Thursday, 7 April 2016

Top of the Pops on Film

Even the BBC4 announcer sounded like they couldn't quite believe it was the 13th August 1981 already!

Has anyone seen my knitting needles?

13/08/81 (hosted by Simon Bates)

(6) Duran Duran – “Girls On Film”

Getting the show underway for a second time with Girls on Film, with Simon Le Bon sporting a sort of sailor look this time. The song went up one chart place more.

(2) Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – “Hooked On Classics” (video)
The first of two black and white 'films' tonight, this one featuring lots of eccentric people and animals dancing in perfect time to the classical music medley, now at its peak in the chart.

(26) Soft Cell – “Tainted Love”

And so we reach the song that would become the biggest selling single within 1981, host Simon Bates did predict that Marc and David from Leeds would have a big hit with this Gloria Jones cover, and he was spot on, it would make it to number one in three weeks time.

(13) Kim Wilde – “Water On Glass”  (rpt from 30/07/81)
Almost at its number 11 peak now. And the only edit to this week's 7.30pm showing.

(22) Bill Wyman – “(Si Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star” (rpt from 30/07/81)

A second showing for Bill, still rising towards number 14 and his only top 30 solo hit.

(27) Startrax – “Startrax Club Disco”

Just the two medleys on this week's edition, and Legs & Co get the second one, which features the hits of the Bee Gees, where at one point they recreate their Tragedy routine from 1979, and once again a lucky boy is grabbed from the audience for a dance (with Gill I think?). The record made it to number 18. And unusually this week there was no number 28 because this record and Starsound's Stars of 45 vol 2 were both tied at number 27!

(19) Aneka – “Japanese Boy”

The second future number one on tonight's show - with Simon Bates pointing out that for a Japanese lady Aneka was rather tall and had a Scottish accent!

(9) ELO – “Hold On Tight” (video)
Tonight's second (mainly) black and white 'film' is a celebration of olden days action movie heroes with the occasional glimpse of Jeff Lynne's smart new hair and beard cut. Hold On Tight peaked at number 4 and was ELOs 15th and final top ten hit.

(1) Shakin’ Stevens – “Green Door”

Backed by an all green Legs & Co in another audience extravaganza, this was the third of four weeks at number one for Shaky's cover of the 1956 Frankie Vaughan number 2.

(23) UB40 – “One In Ten” (audience dancing/credits)

And the show ends with the fresh faces of 1981's youth sound tracked by UB40's mass unemployment lament.

Top of the Pops 1981 takes a well earned rest now for a couple of weeks on BBC4, returning with the edition from August 27th. Before then though for us there is the 20th August hosted by DLT.


  1. Re: Green Door: Having Master Bates on the big screen behind Shaky reminded me of Big Brother from '1984.'

    1. What was more appealing on Green Door is how Lulu of Legs & Co couldn't keep her eyes of Shakin' Stevens, especially at the beginning of the song, and after Bates disappeared from the video screen behind them.

    2. Maybe Lulu knew what was behind the green door. Hopefully it wasn't Slimy on the eighties equivalent of a plasma telly.

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  3. Duran Duran, well, Simon did like to go sailing and water was often part of their videos. I guess we won't be seeing The Chauffeur video either!

    Ah, I was correct, there was a Hooked On Classics video, and it was incredibly similar to what the videos for house tracks would look like a few short years later with all those old clips. Come on, who can name all the extracts? There's a bit of Rhapsody in Blue, the 1812 Overture, the bit in Moonraker when Jaws meets his girlfriend, erm...

    Soft Cell, I've been sort of dreading this because even 35 years later you can't get away from this record, it has to be one of the most overplayed tracks of the 80s. It's even got to the point where the Gloria Jones original is well overplayed too. OK, great version, but please play something else for a change.

    Ah, Kim Wilde, that's better, soothe my frayed nerves with an 80s track that's good but you hardly ever hear.

    Simes says the woman Bill Wyman is singing about must be Nicaraguan, so he can only mean one woman, yes, Barbara Carrera! Wait a sec, in the lyrics Bill says she's Brazilian...

    That lucky bastard who got to dance with Gill (even with her weird new hairdo) was presumably "Alex" as mentioned in the end credits. I see Patti is an early adopter of the patented 80s massive hair look. As for the track, weak tea, a bunch of covers including that disco classic, er, Massachusetts.

    When I was little, the girls in my class used to sing Japanese Boy to me, not because I'm Japanese, but because they knew it annoyed me. With the nostalgia factor I don't mind it so much, which is just as well because Aneka was a friend of a friend of my mum's. The Japanese were baffled at why she was singing to a Chinese melody, apparently, so it wasn't a hit there as intended.

    A trailer-tastic video for ELO's Hold On Tight, heaven knows what kind of film that was supposed to be, and we all know the public weren't interested in going to see an ELO musical after Xanadu. But it's a bit of fun - apart from Jeff's new facial furniture, more Jimmy Hill than anything.

