Thursday, 26 November 2015

There's No One Quite Like Top of the Pops

December 1980 arrives all too soon with this getting ready for the festive season edition from the 4th hosted by Peter Powell.

And one day when we're older, we'll look back and say......

4-12-80: Presenter: Peter Powell

(9) EDDY GRANT – Do You Feel My Love? ®
Eddy's first solo top tenner would go up one place higher in the charts.
Then its tonight's first special guests, Maurice and Verdine from Earth Wind and Fire, to tell us they will be touring the UK in August of 1981!

(27) NEIL DIAMOND – Love On The Rocks (video)
From his hugely successful top ten Jazz Singer album, this single peaked at 17.
Edited out of the 7.30 show this week.

 (15) JONA LEWIE – Stop The Cavalry
The follow-up to In the Kitchen at Parties became an almost instant Xmas classic. Peter asks us to look out for well known faces in Jona's band ~ did you spot any?

 (22) KENNY ROGERS – Lady
There's no expense spared this week as Legs & Co go Game of Thrones for this week's dance routine. Written and produced by Lionel Richie, Lady peaked at 12.

 (17) AC/DC – Rock ‘N’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution (video)
This second single from their huge number one album, Back in Black, became the band's first top 20 hit, and featured new lead singer Brian Johnson.

 (16) ST. WINIFRED’S SCHOOL CHOIR – There’s No-One Quite Like Grandma
Clive Dunn had got to number one with Grandad ten years earlier, so the only surprise is what took so long for someone to do the same with Grandma!
Before the next act we get our second special guest, Mike Oldfield, lamenting about his new single which wasn't in the charts.

 (3) THE BOOMTOWN RATS – Banana Republic
A typically excitable studio performance from Bob and the boys with Bananana Repuberlic at its peak in the charts now.

The Top Ten Rundown:

 (10) JOHN LENNON – (Just Like) Starting Over (still picture)
 (9) EDDY GRANT – Do You Feel My Love? (clip of TOTP 20-11-80)
(8) KOOL & THE GANG – Celebration (still picture)
(7) STEPHANIE MILLS – Never Knew Love Like This Before (video)
(6) DENNIS WATERMAN with THE DENNIS WATERMAN BAND – I Could Be So Good For You (still picture)
(5) SPANDAU BALLET – To Cut A Long Story Short (still picture)
(4) MADNESS – Embarrassment (video)
(3) THE BOOMTOWN RATS – Banana Republic (video)
(2) BLONDIE – The Tide Is High (video)

 (1) ABBA – Super Trouper (video)
Second of three weeks at the top for Agnetha's armpits and Abba's final number one.

 (13) DIANA ROSS – I’m Coming Out (crowd dancing) (and credits)
At its peak.

Next week then we move on to the 11th December 1980 for what proves to be an historic edition.


  1. John Lennon (Top Ten Rundown) - OK, so we are only a few days before the tragic events in New York with Lennon, and on this week's chart he is down from No.8 to No.10 with Starting Over, as no-one could foresee what was going to happen over in New York only a few days after this show.

    Jona Lewie - This has stood the test of time and still played every year in the lead up to Christmas on the radio and also on music video channels along with the usual culprits of legendary Christmas hits. I still like it's seasonal appeal even now in 2015.

    Kenny Rogers - ah, one of the best ballads, if not the best ballad of 1980, and a true love song if ever there was one.
    This one and Woman In Love were the best of the year, followed by All Out Of Love and If You're Looking For A Way Out, as my pick of the ballads of the year.

    Boomtown Rats - did they really get to No.3 this week with this one?? "Banana Republic, Septic Isle" as Bob Geldof sings of his own country of Ireland. Takes the breath away, doesn't it?

    Blondie (Top Ten Rundown) - OK, so BBC keep squeaky clean and now only show the clip from the makeshift video, and keep Darth Vader and his flirting friends out of picture, including the one where Blondie cleans the floor, as we saw in last week's top ten rundown.

    1. Your choice of ballads is sublime Dory. On impulse in HMV, I bought a recently released CD/DVD 'Air Supply - Live in Toronto' and the live versions of 'All out of love' and other memorable AS hits are just fabulous.

    2. Yes, the greatest hits album of Air Supply is a must.
      All Out Of Love and Lost In Love are the big two for me off that album. It is quite an addictive array of love songs that Air Supply is known for.

  2. You know what Eddy Grant really needed? That's right, a double bass for that authentic reggae sound. Think the bloke playing the large maraca could have done with more screen time.

