Bad Manners

“Too much fighting on the dance floor” – Top of the Pops, 2 July 1981

Dave Lee TravisFinally! After months and months of recycling the same tired joke, the powers that be at TOTP have finally taken my advice and commissioned a proper theme tune and title sequence. Don’t tell anyone though, because it’s still under wraps until next week. This is the current opening’s final outing, although “opening” seems too grand a word for the hastily cobbled together layer-upon-layer-of-TOTP-logos thing that’s been in place since February. We see out this era with a “Helleau” from Dave Lee Travis, who at this stage is still working on his ultimately unsuccessful audition for ‘Allo ‘Allo! “It’s by no means normal,” he warns us, and indeed some of the acts on this week’s show are quite remarkable even by DLT’s standards. Anyone expecting thirty minutes of sobriety and decorum should probably leave before the first act comes on. Go on, leg it.

See the full top 75 for this week on the Official Charts Website.
Listen to our
Off The Chart show covering this week’s chart!

BAD MANNERS – Can Can (#3)

Bad MannersToo late. Don’t be fooled by the apparently dignified musical ensemble seated at the rear of the stage; they may be playing Galop Infernal from Jacques Offenbach’s 1858 operetta Orphée aux Enfers, but all semblance of dignity is torpedoed as Buster Bloodvessel comes cartwheeling in wearing a full length yellow dress. Can Can was Bad Manners’ joint biggest hit, matching the number 3 peak of Special Brew last year, and while the rest of the band do their best to get noticed – standing up to play their parts, hammering comically on the piano, wandering around the back of the set banging on a marching drum – they’re clearly fighting a losing battle. Having little to do other than utter a few meaningless but rhythmically important vocal ticks, Buster can concentrate instead on an impressive performance of acrobatics, high kicks and general arseing about in a frock, with occasional solarised clips of actual Can Can dancers inserted as if to censor parts of the on-stage performance which may have been considered too outrageous for family viewing.

THIRD WORLD – Dancing on the Floor (Hooked on Love) (#25)

Third WorldThe whole sorry mess ends with a close-up of the Bloodvessel pantaloons, the phrase “CAN CAN” embroidered into them, while Travis struggles not to dissolve into hysterical laughter. “I don’t think the pants were supposed to come down that low actually,” he chortles, “we could be off the air for years!” If only he knew. Some proper reggae next with the third top forty hit for Third World, best known until now for their 1978 top ten single Now That We’ve Found Love. They’re not in the studio, which is probably just as well considering the mess Buster and co have left it in, but we get the video which features the band doing all the things reggae bands normally do: performing on stage, dancing on top of a sand dune, walking on a beach and invading the personal space of a young lady who just happens to be standing there doing nothing. Standard. Dancing on the Floor is on its way to equalling the band’s top chart position of number 10 so we’ll see all this again in a couple of weeks.

THE SPECIALS – Ghost Town (#2)

The SpecialsNow that DLT has regained his composure after Bad Manners we continue with the other side of the ska revival coin. We saw the video for this two weeks ago but now the Specials are in the studio for a performance which starts with an ominous white screen, although as the camera pulls out we discover that this is nothing more sinister than drummer John Bradbury’s shoulder. As ever there would seem to be far more people in the room than fire regulations should stipulate, but that won’t be a problem for much longer as the band has been on the verge of splitting for some time and tensions would come to a head this time next week. In the meantime, with unemployment rising and riots breaking out on the streets of England, Ghost Town had perfectly captured the mood of the nation at the time and was on its way to number 1, although “Smiling” Terry Hall’s decision to amble around the stage supported by a walking cane remains baffling. No doubt it was a statement of some kind.

QUINCY JONES – Razzamatazz (#16)

Legs & CoUp next, a genuine musical legend: musician, composer, record producer, entertainment company supremo and humanitarian Quincy Jones! Who’s not here, obviously, because he’s far too busy and important to sully himself with fripperies like Top of the Pops, so… enter Limbs & Co! Time for DLT to return to his dressing room for a rub down with a damp edition of the Radio Times as Limbs Etc demonstrate Flick Colby’s idea of razzamatazz, which seems to consist of little more than frolicking in gold bikinis, shot by a cameraman who appears to have fallen over but has gamely kept his camera running nonetheless. Featuring the vocals of Patti Austin, Razzamatazz would go on to become Jones’s biggest UK single under his own name, reaching number 11 next week, but he wouldn’t return to the UK top 40 as a singles artist until 1990.

