Thursday, 27 November 2014

I Only Want to be with Top of the Pops

It's the 29th November 1979 and the second week of strike action at the BBC, which means that for some reason the chart rundown features black and white mug shots whilst host Peter Powell, like DLT the week before, can only be heard but never seen.....

Now listen, honey......

29-11-79: Presenter: Peter Powell

(25) MICHAEL JACKSON – Off The Wall (and charts)
(12) THE GIBSON BROTHERS – Que Sera Mi Vida (If You Should Go) (video)
(5) THE POLICE – Walking On The Moon (video)
(22) THE TOURISTS – I Only Want To Be With You ®
(36) STATUS QUO – Living On An Island (video)
(21) BLONDIE – Union City Blue (video)
(24) THIN LIZZY – Sarah ®
(34) ROSE ROYCE – Is It Love You’re After (video)
(23) THE MOODY BLUES – Nights In White Satin ®
(32) THE SKIDS – Working For The Yankee Dollar (video)
(3) DONNA SUMMER & BARBRA STREISAND – No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) (danced to by Legs & Co) ®
(26) PINK FLOYD – Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) (video)
(1) DR. HOOK – When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman (video)
(14) THE ISLEY BROTHERS – It’s A Disco Night (Rock Don’t Stop) (and credits)

Michael Jackson ~ does the chart rundown this week with the title track from his top five hit album.

The Gibson Brothers ~ are next with the first of eight videos featured on tonight's show.

The Police ~ they might not have quite made it to the moon as such, but they were well on their way to next week's number one.

The Tourists ~ having come close with The Loneliest Man in the World, Annie and the gang finally breakthrough with this Dusty Springfield cover.

Status Quo ~ Rick takes control of the lead vocals for this one, helped out by Francis of course and quite a few penguins.

Blondie ~ are somewhere deep in the New York docks to perform this most atmospheric of songs from their album Eat to the Beat, though the next single from it would be a much bigger hit.

Thin Lizzy ~ another chance to hear Sarah, now at its peak in the charts.

Rose Royce ~ with the tune that was later sampled all the way to number one by S-express, but, 90's remixes of Car Wash excluded, this would be their final top 20 hit.

The Moody Blues ~ were the only act edited out of a packed 7.30 pm show tonight.

The Skids ~ were these video clips so short on the original transmission? Or is this how they fitted almost everything into half an hour tonight? Anyway, a belting tune and video which proved to be the band's final top 30 hit.

Legs & Co ~ with a repeat showing of their Summer and Streisand routine. Maybe the girls were on the picket line?

Pink Floyd ~ with a 'surprise' single release and iconic accompanying video, Another Brick in the Wall was their first single since 1967, choosing instead to release albums only from that point until this.

Dr Hook ~ watch their friends for a final week at number one.

The Isley Brothers ~ at their peak in the charts play over the credits.

Next week we reach 6th December 1979, normal Top of the Pops service is resumed, and a new host makes his debut.


  1. Plenty of new vids this week, and proper end credits to boot. It looks like TOTP was focussing on the top 40 this week, with three videos for acts just outside the mugshots, though both The Skids and Rose Royce were a bit lucky as they’d both climbed just two places this week. One record just outside the 40 which never made it onto the show (and yes, I've done my research properly this time) was the much sampled “Mellow Mellow Right On” by Lowrell (this week 41, peaked at 37). At the time Lowrell was on the same label as Liberace! Thin Lizzy were also a bit fortunate to get a third showing for "Sarah" - this had only climbed three places to the mid-20's in two weeks, having actually dropped two places to 29 the previous week. I'll do a proper critique soon.

  2. Interesting to discover that “Union City Blue” was written by Debbie Harry due to inspiration during filming of her parts in “Union City”, which also featured Pat Benatar. Debbie was unable to sing on the soundtrack for contractual reasons, and complications with filming arose when Blondie topped the US charts while the film was being shot.

