30/04/2016

Top of the Pops 9th & 16th April 1981



Shown on BBC4. Watched by Chris Arnsby.
9 April 1981:
Mike Read: "Welcome to Top of the Pops. Some 19 million people every week tune in to see some of the top acts of 1981 on this show. Tonight, we're kicking off with Lynx and Intuition."
Mike Read counting up to 19 million
Linx: Intuition [7]. Intuition has done good business for Lynx. It's been featured three times on Top of the Pops -every other week- since the 12/03/1981 edition. Up to now the video has always been shown, some clever pop svengali has obviously decided that a studio appearance by the band will be a good way to squeeze out some more sales. It's a solid, competent, and professional performance. Unfortunately no one does anything amusing, the drum kit doesn't fall over, and the audience all behave themselves. Bah!
Bucks Fizz: Making Your Mind Up [2]. Also live in the studio are Bucks Fizz, just five days after their Eurovision win in Dublin. The band are now confident enough to skip the skirt ripping routine which got them a lot of attention in the pre-Eurovision build up. Presumably some comedy show at the time did a Bucks Fizz spoof in which the blokes' trousers were ripped off? If not then I've got a killer sketch idea to sell Little and Large for their next series. Watch out for Mike Read's disappearing act at the start of the song. After he introduces Bucks Fizz from the side of the stage he disappears from the edge of frame as the camera crane pans round, and he's gone by the time the crane shows a wide shot of the studio.

Saxon: And The Bands Played On [27]. Heavy metal's not really my thing. So I'm finding it difficult to make any sort of meaningful comment. Here's a trivial one. The lead singer is wearing 1981's most alarming trousers; so far. He'll have competition for that title once Imagination make their first appearance in a few weeks time.
Keith Marshall: Only Crying [39]. Keith Marshall loves himself. A lot. I haven't seen this level of self adoration since the BBC found and walled up the tunnel The Dooleys used to use to keep sneaking into the Top of the Pops studio. (A word of warning to anyone considering buying a flat in the refurbished Television Centre building. Don't. You're liable to wake up and find The Dooleys performing A Rose Has to Die in your kitchen.) Keith Marshall thinks he's the very model of a modern major pop star but he dances like Cliff Richard. Not good. Not good at all.
Keith Marshall: Yozzer Hughes on guitar is not amused is he?
David Bowie: Up The Hill Backwards [32]. John  Bishop is sitting in the Director's chair this week. He's decided to tilt one of the cameras to give the effect that Legs & Co are dancing up a hill. It's disturbingly literal; whatever Flick Colby has got is infectious. The lighting is atmospheric, it reminds me of the Legs & Co routine a couple of weeks ago for Stevie Wonder's song Lately. A quick check of the closing credits reveals it's the same person, Henry Barber. Apparently I can now distinguish the lighting style of individual BBC personnel. Should I be concerned?
Graham Bonnet: Night Games [12]: Repeated from the 26/03/1981 edition.
Public Image Ltd: Flowers Of Romance [31]. I'm not remotely a fan of John Lydon so I can't be objective about this track. Well done to the BBC for getting this song on between Kieran Prendiville and the boys and girls of Tomorrow's World and the episode of Are You Being Served? where Mr Humphries catches a rare tropical disease and the whole department has to be isolated.
Eddy Grant: Can't Get Enough Of You [44]. Eddy Grant, like Keith Marshall, plainly loves himself. Unlike Keith Marshall, Eddy Grant at least has some basis for that love. And he doesn't dance like Cliff Richard.
Gillan: New Orleans [24]. Another repeat from 26/03/1981.
The Whispers: It's A Love Thing [9]. The five members of The Whispers have been organised in height order for this video. Shortest on the outside, tallest next, and then the middle sized one in the centre. The effect is weirdly mesmerising. Especially as they are all wearing identical hairstyles, trousers, jumpers, and moustaches (expected for one with a beard; he must be the rebel of the group). Wide shots of the group look like an experiment in trick photography.
Hazel O’Connor: D-Days [10]. Another repeat from 26/03/1981.
Top Ten: The spinning digit is back in the left hand corner of the screen. The clip used for Bucks Fizz -at number two- is the skirt ripping moment from their performance on 19/03/1981. Presumably this was on a permanent loop in the VT department.
Number One: Shakin’ Stevens: This Ole House. Now this is interesting. And by interesting I mean something only I will care about. All of tonight's repeat performances are from 26/03/1981, as is this one by Shakin' Stevens which featured on that show as a repeat from the 05/03/1981 edition (it's the bored Goth performance). The picture quality is softer than you might normally expect. Did Michael Hurll save some money by only calling up the tape of the 26/03/1981 Top Of The Pops and then edit a copy of a copy into tonight's programme?
Performance of the week:  A thin week for good studio performances. Let's say, Lynx with Intuition.