    Neil Diamond with Love on the Racks, I used to get confused about whether he meant he wanted a drink of love with ice cubes or his affair had hit the coastline and was going down with all hands. Actually, I'm still confused. Great work, Mr Director, obscuring Neil's face with the giant microphone.

    Jona Lewie, I can just about tolerate this one these days, it's still one of those select ten or so Christmas records that get played to death every December, but it's eccentric enough not to bother me as much as some. Being the 80s, it's about nuclear war more than Yuletide of course.

    On second thoughts, let us not go to Camelot, 'tis a silly place. Not sure who Lancelot du Lac was, but Legs & Co raid the dressing up box this episode, with Sue dressed as Bugs Bunny dressed as a girl bunny. As for the song, pure cheese with Kenny's cracked vocals slathering on the treacle.

    AC/DC, from test match cricket to fronting one of the loudest bands in the world, not bad, Brian. Good stuff this, and more evidence they were great at choosing titles for their tunes.

    But if there's anyone who rocked harder than AC/DC it has to be the misfits up next, St Winnifred's School Choir shamelessly pandering to the grey pound. As a matter of record, my own gran loved this song, my cousins bought it for her. Whenever she heard it she would cry!

    Nice to see some synchronised dance moves from The Boomtown Rats, though what's with the Sealink jersey? And for that authentic Jamaican sound, yup, the double bass present and correct. Slick production on this one, not very punk though.

    Then ABBA with Anna-Frid's remarkable jumper. The guests were interesting, Earth Wind and Fire obviously seeing the worth of planning ahead, and a very relaxed Mike Oldfield in desperate need of a Blue Peter episode to get that next hit.

    1. I cry when I hear the St Winifred song as well, but probably for a different reason...

    2. I think Lady doesn't sound bad at all. Definitely better than the Neil Diamond song, and I think Don't Walk Away last week was much more tame and melodramatic sounding

    3. Lady sung by Kenny Rogers was a relief. Had Lionel Richie sung this, it would have been a disaster, even though it was he who penned the single. It sounds too much like Hello which Richie did solo in 1984 for a big No.1 for 5 weeks.

  3. That "Grandma" single was released on the Music For Pleasure label. If ever there was a less apt song for that label! For some reason which I can't fathom out, I decided to check out that St. Winifred's mob on the 45cat website. The choir released five singles on their own, of which this was the only non-religious one. They'd had a crack at the festive market the previous year with "Bread And Fishes"!

    1. Peter Powell introduced the St. Winifred's School Choir as being led by an 8-year old on lead vocal. Is this in fact the youngest ever lead vocal on a British chart single? I think it is, unless someone knows otherwise.

      Whatever, it will be etched in history as one of the most unusual No.1's in the history of the British pop charts, right here in 1980, cos there's no-one quite like Grandma.

    2. It must be a quiet day at work - I've done a bit of research on St. Winnie's! I'd forgotten they were the backing vocalists on "Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs", "Grandma" was written in honour of the Queen Mother, and its success led the songwriter to have a crack at a slightly different market, leading in a top 30 hit for "My Mum Is One In A Million" by the Children of Tansley School the following year!

    3. ...And a bit more research! St. Winnie's Dawn Ralph appears to be the youngest lead vocalist on a UK chart-topper. Little Jimmy Osmond is the youngest solo act to make the summit (aged 9 years and 8 months), and the youngest artist to appear on a number one is Jessica Smith, ('Baby Sun'), whose giggle on "Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!" was recorded when she was between 7 and 12 months old!

    4. perhaps the weirdest thing about the teletubbies was that soon-to-be-in-the-charts toyah recited a few lines of verse at the beginning of each episode...

  4. With the warm fuzzy glow of last week's show still a happy memory let's see what the ToTP bods have got for us this week. Disappointingly its old Smiley Voice in charge of the mic tonight. Hasn't he been on the show an awful lot this year? ( Or, to be more exact - hasn't he been awful on the show a lot this year?)

    Anyways, we start with a repeat showing for Eddy Grant before there is a weird edit point before Powell introduces the vid forLove On The Rocks.THEN we get EW & F for a brief chat.

    Jona Lewie makes it two hits for the year with his very own pension plan. Didn't recognise any of the 'famous faces' though.

    Another one to make it two hits for the year is Kenny Rogers. I have to agree with Dory about the excellence of the song. Nice understated vocal s - nice understated performance from the Leggers too.

    Woah - whats happening to the countdown? We paused for Mr Rogers at 22 which is not a bad stab at the bottom third, but then we only get as far as 17 before we stop again. Are we going to get a four part countdown this week?

