Oct 08

Popular ’79

FT + Popular/216 comments • 7,288 views

’79 ends up as one of the best years, according to my marks anyhow – but which of its tracks would you have handed six or higher to? Pick as many as you want, then discuss the year in the comments boxes if you like.

Which of these Number One hits of 1979 would you have given 6 or more to?

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Poll closes: No Expiry

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My highest marks were 9s for Buggles, Dury, Blondie – lowest 2s for Lena M and the Rats.


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  1. 201
    Mark G on 27 Jun 2014 #

    Mike/Chart/SlickSpaceBass.. Oh the pics are all in frames now..

    On come Siouxsie and the Banshees, the last time before the bust-up? In tribute to those pub gigs where someone forgets to switch/ turn down the jukebox before the band starts, Slick are still playing over the start of “Playground Twist”. This is still my fav S&TB era, long they did continue anyway. More hits than the Stranglers? Most successful punk act in terms of hit singles? Will have to lookitup.

    Thom Pace as per last time lets us know an episode has been skipped. Maybe the Ruts were on, so we say boooooo. Anyway, Thom looks like a cross between Nillson and Badly Drawn Boy.

    “they’ve done it with a new lady” thanks Mike. Read, I mean. Mike Love is doing the doing, I guess. Anyway, Legs are in diaphonous gowns, swishing about the place, you know.

    Police do that punk/new wave that it’s ok for the yanks to like. The world is now their oyster but before the world domination, they’re here in the studio. Or, they were, “two weeks ago” gross time.

    Rickie Lee Jones sounds a bit like Bjork on this occasionally? Just me, then. Chuck-e Weiss still living this one down, but with good grace judging by a recent interview.

    Tom McGuinness? McGuinness Flint are still going? (mild edit: it’s Stonebridge McGuinness. I guess Flint left, and another bloke got promoted to frontline name status, and McGuinness Stonebridge sounded too much like a conference). Its a perfectly pleasant piece of soft rock which could have been a hit in 1975 or maybe 1986 but not ‘now’, sorry. Actually, the intro is a dead ringer for “Show me the way” played slowly.

    Janet Kay returns, you know.

    John Lydon is allowed into the studio (not a coincidence that Mike Read is presenting I would say. They were clearly ‘pals’ on “I’m a celebrity/jungle” when they were both on it.) One of my favourite tracks ever, and probably the most disconcerting performance in the show’s history.

    Supertramp are ‘playing their joker on you’ so you’d better win and get double points for the team! This song’s a bit sexist, but we liked sexist in those days, didn’t we? (that’s irony by the way, don’t write in!)

    Chantel Curtis – I direct you to the post above and some great research. The song suffers the usual death by BBC orchestra but I don’t recall this otherwise so can’t tell the level of ironies. Ruinide, there’s a word. Used by a teenage McCartney on a song he wrote for Sinatra, “Suicide”. When he was famous enough, he demoed it and sent it to Frank, who promptly binned it as rubbish, and rightly so.

    Thin Lizzy can’t arf play the timpanis. Repeated video, still great.

    Judi Tzuke shows life is worth living for those rock fans that don’t like punk, i.e. Bob Harris, who was the resident Rock DJ on our local station. He played the heck out of this back in the day. And Hotel California, of course. He probably still is. Anyway, despite all that, it’s alright. That last bit gets sped up to become Thomas Dolby’s “Hyperactive” I reckons.

    Tubeway Army once more. Bored with this one now.

    Donna Summer does the Bad/Sad girls song to fade.

    A hodgepodge, if ever there was one. Some high spots, couple of clunkers, a couple of keepers, who could ask for more?

  2. 202
    Lazarus on 29 Jun 2014 #

    Yes the Ruts had indeed been on the week before, for the second time in fact – the first time ‘Babylon’s Burning’ was on a show presented by DLT, and on the second J Savile was the host. So it doesn’t look as if we’re going to see them. Looks like a decent line-up on that latter show too – it also included the Dooleys, the Knack, Eddy Grant, the Korgis (‘If I Had You’), the Sex Pistols (‘C’mon Everybody’), Amii Stewart (‘Light my Fire’) and Patrick Hernandez (‘Born to be Alive’), none of which we’ve seen in this series. Nothing can be done about the Savile shows of course but surely the business with Travis must be concluded once and for all soon.

