Thursday, 14 January 2016

Top of the Pops Café

The second show of 1981 and already we come to a skipped edition, this time its January 15th hosted by DLT, and just take a look a the line-up - lots of acts who were currently outside the top 40 but what a show! .....

Massive thanks to Meer for coming to the rescue with this edition at vimeo!

Any sign of that Joe Dolce geezer?

15/01/81 (Dave Lee Travis) ~

(63) Susan Fassbender – “Twilight Café”
Her only hit, reaching number 21.

(20) Gary Numan – “This Wreckage” (rpt from 18/12/80)
Now at its peak in the charts.

(68) Light Of The World – “I Shot The Sheriff”
This band had a number of singles between 1979 and 1981 but never made the top 30.

(49) Dire Straits – “Romeo & Juliet”
The first of tonight's all time classics just entering the charts, this being the first single released from their stonkingly successful Making Movies album, and on its way towards the top ten.

(17) Stevie Wonder – “I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It”
This week's Legs & Co routine garnishing the first of three top ten hits for Stevie Wonder in 1981.

(36) Phil Collins – “In The Air Tonight”
The second of tonight's all time classics, taken from Phil's first solo album Face Value, which outsold all the Genesis albums that preceded it, and on its way to number 2.

(61) UFO – “Lonely Heart”
A band that never quite made the top 30, though I do believe that this track was the red record spinning through the air in the show's upcoming new title sequence.

(27) Mac Davis – “It’s Hard To Be Humble” (US TV clip)
His only previous top 30 hit had been nine years earlier with Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me, and this one beat it by two places peaking at number 27.

(52) Ultravox – “Vienna”
And so we come to the third of tonight's all time classics. And its not the video but a studio performance. Surprisingly this was the third single taken from the album of the same name, the other two being far less successful than this one was soon to become.

(10) Queen – “Flash” (video)
Another showing for Flash, which had been stuck at number 10 for a couple of weeks.

(1) John Lennon – “Imagine”  (video)
And of course the fourth all time classic on the show.

(19) Yarbrough & Peoples – “Don’t Stop The Music” (credits)
Became the band's only top ten hit, indeed their only top 50 hit.

Next then is the edition from 22nd January 1981 hosted by Peter Powell!


  1. Susan Fassbender – I must say that I remember this one very well from 1981, and it is the perfect type of song that can start an edition of TOTP to get the viewers in the mood. Its really catchy nature should have made it a bigger hit than it was.

    Dire Straits in the TOTP studio? Good God, I never thought they did, so this must be real rarity for TOTP, cos all I seem to remember was their videos on the show throughout the 80s.

    The chart rundown for the first time is not with the voice of the presenter DLT, but instead Richard Skinner for the second week running. Why did they make this change for the first time, ie, to have a different DJ in voice only, just for the chart rundown?

    1. It does seem weird that Richard Skinner did the chart rundown on this edition. Perhaps there was a fleeting idea that he should do it every week, given the inability of some hosts to do it very well? In any case, it was an idea swiftly dropped as on the next show things would be back to normal.

  2. The UFO single in the title sequence was "Young Blood" - this was mentioned in "The Story of 1981".

    I seem to recall Midge Ure winning a bet with a Chrysalis Records employee who said they wouldn't make the top three with any single taken off "Vienna". Midge must have sweated a bit after the first two singles failed to make the hurdle, unless he was super-confident of the title track's chances. Quite right too.

    1. It was Young Blood was it ~ well I remembered it was one of theirs!

  3. Hooray, we saw this after all. It's a better show than last week's, starting off with a great song by Susan Fassbender that I actually heard on the radio last week for the first time in years. She deserved more success, such a shame how she ended up.

    The brighter side of shooting the Sheriff from Light of the World, not my favourite song but you can't argue with the musicianship.

    Dire Sraits, must admit this sets my teeth on edge with its gloopy sentiment, cringey, slangy lyrics and banal melody. They had better songs.

