Friday, 5 February 2016

(Top of the Pops) Help Me Out

Well bless my cotton socks Top of the Pops certainly needed helping out on March 12th 1981 because everyone had downed tools again ~ all except that is for Tommy Vance who got to present his very own strike edition....

A Game of Top of the Pops, anybody?

12/03/81 (hosted by Tommy Vance and invisible audience)

(13) The Teardrop Explodes – “Reward”  (rpt from 19/02/81)
Two consecutive showings then for the Teardrop Explodes, but it works out quite well for us because this clip is from a yewtreed DLT edition so hadn't yet been shown on BBC4 :-)

(6) Kim Wilde – “Kids In America” (video)
The video that was purposely made to look a bit like her recent Top of the Pops appearance, where she was nervous of being in the near vicinity of Madness!

(41) Linx – “Intuition”  (video)
A lucky break this for Linx, without the strike it was unlikely they would have been on this week's show ~ afterwards Intuition leapt up the charts and became their only top ten hit making number 7. Not so lucky tonight though ~ edited out of the 7.30pm broadcast.

(22) Kelly Marie – “Hot Love”  (rpt from 26/02/81)
I make this the third time on the show for Kelly's final top 30 hit, now at its peak. But also edited out.

(8) Freeez – “Southern Freeez”  (rpt from 12/02/81)
Also now at its chart summit. And edited out of the 7.30pm slot.

(9) Status Quo – “Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like” (video)
And again, a song at its chart peak that was edited out of tonight's 7.30pm showing.

(15) Beggar & Co – “(Somebody) Help Me Out”  (rpt from 12/02/81)
Guess what? This one had now reached its chart peak. But it was left in the 7.30 show!

(38) Landscape – “Einstein A Go-Go”  (video)
Another band perhaps benefitting 'relativity' well from the strike, Einstein was about to a go-go towards the top ten, making it to number five. And its easy to see why they chose to show this genius video!

(14) Talking Heads – “Once In A Lifetime” (rpt from 19/02/81)
Two shows on the bounce for Talking Heads too, but again it means we get to see this previously yewtreed Legs & Co routine on BBC4 ~ but despite their best efforts Once in a Lifetime somehow got no higher in the charts.
(17) Kiki Dee – “Star”  (rpt from 26/02/81)
Still heading towards its high of number 13.

(5) Coast To Coast – “(Do) The Hucklebuck” (rpt from 12/02/81)
One more showing for Coast to Coast now at their peak.

(1) Roxy Music – “Jealous Guy” (video/credits)
A fine cover of this John Lennon album track from Imagine, which must have been put together very quickly, and now here was becoming Roxy's only number one hit.

Next up then is March 19th with Peter Powell, notable for being the final time we will see the original line up of Legs & Co.....


  1. I Wonder What They Where Striking For This Time. The 18th Of September Was Also Affected By A Strike. Looks A Good Line Up. Slow Down BBC4 I Have Only Just Watched The 5th Of Feb

  2. OK, so this show had no studio audience and no new studio appearances cos of the strike, which explains why Tommy Vance had no people around him for the whole show, and no dancing on the end credits.

    The Teardrop Explodes & The Talking Heads - how the heck did these two bands get on the show two weeks in a row in the main line-up?? This must be a first, but I must say deservedly so for both of them, as the songs are brilliant.

    Status Quo - if I'm correct, this is the first pop video by them since 1974 where they were at last out of the black basement/warehouse with the black speakers in the background. It seems every video of theirs from1974-1980 was in the same blackened warehouse with the same speakers, and it seemed that at last in 1981 they were now joining the video age by getting outdoors and doing something creative of their own, as we were at last in the full throws of the new pop video culture in early 1981. Well done Quo!

    Landscape - agreed with Angelo that the video was genius, and I remember at the time the unique sound with the flute mixed with the more conventional pop instruments, and how the song finishes with a flute solo. Love it!

