Thursday, 7 June 2018

The Taste of Your Top of the Pops

There's not so much as a single pumpkin in sight nor is the word 'Halloween' muttered even once by Simon or Janice but nevertheless we are being trick or treated to the October 31st 1985 edition of Top of the Pops!

Happy Tambourine!

31/10/85  (Simon Bates & Janice Long)

Feargal Sharkey – “A Good Heart” (12)
Janice tips Feargal for the top and it will indeed get there in two weeks time.

Elton John – “Nikita” (4) (video)
And her other tip went up one more place.

Matt Bianco – “Yeh Yeh” (17)
A number one for Georgie Fame in 1964, this quite similar new version peaked at number 13.

Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Cities In Dust” (23) (breaker)
At least we get a few dancing skeletons from permanently Halloween Siouxsie, and this song went up two more places.

Kate Bush – “Cloudbusting” (20) (breaker)
This terrific second single from her massive number one album Hounds of Love somehow stalled at number 20.

UB40 – “Don’t Break My Heart” (19) (breaker)
One of their better singles for quite some time, peaking at number 3.

King – “The Taste Of Your Tears” (15)
Paul treats us to some tambourine tricks and the song peaked at number 11.

Jennifer Rush – “The Power Of Love” (1) (rpt from 17/10/85)
Fourth of five weeks at number one.

Shakin’ Stevens – “Lipstick, Powder & Paint” (11) (audience dancing/credits)
At its peak.

November 7th is next.


  1. This show was absolute dog shit. A quick snatch of Kate Bush being the only highlight.

    1. anonymous, are you the same guy who phoned "saturday superstore" and told matt bianco they were a bunch of wankers?

  2. i took a look at this show's line up, and thought that breakers apart there was absolutely nothing that appealed to me in the slightest (so i'm saying much the same as anonymous above, but perhaps a bit more eruditely ha ha). actually 1985 has pulled out quite a few more decent hits than the previous year, but editions like this are the reason i am definitely at the "last orders" stage with regard to hanging around on this blog!

  3. It is indeed rather strange that Halloween didn't get mentioned at all in this show, particularly as the Master Bates-hosted edition from the equivalent week in 1982 notoriously went to town on that theme, but maybe this time it was thought that Bates' presence alone was enough to chill viewers' blood! Anyway, Janice is on hand to humanise the headmaster to some degree, and they once again work well together.

    Feargal up first, with one of the finest pop tunes of the year, and a well-deserved future number 1. He is accompanied not quite by the "cast of thousands" Bates would have us believe, but there is an annoying saxophonist who keeps striking poses, three comely backing singers who would have looked even better if they had coordinated their outfits, and a bass player that the director presumably thought was the guitarist, as the camera focuses on him during the solo! Elt on video next, clearly not that cold despite the "snow" on the ground, judging by his lack of a proper coat. Made at the height of his heterosexual phase, this promo is good fun, but you would imagine that he fancied Nikita's male superior more than the lovely lady herself...

    Female vocalist Basia had evidently quit Matt Bianco by this point, leaving an all-male line-up, with singer Mark Reilly sporting some curious furry lapels, to perform this cover. Georgie Fame is far from being a favourite artist of mine, and while I prefer this lively version slightly to the original, it is not a song that will ever hold much appeal for me.

    Two out of three breakers this week will fail to appear again. Siouxsie's effort sounded a bit nondescript, but it was indeed a Halloween-friendly video, and the featured lava flow makes it currently topical, given all the volcanic eruptions that seem to be happening at present. It's a great shame that Cloudbusting got no higher in the chart - for my money it is the finest single from the Hounds of Love album, with a pretty video too. UB40 will be on again, unfortunately, but the way the song is deliberately made to keep skipping in their promo seems rather appropriate, given the repetitive nature of so much of their music...

    As Love and Pride was the only King song I could recall prior to these reruns, it has been interesting to listen to their subsequent hits, and this slower number isn't bad at all, a nice tune let down slightly by the limitations of Paul's voice. His antics with the tambourine do get a bit annoying here, and I would have quite liked to have smashed it over his head by the end. The Top 10 next, and it was slightly premature of Bates to say that Level 42 were churning out the hits, as this was there first for a while - still, they would have plenty more over the next couple of years. Ms Rush clings limpet-like to the top, and Janice gets the headmaster to boogie on down to Shaky at the end. The crowd seem to get into this one, but a bit more jiving would not have gone amiss...