    Its AC DC at 17. Is this their first single post Bon Scott? Not my cup of tea, but I suppose you have to admire the performance.

    Yes we are having a four part countdown this week because we continue the charts down to 11 before returning to St Winifreds Choir and the teeth-grindingly twee Grandma. One of the girls with her head tilted right over to one side is Sally Lindsey, former Corrie actress.

    Mike Oldfield comes in for a chat that is so quiet I half expected a bespectacled lady librarian to pop up and shush them.

    The Rats mug and mime their way through Banana Republic before we do the top ten, ending up with Abba.

    So to the scores, and lets see how many points I can knock off Peter Powell. Well, there's the kecks for a start - brown leather with a waistband comfortably north of his belly button. Then there's the over emphasising of words in titles and band names. And that's all. Disappointingly I'll have to give him a 6 because he was nowhere near as irritating as usual.

    As for the show; points awarded for Jona Lewie, Boomtown Rats, Kenny Rogers and Eddy Grant. Points deducted for an unmathamatical four-part chart rundown, St Winifreds, that weird edit thing, and the becalmed Mike Oldfield interview - 6.

    I'm not a robot.

    1. I think this was the second AC/DC single with Johnners on lead vocals. They'd made a ridiculously low number 38 previously with "You Shook Me All Night Long".

  5. Last week Showaddywaddy came face to face with their conquerors The Stray Cats, and this week's Jona Lewie's sharing the stage with The Boomtown Rats - whose mainman Bob Geldof KBE would steal the melody of 'Stop The Cavalry' wholesale for his middling solo hit 'The Great Song of Indifference'! Check it out on YT!

    Legs turn out another slow jazz ballet routine, this time inspired by Arthurian legend, as befitting Kenny's Lionel Richie-composed ballad.

    Sounding like the George Formby Appreciation Society on helium, the Choir would beat Kelly Marie to the dubious honour of 'Worst Single of the Year' in the Smash Hits Readers' Poll!

    1. I must admit I couldn't really enjoy the Boomtown Rats studio appearance this week, and this was one case where the video was a lot better than the lame studio performance.

      It was certainly nowhere near the quality of their TOTP studio appearance when they did Rat Trap a couple of years earlier in 1978.

  6. John Otway is playing the drums in the line-up behind Jona Lewie. I bought some stuff on John's website recently and he told me that he was playing (miming) the drums.

    1. Yes I think Peter Powell did mention his name afterwards ~ one of the brass section looks a bit like Roy Castle..

    2. Apparently Jona's brass band includes Will Birch (ex-Kurssaal Flyers) on trumpet, John Otway on drums and Stiff Records press officer Nigel Dick on the tuba (he later became a pop video director including the Band Aid video).

      But how viewers were supposed to spot any of these at the time is a good question as none were exactly uber-famous.

  7. Stop The Cavalry wasn't the follow up to Kitchen At Parties, Jona Lewie released another single in between called Big Shot Momentarily which ironically bombed. This was released as a 6 inch vinyl record.

    1. Big Shot is a fine and catchy pop record which deserved to do better. He followed up Cavalry with Louise (we get it right) which made the Radio 1 playlist but which bombed, as did all his subsequent follow-ups, although it was number 1 in the South Africa apparently.

    2. Sadly Jona Lewie was branded as a novelty act, at least in the UK, which is a shame as some of his other singles deserved to chart. Bizarrely Stop The Cavalry made the top ten in Australia in March 1981.

  8. Well, the festive season was now very much under way for TOTP, with a couple of performances that have seen plenty of airings on assorted clip shows over the years. Although Stop the Cavalry gets played to death every December, it is a great song and always makes me feel Christmassy - I wonder what Maurice and Verdine White made of it? In the performance, Jona always looks a bit awkward handling that rifle, and he looks genuinely delighted when he is able to get rid of it! I didn't recognise any of the allegedly famous faces behind him - PP did mention one name afterwards but I didn't catch it.

    Criticising the St Winifred's abomination is a bit like kicking a puppy, but that won't stop me! It's not so much that the song is godawful (though it is), it's just the sheer cynicism of the record company, calculating that the gullible public would flock to buy the single for their grannies. Sadly, their cynicism would prove to be justified, and even the tragic events in New York four days after this show couldn't stop this from reaching the top for Christmas - even PP was struggling to be polite about this one in his intro!

    Elsewhere, the costume department certainly went to town on Legs this week - just a shame they are dancing to an incredibly tedious song (written by Lionel Richie, so that's no great surprise), and that the ludicrous medieval headgear rather detracts attention from the dancing. A nice fairy-tale castle set though, complete with what seemed to be a rather threadbare Christmas tree. The Rats make their first studio appearance in a long while, and are in typically irreverent mood, crowded together in a small space - as for the song, I am liking it more and more, it's really quite catchy. AC/DC do their normal thing, and while it's not my cup of tea they do it well enough.

