Eddy Grant

“Glad to see the place again, it’s a pity nothing’s changed” – Top of the Pops, 20 November 1980

DLT and "wife"Another week, another episode deemed unsuitable for broadcast by BBC Four thanks to the host’s behaviour elsewhere. I mean, really, it’s not like we’re going to zoom in on DLT through the unenthusiastic crowd and find him locked in an embrace with a mystery blonde in a dimly-lit corner of the studio while Stephanie Mills’ Never Knew Love Like This Before plays in the background, is it? Is it? Ah… it is. Well, this is awkward. But Dave’s been too clever for us this time. “You thought you’d caught me, listen, before you start gossiping, it’s the wife, so pack it in.” Bah, you win this time, Travis. Anyway, this is the last Yewtreed edition of the show until we get to Christmas, when both end-of-year specials are scuppered by their hosts, which is a bit inconvenient. Looks like BBC Four will have to make do with rerunning the Big Hits compilation again. At least UK Gold had the foresight to repeat this edition back in the 1990s, so here’s what you missed.

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

MOTÖRHEAD – Ace of Spades (#15)

MotorheadSo here were are in the second half of November, but unlike today when there are already at least five TV channels devoted exclusively to showing Christmas films before December has even started, back in 1980 we were a bit more restrained about the festive season. That’s excepting Motörhead of course, who are rarely restrained about anything. Travis holds in his sweaty mitts one of 50,000 12″ copies of the Ace of Spades single with the band dressed in Santa outfits on the cover, although the TV picture isn’t quite clear enough to show that Santa Lemmy is holding a can of Special Brew and giving a one-fingered salute. No time for such fripperies in the band’s performance though, as they blast through their anthem as before except this time, as well as having to deal with Lemmy’s microphone placement issues, they are bombarded with balloons and Philthy Animal has a knife through his head. Tough crowd.

BOOMTOWN RATS – Banana Republic (#23)

Boomtown RatsThere’s an awkward silence after Motörhead finish, like the audience aren’t really sure what just hit them, before the usual crowd noise is played out and DLT returns, cleaning wax out of his ear. On to the Boomtown Rats next, a new entry at number 23 although Travis expresses surprise “that it took that long to get in, it seemed they were never gonna make it.” Give them a chance, Dave, the chart only comes out once a week. Banana Republic is an attack on the Rats’ homeland; after a controversial appearance on RTE’s Late Late Show back in 1977 when Geldof accused the church and state of keeping the Irish Republic in the dark ages, the Irish authorities responded in much the same way as the establishment in Britain responded to the Sex Pistols and banned them. Although the Pistols had imploded by 1980, the Rats had gone from strength to strength but still found it impossible to get gigs in their own country. Naturally, Geldof’s response to this was to (a) write a song repeating the accusations and (b) make an arty video in which the Rats all take their shirts off, the sight of the bare Geldof torso surely enough to make any politician or clergyman rethink his position.

DIANA ROSS – I’m Coming Out (#18)

Legs & CoWell, it’s no wonder BBC Four wouldn’t show this edition. We’ve had Lemmy flipping us the bird, Geldof using the word “whore” and getting his nipples out, and now Diana Ross is admitting she’s a lesbian! Ah, hang on… no, apparently that’s not right, although I’m Coming Out has been so widely adopted as a gay anthem that it’s now difficult to envisage any other meaning. Diana isn’t coming out to play tonight anyway, so… enter Limbs & Co! Now pay attention to the choreography, because it’s quite complicated. One of them is dancing around in a posh ballgown and comes to a halt behind the others, who are all wearing similar dresses… except once we get past the interminable intro they all walk away, revealing that the skirts of their dresses were just lecterns for them to stand behind and they’re actually just wearing their underwear. How unusual.

EDDY GRANT – Do You Feel My Love? (#30)

Eddy GrantWhere’s Simon Bates when you need him? Obscene gestures, partial nudity, sexual swearwords, homosexualism and now Travis has taken to cross-dressing. Yes, he’s tried one of Limbs & Co’s fake skirts on for size and discovered that it’s a bit small. So small, in fact, that he can’t get out of it. Hilarity ensues, as do cries for help and another “Pack it in!” directed at an audience member. While someone goes to fetch an oxyacetylene torch, we carry on with Eddy Grant whose solo career has been entirely bypassed by BBC Four so far; he appeared on three episodes of TOTP in 1979 with his first solo hit Living on the Frontline, all of them hosted by Savile or Travis, and now his second hit has fallen foul of the same issue. Grant, of course, had been on TOTP back in the late ’60s as a member of The Equals and will finally get a BBC Four slot in a couple of weeks’ time, when you’ll be able to see that he’s brought his mum and her friend along to do backing vocals.

