Jul 09

Popular ’83

FT + Popular/88 comments • 3,937 views

Every Popular entry has a mark out of 10 – here’s where you get to choose which you’d have given 6 or above to (and make any general comments on the year in the comments boxes, of course). The highest 1983 mark I gave was 9, for Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” (pre-death!). The lowest I gave was 3 apiece for UB40 and Rod Stewart.

Which Of These Number One Singles Of 1983 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

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  1. 76
    speedwell54 on 10 Mar 2017 #

    Kid n Peel – Peel does a quick impression of Mike Smash ” Live from Shepherd’s Bush” and this is the 999th show. Permission to go all weird.

    Galaxy – They look like a duo as third member is dancing completely out of time. She eventually catches up. Not without merit.

    Sweet Dreams – they have altered their routine a tiny bit in the falling stool part… that’s all I’ve got to say on this.

    Kid thinks he’s Alan Wicker and we get a few clips of people we don’t know singing. Paula Tsui with a ballad that could have a come out in the 70s. We finish with Lam who taught Psy everything he knows.

    Budgie thinks he’s Evelyn Glennie on Kiss the girl-That’s a long instrumental bit in the middle.

    Peel’s gone to France and we see some more videos in a European chart run down. Patrick Duffy’s track turns into a James Bond theme. Cook Da Books from a Sophie Marceau film, La Boum.

    TFF – hot on the heels of Change we get another great track in Pale Shelter.

    Kissing the Pink -I think, a repeat, if not might as well have been.

    ‘True’ at Number one and this has turned into a comedy record over the years, but they won’t mind as the coffers roll in; there may be arguments. Gosh this is long song. Out to Friday Night from KFF.

    Those roving reporter pieces were both quite long, and in a sliding doors way, I wonder who got ditched to make way.

    Not my favourite but there has been worse

  2. 77
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Mar 2017 #

    28 April 1983

    Peel and Kid, the 999th edition.

    Galaxy – “Dancing Tight”
    As smooth as the chocolate, I am surprised to find this was Galaxy’s first hit. It’s kind of generic 1983 R&B/late-disco, but does the job reasonably well. Some athletic dance moves on show here. “We could be the greatest dancers around”. Perhaps. They get the audience dancing in rhythm at least,

    Sweet Dreams “I’m Never Giving Up”
    Now confirmed as having been placed six at Eurovision, and still a cracking bit of tacky Eurovision pop. Deserved much higher than no 23 (or indeed its peak of 21) The choreographed dance moves are, in retrospect, hilarious. Trying to imitate and exceed the “dress ripping off” moves of Bucks Fizz in 1981 no doubt.

    Evidence of that “mid-life identity crisis” thing that TOTP was said to be having in the overview of TOTP 1983 broadcast this Jan.
    Video section with Kid Jensen in Singapore presenting “highlights of the Far East charts”
    Starts out outside the Raffles hotel. No singles for sale out there!
    Paula Tsui “Fantasia” in Cantonese, at anti-drugs show in Hong Kong
    Well this is very middle of the road variety show stuff.
    “pop music not so important to Asians is it is to us in the UK”
    China Doll “Chasing The Dragon” (hmm presumably not from an anti-drugs show)
    sounds a bit Tears for Fearsy/ 1981 electro-pop melancholy, video with bloke being clambered over by a monkey, I think in Hong Kong.
    Chinese movie star and hearthrob Lam “Mirages” described as “Singapore’s best selling record”
    red jacket guy with questionable moustache. The track not instantly memorable.
    A weird interlude.

    The Creatures “Miss The Girl”
    Great xylophone action here. Mysterious Banshees offshoot, an attention-grabbing chorus accompanies much minimalism. Powerful and haunting.

