Friday, 8 January 2016

Just Can't Get Enough ~ The Story of 1981



The annual curtain raiser to a new Top of the Pops year is a story of hair, make-up, synthesisers, silly string in mouths, cheerleaders planted in the audience, the end of Legs & Co's clothes, the end of Legs & Co, the beginning of Zoo, the devil's chord, Brit Funk, New Romantics, amazing videos, multi-coloured flying record opening titles, riots, mass unemployment, Michael Hurll, fire-eaters, mums coming into school to take their kids to be stars on Top of the Pops, a royal wedding, getting on bikes, Mike Read not looking much older, Richard Skinner looking very much older, and horses in Covent Garden. But most of all, some quite brilliant pop songs!

1981 really is going to be a fantastic year to re-live again and as if the Story Of hadn't whetted your appetite for it enough then straight afterwards it was time for some Big Hits ~



Big Hits 1981:

Adam and the Ants ~ KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER
The Ants' only appearance in the studio in a phenomenally successful 1981.

Ultravox ~ VIENNA
A song famed for its stunning video, this looks like the studio performance from the Xmas 81 special.

Teardrop Explodes ~ REWARD
Surprisingly, this was the band's only top ten hit

Kim Wilde ~ KIDS IN AMERICA
Apparently Kim was totally in awe of being the same studio as Madness while she performed this amazing song.

Duran Duran ~ PLANET EARTH
The classic hits keep on coming, this time with a bespoke planet earth made for the band by the show.

Sugar Minott ~ GOOD THING GOING
His only top ten hit, indeed his only top 40 hit.

Phil Collins ~ IN THE AIR TONIGHT
Not a very 80's look but it certainly is a very 80's sound for Phil's mega-classic. And some similar camera effects they used for Turn it on Again last year.

Linx ~ INTUITION
The only top ten hit for this 'Brit Funk' band headed by David Grant.

Tenpole Tudor ~ SWORDS OF  A THOUSAND MEN
Still flying the flag for punk! I never realised he's been in Game of Thrones!

Odyssey ~ GOING BACK TO MY ROOTS
Still flying the flag for disco!

The Specials ~ GHOST TOWN
A song that captured an era like very few others ever have, and with Terry's hair almost in place, the birth of the Fun Boy Three!

Shaking Stevens ~ GREEN DOOR
Who could have predicted what an astonishing year 1981 would be for Shaky?

Soft Cell ~ TAINTED LOVE
One of the first 12 inch singles I was ever aware of, and the second biggest seller of 1981.

Spandau Ballet ~ CHANT NO.1(I DON'T NEED THIS PRESSURE ON)
With a little help from their friends Beggar & Co in the horn section.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark ~ SOUVENIR
Paul Humphreys taking the lead vocal on this ghostly tune.

Depeche Mode ~ JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH
This was the band's final single with Vince Clarke before he left for Yazoo.

Altered Images ~ HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Gregory's Girl actress Clare Grogan couldn't have looked more 80's than this if she tried! And a bit of help from the last days of Legs & Co at the end.

Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin ~ IT'S MY PARTY
The only top 40 hit for the duo, but it did get to number one.

Human League ~ DON'T YOU WANT ME
We'll miss nearly all of their studio performances on BBC4 unfortunately due to yewtree, but here they are with the year's biggest selling song, and some silly string right in the cake hole!


Coming up next then is the edition from January 8th 1981 next Thursday, swiftly followed a day later with January 22nd.

Meaning that we get our first skipped show of the year, the DLT hosted edition from January 15th.
It's going to be a busy time on here!


65 comments:

  1. 1981 was certainly a memorable year for me. it was my final one as a teenager, and it started with me living on the dole at "home", being forced out the door every (cold winter) weekday morning by my (obviously norman tebbit-loving) parents to look for work (in fact i whiled away the time doing everything i could think of - on the very small amount of dole money i had left for myself after they took their substantial cut - except "doing a yosser" as i later termed it!). and ending it still signing on, but living in a new town and playing keyboards in one of several bands that i deluded myself was my ticket to fame and fortune and my own forthcoming appearances of "top of the pops"!

