Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Oldest Top of the Pops in Town

Massive thanks to Meer for uploading this edition of Top of the Pops from the 19th of February 1981, which won't be shown of BBC4 due to it being hosted by DLT.

And I was so looking forward to being on BBC4....

19/02/81 (hosted by Dave Lee Travis)

(41) The Teardrop Explodes – “Reward”
A Top of the Pops debut for moptop Julian Cope and the trumpet boys enthusiastically performing what would prove to be their biggest hit by far when it reached number 6.

(4) Rainbow – “I Surrender” (video)
The third and final top ten hit for Rainbow, and also their biggest hit, peaking at 3.

(6) Fred Wedlock – “The Oldest Swinger In Town”
Well Fred really has won the jackpot here hasn't he! Not only has he reached a top ten peak of number 6 in the charts but he also gets Legs & Co all to himself too!

(15) Headgirl (Motorhead & Girlschool) – “Please Don’t Touch”
A suave looking Lemmy sporting a white dinner jacket performs a track from the St. Valentines Day Massacre ep which made it all the way to number 5, becoming Motorhead's (and Girlschool's) biggest hit.

(42) Toyah – “It’s A Mystery”
Another moptop debut on tonight's show, bright orange this time, and another ep 'Four From Toyah', which became the first of three top ten hits for Toyah in 1981.

(9) Stray Cats – “Rock This Town”
It looks like the Cats had been raiding the New Romantics' makeup box, but they couldn't rock this tune any higher up the charts.

(35) Talking Heads – “Once In A Lifetime”
Such an unusual song, it really stood out at the time, and Legs & Co here give it an appropriately offbeat routine to a background of watery visual effects, but it didn't get quite as high in the charts as you might think, making it to number 14.

(12) Visage – “Fade To Grey”  (video)
The classic 'snake' video again, still slithering slowly towards the top ten.

(39) Adam & The Ants – “Kings Of The Wild Frontier”
This one had originally been released during the summer of 1980, but failed to make the top 40, but by February 1981 there was no stopping the march of the Ants, and this re-entered the charts and went all the way to number 2.

(1) Joe Dolce Music Theatre – “Shaddap You Face” (rpt from 05/02/81)
Not only displacing John Lennon, but of course leapfrogging Vienna to the top of the charts too!

(7) Madness – “The Return Of The Los Palmas 7” (credits)
At its peak but not quite the last we'll see of it.

Next up then is the edition from February 26th 1981.


  1. A pristine edition this week from UK Gold.

    The Teardrop Explodes - this was one of my favourite songs of the 80s, let alone 1981. Although I would rate the outdoor video a lot better than the TOTP indoor studio performance. Excellent new entry at No.41 this week.

    Rainbow - As mentioned before, I just love the flashing police car lights doubling up as disco lights. You could only have something like this on a track called "I surrender" which was Rainbow's most successful hit on this side of the Atlantic.

    Fred Wedlock - all I can say is that it was great to have Legs & Co back down to their nighties on this one. Patti was particularly impressive in such an outfit. Oh, and was that Fred Wedlock as guest on this track? Nice to see Gillian taking a liking to him at the end of it.

    Headgirl - (Motorhead & Girlschool) - the only words for this are CLASSIC, BRILLIANT, GENIUS - such a catchy tune, and the chemistry between Motorhead and Girlschool was just magical. Fantastic highest new entry of the week at no.15.

    I remember this show at the time for the debuts of Toyah, and The Talking Heads. I remember being put off by that awful lisp of Toyah, and the weirdness of Legs & Co trying to dance to Talking Heads, as that classic water video was not seemingly available just yet.

    Visage - RIP Steve Strange who passed away a few months ago at only 55 years of age. This debut track was of course their most famous and most notable contribution among the catalog of Visage hits, and a true classic of the new romantics new wave arriving in 1981.

    Adam & The Ants - Good Lord, three hits in the top 40 this week for Adam & The Ants, and it seemed to be Ant mania in early 1981, and the video bombardment had not yet arrived by the time of King Of The Wild Frontier entering this week at no.39.

    1. dory you seem to have inherited richard skinner's inability to describe accurately what legs are wearing - i doubt very much those outfits were designed for retiring to bed in! they look more like the "quality street wrapper" costumes they appeared in a few weeks back

    2. Whatever, there was no need in my mind for the producers to axe Legs & Co later in the year, when they were looking this tasty (quality street)!

