TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

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TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

Gorgeous Daze
This post was updated on .
Neighbours. Everybody needs good neighbours. In 1988 the Aussie soap was captivating the nation, seemingly on the basis that it enjoyed sunny weather. This had to be capitalized upon, and where Benny from Crossroads had sadly missed the opportunity to team up with Chapman and Chinn, this was an opening that wasn't going to be wasted. So its leading stars converged obvious trajectories with the already mighty Stock, Aitken and Waterman production triumvirate and it all went supernova. Yes, the time has come for thousands of 30ish hairdressers and tanning salon employees to tune to BBC Four for the first time to see the little poppet and the moment they got their name. I only hope that some members are more compatible than me with the Minogues and Donovans who are soon to crossover from Ramsey Street and move to No's 1 and 2 on the pop chart. Frankly, I almost feel that the chavvy single mother who I unfortunately abide at close quarters to is preferable to the offensively formulaic pap churned out by the expanding SAW clan this year. Definitely 'almost' mind, the chavette really is a loss to Jeremy Kyle.

It was a proper invasion alright. Rick Astley was firing them off and so were Bananarama, despite losing Siobhan (replaced by their friend Jacquie O'Sullivan) who to her credit could fake it no longer. Sinitta was holding firm, and though they'd abandoned their Hi-NRG roots for filthy lucre it didn't stop SAW from finding room to supply old gal Hazel Dean with a return. Then Scott and Charlene's wedding mush was foisted on us direct from Oz. I'M angry, Anderson! Stefan Dennis was to follow. Heck, if PWL had coaxed a few warbles out of Mrs Mangel she'd have had hits! Opening an attack on the Scouse front Sonia and The ruddy Reynolds Girls weren't far off either. Help!

Oh enough of that plastic population and on to THE Plastic Population (in reality a pseudonym for mere duo Coldcut) fronted by Yazz, that grinning bundle of glee with the cropped blonde bonce, like a little rave smiley brought to life so she was; an acceptable face of ecstasy surfacing a chemically-fuelled dance culture coming to a disused warehouse outside Basingstoke soon. Yep, Acid House was bubbling up into the mainstream. Initially successful early in the year providing vocals for Coldcut's Doctorin' The House, the Only Way for Yazz was right Up to the top, where she remained for five weeks through the height of what was christened the Second Summer of Love. Unfortunately though love, from there the only way is Down. Oh the irony.

Bosh Bosh Bosh, loads of money. The Doctor went from the House to the Tardis and himself landed at No.1 thanks to The Timelords aka Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, soon to enjoy further success as The KLF. String together Blockbuster, the Dr Who theme, and then near national treasure Gary Glitter's greatest riff, give it a dance makeover, for good measure traverse mystic Wiltshire with the most rubbish Dalek you'll ever see: and Hey Presto! It was so easy that they wrote a book proclaiming anyone could make a No.1 record. Which more or less they could by now. Less cynically, DJ-producer Mark Moore's S'Express also had a Theme, repurposing the intro to Rose Royce's Is It Love You're After and sampling 14 songs in all to fashion another No.1. It took five years to pay off all the royalties due, but hey it was worth it to create one of Ryan's favourites. The DJ-producer was very much on the rise. Under the handle Bomb The Bass, Brixtonite Tim Simenon took street slang to No.2 with Beat Dis and went on to play a big part behind the success of Neneh Cherry. She took a memorable urban stance on TOTP for the heavily pregnant, with what for many was one of the records of the year and a lively contender when its time comes in our No.3's polls.

With a vestige of Go-Go's credibility Belinda Carlisle remodeled and went for the pop-rock jugular, telling us that Heaven Is A Place On Earth; to look at her was to believe. It gained her the year's first new No.1 and one of the strongest. It was a fellow Californian, 16-year-old redhead Tiffany who toppled her, her cover of Tommy James and the Shondells's I Think We're Alone Now targeting a younger demographic. Her USP was playing shopping malls, look out again for that possessed shuffle during the middle eight. After a few more hits that year all went quiet and she was last heard of as Cannock's unlikeliest resident. Rumours she was spotted breaking into song in Poundland are as yet unconfirmed.