  3. 203
    punctum on 30 Jun 2014 #

    From memory I fear that the Flying Lizards may suffer a similar fate to the Ruts; two appearances doing “Money,” each hosted by one of the above-named unshowables.

  4. 204
    wichitalineman on 1 Jul 2014 #

    I was rather keen on the Chantal Curtis song myself. More on her – she worked with Patrick Cowley on her album, had some of her songs released as ‘Michele’ while she was in jail on drugs charges (before Get Another Love), and I’m pretty sure this is her (even earlier) too: http://www.stars-on-7-inch.com/Listen/D/Bellaphon/000.18.000/bella_18.208.jpg

  5. 205
    Mark G on 4 Jul 2014 #

    Are we on? OK then..

    Kid opens, Sid sings the chart again (I guess the video of Sid riding a motorbike in his underpants won’t be shown: he’s not wearing a crash helmet)

    The Real Thing have a funky song called “Boogie Down (Get Funky Now)” but even they can’t keep a straight face. The music is alright, but the lyrics are pure placeholder stuff.

    The legs are bad girls, so they dress up as French prostitutes. Lots of gyrating with lampposts. Is JimSwede still on Wimbledon sabbatical?

    The Darts have noticed that Duke of Earl has not been a hit in the UK before, so they step up with a fairly reasonable cover. An odd song, really: the guy is clearly some sort of gang leader, and his manor is something he feels safe in thanks to his status within it. There’s a link to rap music here, isn’t there?

    UK Subs do Stranglehold. Interesting: the girl is 18 in this version, I’m sure she’s 13 on the single. It’s not sexual in content, but the watchdogs are tutting so here we are. The Lurkers’ “Just 13″ won’t even get this far.

    Kid introduces Kid. The song is not actually about him, but the Pretenders have told him it is, cause they’re not daft. Great, anyway,

    The Knack, and My Sharona. It’s the closest the USA have managed to get to UK new wave, but the closing guitar solo, terrific though it is, is way offside really. There are lots of things to be said about this one, but I shall leave that to next time or to the next dude.

    OK now here come the Dooleys. Formerly the Rubbish Dooleys, but today they have figured out what’s wrong, and have promoted the two girls to the front line, and made them behave like an angry Abba. The usual singer bloke is miming badly behind a keyboard. Sit! Stay! But I fear this is the last we see of the Dooleys, beyond repeat perfs of this one.

    The Korgis prove me wrong and actually have hits. They were on a Saturday morning TV kids show promoting their 1st single, I was a pop panelist, I said it was awful, and it was. Anyway, they dropped the faux new-wave stylings and added some George Harrison slidey guitar. World meets oyster.

    Abba do the funky Voulez Vous, and it’s good. Mind you, the BBC could put videos on where it sounds like it’s been pressed off-centre, and that’s all right nobody minds. Well, it would drive me nuts, that sort of thing, even then. Would it not you?

    Four weeks at number one is quite a long stay. People are happy to get one, three weeks is the normal ‘big hit’ stay, so four means people are deciding that they like it ‘after all’. Enough now though, yeah? (tubeway army)

    Chic play out good times but Kid doesn’t add his “good love” no more.

    Highlights? Mmm, maybe The Pretenders, but that’s about it. Spoiled last time out, weren’t we?

    (p.s. Discovered the long version has Sparks and the Boomtown Rats. Are you insane, BBC edit squad?)

  6. 206
    Steve Williams on 4 Jul 2014 #

    Heavens, no, we are in the midst of absolute peak Dooley at the moment and they’ll be on again in a few months (several times) with their best single by miles. A couple more to come as well.

  7. 207
    Lazarus on 5 Jul 2014 #

    Here we go again, the Kid in charge this week, Pistols over the chart. I don’t think much of these titles. The pictures are too small and I haven’t got a great big telly like you lot.

