Thursday, 2 October 2014

If I Said You Had a Beautiful Top of the Pops

Yee Haw ~1979 surely is catching up with 2014 real fast now cowboys and cowgirls, just take a look at this here edition from the 20th September, doggone it.....

20-9-79: Presenter: Mike Read

(22) RACEY – Boy Oh Boy (and charts)
(51) THE STARJETS – War Stories
(27) KATE BUSH – Them Heavy People (video)
(23) MADNESS – The Prince
(4) THE BELLAMY BROTHERS – If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me (video)
(24) THE JAGS – Back Of My Hand
(45) THE TOURISTS – The Loneliest Man In The World
(8) THE POLICE – Message In A Bottle (video)
(55) SAD CAFÉ – Every Day Hurts
(26) RAINBOW – Since You’ve Been Gone (video)
(3) ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA – Don’t Bring Me Down (danced to by Legs & Co)
(1) GARY NUMAN – Cars
(12) BILL LOVELADY – Reggae For It Now (and credits)

Racey ~ do the chart rundown honours this week with Boy Oh Boy now in its peak position.

The Starjets ~ pay homage here to the Ramones both in sound and t-shirts ~ but War Stories came to an end at 51 in the charts.

Kate Bush ~ how timely is this? This performance was from a live e.p. which featured songs from her first two albums ~ but this sounded and looked so amazingly polished was it really live?

Madness ~ due to the 13th September being skipped we get to see the Nutty Boys for a second week running, and I do believe we'll hear them next week too.

The Bellamy Brothers ~ no mistakin this is a live rendition, pardners, and they seem to have not had a hair cut since the last time we saw them back in good old 1976, when they were letting their love flow.

The Jags ~ were the only act to be chopped from the 7.30pm showing this week.

The Tourists ~ I don't remember this song at all, but if you take away the guitars and replace them with synths then I reckon you've got yourself a pretty good Eurhythmics record.

The Police ~ now I do definitely remember this one, and the accompanying video. Message in a Bottle was the first single from their second album, Reggatta de Blanc, and was about to deservedly become the band's first number one hit.

Sad Café ~ this fantastic tune was a long awaited breakthrough for the band but it would ultimately be their only top ten hit.

Rainbow ~ another band enjoying a breakthrough hit, Since You've Been Gone was the first of three consecutive heavy rock top tens spread over two years.

ELO ~ Legs & Co are supplied with scaffold towers on which to perform their dance routine to Don't Bring me Down.

Gary Numan ~ proves its not easy to look mean and moody whilst jingling a tambourine, and Cars would only be parked at the top of the charts for one week.

Bill Lovelady ~ plays us out with Reggae For it Now at its peak.

Next week, the 27th September 1979, is a Jimmy S edition, and so will obviously be skipped. Fingers crossed it becomes available online. So BBC4 will be moving on to October 4th hosted by David Jensen.


  1. I probably won't watch this edition until Saturday, but I remember a music critic saying this Tourists single sounded like their attempt at a song like The Beatles' "Nowhere Man". As for The Jags, "Back Of My Hand" was the best song Elvis Costello never wrote.

  2. Arthur - you're right about The Jags' record, which was actually produced by labelmates Trevor Horn CBE and Geoff Downes, then known as The Buggles and soon to have a smash of their own.

    The Tourists were unfairly slated for supposedly copying The Beatles on a record that owed as much to The Wall of Sound as to the Fab Four. Even in those early days, the future Annie Lennox OBE had a soulful voice. If any act in this week's chart should have been accused of stealing ideas from The Beatles, it was ELO!

    Sad Cafe were one of Britain's most accomplished yet underrated pop-rock bands. Keyboardist Vic Emerson would later defect to 10cc, whose frontman Eric Stewart produced the sublime 'Every Day Hurts' - why that record failed to make an impression in the US, I do not know.

    Cafe drummer Dave Irving was previously with rock-funksters Supercharge, whose line-up included actor Ossie Yue. Their single 'You've Gotta Get Up and Dance', which flopped here in the UK but reached No.3 in Australia, can be found on YT. Move over, Wild Cherry!

  3. The Starjets, another, hmm... do you think they were miming? performance judging by the drummer's antics. Always the drummer, eh?