    Legs & Co auditioning for that nightclub scene in Blake's 7 they always wanted. An apparently irate Stevie Wonder there, what was he not gonna stand for?

    Phil Collins, about the most mundane staging of an atmospheric song imaginable, even with the video effects. Always thought this was boring when I was a kid, and it still drags a little for me now.

    And the band most in need of a chorus are... UFO! Know the name, don't know the artists too well, they sounded conflicted between rocking out on guitar and the smooth sounds of jazz saxophone, didn't really pull it off.

    Now, I mostly know Mac Davis from starring alongside Nick Nolte in caustic American football movie North Dallas Forty (which is really good if you haven't seen it) and this song, which I thought was very amusing when I was younger and it still raises a chuckle now. Nice to hear the audience on the footage laughing away heartily. Pity they cut it off early.

    Ultravox: dry ice? Check. That's all you need.

    DLT's right, that is a great line about saving the Earth.

    1. maybe stevie's ranting about the new trend for keyboard players to play in an upright position rather than sitting down?

    2. i had no idea how susan fassbender ended up after her15 minutes of fame, so i looked her up on wikipedia and discovered that:
      a - she committed suicide in the early 1990's

      b - she was a lesbian (not something that i recall being mentioned or publicised at the time)

      c - that she was english rather than german as her surname impied

      d - that her proper surname was actually even less showbiz-like than her stage name!

    3. UFO were one of quite a few british hard rock outfits of the 70's that had a modicum of success with album sales and regular national tours, without the help of hit singles - i remember them being mainstays of "sounds" magazine that tended to focus on such acts, which probably helped them a great deal in that regard. i also remember that "rock bottom" was highly popular among the metalheads when i was at school in the late 70's. and that i when i started putting on my own discos, that it always had to be played at some point so the metal-loving contingent present could headbang!

    4. I can't find anything about Susan Fassbender being a lesbian, but I found out that she had three kids.

      "Twilight Café" had a similar path to Nick Straker's "Walk In The Park" - both were originally released on indie labels (Susan's on Criminal, Nick's on Pinnacle Firebird) and both were taken up by CBS who gave them the national distribution and publicity needed to get the singles to the highest two numbers in the 20's.

      Susan had a songwriting partner not credited on the hit, Kay Russell, and the follow up to "Twilight Café" was released under the clunky name of Fassbender Russell. It flopped, the next single reverted to Susan's name only, then CBS dumped the act when that single also failed to chart.

    5. Was Kay Russell the cheery bass player?

    6. I haven't seen the show yet, but I believe she was. Kay certainly appeared in the band.

    7. I haven't seen the show yet, but I believe she was. Kay certainly appeared in the band.

    8. arthur, wiki said that susan and kay got married, so i'm putting two and two together. of course, they could have been just good friends!

    9. Wasn't Kay Russell the RHYTHM guitarist, not the bassist?

    10. Kay was a guitarist, you're right, and a fascinating article I found on Kay Russell mentioned the ladies gave up the business and got married to their fellas.

    11. Kay was a guitarist, you're right, and a fascinating article I found on Kay Russell mentioned the ladies gave up the business and got married to their fellas.

    12. Looking at photos of her online, I think Kay Russell was the other woman on stage.

    13. I sit corrected on the guitar issue, nice to put a name to the face (or a face to the name) anyway.

    14. it seems i have to stand corrected on the lesbian issue! in my defence m'lud it was somewhat ambiguously explained on wikipedia... by the way, does anyone know how or why susan whincup (to give her original surname) became known as susan fassbender?

    15. Fassbender was Susan's mum's maiden name.

    16. thanks arthur (just where the hell did that from?!?)

