Thursday, 5 November 2015

To Cut a Long Top of the Pops Short

We leap forward in time again a little this week to November 13th 1980 with Simon Bates hosting what proves to be a quite fabulous edition....

We hereby give permission for the 80's to officially begin....


13-11-80: Presenter: Simon Bates

(35) IRON MAIDEN – Women In Uniform
Getting the show off to a rousing live start is Iron Maiden featuring pre-Bruce Dickinson lead singer Paul Di'Anno. It got no higher than 35.

 (6) DAVID BOWIE – Fashion (video)
Continuing to raise the video stakes here following on from the ground breaking Ashes to Ashes. Fashion peaked at number 5. Then along come Ray and Dennis from Dr Hook as the first of tonight's special guests plugging their latest album.

 (33) GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS – Bourgie Bourgie
This live studio performance helped the song up just one place higher in the charts. Then the second of tonight's special guests turns up in the form of Stu Francis, to tell us that Crackerjack now has 8 million viewers! I could crush a grape!

 (20) JOHN LENNON – (Just Like) Starting Over (danced to by Legs & Co)
When these Top of the Pops reruns began we had narrowly missed out on John Lennon's last hit before he announced his 'retirement' but five years later he returned with this wonderfully apt single. It would peak at number 8 in early December, begin its fall down the charts and then suddenly go to number one in the saddest of circumstances imaginable.

 (32) LIQUID GOLD – The Night The Wine And The Roses
This one got the 7.30pm chop.

 (43) SPANDAU BALLET – To Cut A Long Story Short
I know we've had OMD and Adam & the Ants already, but for me this is where the 80's truly begin ~ the look, the sound and the soon to follow epic videos.

 (13) ABBA – Super Trouper (video)
No one would have believed at the time that this fabulous song would be Abba's final number one hit ~ indeed less than 18 months later they would be struggling to even get into the top 30.

The Top Ten Rundown:

 (10) ODYSSEY – If You’re Looking For A Way Out (video)
(9) STEPHANIE MILLS – Never Knew Love Like This Before (video)
(8) ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK – Enola Gay (video)
(7) ADAM & THE ANTS – Dog Eat Dog (still picture)
(6) DAVID BOWIE – Fashion (video)
(5) STATUS QUO – What You’re Proposing (video)
(4) DENNIS WATERMAN with THE DENNIS WATERMAN BAND – I Could Be So Good For You (still picture)
(3) BAD MANNERS – Special Brew (still picture)
(2) BARBRA STREISAND – Woman In Love (video)

 (1) BLONDIE – The Tide Is High (video)
At the dawn of the era of amazing videos, Blondie come up with something that looks like it was thrown together in five minutes. Still, a great song and the first of two weeks at number one.

 (30) YOUNG & COMPANY – I Like (What You’re Doing To Me) (crowd dancing) (and credits)
Their one and only hit which made it to number 20.


The next edition should be November 20th but it is hosted by DLT so it will be skipped in favour of the 27th. However, next week is a Sky at Night Week so we'll have to wait until the 19th of November to see it.

87 comments:

  1. Interesting to see Dr Hook on the show as studio guests for interview, and despite their apparent new album release this week, they were washed up on these shores as early as April 1980 with their final top 30 hit Sexy Eyes, reaching the heights of No.4, so it appears that this new album in November 1980 bore no fruit and no top 30 hits for the Hooks.

    John Lennon – great to see Legs & Co dancing to Lennon’s new release Starting Over, and his first single on British TV for 5 years since 1975 where he performed personally on an ITV show (shown on the final edition of Pop Gold recently).

    It was a fancy dress party this week for Legs & Co on this one, with Gill winning best dressed as Wilma Flintstone, followed closely in second by Rosie as one of the Village People, and Patti as errm…….a great body.

    None of us could see what was about to come three weeks later with the sudden murder of Lennon outside his hotel in New York, and looking back now, I’m sure Legs & Co were honoured to be given this one to dance to, with the utmost respect and honour to the great Lennon.

    Spandau Ballet – the debut of the boys on British TV, and like Adam & The Ants, OMD, UB40 and Dexys, a new group for 1980 that would hang around for years to come. Spandau who were introduced a new group from Islington, actually come from the same constituency as Jeremy Corbyn who was just starting out as an MP in the area at around that time in 1980.

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    1. Corbyn was a councillor in Haringey in 1980. He would become an MP in 1983.

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    2. The Hooks were no doubt promoting' Girls can get it' from their new Mercury album 'Rising'. It didn't help that their old record company (Capitol) chose to release a two year old song ' Sharing the Night together' at more or less the same time. Mediocrity prevailed with both singles stalling in the 40 regions of the charts at the same time.

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  2. I remember at the time being hacked off that John Lennon had used an American phrase for part of this single's title, with the proper English version being 'starting all over again', which wouldn't have scanned, obviously. For the record, my fave solo single of John's is "Number 9 Dream".

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  3. Virtually flawless.Great to see punk/metal Maiden covering a track that should have been a proper hit in 79 for Skyhooks. Bourgie Bourgie -how was it not top 10 ? Good to see the Spandau.Bowie at his best.Shame Bates is a c***

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  4. Stu Francis released at least three singles, two of which were "I Could Have Crushed A Grape" and "Ooh, I Could Crush A Grape". No doubt on both songs he produced a little w(h)ine. Boom boom tish!

