TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

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TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

Gorgeous Daze
Best British Group at The BRITs 1986 went to Dire Straits, but we aren't quite there yet. The year in most ways continued with that mid-eighties lack of defining identity. The scene shifted gradually and there were green shoots and a thriving indie scene priced out of the party, but nothing yet apparent to really shake up the status quo (certainly not the return of The Quo! ) as regards the pop charts. Many were happy with what they heard on daytime radio, for others it was all too corporate and conversation would often revolve around the belief that 'we're just waiting for the next 'punk', but we don't know what it'll be'. Like a rocket cascading to Earth in a blaze of hype it wasn't to be spearheaded by Sigue Sigue Sputnik, anyway.

Queen Madge consolidated her throne, usurping her father's judgement in the process. Kim Wilde, the nearest we have to a British Queen of the eighties (aside from Boy George), so nearly reigned at No. 1 with her big glossy version of a Supremes hit. Wham! called it a day while still at the top. Rally as they all did in the face of varying adversity, those old romantics Duran Duran, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet and The Human League had had theirs too. Stadium acts were now that successful they were sanctifying themselves and a new poodle breed of rockers were running them close. Just when we thought synth-pop passé there were a trio and duo of chart titans in A-ha and The Pet Boys, purveying sounds no longer futuristic but very much in the here and now, laced respectively with teen appeal and deadpan wit. Let's make lots of money. From clubland this House tag thing began to cross the Atlantic.

Elsewhere a chap arrived from America to spread his strange myth about not having to take our clothes off to have a good time. Fortunately he had compatriots to argue let's go all the way. Also from the New World a Cameo return to these shores for that medieval accoutrement the codpiece really should have gone unmentioned. Pretty good record at least. Owen Paul proved to be the pin-up equivalent of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, and the face of The Teardrop Explodes had a last crack at this pop star lark before very much ploughing his own cursus. The Student Union tackled classic disco with Don't Leave Me This Way and hit the jackpot (donating all the proceeds to the Terrence Higgins Trust. Not.) Indeed in some regards it wasn't a bad year for those pining for the seventies, with a medical revival of a passed No.1 hitting the top again, as did Diana Ross with a gift and unmistakable backing from the Bee Gees, and Billy Ocean also grafted his way back to the summit, ten years after the last time. Following a landmark storyline in which a wayward Zammo McGuire brought a whole new meaning to being in need of a good smack, arguably the most surprising sight in the top five was a cautionary Grange Hill cast. But on the subject of Just Say No, as in any other year there's always the opportunity for a maddening joke of a record to make it all the way to No.1...especially when it's from a TV show everyone's talking about. Oh, and there was The Chicken Song from Spitting Image and Cliff with The Young Ones as well.

TOTP in 86 -  replayed in 2018 as six months heavily robbed by the Hand of Smith - rocks further from its indisputable place in the national canon of essential viewing. The phenomenal success of a cockney soap places an iron grip on its diminished 30 minute allocation, and change is afoot. There are new titles and a partial return to a banter-free zone as presenters alternate between going solo and pairings. Phil Lynott entered the Pearly Gates in early January but in the interests of progress heaven forbid that's enough to spare the Yellow Pearl he left behind! In comes the hi-tech but hardly iconic The Wizard. Reducing its prominence for a period, a bright spark thought it a good idea to start interrupting videos (and even in one instance a twangy studio ensemble well worth another view) with the chart rundown.

One of the lingering pleasures in these post-troupe years of austerity is enjoying the cheerleaders and audience see us out for another week, but finally as if by the diktat of some jobsworth killjoy even that's to be butchered. It's Hullo to freed space for one last video and, in fact, Gudbuy T' Tricia and the rest of the cheerleaders altogether. Even Buggles didn't see that one coming. Ultimate blame must lie with Margaret Thatcher. I'm not quite sure why, but I'm led to believe that she's responsible for everything not good in the eighties.  

There's no lack of leftists on the documentary to bemoan the injustices. Contributors include Mick Hucknall, The Communards (the vicar I'd say unlikely to divulge an interesting collection of home recordings), Paul Heaton, Sinitta, Swing Out Sister, Doctor and the Medics, seemingly amid a rolling contract Pete Waterman (worth every penny for his originality, he's to inform us it was the year of 'the yuppie, the Filofax and mobile phones'), Simon Mayo...and Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

I can't compile what you would call a list of fave albums for this year as I can only think of three. These being Getting The Holy Ghost Across by Bill Nelson which reached a lofty No.91 on the UK chart, Skylarking by XTC which rose a place higher, and Anything by The Damned which soared to a vertiginous No.40 in the popularity stakes. Sadly all I'll need is more Post-it notes to record further yearly highlights in albums.

Generally undergoing trial separation from the mainstream which next year will end in divorce, my single selection of 86 perhaps represents a blurring of what is and isn't: PIL: Rise, Talk Talk: Life's What You Make It, Latin Quarter: Radio Africa, The Psychedelic Furs: Pretty In Pink, Furniture: Brilliant Mind, Julian Cope: World Shut Your Mouth. Peter Gabriel: Sledgehammer, The Damned: Eloise, Stan Ridgway: Camouflage, Pet Shop Boys: Surburbia, Art Of Noise featuring Duane Eddy: Peter Gunn.

