Friday, 12 February 2016

This Ole Top of the Pops

Already then we reach the final edition of Top of the Pops of March 1981, how time flies, eh? And what a particularly bouncy show this one is, it certainly has got a real 'spring' in its step :-)

What you talking about, Pauline's left?

26/03/81 (hosted by Richard Skinner)

(36) Polecats – “John I’m Only Dancing”
The show gets off to an energetic start with the Polecats leaping about with this rockabilly Bowie cover and the now Paulineless Legs & Co doing their audience cheerleading again ~ but despite all this effort the song only went up one place higher in the charts.

(2) Kim Wilde – “Kids In America” (video)
At its peak now and edited out of the 7.30pm show tonight.

(43) Graham Bonnet – “Night Games”
This was also edited out but we will get to see it on a future edition because it made it to number 6.

(23) Hazel O’Connor – “D-Days”
Not many performers turn up disguised as one of the girls (or granny!) around the presenter but Hazel soon reveals herself and is quickly outbouncing the Polecats with her rendition of D-Days, which peaked at number 10 and was the first of two top ten hits for her in 1981.

(10) Tony Capstick – “Capstick Comes Home”
The bouncing takes a bit of a break here as popular Radio Sheffield DJ and comedian/actor/folk singer Tony Capstick does one of those records that the kids of today just don't understand... and it would peak at number 3.

(37) Gillan – “New Orleans”
The show cranks up a gear or five now as Gillan offers this heavy rock version of New Orleans, taken from his number 2 album Future Shock.

(53) Lene Lovich – “New Toy”
Edited out of tonights 7.30pm show ~ and it got no higher than number 53.

(13) Linx – “Intuition” (13) (video)
Linx were still stealing apples and bouncing towards the top ten.

(54) Bad Manners – “Just A Feeling”
Looking alarmingly like a hotdog about to have a heart attack, Bad Manners up the bouncing stakes with their first of three top 20 singles in 1981, this one peaking at number 13.

(20) The Whispers – “It’s A Love Thing”
So Legs & Co are reduced to five members for the time being, and that time ended up being about two months before Anita joined them. Dancing here to the second and final top ten hit for the Whispers, Its a Love Thing made it to number 9.

(11) Landscape – “Einstein A Go-Go” (video)
Soon to become the band's only top ten hit when it peaked at number 5.

(1) Shakin’ Stevens – “This Ole House” (rpt from 05/03/81)
And so the Shaky phenomenon begins with his first of two number ones in 1981. And look ~ Pauline's back already!

(24) Bucks Fizz - "Making Your Mind Up" (credits)
Sounding promising for the Eurovision Song contest, which would be held on April 4th in Dublin.

We get a little bit of a breather next week because Thursday has a Sky at Night episode on BBC4, but we're back on Friday with Top of the Pops from April 2nd 1981.


  1. The Polecats – how on earth did they choose to do David Bowie’s John I’m Only Dancing, which was only few years ago in the charts for David Bowie, and he was still going strong in 1981? Legs & Co helping out in the background were now down to five, with no Pauline, and still a vacancy to be filled, haha!

    Hazel O’Connor – I found it quite unprofessional for Hazel to change clothes from Ronnie Barker’s assistant in Open All Hours to Hazel O’Connor with orange hair and only wearing only a simple bra on stage. She could at least have consulted with Legs & Co for a fashionable bra. Good Lord!

    Tony Capstick – Yorkshireman Tony smashes straight into the top 40 at No.10, and complete with fantastic Yorkshire accent, narrates his own experience of Last Of The Summer Wine. How the heck did this sell so many records to go straight into the charts at no.10 this week? I did find starange the video clip of this on the top ten chart rundown, where someone was looking like being close to a heart attack!

    Bad Manners – no sooner had Lorraine dropped off the charts that we get this from Bad Manners with Buster Bloodvessel seen here with loads of sweat before even starting the performance. This was the least interesting and least successful of their hits it seems.

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    2. Was Mr Capstick from Yorkshire, I'd never had guessed.

    3. Buster looked to me like he'd had water thrown on his head before the performance. Not the best look for me :D

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  3. Having been absent from last weeks comments I thought I'd get in early today (I looked at the missing clips on Youtube).