    PP seemed all over the place this week, hesitant and forgetful - the best bit was the mention of the "band Jona Lewie" followed by the hasty correction! Perversely, he did handle the interviews quite well, and it was a pleasant surprise to see a very droll Mike Oldfield in the studio. Having undergone controversial exegesis therapy a couple of years earlier, he had overcome the crippling shyness he had previously suffered from and you can really see that here. It's a shame that Sheba and the covers of Arrival and Wonderful Land (all from the QE2 album) didn't chart, as they are all first-rate. Still, appropriate that he appears on a show where ABBA are topping the charts, as not only was Arrival their song but if you listen to the music Oldfield and ABBA were making at this time, there are notable similarities in their sound - I think they may have been using the same kinds of synths...

    1. The medieval set used for Legs & Co this week, including the night in shining armour at the beginning and end of this 'video', was in itself a worthy promo video for Lady, as Kenny Rogers while he had a good 1980, did not make any videos, but just live performances which TOTP used during the year, like Coward of The County, and then Lady.

      While lady was not as successful as Coward Of The County, it still made it to No.12 in the run-up to Christmas 1980, which was a deserved result for him, and Legs & Co for that matter.

  9. host: leather trousers are obviously the thing at the moment, as both PP and the first act sport a pair. i remember buying pleated leather-look trousers (i couldn't afford the real thing) around this time, but being too scared to wear them anywhere for fear of criticism or even a kicking! and i bet he wishes perms were still trendy too, as he obviously doesn't have a clue what to do wth his hair otherwise...

    eddy grant: not much to say about this other than in relative terms probably one of his better efforts

    neil diamond: oh, a video shot in the recording studio - how original! also with regard to the film's title, if doc mccoy were to give this a listen he would have to exclaim "it's jazz jim, but not as we know it"! whatever appeal mr diamond may have is utterly lost on me, but then again i'm not a woman who has recently started claiming an old-age pension...

    more interesting then either of the above is our host then interviewing two personal heroes of mine, maurice and verdine white of the mighty earth, wind & fire (by the way peter, it's mor-REES - NOT morris!). but once again an act (or in their case two ninths of them) appears on the show to publicise but not perform. had they made the effort to do so, perhaps the album they were promoting wouldn't have bombed! i later read that maurice complained that his record company didn't make any effort to push it, but just grinning like some loony who doesn't know what the hell's going on (and failing to respond properly to the questions asked) wasn't going to do his cause any favours. by the way i think it's a shame the "faces" album didn't follow in the wake of the hits-laden "i am", as there are some real crackers on it. but hubris came as a result of it being released as an over-ambitious and patchy double album rather than a rock-solid single one. presumably they weren't present at the end of the show as they were so taken by the next track (after being advised to listen to it by our host) that they had already left the studio to head off to a local record shop for a copy of it...?

    jonah lewie: like everyone else i've heard this a million times, and feel no more or less about it than the first time i did, which was: it's pleasant enough but a bit of a disappointment compared to "kitchen in parties". i presume jonah and co are portraying tommies from ww1, but there are anomalies present: the helmet was probably a contemporary one rather than the traditional "frisbee"-style ones associated with world wars, and i don't think synths had been invented by then. someone watching with me said jonah looked rather silly with his toy rifle and should have had a guitar instead - i had to point out that there are actually no guitars on the record...

    1. With respect to Neil Diamond, I think this clip is from the movie The Jazz Singer, which was a difficult and soul-searching movie to make, and which Diamond had a big role to play.

      Whatever connotations come out of it, this clip on TOTP is missing the feel of the whole movie in order to put the song in perspective, and whatever it's true meaning was supposed to be, I must admit it is still not obvious unless one watches the whole film which I need to find the time to do over Christmas this year.

    2. Careful Dory, unless you're a middle aged (or now elderly, I suppose) lady, The Jazz Singer doesn't have much going for it but WTF? laffs. Surprised they let Larry keep his knighthood after this and The Betsy in quick succession.