16 April 1981:
Peter Powell: "Hi! Welcome to this week's edition of Top of the Pops! Got stacks of live bands! Got a great film featuring Spandau Ballet! And we've also got The Beat doing their brand new release! We've got some artists who have flown in specially for the show from Tokyo, and Portugal, and one or two surprises! And for starters no better than Bad Manners!"
The song playing in the background is the first song of the show, that's become Top of the Pops standard operating procedure. Naturally it raises some eyebrows when the introduction to Can You Feel It is used to provide backing for Peter Powell. Has the BBC got them live in the studio? The Jacksons! ... hang on. We've been here before. The last time Peter Powell introduced the show, 19/03/1981, the same gag was used to transition into a different song. Last time it was Sharon Redd with Can You Handle It? This time it's Bad Manners with Just A Feeling. Is this now Peter Powell's official joke?
Bad Manners: Just A Feeling [15]. What's Buster wearing this week. Has he dressed as Queen Victoria, or painted himself gold like Jill Masterson from Goldfinger? No. He's done up in a suit and tie like an archetypal city gent. It's had not to feel disappointed, but it must have been getting hard for him to top his increasingly ludicrous costumes. Hey Buster, how about painting yourself silver, filling up with helium, and coming as the Graf Zeppelin?
Bad Manners. Or Bad Curry?
Spandau Ballet: Musclebound [18]. Now for the "great film" promised to us by Peter Powell at the top of the show. It certainly looks very expensive, extras, props, horses, day and night location filming at Kirkstone Pass in the Lake District. And unlike those cheapskates from Ultravox this is actually on film rather than video.
Girlschool: Hit & Run [33]. Mike Kelt is back as designated Visual Effects person. He celebrates this by setting off a series of BBC issue thunderflashes a safe distance behind the Girlschool drummer.
Sugar Minott: Good Thing Going (We’ve Got A Good Thing Going) [7]. A repeat from the 02/04/1981 show.
Department S: Is Vic There? [40] A song that boldly answers it's own question when a voice on the record says "hello, this is a recorded message, please leave your telephone number after the tone." Vic isn't there. He's out. Repeatedly asking "is Vic there?" isn't accomplishing anything. Vic isn't there. He's gone out. Leave a message.
The Beat: Drowning [53]. As Peter Powell introduces The Beat a young woman stands off to one side and gazes at him moon-eyed, before smirking and blushing as he turns round. Aww, someone's got a crush. Whitesnake: Don't Break My Heart Again [29]. "They're out of the country but our cameras did catch them in concert." Mr Powell. You claim this footage was captured by Top of the Pops cameras but I put it to you that this is simply yet another band-filmed-in-an-empty-warehouse-pretending-to-perform-onstage promo film. As popularised by the so-called Status Quo (exhibit B). Your response Mr Powell? Mr Powell? I think your silence says more than enough. No further questions m'lud.
UK Subs: Keep On Running (Till You Burn) [54]. More Powell lies! He claims UK Subs have gone through an image change, but all they've done is put on new shirts and borrowed the guitar riff from Message In A Bottle. Apart from that, this is still boil-in-the-bag punk.
Ennio Morricone: Chi Mai [4]. "That''s really sophisticated" is how Peter "forked tongue" Powell describes one of the dullest Legs & Co routines ever. Basically they just walk around for three minutes in front of black and white footage of the olden days.
The Cure: Primary [46]. "Right now, making their d├ębut on Top of the Pops, The Cure!” Finally, an honest mistake on Peter Powell's part rather than more falsehood. He's clearly forgotten the 24/04/1980 edition when The Cure played A Forest while being fronted by a small child pretending to be Robert Smith.
The Nolans: Attention To Me [14]. Two dandied up young fops stand stage left and gaze at The Nolans with disdain. Who were they here to see? One is wearing a cravat. Are they Department S fans who came along expecting to see Jason King in person.
Top Ten: Each chart position is represented by a digit which comes in from screen left and stops in the middle. It's different from last week, but that's standard by now.
Number One: Bucks Fizz, Making Your Mind Up. A repeat from the 19/03/1981 edition.
Closing Titles: The Jacksons, Can You Feel It? [8]. Top of the Pops plays out with the Jackson's astonishingly self-aggrandising video for Can You Feel It? In which the band are re-imagined as giant world-straddling colossi. To be fair that's true of one of The Jacksons. Can you guess which? No Jermaine, that was the wrong answer.
Performance of the week: The Beat: Drowning.

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