The Cure

“I’ve been waiting such a long time” – Top of the Pops, 24 April 1980

Steve WrightHaving been spared the horror of a Jimmy Savile episode (not because of his alleged position as Britain’s most prolific sex criminal, but rather for his heinous crimes against television presentation), it’s wacky zany Steve Wright’s turn to host this week. Still persevering with the Kenny Everett beard, Wrighty is resplendent in an horrific stripy blazer which looks like it inspired both the ZX Spectrum loading pattern and Ford Prefect‘s attempts to blend in with the people of Earth. Thankfully Wrighty stopped trying to blend in with the people of Earth a long time ago. The top thirty countup is accompanied by The Groove by Rodney Franklin, causing all sorts of confusion as it’s in the chart at the same time as another song with “the groove” in the title which we’ll come to later. Meanwhile someone has dropped the chart machine down a flight of stairs, causing a very distracting video feedback effect on the artist names making them almost impossible to read. That’s progress.

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

SMOKIE – Take Good Care Of My Baby (#50)

SmokieYou thought you’d seen the last of this lot, didn’t you? Smokie had a run of 11 hits in the mid-70s including If You Think You Know How To Love Me, Living Next Door To Alice and Oh Carol. They had also been responsible for Kevin Keegan’s brief pop career, but they were very much a ’70s act and this TOTP appearance, their first in eighteen months, seems quite out of step with the changing times; singer Chris Norman struggles to contain the Hank Marvin “How did we get here again?” grin as the band runs through a barely-updated version of a 1961 Bobby Vee hit. This would be Smokie’s last appearance on TOTP until they unexpectedly found themselves back on the show fifteen years later in even more unlikely circumstances, teaming up with Roy “Chubby” Brown for a foul-mouthed reworking of Living Next Door To Alice.

PAUL McCARTNEY – Coming Up (#7)

Paul McCartneyIt’s been a busy year already for fab wacky thumbs-aloft Macca; back in January he spent nine days in jail in Japan, having somehow failed to realise that he wasn’t allowed to bring marijuana into the country. Now he was about to issue his first solo album in a decade, McCartney II, which he had recorded at home the previous summer. Like the rest of the album, first single Coming Up was written, performed and produced exclusively by McCartney, a fact reflected in the video which stretches 1980’s video technology to its very limits to create an entire band of Paul McCartneys, including a Hank Marvin McCartney on guitar, a very convincing Ron Mael McCartney on keyboards and loveable ’60s moptop McCartney on bass. Oh, and Linda. Macca’s new solo success meant Wings was effectively over, the band officially splitting a year later, although the B-side of Coming Up included a live Wings version of the song which became a hit in the US in preference to the solo version.

THE CURE – A Forest (#41)

The Cure“Right, here comes a good band called The Cure,” announces Wrighty as if he’s ever heard of them. Having failed to dent the chart with early gloomfests Killing An Arab and Boys Don’t Cry, A Forest saw Robert Smith and cohorts in the chart – and, consequently, on TOTP – for the very first time. The spirit of goth has yet to consume them, Smith looking almost unrecognisable with no make-up and a smart, sensible haircut. Sadly he hasn’t yet found any stage presence either; apart from the movement of his hands on his guitar, Smith turns in an extraordinary display of inertia, performing as if at gunpoint. His only concession to the Flick Colby Big Book of Literal Choreography is to abruptly stop miming the guitar at the line “Suddenly I stop,” but by then the producer has had enough and Wrighty is hanging around waiting to take over again, leaving Smith to traipse off to the make-up counter at Boots.


Elvis Costello & The AttractionsBy contrast the normally austere Declan MacManus is in unusually upbeat mood. This is the video for his latest release High Fidelity in which we find Costello cavorting on a spiral staircase, writhing around in the least seductive bed scene imaginable, pointing rhythmically in an appalling purple and black striped pullover, looking a bit like Bono in a pair of dark glasses and generally displaying the kind of awful dad dancing not seen since… well, since the video for I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down a couple of months back. Surprisingly High Fidelity didn’t climb any higher than this number 30 position and Elvis wouldn’t be back in the top ten for another eighteen months, by which time normal gloomy service had been resumed.