  10. ... a bit like the other guest mike oldfied's then-latest single, this is another "c-side":

    kenny rogers: i thought this guy was a country and western singer, but this didn't sound very country to me, just a soporific ballad typical of the day. i didn't know, but i wasn't surprised to read it was written by lionel rich-tea (as one of my chums likes to call him). ye olde legs medieval stuff didn't to a lot for me either i'm afraid

    ac/dc: new singer brian johnson's "gargling with broken glass"-style of singing is certainly unusual, but i don't think i could handle listening to it on a regular basis. fortunately i'm not a big fan of this lot anyway so it doesn't matter. however this is one of their better efforts with some really meaty drumming going on. as for the statement: as far as i'm concerned then pretty much all music from this century is noise pollution!

    st winifreds: obviously the kind of thing that fast-forward buttons were invented for, but in the interests of analysing it for this blog i felt compelled to watch it all the way through! i'm not sure which was more stomach-churning: the pictures of coffin-dodgers ("grandma's" don't look much like that these days), or the child who has obviously been picked to lead the ensemble because (unlike most of the rest who have quite contemporary haircuts) she resembled something from the 1940's with the bows in her hair and bad teeth. and was no doubt also chosen for her lisp that added extra "appeal" (a struggling toyah may have been watching at this point and thought "if she can get in the singles charts then there's hope for me yet"). i also note that boys are not surprisingly considerably thinner on the ground than girls - no doubt branded as sissies by their tough football-playing male peers for joining such a thing, they would have had the last laugh as i don't suppose any of their detractors managed to get on the telly!

    boomtown rats: i also watched this all the way through, and all i can say is: although i loathe and despise "i don't like mondays" with passion, at least it had some sort of tune. unlike this! also it really bugs me when singers/songwriters deliberately mispronouce words or phrases to shoehorn them into the melodies - examples include adam ant "prince char-MING!") and the modfather ("speak like A child"). and (unless that's how they say it in ireland) here st bob does the same thing with the word "banana"!

    1. Surely Weller's classic was pronouncing "those who have and have not" with "dangle jobs like a donkey's car-ROT" to rhyme in Walls Come Tumbling Down? Makes me wince every time.

    2. I do recall watching a clip show where a couple of ex-choristers were telling the story behind the song. Apparently the original lead singer had a decent voice but the record company felt that a singer with a lisp would add that extra Ahhh factor. So the girls were switched and the original singer's sister spent a lot of studio appearances glaring daggers at the usurper.

    3. How about Bananarama/SAW rhyming "you would come to my res-CUE" with "let me start anew"?

    4. I think I can top that. How about this multi-mangling of emphasis from The Kaiser Chiefs' RUBY. Not exactly used to force a rhyme, more to shoehorn the words into the available syllable space.

      Ahem. 'Due to lack of inTREST
      ToMORRow is canCELLED

    5. Not forgetting Patti Smith's one and only Top 40 hit, 'BE-cause The Night', which was co-written by The Boss! Along with fellow new wave pioneer Graham Parker, and Dennis Waterman's talented sideman Gerard Kenny, Patti belongs in the category of Not Quite A Star.

  11. Second week at No.1 for Abba, in what was for me their best career single, and a climax to a rock-solid 5 years at the top, leading back to 1976, and that is around the top of what many of the best groups achieve, i.e., a 5-year cycle of growth and peak, before the start of the decline, like a product life cycle in a way.

    While the following year spurned a couple more top ten hits, Super Trouper was alas their final No.1, and the decline was about to start in 1981 where their music no longer had the same appeal, as we made way for more unusual sounding music like The Human League and Depeche Mode, and away from mainstream Abba-esque sounds.

    With Super Trouper, let's raise a glass to Abba and their historic achievements in a time where pop music needed them, and they needed us to enjoy their music. Indeed you could call it a mutual relationship.

    To be knocked off the No.1 spot later in the month only by the great John Lennon, was a fitting end to a string of No.1's for Abba, stretching back to 1976.

  12. Pete, close your legs at the start, please! You’ll catch a cold! “Here’s one for the audience to dance to” – Pete speak for “Eddy Grant can’t be bothered to come back to the studio”.

    A dreadful splice before Pete’s intro to Neil Diamond (it IS a hit now, Richard Skinner). Enjoyed Neil’s fine vocal performance, and I liked the diamond-shaped outro logo. That extra touch of class.

    EWF’s previous single, “Let Me Talk”, had spent one week in the mugshots at 29. “Back On The Road” got a flat tyre and peaked at 63.Still better than Mike Oldfield’s effort, but I enjoyed his mellow sit-down interview.

    Jonia Lewie’s helmet (stop it) reminded me of the origins of the phrase “use your loaf”, when soldiers used to put their bread ration into their helmet, stick their bayonet in it, and raise the helmet above the trench to see if the enemy were around to fire at what they thought was a soldier’s head. By the way, does anyone know who the elusively namechecked Mary Bradley is or was?

