Cliff Richard

“Don’t waste your money on a new set of speakers” – Top of the Pops, 4 September 1980

DLT & Kevin KeeganA full month into the new look Top of the Pops and a pattern is starting to emerge: all the guest presenters have singles out. Admittedly Elton was between singles on his hosting stint and while B.A. Robertson had To Be Or Not To Be in the chart when he hosted the pilot episode it had long gone before his only broadcast appearance, but other than that the theory is completely watertight. Hold on though, because the Hairy Cornflake’s glamorous assistant tonight is that legendary musical heavyweight… Kevin Keegan? Surely the permanently-permed goal machine doesn’t have a record out? But yes! Having signed for Southampton after three seasons in Hamburg, Keegan was so keen to get back to his home country that he recorded the homesick ballad England and watched it fail to set the chart alight the way the previous year’s Head Over Heels In Love had (it got to number 31). To be fair, Keegan’s 1979 hit had the hitmaking stamp of Smokie’s Chris Norman and Pete Spencer all over it which England didn’t, although the epic 6 minute plus Somebody Needs on the B-side deserved more success. All this is covering up the fact that BBC Four wouldn’t show this episode because of DLT and the only version I could get hold of has the introduction cut off, but I’m sure it wasn’t any more edifying than the rest of the show.

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

SECRET AFFAIR – Sound of Confusion (#45)

Secret AffairAs we push on through 1980 it’s becoming clear that the ska and mod revivals that took hold last year are beginning to lose momentum. We saw last week that The Selecter had begun to take a more mainstream approach, with The Beat and Madness following suit in due course. Similarly Secret Affair, one of the leading lights of the mod revival, are also moving towards a more pop-based sound. Sound of Confusion is a great little song but it feels like it has more in common with the jangly guitar indie-pop bands of the early ’80s than the ’60s mod movement, despite bassist Dennis Smith’s stubborn refusal to ditch his stripy blazer. With the exception of Madness, most acts from this era found it hard to move on from their roots and take their audience with them; Secret Affair faired particularly badly in this area, Sound of Confusion failing to climb any higher than number 45 making this their last appearance on TOTP. The band split in 1982 but reformed twenty years later, with singer Ian Page and guitarist David Cairns fronting a new line-up of the band which still tours and finally released a third album in 2012.

KELLY MARIE – Feels Like I’m In Love (#3)

Kelly MarieSomeone showing absolutely no inclination to move with the times is Dave Lee Travis, who takes co-host Keegan aside and asks him conspiratorially, “Do you like redheads?” “Well… I like Alan Ball,” squirms Kev. Also in need of change is the redhead DLT was referring to, Kelly Marie who’s back again doing the same routine with the same dancers to the same song that feels like it’s been on the show a million times and it’s not even got to number 1 yet. Whoops, spoiler alert. One fact of possible interest to those who care about these sorts of things is that Feels Like I’m In Love was the last ever UK number 1 single on Pye Records, home over the previous two and a half decades to such luminaries as Petula Clark, The Kinks and, er, Brotherhood of Man, but about to come to a shuddering halt as the label’s lease on the Pye trademark ran out. Hopefully Kelly’s lease on that terrible black jumpsuit will also run out in the near future.

NICK STRAKER BAND – A Walk In The Park (#22)

Nick Straker Band“Not only a beautiful redhead but also a great dancer and singer,” stumbles Kev, unable to make eye contact with the camera for more than a second and apparently distracted by the presence of the Nick Straker Band in his eyeline. “They’re gonna take you for a walk in the park,” he warns, but are they really? We established two weeks ago that this wasn’t the real Nick Straker Band because they had all quit to become New Musik, so how do we know this is even the real Nick Straker? He looks an awful lot like Simon Farnaby from Horrible Histories. And isn’t that Stig O’Hara from The Rutles on drums? Actually it could be, because although Stig was the Rutles’ guitarist, his real life persona Ricky Fataar is a drummer, so unless anyone can conclusively prove otherwise I’m going to go ahead and start the rumour that Stig isn’t dead, he went off to play drums in the Nick Straker Band, which is possibly worse.

