Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Bring on the Top of the Pops

This edition of Top of the Pops from October 24th 1985 will not be shown on BBC4 due to the contract dispute with Mike Smith, so a huge thanks goes once again to Neil B for making it available here at WeTransfer.

St Elmo's Hair

24/10/85  (Dixie Peach & Mike Smith)

John Parr – “St Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)” (6)
Fulfilling his boyhood dream by appearing on the show but the song got no higher.

Arcadia – “Election Day” (14)
Another short lived Duran Duran offshoot making studio debut here, with their only top ten hit, which peaked at number 7.

Jan Hammer – “Miami Vice Theme” (5)
At its peak.

Matt Bianco – “Yeh Yeh” (24) (breaker)
Peaked at number 13.

Echo & The Bunnymen – “Bring On The Dancing Horses” (23) (breaker)
Went up two more places.

King – “The Taste Of Your Tears” (20) (breaker)
Peaked at number 11.

Level 42 – “Something About You” (13)
Became their biggest hit to date when it reached number 6.

The Top Ten:
Red Box  – “Lean On Me (Ah-Li-Ayo)" (10) (video clip)
Elton John - "Nikita" (9) (video clip)
Midge Ure - "If I Was" (8) (video clip)
Simple Minds - "Alive & Kicking" (7) (video clip)
John Parr - "St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" (6) (video clip)
Jan Hammer - "Miami Vice Theme" (5) (video clip)
Madonna -"Gambler" (4) (video clip)
Colonel Abrams - "Trapped" (3) (video clip)
A-ha - "Take On Me" (2) (video clip)

Jennifer Rush – “The Power Of Love” (1) (rpt)
Third of five weeks at the top.

Thompson Twins - "King For A Day" (29) (audience dancing/credits)
With their tenth and final top 40 hit, peaking at number 22.

October 31st is next.


  1. Good Lord, what a fine achievement for TOTP to get John Parr in the studio while on his upward curve in the music business. I still prefer the video though!

    Duran Duran - this one sounds too much like their previous hit View To A Kill, but it did nowhere near as well. Could not get into this song at all, and poor effort from the Duranies I felt.

    I couldn't pick out anything else of note in a largely dire show, with the only exception being the superb Alive And Kicking by Simple Minds, with a different clip from the video this week, but this was never destined for the top 5, largely due the non-feature play by TOTP throughout its run in the charts.

    1. Apologies, I meant Arcadia, not Duran Duran, but it amounts to pretty much the same really!

    2. Can't believe Alive and Kicking never got a full showing - that's got to be one of their biggest hits!

    3. I know, I don't think if you asked anyone about this in 2018, and considering it was probably their biggest hit, that anyone could remember that it was not given a full showing, while Colonel Abrams got two studio performances in three shows while at No.3 for three weeks! I'm completely in shock by this statistic, and would need some consoling.

  2. Not much chemistry in evidence between Dixie and Smitty, but they do an OK job on a show in which no videos get played in full. Smitty even managed to make me laugh for once with his sarky comment on the pretentious Echo and the Bunnymen promo, though yet again he had to get in an EastEnders plug at the very end - was he that desperate to please his Beeb paymasters at the time?

    John Parr up first, clearly keen to prove that he was not American by emblazoning a Union flag all over his guitar. Midge Ure had obviously set a trend for long coats, as they adorn both Parr and Arcadia on this show. Election Day doesn't sound that distinct from a Duran Duran song, which isn't very surprising given the personnel; despite some cluttered production it is a reasonable effort, with a good chorus, and certainly preferable to the Power Station hits from earlier in the year. Roger Taylor is conspicuous by his absence, as he had refused to do virtually any promotional work for the Arcadia project, and indeed he would quit Duran Duran and the music business very soon after this.

