Top of the Pops 14 May 1981

Shown on BBC4. Watched by Chris Arnsby
"ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?" That depends who's asking. This enigmatic question rumbles out over the spinning Top of the Pops logo that stands in for a title sequence these days. This is followed by a close-up of the Eidophor screen and a mysterious caption "Special CUP FINAL Edition" Special eh? Is it going to be longer, or have more exciting guests, or will the number one slot be decided on penalties? If only someone could tell us.
Tommy Vance: "Hi everybody. Good evening and welcome to Top of the Pops! We have 19 minutes together tonight. It's gonna have to be as fast as a parachute jump. And we start off with Thin Lizzy. Are you ready?19 minutes? What happened? The Cup Final replay between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur happened. The two teams drew last Saturday. BBC1 had to tear up it's carefully composed schedule (17.55 Nationwide, 18.55 Tomorrow's World, 19.20 Top of the Pops, 20.00 Are You Being Served?, 20.30 Butterflies) and replace it with almost two and a half hours of football. Top of the Pops was squeezed into a truncated slot after Nationwide at 18.55. Also, it's four weeks after the last BBC4 edition. D*ve L** Tr*v*s presented the programme on 23/04/1981, J**** S***** on 30/04/1981, and the *e*e* *o*e** -sorry, that should be Peter Powell- edition on 07/05/1981 no longer exists in broadcast quality. Something to do with it being a live edition which was recorded wrong when some silly sausage pressed the wrong button (John - apologies for the tech talk here) and muted all Peter Powell's links. 

Thin Lizzy: Are You Ready? [24]. We crack on with Thin Lizzy. Not their best song but a reasonable choice to open the show. BBC issue thunderflashes go off a safe distance behind the band and add a touch of drama.
Sheena Easton: When He Shines [23]. A repeat from the 30/04/1981 edition, not shown on BBC4. It's seems like a cheapskate move to play a repeat in such a short show. Surely there was a band moving up the charts who could have come into the studio? There's probably some obscure BBC requirement for 15-20% of each Top of the Pops to be repeats in order to reduce costs. It doesn't help that this is a dull song, and so boringly presented. "This man's a child/This man is old." Fascinating, do go on. "Sometimes he's mild/Sometimes he's bold." Astonishing. Sometimes is he hot, and sometimes cold? Is he perhaps also fresh, but occasionally covered in mould?
Department S: Is Vic There? [22] I told you last week. He isn't.
Kim Carnes: Bette Davies Eyes [20]. Seriously, you're going to play a video now? There are six songs in tonight's show. And frankly it's been a dog so far. A past their prime Thin Lizzy, a boring Sheena Easton song, and Department S doing whatever the hell it is that they think they're doing. Look at the charts for this week. Toyah has just released I Want To Be Free and it's gone in at 37. Let's see if she can pop into the studio. Or what about The Human League going up to 27, give them a call. Fine. Play Kim Carnes if you must. The video is directed by Russell Mulcahy. He also directed the videos for Vienna and Musclebound.(John- This song was actually written in 1974 and has been covered by Kylie Minogue and Taylor Swift and whatever Chris says I love it.)
Tenpole Tudor: Swords Of A Thousand Men [10]. Tenpole Tudor save the day with an energetic and thoroughly enjoyable performance of the theme song from The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! Why wasn't this the first song of the show? (John- I actually remember this when it was broadcast on that May day in 1981 and after hearing this song I realised there were songs I could dance to after all! And later that week I did. Fantastic memories, fantastic song!)
Top Ten Countdown: One thing I haven't mentioned is the weird cultural whiplash caused by BBC4 jumping a month's worth of Top of the Pops in one go. It's not just that songs have disappeared from the charts, it's that they have been replaced by follow-up singles which have apparently risen without a trace. Straight in at number 9 according to BBC4 is Kim Wilde's next single; Kids In America is long gone granddad. At 8 is Chas & Dave's ghastly song Ossie’s Dream. Bucks Fizz have been dethroned, and This Ole House has been demolished (boom! boom!). Oh, the chart presentation has changed again, it's back to a spinning number to show the position.
Number One: Adam & The Ants, Stand & Deliver. Adam Ant does not make a convincing highwayman. Look at the way he waves that gun around. He's lucky no one wrestles him to the ground and hands him over for the reward money. Gape in awe at the clumsy edit, presumably for reasons of time, which allows Top of the Pops to end on abbreviated credits; only Michael Hurll and Director Gorden Elsbury get mentioned this week.
Performance of the week: Tenpole Tudor: Swords Of A Thousand Men

1 comment:

  1. Here's an idea; if the only problem with the 07/05/1981 live edition recording is that Peter Powell's links are muted, then couldn't a couple of lipreaders reach a consensus on what he's saying, and then get Powell in to overdub said links?