Mike Smith & Nicky Campbell

“Sing along for the love of the children” – Top of the Pops, 31 March 1988

Mike Smith & Nicky CampbellAs wonderful as it is to have a complete episode of 1980s TOTP broadcast on actual television every week, the chronological nature of the repeats does mean that it’s going to take until 2024 to get through the entire decade, assuming we still have the BBC Four repeats / BBC Four / the BBC in a decade’s time. So while the show takes a break this week to give The Sky At Night a chance, here’s an episode from later in the decade for a bit of variety. We’re well into the Paul Hardcastle theme tune era and your hosts this week are Mike Smith – in his last few weeks as Radio 1 breakfast show host – and Nicky Campbell, then weekend early show host and jock-for-hire whenever anyone was on holiday, but soon to embark on a journey via the Monday-Thursday evening show (and, lest we forget, Wheel Of Fortune) to become the serious political journalist he thinks he is today.

See the full top 100 for this week on the Official Charts Website.

EIGHTH WONDER – I’m Not Scared (#10)

Patsy KensitAnd straight away we’re presented with an oddity. Patsy Kensit’s band Eighth Wonder had already been going for three years; their first single Stay With Me reached the top 70 in 1985 when Kensit was still only 17, but further hits had been hard to come by and I’m Not Scared was a last ditch attempt to get the band – or at least Kensit – some proper success. Written and produced (and, let’s be honest, performed) by the Pet Shop Boys right at the peak of their imperial phase, it’s noticeable that Campbell is careful to introduce “Patsy Kensit from Eighth Wonder”; that’s because, apart from Ms Kensit, the stage is tellingly empty. Smitty makes up some excuse about the rest of the band being in Italy, but in truth it doesn’t really matter where they are because they’re certainly not on the record, and with the best will in the world nobody would have noticed them anyway, the sight of Patsy in leather jacket and hotpants miming to a Pet Shop Boys track was all we really needed. The single climbed as high as number 7 and was reworked in a more grown-up form for Tennant and Lowe’s Introspective album later in the year.

CLIMIE FISHER – Love Changes (Everything) (#11)

Climie FisherAnother act who’d been going for a few years, Climie Fisher were songwriter-turned-singer Simon Climie and keyboardist Rob Fisher. Fisher had been in Naked Eyes who scored a US top ten hit in 1981 with a version of Always Something There To Remind Me while Climie’s biggest success as a songwriter was I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), a number 1 hit for Aretha Franklin and George Michael the previous year. The latter is particularly pertinent as Climie and his anonymous guitarist friend in their leather jackets, jeans and white t-shirts look like a bad dream version of Wham!, not helped by the puffball skirted Pepsi-and-Shirlie-alike backing singers behind them. Fisher sensibly stays out of the way behind his keyboards, as keyboard players are wont to do. Reaching number 2, Love Changes (Everything) was easily Climie Fisher’s biggest hit; the band broke up in 1990 after an unsuccessful second album. What happened to them after that is documented in Half Man Half Biscuit’s Ballad of Climie Fisher although the truth is not so entertaining – Climie went back to songwriting and Fisher died in 1999.

DEBBIE GIBSON – Only In My Dreams (#13)

Debbie GibsonWe’re in the era where the chart countup is considered too long to be of interest to anyone in one sitting, so after Campbell and Smith alternate their way through numbers 40-31 we’re onto the next act. What with the increased reliance on promo videos and the shortened running time of the show compared to the ones we’re used to from the turn of the decade, there are only four studio performances on the show this week, and one of those is a repeat. Still, at least it means we don’t have to get Limbs & Co out of their box again. Not bothering to make it to the studio this week is teen sensation Debbie Gibson with a song which, like Love Changes (Everything) had been a minor hit the previous year before achieving much greater success as a reissue. The video cuts artily (and repeatedly) between colour and monochrome and because there was a mention of “dreams” in the song somewhere, there’s an inevitable dream sequence which involves Debbie waking up in a bed on a beach for some reason. Still, we get to see her in her pyjamas so teenage boys across the country will have been reasonably satisfied with that.

JELLYBEAN featuring ADELE BERTEI – Just A Mirage (#28)

JellybeanAlso due to the short running time and your short attention span, we now have a feature called “Breakers” in which some of the up-and-coming hits are cropped down to one verse and chorus and spat out at you as fast as possible. To kick off this section, here’s John “Jellybean” Benitez, famed remixer and former Madonna love interest, on his way to a fourth top forty hit in six months as part of an unexpected and impressively brief spurt of chart success in his own right. Having introduced us to the vocal talents of Steven Dante (The Real Thing) and Elisa Fiorillo (Who Found Who) and regaled us with a cover of Santana’s Jingo, Just A Mirage would be Jellybean’s final UK hit, the run scuppered by a collaboration with Living In A Box’s Richard Darbyshire on his next single Coming Back For More. The video now looks like a bad parody of an ’80s pop video, but we only get a minute of it before we’re on to…

FLEETWOOD MAC – Everywhere (#29)

