Johnny Logan

“I don’t know how to stop” – Top of the Pops, 15 May 1980

DLTAnother episode quietly dropped from the run of BBC Four repeats, but like many it was repeated on UK Gold back in the 1990s so it’s not exactly “lost” if you know where to look. Although you can argue the rights or wrongs of omitting large chunks of history in this manner, Dave Lee Travis isn’t doing anything to help his cause this week. Apparently the sun’s been out for a day or two, so DLT has dressed appropriately in a gaudy Hawaiian shirt (unbuttoned down to mid-chest, obviously) and unpleasantly short shorts, with a cardboard sun strapped to his big hairy head. And why not? If you can’t dress like a tit on a prime time music television show, reducing it to some kind of light entertainment farce, when can you? The top thirty count-up is accompanied by You Gave Me Love by the Crown Heights Affair, which was sampled by Utah Saints for their 1993 hit Believe In Me, as was Love Action by last week’s opening act the Human League. Small world, innit?

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

SQUEEZE – Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) (#47)

SqueezeUnlike Travis, Squeeze have captured the early summer vibe perfectly. Well, at least Glenn Tilbrook has, in his linen jacket, respectably buttoned up shirt and sensible hat. This is a great summer song, describing a day at the beach from the viewpoints of various surfers, topless ladies and holidaymakers. Perhaps released a month or so too early to soundtrack your 1980 summer holiday and capture sales from tourists needing some kind of tangible souvenir of their vacation, Pulling Mussels bafflingly and criminally peaked at number 44, although it’s as familiar today as many of their more successful songs. It would be a full year before the band returned to the top forty with Is That Love? as the realisation that they were actually too good for the charts began to sink in.

ROXY MUSIC – Over You (#18)

Roxy Music“Squeeze and Pulling Mussels – I shall probably pull a few of them meself before the end of the show.” Without wishing to sound like DLT’s defence lawyer, one gets the impression that he often did and said things just because he thought they would get a laugh, without really thinking them through in any great detail. That would certainly explain the outfit and that sentence, which conjures up various images, none of them pleasant. Anyway, onwards, with the return of former glam gods Roxy Music who by now have ditched everything that made them such a fascinating proposition the first half of the ’70s, including unconventional song structures, outrageous costumes and Brian Eno. They were, however, in the middle of their most commercially successful period; Over You, which would become their third top five in succession, was the first single from the album Flesh + Blood which would spend over a year on the album chart but forever condemn them to leather-trousered bland-pop hell.

JIMMY RUFFIN – Hold On To My Love (#7)

Jimmy Ruffin“It’s getting very warm in here, I might have to take something else off before the end of the night.” Please don’t, Dave, for the love of God. Now, flown in specially from two weeks ago, here’s Jimmy Ruffin with his last top forty hit, Hold On To My Love peaking at number 7 this week. His shoes are still on fire, but we all have our problems. Although this was Ruffin’s last hit in his own right, he did crop up again on TOTP in late 1984 when Paul Weller persuaded him to join the Council Collective, Weller’s Band Aid-style charity assemblage whose Soul Deep raised money for striking miners. Ruffin also collaborated with Heaven 17 on their 1986 single The Foolish Thing To Do, and a less Heaven 17 sounding single you won’t hear all day. He scored a couple of other minor hits including a reworking of What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted with Ruby Turner before his death in 2014.

MYSTIC MERLIN – Just Can’t Give You Up (#24)

Legs & CoDespite persistent reports of its demise, small pockets of disco continued to break out throughout the early ’80s. Here’s one of them, with an unusual arrangement and harmonies that make it sound like a 1960s advertising jingle sung over Spiller’s Groovejet. Mystic Merlin started out as a novelty act with a live show which mixed music and magic tricks, but in the late ’70s they dropped the tricks to concentrate on the music. Sadly they’re all too busy sawing women in half to be here tonight, so… enter Limbs & Co! After last week’s debacle when they all forgot their costumes and had to do the show in their unmentionables, this week they’ve overcompensated and brought two outfits: a black one, which might be a cat but is probably a devil, what with the unconvincing cardboard flames around the stage, and a white one which presumably represents angels. Flick Colby there, tackling the perpetual struggle of good against evil through the medium of interpretive dance over a song whose lyrics are largely “Just can’t give you up.”