  2. Bless my cotton socks, a classic track from The Teardrop Explodes to kick things off, full of energy. Julian Cope's autobiography is well worth a read, and is this the place for the joke about "What's the difference between The Teardrop Explodes and a cow?" He tells it himself.

    Fred Wedlock not believing his luck there, not the classiest thing for Legs & Co to be dancing to, though I did like Gill's comforting pat on Fred's shoulder.

    Headgirl, probably shouldn't sound as good as it does, this, it rocks along, one cover that's an improvement on the original. Dunno why Lemmy's wearing John Travolta's suit, though.

    Ah, nobody ever sounded quite like Toyah. She'd been around for a while, she's in the punk movie Jubilee for a start, but when the 80s dawned it was just the right time for her.

    Brian Setzer still has the same hairstyle, of course, it's just further back on his head.

    Talking Heads, I remember hearing this for the first time and wondering what on earth It was, in a good way, I'd never heard anything like it. Love the way that bassline stays the same throughout. Legs & Co routine a bit queasy, mind you, it's a pity they couldn't recreate Dave's dancing in the studio.

    Adam and the Ants with a sound that is sparse and means business. Although Adam will catch his death dressed like that in February.

    1. an arch but humourous comment on the decline of brian setzer's hairline - sadly, it shows it can happen to the best of us geezers (even though i delude myself that i always had a high forehead anyway ha ha). at least brian setzer had the hair for a quiff to start with - unlike morrissey, who was struggling in that regard even in his prime!

    2. "nobody ever sounded quite like Toyah"

      Not quite, Tracey Ullman could do a stunningly accurate impersonation, as seen on Three Of A Kind a couple of years after this.

    3. Shame her 'comeback' Tv series is variable in quality.

      That Angela Merkel is stunning accurate!

    4. Shame her 'comeback' Tv series is variable in quality.

      That Angela Merkel is stunning accurate!

    5. I've been really enjoying Tracey's new series, it is a bit patchy, and this week's was pretty average, but when she's funny she can be hilarious, like the week before. I think it depends on who's writing the sketches. Also great to see people like Derek Griffiths and Michael Brandon!

  3. The curse of the TOTP repeats strikes again, guitarist Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane/Starship has died.

    1. Hmmm, is it really a curse? By this stage most of the artistes are aged in the 55-70 range and, sadly, not everyone makes it to those years, let alone folk well appointed in the music scene who probably ingest quite a lot of items the average person doesn't and who probably reduce their life expectancy in the process. That said, it's always a shame when we discover someone on the re-run has passed away recently or some time back.

    2. i agree arthur - i actually think we will soon get to the point where it will be more unusual when there aren't any musicians that made some kind of mark in the industry (no matter how small, as in the case of jimmy bain for instance) dying in any particular week...

  4. i broke my own rule of not watching yewtree'd editions as my own form of protest against big brother (ridiculous, i know) to watch this edition - well, a couple of things on it without the sound on, anyway!

    headgirl: philthy animal declines to beat the skins alongside the girlschool lady, even though co-stars adam and the ants have just double drummers fashionable again

    fred wedlock: like slimy last time, dlt must have felt a bit uncomfortable introducing this given he was probably just as old as mr wedlock and hanging around in a studio full of "young people". without the sound on, it looks like legs are dancing to something by the gap band rather than a cod-country tune! but it also means i have no idea who pauline's replacement is (the tall lady in the grey dress dancing on the right most of the time)...

    1. a oouple more belated comments on headgirl:

      with reference to the EP's title, it's criminal (ho ho) that with a lead track from it that i for one can't remember to save my life (and i'm sure i'm far from alone in that regard), it gets 10 places higher in the charts than the all-time classic "ace of spades"! i suppose you have to put it down to an "afterglow" effect...?

      also: to my recollection (and confirmed via wiki), one of girlschool was called enid, which was an old-fashioned name even back then. and through checking on wiki i've discovered that rather astoundingly they are still active, despite not having had a hit single since!

    2. Girlschool or schoolgirls, they certainly know how to rock with Motorhead and put on a party in the TOTP studio. The vibe on this track is just awesome and so much fun. I rate it above Ace of Spades, but only just!

