The Jam

“No more lonely nights for me” – Top of the Pops, 27 March 1980

Peter Powell“Hi everybody, you’re listening to the Vapors and you’re going to see the chart.” Think of the TOTP presentation style of John Peel and then think of the exact opposite. That’s Peter Powell, your host this week, a man whose enthusiasm for the music on the show is so great it makes him look like some kind of religious zealot. Hopefully the repeat runs on BBC Four will continue for at least another couple of years so we can witness Peel’s laconic introductions to the likes of Dollar and Wham! first hand. In the meantime here’s the top thirty countup, to the strains of Turning Japanese again, the song we played out with last week which suggests that it’s been playing on constant repeat in the empty TOTP studio for the past week. This makes it the song’s fourth time on the show although we’ve only seen the band twice and we won’t see them again this year, but here’s their excellent follow-up single News At Ten by way of compensation.

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

LIQUID GOLD – Dance Yourself Dizzy (#4)

Liquid GoldThis is also the last time we’ll see this bunch doing their biggest hit – unless BBC Four sneak out the Savile-hosted Christmas Day edition at 3am on Boxing Day when everyone’s too drunk to complain – although be warned they will return with future singles Substitute and The Night, The Wine And The Roses. This performance is notable for perhaps the last ever in-vision appearance of the TOTP Orchestra, gamely miming to a track they don’t appear on, and the full-on fancy dress of the guitarist. Has he come as (a) Charlie Chaplin, (b) Ron Mael or (c) Mickey Pearce from Only Fools And Horses? Send your answer to us at Sound Of The Crowd Towers, not forgetting to include your £50 entry fee. The drummer appears to be doing the show while running the London Marathon and so hasn’t had time to paint a keyboard on any part of his anatomy, so they have to be content with hitting the bassist on the head instead. Comedy gold, I’m sure.

GENESIS – Turn It On Again (#23)

Genesis“Hey, Beefheart? It’s Zappa here. Can you work out what time signature Turn It On Again is in? No, me neither.” A repeat of the band’s début TOTP performance from two weeks ago, Phil Collins still in his hideous Hawaiian shirt which presumably sat in his wardrobe for the next eight years until he needed it for filming Buster. After a couple of weeks in the lower reaches of the chart this rocketed up to number 8 next week, fuelled by thousands of baffled music students buying the record in order to try and count the number of beats per bar. The song’s parent LP Duke was also about to give Genesis their first number one on the album chart, but it would be well over a year until the band’s next top forty hit, the title track from their 1981 album Abacab. Still, doesn’t Phil have lovely hair? For the time being, anyway.

BROTHERS JOHNSON – Stomp (#11)

Legs & CoSecond time on the show for this track too, but again the camera-shy Johnson siblings haven’t turned up, so… enter Limbs & Co! Luckily we’re too early for the literal choreography to involve lots of people hitting metal bins with sticks and pretending it’s some kind of street theatre, so stomping is renounced in favour of the usual aimless hoofing. The ladies are decked out in black dresses, shoes and hats but white ankle socks, the cut of the dresses giving the routine the air of some kind of flamenco funeral, which of course is what Stomp is really about. This was enough to push the record to number 6 next week, but that was its peak position so it won’t be on again and the Johnsons have missed their chance to appear on the show. Look upon the Gibson Brothers, ye Johnsons, and despair.

DR HOOK – Sexy Eyes (#38)

Dr HookThere’s a clunking great freeze frame at the end of the Legs & Co performance where presumably it’s meant to dissolve into the next act via some clever special effect that never comes. Instead we’re thrown straight in to Dr Hook’s new one and, in all fairness, this performance is no different from their last, or the one before that. Ray Sawyer – the one with the eyepatch – flaps idly at some tom toms while Dennis Locorriere – the one who’s actually the singer – simpers through a tepid ditty about being all lonely in a club until he spots a girl with sexy eyes which is enough to form the basis of a meaningful relationship. Presumably in Sawyer’s case one sexy eye would have been sufficient. This would be Dr Hook’s last major hit in the UK and it’s the last time we’ll see them on the show, although there’s a Limbs & Co interpretation of this to come in a couple of weeks.

JUDAS PRIEST – Living After Midnight (#25)

Judas Priest“A much played track,” comments an uncomfortable looking Powell sitting cross-legged on the floor, although he quickly gets to his feet for the next act, revealing that he’s broken the unwritten dress code that has existed since 1964 by wearing leather trousers! I say leather, in fact they have the look of cheap plastic about them compared to Judas Priest who look like they’ve cleared out all the leatherwear shops in the area for this performance. Lead singer Rob Halford cuts a faintly ludicrous figure in tight black vest top and trousers with a blond pudding bowl haircut that brings to mind the image of Graham Chapman wrestling himself in a Monty Python sketch. Still, this would become the first of two consecutive number 12 hits for the band this year (although Breaking The Law is clearly better) and whether Halford looks more ridiculous then or now is a moot point.

SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES – Happy House (#21)

Siouxsie & The BansheesAnother repeat performance with the erstwhile Susan Ballion in a not-quite-punk, not-quite-goth quandary which she attempts to resolve by randomly throwing handfuls of confetti into the air to see where they land. Happy House was on the verge of giving the Banshees their second top twenty hit and was the opening track on their third LP Kaleidoscope which reached number 5 and remains their most successful album. Not bad for a band whose first gig consisted entirely of a twenty minute version of The Lord’s Prayer. This was the band’s first single with long-term drummer Peter “Budgie” Clarke (a nickname bestowed upon him by no less a personage than Holly Johnson) who went on to join Siouxsie in side project The Creatures and eventually married her. This performance gets yet another outing in a couple of weeks’ time, because they were clearly still punk enough not to be arsed coming back to perform the song again.

SECRET AFFAIR – My World (#27)

Secret AffairPeter Powell seems inordinately pleased to introduce Secret Affair again, urging us to go and see them on their “mini tour” next week and even breaking into spontaneous shadow boxing as the camera pans off him and over to the stage. After performing in almost total darkness last time, the scaffolding has been removed and the band emerge blinking into the daylight for their second run-through of My World. This may not actually have been a good move, as despite the Fred Perry shirts and and suedehead haircuts of the band in the background, singer Ian Page (born Ian Page, as his Wikipedia entry helpfully points out) oozes what can only be described as bank manager chic in his sensible suit and daring-but-not-actually-dangerous red tie. Meanwhile their record label Arista was changing hands and the single, great though it was, got rather lost in the transition process, only reaching number 16 despite having the potential to go much higher. The band appeared only once more on TOTP and that was on a Dave Lee Travis edition so in all probability we won’t see them again.

THE DOOLEYS – Love Patrol (#29)

The DooleysAnother outing for this performance from the new Lycra-clad, sexed-up Dooleys, which must have been as shocking at the time as when wholesome girl-next-door Kylie Minogue morphed into SexKylie in the ’90s. Er, or not. Anyway, after our previous musings on whether there really was a song called “You’ve Got Me by The Dooleys”, thanks to Neil Barker for pointing out the existence of 1977 B-side Only You Can Get Me By which credits the whole band as writers giving rise to the label credit “Only You Can Get Me By (The Dooleys)”. Despite their proactive approach to the new decade, Love Patrol was the group’s last top forty hit and this was their last appearance on TOTP. A spirited attempt to relaunch the band five years later with New Beginning ended in failure, but the song which was later used to relaunch Bucks Fizz’s career instead so it wasn’t a complete disaster.

JOHN FOXX – No One Driving (#32)

John FoxxKudos to everyone who simultaneously tweeted “Underpants!” as this started. Despite lacking the immediate hook of Underpass, No One Driving became Foxx’s second top forty hit, somewhat justifying his decision to leave Ultravox! the previous year, although the perfect cheekbones revealed in his many close-up shots suggest that his real reason for leaving was to form a supergroup with David Sylvian from Japan. Handsome Squidward is a good name for a band if you ever get that going, guys. Over the next few months Foxx and his former bandmates, who had dropped the exclamation mark but recruited Midge Ure, would trade minor hits before the enormous success of Ultravox’s Vienna blew Foxx out of the water. Foxx scored his biggest hit in 2010 as part of Cage Against The Machine, a protest group who attempted to scupper the X Factor winner’s inevitable Christmas number 1 hit by releasing a version of John Cage’s 4’33”.

DETROIT SPINNERS – Working My Way Back To You / Forgive Me Girl (#5)

Detroit SpinnersThe Spinners still aren’t in the studio, this is a clip taken from the US TV show Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert – a fact which would have been less obvious if they had started the clip five seconds later when the “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” sign was out of shot – but at least we don’t have to put up with Limbs & Co doing their “Ladies At Work” routine again. There’s no room for complacency though, as the Flick Colby Big Book of Literal Interpretation is largely vindicated by the Spinners’ dance routine which, incredibly, also involves the group miming digging up a road to signify “working”, as if any of them has ever done an honest day’s work in his life. Working My Way Back To You was first recorded by the Four Seasons whose version holds the (presumably unique) distinction of having spent three consecutive weeks on the bottom rung of the UK chart (a top fifty at the time) without ever getting any higher.

THE JAM – Going Underground (#1)

The JamHaving been unprepared for a TOTP appearance last week when the single unexpectedly barged its way into the chart at number 1, The Jam have finally made it to the studio. Famously Paul Weller, fearing that the band had sold out by releasing such a popular single, appeared on the show wearing a Heinz Tomato Soup apron in reference to The Who’s 1967 album The Who Sell Out. Civilisation was saved, however, as Weller was persuaded to wear the apron backwards by BBC bosses who feared censure for allowing such flagrant product placement, because nobody could work out what Znieh Otamot Puos could possibly mean. Still, despite the number of repeats tonight Powell seems to have genuinely enjoyed himself and we play out with Don’t Push It, Don’t Force It by Leon Haywood, another future top twenty inconvenience for those posturing that disco is dead.

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