    Shaky continues his reign, overseen by Bates grooving facially on the screen, disturbingly. About this time The Cannonball Run was out at the cinema, and there's a scene where Jackie Chan watches Behind the Green Door on his car's TV. Didn't hear Shaky on the soundtrack, though, a missed opportunity.

    Then to end on, UB40 offer us their anthem for the dispossessed, I Have a One Inch Head, as Legs & Co scarper for the dressing room.

    1. It's so Chinese sounding there's actually a Taiwanese hit version of it, and I think I prefer it to Aneka (who's vocals are weak for me in the verse).

      It's funny how often Western songs get this wrong as well. Kim Wilde's Cambodia song also sounds Chinese to me in the chorus (quite a lazy generic chorus to me).

    2. The Dead Kennedys' "Holiday In Cambodia" didn't sound very Cambodian either!

    3. This was ELO's first appearance on film in the 80s, cos although the Xanadu album was 1980, we only got to see them in sound, not vision, as all the tracks they were involved in on the Xanadu soundtrack did not show them in the flesh, and so this week's new release in Aug 1981 Hold On Tight was indeed our first opportunity to see them in the flesh for nearly two years since the Discovery album of 1979, where they were still in their 70s 'big hair' the last time we saw them in the flesh at the end of the glorious 70s with 'Confusion/Last Train To London', and indeed now in August 1981 it was a very different look, even shedding the whole string section which was their trademark in the 70s.

    4. Time is of the essence, so just a few observations:
      The Soft Cell track... bleeeurgh, not helped by associating lurid (no doubt untrue) headlines with Mr Almond. Agree with the totally overplayed missive too.
      I also much prefer say hello, wave goodbye which is a few months away....

      Lulu looks completely wowsers.

      Loved the Aneka song, still do. Ditto ELO.

      The rest? Blah.

    5. I can name most of the classical tunes, Tchaikovsky and Mozart get top billing.

      Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto 1
      Rimsy Korsakov - Flight of the Bumblebee
      Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue
      Mozart opera aria I think - maybe from Figaro
      Tchaikovsky - Romeo and Juliet
      Jeramiah Clarke Trumpet Voluntary
      Handel - Hallelujah chorus
      Grieg - Piano Concerto
      Rossini - William Tell Overture
      Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture
      hint of Mozart Eine Kleine Nachmusik at very end

      I missed one that isn't so well known.

    6. We have forgotten to consider Julian Lloyd Webber's brilliant version of Paganini's 24th Caprice which was used as the theme tune for ITV's The South Bank Show for years.

    7. I was only joking, but thanks Starry, I bet you could have gone on My Music and identified the silent piano tunes as well.

  4. Can I just say how delighted I was to see the the video for Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from start to finish with not a single note missing. It is one TOTPs defining moments when they do things like this, and to play the full 4 minutes of the video from start to finish is somewhat rare, but a nice touch to say the least.

    Indeed Simon Bates said at the end of the video, "what an amazing piece of film", so here is further evidence that the term 'video' has still not been coined, and it's great to see that Angelo and other regulars on the blog are following in the TOTP tradition to call it what all the TOTP DJs are calling it, i.e. 'film' and not 'video'. So we're all enjoying and playing the history game very well I see!

    Anyway, for this song to reach the dizzy heights of No.2 this week was something in itself, and well done to Louis Clarke and the RPO for this special achievement, and only just missing out on the No.1 spot.

    As if this wasn't enough, Louis Clark was at No.9 this week as part another orchestra - ELO, as a long standing member of the group, so what a week for him to be in two top ten songs!

    Indeed this was the welcome return of ELO with the first single release from the new Time album, and a long 8 months since the last Xanadu release at Christmas 1980 called Don't Walk Away/

    ELO now took on a new look in 1981 with the shorter hair than in the 70s, especially Jeff Lynne's new haircut. Good Lord, what a transformation, but pretty cool eh, and this was the new ELO look for the 80s, also ditching the string section for the first time, so Louis Clark may not have been part of the group anymore at this stage, or was he?? This could explain his new project with the RPO at No.2 this week, which achieved a higher chart position than ELO at No.4.

    1. Technically speaking, it's quite right that the Hooked on Classics promo is called a film, as it consists entirely of film clips!

    2. Dory, I've just dug out my copy of the 'Time' album and Louis Clark is not credited. It says 'Strings by Jeff Lynne, Richard Tandy and Rainer Pietsch', and 'conducted by Rainer Pietsch'.

    3. So this probably explains his new solo project with RPO. Funny that after ELO removed him from their line up, he goes on to a No.2 with Hooked On Classics, while ELO's Hold On Tight could only make it to No.4. Hmmm.