ROD STEWART – Passion (#22)

Rod StewartFreed from the rogue skirt, Travis recovers from his ordeal by propping himself up with some young women as he expounds his theory about Eddy Grant’s latest hit: “Another big success after Living on the Frontline was the last one… quite similar-ish sound, actually, so perhaps it’s not so surprising it has got in the charts.” Paul Gambaccini can rest easy knowing his services are not required tonight. Having established that Eddy Grant is at number 30, Travis takes us through an unusually short countup from 29 to 23, pausing here at 22 to address a shifty looking fella in a Captain’s hat – “D’you like Rod Stewart?” “Naah!” “Well, get off then!” The unfortunate Captain is forcibly removed from the stage before the video for Sir Rodney’s latest. It’s a pallid and almost tune-free funk-rock workout – the only tangible melody comes in the middle eight, and even then it’s only noticeable because of how much it sounds like Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? – but it gives Rod a chance to strut around in tight, stripy trousers and wiggle his arse at the camera, which seemed to be his entire raison d’être at this stage of his career.

KOOL & THE GANG – Celebration (#12)

Kool & The GangStill weak from his earlier exertions, Travis has found a shoulder to cry on, or at least a short lady with a shoulder to lean on. “I feel sad for you,” he tells her, “you can’t take my place ever because you’re not big enough, are you?” Steady on, Dave, no need to rub it in. He does at least give her the opportunity to link to the next part of the chart countup, after which Travis ups the offence ante by affecting what he seems to believe is a black American accent. “Alright, my children, everybody say yeah! We got a bit of Celebration from Kool & the Gang at number 12, boogie on down and all that stuff!” He ends his link with a self-satisfied smirk-pout as if he’s just done something very clever, such as using the toilet like a big boy for the first time. Luckily there’s no danger of gang violence this evening as neither Kool nor his Gang are in the studio; instead we get a repeat of their performance from two weeks ago. Although they still had almost a dozen top twenty hits to come, this was one of only five studio appearances for Kool & the Gang so it’s a shame that the combination of presenters has kept it off BBC Four both times.

DENNIS WATERMAN with the DENNIS WATERMAN BAND – I Could Be So Good For You (#4)

Dennis WatermanAlso falling foul of the presenter rota is Dennis “write the feem toon, sing the feem toon” Waterman, with another repeat performance that hasn’t been seen on the BBC Four reruns. Indeed our loss is perhaps greater in this instance, because we got to see him talk about the single weeks ago but never got to see him fumble his way through it. This was the first of three Minder-related hit singles during the show’s heyday; Waterman and co-star George Cole, in character as Terry McCann and his boss Arthur Daley, reached number 21 in 1983 with the festive cash-in What Are We Gonna Get ‘Er Indoors? but not until after The Firm had reached the top twenty with their entirely unofficial and non-festive cash-in Arthur Daley (‘e’s Alright) the previous year. Outside of the show, Waterman made numerous stabs at proper pop stardom, all of which failed miserably, even 1982’s alarmingly titled We Don’t Make Love On Sundays. At least he’s been able to rely on his acting career for an income. Where are The Firm now?

BLONDIE – The Tide Is High (#1)

BlondieTime to plug that TOTP album again, an end best achieved by giving it as a prize to two young ladies who, Travis informs us, “have been outstanding… I don’t know why, why’ve you been out standing? You had tickets, you could’ve come in!” Apparently they’ve been chosen as outstanding dancers and not just two random audience members drafted in as an excuse to show the album sleeve on TV again, oh no. Top ten countup time – this time they manage to keep the TOP TEN TOP TEN TOP captions on until number 6 before they disappear, only to reappear during the number 3 clip – before another showing of the cobbled together Blondie video, proving that it wasn’t a BBC Four creation, it really did look this rubbish at the time. This is Blondie’s last week at number 1 for almost two decades; they took most of 1981 off, which proved to be a poor decision as their career quickly divebombed and didn’t recover until their big reunion single Maria débuted at number 1 in 1999. Before we we play out with the highly appropriate The Earth Dies Screaming by UB40, DLT suddenly remembers he hasn’t done a Tedious News Section™ this week, but he does have a bombshell to drop: he’s “asked to be relieved from” the Radio 1 breakfast show because he’s sick of getting up so early. Unfortunately this gives him more time to do TOTP, so more missing shows next year no doubt.

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