24/04/2020

Top of the Pops 28 Mar 1985


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Out of the blue a mystery commenter put this link https://mega.nz/folder/h0snQACa#uiNNqosfbdrfzODHsE1clw under the Top of the Pops for 14/03/1985. I think the appropriate expression is; cripes! Or possibly, “My God. It's full of [pop] stars.” Opening that folder makes me feel like Dave Bowman going beyond the infinite, but I'm holding off  on evolving into a big space baby; although I do feel a sixth finger coming on. In summary, thanks mystery commenter. Mind you, I'd better pick up the pace. In the real world it's 19th April, and I haven't even put the dinner on yet. Peter Powell: “[in media res, as all the cool kids say]...the biggest party in Britain! It's Top of the Pops!” Mike Smith: “yes we have a line-up to beat all line-ups tonight. We have Alison Moyet, Tears for Fears, and joining us from their sell out tour, the highest new entry this week on the charts, welcome Frankie Goes to Hollywood.” 
[5] Frankie Goes to Hollywood: Welcome To The Pleasuredome. Top of the Pops has rules; no band back two weeks in a row unless they are number one; feature the highest climber; and no singles going down the chart. Less obvious restrictions include the one keeping members of the production team out of shot as much as possible (which results in camera operators scuttling around and crouching in a way the frequently makes my back ache in sympathy). One other “rule” I've noticed is that presenters are paired so one is “senior” (don't worry, I'll stop doing “this” in a minute). John Peel gets top billing with Janice Long. Mike Read trumps Steve Wright. Simon Bates is first out of... whoever is unfortunate enough to be in the same studio as Simon Bates.
How does that work tonight? Logically Peter Powell should be the senior host. He's been doing this since 1977. Except that Mike Smith is Mr 1985. The man of the moment. He's hosting 16 shows this year; compared to Peter Powell's 14. The only reason Mike Smith doesn't present even more is that he's spread all over the BBC -Live Aid, Breakfast Time, Children's Royal Variety Performance, The Noel Edmonds Late Late Breakfast Show, he even gets a go at hosting the Radio 1 Breakfast Show when Mike Read goes off for a few weeks at the end of June (and he'll take it over in 1986). So, who's senior out of this pair? Will it be a partnership of equals, or egos at ten paces?
Meanwhile, here's Frankie. The band of 1984. It's an understated performance by their standards. Holly Johnson looks like a top-heavy egg timer in a black uniform that flares wildly at the shoulders, is pulled in tight at the waist and then flares again into jodhpurs; plus peaked-cap, and gold braiding and piping. The rest of the band are sensibly dressed in black long-legged singlets. This produces a good laugh at the start of the performance as the camera pulls back across the stage. We see the band looking like they are all about to warm up for a drama class, before we catch sight of Holly Johnson dressed as the generalissimo of a particularly unstable dictatorship.


[2] Alison Moyet: That Old Devil Called Love. Two studio performances in a row. That's unusual. The running order for the start of the show has been studio performance, video, studio performance for several years now. I think you have to go all the way back to early 1981, before videos become common, to find the last pair of back-to-back studio performances. Alison Moyet's song is still lovely and well performed, and I still don't like it much. (Fact John- The song was written in 1944. Not by Alison Moyet, obviously, but by Alan Roberts and Doris Fisher.)

Top 40 Breakers: [33] The Damned, Grimly Fiendish; [31] The Cool Notes, Spend The Night; [26] King, Won't You Hold My Hand Now; [24] David Grant/Jaki Graham, Could It Be I'm Falling In Love.

[16] Tears For Fears: Everybody Wants To Rule The World. The introduction sounds odd as it's played behind Peter Powell blathering away. There's what sounds like a clunking great edit from the (all music terms following these brackets are best guesses) noodling guitar bit of the introduction to the other bit of the introduction which leads into the first verse. Listening to the song proper, the transition is actually fairly abrupt but it's covered by a drum riff and it's the drum which is missing in the Top of the Pops version. I don't actually know how miming works on Top of the Pops. In the bad old days of the Top of the Pops orchestra you ended up with bands singing over weird approximations of their songs, but those days are almost five years gone. Did drummer Manny Elias miss his cue before playing live, or does everyone just mime over a pre-recorded track; meaning what sounds like an edit is just the result of poor sound mixing in the television studio? 

[10] Nick Kershaw: Wide Boy. So, how are Mike Smith and Peter Powell getting on? They're great mates. They share a bit of banter before the Top 40, with Mike Smith jogging on the spot as preparation for “running down the charts,” and he's still all giddy and excited afterwards. His post-chart comment seems to wrong foot Peter Powell a little, but it's difficult to make out because it's muffled under pre-recorded cheers and applause the sound of the audience having a really amazing time. Mike Smith: “It's going to be so exciting, Peter Powell's video is on soon.” Peter Powell: “If you want! [self-conscious grin] I'll tell you what is though, the Top 10 best videos!”
Is Smitty light heartedly-referring to something which happened on the most recent series of Oxford Road Show (or ORS 85, as the BBC trendily rebranded the 1985 series). Did Peter Powell have some kind of terrible Lulu the Elephant moment? Or is Smitty referring to plans for a VHS version of Peter Powell's 1982 LP (yes, LP) called Keep Fit And Dance With Peter Powell*

[9] Stephen “Tintin” Duffy: Kiss Me.

[8] Go West: We Close Our Eyes. This episode has no performances outside of the Top 10, and the last performance of a song outside of the Top 20 was a month ago; Stephen Tin Tin Duffy with Kiss Me [22], 28/02/1985. Top of the Pops started 1985 with Police Officer by Smiley Culture [34] followed by Sal Solo [37]. January suddenly seems a long time ago. The Top 40 Breakers have removed the need to dip into the lower reaches of the chart. Why take a risk on featuring an unknown or underperforming single when you can highlight three in the same length of time as a studio performance? The Top 40 Breakers have already proved their worth by propelling Dead Or Alive to number 1. Is this restriction to the Top 20 a new trend or a result of the acts available to come into the studio? There's only one way to find out; wait.

[7] Madonna, Material Girl; [6] Jermaine Jackson, Do What You Do; [5] Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Welcome To The Pleasure Dome; [4] Paul Young, Everytime You Go Away.

[3] Sarah Brightman & Paul Miles-Kingston; Pie Jesu. Smitty's cryptic video reference becomes clear, as he describes Pie Jesu as featuring Sarah Brightman and Peter Powell.  Steve Wright made the same crack on the 21/03/1985 edition so this must have been a hilarious running gag at the time.

Alison Moyet, That Ole Devil Called Love. But that's not all. Peter Powell is ready with a zinger of his own, renaming Alison Moyet to “Alison Smith!” They really are great pop mates.

[1] Philip Bailey & Phil Collins, Easy Lover. The banter continues. Mike Smith refers to the number one song as “greasy lover” and calls next week's hosts (Simon Bates & Richard Skinner) “the two stooges.” An apparently unscripted remark which has the astonishing power to scrub the perma-grin right off Peter Powell's face. You're going to be unpopular you are!” smirks Powell when he recovers.

[18] Bruce Springsteen: Cover Me. Audience dancing and credits.



* “An Album to help you take** shape and have fun while you’re doing it”.

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