    Ah John I'm Only Dancing, how well timed was that. I remember this Bowie cover well, the Polecats making it less gay-friendly than Bowie's original. Nice to see a young Boz Boorer on guitar although he hasn't quite perfected his faux-duck walk yet and looks a bit knackered towards the end, bless. The lead singer's quiff doesn't quite work with frizzy ginger hair but all-in-all a good effort. The producer has pulled out all the stops for this one with Legs and Co and co on show and the audience in their C&A jumpers encouraged to join in by hand jiving and knee slapping.

    Kim Wilde on video again then Graham Bonnet with Night Games. On the album his band included Jon Lord Ray Fenwick and Cozy Powell but only the latter is present here which is a bit odd. I remember this from the time but I wasn't really a fan.

    I have seen this clip of Hazel O'Connor in her bra and tights before but I never realised she started off as a member of the crowd looking like a Pamala Stephenson comedy character. I absolutely loved this to bits at the time and bought the single and saw the film where her manager is Phil Daniels and she's signed up by dodgy A&R men - Charlie from Casualty and the prison officer who beats up Ray Winstone in the film Scum. Poor Hazel kind of got beaten up herself by her record company in real life and eventually she and the sax player sued them for royalties.

    There's a fly in every ointment and here is Tony Chapstick which somehow got in the Top Ten, the third comedy record we had in the charts this year (4 if you count Spandau Ballet - joke). This was clearly inspired by the memorable Hovis bread ad which was voiced by Wally Batty from Last of Summer Wine and both used Dvorak's 'New World' symphony - rearranged for brass. They'll be selling drugs in sweet shops next. E by gum.

    Gillan back with a raunchy rock and roll cover of New Orleans (the song that partly inspired Gary Glitters Rock and Roll part 2), a lot better than their last effort. Weird to see the guitarist copying Bowie's Aladdin Sane look, eye patch 'n' all. I half expected Gillan to sing "Wam Bam Thank You Mam" half way though.

    Oh no Lene Lovich is back! It looks like she's wearing the grass skirt Buster Bloodvessel left behind the last time he was on. This isn't bad actually but nowhere nearly as good as Lucky Number. She was really just a one hit wonder who got lucky. I don't knows if here's here but at one point one of Lene's backing band was Maxwell Hutchinson who went on to become a famous architect and is the poshest bloke in the world. The keyboard player here is one Thomas Dolby who wrote and produced the track.

    The Linx effect working well again, on video again. The younger of the two boys in the video is Paul J Medford who was in EastEnders and was in a band himself in the show The Banned who had a hit with Something Outta Nothing. Was he David and Charie Grant's first protege?

    A lesser effort from Bad Manners but still pretty good. In that weird get up Buster Bloodvessel looks like Tor Johnson joined the cast of Star Trek. I like the way the lyrics change so that in the first verse his girlfriend is the slob but in the second verse he admits it's him ("I'm just a yob, just a skinhead"). I love the harmonica on this this, gives it a slightly sad feel.

    The Whispers It's A Love Thing was one of those songs that I really admired at the time but didn't buy.The new look Legs giving it all doing what they do best dancing to disco/funk tracks.

    Landscape on video again, and still missing out the phone call to President Carter at the start. It was at this time that videos really began to sell the songs and I certainly bought this on the strength of the video.

    1. I thought Paul Medford was Ian McShane's protégé? (Yes, I have seen Jackie Collins' football drama Yesterday's Hero on Talking Pictures TV).

    2. Excellent Yorkshire drug joke! Tony Capstick was the second and final chart act on the Dingles label, after Fiddler's Dram. Yes, I know, I need to get out more, but it's gone one in the morning and it's reet taters outside!

    3. I managed to find the Hovis bread ad which inspired Capstick Come Home, and it was one of THE ads of the 1980s, which may have also been inspired by those two classic Yorkshire comedies, Last Of The Summer Wine and Open All Hours.

      The eerie start to the 1981 Hovis ad was somewhat haunting but at the same time captivating, and a sign of the times where Britain was breaking through from the old pre-80s era to the new dawn ahead, and this was possibly a final moment of glory to the post-war generation before being pushed aside to the new.

    4. Never mind Einstein's e=mc squared, or Landscape's call to Moscow before taking to their bomb-making factory in the video, I'm still mesmerised by the girl with the orange hair in the video and how she stretches those limbs on the floor. That was the finest part of the video for me. Wonder what she's up to now.