    Now Peel does the European chart – nice view of Peel on a Sealink ferry on the channel, hoping we’ll have French songs about consumption-ridden basement dwellers. If only.
    Popular in France is a Liverpudlian group Cook Da Books “Your Eyes – La Boum”.
    Vid of people waving cigarette lighters like we used to, sentmental, not terribly appealing drivel? If first impressions count, then yes….
    Peel in Boulogne
    Hoffman & Hoffman “Rucksicht”, the German Eurovision entry. It s very variety show.
    Counts down the “European top 10” while eating chips like you do
    and no 7 Mirielle Matthieu & Patrick Duffy “Together We’re Strong”. A bit Christopher Crossy, seems a bit outdated by 1983 really. Not good.
    Nena “99 Luftballons” at no 2 is very much more like it. Punk energy transmuted into pop gem.
    Europe’s no 1 David Bowie “Let’s Dance”.
    Peel ironic as ever, but hmm I’m not sure this is a valuable new feature to include in TOTP…

    The Kid bearing aloft a little Eiffel Tower to give off that international sophistication vibe yeah

    Tears For Fears “Pale Shelter”
    This is very fine. Electro-pop with an edge. Classy. Certainly the first “essential” track of the night

    Kissing The Pink “Last Film”
    Quite mad and quite brilliant. Powerful, haunting.

    Many acts in the top 10 described as “multi-talented”. Some of them might warrant it. FR David? Probably not so much

    no 1 Spandau Ballet “True” on video
    Polished and carefully manufactured, the video is a bit too slick, but the song is strong enough to cope with bad mid-80s fashion.

    Very sharp edit indicating that something has been cut out (ah – presumably a reference to next week’s very special but very unrepeatable edition). Dance out briefly to a crap track by the Kids From Fame – “Friday Night”. Not good.

    Bizarre edition.. Three very good tracks performed in the studio, but the excursions…a bad idea’s a bad idea.

  3. 78
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Mar 2017 #

    12 May 1983
    A slightly new theme tune and graphics, Wooh modern times.

    Tommy Vance and Mike Read
    doing the annoying thing of letting the song start before introducing it, like Gary Davies had done a few episodes back.

    But it’s only Modern Romance “Don’t Stop That Crazy Rhythm”
    which is really not very good. Maybe not their worst record, although maybe it is, but it has a fair bit of competition. (Gosh, I’m thinking Coldcut & Junior Reid plagiarised a bit of this, or came close to doing so, in “Stop This Crazy Thing” – which is vastly superior to this). Music for garden parties full of wankers. Dear God they have a stage dancer – Will Gaines it turns out- out front in a backwards baseball cap. Capital punishment seems more appealing for crimes against music after enduring this.

    Hall & Oates “Family Man” on video
    This has quite a bit more bite (and bark) than many of their tracks. Video intertwines scenes of H&O and their supposed families with very early 80s primitive computer graphics. The song is superior to the video *(which actually isn’t so bad). Some great chord sequences as well as bite and anger.

    Belle Stars “Sweet Memory”
    Not a patch on “Sign Of The Times”, but with similar ingredients. Energy, attitude, a bit of a 60s feel, horns. Plus a short chanted chorus and screams. Fun, but a bit incidental.

    Pink Floyd “Not Now John” on video
    Loads of images of Japan in the video. vaguely anti-war lyrics. Anything but a classic.

    Hot Chocolate “What Kinda Boy You Looking For (Girl)”
    “one of our most consistent groups over the past 13 years” is true enough – a great, somewhat underrrated singles act, for years n years. Though this a relatively minor addition to their catalogue. But Their talent and charm is still evident, Errol Brown a great frontman. I can deal with this.

    Galaxy “Dancing Tight”
    Which hasn’t notably improved since the last edition it was on. it’s alright. The song doesn’t develop very much. And oh – key change alert. Wallpaper to dance to.


    The Creatures “Miss The Girl”
    Vance clarifies it’s marimbas, not xylophones, we’re dealing with here. Still quality minimalism. Some avant garde camera work of faces in the audience during one of the prolonged instrumental sections.

