Jul 09

Popular ’83

FT + Popular/62 comments • 3,078 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. 51
    Jimmy the Swede on 11 Feb 2017 #

    Just nipping back (as prompted above by Lazarus) to record my own regret at the dropping of “our old mate” Brian Matthew from “Sounds of the Sixties”. Brian had admittedly been recovering from a fall at home and was replaced by Tim Rice. The Beeb announcement said that it was “mutually agreed” that Brian should leave the show, something which Brian himself hotly disputes. I find this very sad. There’s no doubt that he’s been shabbily treated. As Lazarus says, it looks as if Bannockburn is set to grab the gig at some point and I don’t think he’ll be anything other than good for show. And at least he won’t be able to play “I’m Still Waiting” and crow about how it was he who persuaded Berry Gordy to release it as a single over here. He just couldn’t help himself doing that again when he played the record on his “Golden Hour” the other day.

    I would be surprised if Lineman is not also sorry to see Brian go. Certainly a page has been turned in popular music broadcasting.

  2. 52
    Chelovek na lune on 12 Feb 2017 #

    10 Feb 1983
    V young Pat Sharp and Janice Long

    Kicking off with the Belle Stars “Sign Of The Times”
    We’ve seen this already, twice, I think, it’s still great, the bands attire varies too. Lead singer her almost gives the appearance (her top half, anyway) of being veiled, all in black, but with playing cards arrayed in the brim of her hat. Enjoying their fame while it lasts….

    Audience wearing many fezzes

    Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes “Up Where We Belong”
    live on video. capable performers, of course, but I’m happy to fast forward this one… It goes on for too long anyway.

    First ever TOTP performance of the Thompson Twins, with “Love On Your Side”
    Rivalling Kajagoogoo for ungreat haircuts, this is a fine slice of pop that would have been avant garde a couple of years earlier, and is still sharp and characterful. Great rhythm track, too.

    Depeche Mode “Get The Balance Right”
    Did “joyride” mean “stealing cars” in 1983? Even in Basildon I don’t think so. They look so young and vulnerable, and this is understated and less cringeworthy than some of their early-mid 80s material is lyrically. Still barely a hint of the Stadium Rock Gods With Problems they would become. Not bad.

    Toto “Africa” on video
    Has certainly not been underplayed in the intervening 34 years…and as it more or less superior MOR, fair enough….

    Level 42 “The Chinese Way”
    Probably best heard in a restaurant in Romford. Probably not at a conference of history teachers.

    Michael Jackson “Billie Jean” on video
    First UK screening of the video, we are told. A masterful piece of pop music, anyway.


    Central Line “Nature Boy”, which again we’ve seen before. Mellow, agreeable. have no idea how it compares to (or differs from) the George Benson version though..


    China Crisis “Christian” which again we’ve seen before, but warrants revisiting. Solumn and serious.

    . I notice Janet Long has a habit of saying some song titles in the rhythm in which they are sung – notable on both “Heartache Avenue” earlier, and , here, “Electric Avenue”. So maybe it’s just hte word “avenue”.

    No1 on video again, Men At Work “Down Under”
    Which is alright

    Dance out to Elvis “Jailhouse Rock”. Nice retro dnacing from the crowd.

    A bit average, overall.

  3. 53
    Chelovek na lune on 12 Feb 2017 #

    17 Feb 1983
    Peter Powell and Gary Davies

    Wham! – “Wham Rap”
    GM exuding star quality already.

    on video Tears For Fears “Change”
    Melancholy in the shadow of looming glass towers, mad dancers-drummers in the office block to accompany, then ghostly apparitions escape. Anti-corporate boredom, like WHam, or anti-urbanisation and industrialisation?

    Icehouse “Hey Little Girl”
    Understated and simmering, very much of its time.