    Real Thing – lame disco effort from an outfit who made some great pop singles and now seem to think that sticking a load of brass over this rubbish makes them Earth, Wind and Fire. Guys, the minibus is waiting out the back. Of you go now.

    Dave Edmunds – now this is more like it. Costello song of course and at this stage he could do no wrong as far as I was concerned. In fact I think he’d put out ‘Girls Talk’ as a B-side, although I can’t remember what on now. And the bass player was called Billy Bremner – an unlikely sport/pop namealike there.

    Donna Summer/Legs – she did put out a lot of singles didn’t she. Routine is fine. Kid sounded like he was attempting a sheep pun there, though.

    Darts – almost the last throw of the dice for them too. They’d had a good run, but this sort of thing was starting to date badly.

    UK Subs – second time on for them, they had more luck that the Ruts. Charlie Harper, wasn’t it. I suppose he thought if Ian Dury can do it …

    Pretenders – Chrissie and song equally gorgeous. I think this might be my favourite of theirs. How the hell wasn’t this Top 10?

    The Knack – one of Kid’s former records of the week, I like this more now than I did at the time. A band who suffered a very public backlash after only a couple of hits. A lot of good power pop never charted though (Sinceros, Rubinoos, Any Trouble, the Records) so at least they struck lucky.

    Sparks – a speedy follow-up and as I’ve said before I’m not a big fan of the Moroder era. I do prefer Russell singing in this range though rather than the usual shrieking falsetto.

    Boomtwon Rats – a new entry at number 15 and one on its way to the top. A song that polarises opinion, certainly. All I can say is that this was probably my song of the year; at 16 I wasn’t too bothered about political correctness. Of course I can see the bigger picture now but I can’t join in with the general condemnation for this one.

    Dooleys – yes their finest hour. ‘Angry Abba’ sounds just right. But I thought one of the Rubettes had escaped and joined the band there for a moment. Hadn’t noticed the third girl in the group before – was she new?

    Korgis – I have an old 45 of this that pre-dates this I think: ‘Young ‘n’ Russian.’ It’s not much cop frankly. But lush ballads like this would give them a living for a while. And I’m sure this still goes down well in North Wales.

    Abba – if not quite in their top tier, still sounds damn good – perhaps because it hasn’t been played to death like some of their others. Voulez-vous? Oui, s’il vous plait!

    Tubeway Army – fourth and, I think, final week. Time for demob.

    Good Times, but no good love. Over and out.

  8. 208
    Mark G on 11 Jul 2014 #

    It used to be, that there was no business like show business. Times have changed, now about 50% of business is like show business. Here’s Top of the Pops.

    It’s Peter Powell, and the Dooleys with the still pics and numbers that comprise the chart rundown. Watching bits of the World Cup, does anyone else miss the spooky effect of having scratchy pictures and/or David Coleman sounding like he’s doing the commentary down a telephone wire? Atmosphere, dudes..

    Here’s Sham 69 attempting to throw the skinheads off the track by producing a ‘farewell’ single with bits of country music yee-ha in it. This would not work particularly, so he famously joined a dance company and appeared on the Oxford Road Show or some such, mime-interpreting some such. I guess the performance of “You’re a better man than I’ got Savillegated. The 12″ of this was good value, an extended version and a bunch of live tracks. Mind you, the last album had an extra 12″ of ‘long’ versions of “Borstal Breakout” and “If the kids..” of which I heard the latter at the local recshop: Boy it’s terminally boring…

    And now the Olympics sing “Bitch”. Nice… So, Bitch was OK, but Cowson was not.

    The Korgis return. My one Korgis tole has been tailed, see upthread. Yep it was “Young and Russian”. I think some of these were in Stackridge. So it goes..

    Voulez Vous. Abba. You know..

    B.A. Robertson with his wacky persona. His serious songs got farmed out to more serious performers. This is loaded with odd references to various people, but the sleeve of the single helpfully had the references. They’re probably on Wikipedia now.

    Dave Edmunds gets not-edited out this week. Now I see, they are avoiding the ‘exact programme’ syndrome by keeping ‘good’ ones back.

