11/06/2018

Top of the Pops 12 and 19 May 1983


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. 12/05/83 - Tommy Vance: "Edition 1001 of Top of the Pops! Good evening and welcome!" Mike Read: "Great party record to start off with, Modern Romance's Don't Stop That Crazy Rhythm."Tommy Vance: "Woo!"
(Edition 1000: It's worth tracking down the few snippets of edition 1000 currently on Youtube. There's a lovely introduction with Richard Skinner and Diddy David Jacobs in which Richard Skinner comes across as a far more relaxed and natural broadcaster than he does when he's hosting Top of the Pops. He's sitting down for this introduction so maybe he should always be allowed a chair from now on when he's in studio.)

[26] Modern Romance: Don't Stop That Crazy Rhythm. Everything's different. New sets. New title sequence. Same pool of presenters of course which is one of the reasons BBC4 has jumped from edition 999 to 1001. Modern Romance are appearing on the main studio stage -the one with banks of raised rostra behind the performance area for the audience, or Top of the Pops cheerleaders- and a couple of wide shots reveal that the makeover is more superficial than it first appears. The geography of the set is the same. The black and white Eidophor screen is still on the left, and the neon Top of the Pops logo is on the right. The main difference is the replacement of  the large metallic arches with ranks of scaffold-like scenery. Bolted to the set are circular neon elements that echo the shape of the Top of the Pops logo, but have a diagonal line coming out of the bottom right that makes them Q-shaped. The most significant effect of the new scenery is to form a definite wall. The arches used to open onto a black backcloth which made it look like Top of the Pops was being broadcast from a formless black vortex. Now it's clearly located in a television studio. Joining Modern Romance is a middle aged dancer who looks like someone's uncle has rushed the stage; he's dressed in blue with a backwards red baseball cap perched on his head. He's named-checked by Tommy Vance as "Will Gaines," and a quick Google search reveals he's a much more significant figure in dance than his treatment here would make you think. John Bishop's direction excludes him and the audience at home don't get a good look until the instrumental. Maybe John Bishop intended the reveal of the tap dancer to be a surprise, but it comes across more as an attempt at exclusion. It's as if Modern Romance turned up with Will Gaines and insisted he perform with them, but the Director had other plans. If you really want to see Will Gaines strut his stuff then head over to Youtube and watch the clip of him dancing on The Arthur Haynes Show.



[24] Daryl Hall & John Oates: Family Man. On video. Overlaid on the picture are a couple of state of the art computer generated figures. Well, they look computer generated. Like the book in The Hitchhikers's Guide To The Galaxy it's probably done with traditional animation.

[29] The Belle Stars: Sweet Memory. The Belle Stars' stage is decorated with four freestanding columns of florescent lights. They wobble alarmingly although it's possible the effect is made worse by the florescent lights blinking on and off.

[30] Pink Floyd: Not Now John. This is the single version which substitutes the word "stuff" for a more Anglo-Saxon word. Top of the Pops also sensibly cuts the film short before the line, "we'll go and get pissed," which would have been a bit strong for the slot between Tomorrow's World and Fame.

[35] Hot Chocolate: What Kind Of Boy You're Lookin' For (Girl). Isn't that a question? The correct title should be: What Kind Of Boy You're Lookin' For (Girl)? Mind you, it's already a nightmare (of punctuation)! Would a question mark be overkill? Hot Chocolate's keyboard player is wielding a melodica. A kind of breath-powered keyboard. The tube dangling out of his mouth makes him look like a musical Ood. POP LIE: Musical Ood were a popular band in the 1980's, their song Pass The Hindbrain (On The Left Hand Side) got to number 1.Director John Bishop is still searching for a way to put his mark on the programme. Just after the melodia instrumental he decides to cut to a Zoo dancer. She's doing robot dancing and pretending to look through a telescope. Not now John.