    it seems funny, but perhaps because of what was going on in my own life at the time, even though we are now just as far away from 1981 as we were from 1976 five years earlier when these re-runs began, it seems a whole lot closer to me! as usual the "story of" doc was well-made (and certainly portrayed the year as i remembered it), and also as usual it was fascinating to see some of those youthful faces now in middle-age, with some wearing better than others (i remember some fashion writer once remarking that women of a certain age with heavy make-up and long blonde hair looked like transvestites, and kim wilde certainly fell into that category!). i felt it was a shame though that steve strange (one of the most important movers and shakers of that year) was no longer around to make a contribution to the show...

    thanks to my personal circumstances i didn't actually get to watch a lot of these shows the first time around (and even when i did it was usually on a second-hand black-and-white telly that i remember costing me over a week's dole money - if you told kids that today they'd laugh at you!), so i'm looking forward to watching the shows (that they allow us to see) in glorious colour! who knows, bearing in mind that prominent acts of the year such as the human league have been affected by the yewtree nonsense, the beeb might even finally cave in and make compendium shows that cut out the "offensive" hosts? also, having seen a glimpse of 1982 at the end of the show, i am hopeful that we will now get at least one more great year of what for me was probably the golden era of pop music...?

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    1. That must make you 53 now Wilberforce, that is 6 years older than me.

      In 1981 we still had only one TV in the house, and I could not see these shows every week, cos my older brother was not into TOTP, and preferred whatever ITV had on at the time, and there were always arguments on Thursday nights for TOTP for me or whatever appealed to him on the other channel, so for me too these re-runs this year will give me a sense of completeness, where I have my own TV now and can also record and keep on my SkyBox without the need for a VHS or DVD recorder!

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    2. i had the same problem in the late 1960's when i wanted to watch the itc action series "the champions", but was usually outvoted by the rest of my family who insisted on watching some lightweight crap on bbc1 featuring a much-loved family entertainer. if only my mother was still around, i wish i could now remind her how she denied me watching what i still consider a seminal show in favour of someone who's now (in)famous as a pedo (have you guessed who it is yet?)!

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  2. The story of 1981 - Highlights of tis show for me were seeing Richard Skinner just as energetic now in 2015 talking about 1981. It seems he hasn't aged at all internally, just externally with grey hair.
    It's like the Noel Edmonds phenomenon where many say he hasn't aged since the 70s, looking and feeling the same in 2015 with the same energy.

    Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode looking just as thin now as he did in 1981, but now with a slight stubble and no more ageing than that.

    Ah the story of the Human League and how Phil Oakey found his two 18-year-old front girls for the band in a sheffield night club, and how they couldn't dance when they were selected. Brilliant move Oakey!

    Adam & The Ants found more success and finally no.1 status by changing strategy in early 1981 to send their video to TOTP and stopped appearing in the studio. This bore more fruit and more success for them in the charts than their 1980 strategy to do everything in the TOTP studio.

    God, by the description of Legs & Co getting to the most skimpiest clothes possible in 1981, I just can't wait for these re-runs, even though it was their last year on TOTP. Was Pauline replaced by a new member of Legs & Co? Certainly by the footage of The Birdie Song, which was Legs & Co's final performance, it seemed very much so.

    Zoo taking over from Legs & Co by doing their first performance to ELO's Twiglight in November 1981, wow!

    The show ending with the Xmas No.1 by Human League's Don't You Want Me was just fantastic, talking about their freezing outdoor video, and Susan Sully in a red dress.

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    1. i was going to mention in my own review that as one who avoids watching tv talent shows like the plague, i had no idea who carrie grant was until i looked her up on wiki afterwards. but i have to say that she's one hot milf (or is it gilf now?)!

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    2. Dory

      Pauline Peters left Legs & Co in March 1981 to start a family as she had married in the previous year. Anita Chellamah was her replacement who continued to perform with Zoo and a year later, in the group Toto Coelo.

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    3. I have to say Noel Edmonds looks rather creepy these days, with his terrible dyed beard! Given that he technically died for two minutes back in the nineties (his heart stopped beating), and had had other health problems since, Dave Gahan looked very well indeed.

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  3. Big Hits 1981 - well Vienna by Ultravox was certainly a mover and shaker for practically anyone with an appreciation for good music and good pop video. Certainly this studio performance tried to recreate aspects of the video, such as bringing in the ballerina girl to the studio, and Midge Ure showing his other side, by wearing a black cap and chain on his face, and leathers which were not seen in the video.