    5. The Polecats guitar sections during their song, appeared to be lifted from Queen's No.2 hit in 1979 called Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

    6. But is Capstick meant to be a comedy record? Seems to be played quite straight to me, like it's meant to be full of some expressive nostalgia. Dvorak's music is not the stuff of comedy.

    7. Yes, Capstick comes home is supposed to be a comedy record, despite the domestic violence in the story. I doubt you could really get all that stuff and still have change left over from a farthing!

    8. I think he got the idea for that bit from the Monty Python four Yorkshiremen sketch.

    9. The sketch actually pre-dates Python - it was first seen on At Last the 1948 Show.

    10. tor johnson! for those who don't know, one of the legendary ed wood's crew of actors (he also reminds me of "the hood" in "thunderbirds"). i would recommend any student of film to get hold of the dvd of "plan nine from outer space" - not so much for the film itself, but the fascinating documentary that came with it...

      "yesterday's hero"! i remember seeing that at least 20 years ago, where ian "lovejoy" mcshane played a carousing footballer whose "best" years were behind him. i don't remember paul medford (he must have been pretty young at the time), but other actors-cum-singers in it were adam faith and our old favourite paul nicholas...

      also for those unaware: the iconic hovis ad that featured a flat-capped delivery boy making his way up a hill accompanied by the music that was used by tony capstick was filmed not in yorkshire, but in shaftesbury in dorset!

    11. Tor Johnson was also the attractively-named Beast of Yucca Flats. Apparently he was so big he had an unfortunate habit of breaking his friends' toilet seats when he visited them.

      In Yesterday's Hero Mr Medford played Ian McShane's protégé, a little orphan boy who looks up to him and is disappointed when Ian lets everyone down before the redemption for the end. So that's at least three pop stars in that film. Plus John Motson.

    12. The "Fork Yorkshiremen" sketch from "At Last The 1948 Show" is on YouTube, sadly recently edited to remove the 20 second Rediffusion logo that followed it.

      ...and the only Yorkshireman seen in the sketch is Leeds-born Barry Cryer! The 'Four Impostors' were born in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Somerset and London.

  4. And there's more...

    The Top Ten and then good old Shaky on the top spot. I remember getting a bit sick of seeing the video for this one at the time so it's nice to see the studio performance again with the crowd joining in.

    Play out with Bucks Fizz and Dickie Skinner joining the crowd to dance making it a lot of fun

    1. It was nice to see in the late night full version showing that the Bucks Fizz song was played in full, both within and after the end credits. In the edited 7.30pm version, they only played it up the end of the end credits, i.e., half of the song.

      This is where the value of the late night showing comes into play, as you get the full ending of the show with more studio audience (and Richard Skinner) dancing, as well as more songs during the show!

  5. New Orleans was a hit for Gary us bonds in Jan 61 uk no 16 bern Elliot and his fenmen in mar 64 uk no 24 and Harley Quinne in Oct 72 uk no 19 also

  6. Polecats, not sure the rockabilly treatment was warranted on this Bowie track (and yet we didn't get to see the actual Bowie's previous record on the show).

    Apparently Kim Wilde got drunk to make this video, which might explain the glazed expression. Drunk in charge of a video?

    Was Night Games the theme song to the rude "adult drama" film of the same name? Like the tiny organ solo here (the solo's tiny, not the organ).

    Hazel O'Connor still plugging away at her Breaking Glass material, we haven't even had Will You yet. I think "animated" is the right word to describe her here. "Berserk" might be another. Sure got the audience pogoing.

    Tony Capstick, well, judging by the gales of laughter from the crowd - or not - this went down like a cup of cold sick in the studio. I chuckled a bit, but can't see why anyone would buy this to listen to it over and over, it's not THAT funny.

    Presumably the bloke with the Confederate flag on the back of his leather jacket was a big fan of The Dukes of Hazzard and not an advocate of slavery? Anyway, this is a bit better than Gillan's last appearance, but it's pretty bog standard.

    Look out Hazel, someone's trying to out-quirk you! Not a bad slice of eccentricity from Lene Lovich, would you say she was a tiny bit overdressed? Bit of a one trick pony, maybe.