[5] Galaxy: Dancing Tight. I don't have a lot to say about Galaxy (although Phil Fearon pulls of a spectacular somersault halfway through the song) so let's talk about the new title sequence. It's the old records-falling-through-fog titles shown on a television screen,  which is itself falling through what looks like the Tom Baker Doctor Who titles. At the climax the screen explodes as if it's been overloaded by the musical energy contained within. It's slick but visually busy. The strength of the old titles was simplicity; records rushing towards the camera from an unknown source, intercut with the Top of the Pops logo. The old titles looked rough (the rapid cutting resulted in a flickering strobe effect which matched Yellow Pearl, the theme music) these look slick and professional (the television screen rotates very smoothly and could be an early use of motion control). The new titles aren't necessarily better or worse than the old ones but they have a different atmosphere. As with the change to the set, it makes the programme feel more like a proper studio-based television show. Professionalism isn't bad, but there's a sense that Top of the Pops is trying to loose some of the rough edges that Michael Hurll is worried get sniggered about when he's not in the BBC bar; and I like rough edges. I've got nothing to write about if Top of the Pops is just bands arriving to deliver a slick performance of their latest single, alternating with the latest hot music video.

[21] The Creatures: Miss The Girl. Speaking of rough edges. Here's The Creatures dutifully ploughing their own furrow. John Bishop's also off doing his own thing again. God bless him. He's decided to fill the marimba solo by lining up all the Zoo dancers on stage and shooting them in muted colour (Vision Mixer Heather Gilder has found a new button on the Quantel box). The camera zooms back between two lines of dancers who stare deep and wide-eyed into the lens. It's like the worlds worst line-up of Ron Mael impersonators at a Sparks convention. The first shot of this sequence is a close-up of the  Eidophor screen feeding back it's own output, for a second it looks like Top of the Pops is going to attempt a live-action re-enactment of the Patrick Troughton Doctor Who titles. The studio audience seem baffled by The Creatures. They're not bored but they stand facing the stage and it's clear they don't know how to react. It's not the kind of tune you can lazily sway your hips to.

[22] Men At Work: Overkill. According to Mike Read, Men At Work have flown in from Japan specially for Top of the Pops. Oh dear. It's not a bad song but it lacks the distinctive quality that made Down Under a hit.

[1] Spandau Ballet: True.  It's Agnetha from Abba. Luckily there's just time for one of Top of the Pops patented 30 second interviews. It's possible Tommy Vance's introduction takes up more time than Agnetha's replies; which are "why not?" and "it's called Wrap Your Arms Around Me."

[19] Kissing The Pink: The Last Film. Some things don't change. Top of the Pops ends with the credits playing over shots of the crowd and the audience cheerleaders dancing. There is no sign of  Will Gaines so maybe he was only allowed to appear with Modern Romance. Keep watching right to the end. The camera flashes past Mike Read jerking away to the tune, and looking and moving for all the world like Cliff Richard Junior from Thunderbirds Are Go.

19/05/1983 - Simon Bates: "It's 7.27. Welcome to studio 3 at Television Centre for a live Top of the Pops." Gary Davies: "We've got some great bands on the show tonight. We've got Wham!, Blancmange, The Fun Boy Three, and something very special for you as well if you are a football fan." Simon Bates: "And right now, disco's back, with D Train. This song's called Music and they've just flown in from the states with this."

Simon Bates at 7.29.34
[27] D Train: Music. Most of the Top of the Pops hosts have a unique selling point. John Peel and David Jensen have their double act; Peter Powell is in a permanent state of excitement; and a little of Steve Wright apparently goes a really long way (seriously, he hosted Top of the Pops three times in 1981, and twice in 1982 and 1983; he's obviously fallen out badly with Michael Hurll). Simon Bates has decided that his thing is accurately announcing the time. Thus we discover that tonight's episode of Top of the Pops began at 7.27, while the previous show hosted by Simon Bates began at 7.25. What time will June and August's live editions start? We'll just have to wait to find out. The first performance of a show normally takes place on the main Top of the Pops stage but unusually D Train are shunted off to a corner of the studio. There are presumably boring logistical problems with quietly setting up bands on stage in a live studio, but D Train have no equipment and only two singers. I can't work out why they couldn't be introduced on the main stage and then quietly shuffled off. Last year (22/07/1982) Top of the Pops set up a fake tennis court for The Brat, and then cleared it away while showing the video for Da Da Da. Are the scenery shifters on a work to rule? 
[3] New Edition: Candy Girl. On film, from various places around Boston. 
[34] David Grant: Stop & Go. David Grant has been put on the main stage. All by himself. He looks lost. The lingering long shots emphasise how much empty space is around him. Fortunately half a dozen dancers from Zoo invade the stage for the second half of the song and help fill up the area.

