Status Quo

“Should have been a rock star” – Top of the Pops, 23 October 1980

DLTDesperate, soul crushing times afoot in the TOTP studio as – for the third week in succession – we join the show already in progress with a group of generic audience members grooving unenthusiastically to Ottawan’s D.I.S.C.O. Indeed, it’s like déjà vu all over again because not only is it Dave Lee Travis’s turn to host the show again, the studio is full of cars, Travis is babbling something about a motor show and the morons in shamrock T-shirts who were pretending not to be doing Nazi salutes and laid into Adam and the Ants after the show last week are back again. Turns out, according to this interview with Ants bassist Kevin Mooney, they were members of also-ran punk band 4″ Be 2″. Once again they’ve managed to squeeze into shot and pretend to be doing some kind of arm-related stretching exercises. What larks. It’s not clear why they keep turning up, because most of this week’s show is videos and repeat clips and the two acts who are in the studio are probably not to 4″ Be 2″‘s taste.


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

STATUS QUO – What You’re Proposing (#4)

Status QuoHaving said that, 4″ Be 2″ might enjoy a bit of straightforward, uncomplicated, no-nonsense white male rock ‘n’ roll, in which case this should be right up their cul de sac. Opening the show for the second time in three weeks, the Quo are on so much cocaine such a roll at the moment that they’ve recorded two new albums: What You’re Proposing comes from the first of these, Just Supposin’ which entered the album chart at number 4 this week, while the same recording sessions also spawned their next album, released with almost indecent haste five months later and ironically titled Never Too Late. Clearly there’s some kind of barely concealed cocaine reference in the song – why else would Francis Rossi, who did so much cocaine in the ’80s that part of his nose fell off, be “runny, runny, runny, runny nosin'”? – but back in 1980 we were all too innocent to understand why Rick Parfitt finds it so hilarious when Rossi taps his nose during the first verse. At least they – and 4″ Be 2″ – are enjoying themselves.

THE NOLANS – Gotta Pull Myself Together (#9)

The NolansMeanwhile Travis, having gotten a car into the studio three weeks ago for a pointless gag, has gone full Partridge and filled the studio with cars from the British International Motor Show being held in Birmingham that week. “Lots of other cars we can look at too, but how about artists to look at?” Yes, Travis has also filled in the Bring On A Star To Promote Their New Record Without Playing It form because here to not perform their latest single are Gladys Knight and the Pips. That’s right, all of them in the studio for a pointless 30 second interview to plug their new single Bourgie Bourgie before we’re whisked away for another showing of the Nolans video. And, inevitably, DLT undoes all of Peter Powell’s good work from two weeks ago by introducing Gotta Pull Myself Together as “the curtain song.” Very poor, Travis, very poor. The video is mainly the sisters dancing in very yellow outfits, but full marks to the director for dropping in some moody staring-sadly-into-the-middle-distance shots – after all, it worked for ABBA.

GILBERT O’SULLIVAN – What’s In A Kiss? (#27)

Gilbert O'SullivanWith the studio still full of cars and Gladys Knight and her Pips out of the way, what else is left for Travis to do but try and chat up some beautiful ladies? His first victims are a couple of French girls – you can tell they’re French because (a) they’re wearing Renault T-shirts and (b) they remain thoroughly unimpressed by Travis’s attempts to talk to them, not least because he’s decided that if you can’t speak French, the French will still understand you if you speak English to them in an Inspector Clouseau accent. Travis uses this method to ask one of the French ladies how to say “What’s in a kiss?” in French; realising that she’s on television she obliges with a translation rather than simply shrugging and mumbling “Je ne comprends pas.” In the end it’s all fairly irrelevant as O’Sullivan isn’t in the studio anyway. This repeat of his performance from two weeks ago would be his last appearance on the show; the single got as high as number 19 next week but failed to spark off a revival and Gilbert’s only subsequent hit came ten years later when the dance influenced So What reached number 70.

KELLY MARIE – Loving Just For Fun (#37)

Kelly MarieThe answer to “what’s in a kiss?” is, as it turns out, about 80 million bacteria, which doesn’t sound terribly romantic but it’s still disappointing that O’Sullivan didn’t work that into the lyrics somehow. This unpleasant fact doesn’t seem to deter DLT who has had another of his favourite ladies sent out to promote her new record without performing it. This time it’s Elkie Brooks who has to suffer Travis’s attention as he butters her up by saying her new single Dance Away is the best she’s ever made, and then immediately ruins everything by telling her she looks tired. Charmer. This attempt at single promotion fell completely flat, not least because nobody remembered to mention the title of the single at any point. Never mind, time for another young lady who’s enjoying greater success – for now, anyway – as Kelly Marie is back. Her new single is very eco-friendly, recycling as much of the backing track from Feels Like I’m In Love as is humanly possible, and even Kelly’s sidekick dancers are back to provide moral support. Unfortunately the lack of any memorable tune is something of a problem, and you won’t be surprised to learn that it didn’t get anywhere near the success of her previous single.

