Thursday, 11 February 2016

Top of the Pops Your Mind Up

There are lots of big changes to Top of the Pops coming up during the course of 1981, and tonight's edition sees one of them (though not a mention is made of it by Peter Powell) ~ after nearly four and a half years on the show we come to the end of the original line up of Legs & Co, with Pauline Peter's final (two) performances..

So if you want to see some more of Pauline, tonight's your last chance....

19/03/81 (hosted by Peter Powell)

(28) The Jacksons – “Can You Feel It?” (background)
Whilst Peter introduces the show we get a few seconds of Can You Feel It, which was the third single from The Jacksons late 1980 album 'Triumph' and became by far the most successful of the three when it peaked at number 6.

(33) Sharon Redd – “Can You Handle It?”
The question is can that podium handle Sharon's gyrating? And around her we also see Legs & Co in their new regular role of audience cheerleader dancers. The song peaked at number 31 for Sharon, though eleven years later she would re-record it and take it to number 17.

(2) Shakin’ Stevens – “This Ole House” (video)
Shaky packs his things and prepares to move into the number one spot. But he was edited out of the 7.30pm broadcast tonight.

(30) Dave Stewart & Colin Blunstone – “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?”
The first of two top 20 cover version hits for keyboardist Dave Stewart in 1981, this first offering, featuring Zombie Colin Blunstone on vocals, making it to lucky number 13....

(9) The Who – “You Better You Bet”  (rpt from 05/03/81)
Now at its peak, the first single from their number 2 album Face Dances.

(18) Stevie Wonder – “Lately”
Quite an appropriate goodbye song for Pauline's final Legs & Co performance, which later made it to number 3 in the charts.

(14) Phil Collins – “I Missed Again”  (rpt from 05/03/81)
At its peak. And edited out of the 7.30pm showing.

(New) Bucks Fizz – “Making Your Mind Up”
And now we introduce The UKs Eurovision song contest entry for 1981 ~ fingers crossed.......

(24) Visage – “Mind Of a Toy” (video)
The follow up to Fade to Grey peaked at number 13. Somewhat disappointingly, this was edited out of the 7.30pm slot tonight.

(20) Duran Duran – “Planet Earth” (rpt from 05/03/81)
Still heading up the charts on its way to number 12.

(8) Toyah – “It’s a Mystery” (8)
A new performance of Its a Mystery from Toyah on its way to a high of number 4.

(1) Roxy Music – “Jealous Guy” (video/credits)
The second and final week for Roxy's only number one hit. And looking down the credits it seems the Maggie Stredder Singers were back again tonight, backing Sharon Redd maybe?

Next (tomorrow!) we move on to March 26th 1981 with Richard Skinner.


  1. Bye bye Pauline, and thanks for everything. We'll miss that beaming face for sure.

    You have to admire and indeed wonder at Stevie Wonder for writing and singing the lyrics "Lately I've been staring in the mirror, very slowly picking me apart". A brave, haunting and beautiful song.

    Ah, Bucks Fizz! With the 'dress pull' routine that Song For Europe favourites and eventual also-rans Rags (remember them?) would have used had they been televised instead of the SFE contest being strike-bound.

    1. Ah Nibble, but you didn't mention the line in Stevie Wonder's song which goes "and this time could mean goodbye" followed by the camera's glance straight at Pauline. Now that was pure genius for Pauline's goodbye.

    2. "my eyes won't let me hide" is an interesting lyric from Stevie Wonder

  2. Sharon Redd - I wasn't sure whether to concentrate on Sharon Redd in that amazing dress with the eye-catching diamond sparkles that would mesmerise any man's soul, or Legs & Co wearing very little again in those heavenly white numbers. They just seem to keep tantalising us every week.

    Stevie Wonder - Good Lord, more Legs & Co and this time a precursor for what seems to be the idea for Imagination's hit later in 1981 called Bodytalk. The Legs & Co performance in the studio here was eerily identical to the video for Bodytalk later in the same year for Leee John's new group Imagination. Agreed with Nibble that there could not have been a better song to see off Pauline of Legs & Co than Stevie Wonder's Lately.

