Top of the Pops 1980 20 Mar 1980

Not even a lightning bolt could stop our Babs

Guest Post by Chris Arnsby
BBC4: Top of the Pops 1980 20/03/1980
Mike Read, "Welcome ye of good music taste to another Top of the Pops, and over the chart run down we're going to listen to The Detroit Spinners."
Chart music: The Detroit Spinners, Working My Way Back To You – Forgive Me Girl (Medley)[8].
The Bodysnatchers: Let’s Do Rock Steady [31]. Turn down the sound and The Bodysnatchers have arrived early for the mid 1980s; Miss SJ ("on lead guitar") in particular with her suit jacket, red skirt and blonde hair with dark roots hairstyle. The song itself is what dates the band to 1980. It's a great bit of 2 Tone. A good start to the show. The Bodysnatchers whip up some enthusiasm in the notoriously dour Top of the Pops audience.

Squeeze:  Another Nail In My Heart [26]. A very Elvis Costello sounding song. Bonus points to the camera team and Vision Mixer Chris Gage for some very nice mixing between shots; but has the director sent Jools Holland to the naughty step? In the wide shots Squeeze are constantly framed as a four piece band. It's only if you look really carefully that any trace of a keyboard player can be spotted.
Rush: Spirit Of Radio [16]. Flick Colby strikes again. "Begin the day with a friendly voice" =Lulu waking up in bed and yawning. Yes it's Legs & Co doing the most obvious routine possible. To compensate the over-literal bit is shrunk to the bottom quarter of the picture while the remaining three quarters is filled with the most hideous mixture of cross-faded, colour replaced images possible with modern electronics. Later (down in the bottom left hand side of the screen) we see Legs & Co sitting in a car and vibrating. It's meant to match the line "off on your way, hit the open road," and suggest Legs & Co are out for a pleasant drive. However, their undulations are so violent it looks as if they've all been stuck down by photosensitive epilepsy caused by the clash of colours occupying the rest of the screen.
Sade Café: My Oh My [43]. At the front of the stage a mini drama plays out. Just before the first chorus a cameraman dashes forwards to capture a low angled image shot with his hand-held camera. Uh-oh, behind him he doesn't notice a much bigger camera gliding into position. The cameraman, his shot complete, turns round and catches his head a nasty knock on the cowl around the lens of the bigger camera; luckily his headphones take the brunt of the impact.
The Lambrettas: Poison Ivy [27]. The track Legs & Co should have danced to this week. Look at these lyrics. "She comes on like a rose but everybody knows/ She'll get you in Dutch/ You can look but you better not touch... But poison ivy/ Lord'll make you itch/ You're gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion/ You'll be scratchin' like a hound/ The minute you start to mess around." Aren't they just crying out to be filtered through Flick Colby's creativity.
Barbara Dickinson: January February [29]. Mike Read introduces Barbara Dickinson with some incomprehensible link involving a toy owl. I'm sure it made perfect sense at the time. It was probably a searing satirical reference to the Lake Placid Winter Olympics.
Shakin' Stevens: Hot Dog [24]. A repeat from an earlier edition. I'm not sure which. Possibly the unrepeated 06/03/1980 edition presented by D*v* L** Tr*v*s. This is not the Shakin' Stevens of memory. He's not wearing denim, he has a backing band, and he doesn't do that double knee bend move which I could never copy. He's potential Shakin' Stevens.
UB40: Food For Thought [40]. Oh, it's them, and they're singing that song. UB40 surprise me by turning up on Top of the Pops several years before I was expecting them, and singing a song which isn't Red Red Wine.
Martha & The Muffins: Echo Beach [15]. A really good song, but it's on film so let's cut it short because here in the studio we have...
B.A. Robertson: Kool In The Kaftan [45]. Another moment in the Icarus flight that is B.A. Robertson's attempt to convince that he's a lyrical word smith weaving pop magic from his whimsical imaginings. Kool In The Kaftan is seemingly written around the discovery that the phrase rhymes with "love and peace man," and everything else is worked back from there. What else rhymes with kaftan? Flan, plan, ban, Dan, Gok Wan... pan.
Number one: The Jam, Going Underground. "Straight in at number one," Mike Read informs us. Good work lads. The promo video is recorded in the standard pop video white void but what's the idea behind matching the line, "the braying sheep on my TV screen," to a shot of Paul Weller next to a television on which The Jam can be seen glowering at the camera?
Closing titles: The Vapors, Turning Japanese [4].
Performance of the week: The Bodysnatchers: Let’s Do Rock Steady

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