05/07/2015

Top of the Pops 29 May 1980



Guest Post by Chris Arnsby
Kid Jensen. "Hello there and welcome to Top of the Pops. This week's chart countdown is to the music of Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway."
Opening Titles: Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, Back Together Again [22].
Liquid Gold: Substitute [52]. Not to be confused with the 1966 song Substitute by The Who. Or the 1975 song Substitute by The Righteous Brothers. Or the 1978 song Substitute by Clout which was a cover of The Righteous Brothers' song. The Liquid Gold song is no substitute [ho-ho!] for any of those songs.
OMD do their best to blend in with the scenery.   



Hot Chocolate: No Doubt About It [52]. A repeat from the D*v* L** Tr*v*s presented edition of 15/05/80. A chance to see the clever presentation of the song which starts with an empty dry ice covered stage before the band, and audience, and bloke leaning against the back studio wall, all appear via the magic of roll back and mix; like wot how the Tardis dun it. There's been a real sense recently that Top of the Pops is trying to find new ways of doing things. The big myth is that Top of the Pops came back transformed in the wake of the nine week Musicians Union strike with a more engaged audience, and changed presentation, and a remit to look like the best party ever. While it's true new producer Michael Hurll did ring some significant changes, the presentation and format had been tweaked for several months previously. The sudden reappearance after nine weeks off air just emphasised the changes and made it look like everything had changed overnight.
BBC Genome still lists Top of the Pops as being scheduled on Thursdays through June and July, which makes sense because the strike could have ended at any time, but Robin Nash is listed as Executive Producer right up to 10/07/1980 with Michael Hurll taking over the following week. He must have thought this was a brilliant job. "Hello Michael Hurll here. Are the musicians still on strike? Jolly good." *hangs up phone, leans back in chair, puts feet on desk*
For anyone wondering, it looks as if Top of the Pops was replaced by repeats of Are You Being Served?
Elton John: Little Jeannie [44]. An Elton John song so generic it sounds like someone has set Elton John to "play" and walked off and left him.
Crown Heights Affair: You Gave Me Love [17]. Legs & Co frolic on the studio floor in front of an audience who have been given props to play with to make them seem more engaged in the music. See! It wasn't all down to Michael "new broom" Hurll! The audience have been given pompoms on sticks to wave in time to the music. Naturally such a simple instruction is beyond them. Half the crowd are waving their sticks differently to the other half, and everyone is out of time with everyone else.
Don McLean: Crying [13]. Is Don McLean wearing a wig?
Thin Lizzy: Chinatown [37]. Not Thin Lizzy's greatest song. I'm not sure which Chinatown Phil Lynott is thinking of, but it's easy to get out of Chinatown in London; just take the Northern line from Leicester Square.
Roxy Music: Over You [6]. Britain's greasiest man, Brian Ferry, takes to the Top of the Pops stage. I imagine that he feels oily like a penguin.
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: Messages [26]. I was convinced this was a repeat of the performance from the 08/05/1980 edition, but apparently I'm wrong. This is confirmed when I go back to recheck and realise that Andy McClusky is wearing a different coloured shirt.
Jermaine Jackson: Let's Get Serious [21]. To quote Danny Baker on the Jackson Five, "since the release of Michael’s Off the Wall, there’s just John Lennon and His Four Ringos." Jermaine does his best on this clip from Dutch programme TopPop.
Stiff Little Fingers: Nobody's Hero [36]. The one thing I knew about Stiff Little Fingers was that they took their name from the series The Invaders which featured aliens who could be identified by their inability to bend their little finger. A few minutes research on the internet has revealed that this is not true.
Mystic Merlin: Just Can't Give You Up [23]. Mystic Merlin, as far as I can tell he doesn't do the "I'm Merlin and this is me stick" joke.
Lena Zavaroni: Jump Down Jimmy [NEW]. It's no small irony that the last studio song on this final pre-strike edition is backed by the soon to be axed Top of the Pops orchestra because they, and Lena Zavaroni are relics of a passing era. This song is timeless, in the worst possible sense of the word; is this 1980, or 1976, or 1965? It doesn't matter. If Edison has listened to this on wax cylinders he'd have complained about it sounding dated. The visible contempt of the studio audience is astonishing. Several people are standing stock still with their arms folded. A teenager dressed in white is actually sitting on the stage and blanking Lena Zavaroni by looking away into the crowd. It's hard not to feel some sympathy for Lena Zavaroni, and in the end her relentless professionalism and ability to look cheerful in front of the jury of the damned wins a little admiration.
Number One: MASH, Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless). A repeat for Legs & Co's Threads meets The Clothes Show routine from the 22/05/1980 show.
Closing Titles: Lipps Inc, Funky Town.
Performance of the week: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Messages.


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