Top of the Pops 28 August & 4 September 1986

DOUBLE BILL! Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. 28 August:
[6] Jermaine Stewart: We Don't Have To... Janice Long. “Hello and welcome to a live edition of Top of the Pops, and here at number six it's Jermaine Stewart and We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off.” Brian Whitehouse likes to begin with a big dramatic camera move across the studio. In fact, since he returned from holiday on 14/08/1986 he's repeated the same move on a weekly basis. The camera crane is raised to capture the audience on one of the scaffolding bridges, then it moves down and under the bridge and zooms across the studio floor towards the main stage. At least that's what it says on the camera script. This week something goes a little wrong and the camera ploughs (gently) into the back of one of the audience. Either the crane failed to lift up and over the heads of the audience, which is what happened on the previous two shows, or Floor Manager Cliff Pinnock was distracted and unable to shove the dancers out of the way in time. Oh well, that's all part of the fun of live television.

Janice Long. “Jermaine Stewart. Now Peely will tell you everything he knows about Peter Cetera.” John Peel. “Hi fans. Well Pete, that's what I like to call him, used to be in Chicago and he's asked for 14 similar offences to be taken into consideration.

[9] Peter Cetera: Glory Of Love. On video.

[16] Jaki Graham: Breaking Away. This could be a dull show if you didn't like any of last week's Top 40 Breakers. Breaking Away is the only song played in full that wasn't a Breaker, and Boris Gardiner is still at Number One* Let's talk captions again. At some point in 1986 they've had an upgrade. The opening captions remain basic -just the song name and band in an italicised font- but the closing caption now includes some limited animation. It's mostly just a fancy way of writing the singer's name, which is what Jaki Graham gets here, but just occasionally it's a little more involved. It Bites (14/08/1986) got a crude** animal head which opened to reveal white pixel teeth and the band name.

Top 40 Charts: Exciting news! The drop shadow is back on the chart countdown!

Top 40 Breakers: Four Breakers again this week. [32] The Stranglers, Nice In Nice; [28] Daryl Hall, Dreamtime; [26] Cutting Crew, (I Just) Died In Your Arms; [25] Bon Jovi, You Give Love A Bad Name.

[10] The Human League: Human. “The Human League with the best record in the Top Twenty this week,” is John Peel's confident assertion.

Top 10 Charts

[1] Boris Gardiner: I Want To Wake Up With You. On film.

[15] Janet Jackson: When I Think Of You. Janice Long lets us know that Gary Davies hosts next week “on his own.” “Yeah, nobody'll work with him,” adds John Peel. Like last week, the background to the closing titles is the boring electronically generated shade of blue which grades from dark at the top of the screen to light at the bottom.

Performance of the Week: Jermaine Stewart: We Don't Have To...

 *Spoilers for this week's Number One. ** Crude refers to the picture -it's a very simple stylised dog head. I don't want you thinking it mouthed obscenities at the home audience.

 4 September:

Gary Davies. “How ya doin? Welcome to Top of the Pops. We start tonight with a song which is at number two in the charts. It's called Don't Leave Me This Way. Here are, The Communards.”

[2] The Communards: Don't Leave Me This Way. MINOR-FORMAT-CHANGE SIREN.  Top of the Pops reverts to the pre-13/03/1986 way of opening the programme. We're back to seeing the host on camera welcoming the viewer and introducing the opening act, rather than in voice over as it's been done for the last six months. Will this change stick? Let's see what happens next week.

Interestingly (no, stop, come back). Brian Whitehouse is off this week, and Michael Hurll takes his throne once more. Is he the only person allowed to tweek the sacred format? It's actually a little odd to see Hurll back because he's really busy in September. He gets a Produced & Directed by credit on this and, Saturday's The Noel Edmonds Late Late Breakfast Show and an Executive Producer credit on Roland Rat -The Series.

This is a stylish opening. The camera pulls back from Gary Davies, across the audience and then swings round Jimmy Somerville. He stands alone in a sea of dry ice on the Beelzebub stage (which hasn't been seen for a few weeks) and grasps the microphone between two flat palms as if he's been caught in prayer. Somerville turns, walks slowly back across the stage and, as he starts singing, he climbs the steps to the top of one of the scenery bridges where he sings the first verse. Then as the chorus kicks in he walks down the steps on the other side to a second stage (a nasty polka dot affair first seen during Modern Talking's performance of Brother Louie, 21/08/1986) and joins the rest of the group. Except for the brass section who are stood up on top of a second bridge, with The Communards logo hung on the wall behind them. Oh, and the audience have all been given mini The Communards logo flags to wave.