    Bucks Fizz - Wow Jay Aston, wow Jay Aston, my favourite in the group, and my 13 year old eyes in 1981 were fixed on her in that yellow dress. Wahay! Deserved No.1 in April.

    Visage - I always liked this song as well as Fade To Grey, and how sad to have lost Steve Strange last year at the age of only 55 with heart failure.

  3. Is that the TOTP orchestra backing the bellowing Sharon Redd? Were they making a comeback by stealth? Not a very good rendition of a so-so late disco ditty, though I liked her Darth Vader hair.

    I wonder if that house in the Shakin' Stevens video is still standing? Is it on Google Streetview?

    Well, it's not Odessey and Oracle, but Dave Stewart on the keyboards wasn't a bad combination for Colin Blunstone's unmistakable vocals. He had one of the best voices of the 60s, and he still sounds just the same, not bad for a man who's actually in his 60s now.

    Come on Rog, take the scarf off, you'll feel the benefit when you get outside.

    And then a gentle farewell to Pauline with Stevie Wonder's melancholy Lately as Legs & Co dance around a giant baked potato.

    You know how they say a man has reached middle age when he has picked out a special stick to stir his paint with, Phil?

    Ah, the piece de resistance, I don't use the word genius lightly but Bucks Fizz were giants in their field. Nowadays the ESC is full of acts ripping their clothes off to reveal smaller clothes, but it all started here.

    I like this Visage video better than the previous one, they were getting the hang of it plus we got to see what Steve Strange would have looked like on Thunderbirds. Song's a bit angsty, but still cool.

    Legs & Co should really have borrowed the Duran Duran boys' globe.

    Toyah doing the robot and pondering the mystery of... what? The Financial Times Crossword? Remembering her role in The Tempest?

    Then Bryan emotes to the credits as we finally get John Lennon out of our system. Sort of.

    1. If the ole house is still standing, I hope it has a green door.

  4. Peter Powell starts us off with the extraordinarily prescient "welcome to yet another Top Of The Pops". It's like he knows BBC4 were going to start doubling up on episodes.. He still looks naff in his casual pastel-coloured jacket, but at least his pants are at normal waist level.

    Sharon Redd. Well this is very disappointing. Somewhere in my record collection is this very single - but it doesn't sound as weedy and high pitched as this. I presume my copy is the re-release when someone with ability was in the producer's chair. She looks a bit odd and moves a bit odd too. The Leggers on the other hand. . .

    Shaky on vid. This sounded to me a bit wobbly at the start -almost as though the tape was on its way out.

    And so on to the assault on the eardrums that is Colin Blunstone's version of 'What Becomes. . . .". Now obviously Blunstone is a class act but this is just a weak, insipid production which not even HIS voice can salvage. I take it that this particular Dave Stewart is the one from Blunstone's old group the Zombies?

    The Leggers get a second outing for the beautiful Lately, which continues Stevie Wonder's recent run of form. And well done girls - that was excellent.

    Bucks Fizz with their iconic routine and mere days away from conquering Europe. Dangerous amount of hair lacquer though!

    Visage. God this is crap.

    An average kind of show then - with the best bits being in the middle, specifically The Leggers and Stevie Wonder. 5

    Old Smiley-Voice started off well with what I suspect was a well-rehearsed opening gambit, but he soon drifted into his patented sentences-that-almost-but-not-quite-make-sense. He may have ditched the leather pants, but hooking his jacket over one thumb over his shoulder is another fashion cock-up; his dance moves are still embarrassing; and he IS still emphasising words in STRANGE places in his intros. He cops for a 4.

    1. I must admit the Colin Blunstone performance was very morbid in presentation, and considering that this song gets only one more viewing on TOTP at the beginning of April 1981, it is a repeat of this studio performance, and we don't get to see the video which is even more depressing and sullen, where Blunstone arrives at London's Embankment pondering whether to throw himself into the River Thames.
      The video has only one saving grace, in that the organ playing is encased within a giant wurlitzer at the local Odeon cinema.

