Thursday, 24 March 2016

Throw Away the Top of the Pops

Whole Lotta thanks to Meer for making this 899th edition of Top of the Pops from July 2nd 1981 available on Vimeo, as it is hosted by DLT so won't be shown on BBC4. This show marks the end of the Whole Lotta Love era, the CSS cover of the Led Zeppelin song which had been the show's theme tune since November 5th 1970...

Is that a new theme tune I hear, just around the corner?

02/07/81 (hosted by Dave Lee Travis)

(3) Bad Manners – “Can Can”

Already at its peak in the charts.

(25) Third World – “Dancing On The Floor (Hooked On Love)” (video)

Became the band's second and final top ten hit when it made number 10.

(2) The Specials – “Ghost Town”

The first of two final studio performances by the original line up of The Specials for a song that was soon to haunt the number one spot (and the band).

(16) Quincy Jones – “Razzamatazz”
The follow up to Ai No Corrida became Quincy's biggest hit when it made number 11, and Legs & Co also follow up their Ai No Corrida routine with another BBC4 melter....

(53) Barry Biggs – “Wide Awake In A Dream”

Became Barry's final hit peaking at 44.

(21) Linx – “Throw Away The Key”

Now at peak position in the chart.

(29) Rainbow – “Can’t Happen Here” (video)
Ended a run of three top ten hits when it peaked at 20.

(1) Michael Jackson – “One Day In Your Life” (Legs & Co) (rpt from 04/06/81 + credits)

Second and final week at number one.

The next edition is a major one ~ not only is it the 900th show but also the one that introduces the new opening titles and the launch of the Yellow Pearl era. The trouble is that one of the hosts is Jimmy Savile and so won't be shown on BBC4.


  1. Bad Manners, all credit to Buster, I'm about half his size and I can't turn cartwheels like he can. Bit of a lazy record, but it hit the spot for the public.

    Third World in what sounds like a very submissive position where love is concerned, but this is one smooth song, must have sounded great in summer.

    The Specials made it to the studio one last time, what a pity they were sick of the sight of each other, they could have conquered the world.

    Quincy Jones perfectly suited to a Legs & Co routine, under a pyramid that would sharpen any razor blades left in it overnight, or just for the duration of the routine.

    Buster Bloodvessel's back - oops, no, it's Barry Biggs, with a rather nondescript ditty. Pleasant enough, but it doesn't linger in the mind.

    That was a party political broadcast on behalf of the Rainbow party. But it still sounds like Fool for Your Lovin' only not as good.

    About time we had a different theme tune, then? I think so.

    1. I don't recall this Rainbow hit, but it's a very good song and video, and I'm surprised it didn't make top 5 like their other hits, cos it's a good one. Of course mixing music and politics was quite fashionable in the early 80s as we saw this trend in the videos for Going Underground in 1980, Einstein A Go Go in 1981, and also Two Tribes (Frankie) in 1984 and War (Culture Club) also in 1984, to name but a few.

    2. I like the way that in the chart rundown, the picture shown for 'Can't happen here' by Rainbow is the same one as on the single picture sleeve. I don't believe that occurred very often.

      Some of the pictures used were taken when the groups appeared on the show - Depeche Mode is a good case in point.

  2. DLT seems in very good spirits here, not a bad show and a shame it's absent from BBC4.

    I thought the Can Can came after Walking In The sunshine and was one of Bad Manners' later novelty releases but I was wrong it came out first. Not their best (which is Walking In The Sunshine) but it's a bit of silly fun. I have seen this clip many times but never realised that DLT introduced it. How ironic that he talks about the show being off the air because of Buster's bloomers.

    Loved this Third World song at the time, it really did get me dancing on the floor and great to see the band on video.

    And then The Specials in the studio with Ghost town living up to their name. I have seen this clip many times and the first time I saw it I didn't realise it was from TOTP as visually it looks so different with the low lighting, the colour wheels (one of which seems to be operated by a member of the audience) and the curious backdrop which seems to be the studio walls (a bit like the early Old Grey Whistle Tests). But I guess it just the producer trying out new visual ideas for the new look show. This is the better of the two studio performances of Ghost Town because the band at least have enough room to perform and they don't look like they quite hate each other (yet). I like Jerry bending down to grin into the camera, Terry banging his walking stick on the stage and Rhoda Dakkar's mad hair.