HOT CHOCOLATE – No Doubt About It (#6)

Hot ChocolateTalking of magic tricks, the director has really pulled out two or three of the stops tonight with Hot Chocolate’s appearance – indeed, we literally see them appear as a shot of the empty stage is mixed through to a shot of the same stage with band and audience in place. As if they’ve beamed down from a spaceship, y’see. Clearly the Flick Colby Big Book of Literal Choreography was out on loan when Limbs & Co were rehearsing their number. Errol Brown has outdone the girls in the costume department as well, turning up in some kind of futuristic getup with a big shiny-trimmed collar and, inevitably, really really really tight trousers as he describes his encounter with beings from another planet. “Was I frightened? Was I scared? Yes, of course, I crapped myself, and then wished I wasn’t wearing such tight trousers.”

THE FOUR BUCKETEERS – The Bucket of Water Song (#26)

The Four BucketeersExpertly introduced by DLT with no reference to who these people are or how they got here, the Four Bucketeers were the hosts of fondly-remembered anarchic kids’ TV show Tiswas, whose modus operandi was to present celebrity interviews, comedy sketches and pseudo-educational features, all of which were thinly-disguised excuses to cover all participants in custard pies and buckets of water. Chartwise only John Gorman had any kind of previous, having been a member of the Scaffold – along with poet Roger McGough and Paul McCartney’s brother Mike – who scored the 1968 Christmas number 1 with Lily The Pink. The other Bucketeers are Bob Carolgees (with his fantastically grotesque puppet Spit The Dog), Sally “The Fabulous Miss” James and, of course, Chris “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” Tarrant, the voice of reason in “Compost Corner” T-shirt, sensible jacket and rubber waders. Oh, and thanks to tedious BBC health & safety rules it’s not real water in those buckets.

WHITESNAKE – Fool For Your Lovin’ (#20)

WhitesnakeIn all fairness it must be said that the TOTP Orchestra made a surprisingly decent stab at The Bucket of Water Song, although it’s easy to imagine them watching the performance in complete disgust and re-evaluating their career choices. A group of vulgar performers from an ITV programme sullying the good name of TOTP? Shocking. Anyway, Travis manages to lower the tone even further by chatting to some American audience members – “D’you fancy a bit of Whitesnake? Yeah? I’ll take you to the canteen after the show.” That’s the kind of joke Chris Tarrant used to try and sneak into Tiswas without anyone noticing, and the reason why the “adult Tiswas” OTT was such a disaster. Anyway, yes, here’s that Whitesnake video again. “I was born under a bad sign,” bemoans David Coverdale. Presumably it read “MATRENITY WARRED”. That could be another Tiswas joke. Let’s move on.

THE NOLANS – Don’t Make Waves (#13)

The NolansIs this growing on anyone yet? Much like I’m In The Mood For Dancing, this seems to be taking an awfully long time to get anywhere despite being relentlessly plugged on the show every other week. Still, fair play to the Nolans, not for them the easy route of taping one performance and having it endlessly repeated for as long as it takes to climb the chart; the girls are back once a fortnight, keeping the TOTP Orchestra busy and making sure nobody decides to give their song to Limbs & Co. This week they’re in co-ordinated black and white outfits, no doubt sparking letters of unmitigated fury from Daily Mail readers who had shelled out the extra for a colour TV licence. The Nolans didn’t release another single until September, after TOTP was restored following The Event, as it would have meant setting up a stage in their front room to perform it every other Thursday night.

