Friday, 15 January 2016

Top of the Pops (is Going to Help Me)

These 1981 editions really are coming thick and fast aren't they? The BBC4 announcer last night did seem to suggest that the shows would continue to be twice weekly in 2016, maybe someone should mention to them that we've got 17 shows too few not 17 too many!

This year seems to be going soooooo fast!

22/01/81 (Peter Powell)

(6) The Look – “I Am The Beat”
And number 6 was as high as it got. Were they perhaps the last of the New Wave acts before the New Romantics completely took over?

(14) Blondie – “Rapture” (video)
It's hard to believe but Rapture would be the band's final top ten hit until their dramatic comeback single Maria in 1999!

(45) Spandau Ballet – “The Freeze”
The follow-up to Cut a Long Story Short was not quite as successful, surprisingly only making number 17 in the charts.

(13) Racey – “Runaround Sue”  (rpt from 08/01/81)
Now at its peak in the chart and then that's it for Racey ~ it was short and sweet - literally :-) But edited out of tonight's 7.30pm show.

(54) XTC – “Sgt Rock (Is Going To Help Me)”
This was the third single taken from their 1980 album Black Sea, and it became the first one to break into the top 30 and then go top 20. And edited out of the 7.30pm show.

(23) Visage – “Fade To Grey” (video)
The first of 1981s quite extraordinary videos, making perhaps as much impact at the time as Bowie's Ashes to Ashes had a few months earlier ~ and yet somehow this song peaked only at number 8.

(8) Yarbrough & Peoples – “Don’t Stop The Music”
This week's Scottish themed Legs & Co highland fling helped lift this song up one place higher in the charts.

(2) Adam & The Ants – “Antmusic” (rpt from 11/12/80)
Now at its peak, would have been a number one of course were it not for the death of John Lennon. But edited out of the 7.30 show.

(64) Honey Bane – “Turn Me On, Turn Me Off”
I did consider this song for the new blog title, but was discouraged by the 'turn me off' bit and also the fact it was a little known song that peaked at 37. Still, an interesting performance though from what can only be described as a prototype Toyah.

(22) Bad Manners – “Lorraine” (rpt from 08/01/81)
One place higher was Lorraine's peak before the axe came down.

(1) John Lennon – “Imagine” (video)
Third of four weeks in the top spot, with Woman already at number 3 waiting to take over.

(30) The Gap Band – “Burn Rubber On Me” (credits)
Peaked at 22. And back to the old style swirly credits.

The next edition then is the 29th January 1981 with Tommy Vance.


  1. Surely with The Look making the zombies all tap their feet it's only a matter of time before this shows up on the soundtrack to The Walking Dead?

    Already it's the era of the pop video, though Debbie Harry's, er, idiosyncratic take on rap was curtailed in the single shot rendition here thanks to the TOTP producer being too keen to get onto the next song. The Futurama theme reminds me a bit of this.

    I can see why this Spandau Ballet tune wasn't as big a hit as anticipated: they make Tony sing too quietly for too much of it. Fortunately they learned their lesson thereafter and he yelled his head off in the records to come.

    XTC's ironic view of male uselessness in the face of the ladies' empowerment, marches along rather excellently, but I wonder why they picked an American comic character like Sgt Rock? Was he particularly popular over here? Don't recall him in the pages of Commando or Warlord.

    Visage in one of many videos of this decade seemingly designed to baffle the younger me. Looks slightly naff now, but the tune remains icily intriguing.

    What better to represent the electrofunk of Yarborough and Peoples than a trip to the Highland Games? No, no idea either. I like this song with its slick production and snarky sounding vocals.

    Honey Bane, well here's one for our resident net detectives, who was this? Decent enough spiky ska ditty, but talk about obscure. According to Peter Powell she was a prodigy of our old nemesis Jimmy Pursey. Hope she doesn't spend her royalty cheque all at once.

