Top of the Pops 79: 2/8/79

Shown on BBC4 / Reviewed by Chris Arsnby

Peter Powell. "Hi-ya! It's Thursday, we've got the music if you've got the time! Here's Top of the Pops, the charts, and The Dooleys!"
Chart music: The Dooleys: Wanted [3].

Sham 69: Hersham Boys [23]. Trousers off, birds! It's the Hersham hard men! There are two problems with this song. One, the Hersham boys are described as wearing corduroys not an item of clothing for alienated urban youth even in the dark days of 1979. Two, Hersham is a village in Surrey. Even Jimmy Pursey's determined Mockney dropping of the letter H will never make 'ersham sound like South Central Los Angeles.
Sham 69 were unsure where the audience was


Olympic Runners: The Bitch [37]. Here's a small mystery. The 1979 BBC VT Christmas tape Good King Memorex includes a mock introduction to Nationwide which lists unsuitable subjects for the early evening current affairs programme ("Lust/Thrust/Knickers/Knockers/Tits etc"). These captions are matched with an appropriate clip and for Tits the unknown videotape editor has chosen a clip of Peter Powell presenting Top of the Pops (in fact detailed forensic analysis has confirmed that the clip is Peter Powell's link here from Sham 69 into the Olympic Runners.) Was Peter Powell not popular with the BBC VT department for some reason?

The Korgis: If I Had You [13]. This blog's cruel overseer gave me a rap on the knuckles last week for my ideologically unsound comments on The Korgis. I shall refrain from commenting on their second performance to avoid a trip to Room 101 (this week for one night only featuring The Dooleys).

ABBA: Voulez-Vous [5]. A second outing for the promo film.

B.A. Robertson: Bang Bang [44]. I've only heard of B.A. Robertson in the context of his rubbish version of the Swap Shop theme, and I Wanna Be a Winner the song he wrote for Noel Edmonds, Maggie Philbin, and Keith Chegwin as the band Brown Sauce. With this said it's odd for me to see him in his natural habitat. First impressions are mixed. The chorus of Bang Bang is great but the verse sounds like a sub par Ian Dury impression. Is this going to be one of those songs I end up changing my opinion on?

Dave Edmunds: Girls Talk [4]. Cut from the edition I watched. A money saving measure or did my box record the edited early evening version by mistake?

Earth, Wind & Fire: After The Love Has Gone [26]. Malcolm Thornton has designed an elaborate beach set for this Legs & Co routine allowing them to dance barefoot on actual sand.

Sparks: Beat The Clock [10]. Looks like I chose the wrong week to give up psilocybin. As Ron Mael turns his gaze again to the Top of the Pops studio, vision mixer Chris Gage decides it would be a great idea to mix in lots of rapidly cut footage of clocks; with all the clocks shown in negative images just to make for a more hideous visual clash. That just makes it worse Chris Gage. That just makes it worse.

The Special AKA: Gangsters [41]. I'm oddly stumped about what to say. It's The Specials. You know. Coventry. 2 Tone. Ghost Town. Fun Boy Three. The Specials. What I remember most about Ghost Town was how haunting it was, and that quality is also present on Gangsters thanks to Terry Hall's vocals and the echo applied to them. I think what stopped me appreciating the group at the time was that I found their songs a little creepy. Whereas I would have followed Madness into the very jaws of hell.

Darts: Duke Of Earl [22]. Also cut from the edition I recorded. Evidentially I need to have a chat with my HDR.

The Gibson Brothers: Ooh! What A Life [30]. The title of this song looks wrong written down. It should be Oh! What A Life. Writing the first word as Ooh! makes the title sound like something  Duncan "Chase me" Norvelle would say.

Number One: The Boomtown Rats: I Don’t Like Mondays. I've realised that I spent years misunderstanding the lyrics to this song. I always heard the chorus as a complete question, "tell me why I don't like Mondays?" Rather than a question and an answer, "tell me why? I don't like Mondays." The other thing I've remembered is how oddly shocking I found the lines "and the lesson today is how to die," and "what reason do you need to die?" Apparently I didn't find death an appropriate subject for pop songs when I was younger.
Closing titles: Patrick Hernandez, Born To Be Alive. Now with an additional credit for Electronic Effects for Dave Chapman.

Performance of the week: The Special AKA: Gangsters

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