    Men At Work “Overkill”
    So not one hit wonders then (4 top 40s in fact). Though compared with their big one this feels like a B-side. Quite the opposite of overkill. Pre-empting Climie Fisher in creating boring middle-of-the-road pop.

    Big climbs by Blancmance (just outside the top 10) and the Beat (just inside it) being ignored…
    Agneta from ABBA says hello, briefly.

    No 1 on video Spandau Ballet “True”. As before. i do see the point about it being rather lengthy.

    Dance out to Kissing The Pink “Last Film”, although no-one in dancing as jerkily as the band have done in their performances.

    Not an overwhelming show, not least as all the good tracks have been on before. And the presentation was very Smashy and Nicey.

  4. 79
    Mostro on 12 Mar 2017 #

    #78 Chelovek na lun ; Can only assume you’re not watching “live”- at the time I was reading your comment, they hadn’t got to all those bits! :-)

    Have to admit that I haven’t been following the TOTP repeats even though they’re now well into the period where I’d have been watching regularly as a kid. So it’s a slight coincidence that the bits I caught were of the two shows spanning the updating of the set (which I assume happened with the 1000th show, since they made a point of the first one being #999).

    Watching the first one, I hate to admit that it struck me as looking creakier and older than I’d remembered (the fuzziness of the filmed inserts not helping with this impression)… then I realised it *was* that old!

    Yet the change of set on the 12 May show- which seems to be #1001 (*)- made it feel so much more like “my” Top of the Pops, like it had jumped forward several years. Crisper, brighter, more mid-80s, even if some aspects of the visual presentation (e.g. chart rundown) remained the same.

    I do agree about the presenters though. Tommy Vance came across as very middle-aged and “Smashy” without the tongue-in-cheekness of (e.g.) John Peel, though apparently he was still well regarded among the heavy rock community at this time.

    (*) A quick check on YouTube has the opening of show #1000, with- unsurprisingly- its most famous (and now incredibly infamous) presenter in for the occasion. I think it can be safely assumed this is why it was skipped. Oddly, although he apparently still presented on a regular basis for the first couple of years I was watching the show, I don’t really recall him being on it, or much about the presenters in general- for me, I think TOTP must have been mainly about the music.

  5. 80
    Lazarus on 16 Mar 2017 #

    Livebloggin’ one for a change – right place, right time etc … (also Tom appears to have got bored, again ….)

    D Train – was this a hit? Do not remember it at all. ‘You’re the one for me’ was the only one of theirs (his?) that springs to mind … anyway, forgettable.

    Simon Bates I’ve just discovered is the presenter, having only tuned in at 7.31. Introduces –

    Blancmange – video. A fairly short chart life for them as I recall. This is OK though – a sort of funkier OMD. Hand plunged into plate of blancmange at the end, visual clue folks.

    Gary Davies is the other MC it seems, with a very pretty oriental girl at his shoulder. ‘Can’t get loosed to using you’ as I always seemed to say it, so I can’t blame him …

    The Beat – the last hurrah for this lot with a three year old track from their debut album. I wonder what triggered the release of this as a single? Dave Wakeling in a dinner jacket – you know the song. Sublime sax solo.

    Wham! – one of many performances on this year’s Pops that will seem bitter-sweet I’m sure. ‘Bad Boys’ this time round. B&W video with a family theme, even if his ‘parents’ look about 35. Andrew is in there, somewhere.

    Meet’n’greet with Brighton & Hove Albion. I’m no football fan, but memory tells me that ‘Man U’ came out on top this time!

    Joboxers – good follow-up. “Your technique it leaves me weak” a great opening line. A bit of early Dexy’s, perhaps some Northern Soul and … what else? They didn’t last anyhow, but there was something here. Anyone got the album?

    All three of the Police reluctantly talk to Simon Bates. Chart 30-20.