    4. there's no way you could ever describe jeff lynne and his cohorts as "cool"! i don't suppose duran duran were losing sleep when it came to the title of "brummie pretty boys"?

    5. Birmingham was a hotbed of talent at this time.
      ELO, UB40 and now Duran Duran were leading the Brummie charge and all featured on this week's show!

    6. Dory, you forgot fellow brummies Dexys, though they weren't in this edition.

    7. Brrrrrr, yes yes yes yes!, as Rowland would throw into his various songs, including There There My Dear from last year (1980), and Show Me (1981) on this week's chart.

    8. Only Kevin Rowland and the keyboard player Mickey Billingham were Brummies (and Kevin was actually from Wolverhampton to be precise), I understand the rest of Dexys Mk II were from other places.

  5. A pretty good show overall, with Duran Duran getting the rare honour of kicking proceedings off for a second time with the same song. I wasn't so keen on this performance, though, as Simon looked very stupid with his head scarf - I noticed a very similar item adorning one of the Leggers later on! The Hooked on Classics film was quite amusing in places, particularly when the hefty ballerina and the piano-playing dog came on screen, but it did seem to go on forever.

    It has been played to death over the years, but I still enjoy listening to Tainted Love. Seeing it here, on its TOTP debut, lends it a feeling of freshness and excitement, and the boys put on a good show. I have heard anecdotes (possibly exaggerated) from people who watched Soft Cell with their parents at the time, claiming that their fathers threatened to kick the screen in when Marc Almond appeared on camera! I guess at the time Marc's appearance would have been rather provocative for some people, though it all seems pretty innocuous now.

    Amusing that Startrax and Starsound should be tied at 27 this week. This Bee Gees medley was feeble to say the least, and it was bizarre that they included Massachusetts in an otherwise disco-era heavy selection. Legs go through the motions, but apart from the recreation of the Tragedy routine this wasn't very memorable. The Alex in the credits must have been the guy dancing with Gill - it was pretty obvious he was a pro and not someone plucked from the audience at random. I wonder if we'll see him again with Zoo in a few weeks' time?

    Ah, Japanese Boy. The melody might be Chinese, but this is an enjoyable, well-produced piece of pop fluff. Doubtless, if this was released now, Mary Sandeman would be accused of racially insensitive cultural appropriation! Back then to black-and-white for the ELO video, a nice pastiche of b-movies of yore. It was a shock to see Jeff Lynne with short hair and goatee, though the shades were still resolutely in place - I don't suppose this look lasted too long! The song itself is a pleasant rock 'n' roll homage, though nothing particularly special.

    I wonder if Shaky was getting a bit bored of these audience participation TOTP performances by now? At least he's got Legs with him this time, looking like a vision in green, to add some interest. One in Ten was a strange choice to close out the show, the dancing and clapping from the audience seeming quite inappropriate set against the gloomy lyrical content. Still, the chap in the red jumper at the front was well into it!

    A mixed bag of a performance from Master Bates this week. He deserves some credit for predicting big things for Tainted Love, but then blotted his copybook by saying that a climber (I can't remember which one off the top of my head) was going down. It was also a very bad idea to have him presiding like a creepy MC over the Legs routine, and his awkward bopping to Shaky on the big screen was certainly a sight to behold...

    1. and then smudged his already blotted copybook by saying Can Can was an ex Number 1

    2. The studio dancing at the end was again much longer on the late show than on the 7.30pm show.

      It seems throughout all the 1981 shows so far, this has been the weekly pattern, so in order to get the real flavour of how the show was originally aired in all its glory, I'm afraid that only the late show can be taken as the one for the real TOTP fans.

    3. Marc may not have been popular with the dads, but isn't he one of those gay pop stars popular with mums? See also Jimmy Somerville.

    4. Re: Duran Duran opening two shows with the one song, Thin Lizzy also recently did so with Are You Ready. Other examples include The Kurssal Flyers towards the end of 1976 with Little Does She Know and Dead or Alive with their anthem in 1985. Can anyone name any others?

  6. shaky shakerson8 April 2016 at 04:58

    With 1981 school summer holidays in full swing, there's no need for our presenter to throw a sickie, so he's here in his own time to introduce Duran Duran with Simon LeBon in full-on knobhead mode. The other four look pop-group cool, but in his French onion-seller shirt, scarf around his head, and that damned peculiar leap/jump/prance thing, he just looks plain silly.

    The London Phil have made it to number two - somehow- and we get a well-executed and well-edited film to accompany it, and keep me interested throughout the song's 52 minute length. Nowadays anyone could jump onto Youtube and knock out something similar in a couple of hours. Thirty five years ago, however, it would have taken weeks just to source the material. So well played unknown editing man.