    Tenpole Tudor - I always thought that these guys were the very worst at miming, i.e., the most out of synch miming you could ever see on TOTP. Not a bad song though!

    Odyssey - what a shame that TOTP could not get them into the studio in 1980 where they had their best success, cos by 1981 their success was beginning to decline, an yes, even with this Going Back To My Roots.

    Spandau Ballet - I always wondered why Chant no.1 was so different in style to their regular music, and only now I'm finding out it was cos of Beggar & Co horn section that Spandau was mesmerised by, and it's still my favourite of Spandau's catalog of hits, based on this quirky phenomenon.

    Altered Images - Claire Grogan always brought a breath of fresh air to my Thursday night viewing, and seeing her do Happy Birthday with Legs & Co in front of the stage was also quite inspiring for a 13-year-old like me at the time. Claire seemed to have so much sex appeal, even with her modest clothing.

    It's My Party And I Cry If I Want To - this was one of the best No.1's of the entire decade, and still resonates so well in 2015, and one of those that is timeless in its appeal. And a good TOTP studio performance too!

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  4. I see Angelo has come up with a left-field title for this year's blog! Not one I was expecting, but quite appropriate in a way, as 1981 saw a new generation of acts colonise the charts. I was a toddler in 1981, so don't have any personal memories of the year, though I do remember that my parents didn't get a colour TV until 1983 or '84...

    I think the documentary and the compilation were the best that we have seen since the repeat runs began. The narrative in the documentary was refreshingly free of the snidey criticisms of the show that have characterised the previous editions, and both programmes concentrated on celebrating a great year in pop music. Some of the clips and comments in The Story of... were extremely interesting, from Midge Ure describing how the Vienna video was made to that footage of a pre-fame Boy George dancing to the Jets - I'm surprised that hasn't featured more regularly on nostalgia clip shows.

    The account of the demise of Legs & Co was also fascinating, and you could sense Sue still felt indignant that their last proper routine was to The Birdie Song! Legs did actually make one final appearance on the show a couple of weeks after that, as background dancers for Haircut 100, and Sue would get a much more dignified send-off dancing solo to Jon & Vangelis in December. Carrie Grant has evidently never seen or heard of Ruby Flipper, given that she seemed to think TOTP was breaking new ground having a black male dancer in Zoo...

    The compilation was even better, doing a great job of showcasing the large number of fantastic songs that were in the charts in '81, and studiously avoiding the awful novelty records that disfigured the year somewhat. My only big criticism was that they didn't take the opportunity to feature at least one other Human League performance, as Don't You Want Me is the only one of their hits from that year that BBC4 viewers will get to see on the original shows. I was particularly pleased to see OMD included, as they were ignored on the documentary despite Architecture and Morality being (in my view) the outstanding album of the year and generating several big hit singles.

    Like Wilberforce, I am hoping that brief preview of 1982 at the end of the doc is a signal that the repeats will continue into next year, as we are now in the midst of a real golden age for pop. I can't wait for the regular 1981 shows to begin now, and am looking forward to commenting on next week's triple bill...

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    1. It was a bit of a last minute title change for the main blog name - I was going to go with Just Can't Get Enough, but I figured that new life was being brought to 1981 just as like last year when we made 1980 turn it on again :-)

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  5. Sad to hear of the death today of Ed Stewart, also known as "Stewpot" who hosted the occasional edition of TOTP in the 70s, and was a regular host of Crackerjack, and Radio 1 DJ.

    His sudden death from a stroke at the age of only 74 comes too soon after the death of Lemmy, who was very active with Motorhead at around the same time in the 70s and 80s.

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    1. Stewpot was a good, solid, consistent DJ, especially for the young 'uns, and, let's not forget he was an excellent host of "Crackerjack". Ed'll stay in our memories on this forum for the competition edition of TOTP he hosted, when Ed mentioned at least three (and possibly five?) times in the show there was a competition to find a name for the successors to Pan's People.

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    2. Stewpot is one of the first DJs I ever listened to (on Junior Choice, natch) and he was always great. Somewhere I still have a cassette with a few links of his from around 1976!