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  5. Anyone know why a different video with stills appeared suddenly this week at No.1, whereas the week before on the top ten rundown with Saville and Richard Skinner we had the what is now known as the official and more commonly recognised Darth Vader video for this song?

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    1. It seems Blondie made two videos for The Tide is High ~ the Darth Vader one shows smoking and hints at drug dealing going on in the street, so maybe that's why the Beeb chose the other version?

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    2. It always seems to be the Beeb that spoils things for viewers. How is it then that the more recognised Darth Vader video is always the one shown by the MTV and the other music video TV channels even to this day in 2015?

      None of them show the other sparse "BBC only" version which is mainly stills. I mean I even collected the official darth vader Blondie video from iTunes a few years ago at a mere £1.89, as they have the entire Blondie video catalog on there for purchasing. Good Lord, what is it with the BBC?

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    3. Probably a bit late to complain about the Blondie video thirty-five years after the fact.

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    4. I think snippets of the Darth Vader video did appear in the TOTP version, but the official video is pretty rubbish anyway so I wasn't sorry the BBC decided to show an alternative!

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    5. Angelo's theory would seem to explain why last week on the Yewtreed Saville show, Blondie only appeared briefly on the Top Ten chart rundown and not a main appearance as a new entry at No.5, cos TOTP would have only had the original Darth Vader video which they may have been uncomfortable with, and by then, then they did not yet rustle up the replacement patchwork stills video until this week when it went to No.1. So cue Neil Diamond instead on last week's show!

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    6. I can only ever remember the 'stills' version being shown on TOTP with sweep across the cover of 'Autoamerican' at the start and end.

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  6. Iron Maiden with a hymn to traffic wardens (probably) and looking uncannily like Spinal Tap (OK, maybe not that uncanny, they had to be based on someone).

    David Bowie with a studio audience lifted from an earlier edition of TOTP judging by the lack of animation. Also displaying his love for the Road Runner cartoon. This video would have baffled me at the time. I say at the time...

    OK, Gladys Knight and the Pips, everybody wants to be Bourgie Bourgie do they? You're assuming everyone knows what on Earth that means. Anyway, a catchy little number but sounding very previous decade in comparison to other acts on this show.

    Sobering to think when Starting Over was released John Lennon had weeks to live. Nice, light tune, but not exactly the best one to leave us with, though nobody was to know. As for Legs & Co - Pauline, is that fur? Tut.

    Liquid Gold, like their other songs only with any discernable melody removed. Some extraordinary costumes here, the attention seeking drummer anyway, and Ellie's two tone lipstick must surely have been a tribute to the Specials. Maybe.

    Spandau Ballet with a hit that epitomises the word "sullen", but a lot of electronica was like that at the time. And Tony, a sporran with trews? Come on, man, do it properly, don the kilt, don't be shy!

    ABBA's Super Trouper is a song that sounds like it should be quite jolly, but a closer listen reveals it to be wistful, yearning and melancholy. It does sound as if she says she's calling from Tesco at the beginning, doesn't it?

    On the TV version of Sounds of the 80s recently they played the actual video for Blondie's The Tide is High, and I didn't recognise it because I'd grown up with the patchwork version shown on TOTP. There's a BBC Four doc about classic cover versions on tonight, will this feature?

    As for the guests, Dr Hook obviously couldn't be arsed with the publicity tour, and Stu Francis (a man who learned the value of a catchphrase in lieu of decent jokes) was being watched by how many people? Not even EastEnders gets that now!

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    1. I wonder if ABBA had a genuine bad experience of Glasgow, or if they just used it because it rhymed with "show"...

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    2. According to Wikipedia, the mention of Glasgow was the idea of a member of their British music publishers. Bit of a boring explanation, but they can't all be Smoke on the Water.

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    3. I think Glasgow rhymes with last show. I'll get my coat!

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    4. presumably abba's experience of playing glasgow wasn't as bad as sheena easton's?

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    5. Or as bad as Bonnie Tyler's ill-fated Reading Festival appearance circa 1980, when irate festival goers targeted her with plastic cider bottles which were full but not with cider....

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  7. It was a pleasure to see Gladys Knight and the Pips in the studio again with the Ashford & Simpson composition 'Bourgie Bourgie', which deserved to climb higher than it did. Alas, this would be the final appearance by the band on TOTP - and Gladys would enjoy only one more Top 40 hit in Britain as principal performer, with the internationally successful Bond theme 'Licence To Kill' in '89. She would score another Top 20 hit in the interim, in collaboration with Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Sir Elton John on 'That's What Friends Are For'.

    I'd forgotten about Young & Company's Top 20 hit - and a very fine post-disco platter it is, too.

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    1. I don't remember this one from Young & Company, but with a song title like that, no wonder it was given only the end-credits this week and also later on the 27th.

      I don't think there's video for this or an ITV performance, so we were not to see them in the flesh in 1980, and pity that TOTP didn't get Legs & Co to do this one, as it's quite a good disco hit.

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    2. Young and co did do a TV appearance of their one and only hit

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    3. They did indeed, it's on YouTube in OK-ish quality, from something called Star Club (at least that's what the neon sign looks like it reads). They look pretty much as you'd expect.