  4. Another OK show with some very enthusiastic intros from Janice.

    Feargal Sharkey – A good Heart – Written by Maria ‘Show me Heaven’ McKee and produced by the male half of the Eurythmics, this was a class above the previous Sharkey singles. Also predicted to reach no1 by Noel Edmonds on an early outing for the song on the Saturday ‘Late Late Breakfast Show’, he proved to be right (as with a similar prediction for Billy Ocean later). One of the great sounds of 1985 for me, and I certainly bought it.

    Elton John –Nikita – We don’t get to see the name on the passport – is it Elton or Reg? The big boots seen at the Watford game were the ones worn in the film ‘Tommy’. The stroppy looking male border guard reminds me of one of the members of Kraftwerk. Anyway, still sounds great.

    Matt Bianco – Yeh yeh – no no. FF

    Breakers; Siouxsie – Completely non-descript, Kate Bush – completely horizontal, UB40 – Completely and utterly a big improvement on their last single collaboration, and for me one of their best.

    King – The taste of your tears – Very 60s sounding record and the next best King record to ‘Love and Pride’. As mentioned by others, that tambourine was an unnecessary distraction.

    Chart rundown – ‘Jan’ Hammer is back whilst Mark King of level 42 is wearing one of ‘King’s’ outfits from the ‘Love and Pride’ days. Was that some kind of in-joke perhaps?

    Jennifer Rush – The Power of Love – Even I’m surprised that they repeated another of Jen’s studio outings rather than show one of the two videos.

    Shakin’ Stevens – Lipstick, Powder and Paint danceout – So we never get to see Janice and Simon dancing as the camera rapidly cuts away into the crowd.

  5. Feargal Sharkey's self-pitying A Good Heart up first, always felt the backing singers did the heavy lifting in the chorus, but a very decent slice of pop nonetheless. Maria McKee's day job with Lone Justice should have spawned a hit for her the following year with I Found Love, but she had to wait for a tie-in with a dreadful movie for her biggest self-sung hit.

    Hmm, I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to wear a hat and sunglasses in your passport photo, Elton. We do all know Nikita is a man's name, Luc Besson movies notwithstanding, don't we? Middle eight of the video is more fun than the rest of it. Director? Ken Russell (hence the Tommy boots).

    Matt Bianco trampling over Georgie Fame's good name with an overproduced, farty-sounding cover. It would be OK if you didn't know the original, but Bob Downe's cover was more amusing (whatever happened to him?).

    Breakers, Siouxsie on autopilot, though the volcano imagery is unintentionally current at the moment. Kate Bush's tribute to the tragic (and sex-obsessed) Wilhelm Reich had a good video where she plays his son and Donald Sutherland plays the Prof, orgone accumulator and all. Worth seeing in full, only it goes on a bit. Her best 80s song, I'd say. Nice to see the joke bit of UB40's video, anyway.

    King with a VERY LOUD ballad, they obviously didn't do sensitive, but it has a fine melody and proves once again their resistible "I'm great me" image went against some pretty solid pop-making.

    Skip over Jen again, and Shaky leaves us as we thank the director for panning away from Bates' dancing.

    1. bob downe! as in the badly-syruped camp australian entertainer who used to appear on late night itv in the early 90's. was it on the "james whale radio show"? i had a reason to watch an episode of the above on yt quite recently (one of his guests was backing singer extraordinaire tessa niles, where the theme was "heard but not seen"), and it was was as watchable (and surreal) as i remembered it being at the time (after whale invited viewers to say what else could be "heard but not seen", not surprisingly most phoned in with the suggestion of "farts"!)

      as for ken russell (who was somewhat idiotically was referred to as "the enfant terrible", despite being middle-aged before he made his breakthrough): i find his films to be utterly incomprehensible and unwatchable, and definitely a case of "the emperor's new clothes" in my view. that includes his attempt at filming an installment of the "harry palmer" series, that absurdly turned len deighton's down-at-heel spy into into some kind of sci-fi superhero!

