Sunday, 9 November 2014

The 2-Tone Top of the Pops

There doesn't seem to be any Top of the Pops on BBC4 next Thursday, so it's a very timely big thank you again to Neil B for making (most of) this famous edition from the 8th November 1979 available ~ it's the one that features Madness, the Specials and the Selector all in the studio ~ the 2-Tone Top of the Pops. It won't be broadcast on BBC4 because it was hosted by Jimmy Savile, so do not click on the link if you are going to be offended......

er..... haven't we just left 2-Tone for Stiff?

Top of the Pops 8-11-79: Presenter: Jimmy Savile

 (21) KOOL & THE GANG – Ladies Night (and charts)
(44) MATCHBOX – Rockabilly Rebel
(29) IRIS WILLIAMS – He Was Beautiful (Cavatina) (The Theme From ‘The Deer Hunter’)
(2) DR. HOOK – When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman (video)
(51) MADNESS – One Step Beyond
(10) THE COMMODORES – Still (video)
(19) THE SPECIALS feat. RICO – A Message To You Rudy
(3) ABBA – Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) (video)
(50) DAN-I – Monkey Chop
(26) HERB ALPERT – Rise (danced to by Legs & Co)
(5) QUEEN – Crazy Little Thing Called Love (video)
(53) SHAM 69 – You’re A Better Man Than I
(9) THE SELECTER – On My Radio ®
(1) LENA MARTELL – One Day At A Time
(27) DONNA SUMMER & BARBRA STREISAND – No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) (and credits)


  1. I'll do a critique later, but it's bye-bye to Pye Records' last ever week topping the singles chart. What an awful way to sign off from the summit. Mike Read's facial expression was spot on.

  2. I did once hear (apologies if this is incorrect) that Rise was the first hit single to have been digitally recorded.

    1. i watched a herb alpert documentary a while back, and this was apparently recorded as a disco effort before someone noticed it sounded better slowed down - as a technophobe i have no idea whether new-fangled digital technology was a factor or not. however way it was recorded, it's a brilliant groove! by the way, one of the producers was called randy badazz: in my ignorance i always thought that was his given name and he was perhaps of arabic descent or something. only in the doc did i get the joke and discover his given name is... alpert (how did he get the gig?)

  3. Many thanks once again to Neil B for coming to our rescue, and I'm quite happy to see the show cut off before the number 1! It's odd that UK Gold never repeated this show, given the preponderance of 2-Tone acts, but maybe Lena's presence put them off!

    Anyway, there was plenty to enjoy here, even if Jim's remark about the girls behind him finding the keys to his dressing room so that "they could see their mams" is now far more wince-inducing than it would have been 35 years ago! I would love to have been able to read Herb Alpert's mind during that brief "interview" - incidentally, as he had brought his trumpet along they could have had him performing on stage with the Legsters, but maybe it would have detracted too much from the whole Greek concept, which was quite stylishly done. It was certainly the best set Legs have had to work in for quite a while.

    It was amusing to see the sheer energy and enthusiasm of the Madness performance followed by the utter tedium of Still, the song that very much cemented Lionel Richie's position as the most boring man in pop. I suppose One Step Beyond is the point where the Madness phenomenon properly took off, fully establishing their signature sound. I wonder if anyone had danced through the audience like this before? Mick Jagger presumably took notes, as he would do something similar while performing Let's Work a few years later. The Specials were also very lively in their own way, what with the play-fighting and barrister's wig - the singers appeared to be sitting cross-legged on the stage initially, but it became clear they were sitting on stools as the camera closed in.

    Pleasant surprise of the episode was Sham 69's moody and effective take on an old Yardbirds song, even if Pursey did threaten to spoil the effect with his stage antics. Monkey Chop was pleasant enough, but I'm afraid Iris Williams' very deep voice is more scary than moving! As for Matchbox, I suppose this tune was preparing the way for the likes of the Stray Cats and Shakin' Stevens over the next couple of years. Something tells me however that nowadays the Beeb would think twice before getting the audience to wave around Confederate flags...

  4. Matchbox. Neither particularly rockabilly-illy or rebellious. Nor likeable. And boy were this lot getting on a bit.

    Iris Williams.Sooooooooo slow. Any song that is sung at a speed 8 times slower than it would take to merely speak the words is officially a dirge. And this gives dirges a bad name.

    Dr Hook. Loved this group circa Sylvias Mother and Cover Of The Rolling Stone. Not so much with this.

    Madness. Dont think the audience were digging the Nutty sound as they seem about as static as the Sunderland defence. But this was a clear example as to why Madness would go on to have such a long and successful career - putting their all into their performance.

    Commodores. The best of their Lionel Ritchie penned ballads but an underwhelming vid.

    The Specials. A much more active perfomance than previously seen - perhaps inspired by Madness?

    Abba. A recording-studio vid making a welcome change from the usual Swedish schtich of close-ups of the girls faces at right-angles to each other. How good is Agnetha's vocals on this by the way?