    Kate Bush should have been wearing a fez instead of a trilby judging by those Cooperesque hand gestures. A track that sounds almost reggae to me, but not quite, too quirky to be pigeonholed.

    I thought David St Hubbins got his start in the Thamesmen, not the Bellamy Brothers? I vividly remember being in the back of my dad's car with the radio on when this song was played, and I thought it was really rude. Now it sounds cheesy.

    The Jags, yet again the blessing of the excellent middle 8 is the making of the tune. BBC World Service T-shirt, I think? Weird looking lead guitar, incidentally.

    The Tourists - check out the girl at the front of the audience who looks genuinely terrified of Annie Lennox. As we all are today. Don't recall the song, but there were a lot of lonely men on this week's show.

    The Police, I just had to see Stewart Copeland playing the chair and it all came flooding back, haven't seen this video since it was first out. Another lonely man song.

    Yet another lonely man from Sad Café, and what remarkable hairdos on display. Sort of histrionically wistful as a song, if such a thing is possible, but that chorus is an MOR killer.

    I don't think this was Rainbow, where were Zippy and Bungle? Ahem. Even more lonely men, blurring the line between rock and power pop, always great to hear this one.

    Legs & Co, I'll bet Gill wondered why she showed up at all this week when she was cut off at the edge of the screen for most of the routine. What a swizz.

    Oh, and the curse of TOTP repeats strikes again, RIP Lynsey de Paul, I thought you were beautiful when I was a little kid.

    1. when someone told me lynsey de paul had died i responded by saying "no, honestly?". unfortunately though the other party had no idea that was the title of one of her hit singles so took it as a shocked reaction rather than an example of my lightning wit...

  4. The BBC are playing silly beggars again!

    The full unedited TOTP is now Saturday night, as The Jags were chopped from both the 7.30pm and 12.30am Friday showing.

    I hope they aren't going to make a habit of editing the Friday morning repeat. It's annoying enough that the first showing isn't the unedited showing. Not as annoying though as discovering my PVR that claimed it had recorded TOTP had actually recorded some rubbish on BBC 3!

    1. You could always do what I did and check out the edited performances on YouTube. Not quite the same, but better than nothing.

  5. I've just checked the listings and it's back to normal next week, with the longer version on Friday after midnight.

  6. Weird that BBC4 didn't show the unedited version in the late slot, but at least it does seem to be a one-off occurrence. I have also noticed that the show is currently unavailable on iplayer - I wonder if they are waiting for the full show to be broadcast tomorrow night?

    Anyway, this was a fine edition, and nice to see Madness messing around behind Mike Read's back while he introduced Rainbow. I must say that particular track is not a favourite of mine - I prefer Rainbow's early stuff, especially Stargazer.

    Plenty of good material elsewhere though, especially The Police with perhaps their finest single and Sad Café with a timeless lovelorn ballad, though the hair, especially the late Paul Young's, was something of a distraction! There were also a couple of good tracks I have never heard before from the Starjets and the Tourists. The latter was particularly good, and as Angelo suggests very much points the way towards the Eurythmics. Strangely, Dave Stewart looks older here than he did in the 80s, but perhaps that's just the unflattering beard...

    I was taken aback when Mike Read said Kate Bush was "live and on stage," as she clearly wasn't in the video! However, if this version of the song came from a live EP I guess that explains it. Timely indeed...

  7. I'm really peed off that The Jags were cut from Friday am - please tell me they're on again, as that's one of my favourite songs of the whole year!
    Cheers, BBC. There have also been odd bars at the top of my screen for each of the last 2 Friday am showing. Anyone else getting that?

    As for the show itself -

    Starjets were OK, nothing to get too excited about. Truly terrible non-attempts at miming though.

    Kate Bush - Now this looked awfully like the version in the 1979 TV special that aired at Christmas to me (BBC4 showed that in full a few years back) which I suppose is plausible if it had been recorded by this point. The fact that there is a smattering of audience applause at the beginning suggests that it might be.

    Bellamy Brothers - I'm not sure what Mike Read is suggesting there. Let's hope the Bellamys weren't watching, or you'll be next in court!

    The Tourists - I played this on my radio show last year, having completely forgotten about it. I think it's a rather lovely tune, very under-rated. Annie Lennox is scary though.