    Musical Youth “Never Gonna Give You Up” on video
    Stately and quite old-fashioned in its way, vastly less irritating than “Pass The Dutchie”>

    on video Madness “Tomorrow’s Just Another Day”
    “the masters of video” – rightly said, in a cops-n-crims prison scenario – and so much more, nutty boys are nutty boys, by no means their finest work, but fun as ever, if somewhat incidental.


    Haysi Fantaysee “Shiny Shiny”
    Post-punk brilliance and attitude in full effect. hadn’t noticed before that they rhyme “hot retard” with “Marquis de Sade”…


    Fun Boy Three “The Tunnel Of Love”
    Can’t help but think that Terry Hall is a bit underrated and has been throughout his career. Earnest or deadpan? A bit of both. A great late Two-Tone-derived sound. FB3 could be a bit hit and miss, but is certainly “hit”.


    Play-out to the new no 1 Kajagoogoo “Too Shy”
    Which is very much better than anything Ellis Beggs and Howard ever achieved….

    A short show, with Haysi Fantaysee the clear standout

  4. 54
    Phil on 14 Feb 2017 #

    My hobby is watching TOTP 83 with an iPad – it’s great for prompting random background googling and memory-jogging (how old Musical Youth?, that kind of thing). Mind you, I blotted Haysi F. out at the time, so I’d actually never realised that there were three of them, the third person being the only actual musician. Doesn’t it make you spit, as Peel said on their first appearance.

    The Icehouse singer had a bad case of the David Sylvians, which got me thinking – what is that accent? John Foxx did it as well, and Tony Hadley, although Sylvian always took it furthest. It certainly wasn’t American – was it vaguely French, or Italian? Or just Bryan Ferry-an – but in that case what was he trying to do? C’est un mystère.

  5. 55
    Chelovek na lune on 14 Feb 2017 #

    3 March 1983

    Kid ‘n Peel, the joyboys of radio, chasing electrons to and fro. Each in a top with the other’s name on, rhythm pals.

    Icehouse “Hey Little Girl” understated and languid, shirts all round and a jacket for the singer. Not a bad group all in all

    Forrest “Rock the Boat” on video.
    Can’t remember how this differs from the original, it’s pretty tolerable I suppose.

    OMD “Genetic Engineering”
    Experimental brilliance, spoken, then sung, futuristic, scientific, percussive, megaphone-in-hand, from the brilliant if defiantly uncommercial “Dazzle Ships” LP. Close to OMD at their best, maybe even actually at their best, but evidently by now too recherché for a mass mass audience. The crowd here are happily bopping up and down to this bit of Open University wonder though.


    Bananarama “Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye”
    Pre-intense sexualisation of their appearance, far closer to their alternative origins, no oiled-up topless male dancers yet. Which is good as they would only distract from this rather simple and likeable number. Straightforward and unfussy minor-key fun, almost.


    Patti Austin and James Ingram “Baby Come To Me”
    A bit of a late night classic. Beautiful duetting and interplay in the chorus. Decidedly superior. And emotional.

    Top 10 video show
    Fun Boy 3 – Tunnel of Love. Moody and fab.
    Thompson Twins – Love On Your Side. Pretty fine also. Very 1983 haircuts
    Madness – Tomorrow’s Just Another Day
    The video is better than the song. Classic entertainers.
    Tears for Fears – Change
    Underrated track.
    Musical Youth – Never Gonna Give You Up
    Ah, sweet and quite charming.
    Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams.
    A drop dead classic, of course, the video as well as the song. How could Annie Lennox ever hope to equal this I’m not sure.
    Toto – Africa
    Middle of the road fodder, but better than many such.
    Kajagoogoo – Too Shy
    No longer on top, still with the silliest hair.
    Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart
    Brilliantly over the top. Great excess as only Jim Steinman can pull off.

    No 1 on video play out to the end
    Michael Jackson – Billie Jean

    A strange and flawed edition, overly dominated and unbalanced by all those videos, but the standard of music was pretty high, and the quality of presentation by Kid and Peel unusually first rate.