  3. The Gibson Brothers, this was their greatest achievement for me, it's difficult to be wistful and funky at the same time but my goodness they had a good go at it. Liking the science fiction wardrobe, boys.

    The Police, two iconic videos on this show, and at the time this really annoyed me because I was outraged Stewart Copeland was hitting a space rocket with his drumsticks. Didn't he know this was an expensive piece of equipment?! This is probably my favourite of theirs now.

    Status Quo, sad to think all those penguins will be dead now. But that's a melancholy thought for a melancholy tune, it's not bad but I wonder how often they've played it live since it was a hit, it's not exactly a rocker.

    Blondie, the song is far better than the no-budget film it's a theme for. Debbie Harry liked making acting appearances, maybe she still does, but she was better in supporting roles and that movie looks really amateurish, even more so than The Foreigner the previous year which actually was amateurish. Storming tune, though.

    Every time you hear this Rose Royce intro now it's going to be S-Express following it, so how nice to hear the original, a poignant disco number appropriate for the band's swan song in the charts. I guess it was just a good time we were after.

    The Moody Blues, well at least Justin has a nice hat on.

    About a minute of The Skids, very pretentious video by the looks of that clip, yes the 80s were just around the corner, did they shave their chests especially? Aggressive ditty, shouty, much as you'd expect by now. Whenever I see poor Stuart Adamson I hope he never heard the joke about him on Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

    Pink Floyd in tonight's seminal video number 2, this one scared me as a little kid, so menacing, especially if you went to a nice school like I did. The Gerald Scarfe animations look great to me now, though it took a long time for them to end up in the movie, didn't it?

    1. i thought this gibson brothers' tune a bit of a duffer myself, but at least its success opened the door for a re-release of the far-superior "cuba" which flopped first time around...

    2. The Gibson Brothers really made it big time with this hit Que Sera Mi Vida, and this in common with Cuba, a later hit in 1980, had intros that were very catchy, making them disco classics for some years to come, especially Cuba even more so, which for a further 20 years till the next millennium was a regular hit in the dance floor, even when Que Sera was getting quickly forgotten.

    3. I agree regarding Pink Floyd, and I too would say it scared me as a little kid at the time, 11 years old, and in my first term at secondary school, this was a dark look into education, which I was not ready to absorb when i was just starting make friends who would be with us at school till the mid-80s, and I wanted a better picture of schooldays than the picture painted by Another Brick In The Wall.

  4. The second strike-hit ToTP and, again, a b&w chart rundown. To make up for this monochromaticness The Gibson Brothers - and their backing dancers - start us off with a veritable rainbow of colour. Its like Walt Disney threw up in their costume box. The song however hasn't stood the test of time.

    Then a whole slew of not-their-best songs. Walking On The Moon lacks the pace and excitement of Roxanne and Can't Stand Losing You. Union City Blues is my least favourite Blondie track. The Quo go all acoustic for Living On An Island and Rose Royce bother the chart compilers one last time with a 'so-so' effort.

    Thankfully The Skids liven up proceedings but as much as I liked this at the time it would pale into insignificance when compared to Adamson's next band - the brilliant bagpipe-sounding-guitar Big Country. (Looking forward to them on ToTP soon!) Not quite sure of the relevence of the video though.

    And talking of videos, Pink Floyd's animated Another Brick debuts to a less-than-enthusiastic Peter Powell, who sounded strangely muted throughout the show.

    Thankfully normal service is resumed next week.

    And heading to the top spot - Pink Floyd

    1. That last sentence should not be there - which just goes to show the importance of the 'Preview' button.

    2. Agreed Shaky, that Que Sera has not stood the test of time, and it was never played in discos in the 80s and 90s like their follow-up hit Cuba which did get played for another 20 years, and then fell away after the new millennium.

