Top of the Pops 24 Sept 1981

Top of the Pops 1981 currently on BBC4 and being watched by Chris Arnsby (and presumably others)

Simon Bates: "Just 35 minutes away from Britain's number one. Welcome to Top of the Pops with a good loud start from Slade. Right over here."

Slade: Lock Up Your Daughters [45]. I was going to speculate on how many years it has been since Slade were on Top of the Pops but its actually only been seven months. They were last on in February singing We'll Bring The House Down. Shortly before the start of the Joe Dolce Music Theatre's reign of terror. Noddy Holder is on fine Tom Baker style eye-bulging form and this is a song which deserved to do better than the number 29 it reached. Vision Mixer Carol Abbott and the camera crew (Top of the Pops has started crediting the Senior Cameraman, this week it's Geoff Feld) are on fine form, and capture some nice images; the best being a shot of the drummer through the guitarist's legs (the one that's not Noddy Holder or Dave Hill... I'm going out on a limb and guessing Dave Lea).
Slade: Lock Up Your Daughters. Clearly an instruction that was not followed by many.

Alvin Stardust: Pretend [5]. "Now ask your mum, or even your grandparents maybe, about Nat King Cole and they'll tell you he had a great hit called Pretend." Pretend was released in 1953 and it's presumably because Radio 1 DJs were meant to exist in a state of eternal youth that Mr Born-In-1946-Bates tells the audience to bother their impossibly aged parents -or grandparents, rather than telling us what he remembers. Alvin Stardust's version is repeated from the BBC4 skipped 10/09/1981 J*mmy S*v*l* edition. It's fine but Lance Andrews -who was in charge of Sound that week- keeps fading up the studio microphones so Alvin often seems to be competing with lot of audience chatter. It makes him sound more like a pub singer performing an Alvin Stardust tribute to a disinterested audience.

Depeche Mode: Just Can't Get Enough [24]. Anticipation. Will Simon Bates called the group Depeché Mode? Yes he will. Effortlessly annunciating whatever the heck the letter é is called and seemingly unaware that in 2016 he will be mocked for his BBC received pronunciation. The group's called Depech Mode not Depech-ey Mode. Who do you think you are? Wallace Greenslade? I'll bet Simon Bates also refers to his video recorder as a vid-a-o recorder like some Latin swot. Meanwhile, a round of applause for the familiar video effect standby- dividing the screen into quarters and applying a strobe effect. This now seems to have become the official BBC Quantel visual for electronic music. It was last seen accompanying Soft Cell and Tainted Love.

Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin: It's My Party [36]. John Bishop is making a determined effort to get his presence noticed as Director. Top of the Pops started tonight with Noddy Holder yelling and now we smash cut straight from the end of Just Can't Get Enough to a gong being struck, before cross-fading to Simon Bates who announces It's My Party as the introduction plays. Is John Bishop plotting to take over Top of the Pops from Michael Hurll? Are these look-at-me-editing tricks the first plays in a coup d'television? Simon Bates describes the song thus, "and here's a gentleman called Dave Stewart who specialises in making oldies sound like something out of 1981." TIME MAKES FOOLS OF US ALL FACT: The gap between the writing of It's My Party in 1962 and its sound of 1981 remix is smaller than the gap between now and 1981.

Linx: So This Is Romance [18]. Another repeat from the 0/09/1981 edition.

Diana Ross & Lionel Richie: Endless Love [7]. Lulu is joined by Jeremy (John: Jeremy Corbyn?) for a shameful display of mixed dancing. The rest of Legs & Co have been given the week off.

Japan: Quiet Life [39]. Back at the start of the show, just before the end of Lock Up Your Daughters, the camera pulls back to show -right at the edge of the screen- someone dressed a lot like the lead singer of Japan watching Slade's performance. The low low resolution of 625 line videotape makes it hard to tell if this fuzzy blob is David Sylvian or Vince Clarke (probably) of Depeche Mode but as the blob appears to be wearing a tie I'm going out on a limb and naming David Sylvian a secret Slade fan. Slade don't return the compliment and watch Japan.

Heaven 17: Play To Win [52]. More showoffy editing. At the end of Quiet Life we cut to a  blurred picture which snaps into focus over the start of Play To Win. Then it's back to Simon Bates who again announces the song over the introduction. John Bishop is coming for you Michael Hurll. Cutting between songs like this is great, and makes the whole show seem like a seamless event, but it must make it hard to pull out songs for repeats.  They'll be missing their introductions. Heaven 17 get a big cheer from the audience. Were they really that popular or did something keep going wrong. A big cheer like this is often the audience acknowledging a successful take after several failures.

Imagination: In & Out Of Love [21]. For no obvious reason there's a big gold harp at the side of the stage. Leee John absent-mindedly paws at the harp during the musical break when a xylophone is playing. Nobody is fooled.

Madness: Shut Up [22]. While Simon Bates is yammering on (and having trouble explaining to the watching audience what a top twenty countdown is, and how it works) keep an eye on the girl to his left. She's got a drumstick from somewhere but now she needs to scratch her nose. She rests the drumstick on her lap but she's jostled by the two blokes on either side of her and the drumstick falls on the floor with a thump. There's a brief look down at the lost memento and then she grins; easy come easy go. Madness are on film, and brilliant. This is a song which -as a nine year old philistine- taught me that verses could do more than just fill the space between catchy choruses. I remember being amazed to discover jokes packed into the lines of this song "I'm as honest as the day is long/The longer the daylight, the less I do wrong."

Number One: Adam & The Ants, Prince Charming. Adam Ant is gamely doing all own stunts again. Good for him. Watch his slightly panicked expression on the big chandelier swing, particularly as he's just about to let go. 

Closing Titles: The Police, Invisible Sun [9]. Top of the Pops plays out with stills from The Police's photo album. An internet search reveals that the BBC banned the video because it contained images from Northern Ireland but if that's the case then why trawl through Sting's summer snaps? Why not just play out with the usual scenes of audience dancing? Did someone wanted to draw attention to the ban by pointedly not showing the video?

Performance of the week: Depeche Mode: Just Can't Get Enough

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