    2. Just had a look online to see what happened to Bob Downe (or Mark Trevorrow as he's actually called), and he's still going in Australia, if not as high profile here. I remember him from late night Channel 4, didn't watch James Whale (bitter, bitter man).

    3. As for Ken Russell, that's very much the establishment line you're taking, Wilberforce, they hated him for his wild approach to making music and literature accessible. No, it didn't always work, but I'd say The Devils was a masterpiece, and Lisztomania contains the line "Piss off, Brahms!" plus Roger Daltrey with a fifteen-foot long penis. I love Billion Dollar Brain, too, the music is great (check out the Monty Norman titles on YouTube). We sometimes need someone to come along and prick the pomposity of culture.

    4. yes, james whale was an A1 c*nt who obviously hated everybody. but that was what made him so refreshing and different to the bending-over-backwards-to-please-the-slebs chat show hosts that were clogging up the telly at the time (parky, wigon et al). and perhaps paved the way for the irreverent likes of "the mrs merton show" and "clive anderson talks back"?

      as for mr russell, thx i think you and i should just agree to differ. in my youth i tried watching several of his films specifically because of his rep as the wild man of film, and came to realise that it was a case of hype and they were not for me. at the risk of inviting further differences of opinion, i feel likewise about the films of terry gilliam

    5. Maurice Binder titles, not Monty Norman titles! Sorry, got that wrong.

      Anyway, hey, agreeing to differ is what keeps this blog so civil! I love Terry Gilliam too! Can't stand Parky, though.

    6. I won't be watching this, the previous edition or tonight's edition until tomorrow at the earliest, so I thought I'd make a quick interjection here.

      Regarding Maria McKee, the follow-up to her smash stiffed at number 59, and two years later she released what I thought was a much better, if less blatantly commercial, single than her chart topper called "Sweetest Child", which I thought deserved more than to peak at number 45.

      As for Kate's Bush's wonderfully plodding "Cloudbusting", sadly that was pissed on from a great height not once but thrice - firstly, when the abhorrent Utah Saints sped it up and spliced it for a dreadful single called "Something Good" in 1992, secondly when it took the mickey out of the original by reaching number 4, and thirdly when it was used in the ad campaigns for the worst ITV station ever, Carlton, just before they were about to usurp Thames Television. The day Thames was replaced by Carlton was the day ITV died.

    7. Reminds me of the Utah Saints Unplugged sketch on The Mary Whitehouse Experience...

    8. i don't suppose there's any sign of "the mary whitehouse experience" on dvd? if not, then probably because rob newman is being an arse by allowing his artistic pretentiousness to stop us all enjoying it again!

      i remember martin shaw doing much the same thing with regard to "the professionals", until someone pointed out that gordon jackson's widow could very much do with the money!

  6. No-one pointed out that Elton John had possibly taken inspiration from David Bowie's China Girl, to produce his own similar story called Nikita. While Bowie the Englishman fell in love with a Chinese Girl in his 1983 top 3 hit, Elton John the Englishman had a similar love story not so far away with a Russian girl, although credit to him that he called the song Nikita, and not 'Russian Girl', cos then everyone would have noticed the Bowie influence, which is not in the ego of Elton to make such a similar storyline obvious to the record-buying public.

    Suffice to say that both Bowie and Elton got their similar love stories to top 3 status in 1983 and 1985 respectively, Make what you will of this, but although I didn't think of the song resemblances back then as a 17 year old in 1985, I do think it now as a 50 year old in 2018!

    The other point to make in these resembling songs, is that Elton managed to take the concept to a level that was more family-appealing with a better video, and certainly no French-Kissing on video with his bird as Bowie did on China Girl, so Elton comes off with more humility and decency on video, that's for sure.

  7. I also noted that ZZ Top's Sleeping Bag still rising up the charts incidentally, and in the 20-30 section of the charts, was still not getting a play, not even a Breaker slot.

    I just checked out the video which I thought was very good, but with the now shortened TOTP show to only 30 minutes, this was a fine example of the show not having time to show songs that they would have traditionally been able to get to when the show was 40 minutes long for all those years before 1985!

    Here's the ZZ Top video, with, yes you guessed it, another bevy of sexy girls with long legs, in the tradition of Gimmee All Your Lovin' and Sharp Dressed Man:

  8. Same old story for me with plenty to FF through and the best songs in the breakers section once again!

    Feargal Sharkey - A little over-familiar now perhaps, but it's clearly his best solo song and I don't mind hearing it once in a while.

