Feb 09

Popular ’81

FT + Popular/279 comments • 8,440 views

I give every song on Popular a mark out of 10 – these polls are your chance to nominate which YOU would have given 6 or more to. Pick as many as you feel qualify! My highest mark this year went to “Ghost Town”, my lowest to “Woman”.

Which of these Number Ones of 1981 would YOU have given 6 or more to?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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And by all means leave comments on the year in general!


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  1. 251
    Mark M on 17 May 2016 #

    Re249: Frances Ha is definitely more coherent tonally, you’re absolutely right, but then the change of gear into country-house farce was one of the things I most liked about Mistress America. There’s also the Gerwig question: some folk love her, clearly; quite a number of people I know find her screen presence unbearable. I think she’s good, but the undiluted GG of Frances Ha is maybe a bit much for my tastes – I found Lola Kirke’s low-affect persona in MA a good foil.

  2. 252
    Lazarus on 17 May 2016 #

    Did anyone spot the third Stars on 45 single at no. 17? Now that they were no longer charting quite so high the Pops people clearly felt no need to feature their records. But I had no memory of it at all, so just found it on Youtube – a collection of intros, basically – Layla, War of the Worlds, Kung Fu Fighting and many, many more, with just a snatch of the original theme. It’s endorsed by one Christopher Murphy with the, please let’s hope tongue-in-cheek comment, “no other band can ever beat Stars on 45.”

  3. 253
    Mark G on 17 May 2016 #

    Something else I spotted: The “Original Bird Dance” by the Electronicas, lower down in the chart rundown. Man, those purists! Tell you what, that could make one of those impossible pub quiz questions..

    Yeah, this week’s show was “quite good”, Heaven 17 being the highlight, but nothing to get too entertaining about so will save it for the next time.

  4. 254
    Lazarus on 17 May 2016 #

    A couple of weeks back, we had ‘You’ll Never Know’ by Hi-Gloss. They really were a mysterious outfit, even at the time. I remember Record Mirror attempting to track them down for an interview, and IIRC the nearest they got was speaking to someone from the record company. And to this day the Internet is unable to throw any light on them. There appears to have been no album, or even a follow-up single – even the lead singer’s name is a mystery. We’ll never know who the hell they were, I guess.

  5. 256
    Lazarus on 17 May 2016 #

    Good digging there. Luter Vandross was on it, eh?

  6. 257
    Lazarus on 23 May 2016 #

    Best get a shift on, looks like there are two episodes on iPlayer I haven’t seen yet. What have we here? The return of the boy Read, haven’t seen him for a while.

    Tweets – getting the party started with this nonsense, Legs, audience and Read all joining in. Appears to have originated in Holland this – along with the Smurfs, those Dutchies have a lot to answer for.

    Godley & Creme – now this is more like it. Their first hit after the wonderful ‘Englishman in New York’ from a couple of years earlier somehow failed to chart. Odd though, that for a duo feted as pioneers of video, they don’t appear to have made one for this.

    Sheena Easton – not sure if this is a repeat. Sounds like the Clangers interjecting in parts. She was born Sheena Shirley Orr, and was only married to Mr Easton for a very short time when she was young – but has kept his name for her whole career. Just liked the sound of it, I suppose.

    Teardrop Explodes – now at its peak of 25. Good to see this on for a third time, new performance this week. I can hear at least three songs in here, marvellous.

    Creatures – Siouxsie and Budgie from the Banshees as Mike helpfully lets us know. You don’t get many vocalist and drummer duos do you – White Stripes, I suppose? Energetic performance but somewhat lacking in melody. I think Read says ‘mad eyed dreamer.’ It’s one of those things you put down to experience, I suppose.

    Ottawan – the DISCO pair from last year are back and the Legs are going out, literally, with a bang. A saucy, Swede-pleasing Wild West routine for this. They all get to shoot their guns too, with a comedy moment from Anita. Plenty to enjoy here and the guys at the side get a great view.

    Toyah – brings big hair and plenty of movement, this is one you only recognise when you hear the chorus. It’s alright. We get the video next week I see.

    Bad Manners – on video. They’re in the sea for some reason. Then on a rainy beach. And then playing for some bewildered looking pensioners. It all looks a bit shambolic to be honest, and the song isn’t much cop. The minibus can’t come soon enough for this lot.

