Jul 09

Popular ’83

FT + Popular/146 comments • 6,226 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?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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  1. 91
    Lazarus on 27 Mar 2017 #

    Watching Friday’s show now. Messrs Powell (haven’t seen him for a while) and Bates doing the honours.

    Freeez – not sure how many of this lot were on ‘Southern Freeze’ a couple of years earlier – it does seem like a completely different band. John Rocca’s voice is rather thin and weedy here. Arthur Baker was the man behind this, wasn’t he – and New Order’s ‘Confusion’ later in the year. I bet you haven’t heard that on the radio recently. A lot of this stuff really hasn’t aged well.

    Rod – and talking of ageing well … he’s still (just) in his thirties at this point, so I suppose he can carry off yellow trousers, but the primary-colours outfit is a bit ‘Play Away.’ I don’t mind the record, though I know it got a bit of a kicking when it turned up here. Video is quintessentially early-80s.

    Elton – Rod’s good mate, in the studio this time. Yes he’s taken to the indoor hat by now, as opposed to the ‘hair hat’ he’ll be sporting by the end of the decade. This is one of my favourites of his, a real return to form, and further hits from the album would follow. And he turned 70 at the weekend! He’s still standing, folks.

    Shakatak – John Peel’s good mate Bill Sharpe (the stripey shirt, I take it) and co. Zoo dancers much in evidence. Yes the run of hits is almost up for this lot. Minibus, etc.

    Chart, and an appearance by fearsome Aussie paceman Dennis Lillee. Bates wishes him good luck in the World Cup, but as Dennis remarks the Aussies are already out. I very, very rarely bet on sport but I had a few quid on Australia, who’d beaten England in the Ashes the previous winter, whereupon they lost their first match to newcomers Zimbabwe. India went on to shock the mighty Windies in the final.

    Mike Oldfield feat. Maggie Reilly – wonderful. My record of the year – probably. Well up there with ‘Blue Monday’ certainly.

    H2O – rather forgotten one-hit wonders from Glasgow. Stylish pop in a sort of latterday-Roxy vein. Not too much the Zooers can do with this one, but they sway around gamely (and one does a handstand, rather curiously) – their days are numbered. Top 10.

    Police – last week for them, presumably, with Rodders at 2. Do people really have this as their first dance at weddings? Classic, obvs. And almost the end of the line for them too – they got out while the going was good. There was a rainforest to save, after all!

    Out to ELO with their last-but-one hit, pretty much. Hosts not particularly annoying this week. Mixed bag as ever.

  2. 92
    Chelovek na lune on 2 Apr 2017 #

    30 June 1983
    Skinner n Vance

    Shalamar “Dead Giveaway”
    Generic,rather dull, and a million miles away in quality (or memorability) from, say, two of their big 1982 hits. All acts have ups and downs, maybe they’ll come around for the better again. Zoo invading the stage and playing with balloons. Another bad move.

    Heaven 17 “Come Live With Me” on video
    Much better. Moody, Parisian, video, which tells the song’s story perfectly. Spine-tingingly good.

    Nick Heyward “Take That Situation”
    Considerably more lively than his first solo single, more instantly appealling too, but quite possibly less attractive following repeated listening. The chorus has jolly Haircut 100 effects. Too straightforward to be brilliant. But you know – syncopation, brass, Nick Heyward, it’s not all bad by any means. Zoo’s dancing continues to be intrusive.

    Irene Cara “Flashdance” on video
    Oh I kind of like this peppy encouragement, not in excessive measure. But this is alright

    Quick interview with Jennifer Beals of “Flashdance”, clearly the beeb is all in for its various commercial ties in involving Irene Cara. Surprisingly substantive for a TOTP interview.

    Paul Young “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)”
    Not sure about his shiny black suit. If you’re doing that sort of thing, might as well go for gold lamé a la Martin Fry, or not bother. This is quintessential 80s dancing in church hall music is it not. Decent voice. But there are many, many, of his singles I prefer to this one. It takes it’s time, too slowly, to get anywhere, I think is in part why.


    Tom Robinson “War Baby”
    Serious and solemn, and atmospheric. Complex lyrics in the verses accompany a memorable and simple chorus. Very good, yes.

    Bucks Fizz “When We Were Young”
    The Fizz going a bit weird, in both music and dress. Trying to sound older than they are , not convincingly – it’s a bit minor key Human League-llke even. Not sure it is entirely a successful reinvention, but I find it quite likeable, still. In an alternate reality Bucks Fizz started out as a critically adored indie electronic group….

    No 1 Rod Stewart “Baby Jane” on video
    Not the most subtle song. Rather this at no 1 than the Police, anyway. Much better without the video.

    Dance out to The Truth “Confusion (Hits Us Every Time)”
    I’d wager this lot were very big fans of the Jam, and thought “Beat Surrender” was a really good thing to be influenced by,…This is alright enough.

    At best, a patchy show.

  3. 93
    Chelovek na lune on 2 Apr 2017 #

    7 July 1983
    The Kid n Gramps Peely. in matching outfits with a hint of old school gangster.

    ROMAN HOLLIDAY – “Don’t Try To Stop It”
    A bit odd. A bit of a swing thing going on here, the song has some twists and turns and fine assertive leaps. Seems a bit out of time in numerous ways. A not attractive curio. A less irritating Modern Romance, maybe.

    MARY JANE GIRLS “All Night Long”
    Soul music has gone wrong somewhere, as has disco. I knew this song first via a 1990 house cover by Jay Mondi & the Livin Bass (although the fact I had to look up the artist’s name and wasn’t convinced it was correct should give some clue how long it is since I last heard it.) . This lopes along fairly purposelessly for the most part. Indistinguished. The Jay Mondi cover is way better, with much more life in it.

    IRON MAIDEN “The Trooper” (on video)
    Fairly middling Maiden track about the futility of war.

    Zoo + the Hassani Troupe dancing to FREEEZE “IOU”
    Juggling but the dancing is more for show than a 70s style interpretative thing. Majorettes.and some serious lifting. Clown antics. The song is OK.