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    4. I can only think that this was not played as a main performance on the show because the Star Club footage (I wouldn't call it a video) was not yet available, and by the time it was, the song was already going down and out of the top 30.

      But wait, having just seen the Popscene notation for the 4th Dec TOTP edition, there seems to be a dispute as to whether or not Young & Company actually performed in the TOTP studio. Hmmm, the plot thickens!

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    5. young and company put out another single around this time called "waiting on your love", which although not disimilar to this hit i would recommend to fans of post-disco 80's dance music:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWVR8Oniijo

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  8. host: a shame it's slimy on what was generally otherwise a good show (it couldn't have been worse than the last one broadcast!). still, better him i suppose than JS or DLT as at least we got to see the debut of one of the most significant acts of the new decade (in cultural terms if not musical)

    maiden: i don't know if this was a re-recording or what (i think the singer was live but the rest mimed), but it all sounded so feeble for what is meant to be a band that defines heavy metal. had the rest of them had the same haircuts as the singer, then they could even have been mistaken for some new wavers!

    gladys knight: probably her finest moment for me, but like thx i was thinking it sounded a lot more 70's than 80's. i am guessing that the song's all about climbing the greasy pole, and "bourgie bourgie" is some kind of black slang for bourgoisie?

    lennon: never mind gladys sounding 70's, lennon sounds more 50's than 80's here. although i presume that was intentional on his part. i can't say i welcomed his return with any great celebration, and i certainly didn't care for the fact that this and "woman" (and not forgetting "imagine" with its musical tedium and lyrical hypocrisy) got played to death (ho ho) as a result of somebody shooting the guy

    liquid gold: brian poole had a number one hit with a song called "do you love me" and then followed it up with an identical song with the lyrics changed called "i can dance" in the hope of repeating that success. but no-one was fooled and it bombed as a result. liquid gold have done a similar thing here using "dance yourself dizzy" as the template, and hopefully it got similarly ignored by the great british record-buying public?

    spandau: i remember reading an interview with these guys in the NME around this time, and even though i hadn't heard a note of their music up to then it felt it was like the second coming with all the hype and ballyhoo! so i really hoped that their music would be as cool as they looked and acted, and i think at the time i felt this single achieved that. but now to be honest i really wonder just what the fuss was about, as it's a bit of a tuneless plodding dirge that sounds like it was recorded in a garden shed. i remember the big hoo-haa about them all wearing kilts, but it was only guitarist steve norman (looking god-like with his floppy blond fringe) who actually did...

    abba: i never liked this at the time, but like many i have come to realise that benny and bjorn were masters of their craft, even it they weren't doing stuff i particularly liked. and this is very representative of that. i don't think anyone's mentioned what a super trouper is yet - no, it's not those guys in white helmets in "star wars", but the spotlights that are used to illuminate a stage (i briefly worked in a theatre where i got to learn jargon like the flies and the limes, but i can't remember anyone pointing to a spotlight and saying "that's a super trouper")

    young & co: unlike the gladys knight track, this is very much the sound of what was to come to dancefloors in the new decade. however as a fan of both 70's and 80's disco/dance sounds i'm embarrassed to say i don't remember this, even though it got to no. 20!

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    1. There's a bloke with a moustache in the ABBA video using a super trouper, you see him over and over again and he even flashes it like an Aldis lamp.

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    2. I think Iron Maiden were completely live, the reason why they sounded feeble was that they would have been under instruction to play quietly (as was necessary in a TV studio). Sounds to me like everyone complied except the drummer! Which makes me wonder what the 'rules' actually were - they played live presumably because they asked to, after all, Iron Maiden were not really big in 1980 so if they had got all bolshy and said that they would only appear if they played live then surely the BBC would have simply booked another act?

      Agree about Liquid Gold, the only discernable difference to me was that the keyboard player was on the other side of the stage! It's true that you can't successfully follow up a hit single with something that sounds almost identical - Status Quo found that out with their second single (before they discovered their 'magic formula'!). I guess it's why the Beatles were so successful - I can recall one of them saying in an interview that they were always wanting to do something 'different'.

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    3. maiden obviously didn't have all those marshall stacks turned up to 11 then!

      not all copycat follow-ups to big hits bomb, a good case in point being the first two alvin stardust singles, that i have difficulty in telling apart (the first one made no. 2, and the second made no. 1!). can anyone think of others?

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  9. rather unforgiveably i forgot to comment on the bowie video! i loved the way bowie was lined up in profile in a row with his "band" (a couple of whom didn't actually play on the recording), and the homage at the end to the "ashes to ashes" video with somebody picking something off the floor in the same pretentious manner as steve strange and co did in front of the bulldozer...

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  10. ... and blondie. but two words will suffice here: cod-reggae!

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  11. Iron Maiden should have brought women in uniform on the stage with them if they were trying to make a point, or TOTP should have at least provided some. For example they could have had each one of Legs & Co in a different uniform, as this was regular work for them anyway. I think TOTP missed a trick here.

    For Abba, they were heading towards their second No.1 in a row after The Winner Takes It All, and the back end of 1980 turned out to be a good return for them, as the first half of the year they were nowhere to be seen in the charts since their very busy 1979, with no less than 5 Top Ten hit singles.

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    1. erm...have you seen who the woman in uniform is on the cover of the single Dory?!

