04/04/2018

Top of the Pops 31 Mar 1983


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Steve Wright: "Good evening and welcome to another Top of the Pops. Sorry about the studio tonight. It's a bit messy, we're spring cleaning and we couldn't get all the scenery in. Richard Skinner: "But we've made with it with some excellent live bands in the studio. All of them. Kicking off with New Order. Playing live. Singing Live. With Blue Monday!"

[17] New Order: Blue Monday. Welcome to Easter 1983. Richard Skinner is very excited. Maybe it's the presence of the Easter Bunny (some poor audience cheerleader in a furry bunny suit, clutching a basket). Whatever the cause, Richard Skinner is peaking at approximately 0.75 Peter Powells (or 0.9 Cheggers for those of you who prefer imperial measurements). Despite his overuse of the word "live" it's not actually clear if this show is live. BBC Genome doesn't think so, and it seems unlikely that BBC1 would schedule two live editions back-to-back. New Order are definitely -and defiantly- live but they seem oddly subdued. You'd think they'd be over the moon at being allowed to sing and play live in studio but for some reason they seem almost embarrassed. Bernard Sumner is doing a remarkable job of hiding as much of himself as possible behind the microphone stand. Stephen Morris probably summed up this ramshackle performance best on Top Of The Pops: The Story Of 1983, "we made the cardinal error of looking like we were miming but actually playing it live."



[4] The Style Council: Speak Like A Child. Steve Wright is correct. The Top of the Pops studio is a mess. It's festooned with streamers, balloons, and flags, and for some reason a merry-go-round which Richard Skinner is riding. It must have made sense at the time. I just wish I could make out the first thing he says when the camera cuts back to him from New Order. The staging of The Style Council is something else which must have made sense at the time.  Paul Weller and Tracie Young are huddled at one end of the stage by Mick Talbot and his keyboard. It looks good in close-ups because the camera can get a nice tight shot of the whole band at once. It looks daft in wide shots, as if The Style Council are trying to unobtrusively sneak off stage mid song. And what's going on behind The Style Council? Three members of the audience have somehow ended up on-stage and are dancing behind the band. A minute or so later they shuffle off stage. Floor Manager Tony Redstone must have had a polite word.

[30] Mari Wison: Cry Me A River. I feel like a cad for writing this but it's a boring performance. Mari Wilson has a fantastic voice but this song makes me empathise with the audience members seated on stage behind her. I'm a good and attentive person, and I sit smartly on my bestest behaviour for all of 15 seconds before I start getting all fidgety and distracted. Also, I worry about Mari Wilson's backing singers The Wilsations who featured on 1982's Just What I Always Wanted. What's happened to them? If they've been dropped who will keep them in hairspray and Zoot Suits?

[24] U2: Two Hearts Beat As One. Bono goes off piste towards the end of the song. With a cry of "Top of the Pops!" suddenly he's up on the walkway for a quick cuddle with one of the cheerleaders. It's an unrehearsed move to judge by the way we cut to a camera still panning up to follow him. Also unrehearsed is a sudden burst of Let's Twist Again which goes "let's twist again, like we did last summer, let's twist again, like we did last year. Do you remember the words... I don't..." and then the crowd start cheering and the song ends. U2 next appearance in the Top of the Pops studio seems to be for Elevation in the space year 2001.

[20] Kajagoogoo: Ooh To Be Ah. The spiky-haired ones are back. The lyrics are no better than they were for Too Shy. Meanwhile the Easter Bunny can be spotted in the background. Sweating away and still clutching his basket.

[18] Tracy Ullman: Breakway. Tracy Ullman is allowed to sing into a hairbrush, as she also did in the video for this song.

[1] Duran Duran: Is There Something I Should Know? On film.

[27] Kenny Everett: Snot Rap. Kenny Everett pops into the Top of the Pops studio for a brief uninformative chat. He's dressed as Sid Snot, which explains the high number of audience cheerleaders also dressed in leather tonight. The camera pulls back as the interview ends, and the Easter Bunny lurches into frame looking incredibly fed up. He plonks his basket down, and dashes off camera again. Is he late? He can be spotted later, dancing away and trying to look cool.


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