14/09/2020

Top of the Pops 29 August 1985

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Janice Long: “Hi thank you for joining us. Welcome to a very, very live edition of Top of the Pops. We're standing here right now, aren't we?” John Peel: “That's right. We can say really controversial things like bottom and they can't do anything about it.” Janice Long: “How controversial. He just wants to be in the newspapers. At eighteen this week, it's Mai Tai and this is Body And Soul.”
[18] Mai Tai: Body & Soul. Next week Top of the Pops is on the move again. The programme started 1985 in a 40 minute slot pinballing between 6.55pm, 7.20pm, and as late as 7.50pm when Paul Daniels wanted to play Odd One Out. Michael Grade dragged BBC1 kicking and screaming into the future (ie Wogan three times a week) with his February channel revamp and Top of the Pops briefly nestled between Eastenders and Tomorrow's World at 7.30pm. In April Top of the Pops
and Tomorrow's World swapped places. A clever bod in Programme Planning worked out that shaving five minutes from the end of Tomorrow's World and starting Top of the Pops at 7.55pm created a variable length slot which could be telescoped from 30-40 minutes; depending on how much future news Tomorrow's World had to cover, and if you sneakily delayed the 8.30pm programme to just past the half hour. And that's how the schedule stayed until the autumn leaves start to fall.


 

09/09/2020

Declan McKenna- Zeros album review

 Sometimes what you need in life is a large helping of music influenced by various decades filtered through the modern viewpoint of someone generations younger than the legends of old.  Welcome to `Zeros`, the second album from Declan McKenna an artist who defies expectations and adds a bit of fizz to 2020. This is far more than homage, instead he has taken some of the sounds from the early Seventies and moulded them into something else. It does sound both timeless and very Now. When it’s at its very best- as on the awesome `Be An Astronaut` or `Beautiful Faces` or `The Key to Life on Earth` - it is every bit the equal of those he is inspired by. So to amend an old Bowie ad – there’s Old Music, there’s New Music and there’s Declan McKenna. 

 

06/09/2020

Midsomer Murders- Shot At Dawn

A sure fire way of knowing whether a Midsomer Murders episode is going to be enjoyable is if you can imagine its key characters in a sitcom. A splendidly playful episode that deals with a serious issue in macabre manner, `Shot at Dawn` opened series 11 and definitely fulfils that criteria. It features a couple of old troopers in the form of George Cole and Donald Sinden in what was one of the final roles for both of them playing, well, old troopers whose military families have been at war for ninety years. 

02/09/2020

Tenet review


I saw a trailer for Tenet, the latest headscratcher from director Christopher Nolan, earlier this year since which we’ve had the You Know What and suddenly it feels much more a film suitable for 2020 than it did back then. It’s tricky to review without giving away the glue that holds it together so all I’m saying before the break is that it likely fulfils expectations both for those who enjoy the filmmaker’s world and those who don’t. So if you were baffled by Inception, irritated by Intersteller or put off by his Dark Knight trilogy he hasn’t radically altered course this time. If you loved them then this is exactly for you. Course there is a risk he may become this generation’s Tim Burton replaying earlier successes ad infinitum but it’s not happened yet. Tenet is a wildly ambitious, satisfyingly told knotty tale and if you’ve seen it or want to know more, click below….

Spoilers past this point

30/08/2020

Top of the Pops August 1985 mega-post!