    ELO “Rock N Roll Is King” (on video)
    More retro than Roman Holliday. More retro than typical ELO, even. Not earth-shatteringly brilliant but tolerable fun.

    The Cure “The Walk”
    A track that sounds, in places, suprisingly modern in its arrangement and production. Bob Smith doing his Bob Smith thing. No doubt Cure fans love this.

    Jimmy The Hoover “Tantalise (Wo Wo Ee Yeh Yeh)”
    Nice beat, steady rhythm over indie flamenco plus African-style chanting. Ah, some Malcolm McLaren connection. Loads of space in the track. And steel drums. By far the best thing on this show so far. Quite brilliant.


    Eurythmics “Who’s That Girl” (on video)
    Moody electropop, bare and sparse and powerful.


    The Funk Masters “It’s Over”
    Oh – I didn’t realise this track was this. A bit better than the Mary Jane Girls and Shalamar tracks in the charts at the same time, mellow R&B. Well paced and sensitively performed. And a chorus that is catchy without irritating. Yeah, that’s how to do this sort of thing well. Zoo still hogging attention by dancing on tables. Jeez.


    No 1 Rod Stewart “Baby Jane” on video. Don’t ever wear clothes in clashing primary colours, kids.

    Dance out to Mike Oldfield/Maggie O’Reilly “Moonlight Shadow”

    A pretty mixed show. In places good, in places poor.

  4. 94
    speedwell 54 on 12 Apr 2017 #

    14th July 2017
    Powell and Peebles host and straight into..

    Elvis Costello and the Attractions and “Everyday I Write the Book”. I like this a lot and it was surprisingly his first top 40 in America. I’m not sure if the upbeatness of it, but it seems fluffy next to Radio Radio, Less than Zero, Alison etc. Caron Wheeler on backing vocals obviously did a bit of networking that evening later helping out Heaven 17. Also worked with Japan.

    Double Dutch- Malcolm Maclaren. On video. Malcolm says what he sees and basically reads the fixture list. Not entirely his own work here – money changed hands a some stage. Nice enough though.

    Powell advertising T-Shirts and the Radio Times and introduces Paul Young- Wherever I Lay My Hat ( That IS my home) Bass player Pino Palladino went onto play on Adele’s ’21″ and Ed Sheeran’s latest.

    Heaven 17 – Maths aside*great track and still sounds cracking today. Saw them a few years ago and they still have it.

    Echo and Bunnymen- Never Stop. The intro to the middle eight sounds like Bring on the Dancing Horses. Chart countdown to 21.

    Bananarama – Cruel Summer – This was their first top 40 hit in the US and again a little surprising that this is what they went for. It was helped by being featured in the film The Karate Kid. The B side (on the 12″) is a reggae track “Cairo” is well worth a listen.

    David Sylvian and Sakamoto. Sylvian; the third coolest man in pop is impossibly beautiful here, as is the song. “There’s a period going past at the moment that may make us look as though we’re in fashion” from Sylvian in ’81 when linked to New Romantics. Very Oscar Wilde.

    Countdown To Rod and ‘Baby Jane’. The video dates the song terribly and he’s wearing more primary colours than is good for any man. Really gone off this one.

    Not may favourite but there has been worse.
    *”I was 37, you were 17, you were half my age…” Marsh/Ware/Gregory use two prime numbers so this can’t be simplified so technically ‘you were 17/37ths my age’ Yawn, I’ll stop now, pedants of Judea.

  5. 95
    speedwell54 on 13 Apr 2017 #

    28th July 1983 (got the year right this time)

    We’ve skipped a week, missing Jimmy the Hoover and Gary Byrd with The Crown among others. Other downside – some repeats. Onwards.. A Long Read partnership tonight.

    KC and the Sunshine Band- well just Harry and a couple of backing singers on stage. Looks rather like Dave Bartrum. Five US number ones, never hit the top 40 again here or there after this.

    Depeche Mode- Everything Counts -on video. Dave has gone blonde and for a change everyone gets a chance to sing. Ok.

    First repeat but a new performance. Elvis wears a jumper this week- not cool, but guess that’s not what he was going for. 40-32-34-30-28-36-48 avoiding the odds in this up down chart career.

    The Creatures- On video. Brassy cover. I wonder -with such body of work- how it makes you feel when your biggest hit is a cover. Same with the Banshees I think. Both great versions.

    Lotus Eaters – full of promise with a classic track.
    Malcolm McLaren – again but skipping in the studio. Not the Ebonettes of the video but the Dynamos with some speed skipping. Really quite impressive. Hardly skateboarding but it lasted as long as it should.

    Robert Plant – Debut on totp says Mike. Big Log. nmcot

    Countdown and then George Benson – Feel Like Making Love- nmcot either. Countdown.
    Bananarama- they also turn up again. This time starting off on the balcony and in matching sunglasses.

    Charts and Paul at Number 1 with Hat. This week on video. Out to Heaven 17.

    Not my favourite but there has been worse.

  6. 96
    speedwell54 on 14 Apr 2017 #

    11th August 1983

    Another skipped episode- Mike Smith to blame this time; onwards..
    Skinner (top of the pops t-shirt) and Vance (ridiculous top) co-host tonight. First on David Grant “Watching You Watching Me” – this is nmcot. His biggest solo hit.

    The Style Council – Long Hot Summer- Tommy introduces this as the highest climber AND the highest new entry. Pick one. Anyway – tonight on video. Weller topless was a strange sight, punting down the river. Their biggest hit.

    Level 42 – The Sun Goes Down (Living it Up) -in the studio . King shares the vocals on this one for change. Still ok to like them at this stage but they suddenly became uncool. Not much to do with them either. Rather like Coldplay. They did seem to be ploughing their own furrow. Their biggest hit to date.

    Gold- Spandau Ballet- On video, Tony looking like he’s just walked off the set of Brideshead. We seemed to have rash of these performance/storyline videos at the moment. Very familiar. Not their biggest hit; spoiling my theme!