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    3. also recently departed is kitty kallen, one of the first of the true "one hit wonders" (the acts that had a number one hit single, and nothing else in the charts ever apart from that)

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    4. "Little Things Mean A Lot", recently re-worked sympathetically in an advert for Axa.

      Enough people loved Lemmy to buy "Ace Of Spades" last week and posthumously send the tune to its highest ever chart position of number 13.

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    5. I was reading that Stewpot met his wife when she was 13 and he was 34, and had to wait till she was 17 to get married and he was 38. Wow, how many people do that nowadays?

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    6. a good job that stewpot never presented any forthcoming totp shows then, as they might have been banned as well on the presumption he was also a pedo!

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    7. I was reading an obituary of Stewpot today, and apparently Princess Margaret got him to play Car 67 by Driver 67 (as seen on these repeats a couple of years ago), for her mother's 80th birthday. According to Margaret, the Queen Mum really liked it, and thought it told a touching story!

      The obit also claimed that Radio 2 replaced Stewpot with Steve Wright in the afternoons because poor old Ed was deemed "out of date." To my ears, Wright's unchanging schtick sounds far more outdated than Stewpot's gentle patter!

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  6. I haven't watched the documentary yet but I did watch 'Big Hits' earlier - it was mostly good, though I'd gladly never hear 'Tainted Love', 'Just Can't Get Enough' or 'Don't You Want Me' ever again. I can understand why they were included, although the last of those is particularly annoying as this was their one chance to show us a different Human League song (preferably 'Love Action') which we will not see later in the year.

    The captions were for the most part, better written and more informative than usual, though there seemed to also be more of them than usual!
    Sadly, a common error was repeated. The biggest selling single of 1981 was 'Tainted Love'. 'Don't You Want Me' has sold more SINCE, but was not the biggest seller at the end of the year.....

    Now, who can tell us which songs and / or performances in this show are from Yewtreed programmes so I can work out whether I need to keep hold of 'Big Hits 81' or not!

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    1. It's quite a long list Noax:


      Here's a list of songs which will not be featured on TOTP 1981 this year.

      Light of the World - I Shot the Sheriff
      Stevie Wonder - I Ain't Gonna Stand For It (Legs and Co)
      UFO - Lonely Heart
      Mac Davis - It's Hard to be Humble
      Level 42 - Love Games
      Matchbox - Babes In The Wood
      Roger Taylor - Future Management
      Barry Manilow - Bermuda Triangle (Legs and Co)
      Freeez - Flying High
      Madness - Grey Day (video)
      Quincy Jones - Ai No Corrida (Legs and Co)
      The Teardrop Explodes - Treason (It's Just A Story)
      The Beat - All Out To Get You
      Human League - Sound of the Crowd
      Duran Duran - Careless Memories
      Bucks Fizz - Piece of the Action
      Landscape - Norman Bates
      Ultravox - All Stood Still
      Quincy Jones - Razzamatazz (Legs and Co)
      Barry Biggs - Wide Awake in a Dream
      Rainbow - Can't Happen Here (video)
      Tenpole Tudor - Wunderbar
      Lobo - The Caribbean Disco Show
      Human League - Love Action (I believe in Love)
      Enigma - I Love Music
      U2 - Fire
      Siouxsie and the Banshees - Arabian Knights
      Randy Crawford - Rainy Night in Georgia
      The Hollies - Holliedaze
      Barry Manilow - Let's Hang On
      Shakin Stevens - It's Raining
      Elvis Costello - A Good Year For the Roses (video)
      Tight Fit - Back to the Sixties part 2
      Human League - Open Your Heart
      This Year's Blonde - Platinum Pop
      Gillan - Nightmare (video)
      The Jam - Absolute Beginners
      Showaddywaddy - Footsteps
      Ken Dodd - Hold My Hand

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    2. that's an absolute disgrace - i was really looking forward to watching "hold my hand"! just joking about that obviously (how the hell did ken dodd still get an invite on the show in the era of shiny synth pop?!?), but there are things here that i've not even heard of before! i suppose thanks to youtube and our chums like manorak that most if not all of it is available in some form on the internet, but it's still not the same as watching it on the telly!

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    3. Sorry that I wasn't clear Angelo - I was really after knowing which songs in Big Hits 81 we wouldn't see again. The answer would appear to be none, which is a shame given how many great songs there are on your extensive list that we won't get to see.

