Kate Bush

“Cures you whisper make no sense” – Top of the Pops, 1 May 1980

Tommy Vance“Well hello there, good evening and welcome to Top of the Pops!” Wait a minute, who’s this authoritatively-voiced vision in a satin blouson? Why, it’s the one and only Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston, better known to a generation of headbangers as Tommy Vance. Vance had been one of the original Radio 1 DJs (which nobody remembers because he wasn’t in that famous photo) before decamping to Capital Radio for a bit, returning in 1978 to host the legendary Friday Rock Show which ran until 1993. This doesn’t make Tommy obvious TOTP material, although something about him must have clicked because he also had an incongruous stint on the Radio 1 Top 40 show in 1982 and ’83. Tonight his booming tones introduce the top 30 countup to the sound of Leon Haywood’s Don’t Push It, Don’t Force It for the second time in three weeks and a still echoey caption machine. Luckily The Event will be taking the show off the air at the end of the month so they’ll have plenty of time to get it fixed.

See the full top 75 for this week on the Official Charts Website.

NEW MUSIK – This World of Water (#38)

New MusikOne pleasing thing that’s come out of the 1980 repeats so far is an outpouring of love on Twitter for New Musik, who until the start of this year were either forgotten, remembered as one hit wonders for Living By Numbers, or just completely unknown. I’m going to stick my neck out here and proclaim them one of the great synthpop bands and certainly the only one to score two consecutive number 31 hits. With its strange squeaky vocal treatment which once in your brain is impossible to remove, This World of Water is a terrific record that even the cheap watery dribbles from the visual effects department and an attention seeking keyboard player can’t spoil. Sadly this is the last time we’ll see them on TOTP as The Event prevented us from seeing their next single and final hit, the even better Sanctuary, but singer and Keith Harris lookalike Tony Mansfield went on to produce loads of hits later in the decade.

NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN – I Shoulda Loved Ya (#19)

Narada Michael WaldenThat’s not your real name, is it, Michael? The name “Narada” is important in many religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, and was given to Michael Walden by Indian spiritual master Sri Chinmoy in the ’70s, as it literally translates as “singing drummer”. Sorry, that last bit’s not true. Walden is a singing drummer though, with all the stigma that goes along with that concept, and you’ve been pronouncing it wrong all these years – it’s “NArada” as in “narrative”, not “NaRAda” as in “Granada”. Walden had managed a minor hit earlier in the year with Tonight I’m Alright but this was his only major hit at the time, branding him a one hit wonder for some eight years until he returned to the top ten with Divine Emotions in 1988, by which time he’d dropped his original name and was now known simply as Narada, which you were still pronouncing wrong.

THE CHORDS – Something’s Missing (#57)

The ChordsHey ho, another week, another chance to associate Jimmy Pursey’s name with the word “gobshite” in an attempt to influence his Google search results. Introduced by Vance on an unexpected sofa amongst a gaggle of young ladies, a situation which has caused Tommy to forget the song’s title (“Here’s The Chords and something called, well, you’ve got it, here it is,”), you may vaguely remember these former protegés of Pursey’s stumbled into the top forty earlier in the year with Maybe Tomorrow. Now they’re back, singer and guitarist Jay from The Inbetweeners Billy Hassett leading his band through another Jam cast-off which may only have been at number 57 this week but eventually reached the dizzy heights of number 55. Something is indeed missing; I’m sure you can work out what it is.

RODNEY FRANKLIN – The Groove (#13)

Legs & CoAnd now a public information message. What’s the best way to distinguish Rodney Franklin’s The Groove from Bobby Thurston’s Check Out The Groove? Well, until tonight it was that Limbs & Co had danced to Thurston’s track while Franklin’s had been restricted to the top thirty countup. With the two of them still hurtling up the charts, however, it was inevitable that both would need to be featured on the show and so, with Rodney “you plonker” Franklin unavailable… enter Limbs & Co! To add to the confusion, we find them dancing to The Groove just a week after they danced to Check Out The Groove. Nevertheless, in a commendable display of fairness they’ve forgotten their trousers this week too, so we can continue to “check out” their “grooves” in a similar way to last week as they crawl all over the unexpected sofa in a way that cries out for Tommy to intone “Interest free credit on everything at the DFS sale.”