    Soft Cell. Always thought of them as The Pet Shop Boys' dirtier seedier younger brothers. This of course is their biggest hit, but they would go to much better things - Torch, Bedsitter, What? and Say Hello Wave Goodbye are all fabulous songs that you just don't hear on the radio. Shame.

    Bates now introduces 'Je Suis. . .' by claiming we might think it's about a lady from Nicaragua (presumably Bianca Jagger). Why would we do that when Wyman sings ' she comes from Rio' and 'Brazilian beauty' as well as mentioning Cococabana? And him being a Geography teacher and all!

    Startrax do a number on The Bee Gees ( and that number is 666) This is awful and the peak of awfulness is somehow shoehorning Massachusetts into the BPM. This follows on from previous medleys by Abba, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys. Were we being aurally tortured in alphabetical order? If so, we can praise the Lord that the craze died out before we reached T - a Two Unlimited medley is not something anyone wants to hear.

    This weeks scores. Simon Bates gets a career-defining 2. This is possibly the worst presenting performance we have seen recently. It's not just his smarm, or the creepy looking-on that he pulled on two separate occasions. There's the mistakes that littered his performance. The Bill Wyman intro; saying Tenpole Tudor went down when they went up 15 places; saying 'Can Can' is a former number 1. Shocking.

    The best of this week's show were the opening and closing tunes. One In Ten is UB40's finest moment and that is the reason the show doesn't score a 3. I'll give it 5.

    1. Royal Phil not London Phil, don't catch that Simon Bates approach. :D

    2. Shaky - I used to work for one of the companies that sourced the material (see below) it didn't actually take that long to do, eg the video for Under Pressure was created literally under pressure and was put together in literally a few days. And we called it 'film' but it was transferred to video after editing and the TV stations played it as VT (video tape) which is where the name comes from.

    3. Meant to say ,I liked your comments about Slimey's bad sense of geography and the Startrax medley being part of an alphabetical onslaught - very funny!

    4. i agree with bama, but the beatles come after the beach boys alphabetically!

  7. Mr Bates back again who I like, but boy does he get in a muddle on the chart rundown! Tenpole Tudor on their way down at no.21 (with Wunderbar) when in fact they were up 15 (and the arrows were correct). Down go “the new Dexys” to no.18. Who were the old Dexys then? Bad Manners, a former no.1 is down to no.16. Really? Thankfully not a former no.1. “A bit of bondage” at no.10 for Sheena Easton – what could he have meant by that?!

    Duran Duran – Girls on Film – Another studio trip for the boys to negate the need for the video to be shown. I suspect it would have been a repeat showing of the first studio trip otherwise.

    RPO – Hooked on Classics – As Mr Bates exclaims; great piece of film. Very entertaining and they showed all of it as well. What a treat, really enjoyed this clever footage.

    Soft Cell – Tainted Love – First studio appearance for Marc and Dave and it’s still a great record (although I prefer ‘Torch’ featuring the wonderfully named Cindy Ecstasy). Funny but every time I see Marc in this era I am reminded of the ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’ sketch where ‘Anne Nightingale’ (Pamela Stephenson) interviews a hilariously made up Rowan Atkinson as Marc. Well worth a viewing if you haven’t seen it.

    Kim Wilde – Water on Glass- Gosh, is this still going up the charts?….yawn…

    Bill Wyman – Si Si etc. Novelty worn off already. Strange this is on now when the Stones exhibition of guitars etc. has just opened. I don’t suppose any mention of Bill’s solo career features.

    Startrax DISCO – I can’t believe it! Yet another medley I’d forgotten about and this time it’s the Gibb Brothers (or people trying to sound like them). Massachusetts sounds rather incongruous amongst all the post ‘Jive Talkin’ stuff, but a nice return for Legs & Co. to dance to ‘Night Fever’ after the memorable routine (and outfits) for the original. The ‘lucky’ guy plucked from the audience looks to be a pretty handy dancer, so not lucky at all, just planted and well-rehearsed. Spotted he was billed as ‘Alex’ on the closing credits.

    Aneka – Japanese Boy – This rubbish got to no.1! Luckily only for one week. It’s aged really badly and Aneka’s performance is pretty lifeless amongst the lanterns.

    ELO – Hold on Tight – Indeed. Only a couple of weeks to go until the ELO concert at the O2 and I can’t wait, and this video which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before has really whetted the appetite. It’s noticeable how Jeff’s hair and beard has changed at this point in time whereas these days it’s back to the more famous ‘Out of the Blue’ era look. I also noticed that one scene in the video was actually used on the picture sleeve of the excellent next single ‘Twilight’, complete with a chap with a distinctive hat and a girl in a red and black dress who gets grabbed and carted off in the video by another chap in a raincoat!

    Shakin’ Stevens – Green Door – New studio rendition from Shaky, this time with some Green Girls! I also spotted a closing credit to senior cameraman ‘Ron Green’. Real person?