SKY – Toccata (#11)

Sky“Now, here’s an unusual record that I think could well make the top ten next week.” Not exactly sticking your neck out there, Wrighty, considering it’s already at number 11. Despite having been afforded a slightly bigger stage this time, the band still looks completely out of place, drummer Roland out of Grange Hill Tristan Fry even committing the ultimate rock star faux pas of wearing a T-shirt with the name of his own band written on it. Despite a run of top twenty albums with such extravagant titles as Sky, Sky 2, Sky 3, Sky 4 – Forthcoming, Sky News, Sky Sports and Sky Five Live, the band never managed another hit single and as Toccata peaked at number 5 the following week (well done Wrighty) and then dropped, this is the last time they ever had to be embarrassed at being on TOTP.

SAD CAFE – My Oh My (#14)

Sad CaféIt’s been pointed out that Sad Café’s performance on the show two weeks ago wasn’t a repeat of the one from three weeks before that after all – like a man in an orthopaedic shoe, I stand corrected. Turns out Paul Young had a selection of horrid magenta jackets and black shirts from which to choose for his many TOTP appearances. This is definitely (as far as I can tell) a repeat of the second performance, with the hastily reassembled scaffolding all over the stage and not a protective hard hat or hi-vis jacket in sight – apart from Young’s magenta number, obviously. My Oh My was Sad Café’s last top twenty hit although they did creep into the top forty again at the start of 1981, which we may yet see again if BBC Four lasts that long.

COCKNEY REJECTS – The Greatest Cockney Rip Off (#47)

Cockney Rejects“Nah then,” announces Wrighty, “‘ere come the Cockney Rejects and Cockney Rip-Orf!” Bless him, he’s got half the title right and he made a stab at a Cockney accent, although if the Rejects heard his attempt they’d probably make a stab at him. That would be after they’d finished laying into Jimmy Pursey though, as The Greatest Cockney Rip off is essentially a Sham 69 parody in which they mock Pursey’s lack of punk integrity, his relatively privileged upbringing in well-to-do Surrey rather than rough-and-ready East London, and of course his accent. The Rejects, on the other hand, had plenty of Cockney clout; singer Jeff Geggus and his guitarist brother Micky were both boxers in their younger days, while bassist Vince Riordan was the nephew of Jack “The Hat” McVitie. Unlike McVitie, who was violently murdered by Reggie Kray, on this occasion Pursey escaped with only a bruised ego and lived to carry on his career as a freelance gobshite.

BOBBY THURSTON – Check Out The Groove (#26)

Legs & CoThere’s been a terrible clerical error down at the British Market Research Bureau. Somehow two different records with similar titles have been given consecutive chart positions: Rodney Franklin’s The Groove, which we heard earlier, is at number 27 while Check Out The Groove by Bobby Thurston is one place higher. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, Thurston was enjoying huge success in the clubs with this disco smash, especially in its 7½ minute 12″ version, but he can’t be here tonight so… enter Limbs & Co! Being a dance hit, there’s not much for the girls to do other than strut their own peculiar brand of stuff. Awkwardly though, they’ve all forgotten to bring trousers with them so Flick, in the manner of a sadistic PE teacher, has made them do it in their pants. This leads to some inadvertently literal choreography as the tightness of said undergarments means we can “check out” each dancer’s “groove” in rather too much detail. Mary Whitehouse must have been watching BBC 2 instead.