    Yazoo – I think this might be my favourite of theirs. From the second album that almost nobody bought. Alison is well overdue for a comeback, but I guess in the current climate that won’t happen – her heiress apparent (Adele) is already centre stage. As for Vince, well Erasure keep going and refuse to be rubbed out …

    Chart 19-8. Bob Marley with a posthumous new entry.

    Fun Boy Three – another short lived group with what I think was their final hit. Co-written by Jane Wiedlin and also recorded by the Go-Go’s on their excellent ‘Beauty and the Beat’ LP. Terry Hall will re-appear in other guises, not sure what became of the other two. Can anyone identify any of the guesting members? There is a female voice on the record.

    Countdown. And number 1 – Spandau Ballet – TWKTM. Much loved by radio (and Vintage TV) and has kept all concerned in hot dinners ever since, although their comebacks have never amounted to much. Various Zooers smooch to the titles – their days are numbered. They’re no Pans People, after all.

    A decent show although I still miss the Prestatyn fodder, if truth be known.

  6. 81
    Jimmy the Swede on 18 Mar 2017 #

    Apropos the ’83 Cup Final, Gary Davies chatted to one Gordon Smith who was destined to write himself into Cup Final folklore but not alas in the way he would have wanted. Having put Brighton in front, the match was pegged back to 2-2 as we went into extra time. Then with the last play of the match Gordon Smith was through on goal. Peter Jones on BBC radio had no doubts: “And Smith is through. And Smith must score…” Unfortunately Gordon fluffed his lines and smacked the ball straight at United ‘keeper Gary Bailey, who blocked it. It was a dreadful miss and United thumped the Seagulls in the replay 4-0. Smith was inconsolable as were the Albion fans. But being footy supporters, they made the most of what was for them a tragedy. With the onset of “fanzines”, what else could Brighton’s be called other than “And Smith Must Score…”? As for Gordon himself he was later quoted as saying that he hoped for the advent of the time machine, which would enable him to be running onto Bailey again: “This time, I’d simply lift it over him!”

    Simon Bates meanwhile made a total oaf of himself by asking Jimmy Case if he’d ever played at Wembley, clearly clueless of the fact that not only had Jimmy been for many years part of that great Liverpool side of the seventies but had actually scored a sublime goal in the ’77 Cup Final, only to lose out, ironically to Man United.

    Lazarus # 80 – That girl standing next to Gary Davies before the Beat came on was an absolute stunner, wasn’t she?

  7. 82
    speedwell54 on 19 Mar 2017 #

    Bates and Davies this week. Bates has borrowed a blazer from Nicholas Parsons and I don’t even know what Gary’s wearing – a coloured graduation gown over a white t-shirt?

    D Train – looking cool from the off but I’m not sure. “People often ask me can I climb on mountain tops?” Do they? Do they really Mr D Train? Which people are these? How often do they ask you? I wager one person, once, or no-one ever. Si informs us they’ve just flown in the States. (thanks for the method of transport coz we all thought they’d yatched in!)

    New Edition Candy Girl on video. Bobby Brown on this before they kicked him out. Ralph does sound like Michael Jackson in places. (I know that’s probably what they were going for) Four of them nearly made it back to number one almost a decade later on the back of “The Best Things In Life Are Free”

    David Grant – Stop and Go- Despite Bate’s prediction of a number one this stopped at 19. Not terrible, but nmcot. (no idea where he came from or how he travelled)

    Blancmange – “this is the way it looks and sounds” says Bates as he introduces them. This is one of his catchphrases – he used it to death in an episode in ’81 see 276 in Popular ’81. On to Blancmange – so to speak, Neil Arthur -technically a giant- is channeling a bit OMD (as mentioned) with a touch of Talking Heads- works well , tick.

    “They tell me they’ve just flown in from Birmingham” says Gary as he introduces The Beat- I wonder. My father had a meeting over in Blackpool back around this time in ’83 and with the sun shining he took me and a friend, and we had a day out. My friend bought “Can’t Get Used To Losing You” and I bought “Your Imagination” – Hall and Oates, both 12″ singles. I bought it for the b side “Sara Smile” which I know I have banged on about on here before. For those eager to learn, we travelled by car from Yorkshire. Sadly my friend’s record warped in the heat of the parcel shelf of our champagne coloured Austin Ambassador on the way home across the Pennines via the M62.