    Was this Lennon video from a documentary film? I vaguely recall one being made about him and Yoko in the early 70s, but couldn't tell you if this was part of it.

    Gap Band sounding rather fine to close, don't recognise this but rather it than Oops etc again.

    1. I imagine Legs stole their tartan image from Spandau Ballet. As for XTC, with their new wave sequel to the Stones' 'Under My Thumb', the line 'Make the girl mine, keep her stood in line' would be considered politically incorrect nowadays. It may well have been inspired by the Two Ronnies' serial 'The Worm That Turned', which had aired the previous year!

    2. The Fade to Grey video was directed by Godley & Crème - the first of many bar raisers they made for big chart hits

    3. Interesting character, Honey Bane. First single with a punk band at 14, next single recorded while on the run from social services, became managed by Jimmy Pursey, got signed to EMI for a five-year deal where they tried to turn her into a teenage market singer (her only other chart entry was an appalling cover of "Baby Love"), her relationship with EMI and Pursey exploded, she did a play with that arse Richard Jobson where they had to pretend to have sex (and, apparently, on one occasion, Jobson managed to do some proper method acting and hide the sausage during the performance), then became a model for, erm, erotic men's magazines (you can see everything under that red coat, and I mean absolutely everything) and she released an album a couple of years back.

    4. We still got a rock-solid three minutes of the Blondie video, despite as you say THX that the producer on TOTP seemed keen to move on to the next song.

      We were still at a time in 1981 where TOTP would still not make the show as one hour in duration, so that it would not feel like cramming in songs, or cutting videos short.

      Considering that TOTP was still the only mainstream channel for the UK charts, and was THE show that everyone seemed to watch every week, it does make it a little strange that they only put out 40 minutes for a show that deserved an hour.

    5. @Julie: I always thought with Andy Partridge's (and presumably his bandmates) famous sense of humour they were being satirical on Sgt Rock? It's so over the top it doesn't sound too serious, though if a Men's Rights group adopts it as an anthem this year I may have second thoughts.

      @Arthur: There you go, that's the level of information I've come to expect here, and with a Google I'll regret into the bargain. Was she... pregnant? Jeez. She actually reminded me of the far more respectable Rachel Sweet on this show, more than Toyah I mean.

    6. to my recollection the sgt rock character was part of the american marvel or DC roster (and not exactly giving the likes of superman and spiderman sleepness nights in terms of popularity), as opposed to the british commando/warlord A5-sized comic books. i have to admit i enjoyed reading the latter well into the 80's!

    7. THX, it's possible (though I haven't checked out, honestly!) that Honey Bane had some photos done when pregnant with her eldest daughter (Honey bore four kids and another sadly died in the womb), and she's now a grandmother three times over! That really puts everything into perspective timewise.

    8. Plus back when those photos were taken we didn't have the internet where horrified grandchildren could be one click of their mouse away.

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  3. Could anyone be more sexy than Blondie in her low-cut top and shorts at this point in time in January 1981? Erm, I don't think so.
    The combination of sex appeal, timely venture into rap for her, and excellent video skills, makes for a very good new entry here straight in at No.14 this week. This has always been one of my favourites from the Blondie catalogue and still sounds good today. Was that one of the Village People popping up from behind a hedge towards the end of the video clip this week?

    Ah, I think this is the last ever appearance of Racey on TOTP, but nevertheless a good one to go out with. While their best year was 1979, they were still trying to make an impact somehow during the surge of the New Romantics., but like Matchbox, Darts, ShowaddyWaddy, time was finally up for this DooWop sound during 1981.

    Yarborough & Peoples - Legs & Co’s routine to this was a good one, as I like the tartan skirt appearance, looking much better than on Spandau Ballet a month earlier with To Cut A Long Story Short. I was watching only a few days ago the 2007 movie American Pie Beta House Presents, and there were similar skirts on teenage high school girls at a college party, and I must say that I much prefer Legs & Co.