    Btw across the pond, no.1 had just been Air Supply with ‘The one that you love’ which didn’t trouble the charts at all here, and more’s the pity; nice record.

    Playout - UB40 – One in Ten – I think I’d rather listen to Air Supply than this! Not one of their best at all. As has been remarked in previous week’s the fade out is really long, begging the question as to whether it has ever been seen in its entirety before. I daresay the guy in the red jumper may wish it had remained cut if he was watching now!

    1. By the time ELO had completed the Time album, they had shed the famous ELO spaceship, the hairdos, as well as the string section (including Louis Clarke) that for so long carried them through the 70s what Tony Curtis described in 1978 as the 'greatest rock group in the world today, when introducing the Out Of The Blue Concert at Wembley.

      We had here this week in 1981 the new look ELO that would now carry them only five more years till 1986 where the final split occurred after 15 years in action.

    2. Ho hum...further checking, and Louis Clark is back doing strings on the next ELO album ' Secret Messages', released in 1983. The final ELO album before the 1986 split; 'Blance of Power' was very poppy and string-light, and there were no string credits for anybody.

    3. OK, so this seems to explain it all. Clarke was rested during the production of the ELO Time album in 1981, which seems to explain his new project leading the Royal Philharmonic with Hooked On Classics all the way to No.2 in Aug 1981, and then when ELO released their next album Secret Messages in 1983, Clarke was already back in the ELO line-up. Jigsawpuzzle now complete, thanks Stephen!

    4. I've also got that 7" single of Twilight which I bought in 1981, where the picture sleeve is from a scene in the video for Hold On Tight.

      Twilight is another story, whereby it was the launch performance of Zoo when Legs & Co were finally done and dusted in TOTP history a couple of months later.

    5. With Dexys, Bates may have been referring to their new line-up, as most of the original band had quit in late 1980.

    6. The 'old' Dexys split after Kevin Rowland's refusal to speak to the press or to allow any of his band to do likewise, band members' problems with Rowlands' personality, and Kev's insisting on the release of the extremely personal and painful "Keep It Part Two" as a flop single. A later incarnation of Dexys included John 'Rhino' Edwards. What a varied CV that lad has - Status Quo, Judie Tzuke and Dexys for starters!

  8. One in Ten - a reminder of when statistics weren't so manipulated I guess.

    ELO getting back to rock n roll in this rock n roll period. The start of the video with back in silhouette to a cinema screen reminded me of the More Than This Roxy Music video.

    It was a good video for the classical medley which showed popular dancing to classical music, in the end all music is just part of the same art. Having it all set in the past and in black and white adds to the old timey idea of classical music I guess.

    1. Starry, if you watch the start of the video for ELO's Wild West Hero, it also has the cinema screen like Hold On Tight and More Than This:

      So here we have three examples then.

      Does anyone know of any other examples of pop videos with cinema screen audience at the start of the showing (video)?

    2. Does Thriller count, Dory?

    3. Yes, even though the cinema footage was not technically at the start, but Jackson was enjoying popcorn with his bird in the cinema, so I suppose it counts.

      Oh and I just found another one. The video for Star by Kiki Dee, where she is watching herself in the cinema as a 'Star':

      You can see the shot of the outside of the cinema at the start of the video, and then Kiki intermittently in the video around some old geezers smoking in the cinema bored out of their mind watching with her.

    4. OK, so that's 5 in total so far. Any more to add to the cinema screen pot?

    5. 'The One and Only' Chesney Hawkes.
      'Killing me Softly' The Fugees.
      'Material Girl' Madonna.

    6. In both the videos for Love Action and Don't You Want Me the Human League watch footage of themselves on cinema screens, although technically one is a cinema and one is a film screening room.

    7. OK Bama, these can count too, so we have a total of 10 so far

  9. host: nothing particularly sticks out this time, just average sliminess going on. but what the hell is his comment after duran's spot "not bad going" meant to mean?

    duran duran: plenty of footage here for the roger taylor fan club, and they get all the tricks with twirling drum sticks and three separate crash cymbals hit one after the other. and in his "solo" one of the mufflers falls off the tom toms! but it's a good job they don't focus on nick rhodes too much though, as he has next-to-nothing to do! does le bon look fat in his stripy shirt? i don't think so, but the headband's not a good move on his part

    RPO: there's some lovely retro fashions in the clips that accompanies this, but however old the footage is i hardly think they were boogieing on down to beethoven!