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  12. Our Captain navigating us through the choppy waters of this week's top thirty is none other than Mr Simon Bates and we are up and running to a by-the-numbers metal dirge from the Bruce-Dickinson-less Iron Maiden. Named after a medieval torture device, the band maintained the connection between the name and painful suffering for many a year.

    Dame David Bowie gets a run out on 'film' for the rather mediocre Fashion. Quite clearly Simes is a bit of a Luddite where new tech is concerned. Last time out he called the radio 'the wireless' and here the Bowie vid is called a film.

    Gladys and her Pips. Never really liked this lot and with the exception of 'Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me' they failed to engender any interest from me.This is no exception.

    On either side of Bourgie Bourgie we have our guests for the week. Pre-Pips, we get head Hookers Ray and Dennis plugging in a self-deprecating manner their new album, whilst Post-Pips, it's Crackerjack host and 'comedian' Stu Francis - the obvious choice to plug the new Top Of The Pops compilation. Can't believe the audience didn't shout back 'Crackerjack' when they had the chance.

    My memory had Starting Over as a bit of a flop prior to Lennon's shooting - clearly I was wrong. It just sounds like an album track to me, and its all a bit of a shame that that was the kind of music he was producing at his end.

    Treat of the week - Spandau Ballet. I was a big fan of these when they first started. All of their early singles up to - but not including Lifeline - are still on the Shaky playlist. But from Lifeline onwards they veered into the middle of the road and were dead to me. You can tell by just looking at them, how proud they were to be on ToTP though.

    Chart rundown. Still playing fast and loose with the whole idea of what constitutes the lower third of the top thirty, Simes does manage to time the names with the pictures without overlapping - by the simple ruse of ditching the songs' titles completely.

    We also got some barrel scraping tosh from Liquid Gold, a weird re-hashed Blondie vid at number one, and Abba's last decent single.

    So to the scores. The Our-Tune meister cops for a 6, barely putting a foot wrong, but still being Simon Bates so it's not conceivably possible to score higher. Meanwhile the show gets 4 with only the Spands generating any interest.

    I'm not a robot.

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    1. Gladys Knight released one fantastic song as a single in 1979 called 'We don't make each other laugh any more'. I only heard it when Dale Winton played it as a 'new release' ahead of one of his 'Pick of the Pops' rundowns on a Saturday. Failed to chart sadly, but a wonderful Tony Macaulay song IMHO.

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  13. Incidentally, if you haven't seen the Spandau Ballet film from last year Soul Boys of the Western World, give it a look. Even if you don't like the band, or don't think you do, it's a very entertaining documentary with some excellent clips.

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    1. i've always had time for spandau ballet as even though they ultimately promised more than they delivered musically, they made a big impact on me as a wannabe pop star with their attitude and ideals. gary kemp in particular has always impressed me with his views and outlook, and i would recommend that anyone interested in the new romantic movement read his entertaining and well-crafted biography. so i shall definitely be looking out for the documentary... even though i would watch it with a little envy, wishing i had been a member of the band!

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  14. I thought this was quite a mediocre show overall, but saved late in the day by Spandau Ballet and ABBA. I've always felt that Spandau were a bit second division compared to some of their contemporaries, but this is one of their best, a compelling bit of synth pop with some great vocals from Tony Hadley. They are also the first true representatives of the New Romantic movement we have seen on the show, as I don't think Adam & the Ants count - while they got lumped in with the scene, they weren't really part of it. ABBA meanwhile triumph again with the title track of a superb album - it was actually the first album I ever listened to, as when I was very young in the early-mid 80s my Mum used to put the record on to keep me quiet until the kids' programmes got underway. I hope Frida wasn't too hot in that hideous jumper - under some super trouper lights I imagine she would have been sweltering!

    The rest was a bit tedious, if I'm honest. Iron Maiden's rather clichéd offering was lyrically challenged and seemingly bereft of much of a studio audience - did some of the crowd turn up late that night? Bowie's video was mildly diverting, but I still think the song is turgid, and the Liquid Gold effort was a shameless facsimile of their previous hits. They are really starting to get on my wick now (singing into a rose - how hilarious), so I hope we don't see much more of them. Three weeks on from their brief and largely silent encounter with DLT, Gladys and the Pips are back, but this song feels like a tame disco cash-in and did nothing for me, though Gladys' voice does give it a veneer of class it doesn't deserve.

    Starting Over is a tune that seems to divide opinion, but I've always rather liked it - I would certainly take it over the likes of Imagine any day. As has already been noted, Legs seem to have been let loose in the fancy dress box for this one and left by Flick to do their own thing. A nice enough routine anyway, but it does feel strange to watch this now knowing, unlike those in the studio that night, what would happen a few weeks later. The Tide is High, meanwhile, is one of the weakest singles Blondie put out. It amazes me that they could go from the brilliance of Atomic to this lazy effort in less than a year, and though they would briefly recover some form with Rapture in 1981, it was essentially downhill for them from this point on.

    While he still gives me the creeps, I must confess that Master Bates has improved a bit since his debut. Though there were a couple of howlers (we will "maybe" see the number 1?), he does seem quite adept at interviewing. Just a shame that Dr Hook and Stu bloody Francis had nothing of any interest to say. How on earth Stu Francis managed to sustain a career for as long he did I don't know, given that his act was based solely around that mind-numbing catchphrase. Still, his boasting about Crackerjack's ratings here is rather ironic, as just four years later it would get the axe.