  4. as is usual i'm not watching this yewtree'd edition out of protest, so the following comments only relate to the music and my memories of back then:

    susan fassbender: to my recollection a quite plain-looking woman in glasses with a name that hardly smacks of showbiz (although her namesake michael doesn't seem to be doing too badly these days using that surname). and the song was nothing special too, and yet there she was signed to a major label (cbs). that wouldn't happen now of course

    light of the world: like practically all brit-funk acts they promised more than they delivered, with a sound that was more clunky than funky. and this pointless cover typifies that

    dire straits: it was obvious from "sultans of swing" that mark knopfler couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. but at least that had a driving beat and some brilliant guitar soloing going on to make it semi-listenable. unlike this dirge!

    phil collins: i think most people actually liked this at the time as it was almost synth pop with its drum machine and keyboard-heavy sound. and gave no indication of the dross that was to come! hopefully this one was successful enough to escape the curse of yewtree and will be seen later on?

    ultravox: oh well, i'll just have to content myself with seeing the video once again when it appears on a non-yewtree show (i remember seeing it many times back then... probably on a black and white telly, which was just as well as the actual video was shot in that manner to my recollection)

    john lennon: i really can't stand "imagine" with its musical tedium and lyrical hypocrisy! i remember the first time i heard it in the mid-70's when it was in the top 40 then having been re-released for some reason - i was already aware of it being thought-of as a "classic" and started to listen with great anticipation. but as as it droned on i remember thinking "is that all there is?"!!

    yarbrough and peoples: like ms fassbender, maybe this single's chances of success was limited by the act choosing to record under their dull and non-charismatic surnames? one i remember being played in discos, but listening to it now on my computer it sounds a bit pedestrian to boogie on down to compared to other similar fare of the time

    1. Wilberforce - the Ultravox and Phil Collins studio performances were both repeated on the 29th January show, so will be on BBC4 next week.

  5. This is a much better show than the previous week's!

    Notch up another happy customer for 'Twilight Cafe' - love it!

    Light Of The World - I admire the musicianship, but Brit-Funk is really not my thing I'm afraid.

    Dire Straits - never understood why people like this song so much!

    I LOVE the Stevie Wonder song, which never gets played on the radio despite being a Top 10 hit.

    Phil Collins we'd already seen on 'Big Hits' so moving on to UFO...well, I don't usually like their stuff but this one seemed a bit more catchy than normal. Still missing that special something though.

    Mac Davis - about as funny as catching malaria.

    I had no idea that Ultravox did 'Vienna' in the studio twice! Shame about the whacking great edit in this version, which makes the one from the Christmas show better (mind you, it would be anyway for Midge's outfit alone!)

  6. Thanks Meer for getting this to us. A much better show musically than last week.

    Already, with the new year only a couple of weeks old, we are starting to see the reliance upon keyboards on the vast majority of songs, something that is only going to grow and grow as the year progresses.

    Susan Fassbender. Did nothing for me Im afraid - a poppy, overly sweet confection.

    Dire Straits. Absolutely loooooooooooooved this in 1981 and I still have a fondness for it now, but there is something on Knopfler's face that just shrieks 'smug'. Was he beginning to get the huge plaudits of being a guitar God at this time? Was it going to his head?

    Aint Gonna Stand For It is pure class and it's a shame we never get to see Wonder perform it either live or on vid.

    UFO. Don't recall this Zero-Calorie version of Springsteen for obvious reasons - its a pile of cack. It did seem to be on for an eternity so I went back and checked the times. Exactly four minutes!! 4 Mins of unrelenting turgid dross. I'm never getting them minutes back am I?

    Phil Collins skewering his ex-wife in a song that features possibly the most iconic drum roll in world music. Bought this album, but haven't played it at all since 81.Can't see that changing any time soon.

    Mac Davies.This is obviously one of those songs that crossed over courtesy of the Terry Wogan show. Quite clever lyrics, decent tune, but Country and I go together like Phil Collins and Painter & Decorators.

    Still, all in all, not a bad little show this one. Less reliant on repeated clips than last week.

    Scores. Mmmmm - lets say 6 musically, and 6 Travissly

    1. by this time knopfler's reputation had spread to donald fagen and walter becker (the head honchos of steely dan) who invited him to record with them as a sessioneer. given that he recorded the whole of his band's debut album in practically one take, apparently he was perhaps not surprisingly phased somewhat by their meticulous working methods (i read somewhere they once spent four hours working on the fadeout of one track), so the union didn't last very long!

