Top of the Pops 7 &14 Nov 1985

Both shows reviewed by Chris Arnsby 07/11/1985
Steve Wright: “Yes!! Hello!! Good evening!! Welcome to another Top of the Pops!! With me and him!!.” Level 42!! Far Corporation!! And so many other bands tonight!!” Peter Powell: “For starters though we start off with one of the records that's one of the biggest selling in the world at the moment! Number one in five different countries! Number two in Britain! A-ha, Take On Me!”

[2] A-ha: Take On Me. Check out Morten Harket in his fashionable distressed denim jeans and leather band wrapped wrists. He looks very sharp, and so do his magnificently well defined cheekbones. There's not a lot to say about A-ha. This is a solid performance, I almost certainly watched it at the time and I would have been disappointed that Top of the Pops didn't show the video. On YouTube, you can find A-ha performing Take On Me on Saturday Superstore from April 1985; the songs second release in the UK when it reached the dizzy chart height of 154. It's worth a look just to see how pop music looked on BBC1 when it didn't have access to the full resources of Top of the Pops. The answer, a bit drab.


[16] Far Corporation: Stairway To Heaven.
On video.
[6] Level 42: Something About You
. Peter Powell has got a hot tip, “if you want to get a new record, put it in your collection, and be proud of it, then World Machine is the one to get which is the LP from Level 42.” Unfortunately he then goes on to call the single “Something About You Baby,” so maybe he's thinking of Status Quo.
Top 40 Breakers: [22] The Simon May Orchestra, Howard’s Way Theme
. 20 seconds into this and I'm gripped with dread. It's Sunday evening and I haven't done my Geography homework. The panic clears, and I realise I'm older now than my Geography teacher was then. Damn you passage of time! It's probably just as well Simon May won't be bringing his orchestra into studio TC3. Fifty seconds exposure was enough to send me into a spiral of existential angst. Both Simon May fans will be delighted to hear his work makes more appearances in 1986. Every Loser Wins turns up in October 1986, and in the same month Marti Web will sing Always There the vocal version of the Howard's Way theme. Oh Christ have mercy. Mum, I've got Home Ec. tomorrow and I need the ingredients to make mince cobbler.
Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin, Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves; [17] Talking Heads, Road To Nowhere.
[7] UB40: Don't Break My Heart
. UB40 Beige or vanilla? You decide. That's a little unfair, but the back-to-back combination of Level 42, Simon May, and UB40 has angried up my blood.
Top 10: [10]
Arcadia, Election Day; [9] John Parr, St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion).

[8] Madonna: Gambler. “The sleazebag is down three this week,” sneers Steve Wright. This is the second time he's described Madonna as a sleazebag, what is his problem with her? Does he have a Madonna–whore complex?
UB40, Don’t Break My Heart; [6] Level 42, Something About You; [5] Colonel Abrams, Trapped; [4] Feargal Sharkey, A Good Heart; [3] Elton John, Nikita; [2] A-ha, Take On Me.
[1] Jennifer Rush, The Power Of Love
. A second repeat for the 17/10/1985 performance.
[31] Paul Hardcastle: Just For The Money
. An abrupt exit from the BBC4 broadcast, to remove Peter Powell's mention of next week's host, Mike Smith. Then it's into the audience dancing and credits, and some choice shots of terrible 80s fashion. Including someone wearing a dress which has been pleated beyond all reason.

Performance of the week: A-ha: Take On Me

Gary Davies: “Hey. How you doing? Welcome to Top of the Pops. An action-packed show for you tonight including a brand new number one.” Mike Smith: “And on video tonight we have Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin, and the wonderful Talking Heads but let's start off with a big climber. Welcome with a Lost Weekend, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions.” 

[24] Lloyd Cole & The Commotions: Lost Weekend
. I remember Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, but I don't remember why. Is the vague familiarity of Lloyd Cole & The Commotions because of some hit song lurking in the Heisenbergian uncertainty that is their personal future from the perspective of 1985, but, from the perspective of today, my past? We can only wait and see, or look back at the charts to find out what happened.
Alternatively, I could just remember them because of the enormous pleasure I take in mixing them up with Kid Creole and the Coconuts, disassembling the two band names and putting them back randomly as if they were a pop/rock Lego set. Kid Creole and the Commotions; Lloyd Cole & The Coconuts; Kid Cole and the Commoitonuts; Coconut Commotions & The Lloyds; and so on.
] Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin: Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves. On video.
Top 40 Countdown.
[11] King: The Taste Of Your Tears
. King's last appearance of 1985, and their penultimate visit to the Top of the Pops studio. They'll be back once briefly in early 1986, and then that's it.Paul King's tambourine privileges have been withdrawn by the Musicians Union. Fortunately he's worked out a new set of movements for this song; there's a Superman style jacket open, for “tears me apart”; a handwashing gesture for the chorus; a -you-go-girl crossing hands gesture for “no regrets”; and several more. Unfortunately the signature heart gesture goes a bit wrong (he's upside down, and too pointed on the fingers), unless his heart is really an oblate spheroid.
12] Talking Heads: Road To Nowhere
. On video.
Top 40 Breakers: [25]
Madness, Uncle Sam; [22] Dire Straits, Brothers In Arms; [9] Queen, One Vision.
Top 10: [10]
Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin: Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves.
[9] Queen: One Vision.
“Two Queen's for the price of one,” is Mike Smith's slightly gnomic comment. It's not necessarily a jab a Freddie Mercury, but it makes me like Mike Smith a little less.
Far Corporation, Stairway To Heaven; [7] Colonel Abrams, Trapped; [6] Level 42, Something About You; [5] UB40, Don't Break My Heart; [4] Elton John, Nikita; [3] A-ha, Take On Me; [2] Jennifer Rush, The Power Of Love.
[1] Feargal Sharkey, A Good Heart.
Feargal Sharkey has drilled his backing singers to perfection. Their appearance on the 31/10/1985 show was a complete disaster. The lack of consistency on the hands-above-the-eyes-searching gesture made a mockery of the whole programme. This time the routine is clear. The singers perform the hands-above-the-eyes-searching gesture on the first “is hard to find” of the chorus, but not the second. Much better. Today, Feargal Sharkey campaigns against the pollution of British rivers. Presumably he's sick of newspaper articles with the inevitable headline “A Good Chalk Stream these Days is Hard to Find.
[31] Bryan Adams & Tina Turner, It’s Only Love.
Audience dancing and credits.

Performance of the week: No real standouts this week. I'm tempted to award it again to Feargal Sharkey as a gesture of peace, and in the hope that he'll call off his legal dogs. But no, it's... King, The Taste Of Your Tears



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