    Incidentally, nobody's mentioned it but U2 got their first ever name-check on this edition - their debut appearance can't be all that far off now...

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    1. One other point to note - it's an interesting coincidence that we have present and future number 1s featured on this show that both use "number 1" in their lyrics!

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    2. Hey, Stu Francis didn't base his act solely around that mind-numbing catchphrase, he based his act around an array of mind-numbing catchphrases. Ooh, I could crush a grape... Ooh, I could jump off a doll's house... Ooh, I could wrestle an action man... Ooh, I could test drive a Tonka... Yes, I was one of the 8 million.

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    3. I used to enjoy the gunge (I assume that's where Noel Edmonds nicked the idea from), but even as a kid Stu got up my nose. Now you mention it, those variations on the basic theme do come creeping back into my unwilling brain...

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    4. frida made a bit of a fashion faux-pas there by choosing to wear a pair of big dangly earrings, and then having them fail to dangle by dint of also donning a great big roll-neck sweater! but she's no stranger to that kind of thing, as the awful perm she got a couple of years back is still in evidence...

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    5. my time of "crackerjack" was the don mclean (no, not the folk singer!) and peter glaze era, so although i have a vague recollection of him i'm not familiar with the schtick of mr francis - were the jokes/catchphrases self-deprecating comments on his lack of stature?

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    6. I don't recall Stu being especially self-deprecating - I think the catchphrase (and variations thereof) was more his way of establishing his credentials as a camp comedian, in the vein of Larry Grayson or Duncan "chase me" Norvelle.

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    7. No, I think he was just being silly. Ooh, I could rip a tissue.

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    8. I noticed the U2 reference. The master made it sound as if they had had previous albums when in fact Boy would be the first of (too) many.

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    9. Peter Glaze was the original Homer Simpson. Where else does that "Dohh!" come from?

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    10. did U2 actually get to appear on TOTP at this time? to my recollection i don't think they managed to do so until 1983 with "new years day". i do remember seeing them perform "i will follow" on some ITV kids afternoon show (it might have been "moondogs matinee")

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    11. musically the U2 shark-jumping moment for me was "the joshua tree" album. but sadly i can't even listen to their decent early stuff these days, thanks to their singer becoming such a prick (in his case by exhorting others to "make poverty history" whilst continuing to hoard millions in offshore bank accounts). i have similar issues with wacko (the lunatic lifestyle), madonna (carrying on way past her sell-by-date with ever-more desperate attempts to try to keep up with the kidz) and morrissey (a one-trick pony regurgitating his schtick ever-more thinly) - does anyone else here have difficulty listening to the early good stuff by since-fallen idols?

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    12. Wilberforce - I've done a bit of research on the Popscene website and U2 would make their TOTP debut with Fire in August 1981. I think George Michael's antics in recent years, and the increasingly monotonous nature of his music, has to a degree made it more depressing to listen to the excellent stuff he released with Wham (from 1984 onwards) and solo (up to Listen without Prejudice in 1990). I remember him being interviewed once and saying that he needed to smoke pot regularly to be creative. Sadly, I think it destroyed his creativity and has helped to ruin his life more generally.

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    13. Wilberforce, I believe U2 first appear on TOTP in August 81 with Fire.

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    14. john & chris: thanks for the U2 info (not sure if i'll want to watch them, assuming they appear next year!)

      re: george michael - what that suggests is that andrew ridgeley was the real talent in wham! (!)

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  15. I've just been checking out the video for this Iron Maiden effort, and indeed it does feature women uniform as nurses and soldiers, but it might have been too distracting to have them on stage with them in the TOTP studio.

    Considering that this video was probably not shown on TV at the time if Iron Maiden were available for the TOTP studio, then it's worth a look, as this was the only week they featured on TOTP, with no further climbs up the charts.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jkREP29170

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    1. 1980 was indeed the first year of Iron Maiden in the charts, and this hit was their third one, and first one with a video. The debut hit in February called Running Free did have a debut TOTP studio performance, but the second one called Sanctuary was unfortunately not seen cos of the TOTP strike during the summer.

      So this new third hit called Women In Uniform was the first of theirs to have a TOTP studio performance and a music video to complete the work for this hit.

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    2. Suffice to say, it was also the first appearance of the legendary skull in this video, which was to become part and parcel of the Iron Maiden image, and also in their later more successful years when Bruce Dickinson took over.

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  16. On two occasions on this episode, Simon Bates uses the term 'film' instead of 'video', as the music video concept was not yet in full flow, as in 1980 only around 50% of hits had a video made for them.

    Bates first refers to the Bowie video in the introduction to what's coming up in the show, as a 'superb new film' and then when introducing the Abba video as the highest climber, he says "and this is the first time you will have seen this film of Super Trouper."

    DJ's were not talking 'video' terminology yet, and so this is an important phase in the history of the music charts, and it will be interesting to know the first time the word 'video' was officially coined and accepted in the history of the music charts, but it was certainly not yet in november 1980, judging by Simon Bates's description.