    As Rainbow "Surrendered" their top ten place this week, it was nice to see Coast To Coast again, albeit the third time we see the same TOTP performance.
    Oh, those two chicks, they were on a par with the two chicks on Human League which we had not quite reached in 1981 yet, but were shortly on the way.

    Roxy Music - first ever No.1 for the band, cashing in on the John Lennon situation, and thanks to no studio audience this week, Roxy get to have their whistling over the end credits, whereas the previous showing of the video cut out before the whistling, so this was indeed a bonus for all of us too, well not to everyone's liking probably!

  3. Tommy looking a bit lonely in front of the CSO backdrop, but still making sure to compliment most of the acts, what a gent.

    Kim Wilde and that trademark of 80s sophistication, the video with the Venetian blinds in it. She seems to have borrowed Rainbow's flashing light as well. She still looks cool in her reserved way.

    Linx, with a jolly steel drum-employing item of nostalgia, but who was playing the intuitive mum in the video? Bernice... what was her name? She was always on stuff like Blankety Blank or Whose Baby? and played Michael Jackson's mum in Lenny Henry's Thriller spoof. Someone remind me!

    Even though Status Quo were embracing the possibilities of the new medium, they still managed to get themselves included in their superfan's day in the life in exactly the same way as all their 70s videos! What was the superfan doing in bed at the end? Worshipping the Quo in his dreams?

    Landscape, a great pop single and a great video, although you wouldn't get very far with a wacky tune endorsing terrorism these days, I'm surprised you did then. Maybe nobody was listening to the lyrics. The album this is off is not half bad either, even if it is called From the Tea Rooms of Mars to the Hellholes of Uranus (ahem). Pity they missed off the phone call to the White House at the beginning.

    Legs & Co anticipating next year's Tron, I feel, in much the same way Hazel O'Connor did.

    Why does Kiki Dee have a llama design on her jacket? What's the significance? Anyway, I quite like this sarky, melodic cabaret-style ditty.

    Coast to Coast really had an insane amount of coverage at the time, didn't they? I'm tempted to tell them to Hucklebuck off now.

    A pity Roxy Music made so many better records than this yet here was their biggest hit. It's not terrible, but it'll never be my favourite.

    1. Bertice Reading! Died in 1991, according to Wikipedia. Long time ago.

    2. Yes, it did appear that Landscape were playing the part of terrorists by means of the phone call to Moscow (not White House) from the red telephone box at the beginning of the video (missed off the video by TOTP), and also by the angry lead singer playing the part of a hate-filled individual throughout the video, and then the mug shots in the fish tank of Jimmy Carter, Ayotollah K, President Brezhnev, and one other who I don't recognise (who was it anyone?). The first two political figures were being fed fish food in the fish tank.

      Yes, it seems the the lyrics were alluding to foul activity from a British lab, but the protagonists seemed to get there come-uppance being foiled,caught red-handed, and escorted out of the lab, towards a prison no doubt.

      Interesting storyline, and agreed that most people were not listening to the lyrics. You would have to watch the video in order to make sense of the lyrics, which is I guess why Landscape made this video, cause audio alone would not be enough to decipher this tune.

      On a lighter note, who was the bird with orange hair in the video? She would give Legs & Co a run for their money. I wouldn't mind seeing her in those bridal outfits with Legs & Co's Jones vs Jones performance of last weeks show! It looked like Landscape borrowed her from Hot Gossip perhaps.

    3. I think the lyrics "You're all corrupt! You're all depraved! A few devices around the place - I'll blow you all away!" leave little to the imagination! But maybe the jaunty tune overwhelmed the grim subject matter.

    4. I must admit THX that for the first time in 35 years I have been informed of the content of the lyrics, and I, like most of us, are hearing of this for the first time. In all this time I was so mesmerised by the tune itself as a piece of genius rhythm and tune, that I didn't even think of listening to the lyrics.