  6. 56

    “the only actual musician. Doesn’t it make you spit”

    this is a bad and silly reason for spitting to be honest — plenty of groups feature “non-musicians” because physical performance (dancing and such) has always been an important part of music

    (even some of the music john peel liked)

  7. 57
    Phil on 15 Feb 2017 #

    Peel wasn’t passing judgment on musicianship or lack of, I think he just found them intensely irritating – as indeed do I, even now. Anyway, there’s a difference between bands where a non-musician is central to the look of the thing (Frankie, Mondays) and setups where the music-making is completely divorced from the performers out front. Most of the examples of the latter that I can think of are management-driven and/or go big on the vocals, neither of which was really the case for HF.

    So on reflection I’ll withdraw ‘irritating talentless twerps’ and substitute ‘an interesting autonomous experiment in the language of manufactured pop, carried out by people who some might regard as irritating talentless twerps’. Couldn’t be more 80s.

  8. 58
    Chelovek na lune on 15 Feb 2017 #

    17 March 1983
    Gary Davies and Tony Blackburn

    Bananarama – “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”
    Bit annoying the way the episodes we’re not allowed to see keep intervening, so we see the same tracks over again. A new performance, new outfits, but this is still rather slight, wherein lies its charm, I suppose.

    Style Council – “Speak Like A Child” on video
    Video that starts out on top deck of an open-top bus, countryside shenanigans. There’s still a power and energy and undertone of aggression here alongside a style that represents an evolution of that familiar from some late Jam numbers. I’m generally agnostic about the Style Council, but this track stands up well.

    Mezzoforte – “Garden Party”
    From Iceland, Tony tells us, while reminding us how very expensive records are in Iceland.
    Charming playful instrumental dancy number, kind of in the area of Shakatak with added bass and guitar riffs.

    Ultravox – “Visions in Blue” – on video
    More enigmatic restraint from Midge Ure’s latest band. Maybe too much enigma and too much restraint for once. This takes time to come alive, and when it does – well I’m not sure it was worth the wait. Lots of style, but too little substance.


    Bucks Fizz – “Run For Your Life”
    Immediately recognizable as Bucks Fizz, but maybe the glitter is starting to fade a little with repetition. It’s alright as light entertainment goes, but seems almost like a pastiche constructed from elements found in earlier, and stronger, singles of theirs.

    Joan Armatrading “Drop The Pilot”
    Her first TOTP performance since 1976 (indeed only her 3rd -and as it turned out final – top 40 hit), this is more like it. Characterful, assertive, determined song from a class act. “Drop the mahout”. I had to look up what that means.

    No1 is Bonnie Tyler “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – studio performance, much dry ice, but not as much as one might expect. The song and performance, crashing thunderbolts and all is obviously a bit ridiculous and self-consciously melodramatic, but brilliantly, exquisitely so.

    Dance out to Forrest “Rock The Boat”

    Not bad overall.

  9. 59
    Adam Puke on 17 Feb 2017 #

    #52 I think ‘joyriding’ first appeared alongside ‘carjacking’, ‘road rage’, ‘air rage’ etc as part of the late 80s/early 90s tabloidy vogue for giving catchy names to questionable activities (mind you, wasn’t Dave Gahan supposed to have been a bit naughty in his youth?)

    Dunno what Roxette’s excuse was.

  10. 60
    Mark M on 18 Feb 2017 #

    Re: 52/59: This is an academic paper claiming that the first recorded usage of joyriding in the sense of nicking a car dates from 1909. These things are generally much earlier or later than one thinks. I associate the 1990s wave, esp in Oxford*, with the term ‘twocking’ rather than joyriding.

    (I noticed fairly recently that Le Carré uses the word ‘stalking’ in the modern sense in A Small Town In Germany about 15 years earlier than any citation I can find).

    *In media-scare terms, that is. We had loads of it in Crystal Palace back then, too, presumably because the Parade is one of the best spots in London for spontaneous drag racing. It’s the kind of thing that if someone else were to say to me I wouldn’t believe, but there genuinely were recently abandoned cars around the place constantly back then.