  4. The inexorable rise of synth pop continues on this show with Spandau Ballet and Visage. The Freeze is one of the former group's lesser-known hits, but it chugs along pleasantly enough. The only problem with it is the rather hoarse, strangulated vocals Tony Hadley (looking rather hirsute here), adopted for it. Fade to Grey, like Vienna, is one of the defining songs of this era that I never get tired of hearing. However, the video, while undoubtedly ground-breaking, does look a bit clunky these days.

    Rapture, meanwhile, brings the curtain down on Blondie's imperial phase. It was a partial return to form after The Tide is High, though the rapping is a bit embarrassing. I wonder how important this record was in helping to make rap into more of a mainstream sound? I'm sure many at the time had written it off as a novelty sound that had enjoyed its five minutes of fame. On Sgt Rock, XTC sound a bit like a novelty act to my ears - the song is just a bit too self-consciously quirky for me, I think.

    If I ever came across the Honey Bane effort again, I would definitely be turning it off. It was boring, repetitive and lyrically challenged, and the transparent pink raincoat was not a good look. I imagine Toyah might have been a bit annoyed at the time that Honey had beaten her on to TOTP, but after listening to this she would probably have realised she had nothing to worry about! Quite how the Yarbrough and Peoples tune became connected in Flick's mind with the Highland fling we shall never know, but perhaps she had wanted to do a Scottish theme for a while and couldn't find a song to fit it! A solid routine to a solid tune, anyway - I see Pauline is wearing the same wig Aneka would sport a few months later when she appeared on the show.

    PP adopts a refreshingly low-key presentation style by his standards, and the result is one of his better outings, even if the audience seemed to be quite keen on physically assaulting him for some reason. Whoever was responsible for the chart rundown captions fared less well - anyone else spot "Dire Straights"?

    1. Yes indeed John, this was Blondie's final top ten hit (not counting her comeback hit in later life in 1999 called Maria), and yes it was a successful follow-up to The Tide is High, but from there on, that was it, and very much side by side with Abba's inexorable decline at the same time after Super Trouper a month earlier.

      We were now seeing the decline of two powerhouses of pop music history, right here at the beginning of 1981.

    2. Yes, it is interesting how Blondie and ABBA seemed so dominant in 1980, but within a couple of years their time had gone. It just goes to show how quickly things can change in the music world.

    3. Debbie Harry released her solo album Kookoo in 1981 which was produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers and Backfired was a minor hit reaching no 32.

    4. "backfired" aptly describes the cover for the "koo koo" album, where debs' face has been skewered several times by hr giger (of "alien" fame). i presume it was intended to cause controversy and therefore attract attention, but instead i think it actually put punters off buying it!

  5. On the issue of how long these double bills are going to last for, we are definitely getting another one next week and quite possibly another the week after that. I'd like to think that this is just a temporary thing, allowing BBC4 to create space for a longer Proms break. I prefer the repeats to be broadcast at roughly the time of year they were originally shown, and I think it's more of a treat if you only get one show a week. You can have too much of a good thing, and I don't really want to be watching Christmas shows in June...

    1. I also hope these double billers don't last too long, it's hard work putting together two blogs in two days - three if there's a skipped show like this week - even with my minimal input style :-)

    2. Yes Angelo, it's like BBC4 have given you more work this week with no overtime.

    3. I'm finding it hard work finding the time to watch TOTP, Brian Pern and Football League Tonight over a weekend!

    4. I'm finding it hard work finding the time to watch TOTP, Brian Pern and Football League Tonight over a weekend!

    5. The Mike Batt anecdote on Brian Pern this week was hilarious! Great show.

    6. The announcer seemed to imply the double bills were long term, though that would suggest 1982 would be here as soon as May, which would be odd. I don't think it's because of The Proms, as they're only for seven weeks and there are enough eps already to deal with the gap. Must be permanent. Ideally, BBC4 should run them on completely different nights

    7. Maybe they need to free up some room for when bbc3 goes off air? I can't see them going into 1982 out of sync, so we might get a prolonged break in the summer this year - unless they do indeed intend to move on a year.