    soft cell: a momentous occasion in retrospect as this duo make their debut. it's been mentioned that phil oakey doesn't quite hit the mark pitch-wise at times, but surely marc almond was the governor when it came to singing slightly out of tune! there's already been a load of guys wearing flamboyant threads and slap on the show this year, but despite that none were never really viewed as anything other than straight (up) geezers - even steve strange managed to head people off at the pass with his female partners in his videos. but although he didn't actually came out as such until later on, marc almond never really pretended to be anything other than gay, which was still quite daring and controversial at the time. his "straight man" dave ball joins the gum-chewing club, which might look quite cool when you've got a guitar slung around your knees, but not when you're standing behind a synth. yes, musically this is what they will be forever remembered for, but in my opinion much better was to come, and their previous single "memorabilia" was far superior too

    startrax/legs: i suppose a bee gees medley was inevitable, but it's quite well done (although "tragedy" drags a bit) and i happen to like most of the original tunes. so it could be worse. if both this and "stars on 45 vol 2" were tied in the charts, maybe they could have played them one after the other and thus had a medley of medleys? but thank god for sanity that they didn't! was that gill picking that guy "randomingly" out of the crowd to dance with? it was so dark it was hard to tell. but not dark enough to not notice that some of legs also had headbands, and that they were wearing different-coloured knickers

    anneka: this was one record that was never going to kimona my turntable! i really despised this rubbish at the time, which the passing of has done nothing to diminish. it sounds like a cod-oriental version of "it feels like i'm in love" to me. i may have told this story before (and thx has already said as much), but (sadly unlike in blighty) this flopped when released in japan. and when the western suits scratched their heads in bemusement at its failure, they were informed that "it actually sounded more chinese than japanese"

    ELO: more archive monochrome footage for a dull rock 'n' roll pastiche that sounds more like 1961 than 1981. not quite in the aneka league, but not far off

    shakin' stevens: legs have forgotten to out their trousers on again, but it's not clear this time if they're still wearing the same different-coloured knickers. what with this and the last one re-hashing bygone times that i never missed, it's becoming a real anti climax to what promised to be a really good show

    UB40: a return to form for them. but like "the earth dies screaming" before, it seems ridiculous to play a song bemoaning the state of the world (i was one of the "one in ten" at the time) whilst people jig about to it with joyous abandon!

    1. It was never properly acknowledged (by him or anyone else) that Steve Strange was gay, and it seems likely that he was bisexual. Whereas Marc almond was out from the start and lots of rumours quickly spread about him, most of which were lies. But he was by his own admission singing in the wrong key on the first Soft Sell releases, but that was part of the magic - right?

    2. bowie and reg had of course previously made statements alluding to being bisexual (whatever their reasons), but to my knowledge no one who rose to fame post-punk dared to publically declare their sexual preferences (not even boy george!) until bronski beat and frankie goes to hollywood came along. despite what in retrospect were rather obvious signs that steve strange's leanings may have been other than straight, i honestly never realised until i read his autobiography many years later. as for marc almond, i actually rather liked his "desafinado" approach to singing!

  10. A few random comments before I watch the show later tonight.

    The bondage reference to Sheena Easton’s hit should have been used for her flop “Take My Time”, which contains the line “I need a lover
    to tie me down”!

    The subject of Bill Wyman’s song may not have been from Nicaragua, but it sounds like old Bill was a bit of a knicker jaguar!

    I may have bored you with this before, but a few years back I used to frequent the monthly Punk Rock Karaoke night at The Garage in Islington – hosted by Steve Lamacq and with live accompaniment by a trio called Spiteful Handjob featuring Sleeper’s drummer. The first time I turned up I had a go at “Turning Japanese” and, in a blind panic as to what to do in the instrumental passage, I immediately started singing the chorus of “Japanese Boy”. It went down well enough to become my regular medley at the club.

    1. Sounds like you were making up your own themed medley Arthur, if it had been 1981 you could have got in the charts.

  11. Was Simon Bates ever, EVER on telly not wearing a jacket?

    Simon Le Ponce looking the polar opposite of Shaky. Was he dressed in readiness for a session with the Green Goddess or Mister Motivator?

    Soft Cell reminded me of a fictional musical duo called Raw Sex (I think one of them was Rowland Rivron – “the conch shell and the twig”) and a real-life horrendously bad duo I saw at a gig once called Hi Tech Low Life. Industrious chewing there by David Ball.

    I thought that Bee Gees medley was horrible – mind you, I only ever liked “Jive Talking” of theirs. Top points to Lulu for her “Tragedy” routine.

    Nice curtains on Aneka. They couldn’t get away with all those paper lantern lights these days what with health and safety.

    Having asked whether the French lyrics in “Wordy Rappinghood” was the first on the show since “Sunday Girl”, we get another quick helping with ELO. Talk about culture shock - I couldn’t work out if I was watching Jeff Lynne or that Dave Stewart out of Eurythmics.

    The scariest Toppatron ever during “Green Door”. I felt very sorry for Gill who was incredibly cramped there.

    That Alex was obviously a plant, otherwise the dancers’ credits at the end would have said “and some bloke out of the audience”.