    Ah, silent comedy alive and well from Linx, the hosepipe routine never gets old. Not that kind of hosepipe routine.

    Bad Manners with Buster looking disgusting with his orange makeup running off his face and down his front. He must eat a ton of food a day to sustain that physique considering the amount of exercise he got on stage. Don't remember the song, eh, it's OK.

    Very decent slab of disco from the Whispers, like the array of synth noises, and didn't Rosie's hair look good this week?

    Watch out Richard Madeley! Shaky's at number one!

    1. I remember at the time that I really liked this Graham Bonnet hit, and was disappointed that he didn't do this one within Rainbow, but instead decided to go solo. Rainbow's new lead singer in the same chart with "I Surrender" while making it Rainbow's most successful hit in Britain, was not up to Bonnet's class and style.

    2. I prefer I Surrender, very punchy and catchy melody and it has unrelenting momentum. Night Games slows up in the chorus whereas I Surrender if anything speeds up. Nice guitar riff at the end of the chorus too.

    3. i remember someone i knew telling me that he once dined in the same greasy spoon as buster bloodvessel, and that buster ordered several helpings of breakfast!

  7. Incidentally, there seemed to be bloody millions of people in the studio this episode.

    1. The dancers at the end bopping to Bucks Fizz all looked liked a school party of fifth formers. Perhaps they all won a trip to the TOTP studio in a competition.

    2. good job jimmy s*vile wasn't the host that week then

    3. Especially as the presenters were now encouraged top join in the dancing.

  8. I didn't hugely enjoy this episode. Some good repeats like Kim, Lynx, Shakin (though why not a new performance now he's no1?).

    Nice to see that Whispers track and probably some nice dance moves, but the camerawork ruined it a bit for me by cutting into the action instead of just letting the dance interpret the music.

  9. The Lynx has some familiar things for the time like the drummer getting up and being silly and fake sax playing. Good stuff.

    Capstick is ok, the Dvorak really takes most of the credit. It's hard to stage his voice-over, they made an effort by moving into a closeup (to make it more intimate) and then moving back.

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  11. It's hard to know where to start with this one, which made up for what it lacked in musical merit with a big dollop of eccentricity - indeed, this is perhaps the strangest show we have seen in what is now exactly 5 years' worth of these reruns. Proceedings kick off in unpromising fashion with a truly dreadful Bowie cover, both tuneless and pointless. "Poundland Stray Cats" would have been a much better name for this bunch of bandwagon-jumpers. I wonder if the kitchen sink was thrown at this performance in terms of production values to hide the glaring inadequacy of the music? Even Bowie's nasty disco version from a year or so ago was preferable to this!

    Things take an even stranger turn when Hazel O'Connor turns up. I did wonder who that weird woman was next to Richard, and it was quite a shock when she suddenly divested her garments to reveal Hazel! This is the forgotten filling in the sandwich between Eighth Day and Will You, and while not in the same league as those two it isn't bad. You can't fault the energy of the performance, though given Hazel's sparse attire on her top half I think D-Cup Days may have been a better title! Hard to imagine a family music show nowadays allowing her to dress like that...

    The weirdness increases with Tony Capstick. I have never knowingly heard this before, and am amazed it got to the Top 3. I suspect "The Four Yorkshiremen" sketch may have been an influence on this as well as the Hovis ads, with the exaggerated account of northern hardship. It was mildly amusing, but I don't think it deserved that high a chart placing. After all this, Lene Lovich's appearance did no more than raise a mild eyebrow. I assume she was looking like that to distract attention from her song, which was deeply dull and certainly no Lucky Number.

    Back in the realms of (relative) sanity, the newly-solo Graham Bonnet once again showcases his great voice, but sadly the song isn't in the same league as his earlier work with Rainbow. Gillan try to make up for their ill-advised previous single with a straight-ahead, hard rocking version of an old chestnut, and just about pull it off, though Ian's hair was making him look seriously old-fashioned by now. Buster Bloodvessel's appearance put me less in mind of someone with a suntan than it did of a third-rate Doctor Who villain! The boys put on a typically energetic show, but the song just sounds like a carbon copy of previous efforts.