    Countdown – Depeche Mode- Everything Counts- On video a fortnight ago, they are in the studio tonight. New intruments give them a slightly different sound on this outing. Again no group wide dress code. Gahan in a suit and Martin goes topless. (on the countdown picture Vince Clarke is still on there despite having left ages ago, I bet Wilder was chuffed; get with it BBC). Their biggest hit to date.

    Big Log – On video tonight after a studio appearance two weeks ago. His biggest solo hit.

    KC at Number one – this is a repeat of his studio performance from a fortnight ago but edited with a few short routines from some podium dancers. Their biggest hit.

    Not my favourite but there has been worse.

  7. 97
    Chelovek na lune on 14 Apr 2017 #

    14 July 1983

    Powell and mysterious Peebles

    Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “Everyday I Write The Book”
    An imposter no more, Zoo dancing intrusively while waving folding bits of card labelled “The Book”. No wonder they are not the most loved or remembered of TOTP dance acts. The songs lyrics are substantially better than the musical accompaniment. All in all a bit middling for Costello.

    Malcolm McLaren – “Double Dutch” on video
    Video with skipping ropes. Surprised how astoundingly dated this seems now and how vaguely creepy the “commentary” part sounds. Some fine chanting parts though.

    Paul Young “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)”
    Such a 1983 gelled haircut, such a 1983 grey jacket-white shirt-pink tie combo. The song transcends such narrow focus. Zoo drawing attention to themselves again. I wish they’d stop it.

    Heaven 17 “Come Live With Me”
    The way Peebles is filmed introducing this, almost deadpan, and just like his introduction of Costello early on, is so sharp – it’s as if he’s said something really filthy (or maybe just mentioned JS) that had to be cut out immediately before what we see of him. Don’t think that is so – just that he doesn’t do the banter thing. Which in a sense in refreshing. Meanwhile, this song is quietly magnificient, lyrically, musically, tonally. Zoo…oh nuff said.

    Echo and the Bunnymen “Never Stop”
    Nice sound, metallic strings, impassioned, stringent vocals, especially in the shouty chorus. A bit underwhelming though.


    Bananarama “Cruel Summer”
    Enjoying the seemingly carefree relaxed attitude here. Love the still quite home-spun sound and look that the Nanas still had. I might admit to preferring the sharper 1989 remix, but this is still good. Usual comments about Zoo.


    Sylvian & Sakamoto “Forbidden Colours” (from the film “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence”) (on video)
    Serious, thoughtful, introspective, a complete change of pace, from a WWII-themed film. Beautiful, too,.

    No 1 Rod Stewart “Baby Jane” on video again being ridiculous as only Rod can (still just about) get away with.

    What is definitely a sharp cut before Powell does the final greeting – almost certainly a reference to next week’s presenters.

    Dance out to Donna Summer “She Works Hard For The Money”,. Zoo now using skipping ropes like extras in the McLaren video. The song is pretty fine but we don’t hear much of it.

    Not an overwhelmingly brilliant episode in any sense

  8. 98
    Chelovek na lune on 14 Apr 2017 #

    28 July 1983
    Mike Read, Janice Long

    KC in the studio (without his Sunshine Band) – “Give It Up”
    Not sure about that multicolour stripey jacket. Harmless, if unchallenging, fun. Successful bit of disco revival that seems almost timeless. Ish.

    Depeche Mode “Everything Counts” on video
    DM being a bit less twee than before getting a bit serious, and with a wider range of instrumentation than previously too. Then they appear on the video for the chorus and appear and sound – almost – as choirboys (with very distinctive hair, ginger, red, blonde, some dye being involved). It’s a competitive world. Just a small hint of how great they will become. The video is already a long way from Bas.

    Elvis Costello & the Attractions “Everyday I Write The Book”
    I prefered the Imposter single. Yeah, this is a long way from EC’s best. Zoo at least keep out of the way this time. Yes, the lyrics (in the verse, not the chorus) are impressive in places.

    The Creatures – “Right Now”
    Big Band retroism mixed with indie panache, Siouxsie on good form vocally, horns. Yes, unusual, a bit impressive.

    The Lotus Eaters “The First Picture Of You”
    Maybe the perfect record. Oh, and some of Zoo are back to justify their presence. Damn. They can’t spoil something so sublime though.

    Malcolm McLaren – “Double Dutch”
    The Dynamos doing the full dance in the studio with big and small ropes. And skilfully so. Yeah this is great fun. A real spectacle.

    Mike Read pretending to use a skipping rope as a mike. oh dear.

    Robert Plant – “Big Log”
    Soft rock that drags on a bit. Oh, a lot. It’s skilfully done and put together, and I suppose it might be a grower after repeated listening – but why take that risk, I might think.


    George “Bad” Benson “Feel Like Making Love”
    with a dance routine, 70s style, from Zoo, who at least refrain from interpreting the lyrics too literally. Bad did better numbers than this, really.


    Bananarama “Cruel Summer”
    The Nanas up in the balcony this time, sunglasses on this time. Yeah this song really is a bit of a minor pop gem.

    No1 Paul Young “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)” on video
    Oh the days of anguished conversations down the line from red phone boxes. S’alright. No more.

    Bit cut out blatantly
    Dance out to Heaven 17 “Come Live With Me”, which is quite superb.

    A pretty decent edition, mostly.

  9. 99
    Lazarus on 14 Apr 2017 #

    Getting in first for a change (or have I?). The Kid in Wild West apparel, looks more like the Milky Bar Kid grown up.

    Modern Romance – now this is a real change for them. Tache man has gone off to write sitcom scripts. The song is a ballad, with a soft reggae lilt. I think it’s rather lovely, if I’m honest. But ’twas their very last hit.

    Kid with a young Jeremy Corbyn behind him , introduces Madness – African rhythms and choir (a McLaren influence, perhaps?) and an aviation-themed video. Very different to anything they’d done before. But loses out to the likes of ‘Our House’ and ‘House of Fun’ in the airplay stakes.