    Altered Images – first timers. I used to work with someone who had a major crush on young Claire. I think she’d already done ‘Gregory’s Girl’ by this point, so clearly had a plan for when the hits dried up. I enjoyed this lot while they lasted though. First chart rundown.

    Gidea Park – yeah I think we’ve heard this enough now. Busy week for the Legs. He’s off to join the Beach Boys soon apparently. Chart 20-11.

    Dollar – repeat, presumably, unless they really like those outfits. Holding at 19 and presumably the last time we’ll see this.

    Top 10. Police are at 2 but that’s as far as they’ll get. We can’t be too far away from O Superman now. Would have liked to see what Legs & Co did with that. Adam & the Ants up there for another week. Was never quite sure what the point of the ‘characters’ at the end of. Did people use to ridicule Clint Eastwood? Anyway it’s there for another week or two yet.

    We go out incongruously to Mr Tambourine Man, courtesy of ‘the original’ Tight Fit. Not quite up to some recent shows, but Calypso Read did a good job I thought.

  7. 258
    Mark M on 23 May 2016 #

    Re257: ‘You don’t get many vocalist and drummer duos do you – White Stripes, I suppose?’

    One bunnied act, plus a scattering of lower-fi types: The Spinanes (who predated the White Stripes by about a decade), Honeyblood, (rather more rock) Royal Blood… I’m sure there are at least a small bunch more.

  8. 259
    Tommy Mack on 23 May 2016 #

    #257/258 – Slaves, Blood Red Shoes, Black Keys, Cowbell – there was a big spike in guitar/drums duos after The White Stripes blew up and they’ve maintained a residual presence on the gig circuit since: I guess any musical format where you can tour in a hatchback and don’t have more than two people to coordinate is always going to bear consideration from those who have to juggle music-making with day-jobs etc!

  9. 260
    Mark G on 23 May 2016 #

    Just to note, the Bunny does not have jurisdiction over the TOTP discussion pages.

    We are allowed to say “The Ting-Tings” here.

  10. 261
    Tommy Mack on 23 May 2016 #

    Oh yeah, I had forgotten about them! We did covers of That’s Not My Name and Seven Nation Army at school gig night when a bout of flu reduced the teachers’ band to a two piece. Weird, the things you remember.

  11. 262
    mit on 24 May 2016 #

    And yes, it’s the Kid Jensen, returning from ooh wherever, and he’s here to say Hello, it’s good to be back.. And so is (snip) but now it’s Toyah! Yes, it’s not often that the TOTP starts with a video but normal service will not be resumed this week. Never mind. Lots of hair colours and mountains that meet the sea.

    Bob Geldof and Janice Long up now to sing the old PJ Proby number.. oh hang on, it’s BA and Maggie Bell. Is this her first time on TOTP? She was more the OGWT type. Anyway, the original version has one of those lead guitar solos, I think it’s Jimmy Page, but I’m guessing. Anyway, this is OK, which is not really good enough but.

    You may have another happy birthday, only two/one week after the last one.

    And you may have the last choreographed Legs and Co appearance for The birdie song, if you like. I’m guessing you would rather remember them from last time’s Ottowan performance, that’s fine. I can’t see Sue here, but she’s on the credit list at the end.

    Godley/Creme repeat, so let’s have some EXPLOITED!!! Yeah!!! ALL RIGHT!! yer actual OI get their go, it’s what it is, that’s what it is. Subtitles are required here, the first time around I thought he was singing “That’s nice, that’s nice”, but he isn’t. And the bass player is trying to be Sid V by looking exactly like Johnny Rotten off the “Pretty Vacant” video. I think this was a case of the Exp’s record label doing the whole “chart this record” procedures, I doubt it would have been their biggest seller otherwise. See “Exploited barmy army” for the longest spell-out lyric.. “EEE.. EX… PEE.. ELL..” and so on. Anyway, Wattie once beat me in a Karaoke comp but I’ll not complain, he looked completely different in civvies and a decent voice doing a Huey Lewis and the news song. It was the strangest night of my life, and that’s only part of it.

    Squeeze do tongue-in-cheek country, which is never a good look.

    The Creatures, you know already. A double single, this one..

    You can hear Heaven 17 at this point, in the background, ooh that’s already gone down the chart, ooh. Anyway, Bad Manners are now back from Prestatyn as of their video from last time (actually, it was Southend), and they manage to be somewhere between UB40 and Madness here, and it’s got it right.

    Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin and It’s my party. Never went for this one. It’s all very fiddly, some bit work (the talky bit), some dont (JUUUUUDYYY AND JOHNNNNNNYY JUST WALLLLLKED etc), I wonder off for a bit.

    And return to see.. Blimey Debbie looks wrong! Oh, it’s a Blondie medley song, and the Legs girls are behind. That makes this the actual last appearance, I believe. So, they open up the minibus and they pile in, never to be seen again. No Sue, it seems. Where did she go? (to be continued … .. . )

  12. 263
    Mark G on 24 May 2016 #

    I had to look up “O Superman”, it seemed like the gals had done that one at the time, well they didn’t it was the new bunch, and also it wasn’t at the time it was the Christmas show. Which we won’t be seeing (unless Sav&DLT aren’t among the “various Radio 1 DJs” which I suspect they are).

    Oh, and the post above this one is mine, obv.

  13. 264
    Adam Puke on 24 May 2016 #

    #257-259 Yeah, 21st century economics have definitely played a part in the rise of guitar/drums duos. I’d also say modern production techniques play a part- with the excessive loudness compression used on (practically all) recordings nowadays, the fewer instruments the better. If the White Stripes had been around in the 80s/early 90s their arrangements would’ve sounded very empty indeed.

  14. 265
    Tommy Mack on 24 May 2016 #

    Yeah, The White Stripes’ early albums made much more of a virtue of their skeletal sound compared to the huge layers of fuzz guitar from White Blood Cells onwards. It probably says something about the limitations of the gtr/drums format that by far their biggest hit, Seven Nation Army, was the one they put a bassline on.

  15. 266
    Jimmy the Swede on 25 May 2016 #

    A veritable Gal fest as we get multiple helpings of our lovelies, whom I suspect we will not see again. The Eternal Mistress appeared to have slipped in a sick note for the last one. I’d like to think she’s bombing down the A23 to the Swede. Thanks for the memories, Sue. And the same salute to the others as well.

  16. 267
    Lazarus on 25 May 2016 #

    Yes as Mark quietly hinted at #262, the reason we started Friday’s show with a video is that the opening act was cut – Gary Glitter, whose ‘Dance Me Up’ which I’ve just watched on YT, appeared to be going for an Adam & the Ants type sound. Interestingly it was cut from the extended show as well, which I’m sure is a first for this series. To fill the 40 minutes we had a long playout from This Year’s Blonde, who seemed to keep going long after the credits had finished. I’d have said 1981’s Blonde was Kim Wilde – but in this case it turned out be one Tracey Ackermann, who’d been seen earlier in the year with Enigma and had a few nineties hits as writer and credited vocalist.

    I enjoyed Toyah’s silly ‘Mad Max’ style video and thought Bad Manners were better without theirs. Next week is a Savile show so we miss the poor old Human League yet again. And yes farewell to the Legs (although they’ll be seen in the background for a few more editions) – what a disappointing end for them. I’m pretty sure nobody would have had the same affection for Zoo.

  17. 268
    Lazarus on 25 May 2016 #

    Correction – the missed GG number was a medley – ‘All That Glitters’ – the record I mentioned came out in ’84. Another of the bands on the show, Squeeze, released their own ‘Squabs on Forty Fab’ on the B side of ‘Labelled With Love.’ Hearing that was the first time I came across ‘Goodbye Girl’ which was never a hit in its own right.

  18. 269
    Phil on 26 May 2016 #

    I was puzzled by that video – it’s a bit Mad Max (meets Labyrinth), but it’s very Mad Max 2… which wouldn’t come out for another couple of months. Was it trailed heavily beforehand? Did Godley & Creme get a sneak preview? Or was it just a weird coincidence?

  19. 270
    Paulito on 26 May 2016 #

    @ 258, 260: We’re allowed to say “The Ting Tings” anywhere, shurely? It’s songs that are bunnied, not performers.

  20. 271
    Phil on 26 May 2016 #

    And that is their name…


  21. 272
    speedwell54 on 26 May 2016 #

    The Kid’s back after a year in Atlanta and straight to Toyah on video. Godley and Creme directed this; maybe they had seen Mad Max?