THE BEAT – Mirror in the Bathroom (#4)

The BeatThis is the second time in succession this line-up of Nolans, Beat and Bush has been flung out in the same order and still nobody has made a “Beat-ing around the Bush” joke. Probably just as well. This is The Beat’s third top ten hit in five months and also their biggest to date; their only bigger hit would come three years later with the belated single release of Can’t Get Used To Losing You, another track from their 1980 début album I Just Can’t Stop It. If we see that on BBC Four I’ll be very surprised, especially as one of the two performances of the song was on the 1000th edition in May 1983, which inevitably features Sir Jim’ll and is therefore ineligible for broadcast at any point in the next hundred years. Meanwhile this performance of Mirror in the Bathroom is the same as two weeks ago so for once you’re not missing anything.

KATE BUSH – Breathing (#19)

Kate BushUnlike the Nolans, Kate did release a single over the summer, and it was her biggest hit since Wuthering Heights. Unfortunately The Event deprived us of seeing Babooshka on TOTP, unless – and this seems unlikely – BBC Four somehow manages to show the unbroadcast pilot episode for the new look TOTP which was made in July in preparation for the show’s post-Event relaunch. As the Musicians Union was on strike there were no actual bands on the pilot show, just members of the crew standing on stage pretending to be Saxon and Leo Sayer. BBC Four used some clips from the pilot episode in the Story of 1980 documentary at the beginning of the year, so it would be fascinating to see it in full – preferably in its usual Thursday night slot with no explanation or context, so the Twitter feed goes completely mental. Still, for now you’ll have to make do with a naked Kate Bush wrapped in plastic. It’s a hard life, but we persevere.

PETER GABRIEL – No Self Control (#44)

Peter GabrielOf course Kate Bush had provided backing vocals for Peter Gabriel’s previous hit Games Without Frontiers and they would go on to have a top ten hit together with Don’t Give Up in 1986, so maybe they don’t just throw this thing together after all. Remarkably this is the only time that Gabriel was ever tempted into the TOTP studio, unless you count his 2002 performance for TOTP2, by which time his top 40 career was well and truly over. It’s a typically uncompromising performance, all dramatic lighting, extreme close-ups and Gabriel contorting into various unlikely positions. Despite his efforts, and even the patronage of DLT who apparently made it his Record of the Week, No Self Control failed to emulate the success of Games Without Frontiers and struggled to number 33. Even so, it’s one of the few Gabriel tracks available on Spotify and so doesn’t mess up this week’s playlist, which is more than you can say for certain Tiswas presenters I could mention.

NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN – I Shoulda Loved Ya (#8)

Narada Michael WaldenNo Self Control, which sometimes is what they have not got in the studio, but never mind!” Ha, you’re one to talk, Travis. Anyway, that was Peter Gabriel’s only TOTP performance but we’d have to wait another eight years for Narada Michael Walden’s only trip to the studio, by which time he’d dropped all pretence to having a real name and was known simply as “Narada”. In the meantime though, he produced loads of hit singles, from Stacy Lattisaw’s Jump to the Beat (another great single that fell victim to The Event) to massive mid-80s hits for Whitney Houston, Jermaine Stewart’s We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off and even Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now. Not a bad career for a singing drummer. I Shoulda Loved Ya peaked here at number 8, as did Narada’s other hit Divine Emotions eight years later.

JOHNNY LOGAN – What’s Another Year? (#1)

Johnny Logan“WE HAVE TO LOSE THAT SAX SOLO!” Yes, J-Lo has finally made it to number one, but by now he’s run out of suits so is forced to perform in purple trousers and a cyan shirt with white, yellow and pink stripes; something to placate the Daily Mail readers after the Nolans turned up in monochrome. Still, we can allow Johnny a bit of leeway in his attire this once, because it’s his birthday! They’ve made him a cake and everything, which he receives from a member of the audience. As he bends over to give the lucky audience member a kiss there’s a terrible moment where it looks like he might overbalance and land face first in the cake, but he doesn’t and all is well until he gets it back to the dressing room and discovers there’s a jumper baked into it. So, a happy ending to the show, and what better way to keep the jubilation going than to play out with the theme from M*A*S*H? Well, I’m sure there are lots, but that’s what we’re doing. Mike Read is your genial host next week, so no dirty language please.

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