    3. apologies if i've told this anecdote before, but it was around this time that i went to see motorhead on their "ace of spades" tour with several of my metal-loving friends (i only went as i got offered a free ticket as one dropped out at the last minute). after an hour or so my chums ceased headbanging, and afterwards i asked them why. the response was "it was too loud!"

    4. Wilberforce - the Leg in the grey dress was Pauline. She didn't leave until March...

  5. Haven't seen the show yet, but could Pauline's replacement be Anita, who went on to have a hit as 20 per cent of Toto Coelo?

    Strange, isn't it? By my reckoning, it's been nearly 3 years since the dance troupe hoofed it to a song from outside the 30 ("Move Your Body" by Gene Farrow) and here they are, dancing to a non-mugshot sound for a second consecutive week.

  6. Oh, and if I forget to say it in a later post, huge thanks again to Meer.

    1. I'm just gobsmacked as to how quickly we get the yewtreed editions online in time for the blog.
      Considering that none of us have met before, and Manorak's site has been taken down, we still seem to have another source for the DLT show, in this case Meer. It's a case of great team work again that the show is there on a plate even before we think about it.

  7. I can't keep up the pace! If I accept the job that I've been offered this week then I will soon slip way behind again I fear. At least for now I can watch BBC4 and Yewtreed editions rapidly!

    Teardrop Explodes - I don't think I know anybody who doesn't like this song. One of the best of 81.

    Fred Wedlock doesn't look any less tragic with lovely ladies around him. Whereas Motorhead and Girlschool definitely go well together.

    Toyah - well....I was never a massive fan but this is pretty good. I prefer one of her efforts from later in the year though.

    I LOVE 'Once in a lifetime'. Sampled by many acts down the years, of course. One thing that confuses me though - I was sure that I didn't see the video until we went to Australia in March / April. Do we get to see it on the Pops?

    Adam & The Ants - not one of their best but as a huge Antfan I didn't really care at the time. Nice of them to stand around with the audience at the end - shame they didn't bother to turn up ever again though!

    1. Yes indeed, it was all videos only for Adam & The Ants from this point, as surely someone must have told them that their fancy dress outfits more suited to music videos than TOTP studio appearances, and it seems they were right.

    2. Adam & the Ants may not have appeared in the studio again, but Adam would return as a solo artist the following year.

  8. Visage broke the rule it was no 8 than dropped to 13 then climbed one place higher though that wasn't allowed

  9. Many thanks to Meer, not just for getting this to us, but for managing to do so in the very short period of time betwixt non-Yewtree'd editions.

    Off we go then, and maintaining the recent tradition of starting with a barnstormer, it's Teardrop Explodes with the best song of the year. Played this to death back in 81 and it still sounds great today. Love love love it. Good high energy performance as well, although I'm not too sure about the Albanian goatherder chic the band are wearing.

    First of two appearances for The Leggers giving Fred some much needed moral and physical support. Oh and well done Flick for refraining from going all literally interpretive on us. The Leggers done up in grey hair, wrinkles and zimmer frames would not have been a good look.

    Headgirl. Another bravura performance from Lemmy. Good song too.

    Toyah borrows Julian Cope's wig and Johnathon Ross's lisp for a song that just seemed to go on and on without interesting me in the slighest.

    Back come The Leggers to accompany the quite wonderful Once In A Lifetime. Shame the performance was marred by someone playing in the effects box.

    Adam gives us one more studio performance - this time on the rereleased Kings Of The Wild Frontier. Another that I played to death and still sounds good today.

    Joe Dolce at number 1 and Madness to play us out.

    On the top ten countdown what was that Dire Straits video? Never seen that before. Looked a bit weird.

    Scores. A really good show this one -Teardrop Explodes, Adam, Talking Heads, and Headgirl being the best. 8

    DLT has clearly reigned in his patented Hairy Cornflake persona and is a much better presenter as a result. 7.

    Two down - one to go. Back tomorrow.


  10. Crikey! I go away on holiday for a few weeks and come back to a pile of recordings! Watching this out of order in case 'The Management' get it pulled.

    A very good episode, particularly after the last one I saw which was like a 50s revival show. Hardly a bad performance (hardly... You know who I mean, Fred and Joe). I bought most of these singles (most...)

    Toyah - I remember buying this after seeing her on a TV programme called Shoestring. I presume a few others did as well...

    Television - I wonder if Flick had seen the video for this. Similar effects...

