16-04-81: Presenter: Peter Powell (Thanks to POPSCENE for the running order)
(8) THE JACKSONS - Can You Feel It? (background music)
(15) BAD MANNERS - Just A Feeling
(18) SPANDAU BALLET - Muclebound (video)
(33) GIRLSCHOOL - Hit & Run
(7) SUGAR MINOTT - Good Thing Going (We've Got A Good Thing Going) ®
(40) DEPARTMENT S - Is Vic There?
(53) THE BEAT - Drowning
(29) WHITESNAKE - Don't Break My Heart Again (video)
(54) UK SUBS - Keep On Running (Till You Burn)
(4) ENNIO MORRICONE - Chi Mai (danced to by Legs & Co.)
(46) THE CURE - Primary
(14) THE NOLANS - Attention To Me
(1) BUCKS FIZZ - Making Your Mind Up ®
(8) THE JACKSONS - Can You Feel It? (video/credits)
With Easter eggs having been creeping into small but gradually expanding shelf areas of supermarkets since early February, along comes A Top Of The Pops edition broadcast on Maundy Thursday, 1981 so kick off those sandals, sit down, soak the feet in a washing-up bowl and enjoy the show. Persil Powell's got his whites whiter than white as he welcomes us with a cool 'Hi' before offering up an introduction which mentions '...some artist who've flown in especially for the show from Tokyo (gasp!) and Portugal, and one or two surprises!'
Cue bowler-hatted businessman Buster Bloodvessel bouncing in all the way from Bank to jazz up the show somewhat. Prevailing throughout is a Friday feeling because come the end of the performance, Mr Bloodvessel's discarded his bowler in the manner of Goldfinger's henchman Oddjob, skimming it across the studio, and loosened his neck-wear, getting in some head-butting practice. Drummer Brian Tuitt's a talented man - simultaneously engaging in ventriloquism whilst sat behind the kit for a No.13 single taken from Bad Manners' second LP 'Loonee Tunes!'. Encouraging the audience throughout this strong opener are Legs & Co. -looking as if they've just been flown in direct from Hawaii and losing their luggage on the way back - for once not dispersing themselves far and wide into the massed throng but positioned before the big screen.
For their Hit & Run performance, Girlschool drummer Denise Dufort has both her hands exactly where they need to be - gripping drumsticks with her mind fully focused on the matter at hand and she'll need to be, having to concentrate and ignore the intermittent pyrotechnic explosions occurring in very close proximity indeed. Both the drummer and rhythm guitarist Kim McAuliffe were present at the formation of the all-female rock-band in 1978, with a name taken from the rather unlikely setting of the remote Mull Of Kintyre's 'b' side. Although bassist Enid Williams was there too, both the aforementioned can claim uninterrupted membership stints through to the present day. Heard more through the underground scene than via regular airplay, the group's fort single 'Take It All Away' came to the attention both of Motorhead's lead singer and manager Doug Smith which resulted in a support act role for Lemmy and the band's Overkill tour as well as a contract with Bronze Records. Number 32 for Hit & Run was Girlschool's highest position in the UK Singles Chart.
'Is Vic There?' was first released by post-punk outfit Department S in late 1980, receiving underground station airplay and indie chart joy. However, Paul Weller's championing of the group brought them overground and into unwanted mainstream prominence with a rise to 22 in the UK Singles Chart. Produced by Mott The Hoople members Dale "Buffin" Griffin and Peter "Overend" Watts, Is Vic There? was originally intended to feature the backing vocal talents of Bananarama but those talents were at this stage somewhat raw and yet to be honed. Into their place stepped Thunderthighs, backing vocal group to Lou Reed's 'Walk On The Wild Side' as well as Mott The Hoople's very own 1974 No.8 'Roll Away The Stone' ....(sha-la-la-la push-push).
Keep On Running (Till You Burn) is the seventh Chart hit for London punk band UK Subs. Tonight's appearance is their seventh (and final) appearance on Top Of the Pops, one which creates some kind of record because no other act has featured more times on the show with not a Top 20 hit to their name. 1979's Stranglehold was the highest at No.26 but, as with them all, tonight's offering fell short of Top 20 status, burning out at No.41.
Legs & co's routine is to a piece of classical music by Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Composed a decade previously, Chi Mai was used as the theme tune to The Life And Times Of David Lloyd George, a 9-part drama of which the 7th episode had aired the previous night on BBC2 - a serial following the UK's last Liberal PM and the only solicitor to have held such a position for six years during and immediately after the 1st World War. Displaying their usual elegance and a couple of hairstyles relevant to the era, Legs & Co show poise, stepping both back (and forward) in time to what may well have been a record foisted upon them rather late in the day - a BBC records release which, were it not for the Bucks Fizz entry, would have risen on Easter Sunday to the No.1 position for a two week stay.