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    1. Simes was technically correct - for many years all the higher-budget 'videos' were shot on film with just the post-production in the electronic domain. I don't think it was until the 1990s before they could make video look like film - and in my opinion that was when the whole concept of 'video recording' went into terminal nosedive.

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  17. Manorak got the 20 November 80 edition on Vimeo

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  18. I'm enjoying this brace of TOTPs, as they're just before I recall watching the show regularly (around the time of the Imagine/Woman takeover- spoiler). So most performances are new to me, although the songs are well-known.

    It's good to watch these episodes with half a mind to how they'd have been perceived at the time. Surely Super Trouper, whilst only no.13 at the time, sounded like a guaranteed no.1?

    The same probably can't be said for ...Starting Over, but I disagree with the majority here, as I've always loved the song. Admittedly, part of the reason may be the poignancy from what was to come.
    We need to see this performance with the benefit of foresight to appreciate its potency. We know what the November 1980 viewers didn't.

    I may have long known what a super trouper was, but it's only now that I've realised what the first line of the song's chorus is. I've been gracing the shower with "and like a Super Trouper..." rather than "Tonight, the Super Trouper..." I'm suitably humbled...

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    1. Super Trouper was the first single in quite a while where the group was very happy, as the style of their new video showed, and for a change the women in Abba they were not whining about finding love and their desperation to be accepted by a suitable gentleman for a relationship, as in their last single Winner Takes It All, and many of their previous releases.

      What many people liked to see from Abba was finally here with Super Trouper, that the women seemed very happy, and with the colours and circus performers, thank goodness we didn't endure another set of 'desperate for a lover' lyrics.

      For the first time since Gimmee Gimmee Gimmee at the end of 1979, we had the sparkle back in Abba, and for me Super Trouper, Gimmee Gimmee and Summer Night City, all bring home that feel-good feeling, and Abba could very well have stayed at No.1 till Xmas, had the tragic events with John Lennon not occurred the following month, cutting short their well-deserved reign at No.1.

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    2. There's a strong argument for "80s Abba" against "70s Abba". OK, there's a lot less songs to judge on, but Winner Takes It All / One of Us/ The Day Before You Came? All, to me, the finest examples of their knack of writing emotional pop. And that's without even mentioning Su-pa-par Trou-pa-par..

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    3. As I mentioned above, I think ABBA reached their creative peak with the Super Trouper album, which really shows how mature Benny and Bjorn's songwriting had become by this time. There is also some good stuff on The Visitors (including One of Us and The Day Before You Came) but it feels less cohesive and I think it was partly a sense that the creative wells were running dry, as well as the band's well-documented personal problems, that persuaded them to call it a day at that point.

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    4. I think all the songs on 'Super Trouper' would have been hits. 'The Day before you came' wasn't on 'The Visitors' orginally but appeared on 'The First 10 Years' double album compilation. We still had the fabulous 'Lay all your love on me' from 'Super Trouper' to be released as a 12" only single in 1981, and turned out to be the biggest 12" only seller ever at the time, reaching no.7 on 12" sales alone.

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  19. I wonder if Abba were as pleased to reach the chart summit as this lot supposedly were?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aXFwIgIzaU

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    1. Good Lord, I much prefer Abba!

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    2. griff's "hair" is better than frida's!

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  20. Pleased to say that tonight on Vintage TV (Sky channel 369) it is the turn of Jeff Lynne of ELO in the My Vintage series, where he selects his favourite songs of all time, and discusses his career from beginnings to date, and has just released new dates for a new 2016 UK tour for ELO.

    Suffice to say, there is still one final release from the Xanadu album on the TOTP reruns on BBC4, albeit with Legs & Co on this one in the 27th Nov 1980 edition which I believe is on BBC4 next week after the Sky At Night break this week. So there's lots to look forward to from ELO this month, old and new!

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  21. I'm really not enjoying these episodes since the strike. It all seems to be far too rushed and superficial for my liking. This era contains some of my first memories of the show so I thought I'd enjoy it more but there you go. Hopefully it will improve going into 1981.

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  22. I noticed today that Tony Hadley is taking part in this year's I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. How the mighty have fallen...

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    1. presumably gary kemp's still not giving him a big enough share (if any at all!) of spandau songwriting royalties then?

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    2. Seeing as how Gary wrote all the songs, the rest of the band don't get any royalties from them at all.

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    3. the reason the others (apart from brother martin) ended up in court taking on gary kemp over the spandau royalties was because whilst spandau were a going concern gary gave them a share of his songwriting earnings, even though he was the only member of the band to write anything of significance. but when they split he decided to keep all future monies for himself. but even though it seems they all managed to overcome their differences to reunite a few years back (before that tony hadley used the old eagles quote that "hell would freeze over before they reformed"), it has never been made clear whether gary has now changed that arrangement in any way...

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    4. of course spandau are not the only act to take their songwriting/royalties grievances to court: the smiths being a particularly notorious case (as it seems lyrics and melody are still deemed what determines musical copyright, technically morrissey should get all the royalties for their records!). i know someone who was a good friend of the bassist in the 'classic" line-up of the buzzcocks, and he once told me the guy left the band because he found it difficult working with other members who were making 100 times more money than he was because they were credited with writing the songs...

