Kid Jensen

“Who said anything about love?” – Top of the Pops, 10 January 1980

Kid Jensen“Good evening and good welcome to a host of hits on tonight’s Top of the Pops.” Disappointingly, Kid Jensen’s attempt to introduce the phrase “Good welcome” to the language was as doomed as his parting “Goodbye and good love” a few years earlier. Nevertheless the likeable Canadian (© John Peel) is in good spirits as he introduces the top 30 countup, soundtracked by Madness’s My Girl as performed on the show last week and next week. In fact the Nutty Boys feature twice in the top 30, crashing in at number 14 with their new release while One Step Beyond is still hanging around at 27. Elsewhere, someone is still buying Christmas records by Elvis Presley and Paul McCartney, a sign of how much more sedate the charts were in those far off days – nowadays the downloads of festive tunes usually peak a week or so before the day itself. Maybe there were just a lot of Orthodox Christians buying records this year.
See the full top 75 for this week on the Official Charts Website.

UFO – Young Blood (#63)

UFONot to be confused with Urge For Offal, a fictional band whose career was chronicled by indie veterans Half Man Half Biscuit on the title track of their 2014 album, this UFO had been peddling their brand of guitar-based rock for a decade by this stage of their career, achieving little in the way of singles success although they had a top ten album Strangers In The Night in 1979. Since then, though, they had lost guitarist Michael Schenker, who went on to form his own successful but unromantically named Michael Schenker Group. UFO carried on without him, but tonight they’ve blundered into the obvious trap of setting themselves up backwards on stage, with drummer Andy Parker stage front and singer Mick Exclusion-Zone Phil Mogg giving his all at the back where nobody can see him. Despite having the celebrated George Martin on production duties, the song is desperately unmemorable and could be said to mark the beginning of NWOBHM – the New Wave of British Halfarsed Metal.

ABBA – I Have A Dream (#2)

ABBADespite an amazing run of success – this was the thirteenth of fifteen consecutive top five hits – it was almost two years since ABBA had scored a number 1 single. Even after six high profile sold-out concerts at Wembley Arena, commemorated on this souvenir gatefold sleeve single release, I Have A Dream still couldn’t quite reach the top, peaking at number 2. The video depicts the group during one of those live performances, although with everyone sitting together, facing forwards, it’s hard to read the body language and establish which members of the band are still talking to each other. Then the bloody children’s choir comes in, and if you think it’s bad having a children’s choir on the number 1 and 2 singles this week, just wait until next Christmas. I Have A Dream eventually topped the charts at Christmas 1999 when covered by Westlife as a double A-side with Seasons In The Sun. Saints preserve us.

ROSE ROYCE – Is It Love You’re After (#13)

Rose RoyceAdmit it, you can’t listen to this without subconsciously singing bits of Theme From S-Express over it, can you? The seventh top forty hit for Rose Royce (although Kid Jensen counts eight) was also their last, at least until it was comprehensively sampled by Mark Moore for his 1988 enormo-hit. In the wake of S-Express’s success, Is It Love You’re After returned to the chart as a double A-side with a re-issue of the group’s début hit Car Wash. Here we have the song on its original chart run at its peak position of number 13, illustrated by lots of afros, brightly coloured suits, a synthesizer the size of a small family car, somebody miming the distinctive electronic drum sound on a set of distinctly analogue tom toms, and a guitar and bass duo apparently having to play their instruments while running on a treadmill.

JOE JACKSON – It’s Different For Girls (#50)

Joe Jackson“It’s different for girls… let’s find out how.” Unfortunately for the Kid, this isn’t a sex education lesson but a classic tune from that all-too-brief period when Joe Jackson used to have hit singles. Following up his top twenty hit Is She Really Going Out With Him? from last year, It’s Different For Girls explores the difficult gender reversal concept of a man rebuffing a woman’s demands for uncomplicated sex with no romantic involvement. This motif was, of course, lost on the general public who just liked the song and sent it all the way to number 5, giving the man with the highest forehead in pop (with the possible exception of Art Garfunkel) his biggest hit single. These days Joe Jackson looks like… well, an albino Joe Jackson, as you can see in this clip of him doing the same song in 2013. Incidentally Joe’s website is just a delight, featuring a whole page of his rants against the anti-smoking lobby over a period of seven years.