    Bad Boys Wham on video. Followed by a cringe inducing visit by football. “are you looking forward to the final on Saturday” Fearne Cotton learnt everything she knows here. You can see Bates isn’t listening to the answers – as touched on above. If Case had said” I played there (Wembley) about 8 times and I never get nervous”, his next question would still have been ” and do you ever get nervous?”

    Jo Boxers – If Boxerbeat sounded like a one hit wonder this didn’t; but they didn’t stick around unfortunately. Nothing wrong with this. Guy Garvey had a thing about boxer beat – the snare drum strike on every beat- and he used to harp on about it – well more than once.

    Bates has an uncomfortable interview with the police (you can do your own gags here ) The Police calling in to promote their new single.
    On to Yazoo- twktc. Vince Clarke/Depeche Mode/Alison Moyet all had very long careers with varying commercial success.

    Countdown and then Fun Boy Three- usual stuff performance wise and I can’t keep teasing Terry. There is a cute moment when something happens off camera causing the bassist to laugh and you just catch Terry turning round and smiling.

    True at Number 1 -“and it looks like it’ll be number one for the rest of the century” says Bates- it was barely number one for the rest of the week, over taken by -spoiler alert -Candy Girl for the next episode.

    Not my favourite but there has been worse.

    1000th edition- I know it was never going to be shown but a shame.

  8. 83
    Steve Williams on 19 Mar 2017 #

    I never thought I’d say this but I’m actually looking forward to Simon Bates presenting this show now, because he’s so bloody bad at it, and all his balls-ups and ridiculous lines make for totally compelling and hilarious viewing. I loved the way he announced the Fun Boy Three were at number seven with all the authority he would usually use for announcing the film we’re about to see contains sexual swearwords.

    And, of course, he was only 35 at the time! Brrrr.

  9. 84
    Chelovek na lune on 19 Mar 2017 #

    19 May 1983
    Bates and Davies presenting a live edition

    D Train – “Music”
    “You’re The One For Me”, their minor (no 30) hit from 1982 (although a bigger hit on later rerelease) is to my ears a timeless classic, very superior soul-R&B with determination and drive – the first 12″ I really fell in love with .”Music” contains some of the same elements, and is identifiably a D-Train track, and also identifiably a watered-down retread of that classic. It’s not that this is bad, it’s not that at all, just that it references something so very much better.

    Bates wearing a garland of flowers around his neck

    New Edition “Candy Girl” on video
    Overdoing the cute kids with near falsetto voices thing. The sound could be sickly sweet, and well I suppose it was time for Jackson Five revival. Fabulous manufactured and confected pop.

    David Grant “Stop And Go”
    Similar soul-R&B sound as D Train, but very much less accomplished (and built on the backing of session musicians, preusmably) . Grant looks surprisingly young, and the outfits worn by him and and the dancers couldn’t be more tastelessly 1983 if they tried. “Bound to get to no 1” says Batesy. Yeah right.

    Blancmange “Blind Vision” on video
    Spacious bit of synth-led late new romanticism with impassioned vocals. Really an underrated act. Really pretty good.

    The Beat “Can’t Get Used To Losing You”
    Dub reggaeish with a geezer in black tie. Sublime cover version. As good a way to announce that a group is splitting up as can be. The best tonight by far so far.

    Wham! “Bad Boys” on video
    Fun video with beuniformed primary schoolboys being, well, moderately bad, before the band appear. Surely the single that confirmed earlier suspicions that Wham! were something really special, a phenomenon, even.