    Legs strutting their funky-skimpy stuff to Quincy Jones singing what could be the theme tune to ITV's rival pop show (which I think started this year). Legs attired in Egyptian influenced designer loin clothes and bikini tops dancing in a giant pyramid. Why? Who knows but it got those lads excited.

    Barry Biggs back after a few years chart absence. He can't dance for toffee but he has a pleasant voice and it's okay but I don't remember this at all.

    Linx looking and sounding even more like a funk/soul band than before. It's not surprising this wasn't such a big hit as Intuition because this lacks the novelty aspect that had and is too derivative of other funk hits. Not content with pretending to play the sax on the first hit here David Grant is having a go at the drums. What a show off. No wonder the other drummer left.

    Rainbow on video. I have no memory of this either which isn't surprising as it's nothing special but it has a nice driving groove in a rocky way and the video works with the intercut film clips and still images.

    The Top Ten with the usual weird mix of video clips and still images and playout with Legs dancing to Jacko again.

    Not the best show ever but I enjoyed Bad Manners and The Specials.

    1. Is there anything that Bad Manners cannot do? This hit already at No.3 in only its second week in the chart, and matched the No.3 peak of Special Brew a few months earlier in 1980. After this Can Can effort, the follow-up hits did not perform as well, so you could say that on this week's show the Manners were now at their career peak, as the rest of 1981 and 1982 brought less successful hits, and the decline was soon to begin right here in the middle of 1981.

    2. I'd give Offenbach much of the credit for Can Can here really. Ok Buster puts on a show as well.

  3. Not a great loss to BBC4, but nice to have the choice. Thanks as ever for loading it.

  4. Not a bad show, forgetable start from Bad Manners though but Third World quickly saves the show. Quite a large turnout of black artists dominating the show and charts at that moment. DLT I thought did a great job to wind down the first part of the Hurll era.

  5. The Specials - I don't recall a female member of the group, so where did this come from? Nevertheless, Ghost Town was a well deserved No.1 eventually, and also one of the best hits of the 80s, and a very good one to bow out with for the Specials before the Fun Boy Three era was to descend upon us the following year.

    Quincy Jones - another blood pressure boiler from Legs & Co, and it's a pity that this UK Gold copy was not of a crisp quality like the BBC4 shows, and we could not enjoy Legs & Co more clearly without the poor quality picture of this UK Gold print. Nevertheless, still thanks to Meer for getting this out to us, and better than nothing.

    Top ten rundown - oh dear, DLT with his treatment of the teenage girl in the audience just before the top ten rundown does not lend himself well to BBC4 considering re-instating his shows in this repeat run.

    Also the Red Sovine video is another that is elusively missing with no idea where to find it, and along with the Capstick Comes Home video shown briefly on the top ten rundown a couple of months earlier, remain as two of the mysteries of these TOTP reruns. Can anyone help?

    1. The female singer is Rhoda Dakar, she was the lead singer of the short-lived all girl ska group The Bodysnatchers. She appeared on More Specials singing a duet with Terry Hall and was pictured on the cover (on some versions of it). She recently released the Bodysnatchers album which was unreleased at the time.

    2. The belated follow up to 'Ghost Town' was 'The Boiler' credited to Rhoda with the Special A.K.A. A minor hit at no.35 in January 1982.

  6. A solid if unspectacular show to end the first Whole Lotta Love era (a remixed version would become the TOTP theme in 1998), capably helmed by DLT. He gets the balance just about right here between restraint and exuberance, though why he copied PP in holding on to an unfortunate girl's head while going into a chart rundown is beyond me...

    Things get off to a dubious start with Bad Manners' take on the Can Can. You can't fault the staging, and Buster's cartwheels are certainly impressive and unexpected, but what really was the point of it all? I am starting to grow a bit tired of Buster's antics, and I can't say this endeared him to me any further. As others have noted, DLT's remarks at the end about the show being taken off the air have a deeply ironic tinge now...