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  23. Glad I wasn’t in that miniscule studio audience. No murmuring over the music from the crowd this week, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d revolted. The studio acts consisted solely of the four groups whose singles weren’t in the top 30 (loads of songs going down leaving next to no choice) and, of those, only Spandau’s tune made it to the mugshots.

    What had Bates taken before this show? His Spandau prediction was right, but was the Bowie video - sorry, film - really a ‘beautiful thing’? It looked art school weird if you ask me, complete with a Bjork lookalike (in a mask) in that soup queue - loved the bass drum on stage, mind you. Was Liquid Gold’s disco 'inside the 30'? Nope, and never was. Was Abba’s rise the biggest jump? From outside the chart, yes, but it was a new entry rather than a climber, which surely is what constitutes a jump. And did he really say "four eyes” to that girl with glasses before introducing the three eyes of Dr. Hook?

    Iron Maiden’s effort had a bit of a weak tea sound to it, and they sure kicked on a gear or two with the introduction of Bruce Dickinson’s more powerful vocals. Does anyone play Uxbridge or Redcar these days? Certainly not soon-to-be major bands with TOTPs and chart singles already under their belts.

    Ah, our last sighting of The Pips, with their matching car headlight waistcoats and perfect synchronisation. Watch and weep, Sheer Elegance. Great vocal performance by Gladys Knight - shame it was for a so-so song.

    Here we go, another week where the bottom third of the countdown overruns. I couldn’t get my head round the disparate solo routines, but I loved The Leggers’ levitating robes – beat that, Derren Brown – and I especially loved Rosie in that outfit. I had to turn the telly down – I mean heat, not volume!

    Bloody hell, you could sing all three of Liquid Gold’s top 40 hits over the same backing track at karaoke! Pretty sure we won’t see that idiot drummer again – real shame. To think they might have reckoned they’d have a chance of beating Bucks Fizz in the Song For Europe final. I wonder what their losing song sounded like?

    Abba’s video bored me – at least Frida’s hair wasn’t as shocking as in their video for “Under Attack” – and Blondie’s looked like it was knocked up at Argos. On this occasion, for my money, those two chart topping acts were eclipsed by future chart toppers Tony ‘Three Notes’ Hadley and the lads, from the days before ‘Spiny’ Norman was stuck on sax duty. Martin Kemp is the new recipient of the Paul Weller Frantic Chewing Award.

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    1. Liquid Gold's losing song in 'A Song For Europe' was 'Don't Panic', which reached No.42 in the chart. Now there's a first: a chart single titled after a catchphrase from a Perry & Croft sitcom! Not that it made a lot of difference to the song, which sounds like almost every other single the cheesy disco band made. As for their Swedish-born drummer Wally (real name Eddie) Rothe, he probably eats too many additive-packed Haribo sweets.

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    2. steve norman got lumbered with the nickname "spiny" by smash hits magazine - apparently he was some kind of cartoon character, but (like steve, who i recall was rather justifiably non-plussed by the appellation) i had never heard of him!

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    3. arthur, if form is anything to go by then liquid gold's losing euro song probably sounded like "dance yourself dizzy"...

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    4. steve norman was spandau's own version of the rolling stones' brian jones, a musical jack-of-all-trades who could and would play a variety of different instruments on recordings. but like jones he didn't show any discernable talent for songwriting, and also like jones ended up being resentful towards those in their relevant bands who did actually write the material - in norman's case he unsuccessfully argued in court that he should get a share of the royalties from "true" as the sax solo was a signifcant reason for its success, and that he (and not gary kemp) "wrote" it!

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    5. Done a quick bit of research. If we make to to 1981, we will actually get to see Liquid Gold's underwhelming Song For Europe effort, the last of their eight appearances on the show. Never a band to pass up an opportunity in the studio and fling out a video for TOTP instead.

      Spiny Norman was in a Monty Python sketch - a huge imaginary hedgehog whose size depended on the mood of the person who thought they could see him.

      I forgot, I was surmising that Gladys and the Pips were in the studio for this show and they hadn't recorded their tune the same day as being interviewed for a previous show. So, this quieter audience may only have seen three studio acts, which is still an improvement on some weeks!

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    6. I think Spiny Norman' appeared in the Piranha Brothers sketch...Doug and Dinsdale.

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  24. I see that, for the countdown, they were still using that sub-aqua sounding Stephanie Mills video which made T-Connection's 'film' seem quadrophonic in comparison.

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  25. I was bored at lunchtime and, thanks to 45cat and YouTube, I decided to do some more research on everyone’s favourite cheesy disco act. Brace yourselves!

    After their first appearance on TOTP, Liquid Gold’s chart avoiding follow-up “Mr. Groovy (It Feels So Nice)”, complete with flange guitar intro, had a slightly different sound to what would become the very tried (and tired) and over-trusted hit formula discovered with their next single.

    Eurovision hopeful “Don’t Panic” was indeed a barrel scraping third consecutive re-write of “Dance Yourself Dizzy” and deserved to get nowhere. The law of diminishing returns had set in by this stage with the single peaking at 42 and, for the second successive single, a TOTP slot failed to haul the facsimile into the mugshots.

    After its failure (and I hope you’re sitting down for this bit, you need to) Liquid Gold followed it up with…a ballad! Yes, really! “One Of Us Fell In Love” had a similar tempo, style and structure to Earth, Wind and Fire’s “After The Love Is Gone” but it didn’t sound an obvious hit and it wasn’t.