    1. Also didn't Japanese subtitles come up in the video when that French part happened?

    2. Raw Sex were Roland Rivron (who played the tom-tom) and Simon Brint (who played the keyboards and basically wrote all the comedy songs). Sadly, he killed himself about five years ago, but a lot of people remember how funny Raw Sex were.

    3. Jeff Lynne and Chas Hodges are interchangeable now, looks wise.

  12. Aneka said she'd never been to Japan coz the song sounds too Chinese

  13. Her real name is Mary sandeman from Scotland the name came from a phone book

  14. As we say goodbye to the Royal Philharmonic orchestra this week with their final TOTP appearance at its peak of No.2, here is how Steve Wright introduced the same clip on TOTP2 taking the clip from the Simon Bates edition, and it was different to how Simon Bates described it.

    1. Wright was an assole on TOTP2 (radcliffe is just as bad now)

    2. I must admit that the way he ridiculed the RPO No.2 hit in Aug 1981 by saying that the composers turned in their grave, is disrespectful to not only the RPO but also to Louis Clarke who conducted them superbly for this single. It does not get to No.2 if it is not a good single.

      The reason that Radcliffe is trying to copy Wright's sarcasm is that Wright made TOTP2 his own brand, it is likely that Radcliffe is under pressure to keep up that style, rather then give it a fresh non-sarcasm approach, and let us take our own view.

    3. Shud of kept Johnny walker

    4. Jonny Walker was the best of them on TOTP2 and was the one who did the first couple of years I think in the mid 90s when it started. He told it sincerely and gentlemanly with the facts, and leaving the viewer to think for themselves.

    5. Dory, I think the repeats over the last 5 years have amply demonstrated that a high chart position is no guarantee of quality, though I do quite like Hooked on Classics. Agree that Johnnie Walker was the best host of TOTP2.

  15. The Slime on presenting duties again. No matter how many happy smiling young people he has standing next to him he still looks like a cross between a giant slug and a Thunderbird puppet.

    Duran Duran kick the show off again, this time with Simon-The-Good dressed like a French sailor and looking a proper ninny. And the two guys with dyed hair still look like bad drag queens but it is a good song and I can't help liking it.

    I loved the Hooked On Classics video, it bought back a lot of memories - when I left college at the end of 1981 I got a (not very well paid) job at a film research company (FRPS) which was in fact at the time one of the only film research companies who could supply clips of old film to the industry. Our job was to locate copyright-free clips that could be used in anything from documentaries, TV commercials and pop videos. One of the first jobs I ever had was locating the clips that were used in the Queen/Bowie video for Under Pressure which was a tall order as showing peoplle under pressure was not easy, especially when the clips have to be copyright free. So yes folks I had a hand in creating a video for a number one song. Not bad, eh? Although this video was made before I joined the company (and when I say company, it was two rooms on the top floor of a building in Dean Street) it looks as though they used a lot of the clips I remember well which were taken from a variety of sources.

    Those two guys (one with beard and specs, one with cropped hair) standing behind Slimon when he introduced Soft Cell didn't look like typical TOTP crowd members, methinks they were record company executives, although not Stevo from Some Bizarre who looked nothing like that. Marc and David are livened up by the quatro screen treatment and some slo-mo video techniques. Marc does his own backing vocals and somehow gets away with it. A great performance and a true classic.

    Thanks to Arthur we now know that Water On glass is about tinnitus which my mum suffers from. A welcome repeat from Kimbo and co.

    Them another repeat in the form of Bill Wyman. Once heard it's very difficult not to find yourself singing this one. Not sure who the Nicaraguan lady Slimey mentions is.

    More medley madness from Startrax. I have no memories of this at all but it sort of worked and got the Bee Gees back in the charts after a long absence. Not sure what that guy in the specs wearing long white gloves behind Slimon is doing, the gloves suggest he was directing traffic but maybe it was something to do with the dry ice. Clearly Slmey is supposed to be the Saturday Night Fever disco deejay on his podium but you get the impression that he doesn't actually realise that and thinks that they've just given him a box to stand on.

    So two songs at number 27 this week. When I was a chart-o-phile I used to love that sort of thing, not that it happened very often.

    Chinese lanterns for a Japanese boy. Why not. This is a song you love to hate - Kelly Marie with a nasty syn drum-fuelled Eastern twist. Strange ending where wee see a freeze frame of Anneka and her caption.

    Chart-wise Slimon gets it all wrong. Tenpole Tudor are going up not down, Bad Manners were not a former number one and Sheena Easton's song has noting to do with bondage, unless it's one of his fantasies (shiver).

    Ah the Hold On Tight video, supposedly the most expensive video ever made up to that time - superb! Interesting to see Jeff Lynne with short hair and a goatee beared. A great video! Is that Roy Wood playing the evil emperor who is tying the girl to the couch? Interesting to see Mick Kaminski has swithed from violin to guitar here the Electric Light Orchestra no longer being that orchestral.