    Skinner holds this mad affair together pretty well, and his dancing to Making Your Mind Up at the end was actually pretty good, more so than his earlier awkward bopping might have led you to expect! The audience certainly had to earn their corn this week, with the cameras mowing them down on more than one occasion and a lot of suspiciously synchronised jumping up-and-down during various performances. I did find it amusing that when Bucks Fizz had played out at the end they all suddenly halted with zero enthusiasm and without applauding, as if they had been forced to dance against their will!

    Speaking of dancers, Legs begin the post-Pauline era in decent fashion with an accomplished routine to The Whispers, but a rather drab set detracts somewhat. The Shaky repeat means we get an unexpected extra appearance from Pauline, but it doesn't earn her a credit at the end - I would have been a bit hacked off about that in her shoes...

    1. There is a rare video clip of D-Days where Hazel performed the song with four girls in bikinis, each in a tube of water. I have no idea which TV show at the time showed this, and it's a bit weirder than the weird TOTP performance in her bra.

    2. john your comment about the audience being forced to dance against their will reminds me of a story concerning elvis' manager colonel parker - before managing the king, he was a carnie who had a show that featured "dancing chickens" that drew crowds of amazed hillbillies, most of whom wouldn't have known that underneath the straw bed the chickens "danced" on was a hotplate to keep them moving!

    3. That's not the worst of Parker's sins, if rumours are to be believed. It is thought the reason he never allowed Elvis to perform outside the US is because he had killed someone in his native Holland, and was afraid of being arrested if he left American soil.

  12. Richard Skinner is our host this time round and he gets us up and running with The Polecats. Now, it is becoming clearer week by week (or day by day if you prefer) that the latest wheeze from the producers concerns the opening act. To qualify, the song must be up-beat, the Leggers must be involved, as should the audience but only in a sitting-down-and-hand-jiving kind of way. The Polecats qualify on that basis only. The song is a mish-mash-up of Bowie's original and -as mentioned above- Queen's Crazy Little Thing all done in a Stray Cats rockabilly style. Not a good idea. Not a good group. Not a good version.

    Graham Bonnet. A typical 80s stadium rock kind of pop rock song. Not bad but it hasn't lasted well. Lyrically poor as well. "Take a train to the great big city" Really? Great big?

    Hazel O'Connor. Hated it. Hated her.

    Capstick Goes Home. Wish he would. Obviously this was another Terry Wogan 'success' - a black mark on an otherwise excellent broadcasting career. (Wogan not Capstick) Owes a lot to the Four Yorkshiremen Monty Python sketch.

    Gillan. Christ! Wouldn't have been so bad if they could have played it live, because miming it just resulted in a half-assed look.

    Linx (again) This is their peak. A Stevie Wonderish pop tune which I have always linked with Junior's Mama Used To Say (probably because of the similar lyrical theme) Not sure about the video though or the groups polar-opposite dress code. Tux's for Graham and Sketch and Gilbert O'Sullivan fancy dress for t'others.

    Lene Lovich. "A hit" according to Skinner - a flop according to its chart placings and anyone with a musical ear. Hideous one trick pony who really did not merit inclusion in the show.

    Bad Manners. Mrs Shaky put her hairdryer on as this song started. Never have I been more grateful for the wife's hairstyling routine.

    The Leggers up next dancing in semi-darkness with a couple of mirrors and a lot of quick edits making it virtually impossible to count how many of them are actually there. A deliberate ploy to hide the fact there was only 5 of them now?

    Repeats of Landscape's vid and Shaky's studio appearance before Skinner says goodnight to the poptastic sound of Bucks Fizz.

    This week's scores. Well if you look on the bright side both Linx and The Whispers were fine examples of dance music and Night Games is not a bad slice of Stadium rock, and even Bucks Fizz were good enough to win the Eurovision. But the rest? They fall into the Godawful camp or into the Seen-It-Too-Often camp. 3.

    Skinner is growing into this presenting lark. He looks relaxed and at ease in front of the camera and his links were clear and concise. A good outing scores him 7.

    1. I think you're spot on Shaky regarding the quick edits on the Leggers doing The Whispers this week, in that it was probably deliberate to hide the fact that there were only 5 Leggers remaining.

      It is not known why Pauline left, I mean whether she was kicked out or had left of her own accord in protest of being the one always at the back of the group. I think there could be some politics there, or maybe some friction between the girls. Any clues?