    Legs and co get all beachy (because of seagull sound effects on the track). It’s mostly Sue leading this time out. Is Jimswede back this week? I think the girls have been missing him.

    Sparks must have been living here, this is not the same performance as last week’s unedit. The BBC have been helpful by supplying lots of mickey mouse/alarm clocks.

    And now, genuine game-raising stuff: Gangsters by the Specials. It’s still great, but you know that, right? (stopped typing to watch it)

    Duke of earl. (Stopped typing to fast forward)

    Jimmy Pursey gets to introduce the Gibson Brothers. An odd one, this: This reads like some sort of manifesto from some political leader promising lots of lovely things if he gets elected. No more wars, crying, plenty food he does promise. Of course, the second he’s in power, he’ll be in the mansion with mega security and forget all about it. It’s a dangerous thing..

    Seventh week at number one? doesn’t time fly.. Hang on, it was Tubeway Army last time. Did Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall present shows as well?

    Fade to Born to be alive. born to be a live….. (edit: This has actually been on three times before, but as they were all DLT or Savile, this fade-out is the only time we will hear it. Seeing it is not available. Can we get some Ruts now, please, history?)

  9. 209
    Tim on 11 Jul 2014 #

    (Pretty sure he says “second week” not “seventh”.)

  10. 210
    Mark G on 11 Jul 2014 #

    Oh, one of my edits has gone south. Basically, I noted that it was the subtitler that got it wrong.

  11. 211
    speedwell54 on 25 Jul 2014 #

    Kid hosts in a overworked green shirt.

    Bellamy Brothers over the rundown. I think the double meaning kind of got lost over time. Their next single “She was only the bus driver’s daughter but she knew where to get off” fared less well.

    Secret Affair – Time for Action. Their first hit setting out their manifesto -’Glory Boys’ smart clothes etc.

    I’m thinking Kid’s shirt might be a blouse.

    Dollar – Mainly Thereza on this one. Keep thinking her opening line is going to be “I know your eyes in the morning sun”

    Nick Lowe -classic

    Lost in Music- twktc Legs do what they do.

    I definitely think it’s blouse.

    Gibson Brothers- Kid says “Ooh! What a Life” It’s called “Ooh! What A Life” but they do keep singing ” Oh! What a Life” song is not my cup of tea.

    Cars – drummer seems a bit keen.

    Bang Bang – Bad Attitude Robertson talks his way through this ditty and I can’t forgive ruin/Fruin nonsense.

    Sail On – were they in the studio? Looks like they might have been, which was more than they managed for “Three Times A Lady”

    Duchess – Not heard this for ages. Sounding a little ‘Pictures of Lily’ here. Btw Wiki currently has The Who with 19 No1 singles and 11 straight No1 albums!


    Cliff – WDTA “And I aint counting sheep” I can see why B A Robertson started helping out. Not.

    Boney M play out with the one Duck Sauce borrowed years later.

    Not my favourite but there has been worse.

  12. 212
    Jimmy the Swede on 26 Jul 2014 #

    Tis Keed

    Bellamy Bros over rundown with their song title nicked directly from Python’s wonderful Hungarian Phrasebook sketch. Bouncy Bouncy! Angleic Upstarts are at 29. Who would have thought?

    Secret Affair – Barely remembered by the Swede. A handful of minor hits over two years before they were confined to eternal chalet duty.

    Dollar – Pretty pretty pair nausea. But it’s a big hit for them. Thereze now takes the elderly campers for ballroom dancing whilst David is in charge of the model railway.

    Nick Lowe – Cruel To Be Kind. Wonderful. The standout act of the night for me. But that’s not difficult.

    The Gals are in cages this week pretending they are trapped. They are backing Sister Sledge’s Lost In Music. “Caught in a trap…” Geddit? This week’s is Pauline’s show again as he stares in heavenly close shot, glassy-eyed full of shuddering pouting desire, out at us. She looks unbelievable and has clearly been tutored closely by the Eternal Mistress in this discipline. Pauline and Lulu are in single cells whilst the other four are thrown in together. There are far too many changes of shot to get the full pleasure from this but the early ones of our dusky beauty easily seals the deal and the threat of a routine minor cardiac event for the Swede, despite being fully rested after his break for Wimbledon and the World Cup.