    Dan I. Ok, I confess if you had asked me if there had ever been a chart act by the name of Dan-I, or a song called Monkey Chop I would have bet good money on the answers being No and No. I would have lost. Apparently this was a Buggles production. Apparently Dan I was murdered in 2006.. . . .My life has not been significantly lessened for never having heard this nor improved upon hearing it.

    Herb Alpert (and Legs&Co) This wouldn't sound out of place in a modern-day Ibiza Chill Out album. The interview afterwards, however, was toe-curling and Mr Alpert looked extremely ill-at-ease if not downright baffled by the strange man beside him.

    Sham 69. Jimmy Pursey getting all mean and moody. A cover version isn't it? The Byrds or Doors or somebody like that? Proving that the band could actually play and Pursey could actually sing.

    The Selector. Not a great fan of this but interesting to see the audience finally starting to bop along. Maybe their resistance had been worn down by Suggs, Terry Hall et al. Maybe On My Radio was the best song of the three. Maybe their medication was kicking in.

    Lena ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    And we play out with the ironic Enough Is Enough.

    1. It would be nice to think that the audience had been softened up by the time The Selecter came on, but alas their performance is a repeat, from the 18th October DLT show. On My Radio has suffered badly from the Yewtree bans, as BBC4 viewers won't get to see a studio performance of it.

      As I mentioned above, You're a Better Man than I was a Yardbirds song.

  5. So at last we've caught up to this very week in 1979, courtesy of Jimmy Saville, and this was quite a good show.

    Matchbox - not a jot on The Charlie Daniels Band, but I like this one, as it is very Elvis like, and quite a catchy number.

    Dr Hook - smootching and loving their way towards the No.1 spot, and it's one of 1979's most memorable and loved hits, and still sounds brilliant today.

    The Commodores - shocking that both TOTP appearances of this track are yewtreed like The Selector, and will not be shown on BBC4. The Commodores at this stage had now cemented their place as regulars in the British charts and are etched in history as ballad kings, and why not?

    Herb Alpert - interesting interview with Jimmy Saville, as Herb appeared very tired and sleepy, as if he was ready for bed, rather than watch Legs & Co perform to his tune. Nice costumes and greek/roman set all round though.

    Sham 69 - I'm not a fan of this group, but this track I thought was brilliant, as it had shades of The Doors, Jim Morrison, and the smoke set in the studio just wrapped up an excellent performance to a great track.

  6. There's a reason this is known as the 2-Tone TOTP and not the Dan-I TOTP, those ska acts are the best things on it by miles, full of energy and bravado, setting out a five year plan for pop.

    The Commodores appeared to have taken guitar playing lessons from Bill Wyman. Boring song after Sail On. Maybe it sounds better if you're Middle Eastern.

    Ah, the 2-Tone mobs are maybe not the only decent tunesmiths on this episode, because Rise is a great instrumental, Herb was still comparatively young when he recorded this too, nice bit of disco, finger on the pulse, etc. Remember the beach video? Legs & Co had the right idea, but all those pillars in the way meant it was difficult to see them too much of the time.

    Sham 69, was Jimmy heading for his early midlife crisis around this stage? At least he wasn't doing his interpretive dancing.

    1. i had a vague recollection of dan-i but i always thought it was reggae (maybe because it's on the island label). i had a listen on youtube out of curiosity and now i'm hooked (listening to it for the fourth time as i write this). great funky electro dance stuff that's actually a few years ahead of its time. it also modulates!! don't know what the hell it's about lyrically but i don't care anyway - give me this over "on my radio" and "a message to you rudy" any day of the week...

    2. Takes all sorts! (does Larry Grayson Generation Game look to camera)

    3. oh well, i've never really been part of the herd - i shall henceforth refer to this show as "the dan-i edition"...

    4. Maybe you could call this the Original Dan-I Edition, as "Monkey Chop" was repeated on a show which was not only Yewtreed but bereft of an in-view presenter. Dan-I's real name was Selmore Lewison and, indeed, he did sell more as the song got a mugshot. Sadly, I didn't realise until researching just now that poor Selmore was murdered eight years ago.

    5. having istened to "monkey chop" on youtube at least dozen times now, i'd like to bring to your attention this rhyming couplet from it: "my baby she's so cool, she wants to play with wool" - is it marc bolan-style inanity or dr hook/bellamy bros-style innuendo? also, whatever you think of this record, i'd like to point out it's actually a piece of pop history in the making, as dan-i was probably (soon to be über producer) trevor horn's first "client"...

  7. Huge thanks to Neil B for the important parts of a landmark edition.

    Ah, the countdown tune would have been our first hearing of a stream of “hey ladies” hits for Kool and the Gang, followed by a bunch of confederates from (if I’m not mistaken) that hotbed of rockabilly, Feltham in West London! Now then, a proper rockabilly singer would have used one of those Elvis-style grill mics. Deduct two points. Matchbox? Dinky, more like.