    2. i don't think there was ever anyone called dave stewart in the zombies (you may be thinking of rod argent?). this particular dave stewart played in various 70's prog outfits such as hatfield and the north (named after a road sign on the M1 coming out of london) before going solo...

    3. Interesting. Dave Stewart wanted a definitive English vocalist for the song and his first choice was Robert Wyatt but, when that didn't happen, Barbara Gaskin suggested Colin Blunstone who her sister knew from school. Dave then couldn't find a major label to release the single, so he set up the Broken label and issued it, whereupon Stiff picked it up.

    4. Wilby. Yup, you're right. Jeez I must be getting old or something. I can't even imagine my thought process that resulted in me mixing up Mr Argent and Dave Stewart. I'm gonna have a few weekend drinks and forget this entire faux pas. *hangs head in shame*

    5. Nah, Shaky - as Argent sang, "Hold Your Head Up"!

    6. Too late Arthur. The beers have already slid down the Shaky throat, and the head - whilst not hanging- is definitely listing to starboard.

  5. So, we finally get to see Sharon Redd after apparently hearing her behind Rock On Tommy. Highly unusual for an act to get her own podium.

    Once again, as with “Lately”, Pauline received the smallest amount of solo / ‘face time’ of the Leggers. Almost as if it was done on purpose once she’d resigned – and yes, that was superb timing to accompany Pauline’s last view with a poignant lyric.

    You can also tell a middle aged man with a bit of an identity crisis when he flops a bit of hair forward to try and cover a bald patch. Eh, Phil?

    Peter Powell wins the inaugural ‘best bit of chart rundown ever’ by managing to cram the whole song title and dual artist name into the two seconds for number 30. Brilliantly done.

    I enjoyed that Visage video and I also thought it was their best song, though it obviously wasn’t as iconic as “Fade To Grey”.

    Ah. I’d forgotten the potency of Jay Aston. Yes please.

    1. Phil Collins had only just turned 30 at the time, so he wasn't exactly middle aged, though he certainly looks it!

  6. I'm in the anti-Visage camp here. I though that was much more about the video than the song.

    Sharon Redd looked a bit old, the audience rather silly in the hand gestures. Somehow it was more acceptable with This Ole house than with disco were we are just used to see people on the floor dancing. The song was alright if not the best of recent disco.

    Toyah much better this time, not cramped into a close up of her head jerking (which annoyed me) and it felt like much a livelier movement and dance. A more whole body performance.

    I actually liked Blunstone. I'd certainly take his cover over the Bryan Ferry one. The synths overall added to this version, the cover was reasonably restrained not adding mannerisms like Ferry does.

    Bucks Fizz here somehow seem to fit into the retro rock n roll of the time.

    1. Re reaction to Toyah's movements - Tracey Ullman's spoof went under the name Annoyah!

  7. host: i wonder if it was peter's idea to feature the orange juice/champagne thing before buck's fizz (probably not). yes, a bit cheesy, but at least they're making an effort

    sharon redd: although hardly the greatest post-disco record ever, the original version rocks compared to what hopefully was the last hurrah of the top of the pops orchestra & maggie shredder singers. i always wondered what happened to the dark-skinned lady who worked on moonbase in gerry anderson's UFO...

    dave stewart & colin blunstone: shouldn't that billing be the other way around? but also a premonition of what was to come with singers credited second in line to producers/DJ's/etc. i really liked the "new" synthy bits at the beginning, middle and end of this, but the main song itself sounded hardly any different to the original dreary motown version - what a shame stewart didn't have the balls to create an entirely new song from what were interesting ideas. i presume the androgynous lady on keyboards was barbara gaskin (who of course received similar billing as the vocalist on stewart's follow-up that had the same treatment i.e. add some new-fangled synth noises to 60's pop classics)? but i have no idea who the other guy was. of course, thanks to this mr s the identically-named eurythmics guy of similar vintage had to use the rather clumsy credit of "david a. stewart" on his recordings...

    stevie wonder: this ballad would probably have benefitted from a bigger production, rather than just stevie's rather clumpy comping on piano as musical accompianment. the best bit? the modulation at the end!

