Landscape

“Please remember to mention me in tapes you leave behind” – Top of the Pops, 11 June 1981

Jimmy SavileLooking for a 54-year-old silver haired loon in a ridiculous tracksuit made up of random, uneven patches of different gaudy colours, desperately attempting to stay relevant to the record buying audience despite being old enough to be their grandfather? It’s got to be Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile, just thirty seconds from this cinema. Yes, it’s another forbidden show, dropped as always from the BBC Four run to avoid the inevitable Daily Mail story about how “Sick Savile groomed young kids by dressing as Elmer the elephant” or some such nonsense. Be that as it may, there are a few performances which are exclusive to this show and didn’t make it to the repeat run at all, although it must be said that some of these losses are greater than others.


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

BUCKS FIZZ – Piece of the Action (#25)

Bucks FizzOnce you’ve scored a massive hit with a Eurovision winner, your options are somewhat limited. The usual response is to repeat the same formula endlessly in the hope that familiarity will hold off breeding contempt long enough to give you a decent run of hits, as Brotherhood of Man did in the ’70s. You can keep plugging away for a while until the public realises you do actually possess some talent and you start scoring more number 1s, which worked for ABBA. Or you can just do what Katrina and the Waves did and break up almost immediately. Here, Bucks Fizz have gone for the second option and pulled it off reasonably well, ditching the primary coloured children’s entertainer look as quickly as possible in favour of a more sophisticated leather look, but they’ve been given a rather complicated clapping dance to do with it, so as not to alienate their younger fans too much. As with ABBA’s immediate post-Eurovision singles, Piece of the Action wasn’t their finest moment but it did keep things ticking over until the real classics began to flow, reaching number 12 in a couple of weeks’ time.

HAZEL O’CONNOR – Will You? (#9)

Hazel O'ConnorOh, look out, Jim’s off on one again. “Hey! Hey, hey hey hey! Hey! Yeah! A great start! Now! Number nine in the hit parade, Will You? from Miss O’Connor!” All that speculation about BBC bigwigs covering up his alleged crimes, but no-one stops to wonder how Savile was still regularly hosting TOTP and using phrases like “the hit parade” in 1981 without a trace of irony. At least Hazel O’Connor doesn’t have to put up with his antics as this is a repeat of her performance from two weeks ago, but it’s also her last appearance on Top of the Pops. A&M’s continued milking of the Breaking Glass soundtrack for singles has had its desired effect and torpedoed O’Connor’s own album on another label; further singles (Cover Plus) We’re All Grown Up and a cover of the Stranglers’ Hanging Around both stalled outside the top forty and that was pretty much it. So it’s a final outing for Hazel, still draped over the back of a chair, pondering over dating etiquette, record company politics and how quickly they can lose that sax solo.

LANDSCAPE – Norman Bates (#44)

LandscapeUp next, a psychotic character who preyed on young women, kept his late mother’s clothes and talked to her as if she were still alive – no, not Jimmy Savile but Norman Bates, the lead character in the classic 1960 Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho. “If your name is Norman Bates, they’re playing your tune, ’cause this is your new one from Landscape!” announces Savile, displaying no knowledge at all of who or what the song is about. This is one of the great losses from the BBC Four run as it’s Landscape’s only studio appearance after two showings of the video for Einstein a Go-Go back in March. The band wholeheartedly embraces the “We look normal but we’re actually quite strange” approach, which involves two synchronised vocalists, a trombonist in a rocking chair and a grand piano filled with random items such as chains, cymbals and plastic tubing which keyboardist Christopher Heaton proceeds to attack with glockenspiel mallets. From somewhere there’s a cry of “Mother! Oh my god!” which is presumably meant to be a sample from Psycho but actually sounds more like Kermit the Frog, and the performance ends with a voiceover man reading a brief synopsis of Norman Bates’s backstory. Twitter would have gone into meltdown over this one.

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ELAINE PAIGE – Memory (#34)

Elaine PaigeSomething a little more conventional next as we meet a once flamboyant and popular character, now old, wizened and repulsive to look at – again, not Jimmy Savile but Grizabella, the character who sings Memory in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest offering Cats, the musical based on the poems of T.S. Eliot. The part of Grizabella was originally given to Judi Dench, but when she injured herself during rehearsals the role went instead to Elaine Paige, previously best known for playing the title role in Lloyd Webber’s Evita. Here she performs the song dressed, unusually, as a human, in an empty studio which seems to be on fire, or perhaps it’s just atmospheric smoke, yes, that’s probably it. The best known song from Cats, although very few people have noted its remarkable similarity to Bolero in Blue by 1940s bandleader Larry Clinton, Memory has gone on to become a standard and Cats ran in the West End for twenty-one years, which is even longer than Jimmy Savile lasted on Top of the Pops.