    Unusual filmic quality to Legs & Co’s routine. As Gill picked the item off the tree, I thought “What a beautiful pear” – not the first time I’ve thought that while watching Gill on the show. Boom boom tish!

    Rude word alert! Andy Capp… er, Brian Johnson says “Get off your arse” 14:47 into the show. Angus Young’s a great guitarist, but I can’t look at him. Still. At least that’s better than my sensory perception of the next act.

    “All sorts of things happen in the British charts, and this is proof they’re so versatile, I guess” - Pete speak for “people buy any old shit at Christmas”. You could almost see and smell the bile rising up his throat before St. Winnie’s.

    Great miming by Bob The Gob, Nigel Kennedy in pyjamas, Thin Lizzy’s ex-studio drummer and the other three. At least The Rats enjoyed their performance.

    So, Pete, Abba will be number one until “this time next week”? What, 7.25 on a Thursday? Wasn’t the chart announced on Tuesday lunchtime, at which point there was a mad rush to decide who’d be rehearsing for TOTP the next day? Tsk. And what’s with some top tenners a getting name check and song title check but not others, and no outro song announcement yet again? That Hurll bloke needs to iron a few things out.

    1. well, i never knew how the expression "use your loaf" came about! as they say: you learn something ever yday - thanks arthur. i always thought the british tommy helmets of the world wars era were rather laughable and pathetic (not to mention painfully inadequate). the yanks' helmets were far cooler, but the best one was the german "coal scuttle", both in effectiveness (note that most armies use similar designs now) and in scaring the pants off the enemy!

    2. Gill of Legs & Co certainly did have the best chest of the group.

    3. Wilberforce - Mr Nibble's being too literal "use your loaf" is Cockney rhyming slang for use your head, loaf of bread = head.

    4. A quick Google reveals Mary Bradley to be a Northern Irish politician, a wildlife artist or at least two actresses who all may have been on Jona's radar at the time. Or maybe it was a generic name he thought up.

    5. According to some sources Mary Bradley was a transvestite prostitute (real name Martin Bradley) who used to frequent south London clubs and pubs in the late 1970s and was a friend of Jona Lewie.

      "The Czar and Jim" presumably refers to the Russian leader (Brezhnev) and Jimmy Carter.

    6. I agree "Jim" is Jimmy Carter but I think the Tsar is Nicholas II or any Russian leader. Jona is singing this as the eternal unknown soldier ("I have had to fight… down throughout the centuries") so is mixing the time zones throughout – the same narrator is singing about his experiences of war from the cavalry to the nuclear fallout zone.

  13. Was just reading up on Banana Republic now at its highest chart position and on TOTP this week, and it appears that it was a deliberately scathing portrait of the Republic of Ireland ('septic isle'), and was in response to the The Boomtown Rats being banned from performing there in their home country.

    Apparently the Ireland ban was because Geldof denounced nationalism, medieval-minded clerics and corrupt politicians in a 1977 interview and performance on Ireland's The Late Late Show with Gay Byrne.

    Among the lyrics on Banana Republic are the words "sleeping with your whore", so I'm very surprised that TOTP allowed this on the show, and in fact even on video a couple of weeks earlier! Certainly BBC4 also didn't spot this in the politically correct re-runs, and how it sailed to No.3 in the charts is bewildering to say the least.

  14. A reasonable show from Peter and guests this week…
    Eddy Grant – Great song and the usual lively rendition, albeit repeated.

    Neil Diamond – The same clip from the Jazz Singer sans second verse (this is not a TOTP edit, the film is like that – and hey, what a surprise they’re still able to show the film clip complete). I love the pathos between the girl watching and the producer smoking and practically ignoring. I believe the next bit in the film involves the producer telling ‘Jess Robin’ to p** off.

    Jona Lewie – Oh yes we’ve seen this millions of times on Christmas TOTP2 but it still looks good seeing it again. Btw I do miss Steve Wright doing the Christmas TOTP2.

    Kenny Rogers / Legs and Co – Written by Lionel Ritchie, this is one of Kenny’s best. Had the BBC just made a series of Camelot or something as the costumed guy at the start doesn’t look like he’s in the same place as the girls? Awful routine and silly costumes don’t do this fine song justice; and there is a nasty edit too.

    AC/DC – A review in Record Mirror at the time simply stated “it most certainly is”. I couldn’t agree more.

    St Winfred’s School Choir – Speaking of noise pollution, I have been dreading this coming on TOTP all year. Thank heavens for the FF button!