      However, I'm not totally surprised, cos in the early to mid 80s, other bands like Frankie Goes To Hollywood also had a take of their own on the cold war between the East and West powers, in a similar armegeddon type video, by means of Ronald Raegan on Two Tribes replacing the Jimmy Carter ephegy on Einstein A Go-Go

    5. i note that dory's still mentioning "birds" in what seems to me a non-ironic manner - now that julie's gone, it's just as well that there are apparently no ladies contributing to this blog left to be offended by that term!

    6. Oh gosh, it's only cos I'm a southerner, and this is supposed to be flattering to nice looking girls. Birds are like the Americans call "chicks."

      Looking at it the other way, I just hope that my flattering terminology ("birds") didn't drive Julie away in the first place.
      Come back Julie, there are no birds (I mean ladies) on this blog and it is like an old boys club at present!

    7. I suggest we reinstate the phrase "dolly birds" and really go back to the 70s.

    8. Geeky comment: the original definition of "bird" in the female sense is an Anglo Saxon expression for a virgin (as in "the birds and the bees"). Not a lot of people know that...

  4. Presumably the scene-shifters were on strike this week, given Tommy spends the whole show stuck in front of a screen. Even so, he once again does a very good job, with imaginative and enthusiastic links. He clearly loved that jumper too...

    At least the lack of new studio performances does allow for a bit of a showcase for the new breed of videos that were now taking over. Landscape's was certainly the most creative with its Frankenstein theme, though the song itself was a bit too self-consciously weird to appeal to me. Not sure why Tommy claimed that we might recognise the band - I certainly didn't, and looking up their names on Wikipedia left me none the wiser, though they had been around for 7 years by this point. Apparently the bass player later co-wrote the theme tune for The Bill!

    Linx may have been lucky to get on this show, but their video has a nicely nostalgic feel to it, and Intuition is a much stronger single than their previous efforts. Kim Wilde was looking gorgeous in her promo, and wearing exactly the same clothes as on her studio debut, while Quo's effort was rather odd, part new-fangled narrative video, part old-fashioned "in performance" film. I liked the headbangers moving in unison, though, and I initially thought the garage mechanic "star" was Rick Parfitt - I wonder if this guy was picked because of his very similar hairstyle.

    Good to see the Roxy video played more or less in full this time, but that was more because of the beautiful, mournful synth than for the whistling! It was also notable that we got two songs that had only been on the previous week, something that presumably happened because of the strike situation. I don't recall it happening before during this repeat run, though it wasn't at all unusual during the first ten years of TOTP.

  5. A rarity, as I watched the long re-run live starting at 1.10 a.m. on Saturday morning (it still isn’t up on BBC iPlayer at 10.15 Saturday evening!), having been reeled in by a 1950’s American music show preceding it.

    This was a very, very special edition - I’ll tell you why, well, it’s wrapped up in one phrase...everybody out! So, who was on strike at the BBC this time? Tommy made a good fist of it in spartan conditions and was a class act as ever, but threw me with his request to us to shout what was on his T-shirt! And he referred to THE Slade again!

    A contradiction in terms as moody Kim Wilde throws that comforting hand off her shoulder immediately after singing the words “Hold me tight”.

    Was that a mis-spelling of “dodgers” or, er, “doggers” on that wall in the Linx video? The backing band were a right old mismatch, weren’t they?

    That Quo fan in the vid was a spit for Rick Parfitt thirty years earlier. Not many going to the Arena for that gig, were there? And it amazes me that fans would go to a gig and not watch the band, like headbangers. For the record (ho ho), the now defunct record store in the vid, N&J Discs was apparently in Preston Road, Wembley, and this video was directed by Godley and Creme.

    I get peeved when DJs say there are so called familiar faces in bands from earlier in the run, like Jona Lewie’s all stars. I assume this time TV meant Richard James Burgess of Landscape, who’d drummed in the studio for The Buggles. Quirky, catchy tune if a little lightweight – and get them with their masks of political heads of state and head-shaped drums!

    According to the Popscene website, you could hear “Can You Handle It” by Sharon Redd (the number 37 sound) behind Tommy at some stage in this show. Missed it, personally.