      However, The Gibson Brothers use of colour and lovely girls in this video was at the time very welcome in a rather depressing thought of leaving behind the 70s which made enormous strides in music and was getting ready for the music video concept as we know it now.

  5. seeing as it's all videos and repeats i don't think i'll make the haul to the library for this one (even though it's only 2 minutes walk away ha ha!), so looked on youtube at anything of interest instead...

    and the only thing of interest is the skids - i'mmaking making a comment on them now in case their upcoming totp appearance is a banned one: great intro with proto-new romantic feel (presumably rusty egan on drums, even though stuart adamson pretends to play them in the vid) but sadly then it goes downhill with all the powerchords and shouting...

    by the way: if anyone's wondering why i don't watch iplayer on my internet connection at home, it's because if one does then one is apparently liable for paying the television licence fee... or risk being fined! in my view the tv licencing laws are ridiculously outdated (which is why i've yet to get one for my new abode), and in fact i've made an appointment at my local MP's office next week to try and get them changed to reflect the fact that we no longer have only 2 channels to watch, and no way of watching anything broadcast other than in real time!

    1. You only need a TV licence to watch (or record) programmes in 'real time' (in other words, as broadcast), 'catch up' viewing on iPlayer is exempt (although I think they're working on it).

      I stopped having a TV licence in 2011 (when the analog signal was turned off) but I'm still on their 'system' because I declared that I have a broadband internet connection used to watch 'catch up' only. The truth is I'm only interested in 'old stuff' which my parents paid for, like these TOTP re-runs.

    2. thanks 20th - does that mean i can set up a television set (without an arial plugged in) and just watch dvd's... and not pay the tv licence?

    3. Yes, that's perfectly legit - if you wish, you can make an online declaration at the TV Licensing website that your address doesn't require a licence. I think the big bone of contention here is "why should we?" After all, you don't have to declare to the licensing authorities that you don't have a car or a shotgun. I've only made the declaration because I applied for a refund on the remainder of the licence when the analog signal was shut down.

    4. thanks again 20th - i'm still seeing my mp's rep anyway, as the current laws don't make anything clear with regard to new technology and whatnot, and it should really be reviewed. for a start, the beeb and all the other television companies now probably make billions through the resale/hire of their back-catalogue via dvd's and internet streaming through websites like lovefilm and netflix, which was impossible when the current television licencing were drawn up! this seems a very similar case to the pub licencing laws that were introduced in the first world war (to stop munitions workers from staying in the boozer rather than come back and make more stuff to fight the hun with - but they didn't get around to changing it back until about 75 years after that war ended!)

  6. A great show this week in my opinion, and it was nice to see that Peter Powell just got on with the show, unlike DLT the previous week complaining on two occasions during the show regarding the BBC keeping him off the screen. It perhaps was to paint a picture 30 or so years later of how these two DJs had different outcomes with BBC4 in 2014.

    The Gibson Brothers - absolutely loved this song at the time, and their fantastic outfits with fantastic colours, which appeared to be a precursor for Sheila B's brilliant track a month later called Spacer. I always associated these two hits together, as they both sounded so good.

    Rose Royce - ditto on the colours this week along with The Gibson brothers. Disco was getting better, and not ready for a decline and the 80s just yet. Rose Royce, The Gibsons and Shelia B were all about to see out the 70s with lots of fun no less!

    Dr Hook - more colour, not disco, but keeping the deep colour theme of the show, was a glorious end to the best show of 1979 so far, for sheer quality of hits, combining disco, new wave and a warm melody at No.1 for a third and final week.

  7. In answer to Angelo's question, the videos were just as curtailed on the full edition of this show as on the 7.30 version, but this was still the more enjoyable of the two strike-bound editions. Curious though that captions were deployed to introduce the bands when at the time this was not normally done.