    Possibly in desperation, “My Baby’s Baby”, the B-side of their first minor hit (remember Kid Jensen’s introduction handing a cocktail to Ellie?), was released as the next A-side. Considerably faster than their hit formula, it didn’t sell – maybe because everyone who wanted it already had it as the flipside to “Anyway You Want It”.

    Another change of direction came with “Where Did We Go Wrong”, an uptempo ballad apparently intended for Hot Chocolate but they didn’t want it. Obviously, Liquid Gold had a different sound to Hot Chocolate and, despite their best efforts, their fifth and final chart single managed four weeks in the chart reaching no higher than 56.

    There was then a gap of two years before what looks like their final release in Autumn 1984 on a new label, the lesser spotted Ecstasy. “Turn The Tables” was written by future Kylie chartbusting songwriter Rob Davis (yes, the guitarist from Mud who, by their end, had become a five-piece with a female singer!) but it sank so deep I can’t even find it on YouTube.

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  26. After my enforced summer break due to leaving my previous job, then leaving the country for a holiday in the lands of Men At Work and Crowded House, I'm finally back up to speed with the repeats!

    This one wasn't the best sadly. Simes nearly made me sick at one point when he read out the title of one of the Top 10 songs (can't remember) in an incredibly sleazy way.

    Maiden I'm not interested in if Bruce Dickinson's not singing, the Bowie song is average, but I actually really like the Gladys Knight tune. My understanding is that 'Bourgie Bourgie' was some sort of fashion / lifestyle trend in part of the US (New York?) at the time.

    The John Lennon song bored me at the time, but I like it much more now - possibly because it hasn't been as overplayed as 'Imagine' and (to a lesser extent) 'Woman'. I assume that those coats at the beginning of the Legs routine were meant to be a nod to those that the Fabs were wearing for 'Help!'

    Liquid Gold - oh dear, oh dear. Someone at my student radio station used to play this song all the time, for some unfathomable reason. Even though 'Dance yourself dizzy' was in the record library!

    Spandau Ballet - now, unlike wilberforce, I think Gary Kemp is a massive prick who is insufferably arrogant. Tony Hadley seems so much more genuine and I definitely sided with him and the others against the Kemps in the great royalties debate. Sadly Mr.Hadley has now become a bit of a club singer. As for their tunes, I like a handful of them both before and after they became less edgy. 'Musclebound' is one of the worst singles ever released, though.

    For some reason I can never quite work out, 'Super Trouper' has always been my least favourite of their singles. Ditto for 'The Tide Is High' for Blondie.

    One question about that TOTP LP - given that many compilations like it are stockpiled in charity shops up and down the UK, how come I've never seen it before in my life?!

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    1. good to see you back noax!

      yes, i like and respect gary kemp as a social commentator of the times, but i can see why he might get up a few people's noses. i also like robert elms for the same reason, and a lot of people would think gary kemp a pussycat compared to him! as for tony hadley, i think he did an amazing cover version of a song i never thought could have been bettered: duran duran's "save a prayer". obviously being aware that tone was a bit on his uppers having been denied his "rightful" share of the spandau royalties, simon le bon even lent a hand on his old "rival"s version with some backing vocals!

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  27. Boring but true, Spandau Ballet managed five consecutive hits which had just one word in their title - "Instinction", "Lifeline", "Communication", "True" and "Gold".

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  28. I have no recollection of this Iron Maiden track but a lot of metal acts left me cold back then. It s not a bad song but lyrically a bit dubious today.

    The girl standing next to Simon looks a bit too gleeful at the sight of Dennis and Ray from Dr Hook and it's a bit mean of him to call that other girl "old four eyes" when poor Ray only has one eye.

    Gladys Knight looks stunning, a lot better than she did when she was performing Midnight Train To Georgia 5 years earlier. Never did work out what this song was about but it's a good solid tune and a great performance.

    When Simon's doing his exciting Pop News there's a tall bespectacled nerd at the back who keeps trying to get his ugly mug on screen by bending his neck in. He's wearing a paper pirates hat at such an angle it looks like he has a propeller on his head. I wish he did then he could fly away.

    Oh no it's Stu Francis from Crackerjack. Where's Peter Glaze when you need him?

    Legs shaking a leg to Lennon with a strange stage arrangement that makes it look like they have all been filmed separately. A good routine but not sure what it all has to do with the lyrics.

    Tall speccy bloke is back when Si does the charts.I see ABBA have now lost their backwards B.

    I hated Liquid gold back in 1980 and I'm starting to hate them again. The high pitched "yeah, yeah, yeah" bit is nicked from Disco Tex's Get Dancing while the rest is a rewrite of their own last hit. The lead singer was a bit Carol Decker-esque - a great voice but face you wanna slap. The less said about the drummer's choice of clothing the better.

    Spandau debut on TOTP and deliver a good performance. I had mixed feelings about them at the time, I quite liked the song but hated all the pompous dressing up crap.

    ABBA on video, the Top 10, then Blondie on video. The advent of videos (or "films" as Simon calls them) must have been a welcome break for groups back then. They have the expense and trouble of making them but at least it saves the trouble of turning up to mime.

    And a very brief play out with the crowd dancing to Young and Co.

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