    bucks fizz: i wonder who spent the most time in the hairdresser's chair beforehand? my guess would be mike nolan... who was probably the prettiest member! someone watching this with me mentioned how similar this was to "do the hucklebuck". but the fact was that the music took second place to the "skirt-ripping" routine, that was actually considered quite shocking and daring at the time. and probably the main reason for its success both in the charts and eurovision...

    visage: very similar to "fade to grey" in that the best bit is the instrumental break in the middle. otherwise they are both listenable if nothing to get really excited about musically. another interesting video of course though. visage later moved into a harder, more dance-oriented sound, with tracks like "we move" and "the anvil" being superior if less successful

    toyah: i actually thought this was a repeat of the first appearance, as the bassist has the same blank expression on his face (was that his permanent stage look/persona?). every time i hear this, i can't help but think just how awful a vocalist (i can't bring myself to type the word "singer") toyah willcox was with her odd mixture of lisping, squealing and bellowing. but like steve strange (who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket either) she didn't let that handicap get in the way of her pop star aspirations

    roxy music: i didn't realise the bryan gets to play some synth at the end of the video - i always assumed he walked off whistling into the sunset! given the shameless cashing in on lennon's demise by his record companies, i'm surprised the original version wasn't released as a single as well (and it wouldn't have been the first time that two versions of the same song would have been in the charts at the same time - remember "deck of cards" and "una paloma blanca"?)

    1. I quite like the light jazzy arrangement on Lately, it means the focus is on the vocal which is such a strong part of the song it would be a shame to see it competing with something else. It's intense enough not to need anything extra.

    2. i think "lately" has the potential to be an excellent cocktail jazz song, but stevie's "organic" style of keyboard playing isn't really doing it any favours in my opinion. with that in mind, rather surprisingly it has never been covered by any well-known jazz singers, crooners or divas...

    3. With regard to Jealous Guy at No.1 this week, it would have been interesting if the John Lennon original version was released at the same time as Roxy Music's new version, and whether Roxy Music's version would have outshone Lennon's version for the No.1. Hmmm....

    4. Come to think of it, you're right Wilberforce regarding the Bucks Fizz effort sounding very much like "Do The Hucklebuck." However, Bucks Fizz fared better than Coast To Coast on account of Jay Aston's sex appeal, whereas Patti and Donna on Coast To Coast while very cute, did not do the skirt ripping!

    5. I can imagine Rupert Holmes watching Peter Powell's introduction to Bucks Fizz, shaking his fist at the screen and shouting "They never showed you how to make a pina colada for my song!".

      As for multiple versions of a song in the chart, this was rife in the early days, probably the most extreme occasion being in October 1960, when five different versions of the film theme "Never On Sunday" were in the top 50 at the same time. Four of the versions spent between 9 and 14 weeks in the top 50, and none of them reached higher than number 27.

    6. John Lennon's version of 'Jealous Guy' was released as a single in 1985 making no.65.

    7. It should have been released in 1981 as a follow up to Woman, so that it could compete with Roxy Music for the No.1 spot. Can you imagine the look on Yoko Ono's face if Roxy Music's version had edged out John Lennon for the No.1 spot. Good Lord, there would be uproar.

    8. yoko's got a sourpuss face whatever the occasion!

  8. Another decent show, but unfortunate once again that a long-standing dancer departs with zero ceremony - not a mention passed PP's lips that this was Pauline's farewell, and she wasn't all that prominent in the Lately routine either. Still, that song was a very suitable choice lyric-wise for her last performance, and it was a good routine too, albeit more about striking poses in fortune-teller outfits rather than doing much actual dancing. The song itself is a fine ballad, one of Stevie's best, which avoids becoming overwrought.

    The same, alas, could not be said of Sharon Redd's vocals on that rather peculiar opener. The staging didn't work at all, the sit-down audience movements seeming very inappropriate and Sharon looking very exposed and awkward on that little circular platform. Legs did a good job, but the various elements were less than the sum of their parts - the presence of Pearson, Stredder and co didn't help either, and hopefully their time was now almost over.