BAD MANNERS – Ne Ne Na Na Na Na Nu Nu (#36)

Bad MannersConsternation at the end of Limbs’ routine as the girls cavort down to the end of the catwalk in single file, only for Wrighty to pop up from the back of the set and shimmer his own way down there, inexplicably sporting a false cardboard moustache on top of his regular facial fuzz. No explanation for this behaviour is forthcoming as we are introduced for the very first time to a band who would become regular visitors to the show over the next couple of years. Led by Doug “Buster Bloodvessel” Trendle, a man whose corpulence belies the incredible amount of effort he puts into his performance, Bad Manners were like watching Madness at double speed, or The Specials on acid, cocaine, speed and ecstasy all at once. Ne Ne Na Na Na Na Nu Nu is One Step Beyond fed through Google Translate and back again, with Buster running on the spot, gurning, sweating and spouting utter gibberish. Imagine how good they’ll be later in the year when they have an actual song.

DAVID ESSEX – Silver Dream Machine (#6)

David EssexAnother outing for this video which is really just a three minute advert for the movie Silver Dream Racer, although it’s still better than what’s been cobbled together to illustrate Blondie’s new single later in the show. Like Bates before him, Wrighty confuses the title of the song with the title of the film – really, it’s not hard, the word “racer” doesn’t even appear in the song. Put some effort into it, gents. This climbed as high as number 4 next week but is rarely heard now, although it was covered in 1993 by Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine. Mind you, what wasn’t? Silver Dream Racer is available on DVD if you’re really interested, but be careful which version you pick up because the nasty original ending of the UK version was sanitised for release in the US where a happy ending is a legal requirement.

THE UNDERTONES – My Perfect Cousin (#21)

The UndertonesWe’re really packing them in tonight, aren’t we? Here’s frustrated, fault-finding Feargal again, still banging on about his cousin’s fur-lined sheepskin jacket, although Feargal’s mum made him wear this nice warm jumper for going on the telly so I suppose he does have a point. Annoyingly this is on its way to giving the Undertones their only top ten hit, when they released numerous better singles both before and after this one. Still, while we’re making fun of Sharkey and his questionable toggery, let’s remember the time he became the first pop star to appear live on TV from an airborne commercial aircraft while standing around shrugging hopelessly like a man who doesn’t know how to play Subbuteo. Maybe Kevin was in charge of the sound that day.

JOHNNY LOGAN – What’s Another Year

Johnny LoganWell, would you believe it? We sent our best Guys & Dolls tribute act Prima Donna out to The Hague to sing the theme from On The Move and we still didn’t win Eurovision. Looking back it seems like a remarkable achievement to have finished as high as third, but there was never any doubt who was going to win. What’s Another Year romped home for Autralian-born Irish legend Johnny Logan, now known as “Mr Eurovision” after winning the thing twice and composing a further winner. Back in 1980 though, his unfortunate haircut, hapless expression and precarious position atop a stool give him the air of Rodney Trotter auditioning for Westlife, while the jacket hanging limply across his shoulders suggests a secret hankering to play Batman once the song is over. There’s more to come from J-Lo over the next month though, as this is going all the way to number 1.

BLONDIE – Call Me (#1)

BlondieAfter Wrighty bounds on stage for an in-depth interview with the future Mr Eurovision (“What did it feel like the moment you knew you’d won?” “Fabulous.” “Great. Well, he looks pleased for himself.”) we come to the second of Blondie’s three number 1 hits in 1980. Only problem is there isn’t a video for it and the band apparently don’t do TOTP anymore – they haven’t been in the studio since 1979 and won’t be back until their comeback single Maria almost twenty years later. So… enter Limbs & Co, right? Ah, well, no, because they did this last week and they’ve already done a routine tonight, so… enter a hasty cut and paste job consisting of clips from American Gigolo (the movie to which Call Me was the theme) and some random still pictures of La Harry and her chums; zooming, rotating, magically flipping over to reveal a different still picture. Oh, and a couple of very brief Limbs & Co clips to remind you that you’re watching TOTP and not Film 80. Not to worry, it only spent this week at number 1 before being deposed by… well, I won’t give away the plot, but we play out with Dexys Midnight Runners. Another new host makes his début next week, so look out for lots of CAPITAL LETTERS and a large amount of GUITAR BASED ROCK.

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