    Third World proceed to deliver a solid tune and some nice sunshine in their video, before an appropriately dark and stark studio performance for Ghost Town. With the band just one week away from splitting, it is fascinating to observe the body language, and the feeling with which Terry Hall mimes "can't go on no more" could be more than a coincidence.

    I am beginning to think Legs got dropped from TOTP because, after this performance, their wardrobes could not be pared down any further! I've no idea why Flick decided on a pyramid theme, but the routine works well enough, and DLT and the lads with him certainly appreciated it. I had not been expecting to see Barry Biggs again in these reruns, so his appearance here was a surprise. He looked and sounded little different to how he was in 1977, so no great shock that this rather dull lovers' rock offering did not much trouble the charts.

    Rainbow were far more lively, and even though Ritchie Blackmore quite shamelessly recycles old riffs here this is a much more successful attempt at social and political commentary than Gillan's ham-fisted denunciation of nuclear war a few months previously. The short animations and montage of clips in the video work well too. Finally, I see the first Legs routine to Jacko's number 1 is repeated this week. I think the second one is marginally better, but unlike some of Jacko's later tunes this is not a song out of which scintillating choreography is made...

    1. Feeling the same regarding Buster B and Bad Manners. Thankfully this hit was their peak at No.3 much like Special Brew, and all the hits after this in 1981 and 1982 were less impactful on the charts, so with this hit we will now see the steady decline of Bad Manners and only have them appear a few more months and into 1982, before they sling they hook once and for all.

    2. Re The special splitting up, I have just read Horace Panter's biog and it seems that they didn't split up the day after their last TOTP appearance, it happened a bit later. The following month hey went on a short tour of the USA and that's when it all ended. Their last gig was in Boston.

    3. It was unusual there to see a presenter with guys around him, it's virtually always girls.

    4. Thanks Bama - I had a feeling that story was a bit too good to be true!

    5. Dory - yes, can't say I'll be sorry to see the back of Buster and co now. Hope it isn't bad manners to say that...

  7. Many thanks again Meer for making another episode available to us that the beeb won’t show. Not a vintage line up but some moments..

    Bad Manners – Can Can – Cringe worthy bad. Bad Manners and Gillan seem to be vying for the most TOTP appearances in 1981.

    Third World – Dancing on the Floor – Can’t recall this at all… just not my cup of tea.

    Specials – Ghost Town – The instrumentation in this is pretty awesome, especially Rico Rodriguez on trombone. Here we see Terry and Neville looking smart in jackets and ties reminding me of the early Beatles days. Jerry Dammers meanwhile treats us to another grin at the camera as in ‘Do nothing’.

    Quincy Jones – Razzmatazz – Another one I just don’t recall at all and amazingly it was his biggest hit! A quick check and it’s written by Rod Temperton and, at 4:05 is edited! What can I say about DLT and his mates at the end – “Cor, they’re nice….whoaarrr!”.

    Barry Biggs – Wide awake in a dream – I simply loved Barry’s ‘Side Show’ in 1976. This is another smooth vocal performance but the song is not in the same league. Still, only no.44 seems harsh.

    Linx – Throw away the Key – Yawn…

    Rainbow – Can’t happen here – Ah, I’m wide awake now! Great anthem with classic Joe Lynn Turner vocals, Ritchie laying down a nice guitar solo and some occasionally worrying bits of film. We cut off here with a missile launching which is a cheerful way to sign off but the video actually ends with a slightly more comforting film of the Space Shuttle landing.

    Michael Jackson – One Day in your Life – The last time at no.1 and this time with the credits rolling. I preferred the other Legs and Co. dance where they were all together from the start.

    1. The reason I don't like this Legs performance is because of the shiny dresses, just doesn't suit the song at all.

  8. shaky shakerson25 March 2016 at 18:04

    Big thanx to Meer for getting this to us.

    Bad Manners. Oh dear. I reckon this was probably a live standard that they used to play in their early days when they didn't have enough 'proper' songs to fill a set. A bit annoying that they should foist it on us, although seeing as it made it to number 3, enough people liked it/were gullible enough to buy it.

    ". . . we could be off air for years" says DLT. Well, just you actually Dave, just you. Oh, and Saville of course.