HAZEL O’CONNOR – Eighth Day (#5)

Hazel O'ConnorYou’ll have noticed that this week’s show is distressingly similar to the one two weeks ago, as the charts stagnate over the summer while everyone goes on holiday and stops buying new records. Only three songs on this show haven’t been on before, and one of those was last week’s playout track. The new enfant terrible of Rock Cinema (a particularly niche genre which I’ve just invented) hasn’t even turned up for a second appearance, so we get a repeat of Hazel’s vaguely unsettling performance from a fortnight previous. This was the highest position for Eighth Day and Hazel never really managed to forge a career from her role in Breaking Glass; although she did score three top ten hits, the biggest one after this was Will You, another Breaking Glass track belatedly released as a single nine months later. In fact A&M Records were still releasing O’Connor singles from the soundtrack as late as 1982, which scuppered her own post-movie single releases and, in turn, her career. That’s the music business for you.

BILLY JOEL – It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll To Me (#20)

Legs & CoAn unnecessarily long, rambling intro from DLT, most of which is drowned out by audience noise, leads us into the first part of the chart countup which, curiously, features the eleven records between numbers 30 and 20. We pause here for Billy Joel (not Jo-elle, because if nothing else, at least Travis has learned to pronounce Billy’s surname before most of his peers) who isn’t here because he’s far too important to bother with a poxy little British TV show. In fact Joel never appeared in the TOTP studio, not even when he was enjoying five weeks at number 1 with Uptown Girl which you’d think would be enough reason for him to get on a plane, and even the 2001 TOTP2 Billy Joel Special was all videos. We saw the video for this two weeks ago though, so… enter Limbs & Co! Yes, fresh from their summer holidays where they all had their hair braided, the girls are back to fanny about in non-matching red / yellow / green dresses which they bought on holiday in the hope that they would get to dance to Bob Marley when they came back instead of this. Better luck next time, ladies.

CLIFF RICHARD – Dreamin’ (#10)

Cliff Richard“Legs & Co, looking like an explosion in a paint factory… Aren’t they beautiful? Gay colours, that’s what Top of the Pops is all about.” Stop there, Travis, you’re just digging a hole for yourself. On with the countup, from 19 to 11, after which DLT is accosted without warning by Hank Marvin, appearing from nowhere and for no other reason than to introduce his erstwhile colleague Sir Clifford of Richard. As we move closer to autumn the weather has clearly taken a turn for the worse and Cliff is forced to keep his jacket on this week, rather than have it dangling over his shoulder as in his last appearance. Despite his grumbling two weeks ago that the top ten was so good he’d never get into it, here he is at number 10 still riding the wave of his career resurgence which began with We Don’t Talk Anymore a year ago and would carry on for at least another year with gems like Wired For Sound and Daddy’s Home still to come. Sad then to think that he would eventually lower himself to dreck like The Millennium Prayer. Never mind, this is a fine single although it’s probably best if we draw a discreet veil over Cliff’s keyboard player who, in tribute to Kevin Keegan, has turned up in an unpleasantly short pair of nylon football shorts. Ewww.

SHEENA EASTON – Modern Girl (#13)