It's a performance which must involve all the cameras in the studio. Vision Mixer Kathryn Randall cuts expertly between shots, matching the pace of the song, and generating a sense of how exciting this must have been in studio. It's a classic Top of the Pops performance and it shows how the production team could make the studio seem as epic as a video.

[23] MC Miker G & Deejay Sven: Holiday Rap. Hope you're buckled up tight because the change in tone could give you whiplash. MC Miker G and Deejay Sven (Sven?) are a pair of clots in leather trousers who have done terrible, terrible, things to Madonna's holiday. It's not even as if I like Holiday that much, but it this fate is not something it deserves.

Dancing behind the pair are a trio of dancers. Two white-dressed women, and a black-leather clad man. Are they part of the posse? A Youtube check shows the trio are not present when MC Miker G & Deejay Sven (Sven?) perform on Dutch television show Countdown. It's worth watching the Countdown clip. If you thought the Top of the Pops audience could look bored, then check out this crowd who are visibly indifferent and slumped in their seats; as if they all simultaneously lost the will to live. I note in passing that Youtube also hosts a video called Holiday Rap 1986 -Best Version. It must have muted audio.

In summary. 1986 continues to be a year of extremes. Two songs in to this edition and Don't Leave Me This Way is added to the Nice pile, while Holiday Rap is jammed into the Naughty skip for a Fahrenheit 451-style party later.

[15] Bruce Hornsby & The Range: The Way It Is. On video. The Fedora worn by Bruce Hornsby's drummer will also be winging its way into the Naughty skip.

[22] Bon Jovi: You Give Love A Bad Name. In the studio? Really? I assumed Bon Jovi were one of those American groups too big to bother with li'l ol' Top of the Pops and yet here they are, all in their finery and giving a performance turned up to 11.

A round of applause for an old standby which hasn't been seen for ages. The BBC rawk-issue thunderflashes which detonate a safe distance behind the band every time the pomp levels start to dip. I defy you not to smile as the song kicks in and a row of thunderflashes go off simultaneously. It looks like Bon Jovi's stack of amps have overloaded the fuse box. Visual Effects Designer Tony Auger is the man with the detonator in his hand.

Top 40 Charts: Dropshadow? No. No dropshadow this week.

[16] Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk: Love Can’t Turn Around. During the chart countdown distant cheers leak onto the audio as Gary Davies reaches Number 16. Singer Darryl Pandy is clearly popula, and charismatic, and he knows how to work the audience. Daryl is a big bloke and this is an energetic performance. Watching him shake, and jump, and hold the most astonishing sustained notes, and demonstrate his vocal range is nerve-racking because it's clearly taking a lot of effort; at one point after holding a note for eight seconds he totters towards the edge of the stage and I was worried he was going to take a tumble. I haven't been this concerned for a performer's well-being since Buster Bloodvessel.

Then Darryl goes gloriously off lyrics. “Hey, how ya doin'. How ya'll doin',” he asks the crowd at the front. “BBC we just love ya,” he adds to more whoops and cheers. There's a point where he vaguely remembers the title of the song and bellows “love can't turn around,” before he notices the crowd up on the studio bridge. “How ya'll doin' up there?” he wants to know. In a final coup-de-grace he kicks off both his shoes and falls flat on his back. There's a distinct “ugh,” on the live vocal before he gathers enough breath for a more musical “oooh!” He gets a well deserved round of applause and cheers. During all of this the keyboard player and backing singers go through their routines without any sign of concern or amusement. This is nothing odd. It's just another day on the road with Darryl Pandy.

[6] Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Rage Hard. Not seen on television since 1985, and now making their big comeback in September; Just like Doctor Who. This must have seemed like an easy gig. Turn up. Perform the song. Bring a few props. Easy. But tonight's Top of the Pops has been a process of escalation. Bon Jovi topped The Communards, then Darryl Pandy topped Bon Jovi, and more is needed than some nasty cycling shorts and wads of dollars being flung around.

[1] Boris Gardiner: I Want To Wake Up With You. Mike Smith hosts next week. Gary dedicates the Number One video to Ian, Michael, and Sharon. Who's waking up with who in that trio? What's this. “Going to leave you with the Number One?” Can it be true? Yes. Michael Hurll has changed the format (all hail to the format) twice in one programme. I haven't even recharged the Minor-Format-Change-Siren.

Boris is still on film, and the background to the closing credits is still the dull blue screen.

Performance of the Week: Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk: Love Can’t Turn Around.


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