Let what fun there's to be had begin...
Steve
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

VintageVideos
I agree it is difficult to compile a list of favourite albums of 1986. But nonetheless I'd like to mention two which I liked enough to re-buy them as CDs:

Bruce Hornsby & The Range - The Way It Is: Brucie's debut and, of course, dominated by the US No. 1 title song which contains one of the greatest intros ever. All in all, the album sounds a bit samey when listened to from start to finish, but it includes enough standout songs to make it an indispensable addition to my record collection.

Rosie Vela - Zazu: This was Rosie's sole longplayer. Plastered with a tacky sticker that said, "Do yourself a favor - buy this record", Zazu included contributions from Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, better known as Steely Dan. The record sounds like a mixture of pop, rock and jazz, and the lead single "Magic Smile" even reached the UK Top 30, possibly helped by Rosie's mesmerizing looks. Surely not everyone's cup of tea, but a record I still like to listen to now and again.
Dance right on till the floors are breakin'
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

Gorgeous Daze
The name Rosie Vela meant nothing to me. I just watched the Magic Smile video, again I don't remember it or the song but I quite like it. Kind of woozy, in a good way. And I agree her looks would have done her prospects no harm!
Steve
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

Old Grey Whistler
In reply to this post by Gorgeous Daze
Very interesting summary. I still don't really know what corporate music is but GD will explain it to me next time I see him.
As far as 1986 is concerned, that was the year I started work, although I don't expect that to be mentioned during this programme.
My favourite albums of the year were Fore! by Huey Lewis & The News, A Kind of Magic by Queen and Whispering Jack by John Farnham, which I have as a limited edition gold CD.
Unfortunately there seems to be an awful lot of Mike Smith shows.
Without Legs & Co, there would be no show!
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

Everything'sRosie
And here's Miss Vela backing the Brum-meister himself a few years back. Mesmerising.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEh3RJ5apIo

Queens of My Soul
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

AC/PD
In reply to this post by Gorgeous Daze
Delivered with typical elan, an enjoyable read about the scene in '86.
Thanks GD.
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

Who's That Hurll
Good stuff, GD. You mention the grip Evilenders had on the schedule, but don't forget the crossover into the charts for four of the cast members at the time:  Nick Berry 'Every Loser Wins' #1, Anita Dobson 'Anyone Can Fall In Love' #4 and Letitia Dean and Paul Medford 'Something Outa Nothing' #12.

I should also give a mention to a great moment for Music Television in this year, when 'The Chart Show' started on Channel Four (I used to love the Dance Chart section).


WTH PRESENTS............THE SUSIE SILVEY EXPERIENCE.
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

CoffeeThing
This post was updated on .
Great write up, thanks GD. On the Rosie Vela front, indeed rather lovely, and e cel lent with Jeff Lynne. I didn't remember her or Magic Smile but did recollect it having listened on YouTube.

It appears she may now have some misfortune and medical issues according to fairly vague information in a thread on an ELO forum and in a blog.
This week, I are be mostly watching the third place play-off
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

The Rubberband Man
A nice write up GD and a great welcome to the story of 1986.

1986 was also the year when House Music broke through. UK clubs like the Hacienda had started playing 12" singles from Chicago's underground dance scene a few years earlier, the music eventually penetrating the charts with, for example, a #10 hit from Farley "Jackmaster" Funk "Love Can't Turn Around".
All bound for Lulu Land
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

Gorgeous Daze
In reply to this post by Who's That Hurll
Thanks WTH and everyone else. Yes, for better or worse - actually no, make that just worse - Eastenders certainly permeated into TOTP this year. Don't worry on the Nick Berry front, he wasn't overlooked.
Steve
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

Everything'sRosie
Thanks for the review, GD. Very well researched. So 86 was the year of Sigue Sigue Sputnik. I recall seeing them do a strange interview on breakfast TV; the memory is a little hazy, but Tony James seemed to know it was all a big joke from the start, but appeared not to have shared the information with the singer who (his name escapes me) was acting as if they really were the future of rock 'n' roll.
Queens of My Soul
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

sueforever
In reply to this post by Gorgeous Daze
A really interesting program.
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

Gorgeous Daze
I agree SFE. Though the music is diminishing in my estimation, 'The Story' continues to provide an interesting and well-put together hour's entertainment. Even if they can't emphasize enough how unglamorous it was behind the scenes!

Notable that Corinne of Swing Out Sister still sports exactly the same hairstyle she had 32 years ago. Only The Queen and Princess Anne can boast longer records.

Lefty claptrap of the day goes to the teacherly Sarah Jane Morris: 'Everyone was squatting, nobody could afford to live anywhere'. OK, hands up who was living in a squat in 86 then?
Steve
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1986 (6/7/18: 8pm)

Everything'sRosie
Gorgeous Daze wrote
Lefty claptrap of the day goes to the teacherly Sarah Jane Morris: 'Everyone was squatting, nobody could afford to live anywhere'. OK, hands up who was living in a squat in 86 then?
Yes indeed, "squatting". It's always that certain type of middle-class narcissist who used to do such things. It's nothing to do with being destitute, of course, but more a pitiful attempt to appear cool, while knowing mummy and daddy's money is only a phone call away. I can assure you (from such types I know) that if they ever did "squat" it would have been for a couple of weeks max, and if confronted by the building's owners (which they secretly longed for) they would have taken a sneery delight in reciting their occupancy "rights" to in a plummy accent. It's the epitome of inverted snobbery.    
Queens of My Soul