    Gibson Bros – The second set of bros for tonight. The front man had a belting great voice and he really nails this even if the song is not that marvellous. Oh, what a life, is it? I bet they’d trade it back in for nightshifts as camp cooks in September as the wind and rain howls in off the Irish Sea.

    Gary Numan – Punchable little prawn who fortuitously caught the wind. He’s here in his car and he’s heading for the top with this. Never one for me. Either he or the song.

    The Kid has his arm around a vacuous girl who could teach the Beckham creature how to over-egg the pouting lark, and then on comes the “veteran” Johnny Mathis, whom Jensen kindly tells us has been successful in the UK since 1958. Johnny borrows Jill to dance on the sidelines to an odd flute-infused little song Gone Gone Gone. And in next to no time, without offending anyone, it is.

    Stranglers – Duchess. Sounds more like a Kinks song to me, which of course is no bad thing. But having said that, it is a bit dull too, which sadly is.

    Cliff is number one. It’s his first chart-topper since 1968 and there is big lit-up pink sign above him confirming the record’s status. It all threatens to get a bit ridiculous but let’s be fair, this is a good pop song by old Webby and check out the name of the show, folks!

    Out to Boney M. Gotta Go Home. What a fine idea. Be seeing you!

  13. 213
    Erithian on 27 Jul 2014 #

    This TOTP was shown three days after the IRA assassinated Lord Mountbatten at Sligo and killed 18 British soldiers at Warrenpoint, the Army’s worst day of the Troubles. I remember thinking the lead Gibson Brother sounded particularly heartfelt singing that line “no-one to kill no-one” – but looking back it was probably a repeat performance.

    We’ve missed a few weeks owing to Yewtree and strikes, so we’ve missed the time of my summer holiday that year in… Prestatyn. Funnily enough I wasn’t tripping over pop stars all the time.

  14. 214
    Steve Williams on 28 Jul 2014 #

    Mathematicians will notice that this episode was from 30th August and, because we’re now so far ahead, rather than changing days during the Proms as in previous years BBC4 have taken the opportunity to rest it completely for a few weeks. Good one to go out on, in any case, and when we come back it’ll be very much a new era as Peter Powell will have had his hair cut and stopped acting the tit quite so much.

    The next few episodes are particularly interesting because the ITV strike was now in full swing and so Pops was getting at least fifteen million viewers. The highest rated episode of them all is in October which got over nineteen million viewers and is also the debut of a new presenter, quite a baptism. Amazing to think Secret Affair were being exposed to so many people. You’d have to go on an Olympics Opening Ceremony to get that many eyeballs on you these days.

    Love to know what Speedwell’s favourite and least favourite episodes are.

  15. 215
    Martin F. on 28 Jul 2014 #

    I guess this means Telex’s “Rock Around The Clock” performance is firmly Yewtreed. Boo!

  16. 216
    Jimmy the Swede on 28 Jul 2014 #

    # 213 – On the day that Louis Mountbatten got done, I was at Chelmsford watching Surrey playing Essex in a County match. Essex had just won the Championship for the first time in their history and had also stuffed my lot in the Benson and Hedges Cup Final in July. For many years around that time the bastards had our number and in another Chelmsford County match four years later, they bowled us out for fourteen (14)…

    On that Bank Holiday Monday in 1979, Essex were proudly displaying their County Championship pendant at the top of a flagpole. I remember very clearly pointing this out to my three mates and sneering jealously at it. As we were booing and howling, the pendant suddenly dropped slowly to rest at half-mast. “Somebody’s snuffed it!” I suggested. “Probably the Queen Mother.” (Brenda’s Mam, of course, lasted another twenty-two years). A few moments later, a guy comes over the P/A and tells us what had happened and to whom. It wasn’t exactly a Kennedy or 9/11 moment but it was pretty dramatic.

    Yes, we are well ahead of ourselves. Bannockburn played 1979 on POTP this week and the Rats were still top.

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