    1. yes, i well remember her pre-breakthrough appearance on "shoestring" where she played (surprise surprise) a rock singer called toolah, and her band were allowed to indulge themselves with at least a couple of numbers (including the excellent live rendition of "danced" - well, excellent once she stops wailing!). it was full of faces familiar to those here even now: christopher biggins was her crooked manager, and chris (brother of mick) jagger was his henchman. gary holton (seen with the heavy metal kids on early editions of these re-runs) played a doomed ex-boyfriend/bandmate of hers, and even the minor role of a "kiss-me-quick" beach photographer (an already dying occupation in real life if not actually extinct by then) was played by the guy who was later mr hopwood in "grange hill" and then gail's psychopathic hubby in "coronation street"!

    2. charlie i think you mean the talking heads rather than (the band) television?

    3. well, not only are they both media-related names, but the bands in question vie for the title of ultimate "new york new wave art rock band" as well. so an acceptable mistake to make if onr isn't thinking too clearly!

    4. Christopher Biggins had that immortal line in this episode (called 'Find the Lady'); "T for Toolah, no T for trip...".

      Another media death occurred in January of Robert Banks Stewart who created 'Shoestring' and 'Bergerac' and who penned classic Dr Who episodes 'Terror of the Zygons' and 'The Seeds of Doom'. RIP Robert.

  11. A pretty good show all told, with a very solid no-nonsense presenting job from DLT. You certainly can't do much better than Reward as an opener - I agree that this was one of the best songs of the year, and Julian Cope and co. were in an entertaining, energetic mood here. "Bless my cotton socks, I'm in the news" must be one of the memorable opening lines of any pop song!

    As if to make up for their absence 2 weeks previously, we get a double helping of Legs this time out. The routine with Fred is amusing, even with the brief snippet of the dreaded Gap Band dance, and Fred, unless he is a good actor, genuinely looks a bit nervous to be surrounded by the girls. However, the dance to Once in a Lifetime was the best Legs effort of 1981 so far - this is not a song that lends itself naturally to choreography, but the combination of movement and effects resulted in something rather hypnotic. I've never actually liked the song much, primarily because of David Byrne's hectoring vocal delivery on the verses. I will admit that the chorus is quite catchy, though.

    On paper the combination of Motorhead and Girlschool did not sound promising, but this is actually quite good and a lot more tuneful than the average Motorhead effort. Lemmy almost looks suave in his white jacket, and the two bands are presented as equals on stage, which is quite striking in an era where all-female groups were still seen as a novelty and/or a bit of a joke. Toyah makes her debut next, but I have never cared for her exaggerated vocals and overly theatrical presentation. This isn't a bad song, but would have been better done by somebody else - Hazel O'Connor, maybe...

    The Ants are back in the studio to perform a reissue, and turn in another dynamic performance. I can see why this wasn't a hit the first time round, as it isn't all that commercial-sounding, but it's certainly a hypnotic piece of work and one of the best examples of the Ants' use of the Burundi beat. The band don't exactly seem thrilled at sharing camera time with DLT at the end of the show, however - maybe that put them off coming back to the studio again!

    1. will "once in a lifetime" appear on totp again? the reason i ask is because i must put in a mention for the parent album "remain in light" that still sounds pretty good all the way through even now. special mention for "cross eyed and painless" that i remember peter powell playing on his show when the album was released - well done pp and thanks for leading me to the album!

    2. It will be on again next week, this time accompanied by the video.

    3. Ah, so my memory does cheat. I was convinced that I saw the video for the first time in Australia, but since I watched TOTP every week, presumably not!

  12. It looked to me that Fred Wedlock was a bit uncomfortable here, after all, he was used to singing into a microphone and playing an acoustic guitar. Here he was with neither of those props miming to either a bespoke backing track or perhaps his live vocal from two weeks earlier (it wasn't the record). Since the audio was out of sync I couldn't tell how accurate his miming was, but he certainly looked a bit unsure.

    The Headgirl song is not a straight cover, as I found out years later on acquiring the Johnny Kidd original - the line following "I don't know why she's got her claws in me" has been changed to make it more 'rock 'n' roll', and the final verse is all new.

    I saw Toyah in person at one of the Kaleidoscope events in Stourbridge in recent years (now sadly finished it seems) - you may have heard she's diminutive but believe me, she really is tiny!

