Ossie Ardiles

“The devil take your stereo and your record collection” – Top of the Pops, 7 May 1981

Peter PowellBy this stage of the BBC Four reruns the audience has formed itself into two distinct groups. One one hand there’s the casual viewer who isn’t really following the timeline but will greet every deviation from the norm – anything from a slightly clunky edit to a week missed because of The Sky at Night which has taken precedence over TOTP roughly once a month since the repeats started five years ago – as a sign that something has been cut because of the improper behaviour of the host. On the other hand there are the cognoscenti who know exactly what was broadcast first time around, what’s been surreptitiously removed and for what reason; they continue to argue amongst themselves about the rights and wrongs of skipping episodes but grudgingly accept that the Beeb isn’t going to start digging out Savile or Travis editions anytime soon. However, when the TV listings confirmed that BBC Four was leaping straight from the 16 April edition to the 14 May show – on consecutive evenings, no less – there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. What was wrong with the 7th of May show? Had the Undertones undertaken some kind of unacceptable political protest? Had Shaky done his whole performance with his flies open? Was the BBC scared of showing two Peter Powell editions back to back? In the end it was revealed that the gap was due to a much more mundane reason: this edition was broadcast live and it wasn’t recorded properly, so there simply wasn’t a broadcast-quality version in the archive. Luckily the phantom taper was on the ball so at least we can see (most of) what we missed.

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

KIM WILDE – Chequered Love (#32)

Kim Wilde“Hi folks, we’re LIVE!” Yes, Pete, we noticed. Of course, in the very early days of TOTP it was always broadcast live, but this idea had died out once video recording and editing the show became a viable option. Nowadays a live edition of a normally pre-recorded show is big news and usually reserved for special anniversaries of soap operas, but in this case it appears that Michael Hurll just fancied shaking things up a bit. Still, it does mean that we get a shedload of new and exclusive LIVE appearances and even the songs that have been on the show twice before are treated to new LIVE performances because we’re LIVE! Except, er, everyone’s still miming, which makes the whole procedure a lot less adventurous (although try telling that to All About Eve). Nevertheless, we kick off with luscious, pouting Kim Wilde™ who’s actually grinning more than pouting as she and her band run through the follow-up to Kids in America. Like most acts Kim went through a number of image changes throughout the ’80s; here her band is still trying to cover all bases with a leather jacketed Sid Snot type and a white jacketed type with regulation college rock mullet, but in reality nobody’s looking at anyone but Kim. Even the bloke in massive headphones pointing his massive hand-held camera at the drummer is wasting his time, though at least Kim is good enough to check that her sticksman hasn’t been set on fire by the numerous explosions going off behind him.

STRAY CATS – Stray Cat Strut (#26)

Stray CatsOf course the beauty of a live show is that anything can happen, even the host being caught on camera flanked by two girls in school uniform, and no matter how quickly camera 1 zooms in on Powell there’s no getting away from the fact that at least one of them is in distinctly non-regulation stockings and suspenders (one of the schoolgirls, that is, not Pete). Cue a thousand mouth-breathing forum posters postulating that this was why they didn’t show it on BBC Four. This is a red herring though, designed to distract you from more BBC lies and deception from the mouth of Powell himself: “We caught them in video for Top of the Pops, leave our studio and join the Stray Cats and Stray Cat Strut!” Oh Pete, enough of this. It’s 1981, we know what promo videos are and we know the Beeb had absolutely nothing to do with capturing this footage. And that’s before we address the fact that you’ve just welcomed us to a LIVE show and now you’re sending us away to a pre-recorded item. Anyway, for their third hit in five months the Cats are to be found in an unrealistic alleyway, pretending to be the cats in the lyrics. Brian Setzer picks an intact fish skeleton from a garbage can, quite a feat in itself, and a woman dressed up like Les Dawson chucks eggs at them, while younger, more glamorous women dance around them in a kind of Flick Colby Big Book of Literal Interpretation crossed with an all-human live-action remake of The Aristocats scenario. Plus there’s an actual cat in there too, in case you were confused about what a cat was.

SHAKIN’ STEVENS – You Drive Me Crazy (#5)

Shakin' StevensTop of the Pops would not be Top of the Pops, especially on this LIVE occasion, without one Shakin’ Stevens!” A useful reminder there of how quickly Shaky has gone from rock ‘n’ roll revivalist and occasional hitmaker to ’80s pop mainstay (and if you’re reading this, Shaky, I appreciate that you were a bona fide ’80s act, please don’t leap on me and get me in a Rod Hull & Emu-style headlock like you did to Richard Madeley). Now that his ole house has finally fallen apart, Shaky has ditched the double denim look and acquired a shocking pink jacket for his next hit. Somehow though this still isn’t enough, so just like last time when the audience was required to supplement Stevens’ performance by doing some ridiculous hand jive routine, this week Limbs & Co have been roped in to cavort around him in those awful plastic dresses that look like Quality Street wrappers, because… well, it’s a living. Having entered the chart at number 39, You Drive Me Crazy rocketed to number 5 this week but would spend the next month stuck at number 2.

