10/03/2019

Top of the Pops 1 Mar 1984


Watched by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Hello and welcome to another Top of the Pops, and in this week's programme I can promise you nothing French. No French farmers. No French truck drivers. And no French football." David Jensen: Merci mon ami rhythmic. Et maintenant c'est Matt Bianco avec la mélodie Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed."
[17] Matt Bianco: Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed. Top of the Pops is broadcasting from another emergency strike studio. A smaller one. Last week's studio had three stages, this one only has two. Belts are being tightened.  John Peel's anti-French rant is due to France's 2-0 victory over England at the Parc de Princes stadium on Wednesday, rather than too much time spent listening to Mike Read in the Radio 1 canteen.
Mention of the Wednesday football raises the question, is this edition live? There's no reason why it shouldn't be. BBC Genome certainly thinks so, and John Peel and David Jensen are normally given the live shows, but it's unusual for the hosts not to mention the live status. I don't know if disruption from the Scenic Services workers strike could have caused a shift to pre-recording the show. The link from John Peel and David Jensen's introduction to Matt Bianco makes the show look pre-recorded (it's a cut from the hosts to the band via a Quantel effect where a live show would normally try and do a seamless camera move) but this could simply be a limitation of the studio space.
Incidentally, the French for Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed is Sortez de Votre Lit Paresseux.


[20] Van Halen: Jump. A song written to show off David Lee Roth's impressive jumping ability. POP-LIE! David Lee Roth can launch himself up to 200 times his own body length while searching for a new host for his brand of commercial hard rock. (Fact John- David Lee Roth directed the promotional video)
 
[35] Alexei Sayle: Ullo John Gotta New Motor? A sneaky re-release before series 2 of The Young Ones appears on BBC2 in May 1984. Alexei Sayle's performance is a bravura physical display mixing elements of modern contemporary dance, mime, and the dying fly from TISWAS. Frankly just watching it was exhausting.
[30] Soft Cell: Down In The Subway. On video and edited out of the BBC4 repeat. I can't see an obvious reason for the edit. (John- It depends what happens in the subway) The video is on Youtube and one copy even includes John Peel and David Jensen's outro from the song:
John Peel: "That's Down In The Subway. Yet another farewell disc from Soft Cell."
David Jensen: "Yes, so they say..."
Nothing too contentious there. The video is high contrast black and white, with some flickering images. Could it have been taken out due to Photosensitive epilepsy concerns?
The editing out of Soft Cell contributes to the erroneous feeling that this was a pre-recorded programme. The cut from Alexei Sayle to David Jensen in full conversational flow feels edited. It is of course, but the edit isn't of the same vintage as the programme.
[11] Break Machine: Street Dance. "...I reckon this next item's going to make your eyes water," is how David Jensen continues his truncated link into Break Machine. It's a good performance but not a great one due to the restricted camera work. Three cameras capture Break Machine's performance, two cranes and a hand held camera. It's only the hand held camera that can get a full head to toe shot of Break Machine dancing, and that camera is stationary at one corner of the stage; a decision which surely misses the point of using a hand held camera? Ironically Break Machine's performance comes across as a bit sedate. The hand held camera needs to be more mobile, as it was for Alexei Sayle which helped convey the manic energy of his performance. Maybe the problem here is having to cope with three performers instead of one?
Top of the Pops has always been reluctant to show camera operators if it can be avoided. One of the interesting things about these strike editions has been the slight relaxing of that standard, so that we've seen more of the technical crew dashing around to capture shots. It's a shame that those standards couldn't be relaxed a little further for Break Machine. I'm sure the audience could have coped with seeing a camera operator moving into a shot if the result was more exciting footage.
[42] Wang Chung: Dance Hall Days. I always thought the chorus was "dance all day", not "dance hall days". An example of what the cool kids call a mondegreen. Named after a misheard lyric from a song called The Bonny Earl of Murray in which "laid him on the green" was misheard as "Lady Mondegreen." Try again Wang Chung. Dance Huh-all Days. Really aspirate those huh sounds. (John- My favourite mondegreen was in Madonna’s `La Isla Bonita` wherein she appears to describe “a girl with eyes like potatoes.”)

[10] Slade: Run Runaway. On video with kilts, tartan, cabers, marching bagpipes bands and that Highland Fling electric guitar sound made trendy by Big Country. And where was this feast of Scotishness recorded. Brigadoon, surely? What? Eastnor Castle in Hertfordshire? Jings!
[1] Nena: 99 Red Balloons: Phew! A new song has topped the charts. Top of the Pops can once again acknowledge the existence of an integer between 2 and -1 (zero isn't a number). This is a repeat of Nena's performance from the 16/02/1984 edition, something made obvious by the way Top of the Pops is suddenly being broadcast from a completely different studio.
[38] Julia & Company: Breakin’ Down (Sugar Samba). Audience dancing and credits. Watch out for Break Machine who've decided to stick around and dance out the show with the crowd. That's good of them. You don't see Wang Chung mingling with the hoi polloi do you?
Performance of the week: Alexei Sayle: Ullo John Gotta New Motor?

No comments:

Post a comment