    There was a noticeable step change in sound quality on the Visage video immediately after DLT's voiceover - I'm wondering at what stage of the show's life (original production, UK Gold repeat or Vimeo upload) this occurred? All the same, and mentioning Stray Cats and Talking Heads for great music, thanks once again for making this available.

  13. Thanks again Meer. Great show and relief that UK Gold showed it in the first place - are there going to be any 'missing' Yewtree episodes I wonder?

    Regarding Toyah, the EP was 'Four from Toyah' but I don't recall ever hearing the other three.

    I well remember seeing this episode and being a little non-plussed by 'Once in a Lifetime' but it really grew on me.

    This was the moment when Ultravox lost the race to the top and I think we all knew that at the time. Perhaps if TOTP had not been so keen to promote Joe Dolce and his 8 weeks at the top of the Aussie charts a few weeks ago we would have been spared this.

    Not seen the 'Romeo & Juliet' video before, watched it on YT and boy it's bad! Thank goodness they showed the band performance previously!

  14. A decent performance from DLT, more laid back and thus more bearable than usual, but he made the odd balls-up as you’d expect, calling the countdown from 30-21 the bottom half, saying Talking Heads were in the charts (top 40, yes, but….) and saying he’d see us on the radio tomorrow.

    As for the show, a bit clunky due to some unwieldly cuts, but huge thanks to Meer for providing a show with some excellent tunes on it.

    The Teardrop Explodes were one of the first acts I saw live (Madness being the first, both at the Hammersmith Odeon) and their show was just as vibrant as this. Julian Cope wasn’t the most realistic looking Biggles, but at least he looked better than on the cover of his album “Fried” where, from memory, he was under a huge tortoise shell.

    Why were Legs & Co on the flooring doing Gap Band rowing to a Fred Wedlock lyric about a car? All seven on show were game, but being asked to dance to this was surely the start of the slippery slope for our gals.

    Headgirl had some energy, didn’t they! This is what Showaddywaddy could have been more like if they hadn’t had so many instrument-shy members. For some reason the intro reminded me of “Dead Ringer For Love”. Great to see Philthy enjoying himself on background vocals.

    Honey Bane’s had her hair cut! And she’s developed an awful lisp. Toyah’s mangling of a song title with her vocal affliction reminded me of that classic TOTP moment, when guest presenter Chris Eubank had to announce “At six, it’s “Cecilia” by Suggs”.

    A real soufflé DA effort by Brian Setzer. At least he didn’t go for the dreaded combover!

    Legs & Co’s effort to Talking Heads was like freeform music and movement in an overflowing washing machine. I had to look up what a shotgun shack was back in the day – it’s an American cabin-style home with doors either side and no walls in between the doorways, so you can fire a shotgun from one open end to the other without hitting anything inside – in theory.

    It isn’t just the audience who checks themselves in the monitor, ay, Adam? Still, it was a fANTastic studio swansong for the lads.
    Madness’s song title includes the number of the single’s chart peak. Clever, that. Talking of the top ten, did anyone else notice the positioning of the word FIVE gave Phil Collins a twirling green Adolf moustache?

    1. Having just looked at all the footage available for Motorhead & Girlschool (Headgirl), and there seems to be hardly any performances done for what is one of the best collaborations you are likely to find anywhere. The only footage out there is the TOTP one on this week's show, and a similar German TV pop show.

      Arthur Nibble makes an interesting comment of the likeness to Deadringer For Love by Meat Loaf which arrived towards the end of 1981 in USA and early 1982 in our UK charts, and I wonder if Meat Loaf or Jim Steinman got the inspiration from this HeadGirl track Please Don't Touch.
      Deadringer is the better known track globally, so it is quite ironic if the success of this was thanks to Headgirl's initial offering in this week's chart. Hmmm........

    2. arthur, a "shotgun shack" could have more than one room in it, but they would all be in a row with inter-connecting doors. therefore you could still fire a shotgun from one end to the other without hitting anything inside if the doors were open...

      that reminds me that: when i was a teenager in the 70's i went out with a girl whose family lived in what was virtually a shotgun shack, which even then was most unusual in this country and certainly the only one i've ever seen. it was wooden and i think was on stilts, with the kitchen at one end, leading through to the living room, and then the bedrooms. only the bedrooms had some sort of hallway between them, and i remember that the walls around them didn't reach the ceiling! i think it got demolished not long after to be replaced by a more conventional brick house - rather sad really, as nowadays it would probably have been preserved as a listed building!