    Third World. Great song - especially when played while the sun was shining. I loved it back then - still very fond of it now.

    The Specials. One of the few number ones of 81 that deserved its place. Nice to see this studio performance instead of the video for once.

    Next up - the Leggers dance to Razzamatazz wearing skimpy gold outfits. Thats skimpy gold oufits. Whats not to love?

    Barry Biggs. Still loves Sideshow more than he loves side salad by the looks of things. Dreary.

    Rainbow. Nice guitar motif but the rest of the song is pants.

    A parson's nose of a show with The Specials and Third World being the pick - 6.

    DLT earns 6 - dropping points mainly for his audience involvement.

    1. The Rainbow song grew on me as it went on, better than the Saxon or Gillan stuff around then for me.

  9. Things always seem to motor along much better when DLT's on, such a shame we can't see his shows. Obviously the 'phwoaar' but with 'ver lads' was embarrassing, and the holding the head of the audience member, but then PP had already done that one!
    I particularly liked the way that he joked about getting in the title of Kirsty's song during the rundown. Were we all thinking the same thing? Namely 'Don't worry Dave, Bates doesn't bother with ANY of them!'

    'Can Can' I loved at the time, being the right age. Not so keen now. A great performance, but you always expected that from 'Dougie' & co.

    The Third World song is pretty good, I do recall it being quite sunny at this point in time and it sounding good on the radio. Definitely the best thing they ever did.

    I actually prefer the other Specials performance, I quite like the idea of them all squeezed onto a tiny stage!

    The Quincy Jones song is OK, the Legs routine certainly engaging again.....

    Barry Biggs with a song incredibly similar to the ones he trotted out after 'Side Show' and not particularly great. The Rainbow track isn't much better.

    Like most here, I also prefer the other Legs routine for Jacko.

    Looking forward to the next one, I expect that to be more of a loss to BBC4!

  10. I watched this edition on YouTube before Easter so, as they used to say on ‘Blue Peter’, here’s one I prepared earlier (oh, and edited slightly after I got back from my weekend away).

    Oooh! Different colour chart rundown sections! Oh – we don’t get the rundown for the top four or the repeat of the Leggers’ blue rinse dance routine on YouTube. Unfortunately, we do suffer possibly the most stomach churning segue thus far, from Red Sovine into Kate Robbins.

    A curate’s egg of a performance from Dave, leering over Legs & Co before and after (can’t blame him, though) then also asking the opinions of some ‘lads’, and getting The Specials’ chart position wrong (they’re number two, Dave, not number three), but fair play by managing to quote all that Kirsty MacColl title in the space allotted (however, a point deducted for the self praise afterwards). How prophetic, though, that Dave should say “We could be off the air for years” after thinking we’d been subjected to Buster’s bum crack.

    Talking of which, good opening cartwheel by Doug and he did well to keep going in that dress at that speed under the heat of those lights. I preferred him in city gear, mind you.

    When I saw Third World’s singer wearing a workman’s helmet, I immediately thought he needed backing by Brass Construction! You couldn’t do that walking through the waves section here over Easter weekend, I can tell you. Not unless you’re really hard. Great acting skills by that girl on the beach.

    Look at The Specials’ brass and woodwind section. Eat that, Undertones! A moody, surly performance just right for the song. Shame on Linval for being the only group member not dressed like or similar to an Avenger.

    Woah! Why didn’t we buy more Quincy Jones singles and make them hits? When Quincy’s on, The Leggers’ costumes shrink. A second helping of slanted screen after that Third World video, with the Leggers (especially Rosie) keeping us entertained on the pyramid stage.

    Nice to see Barry Biggs not dressed like a ringmaster this time. Unfortunately, I found the song a bit too slow for my liking. Similarly, for all David Grant’s efforts, Linx felt so pedestrian once we’d witnessed Imagination.

    Was Rainbow’s song a pub rock answer to Gillan’s “Mutually Assured Destruction”. Oh, look, there’s Concorde. Deep sigh. Another nice blouson on that lead singer. You wouldn’t have caught Graham Bonnet in one of those.

    1. The girl on the beach was funny, cocking her head like 'who is this idiot singing to me?' :D

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