  7. Don't tell anyone but I saw DLT on the telly twice last week on a chat show show called Tell Me Another on the Talking Pictures channel. It was from 1976 and he was talking about his time as a presenter on Beat club in Germany in the 1960s.

  8. Big, big thanks to Meer for coming to the rescue with this one - I just hope your channel lasts for longer than Manorak's did! An excellent quality video too, given this was never shown on UK Gold so the recording must be of the original broadcast.

    A pretty good show overall, with a mercifully restrained DLT in charge, though I was irritated that Romeo & Juliet and Vienna both got pruned while that interminable UFO tune got played in full! Anyway, proceedings got off to an excellent start with Twilight Café, a song I have never heard before but which I really enjoyed. Susan Fassbender didn't look like a natural pop star, and it was very sad to find out that she died so young, but at least she does live on thanks to this classy slice of electropop.

    I have never liked I Shot the Sheriff, whoever is performing, and I don't much care for Britfunk either, so Light of the World were never going to win me round with this effort, though I won't deny that they are fine musicians. There doesn't seem to be a lot of love here for Romeo & Juliet, but I think it is one of the best Dire Straits songs, with an understated but real emotional power.

    We then see Legs taking part in what appears to be some kind of intergalactic keep fit class. What precisely this has to do with the song they are dancing to is anyone's guess, but it is one of Stevie's better numbers and it puzzles me that radio seems to prefer the far inferior Master Blaster these days - I don't know why he chose to sing it in a country style, though! Speaking of country, Mac Davis's weak effort didn't raise much mirth with me, though his audience appeared to be having a good time - evidently some of the record buying public found this funny too, though I can't think why. As mentioned above, UFO's effort is absolutely turgid, a sub-Springsteen exercise in tedium. The only thing of note was the multi-tasking guitarist/saxophonist/keyboardist, though the keyboard appeared to be playing itself for most of the performance...

    Back to the classics, and In the Air Tonight certainly qualifies, even if its success would pave the way for years of MOR pap from its progenitor! This is a very awkward performance though, with Phil looking as if he is going to crick his neck leaning into the microphone, while the constantly moving legs are very distracting. He certainly doesn't look like a pop megastar in waiting. Ultravox look much more the part, and even with that awful edit I prefer this performance to that weird Christmas outing we saw on Big Hits. The song itself is, of course, absolutely fantastic.

    Another week at number 1 for Imagine, and Yoko still creeps me out every time she stares into the middle distance at the piano. It will be interesting to see if Bowie's death produces the same kind of effect on the charts as Lennon's did over the next few weeks, though I note that none of his re-entries made the Top 10 this week.

    1. The singles chart is so very different these days though John, its a far younger audience overall who puts the songs there, so for Bowie to get four or five into the top 40 is pretty good going - and Heroes at 12 is higher than it got first time out!
      He's pretty much taken over the albums chart though, where cd sales are still the major factor.

    2. why do people buy an artist's product just because they've died? if they liked their music enough, surely they'd already own it. so why does their passing make any difference? i presume some if not all in question do so as some kind of nod of recognition / respect / sympathy (delete as appropcriate). but in my view if that's their reason then they are actually insulting the artist in question, as said artist's work was obviously not of enough importance or appeal whilst they were still drawing breath!

    3. Wilberforce - I wonder if nostalgia is also a factor? When a prominent star dies, people who may not have given a second thought about him/her for years are perhaps motivated to open their wallets in order to reconnect with their youth. Simple curiosity generated by media coverage may also be a factor.

      Angelo - I know that the single chart is very different now, which in some ways makes it all the more interesting to see how the Bowie reissues do, as on the face of it the odds should be more stacked against them getting high in the chart. In the circumstances, I agree that getting so many into the 40 is a decent showing.

    4. I think part of it is young people not previously aware of someone's music having a genuine interest. Certainly seems to be a factor given that I saw a girl who must have barely been a teenager actively looking for Bowie 'Best Of's in HMV earlier. Which was rather lovely actually!