    Moving on swiftly from boring Iriszzzz and yet another appointment with the Doctor, we get the performance which probably cemented Madness’s place in the public psyche, though why boring old Dan stayed behind his kit rather than join the conga is beyond me. Why wear Moroccan headgear for this song? Still, I suppose the fez helped Tommy Cooper’s career a bit. Boring but true – I remember reading many years ago they had to rename this song “Uno Passo Avanti” (“One Step in Front”) when it was released in Italy, as there’s no Italian word for ‘beyond’.

    “Still”? Comatose if you ask me. I take it the Commodores guitarist in the green top was angling for a free transfer to Matchbox by playing his guitar like a double bass. What a contrast in energy to the in-band stage invasion The Specials gave us. Stylistics bloke on the stool, this is how you do it.

    Fast forward Abba (with a quick peep and sigh at Agnetha), then for a right old dog’s dinner from Dan I. Give me a lamb chop or pork chop any day. I’ll give this the karate chop (sorry, Wilb).

    Legs&Co’s routine had a filmic quality this week. I’d have liked to have seen them as sun goddesses (sun, rise, you see?) rather than all this Roman around – boom boom tish! Talking of Herb, just how many ‘herbs’ had Jim’ll taken beforehand for that interview and that outfit?

    FF Queen for a great rise (Herb would have been proud) out of the smoke by Mister Pursey, who was almost singing for once! A fine performance by the Sham but, sadly, this was far too ‘prog’ for their fans and the bubble burst. This only made number 49 and they never made the top 40 again, apart from a re-write of “Hurry Up Harry” to tie in with another ineffective World Cup for England which made tenth, probably higher than the team managed.

    Yes, Jim, we’re fine. Again. Now get off and give us the third prong of the strident trident of ska! Brucie bonus – no more Lena any more! (in the style of Hugh Cornwell). Right, now what do I do for a fortnight? By the way, be afraid, everybody, be very afraid – Simon ates is lurking on the horizon….

    1. That should have read Simon Bates, apparently not John Peel's favourite radio 1 DJ.....

  8. Big thanks to Neil again.Does he or anyone have 15 Feb,9 Mar and 15 Mar to upload ? These are the only 3 I have missed this year.I am desperate to see motorhead amongst others !

  9. Is it just me, or is the first one we've missed with Jim presenting where he is outright creepy and not just demented? Not a comfortable watch to be honest.

    I loved the Matchbox singles when I was a kid, and I still think they're pretty decent. I had no recollection of the band looking so old though!

    I'm going to state straight away that I love 'Monkey Chop'!
    Jonathan Ross must do too because the number of times he used to randomly mention it when he did the Saturday morning show on Radio 2 was ridiculous.
    I gather from what Arthur has said that we're not going to see it on BBC4 though. Boo!!

    Herb Alpert - I seem to be the only one round here who finds this very dull indeed. I'm not particularly keen on the Legs routine either, as per usual when they dance to the slow ones.

    Sham 69 - Hmmm...I will be utterly amazed if Ian McCulloch wasn't watching this very carefully and noting both Jimmy's hairstyle (that's Pursey, not Savile, in case you thought I'd gone completely bonkers) and the general sound of this single and coming up with a masterplan....

  10. Herb Alpert was not to everyone's taste, but I quite like his sound. In the 60s and 70s, the pop charts allowed a whole diversity of music to be entered, as this show of TOTP alone had Herb Alpert, The Ramblers and Matchbox, which in todays packaging and sexed-up pop chart environment, you would never see such pop acts coming on to the show.

  11. I like Herb Alpert's 60s stuff, I remember endlessly listening to a tape that my Nan and Grandad had. I'm just really not keen on 'Rise'.

  12. As I've probably mentioned before, I had "Cavatina" (by John Williams) and a Herb Alpert track ("Beanbag", aka theme tune to "It's A Knockout") as the cutting the cake / photo opportunity segue at my wedding reception.

    Having previously said goodbye to Pye Records' last number one single, I notice Decca are top of the singes chart this week with a charity single by Gareth Malone's All Star Choir.

  13. Plus, we had "Stranger On The Shore" as our first dance. RIP Acker.

  14. Herb Alpert churned out LPs back in the '60s in the same way that the Beatles churned out singles.... He had hit upon a distinctive, trademark sound but the only problem was that it could be easily replicated by any bunch of sessioneers who could play a bit of brass. Thus was spawned numerous imitation budget LPs which then diversified into 'Tijuana Sounds Of Christmas', 'Lennon & McCartney In Tijuana Style' etc etc etc, and years later the whole lot ended up labelled as 'cheese'. Shame really.

    1. if i had a pound for every time i saw this album in a charity shop:

      mind you, if i had a pound for any actual herb alpert/tijuana brass LP's i saw in a charity shop...!

      don't forget there's also the "tamla does tijuana" LP - i'm surprised as the master of making a buck in any way he could that berry gordy himself wasn't responsible for that one! my father (who was otherwise completely disinterested in music) used to buy all manner of yuletide-related rubbish ("panpipes at christmas", etc) and punish anyone who happened to be in the house throughout the month of december by playing them non-stop... but i can't remember if i ever got to hear "tijuana christmas" or not...