All reviewed by Chris Arnsby
01/08/1985
Mike Read: “Hello. [to Mike Smith] You've just got time to change... too late.” Mike Smith: “Thank you very much. Thank you very much indeed. What has got style?” Mike Read: “Peter Powell?” Mike Smith: “No, no, no, come on. What has got style? What's got good looks?” Mike Read: “Steve Wright?” Mike Smith: “No, no, no, what has got a record in the charts at the moment?” Mike Read: “Me? No.” Mike Smith: “No... with all those things welcome Five Star.”
[18] Five Star: Let Me Be The One. The new Top of the Pops title sequence is rubbish. It's just rainbow colour bars and a piercing electronic tone. No, actually this episode (downloaded from Tutankhamun's tomb https://mega.nz/folder/h0snQACa#uiNNqosfbdrfzODHsE1clw ) is digitised straight from the BBC master tape; first we get two minutes of VT colour bars, then the countdown clock (generated on a BBC Micro to judge by the chunky pixels), and finally the real title sequence. I wonder how this escaped from the archives? It's a night of two Mike's, and an exercise in clashing host styles. Mike Smith wants to be silly, and Mike Read doesn't (or can't). Or maybe I'm being unfair as I find myself liking Smith more than Read. This is the last time the two Mikes host Top of the Pops together although they both stick around for a few more years. Mike Smith would present his final show in early 1988, and Mike Read could be seen until February 1989.
Regardless. Here's Five Star. Drilled to parade ground perfection and fully coordinated in movement and clothing. They're dressed in soft versions of American Football shoulder pads, with a numeral 5 on the front in a different colour for each person. This is how the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would look if they formed a pop group in their spare time. It's a tribute to branding, before branding was a thing.  

28/08/2020

Troye Sivan- In A Dream EP review

If you’ve not heard of or heard Troye Sivan then now is the time. He’s already been around a while releasing two albums and he also has history as both an actor and YouTuber. Born in South Africa, raised in Australia and till lockdown resident of the US, he’s hardly a new artist except to the likes of me way off the zeitgeist these days! The great thing about that though is that sometimes you discover someone and there’s a lot of music to listen to. `In A Dream`, released last week, showcases six songs that take regret, sadness or reflection but channel those emotions in interesting ways. It’s won serious critical attention in places where someone like him could be ignored and that’s an indication that this music is seriously good. In fact its some of the best new music I’ve heard this year.


31/07/2020

Top of the Pops 25 July 1985

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Dixie Peach: “We've got a fabulous show. We've got people on like Trans X, Feargal Sharkey, and Madonna. But we're gonna kick off right now with something to get you into that holiday mood. Here is Arrow with Long Time.”
[36] Arrow: Long Time. The start of tonight's episode of Top of the Pops has been slashed by the BBC4 Psycho-style editor. There are a couple of clues; Gary Davies is rendered oddly mute throughout Dixie Peach's introduction (although I'm fine with an overall reduction in the Davies word count); Dixie Peach's speech fades in abruptly after the audience cheer; and here's the real smoking gun, the font's all wrong on the hosts caption. It's not properly bolded and the drop-shadow isn't strong enough. It's obviously Bring Your Child to Work Day in the BBC4 Caption Faking Department.


26/07/2020

Top of the Pops 18 July 1985


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: “Hello, welcome to Top of the Pops! Good evening to you!” Mike Smith: “Let's not hang about. Forty minutes of the latest chart tunes. We start off at number thirteen with Simply Red and Money's Too Tight, and Mick is going to sing live. Aren't you Mick? [13] Simply Red: Money's Too Tight (To Mention). This episode of Top of the Pops comes from Smaug's horde at https://mega.nz/folder/h0snQACa#uiNNqosfbdrfzODHsE1clw Excitingly, it's an off-air recording which means the recording starts with a nostalgic blast. A glimpse of the (then brand-new) BBC1 computer generated globe. Even more exciting, this is a 40 minute edition of Top of the Pops . We haven't had one of those for a while. (Not since 03/01/1985 according to BBC Genome). Let's hope they use those extra 10 minutes wisely. What celestial conjunction has caused this change to the schedule? The Little and Large Show has come to an end. Don't worry, it's not permanent. They'll be back next year. And the year after that. And after that. And again for a couple more years. Meanwhile, once Eastenders finishes at 7.30pm, Top of the Pops and Tomorrow's World luxuriate and spread themselves out across the evening.First up is a 40 minute Tomorrow's World. It's the 1985 Prince of Wales Award for Industrial Innovation and Production, from Highgrove House in Gloucestershire. Then comes Top of the Pops, and then... Points Of View ? What? But that's a Wednesday night programme. What celestial conjunction, etc, has untimely ripped Points Of View from its usual slot. A Party Political Broadcast by the Labour Party. Oh no.
Speaking of Labour, here's Simply Red. Another band I can't watch properly because of passage of time. However, attempting to put aside years of accumulated prejudice, how do they do on 18 July 1985? Well, I don't much like Mick Hucknall's grey slacks.