SHEILA & B. DEVOTION – Spacer (#28)

Sheila B. DevotionSo what exactly is the name of this act? Having reached number 11 almost two years ago with a disco version of Singin’ In The Rain under the name Sheila B. Devotion, here they are teaming up with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards (finally getting the chance to work with an actual French act after several years in Chic pretending to be French), only now they’re called Sheila and B. Devotion. To confuse things even further, Sheila was actually called Annie and the “B” stands for “black”, but Annie & Black Devotion clearly wasn’t acceptable nomenclature. Anyway, despite attracting many favourable comments on Twitter, Spacer is clearly nothing more than a pale imitation of Hot Gossip’s I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper and the band’s name confusion is a smokescreen for their obvious sponsorship deal with Bacofoil.

THE SKIDS – Working For The Yankee Dollar (#21)

The SkidsSing along now! Yes, TV’s Richard Jobson is back with his unorthodox approach to singing. While perhaps not as famously obscure as last year’s Into The Valley, the lyrics to the band’s latest hit are still pretty indecipherable (“Yankey, 2-1” – clearly a reference to the English women’s football team’s victory over the USA in 2011) and Jobson, this week pitching his look somewhere between Steve Strange and Derek Smalls, is still bouncing around playing The Floor Is Made Of Lava. Legend has it that, on meeting the Nolan Sisters backstage, Jobson spat on the floor on disgust; more likely he was just trying to put the fire out. This was The Skids’ last top twenty hit and if you look closely you can see guitarist Stuart Adamson wondering how this would sound if the guitars were made to sound like bagpipes, prior to forming Big Country in a couple of years’ time.

KC & THE SUNSHINE BAND – Please Don’t Go (#7)

Legs & Co“In a few moments we have a special guest star popping in to say hello,” promises Kid, before ushering us towards our weekly appointment with Limbs & Co. Surprisingly they’re all fairly modestly dressed and there’s very little in the way of literal choreography, no Emergency Exit doors or giant Monopoly boards with somebody wagging their finger reproachfully as the girls try to pass Go. Please Don’t Go would be KC & The Sunshine Band’s last hit except for the completely out of the blue one-off number 1 Give It Up in 1983, and what better way to mark the occasion than by introducing the promised special guest… KC? Yes, he’s in Blighty to promote the single, but this promotion doesn’t extend to miming to his own record. Lightweight. Still, this is no easy job for him as he has to introduce the next act.

DOLLAR – I Wanna Hold Your Hand (#30)

DollarWell now. It’s said that if you’re going to do a cover version of a famous song, you have to make it substantially different to the original. Fair play to Dollar, they’ve certainly done that. In fact they’ve managed to make a song that’s already 17 years old sound more contemporary than any of their previous hits, not just by changing the terribly old fashioned “Want To” into the cutting edge ’80s “Wanna”, but by employing a minimalist backing consisting mainly of heavily processed drums and a sprinkling of new wave synths, pre-empting their more revered work with Trevor Horn by a good eighteen months. The single had struggled into the lower reaches of the top 40 over Christmas and then fallen out, but now it was back in and climbing into the top ten. Just don’t hold your breath for their cover of Revolution 9.

THE NOLANS – I’m In The Mood For Dancing (#20)

The NolansThe Nolans started out in showbiz as part of the family group The Singing Nolans back in 1963, spinning off as The Nolan Sisters in the mid-1970s. They achieved some light entertainment success, even supporting Frank Sinatra on a European tour, but by the end of the ’70s they had rebranded again as simply The Nolans and branched out into pop music. I’m In The Mood For Dancing was the group’s first big pop hit and is oddly performed in two places, repeatedly cutting between the sisters boogieing on the dancefloor and swaying awkwardly on some kind of gantry while half a dozen audience members do the dancing. This would go on to be the Nolans’ biggest hit, both in the UK and Japan where it reached number 1. You may also remember it from the episode of Filthy, Rich & Catflap in which the sweet, innocent Nolans blackmail the hapless Richie Rich with a number of incriminating photos. Richard Jobson would have thought twice about spitting at them had he known about that.

PINK FLOYD – Another Brick In The Wall Pt 2 (#1)

Pink FloydYes, it’s still there. Pink Floyd’s biggest hit single by some considerable distance is enjoying its final week at number 1, but we still haven’t seen anything of the band other than an indistinct photo in the chart countup which looks like it may well be at least a decade old. The Floyd have only troubled the top 40 on four occasions since this hit, most successfully in 1994 when Take It Back reached number 23, but have scored four number 1 albums in that time, including 2014’s alleged swansong The Endless River which was little more than offcuts from the sessions for their previous album twenty years earlier. Jensen winds up the show by wishing us a good week and a good night (but not good love) as we play out with the oldest record in the chart, Green Onions by Booker T & the MGs from 1962. What’s that doing there? Find out next week…

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