    8. Andrew - I did work out in my head (I'm very sad about things like this), that 2 or 3 double bills at the start of the year, assuming monthly breaks for the Sky at Night and a longer one for the Proms, would enable the rest of the year to be covered by one TOTP a week without any backlog developing at the end of the year. If the double bills are permanent, Sky at Night breaks would enable BBC4 to eke them out until June. It's certainly not inconceivable that we could then go straight into 1982 (the end of The Story of 1981 certainly suggested that we will be seeing that year), but equally we could be looking at a 6 month wait for it if they decide to show those episodes next year. Time will tell...

      Angelo - I sympathise with all the extra work this could impose on you. There could be some weeks where 2 Yewtreed shows fall between a BBC4 double bill, which would mean 4 blogs for that week! I'm sure none of the posters here would begrudge it if you felt the need to spread the posting of blogs out during the week a bit more, especially where you have to deal with Yewtreed shows too.

    9. The double bills certainly last all January at least ~ with the edition from February 26th 1981 scheduled for Friday the 29th Jan.

    10. John - I really don't understand why they would take a 6-month break when there is no need. My guess is that it's to speed things along, especially with the future of BBC4 uncertain.

    11. I can't see an obvious need myself why they would wait until next year for 1982, if they are no longer bothered by keeping repeats in line with original broadcast dates. However, who can tell with the BBC - the start date for '82 (if we get it) might depend in part on whether they want to do a Story of 1982 to launch it, and how quickly that can be produced.

    12. It'z all very odd isn't it? For me personally, twice a week every week indefinitely works. Sorry Angelo. Thanks though for what you do. It doesn't go unnoticed.

    13. All....this is nothing compared to having watched a daily episode of The Incredible Hulk, that is 5 shows a week (Monday to Friday), compared to the original run in 1978-1982 with the customary one episode a week on ITV.

      Suffice to say that the Horror Channel just finished showing the 5th and final series of the cult comic-book series a couple of days ago with the last episode of the 5 seasons.

    14. I'm way behind on these shows having watched out of order. Regarding Blondie, I thought 'Island of lost souls' was top 10 in 1982, but not so; top 11.

  6. Blimey, three shows and write-ups in two hours. I’m knackered. Now I get some idea how Angelo feels!

    Peter was very informative this week, a bit like Tommy Vance, and not so annoying either, plus he did a good Look / Beat link in the top ten and gave The Gap Band’s outro song an intro, something of a rarity in recent weeks. Well played, sir.

    The Look’s song wasn’t the only one which took till October to chart. That pesky Mac Davis took that long and spent 16 weeks in the top 75 with his crud. Back to The Look - I had to look up Mister Krupa and discovered he was an American jazz drummer and band leader called Gene Krupa.

    My, she looked good, but wasn’t Debs a bit on the thin side? Fine groove but an excruciating rap.

    Ah, here comes Tony “Three Notes” Hadley, looking like a New Romantic Noel Edmonds before letting Legs & Co borrow his wardrobe. Spiny Norman looked like Captain Sensible, and had Martin Kemp forgotten his gum?

    Bye bye, Racey – shut the door after you.

    Is that Spiny Norman with XTC? Marvellous cravat, Andy Partridge, but not one of XTC’s best.

    Oh dear, it’s that poncey two faces painted on one / attacked by an arm snake Visage video. Mind you, Frenchy looks nice without her slap on.

    Did Flick think that disco act was Yarborough and Peebles, hence the Scottish garb for the Leggers? A good groove to this, but I hate the sped up chipmunk voices part.

    The Toppatron karaoke video gets three times as many TOTPs for “Antmusic” as Honey Bane does in her whole career. A one-minute song stretched wafer thin, but fair play for a very assured performance from a 16-year-old. Maybe “Turn Me On Turn Me Off” would have been a good name for the blog this year after all, what with all the Yewtreed episodes and potentially months without TOTP this year due to these double episode weeks.