    John Peel does the Euro chart. Nothing much here to enthuse about. Ryan Paris will be on the show proper before long. That Righeira track was a minor hit here, which is what it deserved. A very attractive Dutch blonde plays some flute, and in doing so may catch the Swede’s eye. Back to the studio …

    Genesis – first single from the eponymous ’83 album which few diehards have good words for. Atmospheric … goes on a bit. Phil makes some ‘demonic’ noises. It’s OK. Chart 30-22.

    Big Country – another band taking the tempo down. No bagpipes or rousing guitar riffs this time. This was my favourite of theirs I think. Poor old Stuart, what was going on there I wonder? Chart 21-11. Still going with the ‘depechay’ pronunciation then?

    Stray Cats – bit of a surprise to see them on here, two years after their heyday. “(She’s) Sexy and 17” and you only get the points if you remember the brackets … actually no, we won’t go there. Yewtree jibes aside, this is competent rockabilly, but their last hurrah too – Brian would soon form his own band while Jim went off to marry Britt Ekland. Top Ten.

    UB40 with the song from ‘Labour of Love’ that turned them into a covers band, the odd ‘Rat in mi Kitchen’ notwithstanding. A band now perpetually in a state of internecine conflict. This was agreeable enough in its day though.

    Out to New Order and lots of ‘air punching’ from the Zooers, whose days are very much numbered. Decent show but I suspect something good has been left off.


  10. 100
    speedwell54 on 15 Apr 2017 #

    1/9/83 – have missed August episodes with Mike Smith and DLT not helping things. Onwards..
    Kid n Peel have been to Mr Benn’s fancy dress shop – cowboys.

    Modern Romance – a change of style here; it’s not salsa -Hawaiian shirts have gone back to Festive Road and it isn’t awful. Plenty of harmony (vocals and hairspray) A capped sleeve white T-shirt is never good. I’d forgotten he suddenly goes falsetto at the end.

    Madness – Wings of a Dove- The kings of dressing up, this lot have a life membership. Steel drums and a choir give us a sing-a-long-a-madness on this outing.

    Gary Numan- they’ve cleared out the leather section. Warriors – not what you’d call sing-a-long. He must have seen Gahan the other week and he’s blond now. A bit of starring and moody frowns.

    Our occasional European excursion is back and we see John Peel in Paris. The film has the same colour tint shade as 80’s BBC news reports which makes it look older than the programme it’s on. A little slur on French pickpockets from Peel – personal experience I wonder? A short collection of videos of people I don’t know but Ryan Paris pops up to void that. Beriden Stenberg (a Dutch James Galway) with a classical cover that knocked Michael Jackson off the number one spot in her own country. Rose Laurens, The Shorts, Riegheira are the others.

    Genesis with ‘Mama’ on video and severely cut. Don’t think this setting does it any favours, need the full track to get the atmos. Countdown.

    Big Country – Chance – the final single from The Crossing which I played a lot when it came out. Great track. Countdown – A new picture of Depeche Mode with the correct line up this time.

    Kid forgets how to use a mic and we miss a line as he introduces the Stray Cats- Sexy (and ) 17 she is. ( a bit of a brackets rebel) They have the clothes, the instruments, and the Rockabilly but nmcot really. Countdown. UB40 jumps from No9-No1 with Red Red Wine. Loads more hits but fan base forever changes.

    Not my favourite but there has been worse

  11. 101
    Chelovek na lune on 15 Apr 2017 #

    11 August 1983
    Skinner n Vance (the latter in v questionable red blue and yellow patterned jumper that is all a bit “Tony the Tiger”)

    David Grant “Watching You Watching Me”
    Very dull soulless soul (or RnB-less RnB if you prefer) to start with. Very dull. ToTP could do with fewer balloons flying around really too. Slick choreographed dancing is marginally more interesting than the song.

    Style Council “Long Hot Summer” on video
    The Council’s third single, each of the three being quite different in character and style from the others. This might be the best of them (it’s certainly not the worst). Nice vid of lounging around on and by the Cambridge back waters. it really is a much nicer city than Oxford, if a bit too puritanical. As with Bananarama’s contemporaneous hit, there’s a case for the 1989 remix being superior, but actually this is damn good. And very unlike anything the Jam did.

    Level 42 “The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)”
    Still post-funk, and expressing concerns about potentially impending nuclear war, and despite finding some slightly later 42 tracks to be pretty superb, I find this difficult to love. I’m thinking: were these the prime precursors of Jamiroquai? If so how unfortunate.

    Spandau Ballet “Gold” on video
    Yeah, i know. I love it, still. Video a twist on the Duranie love of exotic locations thing. Deserts and sunflower fields and Middle Eastern/Islamic decor. Morocco? (Oh no: Wiki says southern Spain. al-Andalus I guess). One of their signature tunes, deservedly.

    The Creatures “Right Now”
    In the studio this time. Powerful as well as retro – a convincing update, thus. Goth appearance with very un-goth music. Yes. Fab.

    Lotus Eaters “First Picture Of You”
    Yeah there’s competition from the likes of Jimmy the Hoover et al, but can we crown them the best one hit wonders of 1983 (at least) and be done with it? Melodious delightfulness. Sweetness and assertiveness perfectly married. The flowers really are screaming their joy.

    Charts (hmm don’t remember the Bruce Foxton track at all. will have to check it out)

    Depech”ay” Mode “Everything Counts”
    Still so young and boyish, Vince Clarke has no shirt on, and discernably little body hair. Musically and lyrically, an enormous step forward for a maturing act of some capability.


    Robert Plant “Big Log” (on video)
    A song that takes itself very seriously. It might be better if it didn’t.

    KC & the Sunshine Band “Give It Up”
    Vastly better than the David Grant record, anyway.

    Danceout to Herbie Hancock “Rockit”
    A proto-Axel F bit of instrumental electro. Far from unattractive. Zoo have no clue how to dance to it any more than the audience do.

