Top of the Pops 1981 currently on BBC4. Watched by Chris Arnsby.
David Kid Jensen: "Hi there! After my being away for over a year I must say it is good to be back... But right now there's thunder in them there mountains." (John- Now Chris you're not going to mention the edit are you because....oh you are going to mention it. We'll be in trouble for this.)
Gary Glitter: And Then She Kissed Me . Kid Jensen is now credited as David Kid Jensen, that time away in Atlanta working for CNN has matured him. If the introduction seems a little abrupt it's because there's something missing from this BBC4 repeat; Gary Glitter singing a song which limped to number 39. For posterity David Kid Jensen's introduction runs as follows: "Hi there! After my being away for over a year I must say it is good to be back and it's a big welcome back for Gary Glitter." (John- Before anyone moans consider the more alarming fact that GG's film is available on dvd shortly and advertised on Amazon)
Toyah: Thunder In The Mountains . Toyah's not available for Top of the Pops this week. Here's a chance to see the video instead. Watch as Toyah escapes from a post-apocalyptic multi-story car park in a two wheeled horse-drawn chariot made from a cut down car. The shots of Toyah driving this thing around seem surprisingly dangerous. The chariot looks difficult to stop, and there's precious little head room for Toyah; especially with the puffed up orange fright wig look she's got going on. The rest of the video is a little more sedate although the plot is obscure. Toyah drives around on the runway of an abandoned airfield past a couple of nice looking forced perspective miniatures. Occasionally she is psychically attacked by the cruel overseer of the car park before there's some business with a gate. The video ends with her gathering troops by sending messages attached to arrows. The message being a picture of, er, an arrow. Best bit the reverse shot of the chariot, recorded as night falls, which reveals that her dangerous looking vehicle has fully working rear lights. Well, no one wants to be pulled over by the post-apocalyptic Police.
|Toyah, on her way to Aldi yesterday.|
B.A. Robertson & Maggie Bell: Hold Me . 1981 was a big year for B.A. Robertson. Fresh from ruining the theme to Swap Shop he's allowed back into the Top of the Pops studio for the first time since August 1980 when he helped out as a guest host before that idea was abandoned faster than Toyah doing handbrake turns in her horse-drawn car. This is the first time he's been allowed to sing since April 1980, the dark days of Cool In The Kaftan; sorry Kool In The Kaftan. This may be B.A Robertson's best song but the performance is wrecked by his look-at-me clowning and gurning. He's having a great time but he doesn't have the charisma to transfer that sense of fun across to the audience.
Altered Images: Happy Birthday . A repeat from 01/10/81. There's an unusual audio error as the repeat ends. A snatch of Mike Read's chart introduction plays under David Kid Jensen for a second. It's the kind of technical error the BBC is usually very hot on removing. Presumably it wasn't noticed in the studio, but I'm surprised it wasn't picked up in editing and fixed by snipping a couple of seconds off the introduction to the next song.
The Tweets: Birdie Song (Birdie Dance) . The next song being The Tweets. Everyone's favourite collection of dead-eyed bird costumes can't come into the studio. The costumes are being industrially steam cleaned to remove weeks of studio sweat, and the session musicians are all laid up with heat prostration. Fortunately Legs & Co are on hand although what no one knew at the time was that this would be their last hurrah, or swan song if you prefer. The audience have been issued with a variety of masks (including Donald Duck which must have got Disney's lawyer reaching for his pen) but only half the audience are wearing them properly. The rest, the vain ones who want to be seen on TV, are wearing them on their heads, so half the audience appear to be wearing misshapen hats. To make Legs & Co stand out from the crowd they have been put on podiums which, for health and safety reasons, can only be four inches high. The audience are forced to kneel and wave, and the effect in some shots is like a more cheerful version of Gone With The Wind's battle of Atlanta aftermath. Then there's the black and white Eidophor screen, keep an eye on it whenever it's in shot. A camera has been isolated to point at a plastic duck (which appears to have written on it the phrase Top Ten) and someone else is being employed to hold and waggle the duck in time to the music; that's someone's job!
|Yes, Tweeting started in 1981|
Godley & Crème: Under Your Thumb . A repeat from 17/09/81.
The Exploited: Dead Cities . David Kid Jensen is standing next to a woman wearing a sash which reads "Miss Stoney Street Lions Carnival". However she doesn't get a proper introduction because we need to be told that this next song is "the shortest record, not to mention the fastest record, in the charts." The Exploited are frightening shouting men who give the impression of being very cross about something. Whatever it is, like Groucho Marx, they're against it. True to the promise, the song runs for about 105 seconds.
Squeeze: Labelled With Love . First time listening to this prompted the thought that something had gone horribly, horribly wrong with Squeeze. Second time round I've warmed to this deliberately downbeat song. There's an awkward moment halfway through when the song pauses and the audience think it's over and begin applauding. I'm surprised this wasn't corrected with a retake -like the Mike Read audio mistake earlier- and I wonder if recording time was especially tight this evening.
The Creatures: Mad Eyed Screamer . A repeat from 01/10/81.
Bad Manners: Walking In The Sunshine . David Kid Jensen launches into a lengthy explanation of how the charts have changed while he was away -he gets bonus points for reusing his catchphrase "hit sound countdown." The honesty of the sentiment is undercut by watching the audience members next to him see themselves on the studio monitor and pull silly faces and giggle. Buster Bloodvessel has come sensibly dressed for a baking hot studio; woolly hat, jumper and white furry boots. What happens to his hat? It disappears during a lengthy shot of the band. Did he throw it into the audience?
Number One: Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, It’s My Party. The unnamed narrator of this song is a bit of a pill. She'd rather spend her time mooning over Johnny and then bursting into tears when he comes in -admittedly rather insensitively- with Judy; and -gasp- Judy's wearing his ring! (John- Mind you when you think what she said to him last month it's hardly suprising is it?) The correct behaviour (as any fule kno) is to get loaded on red wine, spend the evening slagging off Johnny, and then try and get off with Johnny's best friend or if you're feeling particularly daring with Judy. Now that's a party. (John- Isn't it obligatory to mention it's not Eurythmics Dave Stewart here but an altogether other one?)
Closing Titles: This Year’s Blonde, Platinum Pop . On a technical level this song is hideous. The changes between songs are so clumsy it's like skipping between tracks on a CD. Whatever the failings of every other medley ever at least they worked to make the song sound like a seamless whole. That said, the lead singer is doing a reasonable Debbie Harry impersonation, although distractingly she looks more like next years blonde Sam Fox.
Performance of the week: Squeeze: Labelled With Love.