    Finally, with old Dougie Trendle dressed like our ‘Enery, shouldn’t Bad Manners’ song have been named after one (or more) of his wives?

    1. Yes you're right about the blog title! Oh well it came too soon anyway and only gets the one showing- you need a bit more of a build up I think for the blog title song to appear. Did Henry VIII have a two syllables wife? Maybe they could have got away with 'Cathrine' ?

    2. None of the six wives had two syllables - there were 3 Catherines, 2 Annes and 1 Jane!

  7. i had hoped to watch this "sprung on me " edition on the telly in the comfort of someone else's lounge. but the earliest opportunity i have is next tuesday, and if i leave it until then everything to say will have been said! so instead i'm having to watch it on a laptop using headphones (and at 5am on sunday morning!)...

    host: pp does does his usual mix of enthusiasm and clumsiness. his reading out the chart rundowns was quite competent, but he pronounces "visage" in different ways. and mispronounces bowie's surname as well (which is no doubt still being mispronounced now, even though his death has taken over the world)

    the look: a second look at this lot has not endeared them any more to me. the lead singer looks uncomfortably like richard madeley (who was soon to appear on telly himself as a dinner-suited reporter on the new romantic scene)

    blondie: there's actually some pretty good white funk going on here. in fact it's so good i'm wondering just how much did the actual blondie musicians have to do with it? i'm guessing that's grandmaster flash on the decks in the bit where debbie starts rapping (and where the wheels start coming off - rap is abominable at the best of times in my view, but she takes it to new depths here). a shame they couldn't have replaced that debacle with some kind of instrumental solo instead. on the looks front blondie... sorry - debbie looks good facially, but to me wearing a boob tube seems a bit pointless (ho ho) if your boobs are practically non-existent as hers appear to be!

    spandau: ah, the director has done a flick colby and literally interpreted the title of this with some freeze-frames! the kilts (actually there was only ever one kilt) are already as passe as yesterday's papers, ditched in favour of the merry minstrel look. that is other than steve norman (taking over from martin kemp as the band "gum chewer"), who hides that lovely hair of his under some stupid beret (that always says a lot less "effortlessly cool french guys sitting in cafes smoking gitanes" to me than it does "frank spencer"). and i really didn't care for tony hadley's slicked-back hair and beard combination either. like their debut single i have absolutely no idea what it's about lyrically, but i remember preferring this follow-up on its musical merits at the time. but (unlike "to cut a long story short") i bet most have forgotten it now - and listening again one can easily hear why

  8. like arthur's recent contributions this is a double helping, although unlike his the second bit is different (sorry arthur, i have no idea how to correct the fault!):

    xtc: so main songwriter andy partridge finally gets to front the band instead of colin moulding, but no sign of his trademark specs. and without them i have to say he looks like a male version of sandi toksvig! a fine enthusiastic performance from the band, but musically it sounds like three totally separate ideas have been stuck together. on the sartorial front: i wonder if steve norman was a bit put out turning up at the studio in his latest hipster look, only to find that the far-less-cool dave gregory was sporting exactly the same beret/shades combo?

    visage: of course i've seen this video many times before, but it's always worth another look. mr strange also espouses the minstrel look which was obviously the new romantics' must-have wardrobe this particular week (oh dear, it's beginning to sound like i'm some sort of commentator on "the clothes show"!). and when the slap's on he looks prettier than his female companion! musically the best bit of this for me is when the snare kicks in halfway through, followed by that great big fat plopping syndrum noise

    yarbrough and peoples/legs: ah, so that's what happened to spandau's kilts! it's nice to see the classiest legger gill up front, but what the hell's happened to pauline's hair?

    honey bane: or rather toyah in all but name. there's a bit of everything in this: synth-pop, new wave, disco... the only thing missing is a tune!

    gap band: for a million points (as a certain disgraced DJ would say) the full title of this tyre-some retread (ho ho) of "oops" is: "burn rubber on me (why you wanna hurt me)"... thus rendering it perhaps the silliest song title with parentheses in it. the other effort tonight "sgt rock (is going to help me)" isn't quite as bad, but other contenders include the boomtown rats' soon-to-appear "elephant's gravyard (guilty)". can anyone think of others?