    Like Harold Faltermeyer before him, the very un-pop star-like Jan Hammer makes a rather pointless trip to the studio, switching in rather ungainly fashion between his keyboard and keytar while his performance keeps getting interrupted by clips from Miami Vice. The theme certainly has an energetic production, but I struggled to discern a tune - Crockett's Theme was far superior. This breaker clip is all we will see of Ian McCulloch and co, who had presumably been on a short hiatus given Dixie tells us that they had "reformed." While the video is a bit dodgy, the song is pleasantly moody and melodic.

    Level 42 are in the studio with the best song of the night, moving firmly into the pop mainstream with a classy ballad that benefits greatly from the juxtaposition between Mark King's main vocal and Mike Lindup's melodic falsetto parts. I don't know how tall King is, but wearing his bass so high on his body does end up making him look a bit of a midget! As for the playout track, no surprise that this limp, forgettable effort was the Thompsons' last visit to the Top 40. It is amazing how quickly their creative powers diminished, but at their brief peak, as these reruns have reminded us, they were definitely a pop force to be reckoned with.

    1. You're right, Good Lord, no videos this week, only studio performances, as the top ten videos don't count as a full feature of any one song. The usual tradition is to follow up the opening studio appearance with a video as second song up, but it was pretty unusual to follow up John Parr in the studio with Duran Duran also in the studio. A video-shy week you could say.

      Also, sad to see The Thompson Twins bowing out like this after two years of charts hits, with a non-memorable and disappointing tune for the playout, as well as their last top 40 hit. Goodbye and good night.

  3. Quite a good selection on this one that BBC4 viewers will miss out on…ta very much Neil B.

    John Parr – St Elmos Fire (Man in motion) – Great UK themed guitar from Mr Parr (any descendant of Catherine?). The song is quite rousing and memorable without being standout…. if that makes sense…

    Arcadia – Election Day – Was this really Duran Duran less a few members? Or had they split for a while? I don’t think any more singles came out until ‘Notorious’ about a year later. Anyway, not really in the same league as their previous releases. What was the point of the two ladies in the long black skirts?

    Jan Hammer – Miami Vice Theme – Destined for the top spot in the USA shortly, Jan suffers the same fate as Harold Faltermeyer a few months earlier in that one bloke and his keyboards ain’t that interesting so we get clips of ‘Miami Vice’ in the same way as we got clips of ‘Beverley Hills Cop’. Great theme mind you. Czech born Jan was originally in the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

    Breakers – Matt Bianco – Yeh Yeh – Prefer Georgie Fame’s no1 version of this. Echo & the Bunnymen – Bring on the Dancing Horses – Looks like the worst video I’ve ever seen! King – Taste of your Tears – One of their best. Featured on the tape ‘Kid Jensen’s Chart Blasters’ which was free if you collected Smiths Crisps bags. Kid himself did a spoken intro for the featured tracks which were various recent hits on the CBS label.

    Level 42 – Something about you – Well there certainly was something about this song as it was the start of a golden run of singles that went right through to 1989. Mark King and Mike Lindup’s alternating vocals never sounded better than on this song. The review posted on 45cat sums it up nicely starting with the hilarious “I was expecting more bland jazz funk for XR3 drivers…” proclamation. Really great to see this ToTP performance.

    Top10 rundown – As has been noted, we get Simple Minds and Madonna clips shown but never get to see the whole song. Elton’s video showcases an old style British Passport!

    Jennifer Rush – The Power of love – So they haven’t shown the video but instead repeat a previous studio outing. A second video was made for the edited remix as the first video featured the original mix (and a clip was shown on the chart rundown when the record was in the top10) with the missing “lost is how I’m feeling…” verse. Here’s what they could have shown. No flashy gimmicks, just one lady and her wonderful song with a nice bit of instrumental at the very end…go on....you know you want to…!


    Thomson Twins – King for a day danceout – Nothing to do with ‘King’?

    Quick mention for the ‘totally ignored’ – Tears for Fears with I Believe (a soulful re-recording). Not their best release by any stretch and the fifth single from the excellent ‘Songs from the Big Chair’ album. A brief chart run of 38 – 23 – 33 – 48 was a true chart yo-yo. Also, not even making the UK top40 was ‘Oh Sheila’ by Ready for the World which had been a recent chart topper in the USA. This week it was languishing at 67, before peaking at 50. I don’t think we missed much actually.