BARRY BIGGS – Wide Awake in a Dream (#53)

Barry Biggs“I tell you what,” grunts Travis, “if I had a tie on I’d loosen it.” Euch. A track “to soften you up a little bit” next, something that Travis clearly needs, and it’s the return of someone who was all over TOTP in 1977 but hasn’t been seen since. If you were watching those shows back in 2012 you probably remember Barry Biggs, with his unfortunate resemblance to Alexei Sayle’s cabaret singer character Larry, and despite the passing years nothing much seems to have changed. Wide Awake in a Dream is more inoffensive lovers rock, albeit without the hooks of his hits Sideshow or Three Ring Circus, and while Barry has ditched the pink frilly shirt look of old, his open-necked satin shirt and medallion look isn’t much of an improvement, bravely recalling mid-’70s Tom Jones at the height of the New Romantic era. The Biggs revival was short lived though, as this single peaked at number 44 and was his last UK hit, although he did trouble the Dutch top five in 1983 with a cover of Evelyn King’s Love Come Down which entirely passed us by.

LINX – Throw Away the Key (#21)

LinxOn with the charts then, preceded by DLT pondering whether he can “get the number 22 artist and title in in the time allotted” – given that the record in question is There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis by Kirsty MacColl, the odds are stacked against Travis but, fair play to him, he takes a deep breath and goes for it where a lesser chart counter-upper just wouldn’t have bothered (Bates, I’m looking at you). Even the retina-destroying dark blue on cyan colour scheme for the chart count-up didn’t put him off. Just above Kirsty at 21 we find Linx who are back in the studio, TV’s David Grant duelling with bassist Sketch while adjusting his specs in a way comically reminiscent of Ned Flanders getting down with his bad self. That’s the Linx effect. Grant is certainly involving himself in the band’s performance, finding a pair of drumsticks for the chorus and having a go at a conveniently placed set of perspex toms even though there’s a perfectly good actual drummer at the back of the stage. Steady on, lads, you’re not Adam and the Ants. Surprisingly Throw Away the Key peaked here at number 21 when it deserved better, but So This is Romance would see them back in the top twenty later in the year.

RAINBOW – Can’t Happen Here (#29)

RainbowMore chart action next, numbers 20-11 accompanied by the last appearance of this style of chart slide which, apart from colour changes and the artist picture moving from full screen to an inset in the top right corner, has been with us since long before the BBC Four run began five years ago. Of course, this edition wasn’t on BBC Four, but you see what I mean. Putting in a late showing for any type of music that isn’t funk or reggae related, we find Rainbow at 29 with one of those songs warning us about how awful the future is going to be. You know the kind of thing: super powerful computers, pollution, overcrowding, corrupt politicians… okay, so they were right, but Can’t Happen Here is still a string of clichés in desperate need of a song. The video, as per all Rainbow videos, is murky 8mm film of the band performing, but this time intercut with stock footage illustrating all the dreadful things to come in the future, in case you can’t be bothered listening to the words. Really, Ritchie, do cheer up.

MICHAEL JACKSON – One Day In Your Life (#1)

Legs & Co“I get very annoyed when our audiences sit down and I have to stand up,” grumbles Travis, resting his hand on top of a female audience member’s head to relieve the pressure. Time for the top ten, after which we play out with Legs & Co again – really, twice in a 30 minute show? No chance of getting Michael Jackson in, I suppose, and certainly not to mime to a record that’s already six years old, so it’s another outing for the girls in their PVC dresses from four weeks ago. That’s it for this week, but do remember that – as DLT advised us at the start of the song – next week’s show is the 900th edition “and there’s something very special happening.” It’s the biggest shake-up in the show’s recent history, so naturally it involves Jimmy Savile and we didn’t get to see that one on BBC Four either. Good job the Phantom Taper was on hand then.

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