    Mostly a pretty decent edition, once David Grant was out of the way.

  12. 102
    Chelovek na lune on 15 Apr 2017 #

    1 September 1983
    The Kid and Peel (the best presenting partnership by far) dressed as cowboys,because.

    Modern Romance “Walking In The Rain”
    Mellower, vaguely reggae beat, a bit more characterful than wine bar pap, and less blatantly or exceedingly irritating than, well, most of their other singles. Their final hit though. Thankfully.

    Madness “Wings Of A Dove” (on video)
    Gospel choir bit and steel drums on a plane. Then the nutty boys, literally, like, ON, a plane. On top. Then inside and in the cab. And elsewhere. Wacky good fun, great steel drums bit which must have pissed off the NF-affiliated bit of their fanbase. Hardly the best thing they did, but a burst of joyous energy.

    Gary Numan “Warriors”
    Classic Numan sound and ambience, and not a wildly accessible song. Good keyboard bits. His final top 20 hit of the century (excluding two remixes of “Cars”), which suggests the appeal of his shtick was already wearing off (still, the abuse he got from the musical press, in part because of his politics, couldn’t have helped.) But this does seem “fans only”

    Peel in Paris doing the Eurochart
    No 9 in Europe Righeira “Vamos A La Playa” – another superficially jolly pop song about nuclear war. We only hear it very briefly, and only the repeated chorus line, but seems OK.
    No 10 in Europe: Rose Laurens “Africa, the Voodoo Master”
    Hmm, people complaining about “cultural appropraition” or “orientalism” might maybe just occasionally have a point.
    No 12 in Europe Ryan Paris “Dolce Vita”. Europop, no Europap, in English. Oh dear. Sub-Eurovision.
    No 8 in Europe Berdian Stenberg “Rondu Russo”
    Flute much in evidence, instrumental.
    No 1 in Europe Mike Oldfield “Moonlight Shadow”

    Genesis “Mama” (on video) introduced by the Kid pointing a toy gun at the camera.
    Now this really is a work of art, powerful, haunting, atmospheric. Cut off a bit early.


    Big Country “Chance”
    Less in your face than their two recent singles but no less rewarding. Brooding, and solemn, joining an honourable list of Scottish rock melancholia.


    Stray Cats “(She’s) Sexy + 17”
    Dull rockabilly revival style that would have better sent to bed long before.

    No 1 UB40 “Red Red Wine”
    In retrospect, the first step on the journey towards a formerly hot and insightful political act becoming an idiot jukebox. But they’ll still OK here, and their talents are quite clear.

    Dance out to New Order “Confusion”
    Which is incredibly exciting and futuristic (a wee “football chant” element too perhaps) without being overwhelmingly brilliant.

    A curate’s egg edition, although the good parts really were good.

  13. 103
    Lazarus on 16 Apr 2017 #

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard it in full – was ‘Vamos a la Playa’ really about a nuclear holocaust – as per Nena – or was Peely having us on there? Channelling Nevil Shute, were they?

    Oh and CNL @ 101 Pedant alert – Vince had left the Mode by then of course.

  14. 104
    Chelovek na lune on 16 Apr 2017 #

    @103 – yes, Lazarus (having just looked up its entire lyrics), I think I may have foolishly fallen for Peely’s joke….

    And yes, also – urgh – I did mean to say “Martin Gore”…..

  15. 105
    weej on 16 Apr 2017 #

    From the Vamos A La Playa wiki page;

    “Due to the meaning of its title and its lighthearted melody, Vamos a la playa has become a summer and holiday anthem in many countries. However, the song deals with the explosion of a nuclear bomb in the ocean. The people in the song all wear “a sombrero” to prevent the “radioactive wind” from “messing up their hair”. The singer states that finally “the sea is clean,” and instead of fish there is now “fluorescent water”.”

    It’s one of the first singles I owned, aged 4 or 5, and I still rate it. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTsVJ1PsnMs

  16. 106
    speedwell54 on 23 Apr 2017 #

    Back to back episodes for a change. Powell very smartly dressed in a suit and tie, Peebles less so in a mustard body warmer. He introduces Heaven 17 but whatever he says, he comes across as the disinterested judge.

    Glenn is wearing a black and white checked shirt that was everywhere for a few years. Whoo Whoo!

    Rod Stewart hot on the heels of Baby Jane and another big hit with What Am I Going To Do? On video tonight with a less arty version of Duran’s Rio from the year before. Rod goes bigger and has a schooner not a yacht. Barely scratched the singles chart for the last 20 years but albums still pretty much top tens all the way.

    Another 70’s act and Status Quo with Ol’ Rag Blues. This is the blue print single and performance. No alarms and no surprises. Rossi waistcoat, Parfitt white top, Lancaster black cap sleeved t-shirt. (denims+white trainers -obvs) wide leg stance and synchronised guitar swaying. It has a really nice ending; very ELO. They had been consistent if not ground breaking for a decade but ‘Marguerita Time’ was just around the corner and that was a line crossed.

    Jo Boxers and Johnny Friendly, seems to be almost there. Possibly trying too hard and has too many ideas for one track. The instrumental part sounds good. Bye to them.

    Peabo/Roberta – Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You. twktc. Chart countdown.

    Ryan Paris- Dolce Vita as heralded by Peel last week. “We’re living LIKE in the Dolce Vita” so is this LIKE where the whole LIKE thing came from? Hired dancers are vogueing throughout.

    Countdown from Peter. The guy standing behind him is -I’m pretty sure- Duncan Norvelle – before he was famous (well kind of).Anyone?

    Paul Young _ Come Back and Stay- Originally by Jack Lee who also wrote “Hanging on the Telephone” Great bass again and nice routine from the backing singers – a bit of swedeheaven me thinks.

    Red Red Wine at No1 and out to Level 42.

    Not my favourite but there has been worse.

