Top of the Pops 13 Oct 1983

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: "It's Thursday evening welcome to Top of the Pops!" Richard Skinner: "What a show we've got for you tonight. Siouxsie and the Banshees, Tracey Ullman, Lydia Murdock and much more!" Peter Powell: "And to start with here's Roman Holiday with Motor! Mania!"

[47] Roman Holliday: Motormania. In September John wrote an enthusiastic article about Roman Holliday (John- Check to your right..) and it would take a better man than me to come in and micturate all over his deep-fried potato batons. (John – You’ve made up that word haven’t you?) I'm not familiar with Roman Holliday. Apparently they appeared on Top of the Pops earlier in 1983 performing Don't Try To Stop It but I don't remember the song. In fact looking at the running order of the 07/07/1983 edition (John Peel and David Jensen dressed as gangsters) the whole show has left an indelible blank on my memory; The Mary Jane Girls?; Jimmy The Hoover? You'd think I'd remember someone called Jimmy The Hoover. This was during This Way Up's summer interregnum but I did keep watching Top of the Pops (honest). Anyway, Motormania. It's good. (John- it’s great!) It feels like a logical extension of the Rockabilly revival which produced up groups like The Stray Cats and The Polecats; and probably some other bands which didn't feature the word cat in their name.

[2] Tracy Ullman: They Don't Know. Peter Powell enthuses, "here's one of the best videos of the year!" It's all right. At the end it has a cameo from that bloke who doubled for Paul McCartney in The Beatles after November 1966.

[12] Black Lace: Superman (Gioca Jouer). Black Lace. The very name sends a shiver up the spine. Richard Skinner enthuses less than Peter Powell about,"a record that is a sensation in the clubs." Yes. I'm sure everyone had a wild time doing the assorted poses but it's a lousy song and by the third repetition of the limited range of movements it makes for boring television. It's the equivalent of listening to your neighbour have a party when you have to get up early. Everyone over there is having fun (or at least presenting an acceptable simulation of the human emotion) but it's not transferable. The only jolly moment of the whole grinding spectacle comes at the end when the camera pulls back to reveal Peter Powell determinedly not joining in. We have actually reached the outer limits of his reserves of enthusiasm. "That's Black Lace a big hit. For them." He says while trying to remember what combination of muscles make a smile. I've not seen this low energy Peter Powell since he had to introduce the St. Winifred's Girls School Choir while looking like his soul had just died.
(John - And now because we know you want to try this at home, here's genuine instructions on how to do the Superman dance. Sometimes, we're like a public service dontcha think?)

[3] Siouxsie & The Banshees: Dear Prudence. On video. From Venice. A video slathered in video effects until it becomes bad for the eyes.

[7] George Benson: In Your Eyes. Also on video. This is quite a video heavy episode. Are all the good bands unavailable because they're preparing their Christmas singles? Is that how Black Lace could sneak in and stink up the performance space?

[37] Bucks Fizz: London Town. There's three people on stage and an empty chair. Where's Bobby G? Have Bucks Fizz split and become a three-piece band? No, a quick rewind reveals Bobby G lurking behind a piece of scaffolding before strolling on stage. I'm sure in everyone's heads this was a moody and dramatic piece of staging to match the gritty tone of the song but it just looks a bit naff. And what's going on in the audience? Two of the cheerleaders are rocking backwards and forwards as if they're trying to get the crowd to sway, but no one else is joining in. All the cheerleaders are doing is barging into people and drawing attention to themselves; although come to think of it, that's pretty much their job description.

[30] Lydia Murdock: Superstar (Billie Jean). This song confused me. Why does it have Billie Jean in the title in brackets? Is it something to do with Michael Jackson's song released earlier in 1983? Why does the tune sound like a karaoke version of Billy Jean played on a cheap Bontempi keyboard? Wikipedia tells me its an answer song. This doesn't really help but apparently it's something kids do these days.

[16] Lionel Richie: All Night Long (All Night). And another video. When the guy in the overalls leaps over the railing and sinks to the floor in a complicated hurdle split, he looks like he's suffered a complicated workplace accident. Also, I can't help feeling they've missed a trick on the cop's entrance. He stands there looking all fierce, and then walks down the stairs. He should really do a back-flip.

[1] Culture Club:  Karma Chameleon. One last video to finish. Five of the nine songs on tonight's show have been videos which must be a high water mark.

[25] Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson: Say Say Say. On the subject of videos, Wikipedia tells me the video for this song wasn't ready by the time it charted, and by the time it was the song was slipping down the charts. Top of the Pops refused to play the video and to avoid upsetting Paul McCartney the compromise was for it to air on Michael Hurll's other show The Late Late Breakfast Show. The result was a tremendously awkward interview which can be seen on Youtube. It's anyone's guess as to how true this is, but Mr McCartney can't have been too upset. I remember him returning to The Late Late Breakfast Show to introduce the video's for Spies Like Us, and (gasp) We All Stand Together.

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