      In particular it would've been nice to see those lesser heard songs from The Jam, Duran Duran and Bucks Fizz that are on that list...

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    4. Maybe it's just as well Legs' routine to 'Bermuda Triangle' has been Yewtreed - with all that water being splashed around in a studio full of electrical cables, Elfin Safety wouldn't allow it nowadays!

      There are several forgettable medleys on the list that, thankfully, won't be shown in this year's run of repeats.

      As for Doddy, he had a series on BBC1 at that time - his last major TV project until the first of his two 'Audience With' specials on ITV in '94. 'Hold My Hand', penned by Michael Coleman of 'Matchstalk Men' hitmakers Brian & Michael, peaked at No.44 and would be The Squire of Knotty Ash's final chart entry.

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    5. We dont get to see Barry Biggs...?? Think it was 76 he was last on? What a ahem, shame.
      On a completely different tangent, would Fire have been U2s first TOTP? That really would have been history in the making.

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    6. Fire was indeed U2's first TOTP, so quite a big moment sadly lost to the BBC4 audience.

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  7. An excellent prequel to the year. Mel Giedroyc did a fine job narrating, like last time, and it was an eye-opening show with lots of behind the scenes info, especially regarding the Vienna and TOTP title sequence videos. Interesting to hear two acts named differently at the start, DepechAY Mode and THE Freeez – I always thought that female vocalist sounded really bored doing her take.

    I’ve worked in the City of London for nearly 25 years, and the closest London terminus to my line of work is Fenchurch Street, which serves the Southend and Basildon areas. If I had a tenner for every employee I’ve worked with over the years who’d seen Depeche Mode play at the Rayleigh Pink Toothbrush…

    I fully agree about Carrie Grant, a gorgeous woman. Not everyone on this site might realise she’s married to that David Grant out of Linx. As for another prominent woman in the show (too prominent in the conext of the programme for my taste), does anyone else remember “Not The Nine O’Clock News” doing a spoof commentary on the royal wedding and saying “God, that dress - look at all those creases!”.

    Visage was definitely a video concern. Sadly, I had the misfortune of seeing Visage as the opening act for one of those “Here and Now” retro gigs from about 15 years ago (the first one I saw had three acts - Culture Club, Human League and ABC - and I saw about half a dozen gigs which expanded to nine acts on the bill, the only one of which I missed, and on purpose as well, was Curiosity Killed The Cat). On this occasion, Visage was comprised of two dancers, a backing tape, and Steve Strange, dressed like a tramp and looking decidedly the worse for at least one type of vice – and he didn’t do “Mind Of A Toy” either. Definitely the worst retro act I ever saw.

    Finally, sorry to break the bad news to you…Legs & Co’s ‘count the hairs’ dance routine to “Ai No Corrida” was on a show introduced by Jim’ll!!!

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    1. Well Arthur, someone had better come up with that episode with Jim'll, cos I'll never live it down if we don't see that Legs & Co routine to Ai No Corrida.

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    2. presumably curiosity killed the cat were the bottom of that particular bill? if so then entirely justified! in fact they really shouldn't have been on it at all as a: they had their 15 minutes of fame much later than the likes of the human league and abc, and b: they only ever appealed to teenage girls in the first place! 10 years or so ago when i used to make my way through boxes of old singles in charity shops, i would often come across the ferry aid charidee thing released for the victims of the zeebrugge disaster of the late 80's - the front cover featured various famous faces of the time that sung on it, the amusing thing being that some are legends still instantly recognisable today (macca, boy george) whilst even by then others were complete has-beens (the singer from curiosity, jaki graham)!

      talking of which: once i found out who carrie grant was, i realised i was already aware that she was married to mr linx and that together they did some kind of vocal teaching thing on tv reality/talent shows. obviously this saved her hubby from also ending up in the "where are they now?" folder like the aforementioned ms graham, who by coincidence he had a couple of hits with!

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    3. funnily enough, what were considered the two most significant events of 1981 (and ones with extreme social differences, which paints its own picture of life back then) had little if any impact or resonance for me. the royal wedding (what a sham - tax payers should demand their money back!) had no appeal to me whatsoever, so i avoided it like the plague (i think a cousin of mine did likewise, going off swimming instead of watching the ceremony on tv... and drowning as a result!), and as for the riots, even though i spent the whole year living on the dole, it was in an affluent seaside resort on the south coast so there wasn't that much if anything in the way of social unrest there!