COAST TO COAST – Let’s Jump the Broomstick (#28)

Coast to CoastA very odd link follows, even by Sir Jim’ll’s standards, which involves the camera zooming in to the floor and Savile crouching down to remain in shot, while uttering nonsensical sentence fragments such as “So… Crew 5… wish you… many happy… jump… over the broomstick… with the one and only… Coast to Coast… right now!” Yes, it’s another outing for the tedious fifties throwback act whose moment in the sun passed ages ago – and he’s introducing Coast to Coast. Another repeat of a previous performance, Let’s Jump the Broomstick peaked here at 28, some sixteen places short of Brenda Lee’s original hit version twenty years earlier. The band’s album Coastin’ and subsequent singles including Baby Why Let Go and Dance On failed to trouble the chart, even though the latter came with a free balloon. Come on record buyers, what more do you want? That means this is the last we’ll see of Coast to Coast, a situation which will disappoint virtually no-one.

ULTRAVOX – All Stood Still (#17)

UltravoxWell, it had to happen, I suppose. So far Savile’s links have been baffling but inconsequential, but now we find him with his arm around a woman who bears a distinctly formic white stripe across her nose. “I’ve got me a lance corporal striped young lady,” he boasts, like anyone has the faintest idea what he’s talking about. Probably best if we move on, really, so here’s Ultravox and while former lead singer John Foxx has continues to flounder in the lower reaches of the chart (we’ll see him again in September), the new Midge Ure-led version of the band scores another top twenty hit with the fourth single from their Vienna album. Ure is still persisting with that 1940s spiv ‘tache look, now teamed with a nifty pair of braces lest his slacks should inadvertently descend, causing him to “do a Buster Bloodvessel”. Heaven forfend. All Stood Still went on to peak at number 8 although this was its only airing on TOTP, but there’s plenty more Ultravox to come this year.

RANDY CRAWFORD – You Might Need Somebody (#47)

Randy CrawfordMe? Jimmy Savile? Sitting on a step at the feet of two young ladies in school uniform? With my reputation? Oh dear. “Now, Legs & Co!…… unfortunately, are on holiday. Sorry, guys.” Oh well, every cloud… On with the chart then, Savile reading out act names like he’s attempting to read a restaurant menu in a language he doesn’t speak. The countup also gives us our first glimpse of a record about a man who befriends a physically disabled child then turns up unannounced at his house – no, not Jimmy Savile but Teddy Bear by Red Sovine. Clearly nobody knows what Red Sovine looks like so he’s illustrated by a photo of a teddy bear. (It’s not about a teddy bear.) Instead of that atrocity we’re treated to Randy Crawford whose last hit One Day I’ll Fly Away, you may remember, was introduced by DLT as “the best record you’ve ever heard in your life.” It wasn’t, and neither is this, which is more of the same but with the tempo tweaked almost imperceptibly upwards and some drums added, but Randy turns in an amiable performance, bonding with the audience during the instrumental break as she does her strange dance which involves shuffling slightly to the right and then slightly to the left. Who knew she was such an influence on Bez from the Happy Mondays?

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ENIGMA – Ain’t No Stopping (#11)

Enigma“Now let’s have a look at the state of some more charts,” declares creepy uncle Jim, echoing the cries of “Look at the state of him!” in living rooms across the country. At number 11 we find the mysterious Enigma again but, as Limbs & Co are “on holiday”, Enigma have been forced to reveal their true identities, or at least cobble together a bunch of disparate (not to say desperate) attention seekers to front their Stars on 45-lite medley of disco hits. To that end they’ve been in touch with the lookalikes agency and hired someone who looks a bit like Mark Knopfler, someone who looks a bit like Mike Lindup, someone who dresses a bit like Stevie Nicks, someone who looks a bit like Debbie Harry if you squint a bit, and someone who doesn’t really look like anyone but is happy to wear an XXXL size man’s shirt as a dress. This was peak position for Enigma but, like that oh-so-tempting scab on your knee, they just couldn’t leave it alone and came back with another disco medley in August, while the one who looks a bit like Debbie Harry will be back in October trying to sound a bit like Debbie Harry as well.

SMOKEY ROBINSON – Being With You (#1)

Smokey RobinsonBack to Savile and he’s posing with his head between two cymbals, just begging you to smash them together. “Let’s have a look, a protracted glance at the top ten!” Er, okay then. After five weeks at the top Adam and the Ants have plunged to number 5, leaving the way open for Smokey Robinson to claim his first solo UK number 1 hit. Of course he’s not in the studio and Limbs Etc are “on holiday” (on “gardening leave” more like) so we get another look at the video. As it’s the last item on the show we stay with it all the way through, so as well as the bits we saw before (Smokey adjusting his blinds, Smokey sniffing a flower, Smokey having a shot at the 8 ball on his pool table even though all the other balls are still on the table, so that’s a foul straight away) we follow him as he wanders outside, dons his sunglasses which seem to offer little or no UV protection whatsoever, and sits down with his back to the ocean view. The video then takes a distinctly sinister twist as Smokey begins walking down to the ocean, but we cut back inside his house to see a woman watching him through the window. Smokey keeps on walking, but the video ends before we can be sure whether he’s going for a paddle or it’s a full blown suicide attempt. Don’t worry folks, he’s still alive! (At time of writing, anyway. Check back with me next week.)

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