Top of the Pops 1979 4.10.79

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby
Kid Jensen. "Hi. It's time to look, and listen to the music. This week with a touch of Madness."
Chart music: Madness, The Prince [16].
XTC: Making Plans For Nigel [42]. Nobody has risk assessed XTC's drum set up. The poor drummer must keep twisting his back to strike the gong which has been thoughtlessly placed right behind him. Making plans for Nigel? You should be making plans for the onset of repetitive strain injury.

Blondie: Dreaming [2]. Oh my God. This episode of Top of the Pops is turning into a health and safety nightmare. The multi-level scaffolding behind Blondie in this promo film has been overloaded. There are no safety rails and yet people are being allowed to stand up and dance. Sure, everyone's having a lovely time right now, but what happens if it all goes Pink Floyd concert?
Matumbi: Point Of View [54]. The lead singer of Matumbi decides to liven up the musical interlude with a spirited rubber snake attack on the guitarist.
Buggles: Video Killed The Radio Star [6]. Ironically Buggles appear on video. It's weird to see a great song married to a video which looks so amateurish. It looks like Trever Horn's half-finished art school project. A mass of conflicting ideas, none of which gel; a small child sits tuning a radio in front of a moonlit ocean; the cheapest looking CSO explosions this side of Blake's 7; overlaid, bleached out, footage of Trevor Horn; a keyboard player in the standard issue music video white void; and that's the opening verse. In the second verse the small child is cross-faded into a woman who looks a bit like Dee D. Jackson wearing a futuristic grey body stocking. Excitement! Is the fabulous robot from the Automatic Lover video about to appear? Sadly not but for some reason the woman is flown on kirby wires into a giant perspex test tube, and out again.

Video Killed The Radio Star- apparently the first video shown on MTV

Sad Café: Every Day Hurts [21]. A song, there.
Squeeze: Slap And Tickle [24]. Oh. It's a bad Squeeze song. I didn't think such a thing existed. The frenzied drum breaks give Vision Mixer Angela Wilson the chance to play with the Quantel DPE 5000's strobe effect.
Kate Bush: Them Heavy People [11]. Legs & Co dance around in their nighties to Kate Bush. Flick Colby has seized on the lyric "them heavy people hit me in a soft spot," and makes Legs & Co clutch at their stomachs. The end result is more yoghurt commercial for people feeling clogged and listless than Kate Bush's intended meditation on the nature of religious teaching.
Rainbow: Since You've Been Gone [8]. Still angry.
The Jags: Back Of My Hand [27]. A fun little song. This time The Jags make it all the way through the performance without anything falling over.
Lena Martell: One Day At A Time [28]. "A lot of variety in the charts this week," says Kid Jensen before going on to introduce Lena Martell singing a cover of this gospel style country and western song. Lena Martell has been abandoned to her fate by the production team who put her unprotected on an podium surrounded by the audience. Astonishingly a Lord Of The Flies style scenario is avoided and the kids instead give Lena Martell a genuine round of applause at the end of the song.
Number 1: The Police, Message In A Bottle. Wow, Cars didn't stay at number one for very long. The Police, along with Boney M, are the first bands where I remember making a link between the group and the song. Before that songs had been individual islands. I might like each separate Blondie or Abba song when I heard it but I didn't make the connection between the song I was listening to, and the wider body of work. The Police came along at that point where I moved from saying "I like this song" to "I like this group" and understood the difference between the two statements. There's no real point to this self-indulgent psychoanalysis, it's just something I thought I'd mention.

Closing titles: Nick Lowe, Cruel To Be Kind but before the show's over there is some light tomfoolery from Kid Jensen. Standing next to a figure with his back to the camera Kid Jensen says, "well next week it's a new face to present Top of the Pops it's..." and the figure turns round apparently revealing Andrew Lloyd Webber's better looking brother. Actually it's Andy Peebles.

Performance of the week. All the really good songs this week were by bands who didn't come into the studio so I'm choosing The Jags: Back Of My Hand.

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