Fleetwood MacThe band’s first album in five years Tango In The Night had been a huge success but the singles from it had been alternately hits and misses. Single number five from the LP (not the 400th single as Campbell so wittily suggests) carried on the pattern and would in fact become the album’s biggest hit, reaching number 4. Another “of its time” video, this one includes lots of primitive computer generated effects of shadows on walls and similar nonsense. Mick Fleetwood still hadn’t hosted the Brit Awards at this point though, so there’s that. The classic ’80s line-up had already broken up and wouldn’t reform for almost a decade, although we don’t really see much of them in the video anyway before we’re on to…

GLEN GOLDSMITH – Dreaming (#24)

Glen Goldsmith“Well known Scottish jeweller” Glen Goldsmith (nice one, Smitty) was once touted as the future of British soul music, but this turned out to be his only top twenty hit. Again the video takes the idea of dreaming and uses it as an excuse to do slightly odd things, so we get lots of reversed footage of a presumably disgruntled ex-girlfriend undoing lots of nasty things to Glen’s possessions, like unsmashing his records, respooling lots of tape onto his reel-to-reel tape deck (A reel-to-reel deck in 1988? Surely everyone had moved on to DAT by then?) and, best of all, magically producing a whole chocolate eclair from the pocket of his designer jacket. Goldsmith never became the future of British soul but he did carve out something of a career as a songwriter, his biggest success being a co-writing credit on Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl. No time to listen to that though, because we’re on to…

TAYLOR DAYNE – Prove Your Love (#25)

Taylor Dayne“And finally, Cyril?” “And finally, Esther…” Nice pop culture reference for the kids there as Smitty and, er, Campbelly recreate a late 1970s edition of That’s Life! for no apparent reason. Anyway, Taylor Dayne had reached number 3 at the start of the year with Tell It To My Heart and was now hawking the surprisingly similar sounding follow-up with a video which sees her and her band performing in what appears to be an empty warehouse. Fair play to Taylor, despite the lack of any kind of audience she works every inch of the “stage”, bellowing into the faces of several band members and generally overdoing things; indeed it’s rumoured that the initial design for the Channel Tunnel was based on Dayne’s mouth as she emoted the really important bits of the song. Use your indoor voice, Taylor!

STATUS QUO – Ain’t Complaining (#22)

Status QuoAfter a video and four bits of other videos, we follow the Breakers section with… another video! Having appeared on the show loads of times (although nowhere near the 106 times they claim on their website) it can’t be that Quo were reluctant to drag themselves down to the studio again, so it can only be the appearance of Griff Rhys Jones in the video that made it worth showing. The single itself was (unintentionally) humorous with its self-consciously modern sampled intro, whereas the video is intended to be humorous and falls flat. The premise is that the Quo are making a video at some cheap, tatty studio run – and entirely staffed – by Griff Rhys Jones in various characters, with hilarious consequences such as malfunctioning electrics, crudely framed shots and an overzealous smoke machine. There are no shots of Francis Rossi appreciating the backside of a passing female, realising he’s been caught on camera and giving a cheeky thumbs up, but Rick Parfitt has thoughtfully grown a comedy beard which is the funniest thing in the entire video.

WET WET WET – Temptation (#17)

Wet Wet WetAfter the flow is broken again by the countup from 30-11 (“How come all mine are going down?” complains Smitty halfway through), Campbell introduces fellow Scots Wet Wet Wet with the fourth (and dreariest) single from their début album Popped In, Souled Out. Impressively the band perform the song live in the studio, although this might just be a precaution to ensure they don’t end up miming to the album version which has a massive swear in it. The charity Beatles cover With A Little Help From My Friends would give the band its first number 1 a few weeks after this, but they then went into a decline for a few years until Goodnight Girl took them back to the top in 1992. Then they spent fifteen weeks at number 1 with Love Is All Around, got heartily sick of the song and each other and split. After Marti Pellow’s brief solo career which consisted mainly of the album Marti Pellow Sings The Hits Of Wet Wet Wet they reformed and are still knocking around today.

ASWAD – Don’t Turn Around (#1)

AswadSpending a second and final week at number 1 (behind unlikely bedfellows Bros at 2 and Iron Maiden at 3), Aswad were a well respected, fiercely political reggae group until they took the UB40 route into lightweight cover versions. Don’t Turn Around was first recorded by Tina Turner as the B-side of her Typical Male single, then by session singer and sometime No.73 presenter Kim Goody; shortly after Aswad’s hit, Bonnie Tyler‘s version was released. The song was later covered by Neil Diamond and then Ace of Base who took it back into the top five in 1994 at the same time that Aswad finally scored a second top ten hit with Shine. We play out with the week’s highest new entry, Heart by the Pet Shop Boys which Smitty bizarrely introduces as “the song which almost won the Song For Europe competition last week.” Of course by now we’ve moved on from having long, zooming shots of lights and disco balls, so we get yet another video and the promise of Gary Davies and Simon Mayo next week, but we’ll have to wait a bit for that as we’re hauled back to 1980 instead.

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