  17. 107
    Steve Williams on 23 Apr 2017 #

    “Is that Duncan Norvelle?” has taken over from “Why don’t they edit the presenters out?” as the most asked thing on social media when Pops is on. It isn’t, Duncan Norvelle was already famous in 1983, he had starred on the ITV series Saturday Royal earlier that year and certainly had enough work to not have to turn up to Pops every week for fifty quid a throw.

    As Richard Marson, former Top of the Pops floor manager, confirms, it’s a man called John Goldsmith, who we’ll continue to see regularly on this programme for the next few years. A lovely bloke, apparently.

  18. 108
    chelovek na lune on 23 Apr 2017 #

    8 September 1983
    Inexpicably sharp-suited Powell and inevitably deadpan Peebles

    Peebles makes a joke “a record that could be bigger than the TUC conference in Blackpool” (Back when newspapers still had industrial relations correspondents too. Before Arthur Scargill comprehensively overplayed his hand, anyway)
    Heaven 17 “Crushed by the Wheels of Industry”
    After a couple of really quite excellent singles earlier in the year, this is a bit weak. Very weak, even. Might have better suited as an ABC rejected B-side during their “…Zillionaire” period. Some of Zoo dressed in labourer’s overalls dancig on a podium in their characteristic irrating manner.

    Rod Stewart “What Am I Gonna Do” on video
    More than mildly OTT and ridiculous nautical tropical sunshine with Rod prancing about video, but noone looks to Mr Stewart for subtlety The track is jolly enough – there is something to prance to, and where better than on a boat in the sun? Fly the Scottish lion rampant too.

    Obvious cut thanks to the Doors’ lawyers denying us Annabel Lamb’s not wildly brilliant sub-Eurythmics take on “Riders on the Storm”

    Status Quo “Ol’ Rag Blues”
    Lighter and a bit poppier than sometimes, kind of classic early-80s Quo sound otherwise. When their critical reappraisal eventually comes this will probably be assessed as a light-hearted and attractive interlude (but which will refuse to prove to be memorable in any way). Would sound good in a pub, probably with Double Diamond and Roast Ox crisps.

    JoBoxers “Johnny Friendly”
    Slowed down compared with their earlier hits, has a bit of a Living Colour vibe about it. Funky, and sharp. But with a distinctly English character. Much less astounding than “Just Got Lucky” – it does say “minor hit” – but no denying it’s both innovative and not unattractive.

    Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” (on video)
    Bit of a classic slow-dance number, no?


    Ryan Paris “Dolce Vita”
    Robotic dancing. Some decent synthesised instrumental bits between the verses are probably, nay certainly, the highlight of this inoffensive number.

    Paul Young “Come Back And Stay”
    Great 80s synths and moodiness, the haircut and the black and white angular not-quite splatter top he is wearing have aged much less well than the song. Fine chanting from the women. Yeah. Rather appealling.

    no 1 UB40 “Red Red Wine” (on video)
    Vid being set mostly in a boozer, before they sold much in the way of wine.

    dance-out to Level 42 “Livin’ It Up (When The Sun Goes Down)”

    Not a brilliant edition, but kind of quite representative of the musical trends and concerns of 1983…

  19. 109
    speedwell54 on 23 Apr 2017 #

    Thanks Steve @107 for the info. No idea I was being so obvious. I don’t feel too bad if it’s a ‘thing’ he must look something like him. I thought it would be a tiny shaded area in the Venn diagram ‘people old enough to know who Duncan Norvelle is’ and “use social media’, but there you go.

  20. 110
    chelovek na lune on 23 Apr 2017 #

    22 September 1983
    Bates n Read

    Howard Jones “New Song”
    Legendary performance with chained dancer alongside HJ. Capable and still fresh and then still futuristic mid-80s synth-pop.

    David Bowie “Modern Love” (on video. mostly of a live performance)
    Competent and capable poppier but not quite over-poppy Bowie. Drags a little bit, maybe.

    Hot Chocolate “Tears On The Telephone”
    They’ve still got it, musically and performance-wise, one of the best singles acts of recent years. This song is not essential, though.

    Toyah “Rebel Run” (on video)
    Vaguely sci-fi futurism, but with sound effects and a general soundscape that were ubiqutious around this period. OK. But more style than substance? Perhaps.

    The Alarm “68 Guns”
    The energy of the performance is maybe a bit ridiculous given it just underlines that they are miming. Gah, so much posturing in so few minutes.

    Nick Heyward “Blue Hat For A Blue Day”
    Sweet and sensitive, but rather nondescript. Disappointing.

    Status Quo “Ol’ Rag Blues” (on video)
    Alright as far as it goes.

    Mike Read plays the chorus of “Ol Rag Blues” on kazoo.
    Clearly no photo of the act at no 30, Unique

    Soft Cell “Soul Inside”
    Ball and Almond being recognizably Ball and Almond in their nuances and styles of performance. Not their strongest song though. Maybe the string of brilliant singles in 81/82 was a fluke after all. Chaos and turmoil evident, but more eloquently expressed on other occasions. There’s a bit for a minute or so in the middle of th song, where the tension that has been building up, is released, that’s the best part of the song.

    Heaven 17 “Crushed By the Wheels of Industry” (on video)
    Considering this isn’t even climbing the charts any more, something better could have been on than this. The video, which explores various different perceptions and realities of “work”, is better than is the song.

    No 1 Culture Club “Karma Chameleon”
    Boy George dressed in Yellow with a hat that is almost like a crown out of Alice in Wonderland; ther rest of the band dressed as American Footballers or cowboys for reasons unknown. Quality pop that hides its lyrical tensions and pains behind a bright singalong surface. Very good.

    dance out to Hot Streak “Body Work”
    Not a notably distinguished bit of electro. Zoo could have justified their existence by doing some break-dancing to this, but they don’t, so.

    A more than tolerable edition.

  21. 111
    lockedintheattic on 24 Apr 2017 #

    @106 & @107 – those backing singers are the wonderful ‘Fabulous Wealthy Tarts’ and sadly this was their last outing with Paul Young. They totally made this one and ‘Love of the Common People’, everything he did after was a hell of a lot duller.