    Mike Oldfield interview. Mike was plugging two singles from his ‘QE2’ album which is not one of my particular favourites. I did get to see Mike at Wembley a few years later but I don’t think many people would have ventured to the North Pole or Mars to catch him live. Incidentally the sleeve of his Abba cover ‘Arrival’ was a wonderful pastiche of the action ‘Arrival’ album cover.

    Boomtown Rats – An erratic studio performance can’t alter my opinion of this dreary song one bit. Sorry Bob.

    Abba – I can’t add any more eulogies here to this wonderful song than I have said previously. Never get tired of watching this joyful video through even though I must have seen it more times than ‘Stop the Calvary’.

    Diana Ross playout – Hmmmm, unsure of subject matter here although in 1980 I had no idea of the concept of ‘coming out’.

  15. with reference to the st winifreds abomination: there were some private recordings made of some school choir singing then-contemporary pop songs in the 1970's, that in much more revcent times were "discovered" by some well-known muso or musicologist and commercially released to critical acclaim (i think david bowie was one of those raving about it). does anyone know what that was? thanks to the hype i did give it a brief listen at the time but thought it was a case of the "emperor's new clothes". however i'd like to listen again now to see how far removed it is from the likes of st winifreds school choir and the ramblers...

    1. You're thinking of the Langley Schools Music Project, which were two privately released LPs of a bunch of 70s kids corralled into recording their pop and rock fan music teacher's favourite songs in their school gymnasium.

      It actually sounds quite magical and ethereal, unlike the Brit school choir hits which were twee and sickly sentimental. Maybe more proof of the strength of the songs than the power of a school choir, but it isn't as gimmicky as you might think.

    2. i had another listen, but sorry thx it's not for me - it almost goes into the same category as the likes of the shaggs and the portsmouth sinfonia! i have some old recordings made at my school around the same time as these were, with me playing piano with "the jazz club" - maybe i should put them on youtube and see if people start raving about it 30-odd years on?

    3. I like The Shaggs and the Portsmouth Sinfonia too! Can't beat a bit of outsider music to clear the head.

  16. There are no less than 5 number ones in the Top 30 this week - Woman In Love, The Tide Is High, Super Trouper, Just Like Starting Over, There's No One Quite Like Grandma - that hasn't happened for a while.

    It kicks off to the crowd dancing to the strains of Young and Co (again). They really wanted this to get higher than number 20 didn't they but it's stuck there like a limpet.

    Then PP attired in those vile puke-coloured leather strides introducing Do YOU. Feel MY LOVE. Quite possibly in those trousers.

    Odd to kick off with a repeat but they do that quite a lot now. Then the video of Neil Diamond. I quite liked this at the time but would never have bought it.

    Peter looks slightly overwhelmed when talking to Maurice and Verdine White from EWF but perhaps he wasn't used to artists not promoting something. Maurice White used to play with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and we instead go to John Lewis AKA Jona Lewie.

    The clip of Jona used in the 'Coming up' section must be from a rehearsal because it's not included in this performance. As I said elsewhere the band are an assortment of obscure musicians and Stiff Records staff so the audience were hardly likely to recognise them.

    I notice Barry Manilow has slipped into the lower echelons of the chart for the first time in two years. No doubt he'll be on the show soon.

    This is perhaps the most ridiculous Legs routine in a long time. The girls conical hats may well have inspired Madonna's pointy bras in years to come. This was to be Kenny's last hit for a couple of years. Question: who is the knight on horseback on film? Looks a bit like an undernourished Paul McCartney.

    In had no room for AC/DC in my lifer back in 1980 but today this sounds okay but Angus' schoolboy antics always put me in mind of MP Harvey Proctor for some reason.

    There's No One Quite Like Grandma, apart from your other grandma as some wag once pointed out. I couldn't even listed to this at the time and I have to fast forward it now. It's just AWFUL.

    Not sure I care much for Mike Oldfield's bottle green fleecy jumpsuit, it looks like the type of thing my mum used to do the housework in, but at least we can't see his tubular bells.

    In that giant beret Bob Geldof seems to be doing a very lame impersonation of Frank Spencer, maybe to distract from his very bad miming antics. I quite liked this one at the time and bought it but I had no idea what the song was about. Although this made number 3 this never gets played on the radio now while unlike I Don't Like Mondays. Little did the band know but this was their last visit to the Top 10.

    I know it's been said before but how did Stephanie Mills get so high in the charts with such badly recorded sound on her (very bad) video, she sounds like she's underwater.

    How did the Rat's average effort get once place ahead of Madness?