    It is slightly ironic that, at the very end of the 70s and with New Wave in the ascendancy, the charts should have played host to 2 Prog Rock pioneers in the shape of the Moody Blues and Pink Floyd. Another Brick in the Wall is perhaps over-familiar now, but the video is still a striking piece of work and the song can still induce a vague sense of dread - it is certainly one of the most unfestive Christmas chart-toppers ever!

    We also get another future number 1 from The Police, but Walking on the Moon marks the point where I start to lose interest in their singles - there were a couple of later high points, but I don't think they ever matched the excellence of their first three hits. My favourite new song of the week was Union City Blue, one of Blondie's most anthemic tracks, with a great video to boot - why this wasn't a bigger hit I don't know, though at least the superb follow-up would get to the top.

    I also enjoyed the Gibson Brothers, and I actually prefer this one to Cuba, which I find a bit too shouty. Definitely far too shouty was the Skids' effort, which without the video would have been entirely forgettable - it looked in certain shots as if Richard Jobson was turning into B.A. Robertson! I wasn't overkeen on the Rose Royce effort either, an average track that was a definite step down from their great hits of 1978 - perhaps Gwen Dickey felt the same, as she would leave the group a few months later.

    Quo's sudden conversion to soft rock balladry must have been quite a shock to their fans at the time, but I do like Living on an Island and still feel it stands up quite well, even if Rick's voice is being stretched beyond its limits in some places! Quite appropriate that we are seeing this now, too, given that Quo have just released an all-acoustic album...

    1. You got Legs & Co soon to be doing Quo's Living On An Island in a couple of weeks time. How is that going to go down with Quo fans?

  8. Cobbled together it may have been but there was some good stuff here. Nice stroke of luck to have included two future Number 1s. But why so much, cut down to little more than clips? Fading 'Living On An Island' before the key change is nothing short of sacrilege!

    Good to hear this Gibson Brothers single again - I don't know if there's a 'Best Of' CD available but they are surprisingly absent from various artists compilations. As for the other videos, apart from the future Number 1s which we'll come to in due course, the standout was the Skids. Whoever was the creative force behind this knew exactly what was just around the corner.

    1. Indeed there is a Gibson Brothers greatest Hits CD, which I have in my own CD collection. It's called Gibson Brothers Greatest Hits, and it on the Freestyle Records label, by Tring International Plc. There are 16 tracks on it, and to no-one's surprise, the first two are Cuba, and Que Sera Mi Vida.

  9. While voiceover DLT sounded subdued and a bit hacked off, voiceover Peter Powell sounded almost as exuberant as usual. Good on him. Poor rundown, though - Dan-I got a couple of microseconds for his final mugshot, and they could have started “Off The Wall” after Michael’s first vocal excursions as we never got to the song’s title before the cut-off.

    The Gibson Brothers, Refresher coloured Space impersonators minus the helmets and plus the Lidl Legs & Co… or whatever supermarket we had back then. VG? Safeway?

    I agree with John G about The Police. I loved their early singles but they shed their new wave disguise with the second album and I hated their new direction. By the way, wouldn’t it have been more apt for this single to be released on the Rocket label? I’ll get my coat.

    The obvious reason for the Status Quo ballad is to give the fans a break to get the beers in. Weird snippets of penguins – I half expected to hear Derek Nimmo in the background. Still, I bet the Quo have p-p-p-picked up a load of groupies in their time.

    I liked “Union City Blue” and its unusual video setting. I hated Blondie’s tail end stuff, especially “The Tide Is High”. Why was Debbie clutching a guitar and not dressed in blue? I bet her outfit gave Howard Jones some ideas.

    Gwen Dickey, yet another orange clad female! Why didn’t Mister Lindrum Bongo have a suit like the rest of the lads? Nice, smooth bit of soul disco, though.

    Why did we get so much shown of the studio repeats and just a skidmark of the latest video for the Scottish Jeremy Clarkson? Those female backing singers were as incongruous as Stuart’s multi-instrumentalism.