    I hope the production crew on Shaky's video did a thorough health-and-safety check on that old house before filming began! Visage come up with a much more imaginative promo, complete with creepy kids and a Steve Strange marionette that looked more like Elvis to me. The song, alas, was the least interesting element, nowhere near as memorable as Fade to Grey.

    The other new synthpop offering was also a bit lacklustre. Colin Blunstone is a great singer, but this electro cover of a Motown classic felt very flat and uninteresting. Still, for Dave Stewart (he and the other Dave must have been very irritated by that name coincidence) this was a useful dry run for the more successful It's My Party later in the year. I did wonder if the female vocalist was Barbara Gaskin, but wasn't sure - she looked a bit like one of the Human League girls.

    There's no question that Bucks Fizz gave the performance of the show. You can readily see from this why they won Eurovision, and the song, while lightweight, is undeniably catchy. It's interesting how this is the only song they are really remembered for now, because they had a lot of big hits and from my memory never seemed to be off the TV in the early-to-mid 80s - Cheryl Baker of course went on to have a lengthy career as a kids' TV presenter.

    Aside from that very awkward dancing at the start, PP had another solid outing. He did seem rather more shouty than usual - I wonder if Michael Hurll had picked him up on the mumbling that he was often prone to on earlier shows...

    1. The lyrics describe This Ole House as a shaky house which is kind of appropriate for the singer.

    2. Bucks Fizz are mainly remembered for Making Your Mind Up because of the Eurovision success, but I don't think that reflects on their songs because I think they did better (as Abba did but obviously on a bigger scale).

    3. The audience studio set for Sharon Redd was a precursor for other BBC shows with studio audiences, i.e., the audience being as prominent as the singer by catching the viewers' eyes with there waving and leaning at the same time. This seemed to create a trend in the early 80s for other BBC shows to copy the TOTP audience style. Swap Shop, Cheggars Plays Pop were two shows that come to mind which took on this banner waving style in the studio.

    4. like abba, bucks fizz actually gained a measure of credibility a year or so after their eurovision win. in their case it was due to well-crafted synth pop singles like "my camera never lies" and (especially) "the land of make believe"

  9. As mentioned way back, this was Cheryl Baker's fourth go at Eurovision in six years - finishing UK runner-up with CoCo just two points behind Brotherhood of Man, making the big gig with CoCo, finishing last in the UK heats with CoCo (now renamed The Main Event) and becoming one of the few artistes to appear in Eurovision with two different acts via Bucks Fizz.

  10. There have been some great show openers in this 1981 run. Sharon Redd does not join that list. Her slightly masculine look coupled with the odd fringe don't help, and the weedy production by the TOTP orchestra make it even worse. I too prefer the 90s version she did with DNA, and I also prefer her later single 'I'll Never Give You Up'.

    Usually the videos on these shows look and sound more pristine than the ones we see on the music channels on TV that have been played 1000 times. Not the Shaky one though, which is very wobbly!

    Just me liking Stewart & Blunstone then? I quite like the way it's done, though admittedly it's not as exciting as 'It's My Party'.

    I forgot to mention this last time, but I like the way the graphic at the end of The Who vaguely looks like the then current neon style Doctor Who logo - that must be deliberate!

    I'm going to go against the grain on the Stevie Wonder front too. I've always found that song very dull, sorry!

    Bucks Fizz with the performance that always gets shown, mainly because on Eurovision itself they actually didn't perform it very well. the buzz around the song helped it to victory though, and I'm glad it did as I'm a huge fan of The Fizz. Many of their later songs are brilliant pop gems.

    'Mind Of A Toy' is my least favourite Visage single. Midge Ure sounds pretty high in the vocals on it, probably to cover Steve Strange's vocal failings!

    1. "beat the street" is a better effort by sharon redd, but i don't know if it made totp or not?

    2. I didn't realise Sharon Redd had four separate top 40 hits (two of which missed the mugshots by one place) and a re-working of her first hit which went top 20. "Beat the Street" never made the charts. We get Sharon once next year and once eons away with the reworked hit.