    1. It does seem strange that TOTP decided to give the Yarbrough & Peoples track for Legs & Co this week, considering that the Yarborough video was clearly already available, as seen later in the show in the top ten rundown.

      There must have been something else in the Top 30 that they could have given to Legs to do, where there was no video or studio performance available.

      Looking at the top 30 of that particular week, the obvious one would have been Young Parisians by Adam & Ants at No.11, even though Adam was in the studio for his No.2 hit Ant Music on the same week!

      To have a No.2 and No.11 in the same week for the Ants would have mixed it up nicely by having Legs doing the No.11 track Young Parisians, especially as there was no video made or even studio performance available for this.

    2. I'm not sure Adam and the Ants and / or their record company CBS would have allowed "Young Parisians" on the show, as it was a 'novelty' cash-in release by one of their old record companies, Decca. Mind you, if either "Car Trouble" or "Zerox", re-released on another old label of theirs, the indie Do It, had made the top 30 (they peaked at 33 and 45), I could imagine the lads having a crack at them on the show.

    3. Re song titles with parenthesis perhaps the ultimate was Heaven 17's (And that's no lie) which was ALL in brackets.

    4. (Get a) Grip (on Yourself) by the Stranglers is fairly heavy on the parantheses

    5. Even better, the 89 remix was called 'Grip 89 ((Get A) Grip (On Yourself))' !!!

    6. Even better, the 89 remix was called 'Grip 89 ((Get A) Grip (On Yourself))' !!!

    7. whoever came up with that last title clearly needed to get a grip on themselves!

  9. I did have a wry smile thinking about The Look's singer smugly crooning "I'm in demand". He must have been thinking "From 30 to number 6 in two weeks, this could go to the top". This was their chart peak and the band's swansong TOTP outing.

  10. Just thought, bearing in mind the sartorial stylings of their bassist Sketch, had Linx been on this show as well, we could have had three helpings of beret and shades in the same edition. Ooh, Betty!

  11. Not sure about this whole doubling-up thing. One of the joys of these re-runs is them being broadcast 'virtually' 35 years to the day - we see summer editions at summertime, the Christmas special at Christmas etc. I may be old fashioned - but I like my time frames to be constant not all Doctor-Who-wibbley-wobbley-timey-wimey.

    Anyway - the show.

    Blondie. Often cited as the moment rap became mainstream, Rapture is mid-table stuff made neither better nor worse for Debbie's rap.

    Spandau Ballet. Still one of favourite singles of theres but not the first clue what Tone is singing. Already it is clear that the group were extremely keen on the image aspect of being in a band.

    Never really got XTC - seemed like a knock-off Squeeze to me sans the decent tune.

    The Gap Band. Three, maybe four times better than Oops Upside Your Head and yet was nowhere near as big a hit. Go figure!

    Peter Powell seems to have spent his Christmas Groupon tokens on a TV Presenters Course. Well worth the money Peter - 6 out of 10.

    The show cops for a 7. Spandau, Adam Ant, Gap Band, Blondie, Yarboro/Peoples all decent tunes

  12. I'm not overly keen on the shows being twice a week either - I'm only keeping up now as I am out of work but that will hopefully change soon!

    This was a decent show and I agree that Peter Powell was much less annoying than usual.

    Good to hear 'I Am The Beat' again but still no alien noises or Krupa impression for some odd reason.

    I've always quite liked 'Rapture' but no-one would argue that the rap is the best thing about it! I watched the (repeated) BBC4 documentary about Blondie recently, during which they explained that it was knocked up in about 15 minutes, so that partly explains it..

