06/09/2017

Top of the Pops 5 August 1982



Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. David "Kid" Jensen: "Live from the Television Centre in London welcome to another Top of the Pops and we have a tremendous line-up of live acts for you tonight kicking off with Madness at number four with Driving In My Car."
[4] Madness: Driving In My Car. If you asked someone to describe an idealised Madness performance it would resemble this one. There's staccato dancing, loads of mucking around with props -a ventriloquist dummy, a skeleton used for percussion, a Policeman with a blue light on his hat, playing two saxophones at once- and a general sense that the song is considerably less important than having fun. There's also a dirty great car parked in the middle of the main studio performance area. How are Cecila Brereton and her army of scene shifters going to cope with that in a live programme? The answer is disappointingly simple, you can spot the moment Suggs releases the handbrake and then the boys push the Maddiemobile out of the studio. Only one question remains, what happens to the hat with the blue light on it? It disappears without a trace during a change of camera.

[25] Junior: Too Late. A bundle of tangled streamers bounces off Junior's right shoulder as he launches into the second verse. It provokes a grin, but otherwise fails to disrupt his performance.
[20] The Brat: Chalk Dust. There's an abrupt cut from the end of Too Late into Chalk Dust which conceals the snipping out of a US chart update by J-n-th-n K-ng. With the Maddiemobile safely out of the studio Cecila Brereton is able to repeat her quick change routine from a couple of weeks ago and string up a tennis net and umpire chair. It would be easy to mistake this for the performance repeated from the 22/07/1982 edition. The stage set-up is the same, the audience have been given the same seated dance routine to stop them from looking bored, and the song ends with a very Tiswas moment as the crowd all cheer and throw tennis balls at a now prone Roger Kitter (watch out for the swine who lobs their ball early and catches him in the face). The main difference between the two performances is that Roger Kitter has more confidence about performing in a live environment. He pulls a can of silly string out of his pocket and conceals it neatly from camera until it's needed. He's also got hold of a giant tennis racquet prop and does a swap with his regular sized racquet while off camera. The giant racquet allows Roger Kitter to pretend to loose his balance which leads to the first of two pratfalls. The first goes well but on the second, at the end of the song, it looks as if he misjudges the distances and he appears to kick an audience member in he back as he lands from his ambitious forward somersault. Watch out for the Top of the Pops flag nailed to the back scenery in a slightly artless way which suggests it's been done quickly to hide something from the camera.
[22] Donna Summer: Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger). David "Kid" Jensen introduces us to Ray and Neil (from Corby) a pair of yobs in Radio 1 t-shirts recording a report for Studio B15 (presented by someone called David Jensen).  One, let's call him Ray, is weighed down by a portable (in the loosest sense of the word) reel to reel tape recorder. The other, by a process of elimination Neil, manages to subtly diss The Brat by promising us "better music still to come." Zoo amazingly are dancing on the stage just vacated by The Brat and his tennis equipment. It looks like Cecila Brereton has worked miracles and cleared a dancing space in the twenty second chat. But, hang on a minute, where has the Top of the Pops flag gone? How is the floor suddenly clear of hundreds of tennis balls? Why are the camera angles so limited? This Zoo routine is a dirty recorded earlier cheat! The limited camera angles conceal the lack of an audience (they also help with an odd effect used on one camera where the video for Love Is In Control is CSO'd into a corner of the scenery). The people present are the studio cheerleaders who presumably are called in early each week for enthusiasm classes. Disappointingly the thing later concealed by the Top of the Pops flag turns out to be a boring metal box. I wonder why they didn't want us to see it?
[19] The Belle Stars: The Clapping Song. As David "Kid" Jensen introduces The Belle Stars the crowd behind him shifts to reveal a bloke wearing a blue shirt who's sitting at a drum set. Who is this mystery man? He's not the drummer for Bad Manners (who will be using the stage in two songs time). He could be part of the studio staff left on guard to stop the audience playing with the drums.
[8] Kid Creole & The Coconuts: Stool Pigeon. My first thought on seeing Kid Creole is that he's responsible for around 60% of Jim Carrey's performance and appearance in The Mask; the Zoot suit, the hat, the exaggerated stances and dancing. He even indulges in some prop work; lunging to one side to pick up a tin megaphone. The Coconuts are dressed in bikinis made of reflective metal squares. It's very bad for the eyes. It creates a visual effect like the one used to blur people's identities and give the impression the Coconuts are in a permanent state of pixelation. In case you're wondering, David "Kid" Jensen does the "lovely bunch of coconuts" joke.
[21] Bad Manners: My Girl Lollipop. A short but energetic performance. This week Buster Bloodvessel is mostly wearing a heavy fur coat. Ideal for working up a good sweat under the studio lights.
[11] The Stranglers: Strange Little Girl. An odd and subdued performance from The Stranglers, or maybe the song just suffers from following the bouncy fun of My Girl Lollipop. Top of the Pops must have an odd prohibition on allowing members of the production team to appear on camera. A cameraman capturing the low-angle shots of Jean-Jacques Burnel cowers and hides behind an audience member as he realises he's slightly in shot when the camera crane pans round the stage at the start of the instrumental. He crouches down with such vigour that he bumps into the person dancing behind him, who laughs in surprise.
[1] Dexy's Midnight Runners: Come On Eileen. Dexy's Midnight Runners use the same stage as The Belle Stars, although Eric Wallis changes the colour of the lighting. In fact going back and looking at The Belle Stars performance again you can see an accordion sitting at backstage right waiting for its moment to shine.
[29] Survivor: Eye Of The Tiger. Zoo close the show by writhing on the floor while the credits role and the audience dance more traditionally. This is one of those occasions when it's difficult not to mourn the passing of Legs & Co. They'd have loved this song. they could have dressed in tiger striped leotards, clawed at the air, and done mock snarling. It's even possible they'd have rescued the lion skin used for The Lion Sleeps Tonight and painted stripes on it.

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