Top of the Pops 30 April 1987


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Steve Wright: “Yes yes!! Good evening and welcome to another!! Exciting! Enthralling!! Top of the Pops!! With me and 'im!!” Peter Powell: “Thank you! And for openers... The Jesus and Mary Chain! Brilliant song! April Skies!”

[19] The Jesus & Mary Chain: April Skies. The Jesus and Mary Chain are having a who-can-pretend-to-look-least-bothered-about-being-onstage contest. There's the drummer, flailing vaguely at his drum kit, one handed in the background. The guitarist wearing dark glasses who looks at the floor. And the other guitarist who stands very still and also looks at the floor. Meanwhile, lead singer Jim Read keeps fiddling with his microphone. He drags the stand around. He pops the microphone off the stand. He puts the microphone on the floor. He wanders round the stage. He turns around, spots the microphone on the floor, and seems surprised how it got there.

Later he picks the stand up by the base and starts waving it around in a very unsafe way. Then, apparently bored he drops the stand on the floor where it forms a potential trip hazard. Obviously worried about this he picks it up again and then very slowly waves it around his head like Highlander. Just leave the damn thing along Jim. If you stopped fiddling with it you might do a better job of miming to your own song.


[3] Starship: Nothing Gonna Stop Us Now. On video... that's what it says on the caption; Nothing. I know the song is called Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now but Top of the Pops knows better.

[16] Labi Siffre: So Strong. A well staged performance that starts with Labi alone on stage before various backing singers and a saxophonist wander in from the wings. Lighting Director Fred Wright colours the stage blue, until the instrumental, at which point the lighting changes to a warmer pink, and back to blue as the lyrics begin again. “Good song! Good voice!” is Peter Powell's capsule review at the end.

Top 40 Charts: Johnny Hates Jazz with Shattered Dreams at [40] and Wet Wet Wet, Wishing I Was Lucky, at [39]. Welcome to the 1987.

[14] Level 42: To Be With You Again. I realise it can't be easy coming up with links into songs but I'm baffled by Peter Powell's description of Level 42 as “one of Britain's most consistent groups!” Is consistent a compliment? “This custard is very consistent nan.”  “Oh Lulu, your sense of fashion is so consistent, I wish I could dress like you..” “Your macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell are really consistent Hieronymus.”

I think I understand the concept Peter Powell is groping towards. Level 42 have had a remarkable year generating Top 10 songs off their Running in the Family album. And here's another one. You'll get to the end of it and say, “yes, that was definitely a Level 42 song.” And then you'll go about the rest of your day as normal.

Steve Wright is given a solo link at the end of the song. It's about as bad as you'd expect (you might say he's a remarkably consistent Top of the Pops presenter, ho-ho). I think at some point, a well meaning soul told Steve Wright his camera presence was similar to Kenny Everett's, and the comment stuck but not in the way it was intended. There's a low level of similarity in the way both move and look but Kenny Everett knew how to use his physicality and was backed up by good material. Steve Wright is all flapping arms and elbows, and keeps arching his back; because that's all he's got. It's wacky!! It's like watching a charmless Orangutan.

Anyway. The gag here is that Tom Jones is coming up soon. Mums like Tom Jones!! So Steve's been given a piece of paper with HELLO MUM written on it!! Because his mum likes Tom Jones!! Like all mums!! Nutty!!

Top 40 Breakers: The Quantel mix into the Breakers is quite ahead of it's time. The picture containing Steve Wright is shrunk down into a small ball (if only) and the picture containing the Breakers animation comes on from screen right, also shrunk down into a rectangular shape, vaguely like a snooker cue. The “cue” then knocks the “ball” off the other side of the screen. It's the primordial ancestor of all those zany graphics that used to fold Russ Abbott into the shape of a wine bottle or bounce Brian Conley off screen because their sketch didn't have a solid punchline. Kathryn Randall is credited as Vision Mixer, so presumably this was her doing. [23] Spear Of Destiny, Never Take Me Alive; [21] Fleetwood Mac, Big Love.

[7] Tom Jones, A Boy From Nowhere. On video. Tom Jones has his feet nailed to the floor for some reason.

Top 10 Charts.

[1] Madonna: La Isla Bonita. On video. Watching Madonna flouncing around in a frilly dress among all those candles gives me the fear. One false move and it's going to look like the burning of Atlanta from Gone with the Wind.
[24] Duran Duran: Meet El Presidente. Mike Smith next week. Who is, according to Peter Powell, appearing, “with a million dollars worth of talent!” I can't wait. I wonder who it is? We're back to shrinking the video into a small box while the captions appear at the bottom of the screen, after last week's change in style.

Performance of the week: Labi Siffre, So Strong


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