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    4. Curiosity Killed The Cat were undeservedly somewhere in the middle of the running order, which gave me and my mate time to get the lagers in for the rest of the show!

      A couple of other points I meant to make previously. Firstly, great miming by Beggar & Co's guitarist with half his instrument wrapped inside his overcoat. Secondly, despite the efforts of Pan's People collectively, Cherry Gillespie (solo) and Rosie Hetherington (who eventually joined Guys and Dolls), Anita must be the only former TOTP dancer to appear on the show as part of a hit act. Toto Coelo's first single was supposed to see "Mirror Mirror", but the producers didn't like the version and the song ended up with Dollar. Thirdly, I can't believe both the Legs & Co dance routines I (we) want to see have been Yewtreed!

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    5. Arthur - I saw that 'Here And Now' tour with Steve Strange. It was a shame to see how he looked, but in the circumstances (poor vocals) at least he provided some entertainment.

      That tour also featured Kim Wilde and The Human League who were both brilliant. I also enjoyed seeing Clare Grogan (!)

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    6. if you listen to the visage recordings i think it's fairly evident despite the slick sound and production that steve strange couldn't really carry a tune in a bucket (maybe that's why midge ure has no hair left these days - he pulled it all out in frustration at getting a semi-acceptable vocal take from steve!), so i would imagine he sounded pretty awful live. despite that, it seemed that he re-launched a gigging version of visage (featuring guitarist robin simon, who had been god-knows-where for 30-odd years after he left the john foxx-era ultravox!) shortly before his sudden death

      the other thing i remember about those "here and now" tours was that when the human league were involved they went out of their way to inform the press that they were still in fact an active gigging band with a full itinerary and their own still-devoted following, rather than just one of many washed-up has-beens cashing in on the kitsch nostalgia circuit!

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    7. I know what you mean about kitsch nostagia but, at the time these acts were in the chart, I was late teens / early twenties studying for a degree and I didn't really have enough spare dosh to fork out for their gigs. When the chance arose to see the acts once I had more money (and more stomach but less hair!) I jumped at it.

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    8. the other thing i remember the human league going on about at the time of the "here and now" tours was that if they didn't keep gigging then they'd have to sign on the dole! presumably as despite the millions of sales of their records, they never earned enough to comfortably retire? i once read that virgin acts signed in the late 70's got given something like 1% of the sales royalties - can anyone confirm that?

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    9. arthur i'm not being directly critical of you attending the "here and now" variety show (i hope you enjoyed it). but i certainly never considered going to them myself as i felt the whole thing was intrinsically naff, with the (non solo) acts mainly consisting of just the lead singers backed by an anonymous house band, and the audience mainly consisting of the sort of people i would have hated back then! like yourself i was young and skint in the early 80's so i didn't see much in the way of name band gigs either. but because i had started playing in bands of my own around this time, i don't think it was ever that big a deal for me (in fact, if i wasn't gigging myself then i preferred seeing other local bands rather than famous ones)...

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    10. I don't know about their later acts, but when Mike Oldfield signed with Virgin his royalty rate was 5%, which then increased to 8% in the late 70s. By the early 80s Oldfield was apparently short of money and sued Virgin for a further increase. Branson eventually caved in, even though Virgin was struggling financially at the time, but when Oldfield released his Amarok album a few years later it contained a hidden morse code message which translated to "f*** off RB," as Virgin had tried to insist that he call the album Tubular Bells 2 in order to increase sales! As a final two fingers to Branson, Oldfield would give that title to his first post-Virgin album...

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    11. even though richard branson has been seen as one of more sympathetic record label owners, it's no surprise to hear that he and mike oldfield fell out over the distribution of wealth... even though both totally owed their initial success to each other! of course branson's defence in giving his stars what seemed a raw deal would be that for every mike oldfield or human league, there were dozens of acts that his label signed up that if they were lucky they would only break even on!

      whatever your thoughts on the above or what side you take, it's hard to imagine someone like branson ever contemplating having to sign on the dole! about 20 years ago i briefly knew someone who was contracted to do some work in a massive country manor somewhere in deepest hampshire, where by chance he bumped into the owner... one richard branson!