    Sad Cafe - This song makes me think of 2 things.
    1) Noel Tidybeard played this ALL THE TIME on Radio 2 at the weekend. I'm sure there was one occasion where he played it about 3 times in 1 show.
    2) The related joke about this being turned into a film on the late lamented 'TV Go Home' website (which was basically Charlie Brooker's doing I believe) - very funny but you had to be there.

    Rainbow - Another top tune, there are lots of them on this show. At least the people who put the rundown captions together had an easy time when the shout of '****, we haven't got a picture of the band!' happened.

    ELO / Legs - Timely performance this, what with Celebrity Squares coming back.

    Gary Numan - Now you see, this is the performance I remember so unlike others above I don't think it's naff.
    Presumably this was put together as if it was a video (I don't think it was, was it?) to make it look more interesting for the second half which is pretty much all instrumental.

    1. I think 'Cars' was a promo video - they were getting very good by then. One thing that struck me was the very crisp and clear sound quality compared to the usual TOTP band playback which was numerous tape generations down the line.

  8. host: looks like mr read is really trying to leap aboard the mod revival bandwagon, but however he presents himself he always sounds somewhat staid and boring

    starjets - typical of the new "power pop" sound i.e. punk with all the aggression taken out just rendering it toothless and tedious in my opinion (yawn)

    kate bush: just to say that the fact that all her old albums have apparently taken up residence in the charts again thanks to her emergence from hibernation (how exactly do charts work these days?) shows just how pathetic pop music is now!

    madness: i've always got time for madness but this sounds like it would be a pleasant filler in a gig rather than a single. a sax player of my acquaintance pointed out to me how poor lee "kix" thompson's playing technique is, and sadly i can see what he means here! he's not as bad as bowie though...

    bellamy brothers: two words - lying eyes!

    jags: more banal power pop - i heard this dozens of times back then but despite that i never warmed to it (and haven't started doing so now). a couple of guys from the bournemouth band scene i was later involved in joined the jags... but sadly only after their only hit single!

    tourists: i said to a fellow watcher whilst this was on "i won't remember a single thing about this song once it's finished" and writing this review is proving me right. good thing that perhaps the two most influential british women in rock history are on the same show though. the driving force behind the tourists was not so much annie and dave as (other) guitarist peet combes, who unlike them consequently disappeared into obscurity (and a wiki check has just sadly revealed he died from drug abuse at a fairly young age)

    police: an all-time classic and enjoyable video too - like one of the above commentators i've not seen it since back then but it brought back good memories

    rainbow: i thought they were very much ritchie blackmore's baby but he's hardly seen in this video - maybe he was worried if the camera focused on him for too long it would become apparent he was wearing a syrup? in contrast vocalist graham bonnet had a great quiff, but sadly it didn't really fit in with the band's musical or visual style, and maybe that helped cause his demise despite clearly being a top class singer. i imagine him nowadays sitting in a bar somewhere in los angeles or similar place watching ozzy osbourne on the telly, thinking "i pissed all over that guy vocally but he's a legend and i'm a nobody". well graham, if you'd have come up with stunts such as beheading dwarves, biting the heads off doves and pissing on the alamo maybe things would have turned out differently...

    sad cafe: rather an anachronism in this new era of power pop and synth pop despite (the other) paul young's efforts at trying to look trendy with skinny tie and proto-mullet. but a solid track with strong musical values, and i love the modulation into the full-throated chorus!

    gary numan: is this a promotional video or was it made by the totp team? whatever, it still looks highly impressive. i love the bit at the end when the harmony synth joins in with the main one when all the crunching is going on, and it's enhanced by the multiple static numans standing in a row!

  9. Wow, this one was good, even if it did seem to be produced at a breakneck pace with nothing going all the way to the end.

    The Starjets passed me by at the time (lack of airplay on Capital Radio??). Good single, but at the end of the day they were just a Poundland Stiff Little Fingers.

    The Bellamy Brothers - watch it Mike, that willing young audience member may turn out to be an embittered old trout 35 years down the line and seize the opportunity of making a fast buck. Cynical, moi?

    Kate Bush appeared to have made a video for a live track here, but the exquisite sound quality makes me wonder how 'live' the original recording was in the first place. Don't forget that many of the classic 'live' albums were actually nothing of the sort.