    1. So, if his song is quite rousing and memorable without being standout, does that make John above Parr or below Parr? I'll get my coat!

    2. Haha Arthur, I would say slightly above Parr!
      Sct353, Notorius was written for Duran Duran by the great Nile Rogers of Chic fame, and was very much needed for the Duranies in 1986 to get them back to anywhere near their earlier sort of fame, particularly after this dire and non-memorable 1985 effort called Election Day. I won't be 'voting' for them until 1986, haha!

    3. I note Madonna's video had the neon beer ads pixelated out - could you get much American beer in 1985? Would you want it, for that matter?

    4. I mentioned the pixellation, but didn't know what it was covering up - that explains it :-)

  4. arcadia: i was aware of the other side of the duran schizm with the artier guys sticking together whilst the rockers did their thing with the power station, but for some reason i never got familiar with any of it. whiny le bon reigns himself in both vocally and stylistically, almost as if he's a different person (and the mullet has thankfully disappeared, although nick rhodes was obviously too in love with his to do likewise). and it's a lot more electronic to start with (the monitor behind rhodes no doubt used to emphasise that aspect, although that was a bit old hat by now), although the duran pop inlfuences seep through as it goes on (for too long) and weaken it accordingly. but a commendable effort to at least do something for themselves rather than the durannies. i thought roger taylor was involved in this as well, but presumably he had packed himself off in exile to his farm (where he remained for over a decade) by this point. i'm not going to remark on the female duo on stage with them, as no doubt others here will have plenty to say

    jan hammer: it bit like the show it was the theme for itself, there's far more style here than content. jan may have been of eastern european origin, but this is a sound that could only have emanated from the states

    level 42: the jazz-funk had well and truly been ditched in favour of a commercial money-making sound by now, but their brand of danceable pop still pissed over most other people's at this point. the video features actress cheri lunghi of "the manageress" fame - a series i really enjoyed at the time and would like to watch again on dvd, but the prices are still sky-high at the moment. tragically it's now been 30 years since the fantastic concept of a woman managing an english league football club was dramatised, and yet that is no more likely to happen now (in fact less likely, due to all the money sloshing about in the sport) than if they were to fly to the moon without the aid of a space rocket. even a guy who won the ultimate prize in another professional sport (rugby union's clive woodward) couldn't be trusted to manage a moderate team like southampton, so what chance do the ladies have?

    thompson twins: or "the thompsons" as mr peach laughably refers to them. sadly this is much more "sister of mercy" than "hold me now), so not surprising they were on the slippery slope by now

    1. i forgot to mention that the 12" "sisa" mix (i still have no idea what that means btw) of "something about you" was (and still is) pretty good:


    2. It's a pretty fine 12" version. Likewise the 12" of 'Lessons in Love' is worth checking out as it contains a few extra vocals and then a mini instrumental section/fade....a bit reminiscent of 'Gentlemen take Polaroids' by Japan. But I'm jumping ahead a little here!

    3. level 42 had pretty much became my favourite act at this point in time - remaining so pretty much until the end of the decade, during which time i saw them live several times. the "world machine" album from which "something about you" came was actually a bit patchy in retrospect. alhough it contained what is probably my favourite track of theirs if push came to shove:


  5. The Thompson Twins followed this up with a cover of The Beatles' "Revolution".

    Interestingly, I only discovered today they had a single ("Roll Over") between "Lay Your Hands On Me" and "Don't Mess With Doctor Dream", which was withdrawn on the day of release due to Tom Bailey suffering mental exhaustion which also resulted in a tour being cancelled.

    1. So it's a case of what 'could have been' with The Thompson Twins, with no No.1's, despite a No.2 and No.3 hit in 1984.

    2. Somebody must have got a copy of 'Roll over'


      As for 'Revolution', well what can I say? Definitely not 'alright'!