Sheena EastonSpeak of the devil, just when you had convinced yourself that the presence of Kevin Keegan as co-host was so improbable you must have imagined it, here he is again, but now sporting a lavish fake beard because, yes, he is Dave Lee Travis. But so is Dave Lee Travis. Confused? I know I am, and the situation isn’t helped by Keegan bashfully mumbling his way through the sketch, reminding viewers that he’s doing the Radio 1 breakfast show tomorrow so “don’t forget to watch.” Travis glosses over this glaring error by reverting to interviewing football’s Kevin Keegan: “Have you got a record out at the moment, by any chance?” “I have,” sighs Kev, “it’s shooting up the charts… from number 81 it went down to 200 this week.” Travis then proceeds to prove that if Keegan can do his show, he can play football just as well, heading a conveniently thrown football clear out of shot by about six inches. “None of that body contact,” he gloats, before losing the moral high ground by turning it into a link to Sheena Easton – “I wouldn’t mind a bit of physical contact with our next lady though.” Yes, it’s Sheena “two records in the charts” Easton, who has two records in the charts. Although 9 To 5 was only on the show once, it’s still outselling this which is now on its second TOTP appearance. This is a repeat of her previous performance of Modern Girl, which is pretty disappointing for someone with two records in the charts. Did you know she had two records in the charts? Well, she does.

THE BEAT – Best Friend (#27)

The BeatAfter a mercifully brief edit of Sheena Easton (did you know she has two records in the charts? Amazing, isn’t it?), it’s an inelegant cut into the video for this latest effort by The Beat. As previously discussed there’s a general feeling that the 2 Tone movement has run its course and Best Friend seems to be a conscientious move towards jangly brassy guitar pop, with everyone dressed in different brightly coloured shirts like a ska Showaddywaddy, although the inclusion of Ranking Roger and Saxa in the band’s line-up limits just how far they can move away from their 2 Tone roots. With that in mind, the single was released as a double A-side with a dub mix of the band’s anti-Thatcher rant Stand Down Margaret, although the dub effects only distract from the message of the song when a straight release of the song itself would have been a much more effective protest. After three top ten hits from their first three single releases, Best Friend could only reach number 22.

RANDY CRAWFORD – One Day I’ll Fly Away (#26)

Randy CrawfordAnxious to get as much TV exposure as possible at all times, Sir Cliff has – apparently without invitation – joined Dave and Kev for a quick interview between songs. “What about the charts generally?” Travis asks. “How do you think the charts are going as far as different types of music are concerned?” If that’s not a leading question I don’t know what is. “I think at the moment there’s something in the charts for everyone,” obliges Kev, lamely. More fittingly, Dave asks Cliff what he thinks about Elvis being back in the charts – oh yeah, Elvis is back in the charts, but we’ll come to that next week. “It doesn’t matter what I think,” Cliff shrugs, “B.A. Robertson’s hairdresser thinks he’s terrific.” This baffles Travis who clearly hasn’t been watching the show for the past couple of weeks and missed the running gag about Cliff’s hairdresser. Moving on, DLT urges decorum for “the best record you’ve ever heard in your life,” to no great interest from his charges. “If you fly away eventually, I’ll wait,” deadpans Cliff. We’ll be seeing more of this over the next few weeks so, other than to say it’s absolutely not the best record you’ve ever heard in your life, let’s leave it there for now.

THE JAM – Start! (#1)

The JamAnd so, as has become the norm, we countup the top ten (including Sheena Easton, who has two records in the charts) to discover that David Bowie has been squeezed out of the number 1 slot by a band DLT can’t mention because he’s on a diet. “Big cream cake?” Keegan suggests. “Greasy bacon sarnie?” No, ha ha, it’s the Jam. A quick run through the Taxman Start! video again and we’re at the end of the show. We play out with Bankrobber by The Clash – who, despite the often-repeated fact that they never appeared on Top of the Pops, seem to still get their music on the show with alarming regularity – but Kev has enjoyed himself so much that, like a game show contestant, he’s decided he’ll come back next week. Once you’ve seen who’s hosting next week, you’ll wish he had.

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One comment on ““Don’t waste your money on a new set of speakers” – Top of the Pops, 4 September 1980

  1. in one of simon napier-bell’s literary exposes of the music industry, he goes on at length how the pye record company executives contrived to lose the rights to the label name that had served them fairly well from the mid 50’s until the mid 70’s (if fading away somewhat by the end of the 70’s)

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