Top of the Pops 1980 8 May

Guest Post by Chris Arnsby

BBC4: Top of the Pops 1980 08/05/1980

Peter Powell. "Hi! I just can't give you up and nor, I hope, can you give up Top of the Pops! It's the chart run down and, first off, Mystic Merlin!"
Opening Titles: Mystic Merlin, Just Can't Give You Up [30].
The Human League: Rock And Roll [72]. The keyboard player on the Roland is wearing a blue sequinned tie which causes some confusion for the electronic effects. At one point the tie is replaced by the yellow/green/black colour replacement effect. The weird thing is there doesn't appear to be any CSO going on, so how does the blue tie get swapped out and not, for example, various blue pieces of clothing worn by audience members or the appalling turquoise Radio 1 jumpsuit modelled by Peter Powell? As the camera pans around the stage there's a wipe from one camera angle to another -the wipe is done around the straight edge of a synthesiser- I can't recall seeing a transition being done like this before.

The Human League in 1980: The girls look a bit different then.

Johnny Logan: What's Another Year [2]. Take your hand out of your pocket Johnny. Prelude: Platinum Blonde [51]. As Peter Powell observes this is one of those "story of" songs. It's closest cousin is possibly Angelo by The Brotherhood Of Man, a cheerful pop song about dual suicide (never has a band looked so happy as the The Brotherhood Of Man describing the discovery of two corpses "they took their lives that night/and in the morning light/they found them on the sand/they saw them lying there hand in hand"). The tangled story of Platinum Blonde describes a girl who goes off to be a stripper and is shot dead by her enraged father but, irony-of-ironies, she's killed on her last night before returning home. Truly a story for the ages. Prelude are the new Shakespeare.

Michael Jackson: She's Out Of My Life [25]. Compare and contrast with Johnny Logan singing What's Another Year. Johnny's all Mr-Light-Entertainment. He's singing a song which includes the words "pain" "crying" "fear" and "alone" but he might as well be singing about boiling an egg. It's really easy to mock Michael Jackson's fake sad acting in this promo for the boring song everyone skipped from Off The Wall but at least he's putting in some effort. Matchbox: Midnite Dynamos [67]. The studio performance is inter-cut with film of the band driving around Chelsea. It's unclear if the filmed footage was specially shot or part of the official promo; if it is part of the promo film then that seems to have disappeared from history. It's not anywhere obvious on the internet. Why not trace the band's route on Streetview. Start at the junction of the King's Road and Shalcombe Street. Then it's east all the way to Sloane Square past The Royal Court Theatre showing Hamlet, the production starring Jonathan Pryce, and on past Peter Jones. Unfortunately at this point the sun sets and the route becomes lost. The final shot is Matchbox getting out of the car and walking past an advert with a strap line reading "What a saucy Faggot." Average White Band: Let's Go Round Again [28]. Oh no! What are the odds? Just as Legs & Co get on stage the wind machine blows off all their clothes. Looks like they'll have to dance around in their skimpy undies again. Jona Lewie:  You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties [73]. Anti-comedy is the idea that you can be funny by not being funny (see Andy Kaufman, or John Thompson's Bernard Righton character where the jokes come from him subverting Bernard Manning's act "two homosexuals in the back of a van... two homosexuals in the back of a van havin' sex... they're over twenty one what's wrong with that?"). You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties sounds to me like anti-pop music. A deliberate attempt to see how sparse a song can be while still getting into the charts. (John: Much more about this song and when it was used in a furniture advert in the fabulous Best of thiswayup book- see Stuff to Buy page!)

Cockney Rejects:  The Greatest Cockney Rip-Off [23]. I would have been willing to bet actual money that The Greatest Cockney Rip-Off  would never again see the inside of the Top of the Pops studio. That amazing degree of pop insight explains how I am able to earn a living as a multi-millionaire music producer. Actually, although the song has climbed the charts the performance is a repeat from the 24/04/80 edition. Boney M: My Friend Jack [63]. A past their pomp Boney M sing one of their lesser known songs. And it's really good. It's not clear if this is the official video, or a clip imported from a continental programme like Top Pop. Either way the director has forced Bobby Farrell to stand still, at least as still as he can ever manage, for the opening chorus. It's painful to watch him hold back and something of a relief when he's finally allowed to cut loose and start dancing properly. The Ruts:  Staring At The Rude Boys [27]. A repeat from the 17/04/80 show, but the first time we've seen it because that edition was presented by J**** S*****. The song's all right. I've got a nagging suspicion I'm supposed to have heard of The Ruts. They're probably one of those epochal bands that defined their generation. I was only eight at the time. I was still waiting for The Smurf's comeback single. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: Messages [53]. I've got nothing. The Undertones:  My Perfect Cousin [10]. Feargal Sharkey turns in a very twitchy and hyperactive performance. The mention of The Human League stands out more this week  on account of The Human League also being on the programme; obv. How long had The Human League been going? Like most people it was really only Don't You Want Me which brought them to my attention.

Number One: Dexy's Midnight Runners, Gino. A repeat from last week's edition. Set designer Tom Yardley-Jones, who's barely two weeks out of studio for the Doctor Who story The Leisure Hive, doesn't have to worry about fitting in the new Number 1 stage first introduced last week.
Closing Titles: Hot Chocolate, No Doubt About It [9].
Performance of the week:
The Human League, Rock And Roll

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