WHITESNAKE – Fool For Your Loving (#30)

WhitesnakeOf course DFS hadn’t been invented yet so all Vance could come up with was “I wish that was my living room.” On to Tommy’s specialist subject now: GUITAR BASED ROCK spoken about in a COMMANDING TONE as if in CAPITAL LETTERS. This was the first top forty hit for former Deep Purple singer David Coverdale’s new band and the video shows them in typical workmanlike early ’80s mode before their glamorous Americanised reinvention a few years later. Thus there are no ravishing blondes spreadeagled over car bonnets but plenty of unflattering hats, unpleasant facial hair and bad T-shirts. The only focal point linking this incarnation of Whitesnake to the late ’80s version is Coverdale’s ubiquitous shaggy perm, as usual making him look like the “before” section of a shampoo commercial. “Nice to see some heavy music back in the charts,” observes Vance with a knowing glint in his eye.

JIMMY RUFFIN – Hold On To My Love (#36)

Jimmy RuffinAlso on the comeback trail is Jimmy Ruffin, a former Motown star who had hits in the ’60s and ’70s such as What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? and Farewell is a Lonely Sound. A reissue of the former had sparked a brief career revival in 1974 but this was Ruffin’s first hit since then, his appearance suggesting that he hadn’t been able to buy any new shirts since the hits dried up. Rather harshly the director has stuck Jimmy on top of the podium and then set his shoes on fire, requiring him to perform his disco number with smoke billowing around him as he desperately tries to stamp out the flames. Hold On To My Love would go on to give Ruffin a sixth top ten hit in the UK some fourteen years after his first, but it would also be his last major hit.

SAXON – Wheels of Steel (#20)

SaxonLook out, Tommy’s back in his element. “We played you some David Coverdale, let’s play you some heavy music by a newish band.” It’s another outing for some proper NWOBHM from two weeks back, although it does look like the smoke from Jimmy Ruffin’s burning shoes has drifted across the studio to obscure Biff Byford and the lads. This was the first of eighteen hit singles for Saxon over the next eight years and as well as inspiring Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls, the song bears an uncanny resemblance to Meals On Wheels, a track from Vic Reeves’ 1991 album I Will Cure You. Delighted with a chance to show off his knowledge of GUITAR BASED ROCK, Vance observes that Saxon’s album, also called Wheels of Steel, is “doing very well.” He’s not wrong; the album made number 5 and would hang around the chart until October, by which time they had a second album ready to go.

HOT CHOCOLATE – No Doubt About It (#31)

Hot ChocolateMercilessly cut from the 7:30 edit despite Errol Brown’s passing just a few days earlier, No Doubt About It was a departure from Hot Chocolate’s usual subject matter (cute girls, sexy girls, dancing): an apparently true story of a UFO sighting. No such departure in the wardrobe department though, as Errol delivers his tale of an extra-terrestrial encounter in characteristically tight trousers, the kind which would almost certainly scare off visitors from another planet. Much is made of Hot Chocolate having a hit every year between 1970 and 1984, but 1979 had been a lean year for the band; their only top 40 hit of last year was I’ll Put You Together Again which was released at the end of 1978. Jaded song titles like Mindless Boogie and Going Through The Motions suggested the end was nigh, so it was heartening to see them back in the top 40 – even with a song about little green men.