    I bet most of Roxy Music were happy at being left out of the video for Roxy Music’s cash-in… er, tribute. Bryan, mate, turn the volume down on your teeth.

  6. not much to say about this cobbled-together show as most of it has been seen before...

    host: at one point tommy announces a certain britfunk act as "beggar and company". as opposed to young and company

    landscape: they were actually a bunch of scruffy jazz-rockers jumping onto the new romantic bandwagon, with only bassist andy pask and drummer richard burgess managing to visually convince in that respect, despite investing in a set of matching shiny sci-fi suits (with different coloured collars a la legs & co). despite their past form, contrary to tommy's ramblings none were exactly familiar faces (although burgess was already forging a reputation as producer of spandau ballet at this point). in fact i thought he might be referring to the women in the video! a video that i'd never seen before and was actually pretty impressed with (this bunch of oddballs being well-suited to hanging around in a frankenstein-style lab). as for the music: i quite liked it at the time, but it always had the feel of a novelty hit and rather a throwaway effort...

    1. I wonder if we get to see Landscape's follow up Norman Bates on TOTP? I remember Annie Nightingale playing that and pointing out if you'd never seen Psycho it ruined the film for you.

    2. Did anyone watch the news today, where one of the main headlines was that scientists have finally detected gravitational waves for the first time since Einstein's theory?

      Einstein A Go Go in this weeks 1981 chart was not anything about this, but rather West warning East in the cold war, hence the telephone box conversation at the start of the video (which was missed out by TOTP).

    3. Yes Norman Bates definitely made a studio appearance despite stalling at lowly number 40

  7. Tommy-no-mates this week gets to wear a t-shirt that could be saying something a little different due to the camera angle!

    Great, if slightly cobbled show with surprises seeing acts that were on last week. I believe Shakin’s Stevens was also on the show with, what looked like a new recording in the studio of ‘This ole house’ or am I missing something – did I imagine it?? I’ve deleted the show from my TV box thinking I can always check back on BBCiplayer but at present it’s only the edited version on there.

    Teardrop Explodes – Reward – I like this better now than I did in 1981.

    Kim Wilde – Kids in America – Good video, the best of her singles for me.

    Linx – Intuition – Not a particular favourite but the video (sorry film) is quite innovative. Football pitch indeed!

    Kelly Marie – Hot Love – Three times on the show for a really average song that didn’t break the top20. I hark back to my observation of last week, why didn’t they have a crack at ‘breaking’ some of the other songs outside the top40 rather than plugging this to death? I guess it was easier to get Kelly Marie and her dancers than Dolly Parton or Eddie Rabbitt.

    Freez – Southern Freez – Smile please!

    Status Quo – Something ‘bout you baby I like – Wow! Never seen this before. What a great video! This is just amazing. So much better than that studio appearance. Eagle eyed bus anoraks would have spotted the bus journey on an RT bus. The last RT in service by London Transport was in April 1979 but you do see a brief shot of a DMS bus shortly afterwards. Presumably the RT was a preserved vehicle that was hired for the video shoot.

    Beggar & Co – Somebody help me – Sorry, fast forward here for me..

    Landscape – Einstein a go-go – I loved chemistry at school, so this appealed to me. Very innovative and unusual sound, you just couldn’t get it out of your head. The label says 130 bpm (beats per minute) but who’s counting? Surprisingly for such a great video the single wasn’t issued in a picture sleeve….or at least I’ve never seen one and it’s not posted on 45cat.

    Talking Heads – Once in a lifetime – Well worth seeing again. Great stuff.

    Kiki Dee – Star – People still randomly sing this song – strange as it wasn’t a massive hit. It’s OK.

    Coast to coast – (Do) the Hucklebuck – I’ll never get tired of watching Patti and Donna doing the Hucklebuck. This song really has got into my head!