    Did anyone have a crack at a punk version of “Another Brick in The Wall”? I thought it would have been ripe for such a makeover. I know The Barron Knights and some disco outfit called Pink Project gave it their own stylings. That was one Hell of a scary video, what with the kiddie mince and the wall-enclosed kid. Mind you, talking of scary, be afraid, be very afraid – wait till the new host on Thursday. You’ll be screaming for Andy Peebles back!

    1. I agree that the girls dancing around the Gibson Brothers were a form of Legs & Co, but perhaps less glamorous. I picked out only one of them, the cute blonde in the black top and black tracksuit with brown stripe on the sides.

      I'd put her easily in the Legs & Co line-up, especially if one of the regular Legs girls were on holiday. They never did have a substitute bench on Legs & Co, but here is one option, or perhaps as a regular.

    2. arthur with regard to your query on 70's equivalent of lidl, aldi etc i would suggest finefare and spar (although the latter are still around apparently!)

    3. I work for the 'latter'!

  10. Seems that most people on here like Que Sera Mi Vida, but alas in this only appearance on TOTP, it was only the first half of the video that was shown, in order to cram too much into the show, and to see Pink Floyd in full uncut video....hmm...

    Considering that in 1979, where TOTP would be the only chance to see pop groups and charts, with no MTV or Utube, this Gibson Brothers video would never have been seen again in the UK, never mind in full. and here it is, with flying-in shot at the start, and similar fly-out at the end. Brilliant!

  11. an observation on the skids' album from whence "working for the yankee dollar" came: at the time of its release the original cover was quickly withdrawn/replaced thanks to hysterical accusations of invoking "nazi idealology". and yet in this much more pc-right-on world we live in today, you can easily get hold of a CD release of it with the original artwork:

  12. There was a re-run on BBC4 last night of an interesting looking Blondie documentary from 2006 which I never saw. Must watch that within the next 29 days - but I must check out the latest episode in the series on Jimmy Perry and David Croft first.

  13. Indeed you must, Arthur! They nurtured more Top 2 hitmakers than any other sitcom writers/producers: Clive Dunn, Windsor Davies/Don Estelle and Su Pollard. Apart from that, a Professor of Cultural Studies - in another BBC documentary about Perry & Croft - rightly compared them to Charles Dickens and even the Bard!

    1. Bad luck, Paul Shane and the Yellowcoats, only number 36 for the most repetitive tune to make the Top 40 until Poing by Rotterdam Termination Source.

    2. Not a patch on Paul celebrated version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" on 'Pebble Mill At One'. Baby bab-EH!

  14. Am I the only one less keen on this than the DLT one then?

    Peter Powell was so quiet at times he was practically inaudible, even more so than when he's in the studio. Whereas DLT was just practising for his 'grumpy' days in the early 90s!
    Plus the sound quality was absymal at times. Jacko sounded like it was coming of a turntable in a cupboard, and the Blondie video was wowing and fluttering all over the place - a real shame given that it's one of my favourites of theirs.
    Then there was the judicious use of scissors to most of the videos.

    The Gibson Brothers video was wonderful however. The only one which I can understand them chopping to bits is this, as any longer would have induced migraines in the population due to the loud clothing.

    The Police - Nice to see the video looking clean instead of muddy and horrible, that's one advantage of seeing these repeats. As for the song itself, it's not one of their best.

    Status Quo - A pleasant tune this, although I have a recollection of the video being mainly Rick wandering around a sunny island, and not penguins!!

    Rose Royce - They're now the disco/soul Showaddywaddy! A lovely peach number for Gwen there.

    The Skids - Oh god, Jobson's back. Although this is the best song they did in my opinion. This isn't the single version though, is it? It sounds totally different.

    Pink Floyd - Mrs. Noax still can't even listen to the song because of the video, though it didn't traumatise me too much.

    So next week then, we can all shout 'Evening loves!' at the TV. Personally I can't wait.