    Matt Bianco - Christ no, so bad that it makes me want Shakatak to make a comeback.

    Breakers - 2 excellent songs (no-one seems to like the Siouxsie one but I think it's one of their best, very atmospheric) and one middling UB40 one from the brief period when they started becoming tolerable again.

    King - Not bad at all, though Paul as ever was highly smackable, looking like he was going to do some proper shadow puppetry with that tambourine at one point.

  9. I am sure this has been mentioned before but Feargel’s two hits A Good Heart and You Little Thief are songs about members of Big Star written by and about each of the ex-lovers.

    Not a very exciting episode - Matt Bianco completely sanitises an early hit, UB40 drone on, and King are very dull.

    It comes to something when Shakey is the high point of the show...

    1. A Good Heart was written by Maria McKee about her break-up with Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers. His response song to that, You Little Thief, was covered by Feargal as his follow-up to A Good Heart!

    2. The lyrics A Good Heart These Days Is Hard To Find was said in 1985. So 33 years later, has the situation improved?

  10. Hmm, so would this Halloween edition be a trick or treat?

    What was Stevie Wonder holding in that mugshot? Were they Chipsticks?

    Here comes Feargal, miming better than he did in the plane on that festive Noel Edmonds programme. Red Box had more drummers than this, but they didn’t have intriguing backing singers, especially the police cop in the middle.

    I wonder why those guards didn’t arrest Elton John for evasive photography? I was baffled at him putting those car windows up when he didn’t want the roof up.

    Matt Bianco - no no!

    Siouxsie and the Banshees with what looked like “Cities Under Lava” . I liked this, though. It sounded distinctive.

    UB40’s effort was more tolerable then recent dross. Unusual stuck record effect for the first juke box we see tonight.

    I loved King’s tune, but not as much as Paul King loves himself. Why that bloody tambourine when there’s none on the backing track?

    On the whole, more trick than treat in my opinion.

  11. Halloween already...always a bit bizarre watching these autumn/winter editions with the sunshine beaming through the window... Looking forward to the last few classic hits of 85 though including one of my all time faves and my first ever single purchase.

    Kicking off then with one of my fave 80s tunes. No idea why I didn't buy A Good Heart at the time but maybe had a copy of the radio. All I know is that it was on constant play in my bedroom for a good 6 months.
    My goodness I can still remember the actions which is more than the middle one manages.
    More double drum kits. Must have been compulsory in 85.

    Time for the Nikita video. Remember this so clearly from the time. Which of those soldiers was he actually taking a picture of?
    Nice passport photo, wouldn't get that past a photo booth nowadays. Please remove your glasses. No headwear allowed... 😀
    Video cuts off just as it gets weird.

    Yeh Yeh is the second fifties revival in a few weeks and it's NOT Shakey.
    Good little pop song.. Nowt special but fun

    Siouxsie up first. Hadn't heard this before. Sounds OK. Relisten to this one.
    Kate Bush. Not a fan of this one. Can only hear the utah saints sample... 😀
    Bit slow.. Doesn't get going.
    UB40. Nice smooth record. Always liked this one.. As does Janice

    King I can take or leave. Peaked too soon with Love and Pride. This is OK and one of their better efforts.

    Top Ten time
    The "so fabulous we won't show them" Simple Minds still top ten.
    Still don't like that Arcadia record.
    Not surprised about Gambler Simon, it's crap.
    Aha stuck at number 2...
    And another repeat for Miss Rush. 😀

    Shakey gets the playout. Good choice. Gets the audience moving

    One of the few editions over the last 3-4 years that made an impression on me as I clearly remember watching this one.. Probably with my Mum who then sent me upstairs before Shitenders started as it wasn't suitable for 11 year old me 😂

    1. Wow, your mum was strict - I remember watching EastEnders practically from the start, and I was only 5 at the time!

    2. morgie "yeh yeh" was actually originally a hit in the 60's (for georgie fame - real name clive powell, who is still active as a cult blues/jazz artist)

    3. Grange Hill was off limits too. Had to watch it at a friends house.. 😀