  9. Here we go again. - hopefully not seeing double again…

    Huge thanks to Meer for stepping into the breach – no ‘meer’ forumite on this form – and big thanks to Angelo for the forum and all the others in the underground resistance movement who’ve provided us with the wonderful contraband.

    I never really liked “Twilight Café” before but I agree it’s ultra catchy. Kay Russell looked like she’d won the lottery – if only it started 13 years earlier!

    DLT referring to himself as “This Wreckage” – sadly, how apt in terms of his sentence and its effect on the re-runs. And how could he refer to this sombre / morbid tune as jollying up your Thursday?

    Light Of The World were decent but a bit worthy. Still, I loved the return of those mustard coloured trousers, not seen since the days of Billy Ocean, Sheer Elegance and Can.

    I hate Dire Straits apart from “Romeo and Juliet “ and “Your Latest Trick”. Nice Dobro played by Mark Knopfler. Talking of instruments, I thought of Julie Joanne Bevan’s melodica when I read that the actor who played Grizzly Adams passed away this week.

    Very Much Legs (Straps) & Co imitating Hot Gossip but a bit milder – Warm Gossip, perhaps? When I saw Patti, I felt like peeling an orange!

    I can’t hear “In The Air Danide” (“Tonight” pronounced in that horrible American style) without thinking of that bloody Cadbury’s drumming gorilla.

    UFO – more or less the initials of the words we all thought of telling the band on hearing this. I could have boiled an egg in that time.

    What was Mac Davis’s audience on? “I used to have a girlfriend”…but she saw sense. Still, Billy Currie takes the self-love stakes to his usual higher level in Ultravox’s classic. I think I’m right that Midge Ure appeared in six different UK chart acts – Slik, Rich Kids, Ultravox, Thin Lizzy, Live Aid and solo. Is that some kind of record?

    1. although he never appeared live or in their videos, midge was also a member of the visage collective - does that count?

  10. Midge Ure also charted a duet with late Japan bassist Mick Karn, After A Fashion.

  11. 'Yellow Pearl' was mostly Midge as well, of course! I think he could have quite rightly claimed a dual credit on that one...

    1. He did. Check out 45cat and you'll see the writing credit is Ure/Lynott

  12. Wow, Anglo Gravity is certainly right when he states ‘what a show!’ Such a shame that this is a DLT hosted edition and will not be seen on BBC4 in all its glory. Massive thanks to Meer for loading so we can see and judge. As stated, there are four all time classics on here.

    Susan Fassbender – Twilight Café – Funnily enough I picked up this single cheap a few weeks ago and I agree with Dory’s comments that this was an excellent show starter - and should have gone top 10. Great little Rick Wakeman style keyboard solo from Susan. The follow up single ‘Stay’ credited to Fassbender / Russell – Kay Russell (who is the guitarist here, as other people have noted – check out the sleeve to ‘Stay’ on 45cat) was co-writer on both songs and sings some of the vocals on ‘Stay’ which also included a very similar sounding keyboard solo.

    Gary Numan - This Wreckage – Cut short after being shown in full on the last pre-Christmas edition and I don’t think DLT cared much for this one!

    Light of the World – I shot the Sherriff – Prefer Slowhand’s version. The follow up single ‘I’m so happy’ I don’t think was ever featured on TOTP, which was a shame as it’s a superb ballad. However, it was a double A side with the more up-tempo ‘Time’ which may have been on the programme.

    Dire Straits – Romeo and Juliet – I bought the ‘Making Movies’ album when it was released and thought it was fabulous. Never thought this would be a hit single as it was too long, but fortunately this cream came to the top. Recorded by the three piece Dire Straits with help from Springsteen’s keyboard player Roy Bittan, this appearance features guitarist Hal Lindes and keyboard player Alan Clark, neither of whom played on the track but were part of the live band. Cruelly chopped on this TOTP showing but (as with ‘Turn it on again’ by Genesis) I am pretty sure a future showing played out much more of the song?