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  8. considering 1981 was her breakthrough year, i'm rather surprised at the absence of toyah wilcox from the documentary. after all, she's the type that's usually present for the opening of an envelope!

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  9. Well this all bodes well for the forthcoming year doesn't it? The 'Story Of' documentary was probably the best one so far. Fine, understated commentary from that Mel off of Mel & Sue with a fair sprinkling of new-to-me stories such as Boy George (pre-fame) dancing in the crowd, Ghost Town being written a year before, the making of the Vienna vid.

    The Hits compilation that followed was also the best one of the run so far with only Oddysey and Shaky being counted as 'old school', and lots of 'not-seen-that-for-ages' stuff. My personal faves? Well that would be Teardrop Explodes, Chant Number 1, and Tenpole Tudor.

    I don't recall seeing Ultravox in the studio and I'm sure I would have remembered Majure's hat/chain ensemble. Talking of Ultravox, can I just put on record that I prefered Shaddup You Face to the overblown bombast of Vienna? There I've said it.

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    1. oh no - it's cat-among-the pigeons/boy-and-emperor's-new-clothes-time! at the time i was one of many gnashing their teeth that ultravox's "proper music" and cutting-edge majestic classic was being denied its rightful spot at the top of the charts by some crap novelty single. but in later years i have to admit that i found "vienna" almost as cringeworthy as "shaddup your face"!

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  10. Thought this year's doc was the best they've ever done, really looking forward to these repeats now. The bit where the explained the title sequence was my highlight! Love a good title sequence.

    Anyway, not much more to add, but last Thursday BBC 6 Music played a vintage Round Table from 1980, which you can hear here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06ssxqn

    Adrian Love was the presenter, and the guests were Annie Nightingale and Mick Jagger, who loved Madness and the Specials, but hated Kate Bush! Very entertaining.

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    1. i loved listening to "round table" (wasn't richard skinner a regular host?), but it retrospect it seems a dangerous thing to allow pop stars to criticise their peers! a couple of things i remmeber about the show: someone complaining that they had to use "varispeed" to get meat loaf's voice in tune, and when debbie harry and boyfriend chris stein turned up with debs' solo album producers rodgers and edwards of chic for the show (all the way from the states), the latter pair had to take turns to give their opinions on air!

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  11. Fellow bloggers, we've been very spoiled in the last couple of days, cos tonight at 10pm on Channel 4 is "The 80s: Ten Years That Changed Britain", and apparently it features Duran Duran, and a soundtrack loaded with guilty pleasures and some candid interviews.
    Wow, can't wait for more bedtime viewing tonight.

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    1. For those who didn't see it, the programme was pretty much total garbage. In particular, whoever wrote the script for the voiceover needs shooting!

      It's almost like the conversation at C4 went like this -

      Programmer 1 "We haven't done any nostalgia shows for a while, people used to love it when we did them."
      Programmer 2 "Yeah, let's do another one!"
      P1 "What about?"
      P2 "The 80s!"
      P1 "Yeah, but what specifically?"
      P2 "Ooh.....stuff. Stick Arthur Scargill, that footage of traders on mobile phones and some music on, it'll be fine."

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  12. An excellent round-up of hits in the 1981 revue, but a balls-up in one of the Specials' captions - Fun Boy Three's first single made number 20, not number 2. Still, their next two singles, collaborations with the previously virtually unknown Bananarama, made the top five.

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    1. re: specials captions balls-up - was that because the lunatics had taken over the asylum?

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  13. Dammit Bowie. We had a deal - you were supposed to live forever.

    R.I.P THE single biggest influence on my musical life.

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    1. i remember in my younger days thinking about reading the massive and screaming front page headlines in newspapers when legendary rock stars would inevitably die off. but now it's actually happening i rarely if ever read the papers, so i find out in perhaps less shocking ways via facebook, wikipedia, or this site...

      here's my own eulogy on the dame: i grew up in the 70's liking many of his singles and having some admiration for him, although i would never have described myself as a fan. then around "this time" (the end of 1980), perhaps as a result of the emerging new romantic/synth pop synth movement i remember borrowing his post-ziggy albums from an acquaintance and taping many album tracks i'd never heard before that i really liked ("win", "right", "stay", "wild is the wind" "the secret life of arabia", etc) and became much more interested in him as a result. but even though ironically he was soon to run out of steam as a creative musical force himself, it was those recordings that influenced much of what we are about to re-visit in the next year or two. since then he's always been on my radar to some extent (i did get to see him perform at the lancashire cricket ground about 15 years ago). and (about 5 years prior to seeing him live) when the opportunity came to play keyboards in a bowie tribute band i grabbed it with both hands. so thanks dave (did anyone ever actually call him dave?) for enriching my own musical landscape both directly and indirectly...