    Football bit, Bates says they’d been hoping for Man Utd to turn up, but they need to rest for a big game, so here are (not second best or anything) several players from Brighton & Hove Albion bearing aloft “The Seagulls” albums, showing their sponsorship by British Caledonian Airways. (I wish they all could be…)

    JoBoxers “Just Got Lucky”
    FANTASTIC RECORD. Pub rock with a New Wave edge? Maybe. As aggressive and as foot-stompingly driven as “Boxer Beat”, but a bit more melodious and a bit more complex. Best new act of 1983 so far?

    Sting in , announcing his new single “Every Breath You Take”

    Yazoo “Nobody’s Diary”
    Actually quite possibly the best thing they ever did. Vince and Alf – the perfect combination. And the song too is a fine combination of restraint and emotional depth. Moyet – so much better than Adele.

    Charts 19 to 8, logically enough
    then no 7 Fun Boy Three “Our Lips Are Sealed”
    More West Midlands shenanigans of some brilliance and depth to follow on from that of the Beat earlier, but with added deadpannery, especially from Terry Hall. As with the Beat, it seems like this sound is on the way out – but what a way to go out.

    Charts 6 to 1
    No 1, fourth week Spandau Ballet “True” to end the show
    I read a piece in the Times Literary Supplement that pointed out that the reference to “your seaside arms” was an allusion to “Lolita”. I had no idea what he was going on about before.

    A few really good songs this week.

  10. 85
    Chelovek na lune on 19 Mar 2017 #

    26 May 1983

    Ultra-short 21 minute edition before a replayed FA Cup Final, Peter Powell & Pat Sharp.

    Big Country “In A Big Country”
    Bagpipe-guitars are go, again. Catchy chorus, but overall not quite as attention-catching as “Fields of Fire”, but attitude still in abundance. Definitely a band to watch.

    Charts already 30-14, logically enough

    At no 13 Man Utd “Glory Glory Man United”. with “some ace goals” on video
    The record is as good as you’d expect it to be. At least they cut it off after a minute or so.

    Video chart
    12 Style Council “Money Go Round”.
    A bit of a limp second single really
    11 Bob Marley & The Wailers “Buffalo Soldier”
    A genuine undisputed classic

    then 10 in the studio Hot Chocolate “What Kinda Boy You Lookin’ For (Girl)”
    These guys are just so masterful. I fear this sound is on its way out now too, too variety show to endure in the brave new world of the mid-80s, but let’s enjoy it while it lasts…

    Charts 9-7 (the video thing having seemingly been abandoned no sooner than it had begun)

    The Police “Every Breath You Take”
    The (appropriately enough) inescapable stalkers’ song. Change your name and contact details and move to another planet, frankly.

    Charts 6-2 (again without videos, although this is a decent selection of songs)

    No1 New Edition “Candy Girl” on video
    I’d quite forgotten this was a no 1 in the UK. Well it is what it is. It could get irritating on repeated listening, but without that it’s fun, and danceable

    dance out to Forrest “Feel The Need In Me”
    I’d quite forgotten he’d had a second hit, another cover. Maybe or maybe not worse that Shakin’ Stevens later version, but as I can’t bring myself to listen to that, Forrest gets the benefit of the doubt. But his version is not filled with soul.

  11. 86
    Adam Puke on 20 Mar 2017 #

    “Just Got Lucky” is indeed fantastic. Is that where Killing Joke got the inspiration for “Eighties”? That bassline doesn’t lie!

  12. 87
    Snif on 20 Mar 2017 #

    #80, Lazarus – I could be wrong, but I believe the female vocals on the Fun Boy Three song were provided by June Miles-Kingston, who also played the drums.

  13. 88
    theminstrel on 21 Mar 2017 #

    Modern Romance’s “Don’t Stop That Crazy Rhythm”froma few weeks ago puts me in mind of Sailor’s “Girls Girls Girls” from the early 76 TOTP. Similar swing-cum-ragtime vibe that forms a common thread that still lives today as Electro Swing, a genre many continental European student female friends of mine are really in to.

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