Top of the Pops 20 August 1987


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Steve Wright: “Hello!! Good evening and welcome to another Top of the Pops!! I'm the one who's not pregnant!! This is the one who is!!”

Janice Long: “Lots and lots of things to get in tonight. We've got Sinitta. We've got Spagna coming on the show. Bon Jovi are here. Loads and loads of stuff and this is Wax. They are Building A Bridge.”

[20] WAX: bridge to your heart. The keyboard player is doing more than 50% of the work in this two - person band. He plays the keyboard, obviously, but he also plays the saxophone and does all the singing. He's also found time to work out little illustrative hand gestures to match the lyrics. On the line “I don't know what the future's going to be,” he looks all around with one hand shading his eyes. When he sings, “written guarantee,” he makes a signing-the-cheque motion. The other bloke doesn't bring anything to the group except guitar playing, vocal counterpoint, and a faint resemblance to Howard Stableford from Tomorrow's World. (John- The keyboard player is the genius Andrew Gold, multi- instrumentalist, producer, singer -`Lonely Boy`, `Never Let Her Slip Away`-and the son of Marnie Nixon who used to secretly provide the singing for actors such as Natalie Wood in West Side Story. The guitarist is Graham Gouldman from 10cc)

The keyboard player's eye shading gesture could also be seen as a satirical comment on the studio lighting, courtesy of Geoff Beech who has set up two enormous rotating light poles behind Wax. They bleach out the screen on an intermittent but regular basis. A reminder of what TV could be like in the days before anyone worried about photosensitive epilepsy.

 [18] FIVE STAR: whenever you're ready. Another studio performance, in the slot normally reserved for a video. This isn't a live performance of course, it's the one we all saw recorded on the master tape for the 13/08/1987 show. Maybe that's why it's gone second in the video slot because it's not technically recorded as live?

[23] SHERRICK: just call. “You're watching television's leading pop show!!” says Steve Wright. Tell me you're worried about The Roxy without telling me you're worried about The Roxy. Steve Wright's whole introduction is a good example of why he's a terrible presence on television. He starts out by asking “do you want to see a cool handsome dude on Top of the Pops!!” which, I think, is meant to be the setup for an “apart from me!!” punchline, except he lamely finishes the link, “Yes of course you do!! Here's Sherrick live!!”. As a topper he then says “yeo!!” and pulls an expression which involves puffing out his cheeks slightly and pursing his lips. It looks like he's expelling some stubborn gas.
Top 40 Charts.

[21] BON JOVI: never say goodbye. Luthor Vandross gets an enormous cheer when I Really Didn't Mean It appears on the chart countdown (it's down to [31]). The same thing happened last week, and the studio noise probably resulted from Wet Wet Wet taking the stage. I think this week it's Bon Jovi who enthuse the audience, judging by the shrieks of approval as Never Say Goodbye begins, but it's an odd coincidence that it happens twice to the same song. Alternatively, there could be a real hardcore group of Luther Vandross fans visiting the studio.

Top 40 Breakers: [19] PRINCE & SHEENA EASTON, u got the look; [13] THE SMITHS, girlfriend in a coma; [10] PETSHOP BOYS & DUSTY SPRINGFIELD, what have i done to deserve this. The combination of the Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield and the length of the song title requires the operator of the caption generator to investigate smaller font sizes. Even then, to save space they have to combine Pet Shop into one word.

[4] SINITTA: toy boy. I struggled to find anything to write last time this was on Top of the Pops, and here's Sinitta back with a virtually identical performance; her skirt is marginally more sensible this time round.

Top 10 Charts. There's also marginally more space on the Top 10 captions, so Top of the Pops  can revert the Petshop Boys back to the Pet Shop Boys, oh and the & is changed to “with”.

[2] SPAGNA: call me. Michael Jackson still hasn't sent in a video, so the show closes with Spagna; who knows which side her bread is buttered. She even puts up with a crowd armed with balloons and takes their constant bombardment in good humour.

I can't decide if the white balance is wrong on a couple of the cameras, or if the contrast has been massively turned up. Spaga has a white halo round the edge of her spiky hair, and the balloons are bleached out to the point where they lose all texture and just become white shapes drifting across the screen; looking more like blobs in a lava lamp. I think the effect must be deliberate because when the credits roll you can see the picture being darkened to make the credits readable. The result of this tweaking is some surprisingly poor quality pictures -about which I thought the BBC had quite strict rules- some of the wide shots of the studio are just a mass of electric white haze.

Maybe Michael Hurll thinks he can do what he wants. He's back. Again. From whereever he's been. His presence, perhaps, also explains why this edition was all studio performances.

The Roxy Playlist (18/08/1987): Studio performances, T'Pau, Heart And Soul; The Jesus & Mary Chain, Happy When It Rains; Rick Astley, Never Gonna Give You Up; Wet Wet Wet, Sweet Little Mystery; Yello & Shirley Bassey, The Rhythm Divine. Plus on video, Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield, What Have I Done To Deserve This?; The Smiths, Girlfriend in a Coma, and Michael Jackson, I Just Can't Stop Loving You (listed as on “VTR” whatever that means).

Performance of the week: Wax, Bridge to Your Heart.


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