    More about them here: https://ifyouwerethere1980s.wordpress.com/tag/the-fabulous-wealthy-tarts/

  22. 112
    Mark G on 25 Apr 2017 #

    So, is that not them on The Regents’ “17” single?

  23. 113
    Adam Puke on 25 Apr 2017 #

    Loved the Numskulls tribute in the Heaven 17 video, never seen that before.

  24. 114
    speedwell54 on 25 Apr 2017 #

    @112 The backing singers on the Regents “7 teen” single are named on “So it Goes” blog as Kath Best and Bic Brack. After Regents split Martin Sheller (Regents) worked with Bic and Ben Brack(?) writing and producing. “Musica Pop” a single by ‘the Bic’ is on eBay. Only one source for this info but seems ok.

  25. 115
    Lazarus on 26 Apr 2017 #

    #111 But doesn’t Powell introduce ‘Come back and Stay’ as Paul Young and the Royal Family? I don’t remember that at all, how long did he use that for? Were they credited as that on the record, and if not why mention them? It would have been like saying “here’s Elvis Costello, and Afrodiziak.” I do remember the Fabulously Wealthy Tarts though.

    Ryan Paris was OK, at least you could (sort of) dance to it. I much preferred it to FR David’s effort from earlier in the year. A later single of his was ‘Harry’s Bar’ – not, I assume, the surprise Xmas hit from Gordon Haskell of a few years ago (which we’ll come to eventually on Popular, I suppose).

    We missed a week of course (hence Status Quo being on twice in a row) with Jimmy Savile, still, being one of the presenters, and for similar reasons (DLT) we will also miss the following show, that of 29 September, when the largely unlamented Zoo made their final appearance. As remarked on the start-of-year doc, there was no real need for them once everyone was doing videos.

  26. 116
    speedwell54 on 29 Apr 2017 #

    Jensen and John present this week’s edition dressed as Roman soldiers. Kicking off with Freeez and Pop Goes My Love. More scratching on this and less jazz funk. To my ears it doesn’t really work, and their chart career was over save remixes. White gloved dancers try and fail to distract you from Rocca’s awful cardigan.

    Bowie on video again twktc.

    Kid is still saying Depech-ay Mode and “Love In Itself” . A bit less catchy and a bit less a hit. Martin is wearing clothes you could walk down the street in- for the first time. The freestyle bit at the end is a bit weird. John refers to them as Depech-ay too.

    Meatloaf and “Midnight at the Lost and Found” and he commits to the performance as always. It’ a video, but a performance in a much bigger space than totp could provide. He must win the league of number of words per hit. He turns up in an episode of Elementary this year.

    Nick Heyward and “Blue Hat for a Blue Hat” pleasant enough but a bit background. He brought out some great stuff post Haircut but this isn’t a favourite. A new album, trailed years ago does seem to be coming out this summer called “Woodland Echoes” -has to be worth a listen.

    New Song – Howard Jones on a rather LD video with a cast who look like they won a raffle. Song 7 video 3.

    David Grant – Love Will Find A Way. This is rather dull and nmcot at all. Kid says “a-prancing” as he introduces him but I don’t think he’s being negative. He definitely is prancing about.

    Charts, and there are a few acts that passed me by -‘Unique’ and ‘Body Work’ mean nothing. The Alarm and “68 Guns” up next, a repeat from a couple of weeks ago I think. Drummer Nigel Twist signed my copy of “Rain In The Summertime” in HMV Middlesbrough in 1987.

    New Order – “Blue Monday” Live performance repeated from a few months ago. Amateurhour. Chart countdown to number one and Culture Club the performance from a fortnight ago. Out the The Rock Steady Crew. John Peel smiles; it might have been false.

    Not my favourite but there has been worse.

  27. 117
    chelovek na lune on 30 Apr 2017 #

    6 Oct 1983
    Kid n Peel as Roman legionaries

    Freeez – Pop Goes My Love
    Weak and forgettable, and forgotten, follow-up. Almost some proto-scratching among mid-80s generic pre-programmed sounds. A b-side at best.

    David Bowie – Modern Love (on video)
    Very much better.

    Depech”ay” Mode – Love In Itself.2
    Continuing down the road away from tweeness, but still poppy alongside incipient melancholia. Retaining bibbly-bobbly keyboard bits. This is pretty decent, bodes well for the future, etc. Hints of being masterful, even. Playing a keyboard sitting on top of a grand piano is a statement.

    Meat Loaf – Midnight At The Lost And Found (on video)
    More electronic-sounding than it might be, and the drum machine sounds haven’t aged well either. No rhyme is too obvious to be avoided. Motorbikes on stage, but surprisingly little leather on display. Pretty poor show for Mr Loaf, really, all round.

    Nick Heyward “Blue Hat For A Blue Day”
    The instrumentation is probably the most interesting thing about this. But ultimately the Colour Field did this sort of sensitive moody pop more proficiently. As, with more energy and intensity, did the completely overlooked Friends Again. This is pleasant enough in itself, just a bit disappointing given what Haircut 100 had appeared to promise.

    Howard Jones “New Song” (on video)
    Factory workshop vid, and on the grimy 1983 London Underground – I bet that’s the same Holborn platform that Aqua visited much later on., then in an anarchic school classroom, complete with master in gown and cap & mortarboard. Truly a disappeared world all round. The song looks to the future admirably, though.

    David Grant – Love Will Find A Way
    Just remembered he did have a connection with Junior Giscombe – through Linx – who also seemed to get inexplicably frequent appearances on ToTP with mediocre material. This is a not terrible bit of contemporary and vaguely slinky R&B-cum-soul, but it is,at best, inessential.


    The Alarm – 68 Guns
    A burst of energy, at least. Big Country were doing this sort of thing much more convincingly though..

    Charts. Black Lace!

    New Order – Blue Monday (repeat of their earlier live performance from TOTP)
    A bare performance, Hooky’s bass in full effect.