    2. I don't think it was anything sinister, she just left to start a family as far as I know.

    3. They could have given her a send off with a bottle of bubbly or a cake. Therese and David from Dollar got a bottle of champagne and they weren't even really engaged!

    4. Yes, it was quite strange that they did not announce her leaving the group, considering she was dancing with Legs & Co since the group's inception in late 1976. By not mentioning it at all, the viewers may not have noticed till weeks later, if at all, cos Sue, Rosie and Gill seemed to have the more memorable faces on TOTP which would have been noticed missing very quickly.

    5. I've forgotten - did they make any effort to announce Cherry Gillespie's last dance?

    6. I don't think they did Arthur. Pan's People also signed off with no ceremony, just a brief mention from Noel when introducing Ruby Flipper for the first time the following week that they had "exited, stage left!"

    7. Cherry Gillespie memorably pops up in 'Octopussy'.

  13. host: mr skinner's got a lumberjack shirt on tonight, but he's okay. he still mispronounces bowie's surname though. rather amusingly in the end credits we see snatches of him dancing rather self-consciously in amongst the throng - a variation on "where's wally"!

    polecats: yet more rock n roll revival going on - someone in the music industry clearly didn't like the way then-contemporary pop music was developing! as the intro played i was thinking that someone had ripped-off "crazy little thing called love". in fact it turned out to be something that freddie mercury had himself ripped off. i think the polecats might have been wiser covering the queen tune than the bowie one as same intro apart it otherwise has a lot more rock n roll-ness about it (i.e. walking bass). also, it sounds like they haven't listened to the original properly as some of the chords don't seem the same - something the booming drums can't mask. and in contrast to them the acoustic guitar is really weedy. my ex-landlord and i jokingly used to refer to his bedroom as "the polecat's den" as in his youth his disgusted father had referred to his room smelling like one. then by chance he came across a polecats sew-on patch in a trinkets store in blackpool. so he bought it, photocopied it, added the word "den" to it in the same caligraphy as the band's logo, and stuck it on his bedroom door!

    graham bonnet: although i never knew the reason for mr bonnet's departure from rainbow, he obviously had learned enough in his brief tenure to almost outdo richie and co in the radio-friendly rock stakes. and it looks like he's brought his ex-rainbow colleague cozy powell along with him, although i don't recognise the rest of his band. but despite all that this effort turned out to be pretty much his lot, proving that talent alone is never enough when it comes to being successful in the rock biz. i remember once remarking to my (same) ex-landlord that i could imagine bonnet now sitting in some bar somewhere watching ozzy osbourne on the telly and remarking to any fellow barflies that might want to listen "i pissed all over that guy when it came to singing, and yet he's an icon and i'm just a has-been!"

    hazel o'connor: is that sue pollard next to dicky? no, it turns out to be miss o'connor herself, ditching her nerdy disguise to reveal herself in more ways than one. the tune is presumably influenced by "cabaret" and mostly sounds like it could come from a musical (with hazel and band - including stray cats lookalike drummer - choreographed accordingly). but it's let down with some plodding rock interludes. sax player wes magoogan (who we'll hopefully hear a lot more of later this year?) is determined to be seen playing throughout, even though most of it is of the air-variety!

    tony capstick: yet another novelty record in the charts? someone in the music industry clearly didn't like the way then-contemporary pop music was developing! one i remember hearing relentlessly on the radio at the time, although as a southern softie i had no wish to re-acquaint myself with it's mildly-amusing "ee ba gum, life were tough oop north when i were a nipper" sentiments here

    gillan: another cover of an old song - someone in the music industry clearly didn't like the way then-contemporary pop music was developing! bar-room rock on auto-pilot, but after that rubbish they had out as a single before it's a blessed relief. keyboardist colin towns suitably dresses for the occasion in dinner jacket and bow-tie

  14. it's another two-parter:

    linx: when it came to misty-eyed childhood reminiscing, this was far more up my alley than mr capstick, although i can't listen with quite the same enthusiasm now as i did back then. by this time they were being marketed as a duo of singer david grant and bassist "sketch", although the "band" members in the video (who unlike kim wilde's "band" actually played on the recordings) seem to be getting as much time as the duo to put their personalities over (especially the white guys, who coincidentally were also associated with hazel o'connor). the woodwind being played on the record is in fact a soprano sax, but as it looks like a clarinet it's not as cool as an alto sax to mime on in the video!