      Talking of disco, just thought... if Kelly Marie wanted to evolve that 'Scottish disco' sound, she should have called Skids' Stuart Adamson for his bagpipe guitar.

    3. I like Stewart/Blunstone as well, it matches the drama of the original's orchestra with synths. If anything, it's even more doomladen.

  11. I quite enjoyed the majority of this edition and PP seemed particularly enthused also.

    Sharon Redd – Can you handle it? – Can I remember it? No, so it must have made as little impression on me in 1981 as it did now. That spinning hands dancing by the audience is just strange.

    Shakin’ Stevens – This ole House – Great video.

    Dave Stewart / Colin Blunstone – What becomes of the broken hearted – I’d heard of Colin then (Say you don’t mind) but not Dave. Great performance this and I preferred it to Dave’s later collaboration with Barbara Gaskin. Colin sung a great lead vocal on the Alan Parsons Project song ‘Old and Wise’ – one week on the chart at no.74 in 1982. A hidden gem if ever there was one.

    The Who – You better – Repeat of a great performance.

    Stevie Wonder – Lately – One of the few Stevie songs that I can tolerate, this really has grown old gracefully. Nice dance in understated light from the Legs girls.

    Phil Collins – I missed again – The review in ‘Record Mirror’ as the time said that this single release would be “a kick up the a*se for all you Genesis fans”. They weren’t kidding.

    Bucks Fizz – Making your mind up – I’ve seen many bands live over the years. One of the not so great highlights was Bucks Fizz live at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet, Essex in the mid 80s. However, there is something about this song and the performance that is appealing and it really was a deserved winner of the Eurovision Song Contest.

    Visage – Mind of a Toy – Another great video and song from the studio band. Very imaginative.

    Duran Duran – Planet Earth – Just didn’t grab me at all.

    Toyah – It’s a Mystery (Four from Toyah) – PP mentions the title of the EP on the chart rundown, but I never heard the other three from Toyah. This is a much better performance than the other one that was shown previously. I love the way the other band members look all deadpan and ‘hard’ whilst she’s jumping around and gesticulating. Definitely a song that I like more than I did then. Now, what about ‘Revelations’, ‘War Boys’, ‘Angels and Demons’? Come to think of it I can’t think of many EPs where they played more than one of the tracks? Perhaps Kiki Dees EP with ‘Loving and Free’ and ‘Amoureuse’ might be one. Speaking of Kiki….she didn’t ‘star’ on the show this week…

    Chart rundown – No showing of the official video for ‘Do the Hucklebuck’, just a static photo – booh! Kelly Marie still hanging in there with the excruciating ‘Hot love’. A run of 31 24 22 23 28 39 saw her hang around but not pierce the top 20 and so not be listed in the Top Twenty ‘Bible’ book I have, where there’s only one song of that title…

    Roxy Music – Jealous Guy – Still sublime. Just love the credits rolling on the instrumental/whistling fade out.

    1. It's easy to forget how huge Bucks Fizz were, they had plenty of hits and were really popular until the coach crash that put paid to their run of hits. Now they're a byword for naff, but they did have some good tunes.

    2. i once went to the circus tavern around 20 years ago - an electrician who worked for me at the time invited his clients to come to his birthday bash there at his expense. it was a real chicken-in-a-basket nightmare, with the audience that lapped it all up (the headliners were the searchers, who'd had thier last hit about 30 years earlier) being mainly great unwashed-made good. that included the "sunday sport" owner (as they say: "you can take the man out of the working class, but you can't take the working class out of the man"), who was dwarfed by his much younger girlfriend (as mrs merton would have said: "what attracted you to the millionaire david sullivan?"). fortunately i was sitting at a table with a load of IT types, so as we tucked into the complimentary booze we had some fun taking potshots at the absurdity of it all!

  12. I always liked Bucks Fizz - especially Jay Aston, who still looks good. I recently bought the first album which came with a Spanish Language release. Some interesting remixes. News today of new scoring for Eurovision, and next Friday we pick this year's Uk entry...