  11. 61
    Ed on 18 Feb 2017 #

    Here’s a reference from 1977, with period details:

    “We used to nick motors for a joyride, till I rammed a Black Maria in this XJ6” – ‘Martin’, by the Tom Robinson Band


    Also includes a reference to “got Borstal for Taking and Driving Away”, which IIRC was the offence for car theft before Taking Without Owner’s Consent, which was where we got “twocking”.

  12. 62
    Chelovek na lune on 18 Feb 2017 #

    #60, #61 fascinating, etc – I too would have immediately regarded the much media-covered instances in Blackbird Leys and Rose Hill in Oxford in the early 90s to have been the origin – but these things do often tend to go back much further than immediately meets the eye..

    Another show report

    23 March 1983
    The Kid and Peel, in flat caps, live. Wednesday evening, because the “Song For Europe” will be taking up Thursday eve. They’re never giving up, not giving in, if there’s a slightest chance that they can win.

    Jo-Boxers – “Boxer Beat”
    Aggressive post-punk attitude, laddish. Addictive, catchy, instantly appealling, only time will tell whether they just got lucky here of it there’s more ahead. Dancers with big red boxing gloves add to the effect. Loadsa cheerleaders too.

    David Bowie “Let’s Dance” on video
    Fairly uncomplicated number by Bowie norms ,video filmed in Oz, a mixture of Duranie-style exotic landscapes, city roads, a bar, it’s sufficient evidence in support of the case that he still had it

    Orange Juice – “Rip It Up”
    A taut presentation from Edwyn Collins’ outfit with added chunkier electronic sounds alongside carefully considered lyrics. Good. Dancers ripping up bits of cloth or pretending to. Over-literal.

    Leo Sayer – “Orchard Road” – video, the track is from a BBC series, says Kid.
    Sayer hovers by an oversized red phone box to act out the lyrics. Again, over-literal. Moody, plaintive tale of lost love, story with lots of details. Maybe a masterpiece of its genre, it’s really looking for a musical to adopt it. Melodrama, but kind of likeable melodrama., for a bit ,anyway.

    Big Country – “Fields Of Fire (400 Miles)”
    Very Scottish-sounding intro to this track that abounds with energy, and many tartan shirts being worn, too a effusive performance all round. A very promising start for a new act to the charts. The martial air that often characterised their music is evident here. Great, even. Set dancing from the TOTP dancers who presumably haven’t mastered the arts of the ceilidh.


    Nick Heyward – “Whistle Down The Wind”
    The post-Haircut 100 age has dawned for Heyward. This has similar charm to the contents of their brief catalog, a gentle sophistication and pleasing intonation. The song could do with a bit more sharpness though on its lengthy journey to a climax though.

    Altered Images “Don’t Talk To Me About Love”
    Perhaps the highlight of their too-short career, this is as close as can be to being perfect pop music. Seductive dancing in the verses from Ms Grogan. All the best music here tonight is coming from Scotland.

    Now Kid and Peel have tartan hats on, perhaps kind of acknowledging the point

    No 1 New Entry – Duran Duran “Is There Something I Should Know”
    A bit of a no 1 by default – or rather, on the back of past effort over its own merit – one feels, being their first release after some time away, and in the aftermath of several excellent 1982 singles. This has the classic Duranie sound, but doesn’t hang as well together as their very best numbers. Nonetheless perhaps by dint of repetition it seems it has become part of the staple of mid-80s classic, though… Shirts and ties on TOTP though. Have been done better by others.

    dance out to David Joseph(in the studio) – “You Can’t Hide (Your Love From Me)”
    Post-funk: seems to be booking itself a trip to Rare Groove Central. Not dislikeable. And certainly danceable to.

    Pretty good show, with the contributions from the Glaswegian and Fife acts being best of all.

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