    Hold Me – Maggie Bell and B A Robertson. He still wants to be an actor and this is the dictionary definition of ‘hamming it up’. Better to listen to this one. The band look so 70s, like extras from an episode of the Sweeney and of course Dave, from Chas and Dave.

    Altered Images – After a couple of misses they almost hit the top with this one. C P Grogan also in the film Gregory’s Girl this year.

    The Kid introduces “The Tweet Song” well that’s what happens when you go away for a year. “The Birdie Song” and Legs kind of get a go; albeit in the middle of the audience on low podiums. Swede can’t be happy!

    Godley and Creme rpt and for the second time, following the Tweets.

    The Exploited -nmcot then or now. “Dead Cities” though lead singer manages to shout that down to just two syllables. Can pick out the odd word but it’s lost on me. I don’t think it’s a happy song.

    Squeeze- Labelled With Love – I think a fare few here would be word perfect on this one. Crowd cheer half way through during a slight pause thinking it’s all over.

    The Creatures- this track was from the Wild Things EP. Rather unusual with just voice and drums on all tracks. Just seen this has been dealt with up thread…

    Bad Manners and Buster dresses down for this one and it’s okay. They were a bit hit and miss for me.

    Dave and Babs – a strange number. Ferry and Winehouse also had a stab at this and both are worth a listen.

    This Year’s Blonde -I’d forgotten about this. I’m trying to recapture that feeling.

    Not my favourite but there has been worse.

  22. 273
    Andrew Farrell on 26 May 2016 #

    I believe the concern would be that if anyone had very strong views on the Ting Tings, and it all kicked off, it would make more sense for that to happen on the page reserved for them.

    Fortunately, no-one, including the Ting Tings, has very strong views on the Ting Tings, but I don’t see why these threads would be exempt from the Bunny per se?

  23. 274
    Mark M on 26 May 2016 #

    Re270: Yes, but in the case of acts with the one famous song, it rather gives it away. (Although, it turns out that they had another top 10 hit).

    Re260, 273: I was erring on the side of caution. In theory, Tom’s gaff, Tom’s rules, but he tends not to be an interventionist god, so I guess it’s whatever everyone can agree on.

  24. 275
    Auntie Beryl on 27 May 2016 #

    #267: Tracey Ackerman co-wrote C’Est La Vie, Rollercoaster and Blame It On The Weatherman for ver ‘Witched, so has played a decent role in the Popular story.

  25. 276
    speedwell54 on 29 May 2016 #

    Yewtreed episode last week I think and consequently lots of repeats. Simon Bates hosts and manages to fluff his first line calling Clare a “movie star and a pop stair/stare” . Altered Images come into the studio again and she looks even more enchanting than last time. Legs dance at the front of the stage.

    Rod- Tonight I’m Yours – Simon introduces the video with “looks like this, and sounds like this too” Rod updates himself again at least musically, and includes tubular bells that for once don’t make us think of Christmas.

    Simon gives us a full history of The Fureys and Davey Arthur before introducing them with “this is the way they look and this is the way they sound” (anyone spotting a theme!) Heavy on the accent this isn’t isn’t for me Ffwd.

    Oliva Newton John – Physical. Video cut short and twktc
    Trevor Walters rpt, B A Robertson/Maggie Bell rpt.

    Simon introduces Haircut One Hundred with-” This is what they look like, and, this is what they sound like” – is he getting bloody sponsored? Heyward looking about 12 here and looks about 30 now. The rapping reminded me of Spandau from a few weeks ago.

    Joan Of Arc – the slow start means we have to wait a few moments for his trademark shaky head and the wavy bass. This builds wonderfully.

    Charts and then Squeeze rpt. Charts again and we get to see photos of those we have missed last week.

    Number one and Stewart/Gaskin. But Simon, I’m wondering what they look like and sound like…oh there we go.. video in full.

    Highlight OMD.

  26. 277
    Mark G on 29 May 2016 #

    Its true.. JimSwede, you’re missing one! Sue is back..

  27. 278
    Pink champale on 29 May 2016 #

    Just got to to the Wired for Sound one. Devastated to discover that Cliff likes tall speakers and small speakers, not tall people and small people as I’d always thought. 35 years down the drain…

  28. 279
    Mark G on 30 May 2016 #

    “I like tall teachers
    I like small teachers
    Just as long as they’re nailed to the ground”

    Possibly the Barron Knights’ best line?

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