    Roxy Music – Jealous Guy – Sheer magic and I have to say that this for me is the definitive version. If ever a song was made for playing whilst the TOTP credits roll it was this one with its elongated whistling fade out. The label says its 6:10 long but when I bought the cd ‘Best of Roxy Music’ it starts to fade well before that, and only lasts 4:56, so I’ve had to keep my copy of the single. I remember being disappointed at the time that ‘Vienna’ had failed to make no.1 but after Joe Dolce this was an excellent consolation prize.

    1. I am going mad!!! This ole house was on 'last weeks' show. Because these repeats are coming thick and fast I'm getting muddled up!! Apologies for the superfluous observation above.

    2. If you think the Freeez performance was dour, then the video is worse, where the lead singer looked very nervous. Hardly pop video material when you're nervous in front of the camera. Just don't do one Freeez.

      Thank G-d TOTP didn't show the video on the three performances on TOTP allowed for this single in recent weeks, and that this is the last appearance on the show at a peak of No.8 this week. Goodbye and good night Freeez. See you on IOU in 1983 which was a whole lot better.

    3. You're not the only one getting muddled up sct353 by these doubles - they are making me drunk a bit too!
      It's a shame we are being made to binge drink 1981 like this when really it needs to be sipped slowly and thoroughly appreciated :-)

  8. The 30 minute edition is still on iPlayer... I may have to go hunting round YouTube for Linx and Quo. But at least Kim Wilde, Kiki Dee and Coast To Coast were on!

    Of all the electronic plinkery which was starting to fill the charts by this time, Einstein A Go-Go was by far the quirkiest. Another synthesized earworm which was getting airplay at this time was the debut single from Depeche Mode, Dreaming Of Me. Sadly there was no TOTP appearance and it only got as high as 57.

  9. Not a bad show considering the constraints.

    Good to see the Teardrop Explodes performance at last.

    I too really enjoyed seeing Bertice though also couldn't recall her name until reading this thread! Good song too, definitely the best from Linx.

    The Quo video is a strange one - somehow simultaneously entertaining yet tragic.

    It's blindingly obvious now that Landscape were bandwagon jumpers but I loved the song then and I still do now. 'Norman Bates' is bloody awful though, it was lucky to get to No.40. It's also on the list of completely Yewreed songs IIRC.

    Given that we know that 2 of these tunes wouldn't have been on if it was a normal show, I wonder who would've taken their place? Maybe Depeche Mode could've enjoyed their first hit a little earlier with a bit of exposure....

    1. Hmm, well… they could have had “Mind Of A Toy” by Visage (new at 32) but I assume there wasn’t a video available, or possibly a Soul Train clip of The Whispers’ “It’s A Love Thing” (at 43) if there was one, or studio slots for the latest waxings by Iron Maiden (55), The Nolans (64) or Lene Lovich (70) or maybe a new band slot for “Tango In Mono” by The Expressos (71 and only moved one place higher).

      On the other hand, be thankful for small mercies- we could have been subjected to “Walking On Thin Ice” Yoko Ono (up two to 35) or a 24 place rise to number 48 for “Fan Dabi Dozi” by The Krankies! Eeeek!

    2. I remember Tango in Mono ~ great little tune, I used to really like it - did it really only make number 70? Shame.
      I think Walking on Thin Ice was the newly recorded tape that John Lennon had in his hands when he was shot.

    3. Given the new policy of fewer variety style acts, I find it hard to believe that The Krankies would have got on. They're more likely to have plumped for Yoko if a video was available.

      I think Visage would have been the most probable though - I'm pretty sure that I've seen a video for it (though it wasn't necessarily available at time of broadcast, of course!)

    4. thanks to arthur i had a look at the expressos video - what a killer chorus! and a great girl singer who certainly leaves the likes of kim wilde and toyah way behind. if it had got some exposure on totp it could well have been a big hit:

    5. further to the above, this is just as good if not better - and it wasn't even released! it shows just how unfair the pop world is when this lot have to watch from the sidelines whilst kim & toyah clean up!!

    6. I think 'Mind of a Toy' is due to be on the show soon.

    7. I agree with Wilberforce that 'Tango In Mono' has a killer chorus, but for some reason I don't remember it. Did it get much airplay on Capital Radio?