    lene lovich: blimey, this is a surprise! my memory had her long-since dismissed from public view as a novelty-curio by this point. if toyah was watching this show she would have been seething that not one but two of her rivals for the title of queen of pop weirdness were on it! even though i still have only the tiniest of recall of this tune (rather unsurprisingly given its lowly chart placing), it's still the best thing on the show tonight. spotting the presence of synth-whizz thomas dolby in her band now brings back vague memories of their collaboration (that he consequently benefitted from far more than she did). by the way, was that snooker player jimmy white playing the other synth?

    bad manners: and the newies keep coming. and another one i can't recall. a decent tune (modulation alert!) and well played and produced. probably their best effort, but the ska revival thing had really had its day by now despite buster's exertions (hence the desperate single that followed this)

    whispers: listening to this on headphones really drives home what a quality post-disco/80's dance track this is - superb, even though obviously the whispers themselves didn't have much to do with it

    landscape: more modulation happening! and this time there's some air-trombone playing (an instrument you'd associate rather more with glenn miller than synth pop). this really is an excellent video, probably better than the "vienna" one that gets all the acclaim. are the "birds" (© dory) in it the ladies from shock?

    bucks fizz: yet more modulation - that must be a record for one show? good to see extended shots of the frugging audience in the end credits, but watch out for the very young boy in checked shirt and waistcoat who in contrast to the st vitus dance going on around him is pacing as if he's on a slow-moving treadmill!

    1. That's pretty much it for Landscape with the second of two appearances of this video on TOTP, a la Einstein and the three birds (I mean ladies) in the video which were the feature part, and a nice distraction from the part of the lead singer playing a hate-filled, bomb-making factory supervisor, and knocking a cup of tea off the first female's hand, and smashing it to the floor. Still, I agree with everyone that this was one of the best videos of the year, if not the 80s!

  15. News flash – Freeez singer smiles in mugshot photo!

    Talking of flashes, tremendous knicker action by Rosie prior to the horrendous ‘sliding down a slippery Pole’cats.

    You wouldn’t get Rainbow in the TOTP studio, now, would you? Lots of tongue from Graham Bonnet, a keyboard break which was a copy of the guitar riff in Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good”, and some wonderful gentle hand-offs by that nice chap in the audience to avoid camera carnage.

    Ah, Hazel O’Conner according to the rundown description. Certainly a storm in a D-cup. Superb camera work (not), panning right when Hazel sings “swing to the left” and vice versa.

    Richard nicks the copyright to Peter Powell’s “the charts are so diverse / who buys this shite?” prior to Tony Capstick. By ‘eck, this were reet dreadful.

    Ian Gillan, looking like a long haired Eddie Large. I half expected a Deputy Dawg impression in this song.

    Now, if only Lene Lovich had played Hazel at her own game stripped down to a bra… nah, this rubbish still wouldn’t have made the top 30. Now, if only Honey Bane had ……

    Buster Bloodvessel, looking like Tango Man and knocking Graham Bonnet into a cocked hat in the tongue action stakes. Lovely.

    Giddying editing for Legs&Co’s routine to the sublime Whispers track, but easy to tell there was no Pauline, what with the lack of her dark hair and Burmese complexion. I had to say I watched Pauline most during the Shakin’ Stevens rehash as an unexpected final farewell.

    Was that the first time the whole non-number one outro song had been played in full? I’d hate to have been the milk monitor for that audience!

    1. Arthur - nice spot on the 'Life's been good' keyboard break. So it is!

  16. It struck me before writing this summary how, 35 years ago nobody would have believed that a bunch of people would be rewatching these shows and dissecting them to this degree. In those days you’d get one viewing and that was it; you’d be grateful for what you’d received warts and all.

    There were certainly plenty of warts in this week’s show…

    Polecats – John I’m only dancing – Shame this has popped up now as I don’t think it’s a great tribute to the man. Inferior cover that didn’t even make the top 30 (and neither did their cover of the superb ‘Jeepster’.)

    Kim Wilde – Kids in America – again….