    1. Those lanterns are China ball

    2. Bama, when I first saw the ELO video for Hold On Tight many years later, it seemed like the action in the video was inspired by Flash Gordon/Hans Zarkov behaviours as Queen had charted only a few months earlier with Flash, although did not do as well as this ELO effort which got to No.4 and their highest solo charting since Don't Bring Me Down, two years earlier in 1979.

    3. Bianca Jagger's Nicaraguan. Maybe our geography teacher host thought Bill had written a tribute to Mick's ex-wife?

  16. And there's more...

    A new performance from Shaky introduced by a giant Slimon on a screen looking even more more nauseating than usual. Nice to see the Leggers dressed in green mini skirts to accompany the shaky one.

    Playout with UB40 and a lot of eager crowd members waving at the camera and then doing that fruggy dance they copied from the girls in the Human League. Funny to see Slimey turn and exit down those steps, walking slowly and tentatively like the middle aged man he was.

  17. The guy behind Japanese Boy (if you'll pardon the expression) was Bobby Heatlie. He was a Scottish folk musician who went on to write songs for Cliff Richard and Shaking Stevens including Merry Christmas Everyone. He also wrote a lot of kids TV themes.

  18. Finally caught up with all the shows - boy, am I glad of the break this week. On telly at least.

    Nothing more to add about Master Bates's performance. I did not invent (the name of) The Toppotron to see his awful image on it looming over the studio.

    I suppose that, given how much I've slagged off Spandau Ballet, I should at least call out the fact that Simon Le Bon does look ridiculous here. Still never as slappable as Kemp (G) though.

    I remember the 'Hooked On Classics' film/video/whatever from the time. It is very well done, and a forerunner of the stuff that Vintage TV used to do in their early days when they made up videos for old songs that didn't have them.

    I love the fact that we get some nonsense just before the first appearance of 'Tainted Love'!
    Overplayed, yes, but at least this performance is one that you don't usually see.

    Startrax - Oh dear. I do not recall this from the time, unlike most of the other medleys. The vocals are somehow worse than Starsound (ie they are bad but not amusing) and weirdly, history would repeat itself around 10 years later with the UK Mixmasters and their 'Night Fever Megamix' which sadly I do remember. It was equally bad.

    Aneka - Well, I know it's very silly, but I've always liked it. I seem to remember that everyone at school thought it was great when term started and it was (I think) Number 1.
    Things got very weird later when she recorded 'Ooh Shooby Doo Doo Lang' - a forgotten classic - which was ostensibly an autobiographical tune about her life as a singer but had the first line 'My name is Sue, and I'm a singer'.
    It also lyrically and musically referenced 'Japanese Boy'!!

    ELO - Decent tune, not their very best admittedly. Not keen on the new reduced face fuzz. Doctor Who fans may wonder if the look of Rassilon in 'The Five Doctors' was based on the Oriental villain in the movie. And also if that was Ford Timelord crashing through the picture (!)

    Nice choice of song for the extended dance off as the audience get to show off their 'reggae grooves' with erm....interesting results.

  19. shaky shakerson10 April 2016 at 09:04

    Having watched this ep again ( I know - glutton for punishment or what?) I think that our Geography teacher might have been making a 'joke' over his Sheena Easton comment about the song being about a bit of bondage. I think he meant a bit of James Bond-age. Not exactly funny but very Simon Bates.

  20. The DLT show from 20 August is now available at WeTransfer.

    1. Forgot to say, this includes the last few minutes of the show missing from the version on YouTube.

    2. Nice one John, I just watched it. I suppose the DLT blog will go up on Thursday as there is no BBC4 airings this week.

    3. Great stuff ~ yes I'll put the August 20th blog up on Thursday :-)

    4. Incidentally, I'm not 100% sure who put this on WeTransfer, but I think it may have been Neil B.

  21. Simon Bates doesn't half come in for a lot of stick on this blog but I've nothing against him - the words 'safe' and 'reliable' come to mind. I liked the way he was clapping along to the Legs routine as 'the DJ' but I agree that the sight of him doing the same thing on the black and white Eidophor screen for the No. 1 was plain scary. (As an aside, it's amazing that this thing was still working in 1981. In technology terms it was the equivalent of a Windows98 PC today.)

    The Startrax medley has that kind of half-familiarity of something so traumatic that my mind had blocked it out...

    What 'Japanese Boy' needs is a live vocal plus house orchestra backing to really mangle it. This 'miming to the record' thing doesn't make for particularly exciting telly (see also surviving footage of pre-1966 TOTP).

    Just downloaded the 20/08/81 show (I was ready for it this time!) so I'm still not up to date, but at least thing are easing off for a bit. Thanks go to Angelo for keeping up the pace and, of course, to the providers of the 'lost' shows.