    Spandau Ballet - well...a chorus would've been nice. And although people point the figure at them for looking ridiculous when doing 'To Cut A Long Story Short', they look much sillier here. Oh, and there's Gary Kemp looking like a total bell-end as usual!

    XTC - A slightly weird performance of a decent enough song, but then I know that Andy Partridge had chronic stage fright, so fair enough.

    I still think the Visage video holds up pretty well - the young me was utterly entranced by it, I know that much!

    Mrs Noax pointed out to me that this episode was broadcast quite close to Burns Night, so that may be the reason for the Scottish garb given to Legs & Co. I spotted the Aneka wig too! I rather like the song, though I agree with Dory that an airing for the video wouldn't have gone amiss.

    Honey Bane - No. Just no. Awful.

    That Gap Band song surprised me in a good way as I hate most of their stuff. I thought it was pretty good (and I think that the staccato drumbeat bits were nicked by De La Soul for 'Me Myself & I'?) although it didn't remind me a little of the melody of the made-up song from one of those piss-take TOTP on Youtube - namely the one that went 'Milk, milk, lemonade...'
    It says a lot that I STILL have that in my head....

    1. noax, without checking i think the totp parody on youtube you're thinking of is "i've got the funk" by "the temptations"... which i thought much better than "burn rubber on me"!

    2. Oh, probably. I meant that it just sounded remarkably like The Gap Band song!

      And now it's in my head again - AARGGHHH!!

    3. sorry chaps but had to find the "track" in question to see if i was right or not... and i wasn't! it is in fact "you're such a funky spastic" by fictitious band funktionale, and it's about halfway through this video:

      ... and apart from the infectious melody, in my view a sterling piece of funk!

    4. The Fade to Grey video was ground breaking at the time and despite being released early in the year still stuck in people's minds for the end of year 'Record Mirror' poll where it made the top10.

  13. Sad to hear of the death of Glen Frey of The Eagles yesterday. His lead vocals on a number of their hits were a reflection of the golden days of rock-solid American music that touched many of our our lives.

    I was only 8 years old in 1976 when Hotel California was first released, and it is one of my first memories of the type of excellent music on offer that was coming through to us here in Britain. A sad loss to the music world with the loss of Mr Frey.

  14. I'm back, now with unlimited broadband and boy it looks like I need it! May I give my belated thanks for making the previous Yewtreed edition available.

    I was never really into this New Romantic thing, although the music was listenable enough, therefore the highlights for me so far this year include the Beat, the Look, XTC, Honey Bane and the brilliant Susan Fassbender. How anyone can appear out of obscurity, release the perfect pop song and go back to where they came from is beyond me. I never knew that it wasn't her real name and that she came to a tragic end just a decade after this. One learns things on this blog. But it's only a matter of weeks (well, next week reading the above) before she's eclipsed by another female vocalist debuting with the best synthpop song ever!

    Finally, while we're remembering all things Bowie, spare a thought for poor Trevor Bolder, who went to his grave in 2013 being remembered for fluffing his bass part 40 years previously on a live TOTP performance which was thought to have been long dead and buried....

    1. i don't know about bolder's mistake in the re-discovered totp version, but there was a cock-up in the originial studio version with the musicians uncertain when to switch to the first chorus, resulting in an extra bar and bowie muttering something incomprehensible (ironically it was bolder who switched at the right point, with bowie and ronson messing up).when i played in a bowie tribute band we always had to put this "mistake" in our rendition of the song as we felt it was expected by the punters, even though it never felt right! but i don't know if bowie himself deliberately performed it that way live as a consequence of what happened? of course had that error happened nowadays they would probably either have snipped out the offending bar, or re-recorded it!

    2. by the way, good to see you back with us again 20th cent!

    3. Thanks Wilb, I'll give the studio version a close listen when I've got the time.

  15. Looking back at the no.22 hit this week, Lorraine by Bad Manners, it seems that the mouth organ was put to good use here, and rarely used in pop music, but came off very well on this track. Does anyone know of any other hits of the time with this fantastic instrument?