    The Jags - I was waiting for this! Late '70s Brit power pop at its very best. Not sure about the lead singer's accent though. Does anyone know if the original single version is available on CD? I've yet to find it.

    Now the presenters have often been seen playing with instruments which have appeared in a later performance, but unless I missed something I've no idea where that bell seen in the link into the Tourists came from. Was this the single version played here? If so, it's another one that's hard to find on CD. I've only ever heard the album version, so this is new to me.

    The first of two Police promos where Stewart Copeland apparently can't be bothered to set up his kit.

    Paul Young, definitely a front runner for the 1979 Stupidest Haircut award, not that there was a great deal of competition then (but did Phil Oakey already have his 'one-sided' barnet by that time?).

    After this was a quality Russ Ballard song which Clout had no success with but Rainbow turned into a classic.

    Legs & Co are much more preferable to the ELO video - and now you know what the Celebrity Squares set looks like when only partially constructed.

    1. The single version of 'Back of my hand' is stupidly hard to get hold of. I had to get hold of an old punk / new wave compilation called 'The Sound Of The City' to get hold of it. I think I bought it from ebay.

      The bonus is that there are lots of other great tracks on it too!

      Now, is anyone going to tell me if the song's on TOTP again or not? Because if not, I'll have to grab the Saturday night show from iplayer I guess.

    2. The Jags will be back on this Thursday, when BBC4 shows the 4th October edition ~ they appeared again on the 18th October but that's a DLT.

    3. To paraphrase a couple of previous Jags comments, Nick Watkinson's accent certainly sounds more New York than York, which is close to where the band originated, and they did have one other chart single, but only just, as follow-up "Woman's World" spent one week at number 75. The Jags' original and pre-hit(s) drummer was sacked after punching Watkinson off stage at a gig. Sadly, some years later, after some personal issues, he threw himself in front of a train.

    4. Phil Oakey did indeed have the famous haircut at this time. On Youtube, there are some TV performances from late 1979 of the Human League doing songs from the Reproduction album.

    5. arthur i thought you meant nick watkinson threw himself in front of a train - not the original drummer! i did some checking out on the internet(there's an awful lot of stuff about the jags there considering they were one hit wonders!) and nick is still very much with us... although apparently these days performs as a transvestite known as virginia plain (bearing all the elvis costello copycat accusations perhaps he should have called himself olivia smarmy?)

  10. Bugger! Beaten to the punch for the “Celebrity Squares” gag!

    Chart rundown photo failings…1) it’s Michael Jackson on his own in the chart, not with the other four, 2) no access to any old Rainbow photos, then? May as well have shown a pic of Geoffrey and Bungle.

    I’ll go against the grain on this forum, and say I thought it was criminal that such a catchy song as “War Stories” wasn’t a top 30 hit..

    Kate, love, that isn’t a ball, it’s a lightbulb. Still, I liked her punky zipped top (did they work? Stop it!!!), and wasn’t that dance a pre-cursor to “Thriller” in its own way?

    Nice Wikipedia-style condensed version of Prince Buster’s career pre-Madness by our host.

    The Bellamy Brothers were head and shoulders ahead of their country peers, at least in shampoo terms. Head And Shoulders. Geddit? Why was the clean shaven Bellamy dressed differently to the rest of the band? Still, nice chaps – or were they trousers? Boom boom tish!

    Talking of which, anyone else notice Jags leader Nick Watkinson wearing matching colour suit jacket and leather trousers? Now that’s a statement. Loved the drummer’s “Escape To Victory”-style top, but I wish the three non-drummers had done some Shadows-style synchronised movement during the bridge passage. Great tune, though.

    Quite enjoyed The Tourists, although the subject matter was a bit too Leonard Cohen for my liking. I’ll second a previous comment - Annie Lennox looked a bit scary even back then.

    On to The Police. Andy Summers = serious and sensible band member. Sting = trying to be cool and funny. Stewart Copeland – hey, an oh so wacky American. Fine song, but give me a Gerry Rafferty-style video instead.

    A soft rock classic by Sad Café, but what a downer of a band name. You couldn’’t play happy happy music with that moniker.

    Ah, Rainbow, with the second drummer on the show to have been in at least two chart acts, along with Woody of Madness. This wasn’t a re-run of the single, as Graham Bonnet hit higher pitch notes in one particular line. A true rock classic.