    Graham Bonnet – Night Games - More like it. The best lead singer of Rainbow with an excellent anthemic tune. I love the guitar and keyboard interlude between the verses. Co-produced by Francis Rossi btw. However, that was it for Graham apart from a very minor hit with Russ Ballard’s ‘Liar’ later in 1981.

    Hazel O’Connor – D-Days – Gosh I hated this track and still do.

    Tony Capstick – Capstick comes home – What on earth was this all about and more to the point, how on earth did it get to no.10? Was it supposed to be funny? Have I missed some brand of humour? ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch – was it supposed to be a cross between that and the Hovis ad and a wonderful piece of classical music? (Dvorak’s Symphony no.9). I am sorry, but I’m quite lost for words with this!

    Gillan – New Orleans – A vast improvement on ‘Mutually assured destruction’ but I much prefer the version by Harley Quinne circa 1972 which I first heard (and still have the single).

    Lene Lovich – New Toy – Gosh, she looked like one of those weird aliens in Dr Who. The record was pretty dire and made no.53, so why was it featured at all?

    Linx- Intuition – Nothing to add from previous observations.

    Bad Manners – Just a feeling – I still don’t get the appeal of Bad Manners and this performance was just embarrassing.

    The Whispers – It’s a love thing – “Hey girls, there’s a new Whispers track in the charts; that’s this week’s dance routine sorted…”. Or so it must have gone when deciding what records Legs and Co. should dance to. Now this pleasant piece of disco really is well suited to dance routines and the girls don’t let us down here. Neither do the costume department!

    Landscape – Einstein a Go-Go – It struck me watching this how short the track is.

    Shakin’ Stevens – This ole House – Perhaps Old Shaky was too busy to return to the TOTP studio and celebrate his first no.1 by recording a new performance. Anyhow, this one ain’t half good. Unsurprisingly the credits didn’t roll on this as they had for Roxy Music the past couple of weeks.

    Speaking of credits rolling…Bucks Fizz playing out to the audience dancing in full was a joy to behold! Richard Skinner seems to get engulfed at various points by his enthusiastic teenage audience trying to show off their moves. Except near the end where two lads look non plussed, and then the record ends and clearly nobody told anyone what to do, so everyone just, well stops, and looks at their shoes or something. I expects the Bucks quartet will be back next week.

    Footnote – at no.29 was the Nolans with the excellent ‘Attention to me’. I know this will be featured in future editions, but why were some of the above acts featured in preference? Polecats, Graham Bonnet, Gillan and Lene Lovich hadn’t even penetrated the top30. Hey they could even have showed the excellent video which has a nice twist right at the end…

    1. Yes, listening to the Harley Quinne version the groove is better. Maybe if Gillan had made it more of a metal song than just giving it the diluted rock n roll sound I thought it ended up having it could have been better. It just sounded more indulgent and wayward in the end.

  17. I think this is only the second 1981 show which was a recipient of the 'delete' button after I'd watched it. A mish-mash of some pretty average to dreadful stuff, and sourced from another can that must have been propping up a door in the archive at one point, such was its pretty poor audio and visual quality.

    The Stray Cats really do have a lot to answer for, don't they? I've already declared my dislike for them, so you can imagine my delight at seeing The Polecats and their half-arsed efforts...

    Graham Bonnet's song is OK but it just doesn't really take off and have a killer chorus like his singles with Rainbow.

    I have no recollection of the Hazel O'Connor song from the time and I suspect that this is because this was the time when I was in Australia. A whole month there meant missing a few UK hits. The fact that she kept bouncing around was so distracting that I *still* can't remember much about it!

    Tony Capstick - Awful 'native Northern wit'.

    As everyone has said, Gillan at least had a tune that was better than the last one.

    Lene Lovich turning up to make it a 'weirdo special'. I wasn't terribly keen on this, I actually know her 1982 non-hit 'It's You, Only You (Mein Schmerz) better as it was on Ronco's 'Raiders Of The Pop Charts' album which I owned.

    Bad Manners - Forgettable, with much better to come from them later in the year (not the next single, obviously)

    Legs & Co not dancing to a ballad? Whatever next?! You can tell that the producers, set designers and probably even Flick aren't that bothered any more though, sadly.

    Shaky at Number One then, a good single though I always preferred his next one!