    I found this superb 4-minute performance by Stan Laurel from the film Pick A Star, and the same mouth instrument was put to good use on Lorraine this week.
    Suffice to say that it's difficult to pick which of the two performances came off best. Any opinions?

  16. Blimey the show actually starts with the TOTP logo this week for the first time in years (falls of seat in shock).

    Peter Powell on high-waister trouser and half hidden Beatles teeshirt presenting duties and we're back to panning cameras this week between the acts and presenter, with less sharp cuts.

    The Look with The Biyte again. A much smaller crowd this week so no one on the steps behind the band. I seem to recall that the end of this song on the record is a continuous locked groove so it goes on forever.

    Blondie Rapture on video. I remember being totally blown away by this at the time, the song and the video. Is that actually Fab Five Freddie at the wheels of steel?

    Last week The Look and The Beat were on the same show. This week Spandex Bollox and The Freeze. Are Freeez on this week? No. Shame. Of all the new romantic bands I think the Spands were the one I hated the most at the time mainly because they all looked like such ridiculous posers jumping on the dressing up box bandwaggon. Really this is just a rewrite of to Cut a long Story Short but they got away with it.

    Oh no it's Racey again, er racing up the charts.

    A lot of beard action this week - one of Blondie, Tony Hadley and one XTC's guitarist. Also a lot of doubling up of instruments with Gary Kemp on guitar and synth, Racey's pianist doing sax duties and XTC's guitarist on trombone. I actually bought this XTC single and had a soft spot for them back then. I like Andy Partridge's sargeant stripe guitar strap and matching customised guitar. And I like the coy faces he pulls when singing certain lines. Methinks I shall dig out my old XTC albums this week.

    Visage Fade To Grey on video. So many influences here from Bowie to Leigh Bowrey and it was directed by Godley and Creme. In November 1981 after I walked out of college I got a job at a film research company in Soho. The pay was dreadful but it was an interesting job and I got to meet a lot of people. The guy who ran the company told me that he met a lot of video directors including Mike Mansfield (who did the Adam Ant vids) and Godley and Creme. He said they were pretty green and asked a lot of questions. He was most amused that he managed to sell them loads of vintage film leaders (which you can get anywhere for free) but they seemed to have learned very quickly as this is pretty good and still stands out today. I won't tell you what he said about Mike Mansfield.

    Legs not following the tradition of going commando under the kilt. Quite what all this has to do with the song or Yarbourogh and Peopes is anyone's guess.

    Stuff like Turn Me Off Turn Me On made the charts in France all the time usually sung by teenage girls. I remember this from the time and dismissing it as rubbish but she was a protege of Jimmy Pursey. Around the same time Peter Townsend similarly had a teenage girl protege of his own who was equally forgettable (her name escapes me now).

    Bad Manners again. They could have shown the video here which partly explains why Buster is dressed as Henry VIII but as a lot of the video repeats what is happening here there might not be any point.

    Nice to see an alternative live clip of The Specials in the Top Ten rundown which i believe is from the Dance Craze film. Not so nice is the close up of Phil Collins' ugly mug where he looks like he has a stocking over his head (I forget who first said that). Why not show the clip of him from before.? The BBC, they give with one hand and take away with the other.

    Lennon again and play out with The Gap Band. At that time I had never heard the expression burn rubber on me and thought it was some weird kinky sex thing

    1. according to wiki the phrase "burn rubber on me" actually isn't some euthemism for sexual acts, which i find hard to beleive. of course it was around this time that the gang of four got pulled from a totp show for refusing to replace the word "rubbers" in the lyric of their single, thus pretty much spiking their career and (as i've just learned via wiki) indavertently boosting that of soon-to-be-seen duran duran!

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  18. Did anyone else notice Dire Straits (straights ) spelt wrong in the chart countdown