16-07-81: Presenter: Peter Powell (Thanks to POPSCENE for the running order)
(26) SAXON - Never Surrender
(10) THIRD WORLD - Dancing On The Floor (Hooked On Love) (video)
(19) DEPECHE MODE – New Life
(30) THE JACKSONS - Walk Right Now (danced to by Legs & Co)
(33) DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS - Show Me
(15) KATE BUSH - Sat In Your Lap (video)
(3) BAD MANNERS - Can Can ®
(18) SPANDAU BALLET - Chant No.1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On)
(1) THE SPECIALS - Ghost Town (video/credits)
A reminder that his particular edition airs half an hour earlier than usual at 7:00pm so set the timers on your VHS video recorders accordingly. From late June to mid July in almost 24 hours, so for 1981 the Summer Equinox is just ahead while behind us is the classic Whole Lotta Love theme tune to Top Of The Pops which by 1981 was sounding rather outdated. However, the theme played by C.C.S. has managed to traverse the fashion of the day and emerged through the passage of time to become arguably the most iconic of TOTP theme tunes. In its place and staking a valiant claim comes the vibrant Yellow Pearl, a title which was a slightly variant Yellow Peril as a way of commenting on the influx of Japanese technology dominating the world. The song originated from a piece of keyboard noodling by Midge Ure played during sounchecks and rehearsals when drafted into a Japanese Thin Lizzy tour in 1979 primarily to replace guitarist Gary Moore but given a shot on keyboard to provide further depth to the group's sound. With minimal, throwaway words masquerading as lyrics, Yellow Pearl was recorded and released on Phil Lynott's first album separate from Thin Lizzy, the appropriately titled 'Solo in Soho' in the spring of 1980.
After being released as a single in March 1981, despite receiving a poor UK Chart placement of No.56, Michael Hurll liked what he heard and asked Lynott to compose a new theme tune for Top Of The Pops similar in style to the record. The result was more than a little similar with Lynott's suggestion of using the very same record, albeit in remixed form which included synthesised Burundi tom drums to flesh the sound out as much as possible in true bigger 80's style. Possibly missing a trick, the remix wasn't released as a single (with 1980 embedded into the record label) until December 1981, entering the charts on Boxing Day and climbing to No.14 in the New Year.
Accompanying the new theme was a title sequence composed of records of coloured vinyl hurtling through mist and past the static camera. As described on The Story of 1981 the sequence was created by ramping up the dry ice machine, fixing the camera to the ceiling. With sequence designer Marc Ortmans and colleague frisbeeing the the records from on high towards terra firma, the resultant film was then played in reverse to achieve the near miss record assault, edited in quick bursts for added effect and concluded with film of what happens when a hydraulic hammer meets a pink screen-print. End the day with a reflective steel show logo, overlay with computerized chart numbers and the sequence was complete. So simple and yet so effective, the sequence as such was used for 100 editions before finding itself behind a curved TV screen (certainly not of the flat variety) hovering in a vortex from the 100th show in May 1983 through to March 1986 when the Yellow Pearl attacked for one last time.
The Top Of The Pops logo would take a back seat in the Spring of '86 but for now it's proudly worn across the tight chest of Peter Powell offering a brief, zippy introduction to Saxon in the heavy metal opening spot occupied by Gillan the night before. For the Never Surrender solo, rather than focus on Paul Quinn giving the guitar hell, the direction starts towards bassist Steve Dawson, a man who would have benefited from transporting his chest hair to a higher plain. No.18 for Never Surrender which would find itself on the forthcoming album mentioned my Peter Powell, 'Denim and Leather' released in October.
'Show Me the ponytails!' say Dexy's Midnight Runners. All part of a show of togetherness after an almost complete overhaul of band members after personality clashes with singer Kevin Rowland combined with his resistance to music media communication left just Rowland and trombonist 'Big' Jim Paterson as after-dark joggers. The final straw had been the abject failure of October's 'Keep It Part Two (Inferiority Part One)' single enter the UK Chart. Show Me did, reaching No.16 but 1982 would really be their year.
The fact that knowledge has to be tracked down and worked for is the message sent out by Kate Bush in her Sat In Your Lap song, taken from the drawn out sessions for The Dreaming, her fourth studio album and the first on which she was the sole Producer. Seeking perfection to avoid frustration, the time-consuming sessions commenced in September 1980 and ended in May 1982 with a break in the latter part of 1981. The LP was released two years on from the opening sessions.
Another day and another Jackson track for Legs & Co to step into with Michael back alongside his brothers for the fourth and final single from their Triumph album. Unlike the new title sequence, the white hot and so alive routine to 'Walk Right Now' was recorded in a single take and provides further evidence of how successfully integrated Legs & Co. can and could have been integrated into Top Of The Pops way beyond the 900th edition.
Anita-watch : thus far, her little niche appears to be assuming a slight crouch with hands on thighs and giving her head a couple of well-oiled rotations and getting her crimped dark locks in a spin. She's fitting in very well...and she's fit. For the Lulu lovers, her niche is also on show when asking the newcomer who she thinks she is through the power of her expressive eye communicators.
The only acts, for me to mis-fire were Saxon, who, while they weren't bad, they're not gonna stay in my memory for long, & Coast To Coast could pull off a party piece greater than Bad Manners could ever hope to.
Everything else, though was fantastic, including Kate Bush, & Dexy's Midnight Runners, whose latest tracks at this time, I didn't even know existed, if I'd ever heard them in the past, then I couldn't have been paying much attention for whatever reason(s).
Legs & Co., were back in consistent good form, representing Michael Jackson once again.
The new opening titles have started so I see, & I actually saw them in a new light, now aware of how they were made.
In catch up mode after a hectic couple of days, but I'm now wishing I'd given the ff button more of a work out as with this show I see the producer had bought another ticket to drossville. (Has he come back as the current German team manager?)
Fortunately, Legs have nabbed the only number remotely worth listening to from amongst this lot.
Quite a good show. Enjoyed Legs & Co's routine and really like Anita. She certainly can move well and knows how to interact with the camera. Absolutely loved Kate Bush's video. This song should have gone higher than No.11 but the album The Dreaming was much higher. This was such a clever video and the words were just fantastic. I loathed Bad Manners for the simple reason is I loathe men in dresses. There was absolutely no need for Buster to be on the front at all. Spandau Ballet were really good and had a good airing with this song. It seemed to go on for a time and enjoyed the number one too. A difficult one to pick one specific performance for the voting.
Everywhere, wherever you look, manipulation rearing it's head.