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KEITH MARSHALL – Only Crying (#12)

Keith MarshallAh, the excitement and dynamism of a LIVE show (did I mention we’re LIVE this week?) as we pan from one stage to another, the pre-recorded audience applause tape working overtime as we alight on Keith Marshall. Not sure if there’s been a clerical error or if someone genuinely thought Marshall was more capable than Shaky of holding the audience’s attention single-handedly, but this week Keith’s band has been dispensed with and it’s just him in a cream suit holding forth in front of some pot plants. We haven’t really been keeping track of who’s been allowed a microphone and who hasn’t in recent weeks, but Shaky got one and didn’t really need it, while Keith hasn’t got one and could really do with one. For want of anything else to do, Marshall picks up a conveniently placed guitar halfway through and proceeds to play the guitar solo, putting it down shortly afterwards lest it should distract him from the song’s outro which consists mainly of the words “Only crying, na na na na, na na na na, only crying.” Number 12 was peak position for both the song and Keith himself, who never troubled the charts again.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR F.A. CUP FINAL SQUAD with CHAS & DAVE – Ossie’s Dream (Spurs Are On Their Way To Wembley) (#45)

Ossie ArdilesNow, that awkward crossover between music and sport. Pete has a handful of football scarves with which to explain the current state of play in the FA Cup to those who don’t actually care. “Ipswich are out, Wolves are out, Man City are in and Spurs are on!” Yes, in a blatant display of favouritism, Top of the Pops showcases Tottenham Hotspur’s FA Cup single, brazenly ignoring their cup final rivals Manchester City; the fact that City didn’t release a single this year is irrelevant. The FA Cup single was a peculiar beast, coming into fashion in the early ’70s following the England World Cup Squad’s 1970 chart-topper Back Home and fading in the late ’90s once it was realised that Suggs and the Chelsea team’s Blue Day was the pinnacle of musical achievement. In 1981 though, Spurs fans Chas & Dave were more than happy to assist in their team’s musical endeavours. In fact the duo’s footballing allegiance helped define their career; they helped the team out again when they reached the final in 1982, 1987 and even 1991, long after Chas & Dave’s own chart career had come to an end. The main selling point of this year’s song, however, was midfielder Osvaldo “Ossie” Ardiles, a member of the 1978 Argentinian World Cup winning team who was now looking forward to playing “in the cup for Tottingham!” Ah, bless, the foreigner can’t talk proper English like what we do. As it turned out the team’s inability to win the cup on Saturday had a bearing on next week’s TOTP, but we’ll come to that in good time.

EDDY GRANT – Can’t Get Enough Of You (#13)

Eddy GrantTo carry on the football motif, here’s a third appearance on the show for this second division Eddy Grant single, though because we’re LIVE tonight at least he’s come back to do a new performance. He’s brought most of his first squad with him too, including the two female backing singers who get almost as much screen time as Grant himself, although the fella with the shekere seems to have gone for an early bath and Eddy is in danger of being shown a yellow card if he undoes any more buttons on his shirt. Despite Grant’s occasional flashes of brilliance over the past two seasons, Can’t Get Enough Of You had to settle for a mid-table position of thirteenth and after a difficult 1981-82 season, Grant was briefly promoted to the top flight in 1982-83, scoring a number 1 and a number 2 in quick succession. Is that enough football references? Yes, I think so.

STAR SOUND – Stars on 45 (#2)

Legs & CoNow here’s a thing: a record which was so utterly different that within a few months the chart would be absolutely crammed with imitators, yet there was virtually nothing new about it at all. All blame should be laid squarely at the feet of former Golden Earring drummer Jaap Eggermont, who heard a bootleg megamix single Let’s Do It In The 80’s Great Hits, saw the record’s commercial potential and arranged for a group of session musicians to re-record the section of the mix which sampled numerous Beatles songs. Hey presto, instant massive hit single with people who liked the Beatles’ music but didn’t have the attention span to listen to any of their songs in full. Before long anonymous session musicians everywhere were creating medleys of everyone from the Bee Gees to Status Quo and the charts looked like a miniature version of the bargain racks at Woolworths full of unrelated anonymous Top of the Pops albums. In fact pop very nearly ate itself that summer when Top of the Pops Vol. 86 included an anonymous cover version of Stars on 45 itself, with British session singers attempting to sound like Dutch session singers attempting to sound like the Beatles, with hilarious consequences. Obviously Starsound can’t be in the studio tonight as they don’t exist in any real sense, so… enter Limbs & Co, dressed in Bavarian drindl costumes which, once again, have accidentally fallen into a shredder. Whoever’s in charge of the costume department really needs to be more careful.