    Where was poor Gill in that Legs routine? Shown early on, she was way right of screen for nearly the whole song’s duration. Apart from that, I’ve never seen four-pole dancers before. I’ll say that was the best version of “Celebrity Squares” I’ve ever watched.

    Why the change of attire for the chart topper? Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be Gary Numan…oh, hang on, I am already!

    1. i noticed the jags' singers getup - a cut price version of bryan ferry in the "angel eyes" video! i agree that sad cafe is a dreadful band name that probably hindered their career - the album from whence this track came was called "facades" which if you don't know or haven't worked out already is an anagram of the band name! obviously though they were worn out by coming up with that as their next album was boringly called "sad cafe" (perhaps i should have been called "da faces"?)

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  12. I'm still a week behind. Racey work quite well with the rundown.I vaguely remember the Starjets but there was nothing about the song or the performance that grabbed me.

    Then "Dem Heavy People" as Mr Read calls it. Not sure how Kate can be singing while pulling a face like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit but she somehow manages it due to the wonders of miming. A;pparently this song was influenced by spiritual teacher Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff. Maybe he saw a light bulb as a rolling ball

    Another fine Madness performance with Lee playing a different sax. Not sure who the gurning twit is at the back of the audience who insists on staring at the camera all the way through the song but he looks like Phil Daniels' in the film Meantime, bumfluff tache an all.

    Next up Big Jim Jehosophat and Fat-Belly Jones on no sorry it's The Bellamy Brothers. Those toffee coloured leather chaps do nothing for Bro no 2 except make his legs look incredibly fat.

    This is a terrible choice for a debut single by The Tourists, too slow and ponderous. The bits at the end of the choruses sounds like the intro to Nick Lowe's What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding slowed down. My fave Tourist's single was Don't Say I Told You So which did nothing chart wise but was a much better song. The video showed them playing kid's plastic toy instruments.

    Great Police video. Stewart Copeland is wearing a tee shirt saying The Decade, were they an obscure indie/punk band?

    Always a sucker for a ballad I really liked Every Day Hurts at the time. I expect Sad Cafe were named after the book by Carson McCullers. Not sure about the band's image though. The guitarist appears to be wearing a toweling double breasted jacket while the lead singer looks like he's borrowed the jacket of someone much bigger.

    Madness seem to be making it a trademark that they always make a reappearance later in the show, remember Suggs behind Cliff last time. I quite liked the Rainbow song at the time but I kept it to myself. I always got Graham Bonnet mixed up with Rob Halford, must be the shorter hair and aviator shades.

    The scaffolding Legs are dancing on reminded me more of giant versions of the shelves on Blue Peter, you may remember them they held no particular function but were always there in the background. This routine has a Hot Gossipy feel about it and is in keeping with the song's heavy vibe.

    Re Gary Numan's chart success Mike's wrong on several counts:
    1- Neither went straight to number one
    2- They were billed as different acts (Tubeway Army and Gary Numan) so it doesn't count
    3- Even if it does count he/they released several singles before Are Friends Electric so these weren't his first two singles

    Apart from that Mike's spot on. The good thing about Cars is because the vocals end early they can fade it early so if it ends up being number for 8 weeks... Oh well.

    I can't listen to Bill Lovelady again, I really can't. And I didn't see The Jags as I missed the Saturday show. Never mind I'll catch it somehow.

    1. That wasn't The Tourists' debut single. They'd been on the show in June (on a show hosted by Jimmy Savile but provided for us by Darnall42) with "Blind Among The Flowers".

      There was an American band called The Decade who released at least one single in 1979. Maybe Sting got the T-shirt off one of the band or their mates or pluggers?

  13. Sad Cafe - this was one of my favourites of 1979, and a little strange that they had only one hit. Whatever happened to promotion of good bands?

    Rainbow - this is probably their classic number that everyone remembers, and it is certainly a rock classic.

    ELO - at this time in the evolution of music videos, there would not be every week where a song would have no footage in order for Legs & Co to perform it, and so this ELO track, while having its video aired two weeks earlier, was a choice for Legs & co to dance to, and I must say they looked fantastic in those multicoloured dresses, never mind the scaffolding.