AIR SUPPLY – All Out Of Love (#20)

Air Supply“I’ve peeled myself off the Lancia Delta and the beautiful ladies down there…” DLT is having the time of his life in the studio tonight, even if nobody else is. Leaning on the shoulder of another unimpressed female audience member, he takes us through “the bottom half of the top thirty” – the top thirty being split into three halves this week. Intriguingly the Specials’ Stereotype still doesn’t get a mention – apparently the BBC thought that the merest utterance of the song’s title would invoke some kind of evil spirit – but the nominal “other” A-side International Jet Set does. We pause at number 20 for the one and only TOTP appearance by Air Supply, an Australian band who have been together now for forty years but still only troubled the UK top forty on this sole occasion. If they’d known this would be their only hit they might have put more effort in and turned up to the studio, but instead we get three minutes of the band performing in almost total darkness – at one laughable point in the video only the drummer can be seen, the others all appearing in silhouette. Unfortunately we can still hear them.

KATE BUSH – Army Dreamers (#26)

Kate BushOh dear, Travis has found some more young women to squeeze himself between. “Air Supply, which is something I am finding is cut off at the moment because I’m very closely confined with a lot of ladies – I’m not complaining, mind you!” I’m sure you’re not, Dave. After the next section of the charts we head back to number 26 for another video – can’t help thinking that if there were less cars in the studio they’d be able to get more bands in, but what do I know? Having missed out on Kate Bush’s previous single Babooshka in the summer thanks to The Event, we at least get to see the video for the follow-up. Army Dreamers is a chilling tale about the death of a young soldier, the effect of which is somewhat lessened by the sight of Kate and some dancers, all in full military camouflage, doing choreographed combat manoeuvres in strict waltz tempo. It’s all a bit Limbs & Co and hard to watch without expecting Graham Chapman’s Colonel to appear in shot, crying “Stop that! It’s silly!”

ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK – Enola Gay (#12)

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The DarkOut of the video, back to the studio and once again DLT has his arm around someone – except this time it’s a bloke! In fact it’s Matthew Waterhouse, just about to start his role in the latest series of Doctor Who as the Doctor’s newest companion Adric. Surely he can’t just be on TOTP to promote another, unrelated BBC programme? No, of course not. He has a BBC Records 7″ of the Doctor Who theme to promote as well. “You can go over and shake hands with the girls,” Travis tells him, “because you’re too small to kiss them. Leave that to me.” We can safely assume that this edition of TOTP was not shown as part of the case for the defence at any of Travis’s court appearances. Time for another pre-recorded musical clip, with OMD’s appearance from a fortnight ago getting another showing in the week that it becomes their biggest hit to date. Their image still needs some work though, as their performance looks like history teachers Mr McCluskey and Mr Humphreys have asked for two pupils to help them with their educational song about the bombing of Hiroshima at school assembly. Despite this Enola Gay would go on to become their first top ten hit, ricocheting between numbers 8 and 9 for the next month, while the drummer was later expelled for putting stink bombs under the headmaster’s chair.

OTTAWAN – D.I.S.C.O. (#2)

Legs & CoFOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAKE IT STOP! Like the scene in Father Ted where the priest running the mobile disco has only brought one record, D.I.S.C.O. is still playing and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Limbs & Co have been shoved on to dance to it. Not that there’s much room to dance with all the cars taking up space on the studio floor. Despite its almost constant exposure on TOTP, this poor man’s YMCA couldn’t make the leap to number 1; in fact this was its last of three weeks at number 2, meaning that they’re going to have to find another record to play next week. Fans of limp Caribbean disco shouldn’t worry too much though, as Ottawan had another massive hit a year later, although sadly it wasn’t the remarkable Qui Va Garder Mon Crocodile Cet Eté?, or “Who will look after my crocodile this summer?” Maybe one of the lads from 4″ Be 2″ will do it, after they’ve finished trying to P.O.G.O. to D.I.S.C.O. and looking like T.W.A.T.S. in the process.

BARBRA STREISAND – Woman In Love (#1)

Barbra StreisandDid DLT mention the motor show that’s on at the moment? Better mention it again, flanked by two bored looking women, just to make sure. On with the top ten countup, this week tweaked again by removing all captions and just having the clips, or in the case of Sweet People a still photo. Wouldn’t it be great if Sweet People turned out to be Throbbing Gristle under an assumed name? Leaping up from last week’s number 9 it’s Barbra Streisand with her first and only UK number 1 hit, illustrated here by a hastily cobbled together montage of still photos and clips from her films, with bits of Limbs & Co’s routine from last week thrown in for good measure. We play out with Casanova by Coffee and look forward to next week’s show, hosted by Peter Powell, “who himself has just got himself a new car.” Oh, do shut up, Dave.

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