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THE UNDERTONES – It’s Going to Happen! (#36)

The UndertonesA quick plug for the new Undertones album Positive Touch next, “one of the best albums undoubtedly out this week,” during which Pete professes his love for the track Julie Ocean which would be the band’s next single. Restrain your equine entourage, Pete, we haven’t had this one yet! Unusually augmented by a couple of horn players, the Undertones have given up taunting the Human League and have turned their attentions to weightier matters, although nobody seems to have noticed. It’s Going to Happen! is, apparently, about what has always been euphemistically referred to as “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland and, more specifically, the hunger strikes in which a number of Irish republican prisoners had been participating. Two days before this LIVE edition went out LIVE, Bobby Sands – an inmate in the notorious Maze prison, member of the Provisional IRA and, rather awkwardly for the British Government, recently elected MP – died after 66 days on hunger strike, an event marked here by guitarist Damian O’Neill’s decision to wear a black armband. Luckily the meaning behind the lyrics was obscure enough to avoid a BBC ban, but it’s equally fortunate that the band was available this week and Michael Hurll didn’t have to send out Legs & Co to dance to a song about the IRA.

REO SPEEDWAGON – Keep On Loving You (#21)

REO Speedwagon“That’s a cracker!” declares Powell in a poor impersonation of Frank Carson which would have set Anglo-Irish relations back at least a decade if anyone had noticed. Still, never mind The Troubles, there are more important matters at hand as we count up the first part of the top thirty, followed by another video on this ostensibly LIVE edition of TOTP. We may have sneered at Jimmy Savile last week for calling them “Rio Speedwagon”, but in fairness not many of us knew any better; although they had been together since the late ’60s, this was the band’s first hit in the UK. The video opens with a woman inexplicably wrapped in a sheepskin blanket, watching a very small TV on which REO Speedwagon are performing. Suddenly, by the magic of television, our view changes and we’re watching the same thing she’s watching, a rock band with lots of keyboards but no obvious guitars. Cut back to the original room and now the band are there with the woman, all dressed in tuxedos and lounging on a sofa, until one of them unkindly takes the blanket away so the woman is left wearing just a slip. This doesn’t seem to affect her interest in the TV though, as we join the band performing again, now with actual instruments. Back to the band and the woman on the sofa, none of them watching TV any more; someone calls the woman on the phone but we cut back to the studio before we find out who it was. Such drama! And how annoying that we cut off just before the fantastic joke as the cord on the end of the telephone receiver is revealed to be connected to a guitar played by an Ian “Sludge” Lees lookalike. Hello to all REO Speedwagon fans who’ve stumbled on this page by mistake and are now totally baffled.

THE NOLANS – Attention To Me (#9)

The NolansPowell asserted earlier that it wouldn’t be TOTP without Shakin’ Stevens, but at this stage it seems much more appropriate to say that it wouldn’t be TOTP without the Nolans, and yes, after a bit more chart, here they are again. They do seem to be on telly more often than Carole Hersee at the moment, but it’s all downhill from here as this was the sisters’ last week in the top ten. Another tightly choreographed dance routine then, making Limbs & Co seem commendably “edgy”, but once again the usual TOTP conventions are ignored as the girls insist on singing live, making them a very early influence on New Order. Or perhaps not. Attention To Me may have been their last top ten hit but we haven’t seen the last of the Nolans; they have another two top twenty hits to come before they suddenly find themselves in cabaret hell until their rehabilitation on Filthy Rich & Catflap in 1987.

ADAM AND THE ANTS – Stand and Deliver (#1)

Adam and the AntsThe top ten then, headed by another of those special singles that made their début at the very top of the chart. Yes, we’ve reached peak Ant as, after six hit singles in as many months, Stand and Deliver gives Adam and band their first number 1. They’re not in the studio though, as they’ve put so much time and effort into their video it seems a shame not to show it (a situation which would persist for the rest of the year, meaning that we’ve already seen the Ants’ last studio performance). Adam has now refined his vaguely Native American look into a more specific Dandy Highwayman persona, a calling which requires him to rob a toff of his Walkman, leap through a window and, apparently, be hanged by the neck until dead. But don’t worry, he escapes! No idea how, but that’s not important. This is notable for being the only week they actually showed the full hanging scene on TOTP; in subsequent weeks it was chopped out by Edward Scissorhands in the editing suite, leading to yet more conspiracy theories next week. Ah yes, next week… it’s a cosy little show next week. Blame Chas & Dave for that.

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2 comments on ““The devil take your stereo and your record collection” – Top of the Pops, 7 May 1981

  1. Thanks, as always. BTW B Sands actually died on 5th March, two days before the show went out….LIVE!.

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