Giving up on keeping it real, Aswad turned to a Tina Turner B-side and gave us one of those periodic light-reggae (the only kind that can do the trick) chart toppers with the summery Don't Turn Around - and it wasn't even spring. Or was it, Double Deckers fans?

All over Smash Hits were Bros. I ask you, right from their naming the other one must have known his days were numbered! Namechecking Karl Marx no less, pop's real life answer to Spinal Tap were unsurprisingly stuck for an answer when enquiring of themselves: 'When Will I Be Famous?'  Shazam! - pretty much instantly as it turned out. Dubbed entirely rightly as 'Dross', schoolgirls - those trustiest arbiters of taste - hadn't got so worked up since the height of Duran Duran...who were stylish. Also championed by the CSE stream followed Bro's of the Beyond variety, prats I was unfortunate enough to run into that year doing a record store signing in Nottingham. There are more, we'll just have to endure them I suppose. And the word 'boyband' isn't even coined yet...

There was a common feeling around, one in which those who liked to appreciate pop as an art form had become alienated. Along with the increasingly vacuous scene, in what some may perceive as a parallel decline an array of new faces were drafted in to present TOTP in 88 alongside the old hands. Hello from Nicky Campbell, Mark Goodier, Adrian John, and Andy Crane; then presumably due to a proto 'woke' moment, the girls: Liz Kershaw, Caron Keating, Sybil Ruscoe, Susie Mathis (me neither) and Anthea Turner, a presenter to pop scholarship what Anita Rani is to rural matters. Oh well, she'll be nice to look at. Mike Smith bowed out in March. I only wish his veto didn't stop me pleading, 'Come back, any deficiency is forgiven!'. Mind, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear (eh Anita?) and the now David Jensen's services couldn't help the hapless Roxy from folding over on ITV after less than a year.

On New Year's Eve there was a special edition of TOTP to mark the show's 25th anniversary, featuring a mammoth helping of clips from across the years, new performances of vintage hits, and brief interviews with veteran stars. Those beautiful dancers, of course an integral part of the fun for a good 15 of those years, were simply airbrushed out of the party. A toast to the next 25 carries a rather empty clink.

There was some alternative. For quality, like prize geraniums both Scritti Politti and Prefab Sprout re-emerged in the spring; Green Gartside and Paddy McAloon competing for who could craft the most perfect pop. Scritti even carried a love letter to the most perfect dancer. The Mission built on their success with the expedient of shifting closer to U2 territory, like a bit of a hussey. Meanwhile sworn rivals The Sisters Of Mercy kept up the momentum and stayed as dark as a raven. All About Eve pitched up somewhere between goth and folk rock, drawing not a particularly large fanbase from either genre, but their songs were highly playable on the radio. Responsible for one of the most infamous moments in TOTP history, you betcha it's covered in the documentary! Against the grain of plasticity Tracy Chapman and teenager Tanita Tikaram were in the vanguard of something of a renaissance of female traditional singer-songwriters, and sold debut albums to the middle classes by the bucket-load. Ladies going all the way to the top of the singles charts were Eddi Reader fronting Fairground Attraction, with the inoffensively different Perfect, and Enya, the New Age-lite of her Orinoco Flow serenading many a dinner party.

Which Wendy do you like best: Prefab Sprout's Smith or Transvision Vamp's James? Both are eminently desirable in their own ways if you ask me. The one with the flaxon tresses brought feisty sex appeal by the ton fronting TV's accessible brand of indie rock. Who can remotely recall what the guys in the band looked like? And she had brains into the bargain. It was too good to last, it didn't, but enjoy her/them over the next year or so.