Am looking forward to seeing Bad Manners' drummer's ventriloquist act. Surely worthy of Good Old Days!
And am looking forward to their dancing support act, back from hanging out with Magnum PI. Am hoping it was worth their while flying back and not just a short cameo at the end...
Will Thunderthighs do a "push-push" type dance as they enquire about Vic??
But on this performance isn't it dear departed Kelly Johnson on vocal duties with Girlschool, Kim McAuliffe helping out with the chorus?
Thanks for pointing out the non-deliberate error concerning Girlschool, OB.
It does indeed seem as if the group employed a lead vocal rotation system in place with bassist Enid Williams also taking her turn from time to time.
As for the Bad Manners backers, the frisky fivesome may well have just jetted in after travelling All Over The World to visit the recently departed Pauline and her flat stomach.
Yes, I wondered if the kilt-wearer was a Kelly Marie leftover.
"Pauline's on holiday" is the mind trick utilised for the time being. Mind you, the the BBC4 broadcast of Lately brought with it more emotion than expected.
That arm-wrestle, which bemused Mrs P., ended in an honourable draw even though one of us didn't need to try very hard to maintain the equilibrium - Mr P was fitter and in much better shape than previously imagined.
Excellent synopsis as usual PD – wonderful stuff.
Sugar Minott, followed by Department S, followed by The Beat; and The Cure also on the bill – this is why we like TOTPs.
The song “Is Vic There?” was inspired by the Monty Python sketch “Mr Phone-in”, a phone-in radio programme where a group of resident psychiatrists answer questions on farming, and the first caller’s question is, “Is Vic There?”.
A sandwich edition here, & the Jacksons are the slices of bread, & the filling's for me, more like filler, there's a helluva lot f tracks that I'm only knowingly here goes for the very first time, for example the Beat track, which sounds rather like an obscure album track, & the fact that it Bly reached #53, explains why I've hardly ever heard it, with a few exceptions, these lowly charting tracks quickly get forgotten.
The Cure, & UK Subs, also not troubling the top 40 singles chart., although without knowing the Whitesnake track, I do like that one.
This week, it's rather new-wave heavy, making the likes of Bucks Fizz, the Nolans, & the Jacksons, jar with most of this week's output, but especially so with Ennio Morricone, but at least it's something that we can chillax to, & it has the bonus of Legs & Co., to give us something equally soothing in a visual sense.
No, I'm just gong by the track listing that PD posted, with some omissions in the broadcast that I've just finished watching, because obviously, there must be a law that says that the 19:30 screenings must be in half-hour programme slots!😉
Oddly I had remembered the Chi Mai routine with the ladies wearing blue! The BBC would definitely be breaking off all ties with me with that sort of recollection. In 1981 I was disappointed how over dressed they were, now in 2016 knowing the end is nigh I'm just happy to see anything that gets shown.
With watching some of the 1981 vids in isolation, I hadn't appreciated before the changing role of Legs at this point with these dance with the audience artist/artist backing things i guess at the time people thought good more of the dancers. The vision of Hurll to revamp the show becomes more evident now as the weeks go past (too quickly of course).
Never thought I would find myself writing these words, but I thought the Nolan sisters' performance was a stand-out. They sang live, you could really hear the harmonies, and they also remembered all those dance moves and didn't even get out of breath. I have always had them in the Liquid Gold, Brotherhood of Man, epitome of naff bracket, but it turns out they were much better than that.
The other thing that stunned me was the video to Musclebound which I had never seen before. Now one might have expected it to be shot in a gym, something along the lines of Olivia Newton John's physical.......but, who knew, they were actually thinking of some kind of Crusading escapade when they wrote the song, ending up in Turkey or Afghanistan and brutally enslaving the locals to a life of harrow and tillage! Random!
Back to aspect ratio - GD might notice the mess we get in with double aspect ratio conversion during the Spandau Ballet video, which was shot 16x9, and show letter-boxed in 4x3 and then now arced again back to 16x9 so you get Mr Hadley & friends in a little box surrounded by black. Die hard Ballet fans could use the zoom button to fill the screen, but it might be a bit soft.
Peter Powell slightly less annoying that usual - his irony-free claim that it was TOTP's cameras that caught Whitesnake in concert action, and implying that the gig was out of the country didn't pass me by. The gig was at the Rainbow, Finsbury Park. The buffoon. Maybe he was confused by Bernie Marsden's "In the <3 of Cleveland" t-shirt.
There's another Powell faux pas I think, but I'll leave that for later.
Non-Flick highlight of the show - defo the Nolans. Nowt wrong with bit of cheesey 'naff' lovely female harmonies with a nice melody.