      On the subject of obscure records released exactly(ish) 35 years ago, here's one I do remember hearing on the radio and subsequently bought the single:

    8. "small ads" by small ads - quite a catchy tune, shame about the "cor blimey" vocals. also a shame that it was never made the charts, as it would have joined talk talk, hi tension et al as eponymous hit makers!

  10. Kids From America is a good video with some nice angles, I think Kim Wilde is somewhat influenced by Debbie Harry with the moody blonde look. They were probably looking for a US hit with this and made it to the top 30 there.

    Kiki Dee has a great song but the presentation lacked I thought and didn't convey the energy of it. Some annoying flashing lights and not really any lively editing or angles. I would have preferred that promo with the ballet dancer as that was lively, though maybe it wasn't available at this point.

    1. There were two videos made for Star by Kiki Dee. The one with the ballet dancer as you mention, but there was also one where Kiki is in the cinema watching herself on screen as a "Star."

      It's unclear as to what was available to TOTP at this point in March 1981, and both her appearances in that month were in the TOTP studio.

      Anyway, here are the two videos made for Star, plus another TV show appearance (probably ITV) where she is introduced a member of ShowaddyWaddy I think:

    2. Kim Wilde's first album, featuring her 'band' on the cover, was an obvious homage to Blondie (much the same as the likes of the Primitives, Darling Buds etc. towards the end of the decade), but from her second album onwards she was 'marketed' as a pure solo singer.

  11. With Beggar and Co I think it's a nice lively catchy song up to and including the break, but after that it rather fades.

    Legs and Co had some interesting things in their routine but the relentless superimposed closeups annoyed me.

    I don't think Bryan Ferry's Jealous Guy is anywhere near as good as Lennon's which gradually built up the vocal as well as having some sensitive backing parts

  12. Big news on the black hole front, 100 years after Albert predicted it. Einstein a Go Go!

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  14. TOTP Emergency Edition - Emergency comments - This looks a lot better than the previous strike editions although why we can hear some crowd noise behind Rock On Tommy is anyone's guess. Maybe they wanted to pretend it was real and there was an audience there.

    Nice to see The Teardrop Explodes exploding onto our screens in the flesh again. Of course this was also featured the Big Hits show. It's hard to explain the effect this record had on me back then, some records just blew your mind and this was one that did it for me. I bought the next three singles and both albums.

    I remember the Kim Wilde video well, this all seemed cutting edge and new at the time but looks tame and old fashioned now. Slightly odd to see Kim's brother touching his sister, what's that all about. Remember the superb Linx video as well. I recognise the mum from somewhere, a sitcom I think, but I can't remember which one.

    Repeats form Kelly Marie and then Freeez. I seem to recall Freeez being on the show several times with different performances but it's the same clip everytime.

    Great video for Status Quo. I would have dismissed this at the time but it's quite good now.

    Repeat of Beggar and Co's reworking Brass Construction to good effect. And then the brill Landscape video.

    Talking Heads with Legs and Co actually looking more like a video than ever before with mixed visuals, harsher lighting and no audience present.

    Kiki Dee which I hated at the time. She was too middle of the road but it sounds okay today.

    Another repeat with Coast To Coast, the Top Ten and then Roxy and the top spot with the end titles which seems a bit mean as they only just made it to the top and they're already got bored with it.

    1. Yeh they do crowd noise behind the presenter I think to pretend he isn't alone, also there can be what suspiciously sounds like canned applause at least leading out from tracks which neatly fades away in time for the presenter to speak.

      Kim's brother obviously isn't that in the video, I like her shrugging him off with her shoulder, funny.

  15. Well. Here I am just finished watching this March edition of TOTPs in... March.

    For the record, I believe it is Sharon Redd with Can You Handle It playing in the background while Tommy introduces the top 30. For me, Sharon will appear in next week's edition, if I got things right.

    But can anyone identify the barely audible background tune while Tommy introduces the top 20?