      As Dory mentions, the 1984 hits were fabulous but afterwards was diminsihing returns. Still they were great at their peak, and gave us some memorable hits.

    3. According to Discogs, at least 3 people own the 7-inch version of "Roll Over", 10 own the 12-inch and someone has a one-sided acetate. Discogs also states the record company requested ordered copies of the single to be destroyed (a bit harsh if you'd already placed an advanced order!) though some obviously slipped through the net.

  6. John Parr may have been waiting to be on TOTP since he was six, but he looks about 60 here, hair notwithstanding, so I don't know if those numbers add up, Smutty. Like the two man brass section with three instruments that they are blatantly refusing to play properly.

    Arcadia groaning away with their biggest hit, not much better than Power Station but at least it's not a terrible cover version. Those dancers earned their salary (maybe it was tricky in those heels?). Fairlight prominently displayed - had its namesake game for the ZX Spectrum, but never finished it.

    Jan Hammers along with his tune-free theme tune, not quite the same with some middle aged bloke trying to keep up with miming his instruments. Must admit I eschewed the charms of the parent TV show until one night there was nothing else to watch, so I gave it a go and was pleasantly surprised, it wasn't the ultra-slick nothing I expected, the episode was about a rape case and very sensitively handled. Got me hooked, and I became a regular viewer.

    Echo and the Bunnymen's video reminded me of Fingerbobs, oddly. Atmospheric ditty, anyway.

    I never had strong feelings one way or the other about Level 42, they seemed a good bunch of lads but the music was a shade pedestrian to excite me. Looking back it was very well delivered pop until their inspiration ran out, but here we find them in their pomp (or at the start of it).

    Skip over Jen and we get The Thompson Twins' last effort of any note, an improvement on their previous, at least it's a proper song, but not exactly essential. They did attempt a comeback with a pseudonymously-released dance track, but everyone knew it was them because they couldn't resist blowing their cover. Gilbert O'Sullivan tried the same trick.

    1. didn't cliff richard do the same thing by releasing a contemporary-sounding track under a pseudonym so that punters wouldn't be prejudiced against it? macca definitely did by releasing dance stuff under the alias "the fireman". yet funnily enough despite their apparent efforts to remain anonymous they all contrived to get outed in some way or other in the end (other than cliff sexually of course ho ho), as they knew noboady would buy it otherwise!

    2. Not forgetting Tony Blackburn's stint as soul singer Lenny Gamble! Tony actually managed 31 and 41 in the late sixties with two singles under his own name.

    3. The Cliff single you're referring to wilberforce is 'Can't keep this feeling in' which reached no10 in October 1998. Hardly in the 'We don't talk any more' league, more the less said the better.

    4. Tears For Fears also released a self-titled song as 'Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams'. Confusingly, it had already been a b-side to 'Advice For The Young At Heart' so it wasn't as if they were trying to be devious by deciding to do that!

    5. I love Advice For The Young At Heart, especially the next line in the song which goes 'soon we will be older'. Although released as a new single in 1989, it wasn't as big a hit as some of those Songs From The Big Chair here in 1985, but it does make it into my top 3 of theirs of all time.

  7. i'm sure i read somewhere here that john parr had wanted to be on "top of the pops" since he was 6 years old? well he was born in 1952, and the show itself didn't begin until 1964. so as the americans say: do the math!

    1. Yeah, Smutty said that, he may have been exaggerating for "comic" effect, however.

  8. Another one where we're not missing much, I can't say this period of 85 is enthusing me a great deal.

    Arcadia - Hmmmm...not entirely convinced by this. I prefer Duran Duran. However, Arcadia's material is about 1000 times better than the over-produced dreck churned out by The Power Station at least.

    Jan Hammer - Sometimes theme tunes don't work as singles. Here's 'Exhibit A'....