[10] Blancmange: Blind Vision. This is a live show and alternating between studio performances and video gives everyone a chance to catch their breath, and Simon Bates can check the time.

[5] The Beat: Can't Get Used To Losing You. This is turning into a very uneventful live show. One of Zoo's dancers lost their hat during a handspring-to-standing move while dancing behind David Grant, and that's the dramatic highlight. Gary Davies tries to help out by re-naming this song Can't Get Lused To Losing You but spoonerism aside nothing much happens during The Beat's first visit to the Top of the Pops studio since the 1981 Christmas Day edition. I am getting concerned about the light pole at the left stage front. It's really wobbling a lot.

[12] Wham! Bad Boys. On video. "Dear Mummy, Dear Daddy/Now I'm nineteen as you see/I'm handsome, tall, and strong," sings the nineteen year old George Michael who also wrote the lyrics. 
[38] JoBoxers: Just Got Lucky. "13 minutes to 8," says Simon Bates for any fans of time who are just tuning in. (John – Yay, one of my favourite times!) We see a close-up of a record cover; The Seagulls, The Goldstone Rap. It has a football team on the cover. Ugh, this is the "something special," Gary Davies promised any watching football fans. What's it going to be? Chas & Dave singing about Tottenham? A preview of the England 1983 World Cup song? It's actually a long -by Top of the Pops standards- interview with assorted members of Brighton and Hove Albion. They are playing against Manchester United in the Cup Final on Saturday (Grandstand (BBC1) 11am The Final 3pm, as an overlaid caption helpful reminds viewers). Not to be rude to D Train but this seems like a better song to open the show. (John- Here’s a random JoBoxers factette – Several of them had previously been in a group called Subway Sect) 
NME - JoBoxers, Boxing and, er, Randy Newman
[20] Yazoo: Nobody's Diary. Yazoo seem to have split within a few days of this live performance which must have made the follow-up appearance on the 02/06/1983 edition unbearably awkward.

[7] The Fun Boy Three: Our Lips Are Sealed. Yazoo, are followed by a band formed in the wake of The Special's splitting in a dressing room at Top of the Pops. Something happens off camera just as the second chorus begins. It's not clear what, but one of the guitarists laughs and, as the camera pulls back, Terry Hall is looking round and cracks a smile. (John- Terry Hall? A smile?? Surely some mistake?)

[1] Spandau Ballet: True. It looks like Top of the Pops is going to play out to the promo film, again, but then as the credits roll we fade back to the studio where all the Zoo dancers are -gasp- slow dancing together. After Michael Hurll’s credit (this week he's listed as Production, last week it was Executive Producer) we fade back to the film.

Michael Hurll for a day. An intermittent feature in which I play around with the running order of Top of the Pops.


Michael Hurll                 

[27] D Train: Music

[3] New Edition: Candy Girl [video]

[34] David Grant: Stop & Go

[10] Blancmange: Blind Vision [video]

[5] The Beat: Can't Get Used To Losing You

[12] Wham! Bad Boys [video]

[38] JoBoxers: Just Got Lucky

[20] Yazoo: Nobody's Diary

[7] The Fun Boy Three: Our Lips Are Sealed

[1] Spandau Ballet: True



Me
[38] JoBoxers: Just Got Lucky
[3] New Edition: Candy Girl [video]
[20] Yazoo: Nobody's Diary
[10] Blancmange: Blind Vision [video]

[27] D Train: Music
[12] Wham! Bad Boys [video]

[5] The Beat: Can't Get Used To Losing You

[34] David Grant: Stop & Go

[7] The Fun Boy Three: Our Lips Are Sealed

[1] Spandau Ballet: True


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