    ABBA again and playout with Diana Ross' I'm Coming Out. This was a big hit in her gay clubs at the time and the song was inspired when Nile Rogers saw three drag queens dressed as Diana in a gay club. It was a hit before My Old Piano in the US.

    1. Bama, regarding your question re Barry Manilow, we will see him soon, and then again we won't. Sorry for the spoiler alert, but Barry gets two Leggers and two videos in 1981, but just one of those isn't Yewtreed.

    2. The Human League will also get heavily smothered by Yewtree - by my reckoning, we will lose 7 appearances by them in the regular shows, including all showings of Sound of the Crowd, Love Action and Open Your Heart, in what was their annus mirabilis. Let's hope Big Hits 1981 makes it up to them by featuring at least a couple of the singles we won't see on BBC4 otherwise.

      In happier news, it looks as if BBC4 are planning to repeat the Edmonds/Blackburn Christmas Day show from 1975 over the festive season, which I don't think they have ever shown before. '75 was not a great year for chart music, but I suppose it makes up to some degree for the 1980 Xmas shows being forbidden. We will have to wait until Friday 8 January for The Story of 1981 - I wonder if the 08/01/81 show will be broadcast the same evening?

    3. if so then that's very disappointing news john - the emergence of the human league mk II as a bona fide pop group (with a dance edge) was for me a major influence on both my listening and performing (i started regularly playing synthesiser in bands in 1981), with "love action" perhaps being the ultimate in synth pop...?

    4. Love Action, while a good song, is probably my least favourite of the four singles from Dare, but taken as a whole the album is definitely one of the pinnacles of synth pop. Given that the League were one of the defining bands of 1981, it is ridiculous that BBC4 viewers will get to see so little of them.

    5. i didn't care much for "open your heart" myself, but the other three singles were brilliant (even if "don't you want me" is now one of those tracks i've heard once too often). as was the album track "seconds". as was "hard times" that didn't even make it onto the album!

    6. Yes, Seconds is good, as is Do or Die - they both have a great doomy feel about them.

    7. I've heard the 8/1/81 will be shown on January 14th, a week after the Big Hits 81 show.

    8. i remember reading an interview where adrian wright (who was the "slide projector operator" and kind-of andrew ridgeley of the group) was asked: what exactly was your musical contribution to the "dare" album? he replied: well, i pressed the button that made the explosion noise on "seconds"!

    9. If I remember rightly the BBC did at least give Adrian Wright a keyboard to mime with during TOTP appearances!

      Angelo - thanks for that, I suspected the 14th was a more likely broadcast date for that show.

    10. ...the way 'I am the law' abruptly shifts into 'Seconds' always warrants turning up the volume in the car for me!

  17. I remember very well listening to Peter Powell doing the top 40 2 nights before this show. There were 10 new entries, which was a huge amount for the time, including the Clash's "The Call Up" at the foot of the chart, Kate Bush's forgotten but brilliant "December will be magic again" and "Antmusic" among others. I had loved "Kitchen at Parties" so was desperately hoping "Stop the Cavalry" would be among them, but had all but given up with just one new entry to go, so was thrilled when it was announced the highest of the lot at Number 15, having climbed from 69 the week before. Not sure where it got its momentum from originally, presumably it was pushed by Radio 2, certainly I can't remember hearing it on Radio 1 before it made the top 40.

  18. It'll be interesting to see Xmas 1975 part 2, 20 odd years after seeing part 1 on Uk Gold!

  19. It'll be interesting to see Xmas 1975 part 2, 20 odd years after seeing part 1 on Uk Gold!

    1. If you can't wait any longer to see's here:

  20. Back to The Boomtown Rats, but not for this particular tune - I was reading an article on the band and didn't realise that Bob Geldof had little faith in "Rat Trap", even betting a record company employee it would get no higher than number 15, yet Phil Lynott heard the initial demo version and asked for Thin Lizzy to have first refusal if The Rats didn't want the song. A Lizzy version of "Rat Trap" would have been fascinating.

  21. Not much to say about this one, not the best collection of tunes and Peter Powell getting more annoying by the second.

    The one pleasant surprise was Mike Oldfield's comedy routine - I always thought he was a miserable git but apparently not!

    Nothing much decent here except for the Eddy Grant repeat and Jona Lewie - however many times I've heard the song, I'm still not bored of it. I thought I spotted Wilko Johnson in the band but that can't be right, can it?

    The AC/DC song is OK but the chart fortunes of that and 'You Shook Me All Night Long' deserved to be the other way round really.

    As for '....Grandma', my Nan was a Frank Sinatra fan and was far too sensible to be a sucker for drivel like that!