    Stevie Wonder/Legs & Co – I ain’t gonna stand for it – Don’t really recall this one; Stevie sings really low. Legs & Co looks like they’re wearing Dr Who costumes; probably from Tom Baker’s 6th season or something.

    Phil Collins – In the air tonight – Just timeless. Does anyone realise that the single mix and the album mix on ‘Face Value’ are different? Listen carefully in the verses and you’ll hear additional drum beats that Phil believed would appeal more to the kids buying singles. Enough said about the paint pot! Never realised the significance at the time.

    UFO – Lonely Heart – Not one of their best known songs, but a reasonable effort with Phil Mogg’s vocals sounding great and amazingly with a sax solo from multi-instrumentalist Paul Raymond. Ace guitarist Michael Schenker had left the band by now and been replaced by Paul Chapman. UFO had released what is reckoned to be one of the greatest double live albums in the 70s – ‘Strangers in the Night’, but could never grab the mass appeal that this set promised. Btw this single was released on clear and black vinyl, not red. As people have stated, ‘Young Blood’ was out on red vinyl.

    Mac Davis - Hard to be Humble – What?!! Next please…

    Ultravox – Vienna – Despite the edit before Billy Currie’s viola solo, an absolutely magnificent performance – so much better that the weird Christmas show effort. Seen the video so many times, so nice to see this performance on TOTP which was the first time I had ever heard the song, and boy what an impression it made! The applause at the end is frenetic here!

    Queen – Flash – Average song, but its Queen and the film was good too.

    John Lennon – Imagine – Nothing more to say…classic song etc. etc.

    Yardbrough & Peoples playout – not memorable at all.

    Chart rundown – Interesting to see never shown videos for ‘Too nice to talk to’ and ‘Do nothing’ – the latter being live. Jona Lewie’s video I don’t believe was ever shown on TOTP either.

    Verdict – a great edition of TOTP – so glad it’s available to watch on the net (shame its DLT). Thank you Meer again.

    1. At this point in time in 1981, before the internet and music video channels, which arrived only at the end of the 80s, pop videos were very hard to access for ordinary people, i.e., the public, and only TV channels like BBC and ITV could get hold of them, so videos of groups who were easily available to appear in the TOTP studio, would never be seen.

      The examples you give here, like The Beat and Jonah Lewie, we given slight clips on the top ten rundown, but that was it, and no-one ever saw the videos until years later in the 90s when Utube and the internet arrived.

      In my opinion, the internet and Utube arrived 15 years too late in 1995. Had they arrived in 1980 when pop videos were just starting to be become regular, then if you liked a small clip on TOTP on the night, then you could out of curiosity see the whole video on Utube, and who knows, this may have made a big difference to a song's charting success, and not only having to rely on TOTP showings and radio plays only, as was the case in 1981.

    2. Re Phil Collins - that paint pot passed me by as well, but thinking about it, didn't it appear in the Spitting Image video?...

    3. We will get both "Time" by Light Of The World and another showing for "Romeo and Juliet" on separate shows hosted by Master Bates, so at least they'll be on terrestrial as things stand.

  13. There's a strong Eric Clapton connection to this show.

    He released hit versions of two of the songs (I Shot the Sheriff and I Aint Gonna Stand For It), and collaborated with two of the featured artists (Phil Collins on I Wish It Would Rain Down, and John Lennon in the Dirty Mac supergroup).

    I'm pretty sure he never covered Hard to Be Humble, but this is a man with the nickname God....

  14. There's a strong Eric Clapton connection to this show.

    He released hit versions of two of the songs (I Shot the Sheriff and I Aint Gonna Stand For It), and collaborated with two of the featured artists (Phil Collins on I Wish It Would Rain Down, and John Lennon in the Dirty Mac supergroup).

    I'm pretty sure he never covered Hard to Be Humble, but this is a man with the nickname God....

  15. Angelo quick question do we know why BBC4 are bombing through 1981 with 2 eps a week are they planning a long summer break like last year ?