    Charts. Tracey Ullman new at no 9

    No 1 Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
    repeat I think of previous TOTP performance with American Football Players disguise. Quality pop.

    Dance out to Rocksteady Crew “(Hey You) Rocksteady Crew”) which is really not good. Not at all. Poor electro + atrocious rap. Nice synth rhythms running in the background though.

  28. 118
    chelovek na lune on 30 Apr 2017 #

    13 Oct 1983
    Peter Powell & Richard Skinner

    Roman Holliday – Motormania
    More unremarkable revivalist retro Americana of sorts from this lot. One week at no 40. Sounds about right.

    Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know (no video)
    Also with a retro feel, and a Robin Reliant in the video (not a brand that Roman Holliday had mentioned in their track), man in gold lamé top at a bowling alley. Superior and even beautiful pop, and the doo-wops fit in well. Classy.

    Black Lace – Superman (Gioca Jouer)
    “A sensation in the clubs” says Skinner. Hmm, the usual “make the actions that the shouting guy tells you to do” thing. Dreadful. Notable mostly for the keyboardist with a sooty puppet on his left hand.

    Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Dear Prudence” (on video)
    Goth moodiness showing how a cover can be done effectively. A fine thing, and giving them a commerical success that some of their – no less brilliant – recent self-compositions had somehow escaped.

    George Benson – In Your Eyes (on your video)
    A likeable and warm bit of soul.

    Bucks Fizz – London Town
    Still exactly the same sound they were churning out some blinders in 81 and 82. Worse, there a bits that are almost a lift from “If You Can’t Stand The Heat”. But – urgh – it’s just not much of a song, despite having charactestically attractive Fizz features. Time has moved on and left them behind. Also fails to portray London in anything like a recognizable way…


    Lydia Murdock – Superstar
    An answer song to “Billie Jean” and based around similar beats and tune. “I’m Billie Jean, I’m mad as hell”. A curio, essentially, but the performance even verges on the haunting in places.

    Lionel Richie “All Night Long (All Night)” (on video)
    Powell’s favourite record in the chart, he says. Maybe I just find it tiresome through excess repetition over the years, but I find it difficult to care for.

    Culture Club “Karma Chameleon” (on video)
    Strangely the video (“set in 1880s Mississippi” says Wiki) mostly doesn’t do the song any favours, or bring out neither its emotional complexities nor its colour.

    Dance out to Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson “Say Say Say”
    which is a really unimpressive song

  29. 119
    speedwell54 on 1 May 2017 #

    13/10/83 Powell got some feedback about his suit last time out so he’s got a birthday jumper on tonight. Skinner joins him as co host and co jumper wearer.

    Motormania – Roman Holliday- I had a quick look on their website. 1981 four gigs, 1982 c50 gigs, pubs mainly, 1983 c250 gigs, nightclubs and universities. The week after this TOTP they did a twelve date, six country tour of Europe supporting Culture Club. A week off and thirteen date tour in the States supporting the Stray Cats. 1984 it drops off completely back to clubs and that was about it. Typical pattern of many I guess. This track is not great and Mr Jinx Powell gives them praise and a bright future.

    Tracy Ullman- “They Don’t Know” Sixties video and Ullman displays her acting skills in this film which features a cameo from McCartney. Writer MacColl sings backing vocals and the “baby”s on this.

    Superman- Black Lace. Powell becomes factual on his link. (If he likes something he always says) Rather like Matthew Kelly on “Stars In Their Eyes” -mainly the celebrity ones – after some talentless performance that the best make up and costume can’t disguise, he has to say something and falls back to the classic “you looked like you really enjoyed yourself there”

    Siouxsie and The Banshees – Dear Prudence staying close to the original but adding enough to make it worthwhile. Katfish had a small hit cover in the States with a slightly rockier version in the 70s.

    George Benson “In Your Eyes” nmcot. but good.

    Bucks Fizz – London Town. Bobby G voice sounds pretty strange at the beginning. The song has the right ingredients but somehow fails. And not for nothing London is a city.

    Lydia Murdock- She’s not rapping but talking. Curious as to these “answer” songs as to who signs off on the copyright element. Countdown.

    Lionel Ritchie- “All Night Long (All Night)” the graphics don’t quite get the song title correct. The girl on Peter’s left shoulder is preening herself as the cameras move round and then she starts to clap too early and has to stop. Peter does his stilted speech pattern which he falls into with three word titles/groups. All, pause Night, pause Long. It jars when the double comes up Pet Shop Boys with “West End Girls”. “Throw a-way the work to be done” is the line that sticks in my head. Video is really well put together and very slick compared to a lot of British stuff at the time. Song nmcot.

    Charts Culture Club on video. Everyone dressed up in period costume apart from Boy George, who looks like he’s just mugged Claire’s Accessories.

    Out to Say Say Say MaCartney/Jackson – I like this song but the video helped a lot. Chart career bit unusual as they didn’t co-ordinate release dates of single and video and it probably cost them a number 1. Chart career starts 25-10-13-14-3-2-2.

    Not my favourite but there has been worse.

  30. 120
    Mark M on 1 May 2017 #

    Seeing/hearing that Roman Holliday track made me think of The Mavericks, a bit later in history – in theory a lightweight, poppy variation on those ingredients could be a good thing, but here, in practice, it’s cloying and annoying.

    On They Don’t Know, I’m trying to think of other examples of what I’m going to clumsily call the fully authorised cover, i.e. with the involvement of the person who made the original. Sandie Shaw’s Morrissey-initiated, Marr/Rourke/Joyce-powered version of Hand In Glove is an obvious case, and Mary J Blige’s take on U2’s One, but I’m sure there are many more.

    I didn’t know that the video for All Night Long was directed by New Hollywood heavyweight Bob Rafelson. Can’t say there are any obvious traces of Head or Five Easy Pieces in it – not quite sure why Lionel wanted him for the job. Rafelson – who knew Huey Newton – apparently laid down the law on race-and-class issues on the shoot, which sounds a bit like whitesplaining.

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