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    2. While I am not a big Bowie fan, it was still shocking and sad to hear the news this morning. There is no question that he produced some superb music, and as Wilberforce points out his influence on the early 80s music scene was enormous. I think I mentioned this once before, but my dad was at school with the then David Jones, and even in those days he apparently had an aura about him which left many in no doubt he would one day be a star. RIP.

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    3. Never been a big Bowie fan personally but I have always had a huge respect for the sheer diversity of his output. Some of his songs merit the title of all time classics. True genius doesn't come very often in the music world. My favourite photo of the man is ironically one showing him and Mick Ronson on a train eating lunch. I find the combination of an ordinary, everyday scene with a rock superstar fascinating. Just type 'David Bowie Mick Ronson Train' into Google and a screenful of the same image will appear.

      RIP David Bowie - sadly we're "waving bye-bye" now.

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    4. I'm in agreement with sct353 (do you have a name by the way?).

      I remember when Bowie went over-the-top in 1983 with his video for China Girl which had to be edited by TOTP because he was frolicking naked on the beach with a Chinese woman, especially when a year earlier he released the humble and respectful duo with Bing Crosby called Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy.

      Indeed Bowie was a complicated man who felt he had to be different to everyone else, but for me he gets my respect for raising the bar in the music video concept and production capability with Ashes To Ashes, which went on to inspire practically everyone else in the music business to follow his example to produce daring and eye-catching pop videos throughout the 80s, before we eventually came down to earth in the 90s when it no longer was about shocking people any more, and pop videos became more about necessary output for pop video channels.

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    5. I'm usually known as Steve, although a few people occasionally use the more formal Stephen!

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    6. Stephen has a good ring to it

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  14. There have been quite a few musicians passing away after their appearance on these repeats, but David Bowie must be the biggest star of all. RIP. Anyone know when we see him next this year?

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    1. Bowie was a game changer. Music, fashion, sexuality, individuality, you name it.

      1981 is a very frustrating year Bowie-wise. "Up The Hill Backwards" got one airing in April, then his chart topping Queen collaboration got three showings in November and December. None are Yewtreed, but they're all either danced to by by Legs & Co or (splutter) Zoo or the audience over the end credits.

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    2. "Ground to Major, Bye Bye Tom".......lyrics from the superb Bowie collaboration with The Pet Shop Boys in 1995 on this one called Spaceboy:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjYHTCR0qBk

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    3. Sorry, I meant to say the song is called Hallo Spaceboy.

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  15. Here's an interesting fact (or so I think, anyway)...
    Depeche Mode's Martin Gore shares his middle name (Lee) with the two daughters he had with his first wife.

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  16. With Top of the Pops on twice this week and twice next week, could it mean we will see 1982 this year as well? Just a thought...

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    1. Mrs Noax has just pointed out that the Olympics will be on later this year and given that events will be on in the evening here, and that BBC3 will no longer be an option to use as an extra channel, they may press BBC4 into action.

      Add that to the Proms and that may just explain the rush to get through them maybe?

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    2. I think you're right Noax. The Olympics shouldn't make any difference, because they are happening at the same time as the Proms, but it looks to me as if TOTP will probably be off the air again from July - September. By showing an extra couple of episodes this month BBC4 will ensure they reach the end of August by the time the Proms start.

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  17. Unfortunately, the 'powers that be' over at Vimeo seem to have caught up with Manorak & deleted his account, along with all the TOTP episodes...

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    1. Ah, man. First Bowie, now this. Turning into a pisser of a week.

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    2. That's a great shame, but I fear it was inevitable - I remember the same thing happened to our previous Vimeo supplier. Hopefully Neil B at 4shared will be able to step into the breach again.

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    3. That really is not very good news at all! He had so many great editions there too, including most of the yewtreed 1981s.....

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