dress up as a private.

    Midge reminded me of Jim Diamond, another Scot with a somewhat unexpected yet deserved chart topper, making the most of his view from the summit and enjoying every moment.

    And we finish with an unremarkable Five Star song, introduced in garbled fashion by Gary and a relaxed (relieved?) Mr. Jordan.

    1. arthur it wouldn't surprise me if gary davies actually went to a tanning salon especially for his totp appearances, just to keep up his rep as radio 1's bronzed adonis - if it was for real, then he'd probably be dead of skin cancer by now!

  9. I see what you mean about Red Mountain, and I had the same thought regarding Midge/Jim. Both must have looked over their shoulder and realised they were unlikely to be at the top for long..

  10. Restored version of 3/10/85, with Neil B's upload of the missing part edited back in to the BBC4HD version:

  11. I go away for a weekend and find 4 TOTP to review after coming back, blimey!

    By the time I had my brief time in the sun as a commercial radio presenter, Paul Jordan was running stations as well as doing shows on them. I don't think I ever met him though. He does a decent enough job here alongside the ever reliable Gary Davies, back from a stint on the world's biggest sunbed.

    So, onto the music then. Oh....

    Colonel Abrams - Best thing on the show, a great track with an energetic performance. The hit version would seem to be a remix, as the video shown briefly in the Top 10 rundown was clearly a different version.

    Iron Maiden - I like them, but this is not one of their better songs.

    Cameo - Utterly dreadful, I think I said before that this is a case where the big hit really is the best thing they did.

    Breakers - Shame we don't get The Cure in full as it's easily the best of the 3.

    Rene & Angela - No.

    Midge Ure gets his week in the sun and then some bland Five Star as we wait patiently for their good stuff to turn up....

  12. Last to the party. Oh well.

    Paul Jordan (who?) Had to look him up. He had the 2.30-4 Sunday slot as others have mentioned and filled in for the daytime DJs holidays occasionally (this month he covered Wrighty)

    Gary "suntan" Davies his usual high quality self

    Trapped is a stand out track of the be year. great to see it in the studio.

    Iron Maiden up next. Metal track. Check. Long hair. Check. Loud drums. Check. Concert video. Check..
    By numbers.

    Cameo with a dull number. Oh dear

    Breakers :
    Love St Elmos Fire, great sing a long radio tune, naff video.

    The Smiths enter their, "every song sound she same 86-88 phase"
    Bored with them now..

    The Cure with their best song. Think it was about 92 this or a re release and I discovered it. Fab

    Rene and Angela. Suprisingly good, enjoyed it,

    Midge at number one ends quite a good show,


  13. Wow, what a bland episode. Looks like I picked a bad time to try and keep up to date with the shows...