Shown on BBC4. Hey! Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Hey!
Simon Bates: "And it's a runaway success for a start 'cos we've got the Stray Cats to kick off Top of the Pops, with Rock This Town. Over here."
|Stray Cats singer carries on despite the souffle on his head.|
Stray Cats: Rock This Town . The Stray Cats have got the audience jumping. Possibly too much. A close-up of feet, as some of the audience dance on the staggered seating area behind the band, shows the flimsy wooden rostrum surface is bouncing up and down alarmingly. Also in wide shots of the studio some of the audience seem to have been penned behind a chain link fence. Is Top of the Pops segregated now? Are there dancing and non-dancing areas? Or sullen, and non-sullen?
Blondie: Rapture  A second outing for the video first seen on the 22/01/1981 edition.
Spandau Ballet: The Freeze . Followed by a repeat of the Spandau Ballet performance from the same programme.
Fred Wedlock: The Oldest Swinger In Town . Aww. Fred Wedlock. I loved this song at the time. I thought it was hilarious. You didn't often hear the word "pants" on television in 1981 (unless you were watching an import like The Rockford Files, and then it was obvious from context that they weren't talking about their unmentionables). It's not a good song. It's not even a good novelty song. But you'd have to have a heart of stone not to smile when Fred Wedlock breaks into a relieved grin as the audience applaud at the end of the song.
Rainbow: I Surrender . Generic rawk music.
Dire Straits: Romeo & Juliet . A repeat from 15/01/1981, which was presented by D*v* L** Tr*v*s. Simon Bates ambush interviews an audience member standing next to him, "what do you reckon?" "Brill," comes the reply.
XTC: Sgt Rock (Is Going To Help Me) . Another repeat from the 22/01/1981 show.
Cliff Richard: A Little In Love .Ugh, a Cliff Richard video. At least this time he's not going to wrap his horrible hairy hands round Olivia Newton-John's throat, as he did in the video for their duet Suddenly. A Little In Love has been recorded using some weird mahogany filter which makes everything brown. It's very bad for the eyes. As are the appalling video effects applied to some of the exterior shots.
The Passions: I'm In Love With A German Film Star . Let's hope it's not Klaus Kinski.
|Hey! It's Joe Dolce. He's not even Italian the cheeky prankster.|
Joe Dolce Music Theatre: Shaddap You Face . (There's no way this isn't going to look bad. I've just dismissed The Passions in six words, but Joe Dolce is going to get a whole paragraph). This is a really polished performance. Watching this it's no surprise that Shaddap You Face got to number one. It's oversimplifying things to say that the country needed to laugh again after six weeks of John Lennon songs at number one. However, if Joe Dolce hadn't worked the audience and been so engaging -he gets a laugh when one of them pre-empts his instructions on when to go "hey"- then this would have been just another novelty song; like The Oldest Swinger In Town. Fred Wedlock didn't get to number one on the strength of people buying his single as a joke 50th birthday present. It's the call and response, "what sa matter you...HEY," moment that propels this song up the charts because it, for want of a better word, teaches people what to do when they hear the song. I'll bet discos were filled with swaying crowds shouting "hey" for weeks afterwards.
Top Ten Countdown: This week the flashing multi-coloured Top Ten caption has gone. Instead there is a just a number which whizzes from right to left a couple of times.
Number one: John Lennon, Woman. Now this is interesting. Last week Top of the Pops showed a completely different promo film for Woman and, a quick internet search shows last weeks' is the official version -the one with some really odd image choices, including as I've subsequently learned a picture of John Lennon dead in the morgue. This new one must be a BBC version. Michael Hurll is back as Executive Producer (as can be identified by the credits playing out under Woman, rather than Robin Nash's beloved kaleidoscopic pan round the studio lights) so this must have been his call. I wonder if anyone complained, or if Michael Hurll made the decision because he felt the official promo was in poor taste?
Performance of the week: To hell with it. It's Joe Dolce Music Theatre: Shaddap You Face.