Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Bruno Brookes: “Hello and welcome [Gary Davies: “hello!”] to Top of the Pops, in the studio tonight we have Sinead O'Connor, Taylor Dane, Debbie Gibson, and the Mission.” Gary Davies: “And a very noisy audience. We start tonight with a guy who last appeared on Top of the Pops eight years ago with a song called Do You Feel My Love. He's back in the charts at twenty five. Gimmie Hope Jo'Anna welcome back Eddy Grant.”
 EDDY GRANT: gimmie hope jo'anna. A bouncy and cheerful song which hides incredibly gloomy lyrics in plain site, “While every mother in black Soweto fears/The killing of another son.” Jo'Anna being Johannesburg.
fascinated how comfortable Top of the Pops was about highlighting
nakedly political songs about South Africa. There's this along with (Something
Inside) So Strong (30/04/1987 and 14/05/1987), Free Nelson Mandela (29/03/1984
and 19/04/1984), the “Soweto Bloodbath” newspaper suits Madness wore while
performing Waiting for the Ghost Train (13/11/1986), and probably more I've
forgotten. It shows how widely accepted the view was that ending apartheid was
simply a matter of common sense. It also shows it's easier for the national
broadcaster to deal with songs criticising other governments; number of Top
of the Pops appearances for Paul McCartney with Give Ireland Back to the
Irish? Zero. The song spent eight weeks in the charts and got to  despite
(or perhaps because of) being banned by the BBC.
Top of the Pops leans into the politics of the song. Eddy Grant's caption at the end is decorated with stick figure representations of people of all colours or, at least, all the colours the BBC caption generator can cope with; three. Moving away from geopolitics. It seems like ages since Bruno Brookes last hosted, and it is, 27/03/1986. His daily Radio 1 show ran from 17.45 to 19.30 which pretty much cut across the rehearsal and recording time for Top of the Pops (which I think, but I'm not 100% sure, was normally on a Wednesday evening. We'll be seeing a little more of him in 1988.
GIBSON: shake your love. A
repeat from 28/01/1988. Paul Ciani chooses not to use a Top of the Pops USA
performance from (probably) 09/10/1987. Is the American sister series out of
Nia Peebles has
the hot goss: “Debbie Gibson may be barely seventeen but she's already written
nearly two hundred and fifty songs, including all ten on her debut album Out of
the Blue. Her first single, Only In My Dreams went all the way to number three
and tonight she's here to break her second single, Shake Your Love.”
MISSION: tower of strength. The
Mission are allowed to drape a double eagle symbol over the scenery. Presumably
it's the band's symbol, Google just wants to keep tell me about the
Austro-Hungarian empire. Or maybe The Mission are all Freemasons? (Fact John:
This single was produced by John Paul Jones, formerly of Led Zeppelin and
sounds a bit like Led Zeppelin)
DAYNE: tell it to my heart. “Here
is a lady who could very well be seeing herself at number one in the next few
weeks,” Bruno Brookes does that thing a lot of DJs do when they don't have any
thing else to say about a song -speculate on whether it could get to Number 1.
Unlike me, when
I've got nothing to say I admit it. And here, I've got nothing. Ooh! Look! Is
that member of the audience wearing a t-shirt with a luridly coloured picture
of Sergeant Bilko on the front? It seems unlikely but who else could it be?
O'CONNOR: mandinka. A
terrific debut performance. Sinead O'Connor stands alone on stage, marooned at
the microphone in a sea of dry ice, with her shaved head, clumpy boots and
cream suit, which has been deliberately distressed at the shoulders. Gary
Davies' verdict, “she has got an incredible voice,” and he's not wrong.
I think we're alone now. Against
all odds and expectation Tiffany has fought off Bros. They're down to .
In 1988 I heave a sigh of relief. Bros didn't make it to Number 1, we surely
won't hear from them again, ever. I said EVER.
survival presents Paul Ciani with a problem. Breakout the previously repeated Top
of the Pops footage or use her performance from ToTP USA? Let's play
the video instead. It includes footage from Tiffany's much discussed
performances in shopping malls. There's a shop called Great Expectations in the
background of one shot, what do they sell? Maternity clothing.
POP BONUS! It was The
Brits on Monday 8th February 1988 (not the notorious one with Sam
Fox and Mick Fleetwood, that was 1989). Gary Davies has the story. “Well
unfortunately on Monday night Rick Astley didn't have time to pick up his award
[for Best British Single] so on Tuesday I went down to a film studio in Fulham,
and I caught up with him and presented the award to him then.”
Oh wow. Is this
going to be one of Top of the Pops famous 30 second interviews -but on
location? Yes it is because Rick is a man of few words. “Thank you very much...
thank you... I'd just like to say, er, thanks to everybody involved because
there's a lot of people behind things like this so thanks to you. Thank you.”
JERMAINE STEWART: say it again. Gary Davies and Nicky Campbell host next week. Top of the Pops
plays out on repeat footage of Jermaine Stewart from 28/01/1988. The videotape editor allows the performance
to play out in full, including the closing caption and a snippet of speech from
Mike Smith. This wouldn't have been heard on BBC1 because the channel would
already have crossed over to Eastenders. "You'd have carried on
carrying on if I hadn't caught the two of you red-handed,” according to the Radio
The Roxy Playlist, 09/02/1988: Studio Performances; Taylor Dayne, Tell It to My Heart; The Mission, Tower Of Strength; Billy Ocean, Get Outta My Dreams; Robert Plant, Heaven Knows; Screaming Blue Messiahs, I Wanna Be a Flintstone. On video; Luther Vandross, Give Me the Reason; Tiffany, I think we’re Alone Now.