Talking of blondes, a surprise but very welcome comeback (well at least for me) was that of Dollar, filling their own long gap in the boy-girl market as man-woman. They made a savvy choice covering Erasure's Oh L'amour and the rekindled flame flickered a lovely light in January, a pity there wasn't the fuel to keep it burning any longer.

But who was to finish the year top of the tree? Cliff! Yes, good old Cliff. Mistletoe And Wine was a beige auld festive No.1, but still, who better damn it? A man as open in his Christianity as he's closed on his sexuality. Let's all raise a sherry to him this December.

Contributors will include: Matt Goss, Jason Donovan, Wendy James, Aswad, Wayne Hussey, Coldcut, Mark Moore, All About Eve, and sisters rejoicing in the name Wee Papa Girl Rappers.

A sprinkling of gems:

Scritti Politti: Oh Patti (Don't Feel Sorry For Loverboy)
Jane Wiedlin: Rush Hour
Dollar: Oh L'amour
Sinead O'Connor: Mandinka
Vanessa Paradis: Joe Le Taxi
Prefab Sprout: The King Of Rock 'N' Roll
Eighth Wonder: I'm Not Scared
Siouxsie and the Banshees: Peek-A-Boo
Morrissey: Suedehead
Neneh Cherry: Buffalo Stance
The Sisters Of Mercy: Lucretia My Reflection
Julian Cope: Charlotte Anne
Marc Almond: Tears Run Rings
Kim Wilde: You Came
Yello: The Race
Voice Of The Beehive: Don't Call Me Baby
Oh go on then...Debbie Gibson: Shake Your Love
Steve
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

Old Grey Whistler
Oi, don't start having a go at Neighbours, it's great! Toadie and Dee's car flying over the cliff still brings a lump to my throat.
Must admit though, not really looking forward to 88 much. The UK scene was dire. What quality music there was mostly came from abroad.  My favourite album of the year was probably the Traveling Wilburys Vol 1. Sadly this was also the year that the Big 'O' died.
Really not looking forward to Anthea Turner.
Without Legs & Co, there would be no show!
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

Everything'sRosie
Thanks for that detailed preview, GD. You have me sold. Sorry OGW, but Neighbours was dreadful pap. If it had had a twinkle in its eye it might have been bearable, but most of the actors in it were playing it straight. It lacked both wit and wisdom. Plastic characters in a plastic world.
As for the music of 88, I can only concur with GD's list. Well, most of it.
Queens of My Soul
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

Old Grey Whistler
Everything'sRosie wrote
Thanks for that detailed preview, GD. You have me sold. Sorry OGW, but Neighbours was dreadful pap. If it had had a twinkle in its eye it might have been bearable, but most of the actors in it were playing it straight. It lacked both wit and wisdom. Plastic characters in a plastic world.
 
Your taste in TV is every bit as bad as your taste in music.
Without Legs & Co, there would be no show!
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

RYAN
Administrator
In reply to this post by Gorgeous Daze
Thanks for the preview GD. Well written as ever and has done the trick in making 1988 not seem so daunting. I agree with most of your song choice favs, though i couldn't stand that gawd awful Neneh Cherry and that Buffalo Stance thing.

Just a quick glance down the 1988 listing reveals a few particular favs of mine that are not on your list, though i expect to be ridiculed for most of them.

Tiffany - I Think We’re Alone Now.
Bros - When Will I Be Famous?
Coldcut featuring Yazz & The Plastic Population - Doctorin’ The House
Bangles - Hazy Shade Of Winter
Heart - These Dreams
S-Express - Theme From S-Express
Sabrina - Boys (Summertime Love)
The Timelords - Doctorin’ The Tardis
S Express - Superfly Guy
Deacon Blue - Real Gone Kid

and to even top it all, i don't mind Kylie and her `I Should Be So Lucky`.
RYAN
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