    Breakers - A real mixed bag here. I have made my feelings quite clear about the waste of space that were Matt Bianco previously. Yes, the video is ludicrous but 'Bring On The Dancing Horses' is a magnificent brooding song and quite possibly the best thing in the entire Top 40. So naturally we won't see that in full. As for King, not bad at all actually, probably their second best single.

    Level 42 - One of those that's perfectly pleasant but not their best stuff.

    Thompson Twins - Not much love for this but I think it's a perfectly decent pop song. Strang to think that it's not that long ago that they were Pops regulars, now they're relegated to the playout!

  9. Thanks once again to Neil B.

    As usual, The Clash make the mugshots but not the studio. Mind you, this was inferior Clash Mk II who were as good as the last word of the title of their album “Cut The Crap”.

    I wonder if John Parr’s childhood ambition was actually to be on “Ready Steady Go”? He isn’t quite from Yorkshire, Smitty - John’s from the Nottinghamshire town of Workshop, which is admittedly only two miles from both South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. At last the Letrasetter’s given the title its apostrophe. Why was that bloke playing a trombone like a trumpet? Had he never seen a trombone before?

    Slappy Face is back! Arcadia there with a prime example of bombast replacing a tune, but still better than Power Station.

    Almost as much bombast and even less of a tune with Jan, not so much a Hammer and more like a blunt chisel.

    Earrings of the entire re-run on Matt Bianco’s bongo player.

    I wonder if the immovable cow in Echo and the Bunnymen’s video was an in-joke or comment on their record label, Korova, who’s logo contained a cow’s head?

    “Sorry, King, we can’t afford to send you to the Mediterranean for your next video. You’ll have to make do with a water feature and a tambourine.”

    And from Paul to Mark (See what I did there?). If only Level 42’s bassist had worn that tartan suit from the video. As far as writing good poppy hit songs, the band had finally found their level. Ahem.

    Weird that we see the ends of both the Simple Minds video (with more of the woman singing than Jim Kerr) and A-Ha’s instead of the choruses for example.

    A quick FF rush past Jennifer (ahem again) to hear Dixie refer to The Thompsons for the second time in the show. Not a bad tune, better than Arcadia who got the studio gig, but not as punchy or commercial as their big hits. Who’d have thought this outro would be The Twins’ swansong?

    1. Cut the Crap is such a terrible name for an album. It's like something thought up by teenagers trying to be edgy.

    2. agreed thx, and joe strummer (alias diplomat's son john mellor, lest we forget) was into his thirties by that point too. and of course the irony was that most clash admirers actually thought the album was crap, thanks to the absence of the band's driving force mick jones!

    3. If Joe was calling it Cut the Crap he might as well have teamed up with Rik Mayall and be done with it.

  10. Sorry, Worksop and not Workshop!!!!

  11. Smithy and a much more relaxed Dixie up today.

    John Parr gets his 4 minutes in the TOTP studio with this Marmite song.
    Got himself a brit pop guitar 10 years early. 😀
    Son is flossing....

    Arcadia up next (or Duran lite). Heard all these due to Wifey being a HUGE fan. Never much of a fan myself. Not as catchy and memorable as DD. At least they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

    "I bought this " comes from the other room... Oh dear. Its a great TV theme. Not sure it's a great record. Jan is more Dad rock than rock and roll isn't he...maybe they should have just shown the video.

    Matt Bianco. Yeah yeah. 😀 Cool song, if a bit cheesy. Was a big fan of this.
    Echo next up. Don't recall this one at all. Not surprised. Not very memorable.
    King back again with another average song. So much better in the charts.

    Level 42. Confession, Mark scared me as a child. Always looked like his face had been designed rather than being natural.. Sure he is a lovely guy .
    Like the song though, might dig out the greatest hits later..

    Nice to see a bit of the Nikita video.
    Still no simple minds.. Criminal.
    The singing belly button... Only you Mike... Trust me we had other names for her at senior school. 😀

    Miss Rush still at the top.

    The Thompsons as nobody called them and another plug for shitenders.
    Like this TT song..

    Solid show..