Top of the Pops 7 June 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Hello and welcome to another Top of the Pops. Another half hour in the company of attractive young people wearing extraordinary trousers." David Jensen: "Not only that but everybody on the programme tonight is live except of course for the DJs." John Peel:"Yes, we're miming I'm afraid and not awfully well. Gonna start the programme with Spandau Ballet."
[5] Spandau Ballet: Only When You Leave. Spandau Ballet are dressed in black leather jackets with white trousers and shirts. It's a stark monochrome look. Tony Hadley's gran presumably refuses to pay the extortionate £34 annual cost of a colour TV licence and is watching in black and white (£18). With this in mind there's no point in the band wearing a rainbow of colours. Speaking of clothing, t-shirts with big block printing are becoming a fashion thing. Behind the band can be read "Oui" "WET" and the 1984 classic "RELAX".

[8] Howard Jones: Pearl In The Shell. David Jensen and John Peel have partaken of oysters in the BBC canteen. The now frisky and skittish pair don't bother to conceal their disdain for Spandau Ballet. "Number five in the charts and your, err, hearts," says Peel as Jensen rolls his eyes and does a mocking yawn.

Howard Jones is joined on stage by some sort of robot dancing saxophonist. Perhaps he's a saxophone cyborg? Jeb: the Next Generation. Saxophone cyborg doesn't do a lot except play the saxophone, obviously, because that is his prime function. During the saxophone solo Howard Jones picks up a drumstick and waves it in the air. Just for a second it looks like he's going to start furiously beating saxophone cyborg, like Bela Lugosi thrashes Tor Johnson in Bride of the Monster. "I'll teach you to disobey me!" There's terrific use of a hand-held camera to get a shot of the crowd across Howard Jones' keyboard. Keep an eye out for the reverse shot which shows the cameraman leaning out of the scaffolding to get his keyboard eye view of the studio.

[9] Evelyn Thomas: High Energy. Evelyn Thomas has been stuck on a podium in the middle of the crowd. She's very happy and she spins round and round like Wonder Woman. Even a sustained bombardment of balloons can't dent her good mood. The podium is well positioned. People can be seen dancing in the background of every shot and the live studio atmosphere lifts the song. The high energy (for want of a better phrase) and enthusiasm of the audience feed back into the performance and suddenly the Top of the Pops studio at 7.45pm on Thursday 7th June 1984 seems like the only place to be. It reminds me of Incantation's performance of the otherwise middling Catchapaya which became a highlight of the 23/12/1982 live edition of Top of the Pops for exactly the same reason. Block printed t-shirt update: "CHOOSE LIFE" and "CHOOSE WHAM" both of which will become more relevant later.
[29] Bananarama: Rough Justice. The increasingly annoying to type Bananarama have spurned block printing for three different tops all featuring a brightly coloured picture of a fish. I don't know why. Perhaps they are considering a name change to the even more difficult to type Piranharama?
[13] Bronski Beat: Smalltown Boy. "I'd say that's a possible contender for début single of the year. A truly excellent record," says John Peel of Smalltown Boy. Wise words. Bronski Beat have the advantage of not looking or sounding like any other group on Top of the Pops. The sparse keyboard riff and Jimmy Somerville's powerful falsetto make a haunting song.
Down at the front of the crowd is a young man in a blue and white top. On the line "and as hard as they would try they'd hurt to make you cry," someone takes him by the left arm and pulls him back and away from the front of the stage. It's only noticeable because of the camera angle which puts the young man almost at the centre-bottom of the screen. The people around him are looking down as if the person doing the arm pulling is crouching to remain carefully out of camera shot, which would suggest it's a member of the production team. The young man is not being obviously disruptive so the whole thing is really odd. Shortly before this occurs a cameraman pushes past the audience along the front of the stage. Could Mr Blue-and-white top have got an important cable snagged on him? Did he give the cameraman some indication that there was a problem? We'll never know.  Mr Blue-and-white top can be seen later, and briefly, at the bottom left of the screen during one of the sweeping camera moves on Jimmy Somerville's repeated "cry boy cry" refrain, someone out of view of the camera pats him on the shoulder. Mr Blue-and-white top is a little taller than the people around him. Is it possible that when he was at the front of the crowd he was just messing up the director's carefully chosen shots?
[1] Wham!: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Wham! are all decked out in white t-shirts with "NUMBER ONE" printed on them. George Michael has to go one better. His letters are also picked out in glitter. Part of the joy of any Wham! performance is counting the number of close-ups given to Andrew Ridgeley. Top of the Pops has always seemed confused about Ridgeley's status in the group and previously he has been given fewer close-ups than Dee C. Lee and Shirlie Holliman (in the days before Pepsi replaced Dee C. Lee) or the Greek chorus of backing singers who accompanied Wham! to the studio for Wham Rap. This time, to make sure there's no mistake, Andrew has been given a guitar. Let's start counting.
OK, midway through the first chorus and 42 seconds into the song Andrew gets his first unambiguous close-up. He's level pegging with the random audience members Vision Mixer Heather Gilder cuts to on the earlier "yeah-yeah" from Pepsi and Shirlie. (It's possible that was supposed to be a cut to Pepsi and Shirlie but the smoke machine has been set to nuée ardente and it's hard to make out any detail). Ridgeley gets a nice close-up 79 seconds into the song, but I don't think dancing into a close-up with George Michael should count. Let's call that a half-point. Finally there's another close-up at 113 seconds (a nice low-angled one) although it's a bit unsporting of the cameraman to pan away to George, as if it was a mistake.
The final scores are:
George, too many to count.
Random audience members, 3.
Andrew 2.5 (a new personal best).
Shirlie: 1
Pepsi : 0
[19] Sister Sledge: Thinking Of You. "We'll be back soon," lies David Jensen who is about to defect from BBC Radio 1 to (gasp) commercial radio. Yes, he's off to the warm waters of "Cap-it-tal Radio!" If you miss him on the telly then just wait three years and he'll present The Roxy, ITV's rival to Top of the Pops. Can this be the end of the Rhythm Pals partnership? Yes. Yes, it is. Next time John Peel appears he'll be accompanied by Tommy Vance. Meanwhile, here's Sister Sledge. Goodbye David "Kid" Jensen. And "good love".
Performance of the Week: Now this is tricky. Evelyn Thomas and Bronski Beat are both very good. I much prefer Smalltown Boy as a song, but High Energy is a better piece of television. Smalltown Boy or High Energy?  Evelyn Thomas: High Energy.

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