VintageVideos
RYAN wrote
Coldcut featuring Yazz & The Plastic Population - Doctorin’ The House
Bangles - Hazy Shade Of Winter
Heart - These Dreams
S-Express - Theme From S-Express
The Timelords - Doctorin’ The Tardis
Deacon Blue - Real Gone Kid
Kylie and her `I Should Be So Lucky`.
I like all of these - especially Doctorin' The House.
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

The Rubberband Man
In reply to this post by Gorgeous Daze
A great preview into 1988 GD.... so much to look forward to  😖   

I agree with you that Neneh Cherry's "Buffalo Stance" is probably the record of the year. Also looking forward to the S Express tracks, and to pretty much everything else apart from the SAW over-produced stuff.

The only record I can easily put my hands on from this year is Star Turn On 45 Pints – “Pump Up The Bitter”. How did this ever get in my record collection? I can only imagine someone gave it to me    
Climate Crisis: This planet's getting hotter than Lulu
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

AC/PD
Thanks for the usual inimitably styled preview GD, giving us the flava of '88.
Did you wear a wide-sleeved t-shirt with a  on the front for the preview?
Aggressive chat moments aside, another overall seal of approval for Neneh Cherry's expectant Buffalo Stance.
Looking forward to a faithful, brassy and 'strangulated' kinky cover at an early stage too.

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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

Legsfan
Great preview GD! I look forward to the music of 1988 and the arrival of regular stereo transmissions of TOTP.
A follow up to something that was mentioned on Saturday, Ciani takes over TOTP in January, but according to the credits, Michael Hurll stays as a producer until February which I assume is for some sort of transition period.
I'm back!
Devoted to Pan's People & Legs & Co.
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

Mikey
Some nice early CGI on the Now 13 ad. That sounds like 'the kid' doing the voiceover too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDuWvD1q-E4
My love must be a kind of blind love, I can't see anyone but you...

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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

Gorgeous Daze
Well, two hours that left me surprisingly looking forward to the next six months of TOTP. I enjoyed most of the compilation, helped because they looked beyond just the obvious 'Big Hits'.

Thanks for the appreciation everyone.
Steve
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

Gorgeous Daze
In reply to this post by Mikey
Mikey wrote
Some nice early CGI on the Now 13 ad. That sounds like 'the kid' doing the voiceover too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDuWvD1q-E4
Yes it does sound like Mr Jensen. And he must have wished he could hold his nose.
Steve
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

RYAN
Administrator
In reply to this post by Gorgeous Daze
What immediately struck me after watching The Story of 1988 is that the year in question appears to be far superior to 1987 which i think has been average at best. The suppose intermingled in all the quality offerings will be a fair amount of dross too, a case of taking the rough with the smooth.
RYAN
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

Gorgeous Daze
RYAN wrote
intermingled in all the quality offerings will be a fair amount of dross too, a case of taking the rough with the smooth.
Indeed. I'm now thinking that the quality/dross ratio is more favourable than my mainly negative perception of the year previously allowed.
Steve
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

Everything'sRosie
In reply to this post by Gorgeous Daze
Gorgeous Daze wrote
Well, two hours that left me surprisingly looking forward to the next six months of TOTP. I enjoyed most of the compilation, helped because they looked beyond just the obvious 'Big Hits'.

Thanks for the appreciation everyone.
Agreed, the Big Hits compilation was rather good. Pity the Yazz track they played was The Only Way Is Up, much preferred Doctorin' The House. I'd forgotten all about Tanita Tikaram, one of those artists who was suddenly huge and then disappeared even quicker. Just as well, she looked to have had the charisma of a piece of cardboard.
Queens of My Soul
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Re: TOTP: The Story Of 1988 (7/6/19: 9pm)

RYAN
Administrator
Surprised how the two Coldcut chaps have aged in the 31 years since. They look more like The Wurzels these days rather than two pioneering pop-samplers that created so many dance tunes from back then.
RYAN