MOTÖRHEAD – Leaving Here (#23)

MotörheadSeems a bit of a coincidence that Tommy Vance should be presiding over so much metal on his first TOTP – which came first, the decision to employ him as host or the inclusion of LOTS OF GUITAR BASED ROCK on the running order? We may never know. Anyway, after the poodle-haired preening of Coverdale and the shiny leather-clad posturing of Saxon, here comes some no-nonsense dirty rock from probably the least photogenic band ever to appear on the show. An unrecognisable version of a Holland / Dozier / Holland composition, Motörhead originally recorded the song in 1977 as their first single. This version was taken from the Golden Years live EP which was already the band’s biggest hit and would go on to reach number 8, a higher position than even the iconic Ace Of Spades later in the year. Somehow drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor’s “Whale oil beef hooked” T-shirt managed to slip through the censorship net, presumably because nobody bothered to read it out loud.

THE NOLANS – Don’t Make Waves (#25)

The NolansIs this the hardest working group in showbiz? This is already the Nolans’ fifth appearance on the show this year and it’s only the 1st of May. The transition from balls-out metal to shiny disco pop may seem discordant but it does allow us to debunk a popular urban myth that Motörhead and the Nolans once made a record together. In fact that’s almost, but not quite, true – the Young & Moody Band’s 1981 single Don’t Do That featured guest appearances from Lemmy on bass, Cozy Powell on drums and – yes! – Colleen and Linda Nolan on backing vocals. In fact all four Nolans feature in the video, trying to look like rock chicks with varying levels of success. Back in the real world, Don’t Make Waves wouldn’t match the success of I’m In The Mood For Dancing but it did give them the second of seven consecutive top twenty hits.

THE BEAT – Mirror in the Bathroom (#58)

The BeatMind you, you think the Nolans are working hard? The Beat are already on their third hit single of the year. Lots of mirror imagery in this performance, unsurprisingly, from Ranking Roger performing into a hand-held mirror to the state-of-the-art-video effect that mirrors the top half of the screen in the bottom half, or even vice versa. Presumably the effects people were too busy programming the reflection to apply the “waves” effect to the Nolans’ performance like they did last time. Star of the performance is venerable Jamaican saxophonist Saxa whose career stretches back to the birth of ska in the ’60s, when he played with the likes of Prince Buster and Laurel Aitken. These days there are two rival versions of The Beat – one fronted by Dave Wakeling, the other by Ranking Roger – but at the grand old age of 85, Saxa is now enjoying his retirement.

KATE BUSH – Breathing (#29)

Kate BushTwo years after hitting number 1 at her first attempt with Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush launched her third album with this defiantly uncommercial single about an unborn child dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear attack. The song is written from the foetus’s point of view and the promo clip appropriately features Kate in the role of the baby. Naturally this requires Kate to be in her birthday suit, but calm yourselves, she’s discreetly wrapped in several layers of cling film and cocooned in a huge plastic bubble. She’s being the baby, you see, it’s performance art or something. Either that or she’s off to an Extreme Zorbing event. Unsurprisingly, Breathing wasn’t a top ten hit; her next single Babooshka was, but we won’t see that thanks to TOTP’s own apocalyptic event over the summer.


Dexys Midnight Runners“What’s number 1? I’ll tell ya: this is, and it deserves to be!” Fine words from Tommy who doesn’t actually tell us what’s number 1, ironically presaging Dexys’ 1985 twelve-minute epic This Is What She’s Like in which Kevin Rowland completely fails to tell us what she’s like despite repeatedly promising to do so. Oh yeah, Dexys Midnight Runners are at number 1, apparently arriving late for the show and running on stage as the track starts, carelessly tossing towels and bags into the crowd and almost taking out a couple of audience members in the process. A chart-topping single at only the second attempt is a vindication for Rowland, one of pop’s true mavericks whose belief in doing things his way has seen him through many successes and numerous notorious failures over the years. We play out with Johnny “Mr Eurovision” Logan’s What’s Another Year after Tommy Vance bids us good evening; a creditable début – better than those of Andy Peebles or Steve Wright, anyway – but we’re back in the enthusiastic pop-friendly hands of Peter Powell next week.

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2 comments on ““Cures you whisper make no sense” – Top of the Pops, 1 May 1980

  1. Hey Steve, didn’t John Foxx just score with two consecutive No. 31 songs, Underpass and No One Driving??

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